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In early February we received a call from our UK partners - Cloud Nine Design. They sounded pretty excited about a new project, it was to design and develop a website for an English chef called James Martin.

To be honest our excitement was not even close to theirs, since we had never heard of him. But within a couple of hours and a few clicks on the web, we started to get a pretty good impression of just who our prospective client was… James Martin is not just a chef, he’s a top UK celebrity chef and a TV presenter too, who currently has two weekly shows aired by the BBC on British prime-time TV!

The brief and sitemap

After receiving a detailed brief and the sitemap, excitement levels rose even higher. I mean this site was to get the full works… a Flash site, mostly CMS controlled with really cool features like a blog, an online shop, podcasts (audio & video), rss feeds etc.

Preparation and design

Due to the tight deadline we immediately started to focus on this site and after a couple of days brainstorming we had the project pretty well planned out. We then moved quite rapidly, designing the overall look of the site whilst simultaneously working on the CMS elements too.

In the meantime over in the UK, Cloud Nine Design worked closely with James himself, preparing site material - photographs, writing text content etc., They also shot video footage with James for the ‘coming soon’ teaser page, the main site introduction scene and his biography - which was interlaced with stills from his career.

Visuals were presented to the client along with an explanation on how certain areas would be animated etc. He loved the designs, so much so he didn’t feel the need to change any aspect of it. Which gave us the green light to move to the next stage.

The development

This was really the best part of the project. We always love challenges and let me tell you this site gave us lots of them! One of the main challenges for us was to integrate the shopping experience into the site.

We thought the shopping cart structure was all going well until we were faced with shipping costs, which proved to be a very tricky equation, given the complexity of prices and options to send parcels around the globe. But with some perseverance and a couple of sleepless nights, we cracked the code, (or should I say wrote it)… the CMS administrator simply enters the necessary data of each item they want to sell in the shop and the shipping is calculated on-the-fly.

A testing time

Ok, it’s now April 8th, we’re one week from the deadline and we’re practically done. Yes, we had managed to complete the site seven days earlier than anticipated, which gave us precious time to completely test the site - something of a rare commodity these days.

Of course it would be untrue if we were to say that there was no problems found when testing our work, so as anticipated and as usual, we found a couple of bugs, but nothing critical - just so damn annoying!

An audience awaits

Finally, it’s April 15th – the launch day. Everything works great and the site is looking sharp, the client is more than satisfied with his slick new online offering, so here we go…the new James Martin website opens it’s door to the public for the first time!

We didn’t announce a launch time, let alone a fixed date to anyone, so to our astonishment, comments were appearing in the Blog area almost instantly… and within a couple of minutes at least 10 people had posted their praises regarding the new site!

This had got to be virtually impossible, It’s like people were waiting for the site to come online - we can only assume they actually were?

Feedback

Since its launch we have received numerous emails and phone calls from all over the world, not just from the web design community, but also from James’s many fans. It really feels good to know that people respect our work.

Conclusion

For us, the site was a challenge, an exciting one for all involved. We rose to this challenge and believe we did an worthy job delivering a great presentation piece, both on time and on budget - a very satisfying experience for all involved.

But we can’t forget, the entire process of James’s site was made easier and more pleasurable because we had a great client that from day one put a lot of trust in us. He never questioned any part of the design, development or production methods we chose, therefore we felt privileged to work with someone who let us just ‘do what we do best’… respect to the chef!

Site Stats

180,000 hits and 60,000 unique visitors within 4 weeks.

Link to Site

James Martin - www.jamesmartinchef.co.uk


About the author, Matjaz Valentar
Co-Founder & CD, Webshocker

Matjaz Valentar is a Co-founder and Creative director at Webshocker. He has worked as a freelancer for many years and then in 2003 established Webshocker new media agency. So far he's really proud that Webshocker has become a known player in the web design industry.


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