It’s not a sculpture or a building, it’s a living thing: Creating MFG’s new website
by Lee Adams
To an untrained eye (like mine) websites can seem pretty simple, and we often take them for granted. How mistaken I was, as I found out on my visit to the web team to discuss our new website…
“So, I hear you’ve been working on the website for a while now. How come you didn’t just Wordpress that shit?” That was the question I planned to open with when I went to discuss our spanky new website the masterminds behind its creation, but I chickened out at the last minute. They’ve been working on it for six months now and I realized that might be a good way to get my head kicked in. ..
I started with a more conventional avenue of approach instead. Here’s Jerry, aka Jaroslav Kameň, our Leader of the Web Team:
“We’ve wanted to create a new website for ages, and luckily we got a nice six-month gap in our schedule which gave us the chance to develop the site internally. It takes a long time because we depend on the input of several departments, and lots of meetings were involved, gathering all the interested parties and pinpointing everyone’s needs.
The website itself is just the tip of the iceberg because there’s a lot going on behind the scenes. For example, the support section is linked to the games, so if someone clicks for help in-game, they’ll actually be opening up part of the website. Same with the HR section, which still includes links to third-party tools.
The old website
It’s something we had to do, though, because the old website was cluttered and had been neglected for a long while. It was five years old and starting to look a bit unloved. They say that if you’re a big business you can afford to have a crappy website, but we’re not quite in that league yet! So we had to do something about it, keeping the same look as the old site but making it a lot cleaner and user-friendly.
There are lots of little tweaks we wanted to implement too — the “Jobs” tag has become the “Careers” tag, because it’s not like we’re bagging groceries here, we want to impress on people that MFG is an attractive place for them to enhance their career! (No disrespect to people who bag groceries intended…)
The lovely new website
As you can see, the site is now split into four distinct areas that reflect our goals as a company. We were very influenced by the “See, Think, Do, Care” framework on this. Firstly, we can’t grow as a business unless people actually see what we do, so our Games are front and centre. The Think part is encouraging people to decide whether they want to interact with us — play the game, apply for a position, etc. Then comes the Doing — download the game and play it, send your resume, or contact us about potential business partnerships. The site may look fairly simple but it’s very multi-faceted in that respect, aimed at multiple audiences: players, future team members, and potential business partners in particular. The last part is Caring, so offering support, looking after our community and building relationships with them, which is something we’ve always been so good at in the past.”
There’s a break in the conversation and things are going well. Time for the question. “So, how come you didn’t just Wordpress that shit?”
I made it clear that I was joking, and that’s when Tom, who’s responsible for the front end, piped up:
“We wanted to have 100% control over the website, from all the data to how it looks and feels. We design our own mockups/wireframes, pass it to Kostas [Marketing Graphic Designer] who does the graphics, then passes it back to me to transform into code. This is what the website looks like when you peel back the nice graphics:
Wordpress wouldn’t give us the control we wanted over our content. Plus, we’ve got something better! Matěj Voborník [Web Developer] built our own Content Management System from scratch. It’s super user-friendly and supports localization in 13 language — the guy’s a wizard. By using that we can operate more processes internally.
It gives us the flexibility to allow other departments to adjust settings. That way we don’t have to update the page all the time, and we can set it so people can do it themselves without breaking anything.
It looks great now, but there were some frustrations along the way. The really tedious part is optimizing the site for different size screens. It’s annoying when you’ve got a beautiful looking website on a big desktop screen, but then you view it on a smartphone and it looks totally broken. So we’ve optimized for as many variations as we can, all the way down to 320 pixels, which is the size of an iPhone 5 screen. We haven’t got round to supporting watches yet, but maybe in the future!”
A short video showing the grid the new website was built on
The new website does indeed look beautiful, and I’m glad I asked the Wordpress question now. I use it for my own stuff and I find it a bastard to use, so I am very envious of the guy’s really user-friendly custom-built content management system. Jerry has the final word:
“A website isn’t a sculpture or a building, it’s a living thing. They’re usually good for two or three years before you need to change. I’m glad I got the opportunity to work on this — the feedback we’ve received from all the stakeholders has been very positive so far, and I’m delighted with it.”
Tom, Jerry and Kostas
Big kudos to Jaro, Kosta, Tomas V, Matej V and the whole Web, Creative and Marketing teams for making it happen!