One of my intentions for this blog is to expose some of the inner workings of Steadyhand, including the functions we outsource and the vendors we work with. A natural place to start is with this website and the firm that created the bear concept and the design, Burnkit. I'll discuss our website content management approach in a separate posting.

Way back in October we started the process of building the site by determining three simple goals:

  • to educate our clients
  • to service clients in a cost-effective manner
  • to get new clients
We decided to gear the site toward the following audiences, in order of priority of importance:
  • existing clients
  • prospective clients
  • general investing public
  • media
  • potential employees

Scott Ronald then produced a spreadsheet listing all of the content and features we wanted on the site. We then went through a variety of exercises to organize the content (the 'information architecture') and after some testing with users came up with the site map shown in the image. We made some deliberate decisions to minimize the amount of basic education and tools on the site; we felt that our users would already be educated enough in these areas. We also choose to integrate the blog and the site as seamlessly as we could.

The next step was to marry the content with the design of the site. We searched for the right firm to work with us on this, and in mid-November chose Burnkit, a local web development/creative agency.

Initially, Burnkit spent a lot of time getting to understand our business model and how we felt we were different from the rest of the industry. They developed a creative brief and then pitched us on some creative concepts for the site, including the 'Don't fear the bear' idea.

December/January was spent on four areas:

  • Burnkit developed the graphic design for the site, which manifested itself in design templates and standards
  • we shot the bear videos (a story unto itself) and Burnkit edited and developed the flash elements in the site
  • Scott and a writer from Burnkit spent a tonne of time developing the content for the site
  • our content management vendor configured the environment used for editing and hosting the site. For compliance reasons we need to keep all past versions of the site and show that our compliance officer has approved the site.

Early February up until launch was a frenzy of marrying all of the features of the site together and looking after the myriad of details required for a site of this size. There are still a lot of areas we have to tweak (e.g. search, usability of the blog), but we're very proud of the first version of the site.

The site took the better part of five months to complete and if we include the cost of our internal resources, cost between $150-200k to complete.

Piece of cake.