Manchester United launched their re-branded events arm, including their website. I was brought in to look after the site after a number of freelancers had been working on it. The site was in a bad way, especially the responsive front end. The ExpressionEngine CMS was also done really badly – with content for single posts split across multiple channels in a very convoluted manner. We decided the best thing to do was to start over.
I started off by building the front end, there were no designs for the responsive aspect of the site so I used the main design to plan out the breakpoints. I paid particular attention to the forms and how they looked at each breakpoint. I was also able to try out methods for responsive tabular data.
For the ExpressionEngine CMS I started off by using the Structure plugin. I think it gives a much better method of viewing and managing the site structure. In the initial build there were different channels for each of the top level menu items, which in turn used different channels for galleries in each of those channels. Bonkers.
I created one channel called pages which was used across almost the entire site. The content on most of the pages is the same, so there was no need for multiple channels. I used the Matrix plugin to manage the images, allowing a single image to be uploaded or multiple images which could then be displayed as a gallery. Organising the back-end this way simplified content entry greatly, taking about 25 channels and replacing them with about 5 and resulting in a very happy client.
I used the Minimee plugin to combine, compress and cache the CSS and JS. Together with spriting and replacing a lot of images with CSS I was able to greatly improve the speed of the site. The homepage initial load was 62% faster, with 59% fewer HTTP requests, return visits were 59% faster, with 81% fewer HTTP requests.
It was nice to work on a decent size site and be able to start over and do a really great job, and seeing how the client appreciated the changes that had been made and how much easier it was for them to work with the CMS was brilliant.