Expert Software Services
In August 1996 I began the design and construction
of a business to business web site for Expert Software
Services, where I was working as National Marketing Manager.
At first we weren't permitted to register the domain name
"expert.com.au" under the naming policy then in
place. So we went live using the domain name "expert.nf"
and switched to "expert.com.au" when they relaxed
the domain naming policy in March 1997.
The basic idea was to provide clean,
easy to read pages that were also fast and easy to navigate.
The top image links, bottom text links, navigation bars and
table of contents all combined to allow users to get quickly to
their next location.
Graphics were kept as
small as possible. The same set of small graphics were
repeated everywhere. Thus after the first one or two pages
most graphics would be cached by the user's web browser and the
rest of the pages would be fast to load.
Those users with sound cards would hear MIDI Music files being played on the
main pages. MIDI files were used so that I could provide some
40 plus seconds of reasonable sounding music with about a 10
Kb size file. Thus the sounds didn't take long to load.
Compare this with wave, or similar, sound files which use
about 60 Kb or so for just 4 plus seconds of sound!
Those using Microsoft
Internet Explorer v4 would be able to see the VBScript in action. Plus they'd see my
first efforts at using Cascading
Style Sheets to better control how things are
displayed. Being unable to use the company's corporate
typeface (Adobe Futura), I tried to force the use of the
Helvetica (Arial) typeface as sans
serif typefaces are easier to read on a computer monitor.
Users with Java
being used in a few places.
The following software tools were used to design, build,
maintain and enhance the first generation of the Expert
Software Services web site:
- Microsoft FrontPage 97/98
- Microsoft Internet Explorer v4.01
- Microsoft Word for Windows 97
- Microsoft Windows 95/98 and Plus!
- Microsoft Windows NT Server
- Microsoft Internet Information Server
- Microsoft ActiveX Development Kit
- Microsoft Visual SourceSafe
- Microsoft Image Composer
- Microsoft GIF Animator
- Microsoft Music Composer
- Adobe PhotoShop for Windows v4/5
- Adobe Illustrator for Windows v8
- Adobe ImageReady
- Adobe ImageStyler
- CorelDRAW! v5/8
- The HotDog Web Editor 32-bit
- Netscape Navigator v3
- Graphic Workshop v1.1j
- Paint Shop Pro v3.11
- WS_FTP for Windows
Languages used included:
• VBScript and JScript for browser scripting
• Perl for CGI scripting.
The Internet Service Provider was OzEmail.
They hosted the site on a UNIX based system running the
Apache web server.
Thanks go to Steve
Frost for help with some Perl CGI scripts. Steve and I
also collaborated to create the "Send a Christmas
Card" section of the web site in time for Christmas
During its first 6 to 12 months, this first generation of
the Expert Software Services web site received much praise
from clients, prospects, potential employees etc. They liked
that the pages were fast to load and that there was plenty
of detail about the company and its services. Of course this
was against the prevailing web design trends at the time
towards complex, slow to load images, and not much real
The "Petals Around the Rose" web page I created
to demonstrate the use of Microsoft's ActiveX technology
also got the company much recognition when it was chosen as
a finalist in the 1996 Activate the
Expert Software Services had about 15 people when the web
site first went live, and by January 2000 there were some 130 people.
As the company grew and matured, the web site also grew to some 200 pages.
Unfortunately we just never found the time to do a
makeover of the web site during that period. Thus the design
has seemed very dated for at least the last two years and
there are now far better navigation methods that could be
utilised. Just such a makeover was planned as part of a company wide re-branding and name change
Some months after I left the company in February 2000, a
new generation of the web site was published using almost
none of the design ideas and elements I had been working on
just before leaving. In fact I thought it a very poor
effort. Others must have had the same opinion as in July
2000 it was replaced.
The site was hosted by WebCentral.
Tuesday, 30 October 2007