The Mosquito Authority of Hickory, North Carolina, found me on LinkedIn by searching for “WordPress” within 150 miles of their ZIP code. I was surprised to learn at that time, that I was at the top of the search results. I had expected another designer to be there so I searched myself and saw those same results.
Laci LeBlanc (Marketing Director) met with me halfway at a nice location for lunch while discussing personal events to next moving across the street to a coffee house to discuss the business aspect and what they needed (that’s how I meet with clients: personal first, business last). We sat engrossed in wireframes drawn out over printouts of the then Apple website of late 2013 when it had the dark gray bar and plain white background with faint dividing lines. Occasionally, she would pull out her iPad and show me other websites that they had put together and the old design, shown below, that wasn’t exactly what they wanted and from my observation, was taking way too long to load as you can see by the spinning wheel on the home page slider and the use of the counter, looking at PageSpeed Insights, took a lot of “memory.”
At first, I went about making the site exactly like Apple’s, except for the jQuery animations, but not copying their design. After lots of back and forth via email, we started to change the whole look of the site away from Apple’s black and white to the current design with the black flat bar at the top and during that time, it was fixed to the top but later we agreed it didn’t work with a mobile Responsive Web Design (RWD) layout. In the end, the site took on a flat design.
Laci is very design-orientated in print graphic design and was extremely detail-orientated and patient when working with me, to explain what they needed for each page, post and overall look. She provided multiple drawings and explanations, very helpful and complementary when working with a visual web designer like me. Here are a few of the written notes she showed me at the very beginning that really demonstrate her ability to communicate well, visually.
When I first started working for The Mosquito Authority, I worked with Laci for a long time and when she took a long break, much to my awareness, I started working together with Brock Bumgarner (Director of Operations) and Joey Osborne (CEO). Brock seemed really laid back (not when getting work done but in his style of communicating the website changes) and he also was very determined to extrude the best designs from me instead of pushing to have something done quickly without quality. I was supercharged by Brock’s character and persistent work integrity both on and off the clock. His work character is similar to a coach leading a team.
The ZIP code locator was a project I wanted to tackle (and I was so close to figuring it out) but I decided to focus on the website redesign. The locator was rebuilt by Matt at Syntive. The locator searches a list of ZIPs and each one is linked to a franchisee page, but occasionally there’s no ZIP code to match the one you entered, so the code uses Google’s reverse ZIP conversion to Lat/Long along with a large database of ZIP codes tied to Lat/Long coordinates to calculate the nearest franchisee within a few miles radius and redirect you to their page.
This whole project, just to redesign the website, took four months from September 3, 2013 – January 31, 2014, but the work kept coming in afterwards (grateful for it) and I still needed to tweak some of the page layouts, the layout of the mobile site (RWD), move all testimonial videos to a main YouTube channel from the old locations, pull old testimonial data to the new site, create 301 Redirects, move programs between hosting locations and re-install, etc. The website hosting was changed to HostGator on February 20, 2014 to provide better email support and we had a lot of tech chats with them, they were very helpful. We were hosting with BlueHost previously and the tech support feedback there wasn’t as helpful as the support we received from HostGator when we had an email problem, which I’ll talk more about that later. Below are screenshots of the current web design layouts by page and post, dated September 30, 2014.
I do like working with The Mosquito Authority team as I overly mention in the site overview video (in which I said, “tutorial” but I meant “overview.”) The new site redesign went live January 31, 2014 at 11:55 a.m. and then something new came up.
Brock emails me, after all was said and done on The Mosquito Authority website, and asks, “Do you know of any online quiz-taking programs?” To which, I replied, “Sure do, I’ve just been designing a WordPress website where I incorporated one.” To which he says, “Wow! What are the chances of that!” (Don’t take our phrases as verbatim but the gist of what was said.) So there you go, another project!
I was so excited to work with them yet again. A little chuckle of expressed joy here…more like a WooHoo! at double forté and a slight thought of jumping into the air to click my ankles together but rather quickly lifting both hands straight up over my head, palms spread, as if to cheer wildly for a field goal.
Lucky for us, the service was on sale yet again. 😉 There was one feature that I had to incorporate that wasn’t part of the original system, that took a bit of PHP and WordPress function filters on my end, plus lots of going back and forth with the developers on their team (they were super busy the newest redesign so it took several weeks) to make a special WordPress hook for us (which means we have a custom service). I used the Theme My Login plugin to make a nice clean log in/out and registration page. The integration took a lot of time to get it just right, but now it’s done. Yay!
In addition to building this website and incorporating the online quiz-taking program, I also provided technical support for their email system and 400+ accounts when they had a forwarding SPAM targeting attack. I was focally locked-in, at first by myself, to restore all the email accounts from Thursday through Saturday (end of a week) and then Brock joined me on Monday of the next week, if I remember correctly, and we used a Google Drive Sheet to keep track of all the accounts that needed to be reset and some that needed to be newly created. If ever I reached brain overload/numbness, it was during that never-ending marathon. We also had to set up all the Gmail accounts for POP3 with up to three accounts each and Send Mail As settings. Finally notifying each franchisee by email that their account was ready to go.
Please do watch The Mosquito Authority overview video below and if you liked reading through this portfolio entry, tweet it and leave your comments there. Don’t forget to include @wxwnc so I’ll see what you have to say. I’ll talk about my newest project, USAMist.com, with this company, in the next portfolio entry. Please come back in a month from today, September 30, 2014, and see what new changes have been made to The Mosquito Authority website.
If I haven’t said it enough, I look forward to creating future, quality work for The Mosquito Authority. And maybe even start a partnership with your company. Check out my services page if you’re interested in partnering with me.