Building Rocketmakers' New Website: a Developer’s Perspective
I’ve been working at Rocketmakers for nearly a year. My first full project when I joined was a rebuild of our website (where you’re reading this now, so spoiler alert - it went well!).
We decided it was time to rebuild the Rocketmakers website because we felt that we needed a face for the company that:
- Was up-to-date, both with latest technologies and with who we are now and what we value as a company
- Painted as clear a picture as possible to showcase to potential customers what we do
- Crew members with any level of technical understanding could use, easily
With a clear brief in hand, the next step was to assemble a team.
A training ground for the crew
Over the last 18 months, our crew doubled in size (meaning we’ve hired lots of new people - although we’ve also eaten a lot of burritos since Tortilla opened in the centre of Bath).
With all the new recruits, the website served as a great launchpad for some of our newest and freshest developers, designers, and project managers looking to cut their teeth on something. For me, I loved knowing I was working on a project that showcased our company culture and all the reasons I joined the team.
Three of our new designers got stuck in during the design phase, overseen by our new project manager Lynsey. Throughout the process we were supported by the rest of the crew, with everyone keen to see our progress and get a glimpse of how the new site would turn out.
The focus was on something that felt like us - focused, but also vibrant and playful. We came up with a site that hums with life, from the background of stars scrolling by on our error page to the rocket that whooshes into space as you move down from the home page.
We also wanted to showcase the artwork from Lydia Cockcroft, an illustrator we’ve been working with for nearly ten years. Over the course of our working relationship she’s not just brought our working processes to life but also drawn amazing images of every new crew member as they join the company, and we put them front and centre across all our new site’s pages.
Sharing the knowledge
Our previous site was mainly the work of a single developer on the team, which meant only he knew its inner workings - not ideal if he’s away on holiday (or one day decides to leave us). We were not keen to create such a silo this time and recruited several developers of different experience levels to the project, sharing the knowledge across the company.
Everyone at Rocketmakers is keen to work with the latest technologies, and we’re always questioning if there’s a better tool out there to do the job. Building the new site gave us a good opportunity to question some of our usual habits, and it led to us trying out a new website management system called Prismic. We have the freedom and encouragement at Rocketmakers to learn new tools and find the best solutions; Prismic works brilliantly for the website and we now use it regularly with other new projects as they come in.
One of the great features of Prismic is letting you cut sections of a webpage - a banner, a block of text, a grid of images, etc - into reusable chunks called ‘slices’. Once that’s done, you can build new pages without having to touch any code; just choose the slices you want and how you want them to appear. This has been a boon to our marketing team, who now have the power to change anything on the website and even add new pages without needing a developer on-hand. It means even more of us can take ownership of the site, an important thing for a project that represents all of us.
Design, Develop, Deploy
Here at Rocketmakers, the day job is to design, develop and deploy software that works for people and for the planet. Our personal website should therefore represent the best of what we have to offer.
Among other things, we use the Google Lighthouse tool to measure the quality of the sites we build. When we launched our new site, we hit a 100/100 score on all of the Google Lighthouse metrics - Performance, SEO, Accessibility and Best Practices. It’s the first time we’ve ever hit a full 100 score on a project and we couldn’t be prouder of the work we delivered to achieve that result.
The site served as a great first project for me and others at the company, showcased the best of who we are and what we value, and was built to the highest standard we could achieve.
All in all we’re thrilled with the new site and hope you like it as much as we do!