Client: Fancy Rhino
This was a mammoth project for a newbie independent developer like me. Fancy Rhino already had a nice-looking site/blog based on a Django backend that was only a couple of years old, but it was apparently kind of a pain when it came to creating new blog posts or pages that fit their vision. They wanted a Wordpress site with a nicer management interface that they could control more easily and use to make beautiful posts, case studies, and stories. As it so happened, a bunch of the guys at Fancy Rhino were some of my best friends in Chattanooga (where I lived at the time) so it seemed like a win/win: I get to work with people I like and respect on a cool project and make a little money to boot. Drew Belz (a Fancy co-founder) and I first talked over the basic idea of the site while we were working together in Chicago on the Kia Chicago Auto Show project back in February and got down to brass tacks with a first draft of the design/UI toward the end of April.
It was an ambitious concept from the outset: a fully customized Wordpress theme with a home page featuring infinite scrolling “cards” based on a “masonry” layout. The cards are bite-sized snippets of blog posts of all different types and they wanted tight control of how the cards looked and functioned. Some would just be short and sweet text nuggets, some would be video-centric with Youtube embeds, some would have social sharing options, and some would be more image-based and link to a slideshow of pictures. Getting all of the details right was certainly a challenge but Drew had a strong vision that I was eventually able to deliver.
The blog posts themselves are highly customizable too. Drew, as a writer and content creator, wanted to be able to generate visually rich stories around Fancy Rhino’s past work. We settled on Beaver Builder as a good “visual creator tool”…it allowed for creating complex layouts without too much html coding. At the outset this seemed like a strong choice…lots of good default modules that got us about 80% of the way to the goal. With a bit of elbow grease I added on a few extra modules that got us over the finish line.