From Concept to Live

The Unveiling of the Wichita Sewer and Drain Website


I want to share a journey that began at a Rotary Club meeting, an encounter that would lead to an exciting project intertwining mixing technology, creativity, and entrepreneurship. It was there I met Jonathan Roper, an entrepreneur from Wichita, Kansas, brimming with ideas and the recent owner of a license for a Sewer and Drain Service company. What Jon lacked, however, was a digital presence for his new venture, a gap I was eager to fill. This is the story of how came to be, a project born from a chance meeting and driven by a shared vision to build something impactful.

The vision was to develop an online space that was not just informative but also engaging and representative of the brand's commitment to quality service. This vision was the catalyst for the creation of the Wichita Sewer and Drain website, from its initial planning and design to its final launch and beyond.

Jonathan Roper on ICT Podcast

February 19, 2024

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Initial Planning

My first step was to understand the core of Jonathan's business, its values, and how it wished to be perceived. This knowledge was the guide for every subsequent decision, from the aesthetics of the logo to the functionality of the website.

The initial planning set the stage for what was to become a digital presence of Wichita Sewer and Drain Service. It was a period marked by decisions that were both strategic and creative, each step taken with the goal of building a website that not only met our immediate needs but also provided a scalable foundation for the future.

The Brand

The first step was creating the compnay logo. We embarked on a collaborative process, engaging both a talented Fiverr consultant and a local artist known for their creativity. The synergy between their distinct styles and perspectives culminated in a logo that was not just visually appealing but also versatile enough to grace various mediums, from the digital landscape of the website to tangible items like work shirts and promotional products.

The creation of the brand logo was a collaborative effort that combined the creative talents of a Fiverr consultant and the artistic touch of a local artist. We aimed for a logo that was versatile and memorable, one that could easily transition from the website to physical items like work shirts and promotional products.

Wichita Sewer and Drain Logo

Tools and Technologies

I quickly relaized how opinionated I was about the tools and technologies I wanted to use. I wanted to use the tools and technologies that I was most comfortable with and that I knew would allow me to move quickly and efficiently.

Here are the tools and technologies I chose to use for the Wichita Sewer and Drain website:

Node.js and npm

I chose to go with a static website built with Node.js and the npm command line. This choice was influenced by the following factors:

  • Node.js is a JavaScript runtime environment that allows you to execute JavaScript code on the server-side. It provides various APIs for building web sites, handling files, and managing dependencies.
  • npm (Node Package Manager) is a package manager for Node.js. It allows you to install and manage third-party libraries (packages) easily.
  • Utilizing JavaScript for site generation simplifies the development process, enabling faster and more cohesive project progress.
  • Access to npm's extensive library of tools and packages allows for rapid integration of features and automation of tasks, enhancing development efficiency.
Pug Template Engine

My choice to use the pug template engine was influenced by its simplicity and flexibility, and my experience with it on multipl other sites. I knew that once I had the enviroment setup, I could move quickly to create new pages and content. I also wanted to created a platform that would allow for eacy updated and maintenance.

  • Pug is a high-performance template engine for Node.js and browsers. It’s heavily influenced by Haml and is implemented using JavaScript.
  • Pug provides a clean, whitespace-sensitive syntax for writing HTML templates. It focuses on performance and powerful features.
  • You can use Pug to create dynamic HTML content by embedding variables, loops, and conditionals directly in your templates.
Visual Studio Code (Microsoft)
  • Visual Studio Code (VS Code) is a powerful, open-source code editor developed by Microsoft. Known for its versatility, it supports a wide range of programming languages and frameworks, making it a popular choice among developers worldwide. VS Code stands out for its user-friendly interface, extensive extension marketplace, and robust set of integrated development tools, such as debugging, version control, and task running, which streamline the coding process.
  • Extensive Language Support: VS Code provides built-in support for a multitude of programming languages including JavaScript, TypeScript, Python, and more, making it suitable for a wide range of development projects.
  • Rich Extension Ecosystem: The editor's marketplace offers thousands of extensions, allowing users to customize their development environment to their specific needs, enhancing productivity and efficiency.
  • Integrated Development Tools: With features like IntelliSense for code completion, built-in Git support, and an integrated terminal, VS Code offers a comprehensive development experience within a single platform.
SB UI Kit Pro (Start Bootstrap)

My choice of the SB UI Kit Pro template from StartBootstrap was influenced by its robust features and adaptability. It offered a wealth of design elements and functionalities, all built on the latest web technologies. This template was not just a starting point but a launchpad that allowed us to craft a website that was both aesthetically pleasing and functionally robust, leveraging the power of Bootstrap 5 and the pug template tool. It also come with a complete development environment that allowed me to quickly get started and build out the site.

  • SB UI Kit Pro offers a comprehensive toolkit for developers, leveraging Bootstrap 5 to create modern, responsive designs. It simplifies the development process with pre-designed elements and customizable themes, enhancing both efficiency and creativity.
  • Bootstrap 5 integration for modern, responsive designs
  • Access to source files including SASS/SCSS for in-depth customization
  • Regular updates and direct email support from the development team

Choosing for hosting source files in a private repository tied to an organization provides a robust platform for collaborative development, offering a blend of security, project management tools, and integration capabilities. GitHub's environment fosters seamless collaboration among team members while ensuring the confidentiality and integrity of the codebase through its comprehensive access control and privacy features.

  • GitHub facilitates detailed role-based permissions and collaborative features like pull requests and issues, enabling effective teamwork while safeguarding code integrity.
  • With support for numerous third-party applications and services, GitHub streamlines workflows through automation, continuous integration, and deployment tools, optimizing productivity.
  • Private repositories ensure source code protection, and GitHub's features support compliance with regulatory standards, offering audit trails and secure development practices.
Azure Static Web Apps

Azure Static Web Apps is a cloud service provided by Microsoft Azure, designed to simplify the deployment and hosting of static web applications. It caters to modern web app development, automating the build and deployment processes directly from code repositories. For Product Owners, Azure Static Web Apps offer a streamlined solution to bring web applications to market rapidly, with built-in features for scalability, security, and global distribution, ensuring a robust and high-performing user experience. Read more about Azure Static Web Apps

Here are key reasons why developers might choose Azure Static Web Apps for hosting a static website:

  • Integrated CI/CD Pipeline: Developers can easily create a continuous integration and deployment (CI/CD) pipeline with Azure Static Web Apps, especially when using a private GitHub repository. By linking the Azure Static Web App to a specific GitHub repository and branch, any push or pull request triggers an automated build and deployment process, ensuring that the latest changes are always live.
  • Global Distribution: Azure Static Web Apps automatically serves static content from points geographically distributed around the world, minimizing latency and enhancing the user experience by bringing content closer to the users.
  • Out-of-the-box Security Features: Azure Static Web Apps come with free SSL certificates, custom domain configuration, and a seamless security model that simplifies API calls by eliminating the need for CORS configuration, thus providing robust security measures with minimal configuration.

Cloudflare is a comprehensive web performance and security platform that provides various services, including SSL and DNS hosting, to enhance website security and performance. I chose Cloudflare for its robust offerings in these areas, aiming to leverage its capabilities to protect and accelerate our web properties efficiently. The free tier provided a solid foundation for our needs, but it is nice to be able to scale up as needed. Here are the key benefits that influenced this decision:

  • Enhanced Security: Cloudflare provides a suite of security features including free SSL certificates for secure data transmission, DNS Security Extensions (DNSSEC) to protect against DNS spoofing, and a Web Application Firewall (WAF) to guard against common web threats such as SQL injection and cross-site scripting attacks​​.
  • Improved Website Performance: By supporting the HTTP/2 protocol, Cloudflare enables parallel loading of page elements, significantly reducing website load times. Additionally, features like image optimization, minification of files, and intelligent browser caching further enhance site speed and user experience​​.
  • DDoS Protection and Traffic Management: Cloudflare acts as a proxy between the website and its visitors, obscuring the server's IP address and providing a robust defense against DDoS attacks. Its load-balancing and rate-limiting features ensure the website remains fast and accessible even during high traffic periods and attack attempts​​​​.
Screaming Frog SEO Spider

The Screaming Frog SEO Spider is a website crawler that helps identify common SEO issues and provides insights into website performance. It offers a comprehensive view of the website's structure, internal linking, and metadata, enabling users to optimize their site for search engines and improve user experience. The tool's features site audits making it a valuable asset for SEO professionals and web developers.

  • In-depth Analysis: This tool allows us to conduct a thorough examination of the website, identifying any technical faults that might hinder its performance on search engines. By analyzing HTTP status codes, page titles, and meta descriptions in detail, we can pinpoint and rectify issues swiftly​​.
  • Identification of SEO Issues: Screaming Frog helps us detect critical SEO elements like broken links, duplicate content, missing alt texts, and improper redirects, which are essential for maintaining a smooth user experience and enhancing search engine rankings​​​​.
  • Integration with Analytics: The tool's capability to integrate with Google Analytics and Search Console provides us with a richer, data-driven understanding of the website's traffic and user behavior, enabling more targeted improvements​​.

Development and Deployment

The transition from design to development marked a pivotal phase in the journey of bringing the Wichita Sewer and Drain website to life. Armed with a clear vision and a solid plan, I embarked on the technical endeavor of turning our conceptual designs into a functional digital space.

Choosing Azure Static Pages for hosting was a strategic move, aimed at leveraging the scalability and reliability of Microsoft's cloud services. This decision was complemented by the integration of Cloudflare for DNS management, ensuring not only the seamless distribution of web content but also enhanced security and performance. The synergy between Azure and Cloudflare provided a robust infrastructure that was both efficient and cost-effective.

The heart of the development process was rooted in GitHub, where I created a dedicated repository for the project. This platform became the central hub for version control and collaboration, allowing me to meticulously build and refine the website's features. GitHub Pages served as an invaluable tool, enabling me to share progress with Jonathan in real-time. This iterative approach, facilitated by simple git commits and pushes, ensured that we could rapidly implement feedback and make adjustments, keeping the project agile and aligned with our objectives.

The initial setup on GoDaddy, where the domain and email were already established, required careful integration. I created a [email protected] account, which became the cornerstone for managing all necessary tools and services to build and promote the site. This step was crucial in streamlining communication and ensuring that all aspects of the website's infrastructure were cohesive and well-coordinated.

The final piece of the development puzzle was setting up an Azure Subscription for the Azure Static App instance. This process was seamlessly integrated with our GitHub repository, enabling a continuous integration and continuous deployment (CI/CD) workflow. This setup not only streamlined updates and maintenance but also reinforced the website's stability and responsiveness to changes.

The development and deployment phase was a testament to the power of modern web technologies and the importance of a well-structured workflow. It was a period of intense focus and technical rigor, where each line of code and every deployment decision was made with the user experience and the business's digital presence in mind.

Lessons Learned

Bringing the Wichita Sewer and Drain website from concept to live was not just about building a digital presence; it was a profound learning experience that offered numerous insights into the complexities of web development and project management. Reflecting on this journey, several key lessons stand out:

Embrace Flexibility and Adaptability
One of the first lessons learned was the importance of being flexible and adaptable. In the fast-paced world of web development, unexpected challenges are a given. Whether it was tweaking the design to better meet user needs or adapting our strategy to accommodate new technologies, the ability to pivot and adjust our approach was invaluable.
The Power of Collaboration
The collaboration between myself, Jonathan, the Fiverr consultant, and the local artist highlighted the incredible value of diverse perspectives and expertise. Each team member brought unique skills and insights that enriched the project, underscoring the fact that collaboration is a powerful tool for achieving exceptional results.
Importance of User-Centered Design
Focusing on the user experience from the outset guided many of our decisions, from the layout and navigation to the content and aesthetics. This user-centered approach ensured that the website was not only visually appealing but also intuitive and user-friendly, which is crucial for engaging and retaining visitors.
Continuous Learning and Improvement
The digital landscape is ever-evolving, and staying abreast of the latest trends, tools, and best practices is essential. This project was a reminder of the importance of continuous learning and the willingness to incorporate new ideas and technologies to enhance the website's effectiveness and efficiency.
SEO and Performance Optimization
The significance of SEO and performance optimization was another critical takeaway. Ensuring the website was optimized for search engines and performed well across all devices was pivotal in enhancing its visibility and user experience, ultimately contributing to the site's success.
The Value of Iterative Development
Lastly, adopting an iterative development approach allowed us to refine and improve the website continuously. By viewing the launch not as the end but as a milestone in an ongoing process, we were able to make iterative improvements based on user feedback and analytics, ensuring the website remained relevant and effective.

These lessons learned from the Wichita Sewer and Drain website project are not just applicable to web development but to a wide range of projects and endeavors. They underscore the importance of adaptability, collaboration, user focus, continuous learning, and iterative improvement in achieving success.