Author Archive: Brad Lucido

June 5, 2012

New SoftLayer.com Design: Build the Future

If you've been reading the SoftLayer Blog via an RSS feed or if you find yourself navigating directly to the portal to manage your SoftLayer account, you might not have noticed that the our main website has been updated again — and in dramatic fashion. Last fall we gave the site a slight refresh ... This time, we did a total rework.

We took the site in a new visual direction, with graphics and messaging to complement our mantra of customers using our platform to create their vision — to build the future.

SoftLayer Homepage

The new look — referred to as "SoftLayer at Night" by my fellow SoftLayer developer friend, Seth Thornberry — was designed to reflect our core identity, and it retires the faithful red, white and grey theme that has served us well for more than three years. The new style has received rave reviews from customers, partners and employees, and even if there has been some criticism — everyone has an opinion nowadays — we can generally chalk it up to people simply not liking change.

Highlights of the Redesign:

  • A dramatic new home page design, including visually rich "hero images" (where you see "The InnerLayer" heading if you're reading this on the SoftLayer Blog)
    SoftLayer Homepage Hero Image
  • Expanded main navigation menus at the top of each page
    SoftLayer Homepage Top Nav
  • A new lower-order navigation system on the left of all content pages
  • SoftLayer Homepage Side Nav

  • [For typographically inclined] The new design also leverages web fonts functionality to incorporate "Benton Sans," the corporate font used in print, interactive and other marketing communications.
    SoftLayer Homepage Side Nav

The new design was executed in-house, and our workflow was pretty traditional ... We like to roll up our sleeves. Page templates were created as PSD files and then hand-coded in HTML, PHP, JavaScript and CSS on top of the same framework we use for the SoftLayer Customer Portal.

During the development process, we used our new GIT code repository to facilitate the merging of all of our code onto our staging server. Since it was our first time to use GIT in a major way, there was a bit of a learning curve. The first few merges had to be reworked after finding a few errors in commit messages, but after we got a little practice, the subsequent merges went off without a hitch. The final staging merge was a breeze, and given the struggles we've had with SVN in past projects, this was a huge relief.

When it came time for the design's official launch, we ran into a hiccup related to our automatic regression testing system and problems with cached CSS files, but these issues were quickly resolved, and the new-look SoftLayer.com went live.

It took a lot of hard work from (and a lot of caffeine for) a number of people to get the new site out the door, so I'd like to make sure credit goes where it's due. Our lead designer Carlos ("Los") Ruiz did a majority of the design work, and the implementation of that design fell to Dennis Dolliver (Website Developer), Charles King (SEO Manager) and me. I should also send a shout-out to the entire marketing team who jumped in to help to proof content, test pages and keep everyone sane.

What do you think of the new design? Stay tuned for more website improvements and additions!

-Brad

September 20, 2011

SoftLayer.com Website Refresh

Recently, the SoftLayer Marketing team refreshed our corporate website. You may have already seen one of the most obvious changes: an updated homepage.

While minor updates to the look and feel of the site have been made over the last two years (adding solid colors to the main tabs, increasing the use of text inside buttons, etc.), the essential layout of the homepage hasn't changed since December of 2008! We were due for a refresh.

Our updated homepage features a simplified layout with new graphics. Special offers and new products get a large-format banner, which clearly introduces visitors to what we are offering in a way that is more eye-catching than before. Check out the difference between the old-style banners and the new-style banners:

BEFORE
SoftLayer.com Homepage

NOW
SoftLayer.com Homepage

Below the main banner, we replaced the solid red banner shapes with ones that incorporate photos and colorful graphical elements. Here's the new design for our Dedicated Server and CloudLayer Computing banners:

SoftLayer.com Homepage

Our primary navigation layout has also changed. We now highlight our three main product offerings – Dedicated Severs, CloudLayer Computing, and Managed Hosting – with red tabs that contrast with our other grey tabs, as shown below:

SoftLayer.com Homepage

We have also re-organized many of our information pages to make our offerings more clear and to make content easier to find.

The list of changes goes on -- enhanced contact buttons on the right of each page to make it easier for website visitors to get ahold of us, a new approach to links at the top and bottom of every page, and so on.

And while the changes we added in this recent site update add a refreshing look and feel, we are by no means finished. You'll find a lot more going on at www.softlayer.com in the weeks and months to come.

-Brad

Categories: 
August 12, 2010

The Great iPhone 4 Case Quest

I recently was able to get ahold of a 32GB iPhone 4. It is the first iPhone I have owned, and seems like a good model to start my 2 year AT&T contract with. I can say that it lives up to all of the hype (positive and negative), so I will not bore you with yet another review that repeats what is already out there.

Instead, I would like to share my case-quest story.

Shortly after getting my new iPhone 4, I inadvertently dropped it in a parking lot. I am happy to report that the front and back panels are truly scratch resistant. After falling on asphalt, amazingly, there were no scratches or marks on either the front or back panels. Because of this, I feel comfortable forgoing the screen protector I was considering buying.

However, the corners of the phone were another matter. After the drop, the corners got slightly chipped, but not badly. No one besides my fellow webby colleague Steven Rogers has been able to notice them, but they bug me nonetheless.

Sadly, these corner chips could have been avoided if I was able to buy a case at the same time as my phone, but unfortunately, there were none to be found at the time of purchase. The iPhone 4 compatible cases seem to be more scarce than the actual phones!

After my un-paid stress test for Apple, I began looking around for an iPhone 4 Case that I like. At one place, I saw an Apple bumper case that a fellow iPhone 4 owner had, and that seemed like an ideal match. It protects the corners, and looks like an extension of the device.

I began my case-quest by going around to several Apple Stores, but it was the same story at each one I went to: "Sorry, we had some earlier today, but we sold out." These bumper cases have been flying off the shelves of Apple Stores and seem to be gone moments after they are put on the racks. I heard reports that some customers were so eager to get one, they even got it in a color they didn't care for.

I also tried going to a couple of different Best Buy mobile stores, but the types of cases they had were not appealing to me, and were in low supply as well.

After looking around at many stores, I was able to get a "temporary" case at a mall kiosk shop. It is a decent gel-type case, but has a closed back, so you can't see the beautiful glass-back with the Apple logo on it.

The gel case protects my corners, but I still wasn't satisfied with it completely, so I renewed my bumper case quest.

Fortunately, I was able to get one from an Apple Store during a week day and so finally fulfilled my quest. I really like my new case. It has metal buttons for the volume buttons, and the sleep/wake button, and it has an extra thick enclosure around the mute switch so you don't accidentally bump it.

So, the moral of this story is that if you are planning to get an iPhone 4 and want a case, try to line up a case that you like ahead of time as well.

Oh, and one more thing, if you haven't done so already, check out the SoftLayer iPhone Mobile Client app that I helped make.

-Brad

Categories: 
June 17, 2010

Mixi is next!

I am sure anyone reading this has heard of Facebook, but do you know about Mixi?

Mixi is the number one social networking site in Japan and technically predates the “full internet” version of Facebook. It shares many features with Facebook, but its social model is a little different. Mixi is by invitation only, and its users almost never use their real name. Instead, users adopt nicknames and use icons or photos of almost anything to represent themselves. Also, Mixi is also only available in Japanese for the moment.

One thing that was noticeably missing from Mixi until recently has been third party social apps. With third party apps, Mixi users can now enjoy social games similar to the ones found on Facebook, which have been around since 2007.

And when it comes to game hosting, SoftLayer is a leader. We have recently won the FindMyHost.com Editors’ Choice Award for Game Servers for May 2010.

SoftLayer is dedicated to supporting the game industry’s IT needs. We regularly attend game related conferences. We were recently at f8 2010 and GDC Canada. You can also find us at GDC Europe and then GDC Online in Austin later this year. You can see our conference schedule on our events page.

As a gamer myself, I feel proud to work for a company with such a presence in the video game industry and community. And as Mixi gains more and more attention, I will be glad when I can say, “You heard about it here first!”.

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