Home Client Work Website & e-Commerce Sharan Project

The Challenge
The Sharan Project is almost a one man show. Except that in this case it is a woman running the show. Nandita Shah, a homeopath, is as much a lover of animals as she is of human beings. In fact, one could easily mistake her to be a bigger lover of animals than of humans. Sharan is as much about caring for animals and their rights as it is to educate people about the benefits of healthy living and healthy eating.

With so much to say, she needed a website that would at once serve the purpose of being an exhaustive repository of anything vegan, while also attracting people to partcipate in her efforts in protecting our winged and furry relatives.

After running down serveral blind allies and hitting many a roadblock in trying to build herself a website, she finally came to us, following the advice of a mutual friend. She needed a way to build the site once but update it with more information as her fledgeling organisation grew. The company she had contracted the work to had advised her to present all her information as PDF content that she could upload to the site. However, it was more than a little strange that visitors coming to the site see a bunch of links that lead to PDF files and not to other web pages.

It was a no-go. She needed a real website, with real content, that she could adapt and update. A volunteer to her organisation had already sent in a proposed site design that we could use if we found it promising.

The biggest hurdle for us of course was that Sharan being a non-profit organisation, funds were extremely limited. And Nandita knew nothing about Content Manage Systems and she was in a hurry to get something up as soon as possible.

The masthead on the top of each page, with four prominent images reinforcing the idea of nature, health and animals. The main navigation links are dynamically created.

The Process
As the entire site was going to be a work in progress right from the outset, we decided to make a very flexible, database driven navigation system. Need to add additional sections to the website? Need to put more articles under one of the sections? No problem. Nothing was coded directly into the pages. The entire site was built from ground up to be as flexible as possible to change.

The design template we received target an 800 x 600px screen size. We felt it was too restrictive and didn't allow much room for sidebars and additional levels of navigation. With Nandita's permission, we adapted the design to better fit on a 1024px screen. This gave us the required space for a secondary level navigation system as well to place interesting quotes and images on all the inner pages of the site.

We also built her a bare-bones CMS so that she could start adding content to some of the sections on her own. The events and workshops pages were ideal candidates for CMS control.

The Result
The Sharan website is huge. It is probably one of the biggest websites we have built so far. Hopefully, Nandita's efforts will result in a better planet Earth for all of us. It certainly is one of the most comprehensive websites on Veganism and its benefits. Using the CMS has been so easy for Nandita, that she now plans to have the entire website redone to be under CMS control.

The resources section gets its data directly from Amazon. Not only does this make it easy to add new books, movies etc via the CMS, we also let Sharan benefit from Amazon's excellent referal system.