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Panel One’s New Look!

Today is a big day for Panel One Comics Society! After five long months of planning and development, the new Panel One website has launched.

We sat down with our Director of Marketing and Fund Development, Ashley Hartley, to discuss the website.

Why the change?

The former Panel One website was a great landing site for members. The site, originally developed by the group that hosts WeTalkComics, did an excellent job making a site for members to talk on forums or find out current news from Panel One.

However, it was time to step up the game when Panel One became a non-profit society in the fall of 2016. Websites should reflect an organization’s goals – and the goals of Panel One became a lot bigger.

How did we decide on the new look?

As the Director of Marketing and Fund Development for Panel One, I was the brave soul who decided to take on the job of developing the site. So I sat down with the rest of the board, who made it pretty clear that the site needed to be clean, crisp, and user-friendly. We all agreed that we needed to brighten up our site and make sure that it was functional for our needs.

We needed a way to highlight our members easily, keep people up to date with information on events, and have a conference/festival approach.

But I couldn’t plan a makeover without help – so I sat down with our sponsors at Octopus & Son to clearly map out the new look. Together, we found the right theme and found a clear identity for Panel One that went beyond our logo.

What was the most important part for you as a developer?

The most important part for me was that our website featured our own creators. So, as you browse the site, you will find our member’s work in our title banners.

I’m always in awe of our member’s work – and I want people who visit the site to have the same reaction as I do.

What does it take to build a website like this?

Quick answer? Five months, a whole lot of coffee, a cool space like Work Nicer Coworking, and a great friend like Dario Hudon-Verrelli (founder of Octopus & Son).

Long answer?

First, you need to identify your audience – which doesn’t sound hard until you think about all the potential people who may come across your site. So, we narrowed it down to the primary audience (members, potential members, partners and supporters, and industry) and secondary audience (general public).

Once the audience was established, work began on finding ways to organize the site in a way that made sense for our key targets. Questions like “do you have your ‘contact us’ with your ‘about us’?” and “Does everything need a drop down menu?” suddenly began to fill our dreams at night. But once we managed to clearly identify our pages (including future pages), these questions were quickly answered.

Next, the content was developed. Working with the executives and our members, we were able to develop enough content to fill our pages. Part of the content process was deciding on the images and colours we wanted to use. I spent countless minutes in the wee hours of the morning developing title banners, making info-graphic style pictures, and deciding if red or blue buttons said “CLICK ON ME!”

Finally, you need to review and have your team look at it. This part made me so nervous. What if all this hard work made them shake their heads and ask what took so long? But, the board is comprised of epic individuals – so the praise rained down for days (I am not kidding). They are an incredibly supportive group of people, who had so much faith in my abilities to get this done in a way that would make everyone happy.

Overall, I spent 211.8 hours on the site over the five months, Octopus & Son put in a ton of time setting up the foundations for the site and finishing the final details, and our members spent hours getting their information together. The time it took was tremendous – but definitely worth it!

How was it working with Octopus & Son?

If you haven’t already heard of Octopus & Son – go look them up immediately after you read this. They are a unique agency that has social media specialists, digital marketers, designers, and content creators who focus on engagement-driven marketing. They’re an incredible company with individuals who think innovatively and practically.

I cannot describe to you how easy and manageable they have made this website project. Dario, who is the founder of Octopus & Son, is a creative thinker with loads of experience. He also happens to be a good friend of mine… which may lead you to think I am biased, but his work honestly speaks for itself.  Between him and I, we spent hours sitting together or sending messages over text to get this done. He was instrumental in the process.

Octopus & Son became a partner of Panel One because they care about the work we are doing. They were kind enough to sponsor their time and resources – a HUGE shout out goes to them for their support.

What’s next?

Panel One has a lot on the go! Our Holiday Social (formerly our Drink & Draw) is on December 28 and we are about to announce our Festival Launch Party for January. Not only that, but table registration opens for the Panel One Comic Creator Festival on January 15 at 9:00 AM. WHOOO. It’s a lot going on – but that’s half of the fun!