Building IWC.com

IWC Homepage

IWC.com and the publishing system powering it are a new cornerstone for IWC's digital strategy. Given the goal that this system remain relevant for a minimum of 10 years (and what can happen on the internet in 10 years) technology choices were particularly important.

How do you future-proof a development like this?

For us, the logical place to start is with technologies that are familiar, flexible and open.

The standards-based front end delivers a variety of beautiful content to the widest range of site visitors. The content itself is managed by IWC's internal team, using a sophisticated and easy to use CMS built with the tremendously flexible Django framework.

Web Standards
IWC.com is an excellent example of the capabilities of web standards and a progressive enhancement approach to development. Clean, clear markup presents the content for any web browser piloted by humans and robots alike. CSS and web fonts transform this content into rich layouts that are a delight to read. And, of course, interactive features and video are added throughout the site when JavaScript, Flash and other features are available.

So that the interactive elements are available on the widest range of browsers, we developed most of our interactive content using JavaScript and the JQuery library. Some standouts on the site for me are the incredible watch views, the 51011 Calibre detail, and the lights off view on the Aquatimer page (look for it about 3/4 of the way down the page).

Aquatimer Luminescence Feature

The result is a rich, engaging experience that is highly accessible and absolutely stunning on an iPad as well as in IE.

The publishing Platform
Picking the right application platform is a critical step in a project like IWC.com. In the course of our work, we've used several different CMS products and platforms. Additionally, through our partnerships with clients and development groups we've gained experience with an even wider variety of tools.

For the most part, the options lie on a continuum with packaged CMS products like Ektron and TYPO3 at one end and application frameworks such as Ruby on Rails and CodeIgniter at the other.

CMS packages are designed for publishers. They tend to have things like workflow management and other features to support large teams of non-technical contributors.

Frameworks, on the other hand, cater to developers. They are much more flexible and allow for complex business logic and custom data models to be implemented with relative ease.

CMS Options

The most successful CMS projects we've been involved with have been built using tools that fall closer to the middle of this continuum, offering features of tools at both ends.

For IWC, flexibility was critical. For example, we needed to be able to build a unique watch browsing experience with complex data relationships. We also had very specific ideas about how we wanted to extend the features of the thriving IWC forum. What's more, we needed the flexibility to evolve the system and accommodate a variety of features on the post-launch roadmap and others not yet imagined.

Featured Forum Topics

Meanwhile, we didn't want -- nor did we have time -- to create common user and content management features from scratch.

Django offers exactly what we needed. As an application framework with its origins in the newspaper publishing industry, it offers flexibility and rapid development tightly coupled with core features needed for content management systems. Furthemore, Django's vibrant community provides applications to extend its core capabilities with projects like FeinCMS and Haystack.

For IWC, the result is an easy to use publishing system that is used to create a rich variety of experiences rather than a highly repetitive series of templates.

More to come
Over the coming months we will be writing more about how we built IWC.com. If you have any particular questions or topics you'd like to hear more about, let us know in the comments bellow.

Comments

  • Nicolas Elizaga says:
    Posted: 02.23.11

    One of the prettiest and most functional sites I've experienced in a while. Reading about all the careful consideration that went into the backend makes it all that much better. Love it

  • Jonathan Bowden says:
    Posted: 02.23.11

    Wow, how to plan for a site to function for ten years. That's incredible. I wonder what the house equivalent would be, 500 years? 1000 years? Well done team, looking forward to hearing more about this project! Thanks for sharing.

  • Chris Tate says:
    Posted: 02.24.11

    Seriously, Django? That's awesome. I agree with Nick, this is one of the nicest sites I've seen in a while and can definitely see it lasting a while...10 years is probably a stretch though. Either way, it's one badass site. Nice work guys.

  • Chris Tate says:
    Posted: 02.24.11

    I just went back to the site and all I can say is beautiful, beautiful, beautiful. Ugh, so good.

  • Chris Tate says:
    Posted: 02.24.11

    Nick, figures you were the first to comment... hahah ;)

  • ryan says:
    Posted: 02.24.11

    Thanks for posting...and continuing to post about the project. I'd love to learn more about your internal mgmt process, number of team members for each part of the process and even how this beast was wireframed. And....ummmm....the budget. :)

  • David says:
    Posted: 02.24.11

    Thanks for the comments everyone. I'm glad you like the site. To clarify the 10 year challenge a bit... Our goal was to lay the foundation for a platform that can grow and evolve for at least 10 years. With this first step, we are in a great position to adapt the site as needed to support IWC and the ever changing internet.

  • Josh Dorrell says:
    Posted: 02.26.11

    Came across the IWC website a couple of weeks ago when it was featured on the CSS Awards (congratulations!), but hadn't looked at it in detail until reading this post. There's some beautiful development work gone into this - especially like some of the UI details. The loader bar for the auto-slide on the galleries is very neat! For me, the only criticism is that the IWC branding sometimes looks a little lost / over-powered. Just a suggestion but perhaps a very slightly darker grey in the panel behind the logo would make a difference? It's really good see projects written up like this - it's something I've seen very few other agencies doing. The more detail the better!

  • Scott says:
    Posted: 03.03.11

    This site is hurting our productivity at our own shop. We just keep looking at it. Terrific work.

  • Mike Wei says:
    Posted: 03.19.11

    The site is slick! I'm a Panerai fan but new IWC site won me over. Selling the Panerai and upgrading over to a IWC Portuguese. Spent the rest of my Friday afternoon on the site. Great work!

  • Paul D. says:
    Posted: 03.24.11

    Perfect balance of form and function.

  • Jeff Toll says:
    Posted: 04.05.11

    One of the most inspiring sites of the year hands down. So many unexpected elegant solutions through out. The site just doesn't quit!

  • Andrew Wendling says:
    Posted: 04.05.11

    Incredible work guys - this site represents the future of design in a number of ways. Biggest props to making it extremely simple and minimal but still keeping it completely usable.

  • Andrei Potorac says:
    Posted: 04.06.11

    Loved the attention to detail. A simple example would be the front and back gallery view. If you click on the already selected state, it moves the slider a bit, just to notify you of the ability to drag it, but also that it's in that state already. Most would have done the buttons in a different style, but you nailed it! Well done!

  • Jon Schickedanz says:
    Posted: 04.08.11

    Congratulations! As Django developers as well we're thrilled to see such a smart and detailed exposition. You stated quite eloquently the conversation we had years ago when we asked similar questions. If you have any bumps in the road don't hesitate to give us a shout or check out chicagodjango.com. Keep up the great work.

  • chris lewis says:
    Posted: 04.12.11

    This is a wonderful piece of digital graphic design. The sensitivity in typography combined with the lovely negative space is just beautiful. The functionality is bang on too. Bravo.

  • Paul Bloemen says:
    Posted: 08.26.11

    This IWC site not only is very beautiful; I visit it about every day for the forum, obviously this is a pleasant experience from different perspectives. There is one question about this forum: could the search function be improved? I find it difficult to express the search criteria, narrowing down the huge collection: date range, author, and topic(s). Furthermore the response is a set of total threads, in which the looked for posts are hidden, making the gathering of wanted information cumbersome, so much so that I often give up on it. The set of qualified posts as a response would probably be easier to handle. It would really be great if you could help here. Kind regards, Paul

  • Charles Dune says:
    Posted: 06.27.12

    This reminds me how good designs look simple to the users but require so much thoughtful considerations in the design process. As an watch enthusiast, I felt my emotions were incited as I visited the IWC site; this speaks to the power of good designs.

  • ugg boots australia uk website says:
    Posted: 10.16.13

    hey there! someone in my facebook group shared this site with us so i came to check it out. i'm definitely enjoying the information. i'm book-marking and will be tweeting this to my followers! wonderful blog and brilliant design and style.

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