Redesign: Rucksack Readers

I've had a web design business since 1995, and although over the past few years I've gradually run it down and let clients go, largely to spend more time doing other things, there's one client I've kept on and have no plans of letting go.

Rucksack Readers (external link) was founded in 2000 by a good friend of ours, Jetta Megarry, and it's been great to watch the development of and be involved with a successful, growing business. The company produces guide books for long distance walks, treks and now the seven summits (the highest mountain in each continent). Their books are second to none in their sector - superior design and killer content combine to make them essential for those actually undertaking the routes covered in the books, and the photography is enough to make them ideal coffee table reading or gifts.

Anyway, today the Rucksack Readers website (external link) was relaunched, following a standards-based, accessible redesign which has taken shape over the last month. I was responsible for everything at the web end - the scripts, the CMS, and the front-end code and CSS. The site is visually designed by Ian Clydesdale at Workhorse Design (external link), who also does the design for the books, with Jetta producing the content. It's been a real team effort, and hopefully the results will speak for themselves.


Nice site, but no books about Wales? I guess too much of the country is nice to walk in ;-)

Posted by: Richard Conyard at July 31, 2006 3:24 PM

Hi, first time poster and long time avid reader of your site. Now is the time to "de-lurk" myself to ask you some questions.

I liked what you did with the Rucksack Readers website. Could you please share with us on what CMS is used for the Rucksack site? And were there any problems with it?

Thanks and keep up the good work!

Posted by: WhereIsThatDeafGuy at July 31, 2006 3:54 PM

@Richard: Good question, I'll ask Jetta. But then again are you sure you want thousands of tourists trekking up and down the country when it's so peaceful just now?

@WhereIsThatDeafGuy: Thanks for your comments. It's a system I wrote a long time ago, and compared to what's considered a CMS today it doesn't really stand up to the term. The most important thing though is that it gives the site owner the ability to manage the site's content - the words, pictures and so on, and also the books themselves - pricing, availability, categorisations, etc - are all under her control.

As for problems, in some places it relies on the user knowing a bit of HTML, and with us moving to XHTML there is a need for some education, but beyond that we've been using it for so long now that there aren't any major problems.

Posted by: Dan at July 31, 2006 4:16 PM

@Dan: Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions.

I have had my share of ups and downs with two CMS projects within the last year and a half.

You just mentioned two important points that we are currently going through right now - providing the site owner with an ability to contribute (and manage) content and XHTML training course for beginners.

Posted by: WhereIsThatDeafGuy at July 31, 2006 4:48 PM

CMS: key thing is for site "owner" to distinguish what's bound to change from what's likely to be stable for years between redesigns. No sweat for me to edit within a framework HTML, XHTML, SHTML, PQRSHTML ... what do I care? If you show me only valid examples, I am literate enough to edit within rules that I don't need to know explicitly. Problem is when we change over from HTML to XHTML - which is why I need Dan to tell me the Dos and Don'ts. But from user's viewpoint, it's brilliant to be able to focus on content, and to update as often as I like. Interesting to stumble on this discussion in a Google search, hope you don't mind a non-techie gate-crashing? [Jetta]

Posted by: Jacquetta Megarry at August 22, 2006 8:41 AM

just discovered this site today and think the articles are great...that is until i saw the rucksacs website. can't comment on the content or books, within it, but i'm disappointed by the looknfeel. interesting that the visuals are done by a print designer not a web designer, i think it looks a little naive...sorry

Posted by: Gareth Eke at December 12, 2006 7:41 PM

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