Ethix is a financial planning company that specializes in providing outsourced financial planning advice to financial planners throughout South Africa.
The concept of providing outsourced financial planning advice to the independant financial advisor is new to South Africa and the web site needed to communicate detailed information about the company itself, the financial planning industry whilst introducing the concept of outsourcing of financial advice and the services that ethix can provide.
The original specification for the site called for a web site that would enable ethix to make frequent updates to the site in order for the content to remain fresh in a rapidly changing industry.
During the early design phase the client requested that the concept of the honeycomb or hexagon shape be introduced as a design element as this related well to parts of the the clients business concept and services, that of implanting a cell into a business as part of their outsourced services.
The honeycomb motif was originally introduced into the page header flash image but then expanded to include a flash menu system that pulls the menu item information from a backend database. This integration means that the flash menus are automatically updated as and when any changes made via the backend admin section that effect the site structure or navigation.
The database driven site enables ethix staff to update or add data to the site, including modification of the sites hierachical structure as required. Articles, comments, downloads, staff info, faq, etc can all be added and then linked to other sections of the site in complex cross referencing arrangements. This enables links to site content to be displayed as required throughout the site. The site visitor is presented with all relevant info that enables them to mine down as deep as desired into the sites content in an intuitive and logical fashion.
With the hexagon motif dominating the site aesthetic it soon became apparent that site consistancy would soon be lost if when adding a new image to the site the image was added without the hexagon masking that had been applied to the decorative images throughout the site.
The whole concept of placing total control over the site maintanence of the web site content would be compromised if each time the client wanted to add a new image to the site they had to send images through to me for placing into the hexagon image masks so that when added to the site they matched the existing images.
Suddenly the power to maintain the site without outside technical input would be lost. The solution lay in the development of a series of powerful image uploading functions that enable the web site admin to upload an image, preview the image with the mask and select the part of the image that will be masked. The selected area of the image is automatically cropped, resized and masked on the server itself to ensure consistancy of site images. Another important feature is the aspect ratio locking system that makes it simple to ensure that all images and thumbnails displayed on the site are of identical size and proportion without any uneven stretching of the image occuring.