Finding the right Web recipe for Delia Smith's cookery site

Building the Delia Smith Web site called for an assortment of different ingredients and project manager George Crabb was on hand...

Building the Delia Smith Web site called for an assortment of different ingredients and project manager George Crabb was on hand to serve them up

Take two companies with the necessary ingredients. How do you make them gel? Stir in a project manager

Delia Smith has become a national institution through her TV cookery programmes and books and magazine writing. So when designers and developers started work on her Web site, which is launched this week, branding was not an issue, writes Roisin Woolnough.

"With Delia Smith, you have a recognisable personality and a reason for people to use the site," explains George Crabb, project manager of the launch.

The real challenge was making sure all the parties involved were moving in the same direction. This is where Crabb came in.

As managing director of Web consultancy The Other Media, he joined the project a few months after it started. His role was to act as intermediary between New Crane Internet - the online arm of the publisher of Sainsbury's The Magazine - and Web development agency Aspect Internet.

"My objective was to get the site launched and running smoothly and make sure both parties could understand what the other was doing," says Crabb.

Aspect Internet specialises in content management systems and has implemented systems for the likes of beme.com and handbag.com. "Everything we write is one common system," explains Jon Russell, commercial director at Aspect Internet. "It is simple to use and deploy."

This meant that Aspect Internet could take its in-house system and adapt it to the site's needs. The system is written using Microsoft products. The back-end database uses a cluster server with SQL 2000 and the front-end a Microsoft load-balancing server.

Most of it is written in Active Server Pages, with a bit of Javascript as well. When Aspect Internet started work, SQL 2000 had not hit the market, so it was a steep learning curve for the team. "This made it very challenging because they're all reasonably new products," says Russell.

Standard technologies were used so that access to the site's features would not be restricted. "We used dynamic HTML for the drop-down menus," says Crabb. "There is no Flash or plug-ins because we want as many people to use the site as possible."

As well as almost 600 recipes, a memo pad, shopping lists and other facilities, the plan is to implement chat sessions. For this, New Crane Internet will again source some third-party software. Then the cookery doyenne will be on hand to dish up those handy hints.

www.deliaonline.com

Curriculum vitae

Name: George Crabb

Age: 36

Job title: project manager of deliaonline.com

Qualifications: degree in computer information system and design

IT skills: HTML, Javascript

Hobbies: eating out, cooking

Favourite pub: White Swan, Twickenham

Favourite film: Cinema Paradiso

Favourite book: The Milagro Beanfield War by John Nichols

Crabb on Crabb: generous, approachable, realistic

e is for excellence

Have you developed or designed an innovative e-commerce project? If so,e-mail us at cwxtra@rbi.co.uk

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