The ultimate wind-up Web site

While it may promote the soft drink, the Irn-Bru site is more about anarchic fun. Roisin Woolnough reports

While it may promote the soft drink, the Irn-Bru site is more about anarchic fun. Roisin Woolnough reports

Just as alcohol adverts no longer seem to have anything to do with alcohol, the Irn-Bru Web site seems to have little to do with Irn-Bru. In fact, according to a press release on the site, exists for completely different purposes altogether. "Not everyone wants to go to a site that has one general purpose," it reads. "Some of us clearly want to waste time and annoy people - and this is the site to do it at."

First launched in 1997, the current site is the fourth version, the last revamp having been completed in December 1999. Web agency Fi System Brand New Media is in charge of the site, and, according to Chris Garrett, technical manager, they had a lot of creative licence in terms of how they designed and built the site.

"Irn-Bru wanted the 'wow' factor - something that was fun and original and would provoke a fun reaction," Garrett explains. "Something that would appeal to its target audience. We came up with ideas and Irn-Bru would then approve them."

As the average site visit lasts just under 15 minutes, the developers must have done something right. In Web terms, that's a lifetime. The site also won the New Media Age Effectiveness Award and the Best Internet site award at the Drinks Advertising and Marketing Awards 2000.

According to Garrett, the site's success can mostly be attributed to good planning. "A lot of work was done at the planning stages. That's the key to good sites - getting the planning and specifications right."

The site runs on a Pentium II 450 MHz NT 4/Internet Information Server 4 hosted at PSINet. It was written using HTML, SQL 7 and Active Server Pages (ASP).

"It is probably the easiest platform to deliver on and it is something you can deliver to a short timescale," claims Garrett. "The pages are built using ASP 'include files' which call the functions that load the information from the database. This is something ASP makes really easy and allows the designers to work on the design while the programmers develop the scripting and database."

Garrett also developed a content management system, enabling them to add downloads and move sections with ease. "This was a set of passworded Web forms which write to the database based on various inputs. Rather than have to modify HTML, we just have to click a couple of boxes and the new item appears live on the site."

Curriculum vitae

  • Name: Chris Garrett

  • Job title: technical manager

  • Age: 26

  • Education: BTec in computer studies

  • IT skills: project management, systems analysis, ASP, C, HTML, SQL, Visual Basic, Perl, Delphi, Smalltalk,

  • Hobbies: they are a distant memory - I have a nine-month old daughter

  • Favourite film: The Sixth Sense

  • Favourite pub: Bar 36, Wellington St, Leeds

  • Favourite book: Infinity Welcomes Careful Drivers, the first Red Dwarf book

  • Garrett on Garrett: geek but nice

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