Twenty Years Ago – GodSquad Redesign Launched
November 6, 2020
Twenty years ago, I launched the redesign of GodSquad.com. For me, it was the culmination of three months of work (with some maternity leave for the birth of our first child). It was also the beginning of the longest relationship I would have with one product.
GodSquad was a one-of-a-kind Internet resource for equipping Christians to reach the college campus. Students and volunteers utilized the site to help launch new and build new ministries on campuses that we (Campus Crusade for Christ, now called Cru) did not have the resources to have a full-time staff team in place. A small team of staff (Student LINC) helped these students and volunteers by providing distance coaching. GodSquad was a lifeline with 24/7 access to equip, encourage, and resource these volunteer-led ministries.
GodSquad was a dream opportunity for me. I was able to utilize my years of field experience in the Campus Ministry of Campus Crusade and merge that with my creative and technological skills. I was part of the Student LINC team in Orlando so I was able to bring my expertise to the table during strategy sessions by suggesting and implementing digital solutions through GodSquad. One of my giftings is being a resource matchmaker–connecting others to the resources to be successful. I have always enjoyed sharing things that I have learned with others. GodSquad was a perfect match to allow me to exercise that passion.
GodSquad had been conceived and built three years before I got my hands on it. Like many websites, it quickly became stale without a dedicated person to add new content and take responsibility for making it better. I was hired to be that person.
My official title was “webmaster,” a catch-all phrase for the person who wore a variety of hats. My responsibilities included:
- coding (front-end development but that term was not familiar to me at the time)
- gathering, creating, and adding new resources
- information architecture
- strategy – thinking through how to improve the site
I did not have any outside technical help so if I wanted to implement something on the site, I had to figure out how to make it work. Over the years, I acquired a lot of different skills to make my ideas (or the ideas of others) into reality.
My work on that redesign is very much like a lot of the work I do today. I was giving a mockup of one page that included a header, footer, and some navigational elements and the layout for the landing page. I had to take that mockup and implement it with HMTL (days before I used CSS) and then designed the layouts for the other pages. I built the site as a fixed-width using tables for layout and HTML tags like font for styling. My tools were Dreamweaver and Fireworks.
Today, I am given mockups of the desktop view of site pages to build out into fully responsive layouts. Much like back then, I make a lot of design decisions in my work today though my role is not a designer.
GodSquad was built in the days before Content Management Systems so every page of the site was a separate HTML file. Fortunately, I was able to utilize templating features in Dreamweaver that allowed me to update certain page elements from one file.
GodSquad was a very special project for me as I poured five years of day-to-day creativity into making it into a premier resource. I was free to tinker and had a high degree of ownership over the evolution of the site.
I continued to tinker with that original design updating the header and sidebar navigation. And then two years later I completely redesigned the site and modified the information architecture. My work with GodSquad quickly expanding to design, build, and maintain many other campus ministry sites in my nine years working at the Campus Crusade World Headquarters in Orlando.
The Evolution of GodSquad
GodSquad holds a special place in my heart because it was one of my first professional projects and one of the most personal. I poured my heart and soul into it. It was a place that I grew up as a designer (and developer) . It was a place for me to experiment. There were a lot of days that it felt more like play than work as I got lost in exploring different design ideas. It was a privilege to be part of the team that I worked with. Many of my best ideas for the site came from overhearing them on the phone with one of their student or volunteer leaders. It was a unique career opportunity that I cherish to this day.
- Summer 1997 – Original site designed and built
- August 2000 – I began the role of “webmaster” for GodSquad
- November 6, 2000 – GodSquad 2.0 launched
- December 2002 – GodSquad 3.0 launched
- February 2010 – I left Campus Crusade staff and ended my time with GodSquad
- 2011 – site retired
You can view an archived version of the site. I never got a chance to redo the site after I started developing sites with CSS layout in 2005.