Champaign Area Fish Exchange (CAFE)

CAFE is a small club for members of the community who enjoy keeping aquariums. It provides opportunities for fish keepers to learn from each other. I started the process of revamping the entire site in 2012.

Screen capture of current SIPS website; go to site.


Phase I: Design and develop a clean and professional looking site to help attract new members. The club wanted the best looking site among all the aquarium clubs in the region.

Phaes II: Add a label maker to assist aquarists selling items at the auction with completing the "Sellers Form" and printing labels to attach the items. Using the label maker will provide a faster check-in process for the seller.

Content Strategy

The content was organized into three categories:

  1. Content likely to be updated or be needed most often,
  2. Static club information that is available for reference — "Events & Programs",
  3. Other content that is not directly related to the club — "Links".

Little of the content had been posted on the previous website maintained by another member.

Design Process

The fish graphic was created years ago by a current member and blue has been the club's "brand" color for years. I saw no need to deviate from this.

The masthead was created first. Keeping the name of the organization in plain text and choosing the current treatment for the taglin proved the best balance wtih the arrangement of the logo I created for use on the site.

Use of a two column layout for the navigation and main content was simplest and most practical given the amount of content.

Development Process

I was very comfortable creating simple custom templates for Joomla. It also worked well for the desired site structure.

Online Label Maker

The label maker sits outside the structure of the CMS. It is a basic form that submits to PHP. The form submit button is repeated every 5 items so the user does not have to scroll far to submit the form once finished entering all their items. PHP then processes the information and creates a PDF document containing all documents and labels needed by the seller. The PDF document is generated utilizing the PHP class FPDF.

Current State

I still update and maintain the site. I hope to update it to make it responsive and accessible in the near future.

Visit the live site at