Shortly after MerchantCircle was acquired by Reply.com a site redesign effort was launched and I was asked to lead the effort from the development side. At the time, I’d been working as the sole developer on bloglines.com so for me this was an interesting challenge not to mention a fairly sizable gear shift. The site is built with a Python templating engine called Cheetah and consists of just over 2000 template files, in other words it’s big. It would be fair to say there was a good deal of skepticism about launching such a large undertaking and it took me a few weeks wrestling with a few approaches before I settled on a pattern I felt comfortable with. On bloglines I’d heavily leveraged Cheetah’s support for visual inheritance, something not used in the original MerchantCircle codebase though it’s the cornerstone of the redesign.
Below is the old MerchantCircle listing page (right) and the new redesign as you can see there are significant differences which are far more than skin deep.