When the organizers of Jazz for Food came to Bob Wright Creative in need of website design and programming for this year’s event, the results were positive yet unexpected.
Based in Rochester, New York, Jazz for Food’s purpose is three-fold as it raises money to: provide financial assistance and appropriate resources to the needy affected by the struggling economy; help elderly individuals in need of community support; provide scholarship money to inner city youth for music lessons.
Historically, Jazz for Food has been synonymous with a concert to raise charitable funds for its beneficiaries, which include Foodlink, Lifespan and the South West Area Neighborhood Association (S.W.A.N.).
As successful as this concert-based approach has been, we recognized the strength in Jazz for Food as an organization. We therefore advocated for a new, unexpected approach that promotes not just a singular Jazz concert, but that communicates the strength and longevity of Jazz for Food as an established entity. So, by embracing their group strength in the new website, Jazz for Food now clearly presents itself as a charitable organization that delivers tangible benefits to beneficiaries and sponsors through the curation of distinctive live music experiences.
By introducing expanded content about Jazz for Food, its events, and benefits of sponsorship, website visitors gain a view to an organization that is established and committed to delivering on its mission. Because their new website is built on the Drupal content management system, Jazz for Food has the ability to easily add more events and keep things fresh with timely information.
Even though the site launched just a few days ago, JazzForFood.com has already received considerable positive feedback. This feedback affirms that Jazz for Food has indeed revitalized itself and is a noteworthy player (no pun intended), not only to its beneficiaries, but also to sponsors who diligently research, consider and activate charitable partnerships.
We wish our friends at Jazz for Food all the best as they continue to help those in need by building their organization and portfolio of events.
When the time came for CGR to produce web-based Community Indicator Projects, the long-established research organization partnered with Bob Wright Creative to help develop and continuously enhance these powerful web-based tools.
Some Background on CGR
The Center for Governmental Research (CGR) is a municipal research organization founded by George Eastman in 1915 to serve as an independent, non-partisan agency for keeping citizens informed. CGR serves government, nonprofits and business leaders by providing data-driven research and analysis that affects the quality of life in communities both inside and outside New York State.
What is a Community Profile?
A Community Indicator Project, or Community Profile, assesses a range of community issues over time. Comparative performance data is generated on a number of topics, such as economics, education, and health. This data empowers leaders and residents to assess indicators in comparison to other communities, as well as the state and the nation.
Web-based community profiles (link takes you to CGR website) have become essential tools for starting strategic discussion about strengths, challenges and opportunities that affect an entire population. CGR has been in partnership with Bob Wright Creative since 2009 to help develop web-based Community Profiles, and to also help enhance the product at each iteration.
A Web-Based Community Profile for Cayuga and Seneca Counties
To produce the second-generation Cayuga and Seneca Counties Community Profile (click link to open site in new window), CGR specified a website to provide analysis, data and interactive charting capabilities for 70 indicators of community vitality. Comparative data for 4 similar counties, along with the state and the nation, cover topics such as demographics, economy and education.
The website, along with its lead sponsors the United Ways of Cayuga and Seneca Counties, provides leaders with a powerful means for assessing and understanding their communities.
A Solution that Benefits Users of Information and Providers of Information Alike
Bob Wright Creative was again brought in to support the creation of this resource. User interface design and website programming enhancements were provided to maintain alignment with the evolving nature of the data, as well as the evolving needs of the user.
The website’s user interface design delivers improvements to usability and searchability based on user feedback. As for the back-end, developing a Drupal-based content management system delivered a number of benefits to CGR and its sponsors. These benefits include:
Enhanced content management capability, administrative control and site security
Greater flexibility of data presentation through the design and development of dynamic charting capabilities
Easier inclusion of social media functionality
Modular code resulting in cost-effective same-site scalability, as well as cost-effective replication for future Community Profile websites
More efficient and cost-effective enhancements of product features and functionality going forward
With essential information that is always up to date and easily accessed from one central location, service organizations can more easily decide which areas need the most attention. These decisions become actionable by developing approaches to solving issues in a data-driven, quantitative way.
A Platform for Growth
CGR and its sponsors provide community profiles to the benefit of the organizations and populations they serve. Bob Wright Creative’s ongoing role involves user experience enhancement and provision of technology platforms that deliver efficient scalability, ongoing improvement and cost-effective replication. We’re happy to be part of an ongoing website initiative that is helping many, and that is a viable platform for future growth.
Our own Mike Gastin and Jonathan Daggar recently presented at DrupalCamp WNY. The open-source content management system (CMS) was the focus during this 2-day informational event for Drupal users, designers, developers, and content pros.
Mike sat on the panel that presented "Selling Drupal". He focused on the strategic business issues that drive the planning, design and development of websites. His talk focused on the importance of understanding client needs first, before specifying the technology solution. You can read more of Mike's thoughts on understanding needs and solving problems here.
Jon presented "No, Seriously, I’m Just Getting Started With Drupal". Jon is anything but a Drupal beginner, so his depth of knowledge played a key role in helping attendees new to Drupal come away better equipped to leverage the web publishing platform.
With Mike and Jon in the house, Bob Wright Creative had a nice presence at DrupalCamp WNY. We're looking forward to the next Camp. Thanks guys, for helping make the world a better place one website at a time.
How's business? I get this question all the time, especially since the world almost imploded a couple years ago. We're coming up on two years since the economic crisis hit and things still are not back to 'normal'. We all know people that have lost jobs. We all know about houses repossessed and business that have gone under.
So, the question of how the business is doing is expected. It's everyone's way of looking for a little hope, a little good news—are we all gonna make it?
Things at Bob Wright have been nice and steady. We've had some really low points over the last couple years, but our team has hung tough and pushed through. We continue to bring in new work and new clients and for that I'm quite grateful. We've even been able to hire a new employee, Jon Daggar, who is now our full time web developer.
The hardest thing (for me as an owner) about the business is forecasting. I used to be able to make certain assumptions based on how much work we had, backlog and sales in the pipeline. Based on those factors I knew if I should invest in new equipment, hire new people, cut back on expenses and so on.
But, today's climate is rather different. We would benefit from a full-time account person and another designer. But, even with financial data, it's hard to make the call on those two positions. Should we wait? Is there going to be a second dip/crash? Are we missing out on opportunities by being conservative? Should we spend or protect cash?
And here's the funny thing: Everyone else is thinking the same way. So, as I wait things out before committing resources, so do my prospects and clients and so do their prospects and customers. We've got a market in suspended animation, waiting for an indicator that everything is going to be okay.
While we all wait for some confidence to re-enter the marketplace, our mission remains the same: to be a blessing. There's a lot of work to do: companies still need to communicate with their markets, they still need to hone their message and improve the way they market themselves.
We love solving those kinds of problems and we love to see our clients thrive. So, in answer to the question, we're doing well, thanks. Business remains steady, we've hired a new employee and we've developed some new capabilities.
Web site projects can be large and complex, making it easy for a project to get sidetracked or to fall short of expectations. The following five tips will help you deliver an awesome site that’s an asset to your organization and maybe even make you a hero in the process.
Here are five tips for web site development success.
1. Let your company’s goals and objectives drive the project
The best place to start with any web project is at 30,000 feet: your company’s goals and objectives. These goals and objectives should be your yardstick when deciding what your site should and should not do.
Everyone has an opinion on what your new site should look like or how it should function and it’s easy to get caught in the trap of trying to keep them all happy. But you’re going to spend a lot of company resources to deliver a new web site. A project of that scope should align with company goals and objectives.
Be a zealot about building a site that helps the company accomplish its goals. If a feature, design or function can't align, it shouldn’t be done. This will help you stay focused and it will give you a sound argument when dealing with all those 'helpful' opinions.
2. Refuse to choose between functionality and design
In the early days of web development you had to choose between functionality and design. Either you got a web site that had a lot of technical functionality and allowed you to manage your own content or you got a site that was visually stunning and delivered your brand proposition beautifully. But you could not have both.
Those days are gone! Open source content management systems (CMS) make it easy to build sites that are customizable and functional. That means you can have a functional and flexible site that is custom designed to deliver your message and give your visitors a great user experience.
So, don’t buy it when a stakeholder or vendor wants to focus on just one or the other. You can have it both ways and you should. Help your stakeholders accept the need for both high functionality and great design. Insist your vendors are able to deliver on both. If they can’t or won’t, find new vendors.
3. Content may be king but are you ready to swear fealty?
Everyone agrees that web sites need new content on a regular basis. A static site doesn’t cut it anymore, especially if you want your site to be found on Google and support your marketing efforts. But, here’s the problem: who’s going to create all that new content on a regular basis? Creating content every day, every week or even every month is a big undertaking and it’s easy to get overwhelmed and give up.
How many sites have you visited where the last post in the news section was from six months ago? What did you think? I bet it wasn't good. You don’t want to be that company.
You can beat this trap by developing a content strategy. Before you launch your new site you should have a strategy in place for content. A good content strategy includes the following:
It should also include a one-year editorial calendar. This calendar could include articles, videos, interviews, podcasts and any other item that you want to publish over the next year. It should identify who’s responsible for what and it should include due dates!
4. Talk to imaginary friends
One way to ensure your content meets the requirements of your content strategy is to create customer personas. A customer persona is a little like an imaginary friend. A persona is an imaginary, but accurate representation of an ideal customer.
So, rather than being general and saying, we’re writing for the owners of sheep dogs in America, you would create an imaginary person to represent your market. We’re writing for Sue Jones, a 53-year-old attorney from Boston who took an early retirement to move to Vermont and raise sheep as a second career. She is married and loves animals. Since she worked in the corporate world she is technologically savvy, but loves being back to the land. Sue enjoys training her sheepdog to help with the sheep.
You can have a number of personas depending on your customer mix.
Personas make it really easy to identify great content because you can get in the mind of your audience and understand what they need and want and what you have to offer that can help.
5. Measure for success
Finally, design your site with measurement in mind. Remember the first point? Develop your site to deliver on your company’s objectives. If you’re trying to deliver on your company’s objectives, then your site should be measured as to how well it’s accomplishing that.
Measuring is important because it does two things. First, it helps you to refine the site over time, as you can interpret the data and make changes until it’s doing exactly what you want it to. Second, it allows you to promote the success of your efforts within your organization. Some of your coworkers may be skeptical or ignorant of what you do. Or, maybe your manager was not keen to spend money on a new site. With real data that shows how the site delivers on company objectives you can win them over and gain more support for what you do.
So, launch the site and celebrate—you got it done. And then, after you’ve put down your beer, start measuring!
There’s a lot of work involved in developing and launching a new web site and that means all kinds of things can go wrong. Follow the five tips I’ve just shared and you and your organization will be pleased with the results of your hard work.
Bob Wright Creative is proud to announce that it has become a member of the Drupal Association.
We joined because the Drupal Association is the main organization dedicated to the support and growth of Drupal. The more we have been integrating Drupal into our web development offering the more important it is for us to get involved with the Drupal community. With thousands of members from all over the world we felt this is the place to be.
Drupal founder, Dries Buytaert, offered his view on future business models for Drupal in a recent blog post. He says he's seeing more Joomla theme developers starting to offer Drupal themes, creating new ways of monetizing Drupal other than custom enterprise deployments and Drupal training.
From his post:
In the Drupal community, today's business-model of choice seems to be providing implementation services for medium to large websites. The Joomla community, it seems, is very focused on the low-end of the market and most people make money by selling subscription services, usually either by selling commercial support for their GPL extensions or by selling access to template clubs
Dries thinks theme development for Drupal is a good thing and will only help it expand into more of the market.
We've been integrating Drupal into our web development offering lately. It's really impressive!
If you don't already know, Drupal is an open-source content management system (CMS). It's amazingly friendly to development, which makes it perfect for creating custom-designed web sites with a non-proprietary CMS. Developers all over the world support it and it's the CMS of choice for sites like the London government, Mensa, Kofi Annan's foundation, Intel, the Grammys and the White House, too!
As designers and developers we love it because it's flexible enough that we can make it do almost anything. Clients love it because they don't have to buy it, pay licensing fees or get locked into one vendor for life while getting a powerful and capable CMS. Everybody wins.
The more we use it the more we love it and we're really loving what it can do for our clients.