The Tract Association is venerable Quaker publisher dating back to the early part of the Nineteenth Century. They had a website but wanted a new one built with a content management system that would allow for easier editing. The new site is built in WordPress. Befitting the organization’s ethos, the site is relatively plain but there’s a lot going on underneath the surface.
The design is all original. We went through six rounds of the concept design mockups made up on Adobe Fireworks. Because the site is built on WordPress used as a CMS, Earlham College staff was able to add and arrange content even before the design coding began. The site uses the excellent Thematic theme, a blank template that allows for quite sophisticated designs using Action Hooks and complete CSS markup.
The most exciting element of the site is the “Discern-o-Matic” quiz, which takes users through a series of questions. At the end the questions are reorganized and presented to the user to help them understand what it is they want to do. The quiz is powered using the open-source LimeSurvey. Results are outputted via a custom PHP script that polls the LimeSurvey database and outputs in a nicely-worded and formatted WordPress results page. The templates for Lime Survey were altered to mimick the look of the rest of the site; the average user won’t notice the pass-off from WordPress to Lime Survey and back to WordPress.
In hopes the quiz might go viral, individual results are saved on a unique URL. Users are invited to share their results page via Facebook.
Visit Site: http://www.discoverthyself.org
Catherine Lockwood is a therapist in the Los Angeles area who had built a site in the since-discontinued Google Page Creator service. It had a nice design but she could never get her domain pointing to it and she was frustrated that Google had closed the service. She wrote me saying “I would like to have a website address that WORKS. I have never been able to give anyone my address because apparently the address is not connected to my website. So instead I have to tell people to google me!”
The DiMeo family owns and operates several of the largest blueberry farms in the world, right here in the “blueberry capital of the world”: Hammonton, New Jersey. They have an existing website that is hand-edited. We created a second site using WordPress.
On launch it has much of the same content as the other site, but arranged into posts and categorized and tagged for search engine visibility. It also highlights the DiMeo Blueberry Farms’ Facebook, Twitter and Youtube outlets. I’ll be interested to see how it gets picked up by search engines and how visitors start to use it
ReconRabbi is a social network for rabbis associated with the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College. It is designed to provide ongoing education and networking for far-flung alumni.
It’s a highly customized, member-only site built on the Ning platform. The typical Ning features are here: video, podcasts and member profiles. Expanded areas include extensive training material for members. We recorded and I edited a series of eight screencasts of approximately five minutes each for their Help section using Screenflow for Mac; topics include signing up, adding discussions, using the customized training material.
Member-only Site: http://www.reconrabbi.net/.
In early December 2009, I got a call from a prospective client who wanted me to build a website for her husband’s home improvement business. The catch? She wanted it to be a surprise Christmas present! She started collecting pictures from his clients and I went to work with a simple but expandable WordPress site. Reports are that Brad was thrilled!
See it live: http://www.bradleywinkler.com/
Metropolis is a “news, analysis and commentary” site from veteran Philadelphia reporter Tom Ferrick (Wikipedia). An alum of The Philadelphia Inquirer, Tom’s spent the last half-dozen years talking to everyone who will listen about the future of print and Philly news. He’s done talking and is showing what can be done on a budget budget. From “This is Metropolis,” the lead article:
Local newspapers, TV and radio stations are retreating from in-depth coverage of regional news either due to economic or audience considerations.
The retreat has been gradual, but no one expects it to stop. The company that owns the region’s largest newspapers — the Inquirer and Daily News — is in bankruptcy. The size of the editorial staffs at the papers continues to shrink. The prognosis for metro dailies here and elsewhere is not good. The journalism practiced by these papers is still robust, but the economic model that has sustained it is eroding. If these traditional sources of news falter or fail what will take their place?
The site was built in Movable Type. The most prominent feature is the slideshow display of featured articles. Tom has seen a similar effect on another journalism site and a search found the “Sliding Horizontal Banner Rotator” at Active Den, a great site to purchase pre-built Flash files. Movable Type entries are outfitted with custom fields to enter images and links. Movable Type then creates a custom XML file for the “Main Stories” feed, which is then picked up and displayed by the Flash banner. In addition, the site uses Google Adsense to provide income.
Visit: Philadelphia Metropolis
Michael Oliveras is a long-time union carpenter making the entrepreneurial jump and starting his own business: Mike’s Precision Carpentry, serving the New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware from his shop in Hammonton, NJ. He came to me looking for a webpage to advertise his new enterprise.
It’s a simple design, a typical small-business site of half-a-dozen pages. The color scheme matches his business cards for a bit of branding. Oliveras faced a problem typical for new businesses: a lack of good photos. The work he’s done for many years is not technically his own (per the employment contracts) so for now the pictures are a mix of the few jobs he has done on his own and a few stock images. I’m sure he’ll have a well-rounded portfolio before long and we’ll be able to fill out the site with his own work. In the meantimes, he added a couple of great pictures of him and his family on the “About Us” page to give it that personal touch.
See it live: www.mikesprecisioncarpentry.com