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Advancing CORE Group online so they can advance health worldwide

CoreGroup_screenshotIn the midst of the health care reform debate in our own country, there are still many global health crises out there waiting to be fixed. At PICnet, we work with many clients who strive towards improving global health through prevention, partnerships and awareness. One organization who fits this bill that we recently were honored to help is CORE Group, a non-profit that partners with more than 50 other health-oriented organizations to share knowledge and help advance the community health approach around the world.

CORE Group’s website was in need of a visual upgrade, more functionality, and cleaner navigation and usability. PICnet created a new design for the site – phase 1 of the project. As the site is mostly informational, there isn’t too much interactive or dynamic functionality at this time. But in phase 2, PICnet will help punch up the site with donation processing and some other cool features to give the organization a real upgrade online.

We’re really pleased with how the project is going so far, and it’s been a pleasure to work with CORE Group. They do some awesome work collaborating and sharing information for non-profits working in health care in developing countries – so we’re glad to be able to help them achieve this goal in a more effective way online. Thanks to everyone involved in getting this project off the ground! We look forward to completing the next phase.

Learn more about CORE Group and its mission.


Community Access launches new Soapbox site

Picture 5Housing seems to be a theme this summer at PICnet.  Just on the heels of the recent Housing Assistance Council site launch, we helped Community Access launch its new site.  Based in New York, Community Access helps those with psychiatric disabilities find safe and affordable housing and employment opportunities.

Key to the success of the project was the design work by PICnet’s friends at Jessica Weber Design, just around the corner from our New York office in midtown.  Once Jessica Weber Design completed the design and planning process, the PICnet team came in and rolled out the Web development aspect of the site.

It’s always great to work alongside smart professionals, and the teams at Jessica Weber Design and Community Access fit that role perfectly.  The most effective sites are produced when organizations and their consultants really gel together smoothly, and this definitely was the case for the Community Access site.

Congratulations to Community Access on the launch of their terrific site!


Speed and security through Soapbox

HAC_logoEarlier this month, PICnet helped the Housing Assistance Council (HAC) re-launch their website,, on Soapbox, after their old one had been hacked. HAC wanted an easy-to-manage Web site that was secure and could maintain all of their relevant documents and information on providing housing assistance to the rural poor.

While design was not a part of this project, except for a couple of minor tweaks – the emphasis was to provide an option for the organization to quickly move more than 100 pages of content to a secure CMS – and by using Soapbox, they could do the majority of the work on their own with our guidance and strategy for success.

Overall, the project took two months to complete, including fixing up the old site’s code base and then moving the new information over to Soapbox. In the end, all goals were met: expediency, security, and simplicity.


Looking for a Developer who Wants to Do Good

Know a developer interested in doing coding that helps change the world for the better? We’re looking for a programmer to help us with PHP-based development on custom projects and on our flagship CMS for nonprofits, Soapbox.

Creative attitude, smarts, and a sense of humor required. Joomla experience a plus. Send letters, resumes, or recommendations to The detailed job description’s after the break. Read more »


What Walmart Teaches Us About CSS

In the tech world, maybe money doesn’t buy power — at least, it can’t buy good CSS practices. Or so it would seem, at least, after today’s fabulously botched launch of Walmart’s new online video store.

See what we mean? Visit this site in Internet Explorer:

Now, do the same thing in Firefox. And in case the web site has been changed by the time you read this post, here’s what the site looked like in Firefox browsers at 6:30 tonight:

No, you’re not dreaming. It’s really that bad.

This is a CSS issue, and it will probably be fixed in a few hours. But it still goes to show you that no matter how many high-faultin’ movie studios you partner with, none of it matters if you don’t get the right company to develop your web site.

Update at 6am PDT on 2/8/07: If you dare to visit the site using a browser other than Internet Explorer, you get this fun message: “Unsupported Browser…We’re sorry…Our website requires the browser Internet Explorer version 6 or higher. It appears that you are using Firefox, Safari, or another browser that Wal-Mart Video Downloads doesn’t currently support. Click here to get Internet Explorer for free from Microsoft.”


Joomla! Tuesdays coming to two cities near you

Joomla Tuesdays are coming back. And for those who continue to doubt that someone with an art history degree can run a web site? We want you there.

When we built Soapbox, PICnet’s low-cost, easy-to-set-up content management system exclusively for Non-Profits, we used the Joomla! content management system as its foundation. There were lots of reasons for that. But the main was that Joomla’s — and, by extension, Soapbox’s — universally acclaimed ease-of-use makes it a great fit for many nonprofits, who often make do without a large technical staff.

Read more »


Subway Smells, Deep Holes, and Nonprofit Contact Us Pages

More Google Maps madness. This hint is also courtesy of last month’s Not-for-Profit Webmaster Round Table, hosted by the generous David Milner from the Rainforest Alliance, which is turning out to be quite fertile ground for blog posts.

As Pradeep described earlier, and as has been noted by journalistic entities slightly more reputable than this blog (if such an entity is possible), Google Maps has written an easy-to-use API that lets programmers add information to a Map and implement it on their sites. As you might expect, the possibilities are endless — and, of course, tend toward the slightly ridiculous:

  • Housing Maps overlays Craigslist real estate listings — roomate wanted, apartment available, etc. — on a map of the city where the real estate is located.
  • Dig a Deep Hole asks users (in broken English) if they are “concerned about where you go to arrive if you dig a very deep straight infinitous hole on Earth.” It quiets those anxieities by presenting a map of the world upon which users can click — and then shows them where they would end up if they dug in a straight line through all that red hot magma.
  • My personal favorite, the New York City Subway Smell Map on Gawker, does exactly what you think it does. So now I know that waiting for the train at the subway stop around the corner from my apartment is “like being inside the bowels of a very sick animal.” Ironically, that’s exactly what my apartment smells like, too.

But I want to talk about something a little easier on the olfactory glands. And hopefully more helpful to our clients, many of whom have more pressing concerrns than where they would end up if they started digging in their backyards. Namely: Contact Us pages.

Many of our clients are national or international nonprofits with offices across the nation or the globe. We’ve all seen the standard static contact us page, with a simple listing of regional offices and the appropriate phone numbers, mailing addresses, and the like. But how about using Google Maps to create a more interesting, visual and informative Contact Us page?

You’re right, I didn’t think of this myself. See: the Rainforest Alliance has used the Google Maps API to create a Contact Us page that shows the location of its offices across the world. Each office is represented by a pin on the map. Click on a pin, and you get contact information.

Check it out. And keep the cool Google Maps ideas coming. Just make sure they smell good.


My morning with IAVA and Dunkin’ Donuts

IAVAAt PICnet, we love our clients. And here’s the thing: they deserve it.

This morning, I got to take a firsthand peek inside one: Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, the country’s first and largest Iraq Veteran’s group. With the Congressional elections less than a week away, the group has been in overdrive on media appearances and exposure — and has been experiencing some growing pains with their site due to the unexpected but massive increase in traffic.

Dunkin DonutsI was there today to deliver a dozen from Dunkin’ Donuts to soothe the pain.

And, trust me, we are talking about some smart, energetic, and driven people. Although the staff is relatively small, they have built a large presence in today’s political marketplace (click here for just one example.) The group’s Congressional Rating — which calculates a grade for every U.S. legislator based on the politician’s support for bills that matter to U.S. troops, veterans, and their families — has turned quite a few heads. Props to the creators of this resource for using web technology to create an important and innovative application that might change the course of this election.

Props to IAVA for getting the job done for our men and women in uniform.


Zaadz: MySpace for the do-gooder set

ZaadzAt this week’s Not-for-Profit Webmaster Round Table, hosted by the illustrious David Milner from the Rainforest Alliance, I learned that MySpace is not just for teenagers anymore. In fact, some nonprofits have set up profiles on the site and staked out some territory among the frat boys and prom queens. There are problems, of course; you should choose your “friends” carefully; and it doesn’t make much sense that the site requires profiles to have an age and a gender. For instance, why is the Worthy Causes Foundation a 29-year-old female?

But the benefits so far seem likely to outweigh the risks. The Rainforest Alliance itself has a MySpace profile, and has collected more than 100 friends (although the World Wildlife Foundation seems the current belle of the MySpace ball — it’s MySpace profile features more friends than there are wild Pandas still roaming the earth).

But the feel of the MySpace — it’s still mostly about teens and music — is liable to turn some nonprofits off.

Enter to fill the niche. Zaadz is a social networking site for the do-gooder set. It has a distinct new-age feel, as a quick look at its most popular quote topics will indicate. But the site only allows individuals or organizations to join if they can explain “how [they're] committed to being the change.”

It’s got to be a better fit for most nonprofits. Check it out. And let us know how it works out.


Leadership Loudoun launches new Soapbox site

Leadership LoudounWe are happy to announce the launch of a new web site for Leadership Loudoun, a nonprofit dedicated to training new generations of civic leaders in Loudoun County, VA. Most exciting for us, the site is built on our new Nonprofit Soapbox system. Most exciting for LL, on the other hand, is that they have a new, slick site that is easy to administer and a great deal, to boot.

And for those of you too lazy to click over to their About Us page, the organization is dedicated to providing training to civil leaders to create “developing a pool of leadership talent from which organizations may draw upon to meet it community service needs.”

We thank Leadership Loudoun selecting Nonprofit Soapbox, and congratulate them on the new site.