Archive for the ‘development’ Category

ASOC.org launches

Coming to work for PICnet, I figured I would learn all kinds of geeky computer-terms like php, SQL and Cufon. Little did I Know that one of the coolest terms I would learn came from a client: charismatic mega-fauna.

What do charismatic mega-fauna – large animal species with widespread popular appeal – have to do with my job as a project manager? A lot, it turns out, when it came to creating a new site for the Antarctic and Southern Ocean Coalition (ASOC).

Asoc4

ASOC, as you’re probably imagining, has some incredibly compelling images, so we wanted a site that captured the visitor’s attention visually. This manifested itself in a stylish background image of Antarctica, as well as a prominent soapbox slideshow and embedded Flickr images module.

Don’t let the eye-candy fool you though, this site is deep with tons of resources on a number of key issues related to nature in the Antarctic as well as a fantastic archive of news articles and policy papers. To make sure the site felt fresh despite having so much content, we created a series of dynamic modules on all of the issue pages that are set to display the three most recent news articles and three most recent publications related to that specific issue area. This provides the site with a great mix of depth – you can read reports on the Antarctic that go back decades – as well as relevancy when looking for what’s happening right this minute.

But alongside all of the rich content and deep information, the charismatic megafauna still continue to find a place. I mean just look at the adorable penguin favicon for the site (say it aloud: “awwww.”)

Congratulations to ASOC on their beautiful new site!

 

Soapbox Site Launch: The Smart Campaign

Picture 1Earlier in March, PICnet launched a new site for ACCION and their new program called “The Smart Campaign.” They needed a simple site that would be eventually be available in Russian, Spanish, French, and Arabic.  The site also needed to host ACCION’s toolkit of resources, available in all languages.  Users will be able to find valuable information that serve as guides and best practices to those looking to participate in micro-finance.

What I like best on this site is the humanistic feel the homepage design presents. Lisa Mattei-McDonald, my client contact at BI, was introduced into this project midway.  After her predecessor left, Lisa did an extraordinary job catching up quickly to all things web related.  I applaud her success at keeping the project cool and calm even during her own discovery of her role and the unforeseen requirements that the project took on.

It was a full blown effort with four vendors involved! Boston Interactive hired PICnet to implement their design.  Strategy and communications firm  M+R was also involved.  And Democracy in Action came in at the very end to help The Smart Campaign’s constituents active on the site.

Read more »

 

Soapbox Site Launch: Government Accountability Project

The Government Accountability Project (GAP) wanted an update to their outdated website – for being the greatest representative of whistleblowers in our nation’s capital, they wanted to have a site that demonstrated their force when reckoning with the bullies.

Dylan Blaylock, my point of contact at GAP, was a very proactive client. He was so prepared that he delivered the site’s wireframes to me instead of the other way around! While these provided a great starting point on which to consider layout, we worked extensively on the site navigation. I once again was confronted with a communications challenge – I didn’t initially present the solution in a visual way. (This is becoming to be a common thread among my clients. I can’t help it- I’m not visual! I see things logically. Forgive me, people!)

In addition to the common website hurdles, Dylan and I had to reckon with DC Snowmaggedon RIGHT. BEFORE. DEADLINE. And this deadline was extremely important:

“On February 17, 2010, GAP teamed up with Participant Media and the Paley Center for Media for a fantastic and unique event – the first-ever televised, long-format special that details and analyzes what whistleblowers are, the six stages of whistleblowing they typically experience, and their lack of legal protections.”

Read more about this event on GAP’s Blog.

So while all of Dylan’s coworkers were at home trying to organize the event when all DC offices were closed, Dylan trudged into work amidst the horrible weather to make this site complete — all by himself! He really did a great job. Between his iPhone and my ski vacation breaks over President’s Weekend, we worked hard to troubleshoot and resolve all outstanding issues before the big event. Dylan gave us some props himself: “Thanks for everything with the Web site again. You and Ryan did an amazing job.”

Through the new website, advocates and constituents alike can contact congress on initiatives, using an advocacy platform through DemocracyInAction (DIA). Online donations are processed through Network for Good.

About GAP The Government Accountability Project’s mission is to promote corporate and government accountability by protecting whistleblowers, advancing occupational free speech, and empowering citizen activists.

GAP is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization with an operating budget of around $2.5 million. Gifts to GAP are tax-deductible. The vast majority of our funds come from over 10,000 individual donors and foundations such as the Carnegie Foundation, CS Fund, Ford Foundation, the Open Society Institute and Rockefeller Family Fund. Additional support comes from legal fees, settlement awards, and services provided. GAP is compliant with standards set by the Better Business Bureau, and we enjoy that organization’s stamp of approval.

Founded in 1977, GAP is the nation’s leading whistleblower protection and advocacy organization. Located in Washington, D.C., GAP is a nonpartisan, public interest group. In addition to focusing on whistleblower support in our stated program areas, we lead campaigns to enact whistleblower protection laws both domestically and internationally. GAP also conducts an accredited legal clinic for law students, and offers an internship program year-round.

 

Soapbox Site Launch: Prevention Institute

The Prevention Institute wanted to overhaul their website, which was a combination of a few different sites, but all had different site architectures. Working with our design partner and neighbor, FreeRange Graphics, PICnet streamlined the site’s navigation, making it more SEO and user friendly.

Prevention Institute was founded in 1997 to serve as a focal point for primary prevention practice—promoting policies, organizational practices, and collaborative efforts that improve health and quality of life. As a national non-profit organization, the Institute is committed to preventing illness and injury, to fostering health and social equity, and to building momentum for community prevention as an integral component of a quality health system. Prevention Institute synthesizes research and practice; develops prevention tools and frameworks; helps design and guide interdisciplinary partnerships; and conducts training and strategic consultation with government, foundations, and community-based organizations nationwide and internationally.

The entire staff at Prevention was super during the development process. I especially worked well with Annie Lyles, my main point of contact on the project. Annie is much more of a visual person than I am, so in order to communicate effectively, we even set up our own language to refer to the tools on the website. Because the timeline of the project was quite long, I definitely was able to establish a fun relationship with the team at Prevention.

Read more »

 

Soapbox Site Launch: Studying our Presidents

Picture 2Just in time to celebrate the birth of some our most famous U.S. presidents, PICnet launched a new Soapbox website for the Center for the Study of the Presidency and Congress (CSPC). CSPC was looking to improve their site architecture so their constituents and followers could more easily locate the valuable publications the organization produces. They also wanted to sharpen up their outdated image.  Through their new Soapbox site, they can even receive online donations through PayPal!

Emily Shaftel was my point-of-contact at CSPC and she was an amazing coordinator for their side.  I always received a quick turnaround, clear and detailed questions and she was very technically savvy with an eye for pushing the website to its limits.  She actually departed CSPC on the day of the launch to go and volunteer for a year in Thailand! Emily definitely made an impact before her departure.

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Soapbox Site Launch: Turtle Power!

turtleA couple weeks ago, we launched a really great new site for a great and deserving organization – the Turtle Survival Alliance. Now this is a TSA I can get behind! The TSA has been transforming passion for turtles into effective conservation action since 2001. They are involved in some pretty amazing conservation efforts all over the world thanks to their wide network of supporters. For example, check out this incredible story on the rescue of the world’s only known wild Rafetus swinhoei (Yangtze giant softshell turtle) in Vietnam.

This project reinforced some valuable lessons for me:

1) Sometimes it’s the little things One little thing we did on this site that made a big difference was using custom action buttons throughout for Buy Now, Donate Now and Join Now. What an easy small thing it is to replace the standard PayPal buttons to make a more compelling and custom-looking shop.

2) “By your powers combined” (thanks to Captain Planet for this valuable wisdom) The TSA’s site combines the super-powers of some pretty cool third party tools that complement and extend Soapbox. These include PayPal for donations and the shop, Wufoo for membership applications and tracking, Constant Contact for e-newsletters, Embedr for the video gallery, and social media/sharing tools.

Read more »

 

Site launch: Airport Jobs

At PICnet, we aren’t just about creating snazzy new websites with sleek design and fancy features. We’re also here to help with your website’s basic needs, like in the case of Port Jobs. We recently worked with Port Jobs’ database contractor to automate Microsoft Access reporting to display current job postings in near-real time on their Airport Jobs site.

Port Jobs chose us after a competitive bid process in which they considered several firms.  Our functionality and a previous relationship with the business favored us in the selection process. But the database revamping is only Phase I – we will now be working on redeveloping Port Jobs in Soapbox, under the same template.

Although this is a rare example, the project was fairly smooth in part because I already understood how their old database was set up – because I had created it when I was an employee with Port Jobs. This made it a lot easier to understand the goal of the database integration, and the limitations and opportunities moving from the current ASP driven site to Soapbox.  In the end, this prior knowledge proved fruitful in a great solution for the client.

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Site launch: KIPP NYC is preparing students for success

kippnyc_screenshot_thumbFor fifteen years, KIPP NYC, a non-profit network of public charter schools in New York City, has disproven the ordinary about urban schools in the United States. Their goal has been to “graduate students with the strength of character and academic abilities needed to succeed in life.” They have 1,300 students and 700 alumni, with 80% of them from low-income families and 98% are African-American or Latino.

KIPP NYC is an organization focused on results and results it has shown. Over its lifetime, it can consistently grown to educate more students from low-income families and give them a true opportunity to seek higher education. Their programs have extended from kindergarten to college prep, all supported by a dedicated staff of dynamic teachers. These programs have helped 95% of students score at or higher than the state average in math, 93% of students to finish high school, and 86% of graduates go to college.

In December, PICnet launched a brand new website for the organization, encasing information on various programs, a professional design, and multimedia on staff and students.  It consolidated information from several websites on different programs onto one universal and streamlined site.

Some key components of the project:

  • A lot of content needed to be migrated
  • Information architecture had to be designed for pulling content from multiple sites onto one universal site
  • We set up a simple-viewer photo gallery
  • Plenty of videos for staffers/alumni/families/family testimonials

KIPP NYC is on track to having 50% of their graduates finish college in 6 years in the next two years. The organization’s goal is to strengthen and expand their programs so that 75% of their graduates complete their college degree, compared to national average of 10% for low-income communities.  If you would like to learn more or support these students and teachers in their endeavor, please visit them on the web at http://www.kippnyc.org/.

Read more »

 

Supporting Schools through Soapbox

NYCCharter_screenshotWe recently helped The New York City Charter School Center launch a new Soapbox website in partnership with design firm Big Duck. The organization helps new charter schools get started, supports existing schools,  builds community support, and trains new leaders so that highly effective services can flourish.

The new site is informative and engaging, with aggressive integration through Democracy In Action for events, campaigns, and eNewsletter sign-up and templates. It also includes liberal use of WuFoo custom forms for robust online grant and fellowship applications.

One final cool feature is a Google Map integration displaying more than 100 charter schools in New York that links to more details and content within the site and to the individual schools’ websites.

Learn more about the New York City Charter School Center.

 

Free Webinar: What Should a Website Cost?

Are you thinking about revamping your website but not sure where to start? Are you working with a web developer but wonder if you’re paying too much? With all the tools and strategies available, it’s hard to know where to start and what to expect.

Attend this free webinar on Thursday where Allen Gunn, Executive Director of Aspiration (one of our partners!), will share valuable information about:

  • The steps you should follow when framing and managing web projects to streamline the process and minimize cost.
  • What you can expect to pay for different types of websites, from basic “brochure-ware” to higher-end web applications.
  • The different types of website technologies.

This will be a basic-to-intermediate level overview of the website development process and ideal for decision makers, board members involved in the process, and accidental techies.

The webinar is this Thursday, the 17th, at 11am PST. You can join here.