by gatekeeper·Comments Off on Guilford County Republican Party
Another project that spawned from Paul Norcross. You may recall that High Point has run a separate committee from the main of Guilford County for awhile. Guilford County is the more established of the two (it’s a weird dynamic around here, what can I say?). I was approached by Paul and Michael Picarelli at the beginning of the year to take a look at the Guilford GOP site currently in place and make a recommendation about how to make it better.
The previous webmaster used Drupal. Not a bad system, but from my research, it’s really a “developer’s CMS” – very friendly to hack away on, but not very friendly for the average end-user. Case in point, the site hadn’t been updated in over three months when I took over. Calendaring was handled by a Google Calendar feed in a simple agenda format (and sent users off-site for more). There was no events management/registration, limited social media, etc. The real impetus for the change was offering online payment/registration for the County Convention in March 2014 and the ability to offer candidates some “limited” advertising (in the sense that GCGOP has them on the twitter feed).
The re-design was moved to WordPress fairly easily (thank goodness for CMS to CMS compatibility with RSS feeds). There really wasn’t too much in terms of content to move. Like on RPofHP, I feature an RSS news feed from the State and National Committees, but unlike High Point, I’m not having them re-post to the site. The calendar was imported from Google Calendar and now features optional registration for events. The calendar also features category color coding, Google Maps integration, and iCal subscriptions.
Multiple forms abound on the site – Newsletter subscription, volunteer form, routed contact forms, event registration. I’ve even managed to create a few extras so that folks could purchase advertising in the convention brochure.
The Phoenix Academy site was the second site I worked on through my association with Paul Norcross (from the High Point Republican Party). He and his wife, Kim (also the superintendent), founded Phoenix as a charter school in 2000, one of the Triad’s first. Phoenix has been in a major expansion the last year or so, expanding beyond their initial building into one which will eventually house the entirety of the lower program (Elementary and Middle) and embarking on the final steps to begin to offer a complete K-12 experience. Phoenix had been working with another local developer to manage their web presence and Paul and Kim decided that it was time to move in a different direction.
The main focus of Phoenix’s online presence was an application piece (charter schools require parents to apply for entrance). The previous developer had created his own system to handle this, and one of my sticking points about taking on the design was that I would be unable to support this type of development. I researched several commercial options available, and ultimately, Kim and her staff settled on SchoolAdmin.
With that out of the way, it fell on me to port the existing content into a WordPress installation and come up with a more modern (and as always, mobile-friendly) design. One of the big drawbacks, in my opinion, was that the old design focused too much on the staff at Phoenix to save files and FTP them into the site. From an SEO standpoint, that’s not really the best thing in the world. There were also problems in that the staff had started to upload scans of everything as TIFF files, which aren’t exactly web-browser friendly.
Now, all of the new items to Phoenix are posted using regular posts or custom post types. Pictures can be inserted for easy viewing. The calendar now offers parents and staff the ability to subscribe via an iCal feed.
Some of the graphics/logos were already in place, but I’ve been working with Paul and Kim to continually build out a standardized branding presence including new logos for the anticipated tracks of study in the high school (and even the elementary and middle schools).
by gatekeeper·Comments Off on Republican Party of High Point
The Republican Party of High Point (RPofHP) site was an interesting evolution in terms of my involvement. Again, this was precipitated through conversations with Ed & Anna Currie of Exclamations. The genesis of the project was dealing specifically with a series of fundraising events over the coming months, culminating in a large dinner to commemorate Ronald Reagan’s birthday in February. Paul Norcross, Chairman of the High Point Committee was specific in terms of his needs – the ability to register and pay online (while meeting Federal Election Committee reporting requirements) and publicizing the events – through email and social media. The original conversation started with a discussion of creating websites for each event. When I researched what sort of infrastructure RPofHP had in place already, the answer was “very little”. The RPofHP is generally speaking, a new committee, somewhat separate from the Guilford County Republican Party. (High Point technically spans four counties, with the majority residing in Guilford.) While I’m not sure what led to the establishment of a separate committee, the need for an online presence was there.
Without any infrastructure to rely on for these events, I discussed with Paul the need to establish it’s own website with all the bells and whistles, and then use that as a launchpad to promote the events. Rather than “re-create the wheel” each time, we could keep the underlying systems in place and then leverage those.
The site came together very quickly in terms of turn-around. The site was published the first week of August due to the first event on August 22nd. E-mails needed to go out to publicize the event and registrations had to happen as soon as that e-mail was sent. As of this posting (Aug 27, 2013), there are still chunks of content that haven’t been fully completed yet. Event management processes are still being refined, but I have to say that our first event did have it’s successes with the new registration system.
The site features a feed from the National, State, and County websites that will re-post the latest news onto the site. This benefits the RPofHP in that as we build out our content and newsletter procedures, we can include pertinent information from those entities. The centerpiece, of course, is the event management/registration system. There are also registration and volunteer sign up forms, as well as limited integration with social media. The site features a directory listing of elected officials, and for the upcoming 2014 mid-term elections, the intention is to aggregate candidate information and links on the site.
I created the header logos on the site (the elephant is part of the original logo). Additionally, I helped create the e-vite that went out via email for the first event. There are additional print/online graphics designs in process for upcoming events.
by gatekeeper·Comments Off on Greensboro Pony Drive
The Greensboro Pony Drive site is an event-specific site for the 2014 Pony Drive to celebrate the 50th Birthday of the Ford Mustang. The drive itself starts in Mustang, Oklahoma and will travel both east and west towards the final destinations of Las Vegas and Charlotte. Along the way, Mustang owners will join with the ride to create (what several are hoping) the longest parade of Mustangs. Greensboro is the last stop before rolling into Charlotte, and is a “lunch stop”. The final overnight stop is in Asheville, NC. Given the route, Greensboro is expected to be the staging point for everyone North and East of Charlotte who wants to travel to the 50th Birthday Celebration as part of this drive.
I was asked to take care of this project by Ed Currie, one of the owners of Exclamations Catering, who I’ve worked with for almost 10 years now. The original intent of the project was much grander in terms of scope as there was little direction from the Mustang Club of America regarding these stops. Unfortunately, the project was scaled back due to the release of their requirements. The site features a registration form, integration with Google Maps (for local information), and a sponsors listing. The site is “responsive”, meaning it scales down to mobile screens.
Originally, the site would be able to accept registrations and print out tickets that could be scanned by mobile devices at check-in. These tickets could be paid for online with a credit card. This registration system would have covered entry, lunch order, and a t-shirt order.
In addition to the site, I’ve also done some print materials (the “printable flyer” at the moment). The header logo is my creation.
This was a quick one-page site that one of my gaming friends asked me to create for him. The original concept/coloring was proposed by a mutual friend of ours, and he was initially supposed to take care of the site, but due to his own commitments, asked me to take over the project.
The site is dominated by the large streaming and chat windows for when he streams video game play. The feed is handled through the streaming service twitch.tv. He was able to use my graphics (header logo, “game over”, avatar) within his Twitch user account to handle his “branding”.