THE AGE, JULY 5, 2006. ADAM TURNER
TAKING UP THE CHARITY CHALLENGE
This children’s cancer charity needed profile-boosting IT solutions. Adam Turner reports.
Challenge’s marketing manager Taryn Lupton helped design the charity’s new website.
JUST because you’re not out to make a profit doesn’t mean you shouldn’t look professional.
Challenge is an Australian not-for-profit support organisation for children living with cancer – organising camps, family support and activities, financial assistance and holiday accommodation. Challenge receives no government funding and is completely dependent on donations.
With more families turning to the internet for information, plus growing competition for corporate donations, Challenge decided to upgrade its static website to a dynamic site with polished look and feel, says Challenge marketing manager Taryn Lupton.
“A lot of families are starting to go online and it is important for them have an information source that is always updated,” Lupton says. “Also, demand for our services is growing and with that we felt the need to increase our corporate funding. The charity sector is cluttered and there are many important causes out there. It’s becoming apparent that your branding and the values that you portray are very important and our website is a key factor in conveying these to both people who use our services and the corporate sponsors that support those services through their social responsibility programs.”
Challenge’s staff did not have direct access to its old website and were forced to make changes through a third party, making it difficult to keep the site up to date. Lupton recognised the ability to quickly update the site was a key element of any website overhaul. One of Challenge’s corporate sponsors introduced Lupton to Melbourne’s Newpath IT, which agreed to overhaul the organisation’s site at a “significant discount” as part of its own social responsibility program.
“We wanted to design a website that was flexible in that we could update not just the text but the images and banners. Newpath came up with a couple of designs for us to work off, then I actually came up with four or five designs with features I liked and we merged them to come up with the one we’ve got now,” Lupton says.
With only nine staff and no in-house technical skills when it comes to web design, Lupton appreciates the new website’s simplified back-end which requires very little training for staff to update content.
“It’s as simple as using the Windows operating system and as immediate. It’s great not having to send something off and wait for a developer to make the changes, we’re able to do it straight away. The flexibility has really changed both the way we use the website and the way others interact with it,” she says.
“The site also reduces our administration because we can direct people to the website to download a PDF document, for example, rather than us having to post it and them having to wait for it to arrive.
“People can also make donations directly through the website, which is a significant technological step forward for us.”
A growing number of organisations are finding the need to take immediate control of their websites, yet lack the in-house technical skills to handle advanced content management, says Newpath IT managing director Nathan Sinnott.
“Pretty much every page on the site we built for Challenge is a dynamic page, so they can go into the administrative area of the website and easily change all of the content on the page. It’s done through a customised editor that we built for them, with the simplicity of only having to understand the basics of Microsoft Word,” Sinnott says.
“There’s no technical knowledge required from Challenge, which we thought was critical. As a charity they want to keep costs as low as possible, especially with technology.
“With this site they don’t have to continually come to us and request changes to be made, or pay us to maintain the website for them.” One of the most important stages of developing such a site is the initial consulting phase, before which Newpath IT issues customers with a booklet it developed to assist them in assessing their requirements.
“One of the questions in the booklet asks them to list five competitors and what they like about their websites, and then another five and what they dislike about those websites. It gives us a good feel for want they want from a design and functionality perspective,” Sinnott says.
“We have satisfaction guarantees behind our service and we wouldn’t be able to meet them if we walked into a meeting to ask a client what they want and they said ‘I don’t know’ and it turned into a three-minute meeting.
“Most businesses don’t understand technology, so you have to walk them through it with a lot of dignity and respect. Basically you do a lot of hand-holding but do it professionally so that you’re making them feel comfortable and ultimately you’re . . . delivering what they actually want.”
Challenge Cancer Council
Challenge is a non-profit organisation established in 1983 to provide children living with cancer and other life-threatening blood disorders with the opportunity to put their illness aside and interact with other children in similar circumstances.
Challenge offers services for families 365 days a year, which include camps, family activities, hospital and parent support, art and music therapy, financial support, & holiday accommodation.
Challenge believes that children & families who are offered fun & supportive experiences are better able to cope with the pressures of a life threatening illness.
One of Challenge’s corporate sponsors introduced Taryn Lupton to Newpath WEB, which agreed to overhaul the organisation’s site as part of its own social responsibility program.
Newpath WEB moved to design a website that provided the appropriate level of functionality required – where Challenge could update not just the text, but all images and the banners on every page of the site. With only nine staff and no in-house technical skills when it comes to web design, Challenge can appreciate the new website’s simplified back-end, which requires very little training for staff to update this content.
The editing tool is as simple as using Microsoft Word and changes made are immediate. “It’s important not having to send something off and wait for a developer to make the changes. The flexibility has really changed both the way we use the website and the way others interact with it,” Taryn Lupton says.
The site is based on ASP programming, uses Flash for added visual appeal, and incorporates and secure payment gateway facility, so that Challenge can now take donations online, along with sell merchandise and sell tickets to events and camps all through the website. Newpath WEB also hosts the site.
The new site was designed with a heavy consideration for its purpose and audience, it was critical that the site presented a bright, friendly and interactive shop front for Challenge. Functionality wise, Newpath WEB concentrated on providing as many features as possible, with a custom content management system, HTML editor, product management system, payment gateway facility, and the ability to create and delete pages.
Newpath WEB worked very closely with many departments within Challenge from Commercial to Marketing, along with Mark Knight, the cartoonist and creator of Leuk the Duck; the character that features throughout the site and is the mascot of the charity.
With more families turning to the Internet for information, plus growing competition for corporate donations, Challenge decided to upgrade its static website to a dynamic site, that would take on a new friendly, polished look and feel.
“A lot of families are starting to go online and it is important for them have an information source that is always up to date”, says National Marketing Manager of Challenge Cancer Council Taryn Lupton. “Also, demand for our services is growing and with that we felt the pressing need to increase our corporate funding, which required new a creative channels”. There are many important causes out there, however the charity sector is cluttered, as a result it’s becoming apparent that your branding and the values that you portray are very important.
Challenge realised their website is a key factor in conveying these messages to both the children and families who use their services, along with the corporate sponsors that support those services through their social responsibility programs.
Challenge’s staff did not have direct or administration access to its old website and thus were forced to request changes through a third party, making it difficult to keep the site up to date. Challenge recognised that the ability to quickly update a new site was a key element of the overhaul. “We wanted to design a website that was flexible in that we could update not just the text but the images and banners. Another critical element was the ability to make donations directly through the website, which was a significant technological step forward for Challenge”.
It was the factors above that motivated Challenge to seek a Web Design company to work together with not only come up with the creation of a new funky look and design, but also help specify appropriate functionality.
“A growing number of organisations are finding the need to take immediate control of their websites, yet lack the in-house technical skills to handle advanced content management”, says Newpath WEB managing director Nathan Sinnott.
“Pretty much every page on the site we built for Challenge is a dynamic page, so they can go into a specially created administration area of the website and easily change all of the content on any page. It’s done through a customised HTML editor that we built for them, with the simplicity of only having to understand the basics of Microsoft Word,” Nathan Sinnott says.
There’s no technical knowledge required from Challenge, which was critical. As a charity, Challenge want to keep costs as low as possible, especially with technology.
“The project has been a great success, we have a fantastic new look, have a new revenue stream through the ability to handle online donations, and merchandise sales, and the new website reduces our administration because we can direct people to the website to download a PDF document, for example, rather than us having to post it and them having to wait for it to arrive”, says Lupton.
Challenge is very pleased with the outcome of the project, and has received very positive feedback from both the children and families it supports along with its corporate sponsors.
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The Shane Warne Foundation
In 2000 Shane Warne endeavoured to start a charity that could make a huge difference to brave children who suffer an illness or who are underprivileged.
The reason; Shane met so many brave kids, trying to come to terms with whatever it is they might be suffering from, and trying to fight it. Unfortunately, some cannot and it’s heartbreaking to see these beautiful children struggling.
The aim of The Shane Warne Foundation (TSWF) is to provide funding for established charities that work “hands-on” with seriously ill and underprivileged children and teenagers within Australia.
The Shane Warne Foundation found Newpath WEB through a sponsor that worked with the Web design company.
Nathan Sinnott, Managing Director of Newpath WEB gives his take on the brief “When we received the design brief from the Foundation, we concentrated on creating a site that was easy to use and navigate around, along with creating a content management system that allows the Foundation’s staff to quickly and easily update the text and images on the site, without requiring any technical knowledge or expertise”.
Newpath WEB also saw an opportunity for the Foundation to offer merchandise online as Sinnott points out “Branding is a major factor in promoting charities in today’s environment, therefore designing the website so that the brand can be promoted through merchandising , as well as the ability to take direct donations, was extremely attractive.”
With businesses and organisations increasingly looking for an edge in today’s e-commerce environment, it is up to companies like Newpath WEB to work in synergy with the client to understand their requirements and provide solutions to meet their needs.
After working with Newpath WEB Nolan summarises “A lot of businesses and organisations are unsure about their technological needs. This is understandable. What Newpath WEB do is manage the technological needs so that clients, like TSWF, can concentrate on their business. Basically they are there to help businesses understand what their needs are, and then provide them with solutions. It’s as simple as that really.”
The site is based on ASP programming, uses Flash for added visual appeal, and incorporates and secure payment gateway facility, so that TSWF can now take donations online, along with sell merchandise and sell tickets to events. Newpath WEB also hosts the site.
The new site was designed with a heavy consideration for its purpose and audience, it was critical that the site presented a bright,
Helen Nolan, General Manager of The Shane Warne Foundation said “Shane spent most of his career providing audiences worldwide with entertainment, but it is his passion for children, of which he has three himself, and his dedication to the cause, that has helped to bring smiles to the faces of children less fortunate than most.”
Nolan went on to say that “the charity was founded to make a difference, a difference to the underprivileged and seriously ill children in Australia. From the donations that the Foundation receive and distribute we have made this difference, and an amazing one at that. We really have been able to bring hope and quality into children’s lives.
In today’s technology myriad, the one thing that the Foundation was keen on was having a modern and friendly website. Their existing online presence was outdated, and looked rather corporate. TSWF wanted something that conveyed the same bright outlook that children have, and was easy for users to navigate around. The foundation sought a partner to help create a site that really represented the foundation and its brand.
TSWF staff did not have administrative access to its old website and thus were forced to request changes through a third party, making it difficult to keep the site up to date. TSWF also noticed that they were losing potential revenue by not having the ability to sell tickets to events such as the Shane Warne Boxing Day Breakfast, and merchandise online. The Foundation concluded they required not only an updated look, but also additional functionality to allow them to expand their operation.
It was the factors above that motivated TSWF to seek a Web Design company to work together with not only come up with the creation of a new design that met with the foundations brand, but also help specify appropriate features.
Welcoming, inviting image. Functionality wise, Newpath WEB built in as many features as possible, with a custom content management system, HTML editor, product management system, payment gateway facility, and the ability to create and delete pages.
Newpath WEB worked very closely with a number of third parties to produce the final product, these relationships worked well, and the final result if what you see today.
There’s no technical knowledge required from the foundations staff. Management and updates on the site are simple and take effect immediately once implemented through the cutomised administration area Newpath WEB built for TSWF.
Shane Warne, the Foundation’s founder and chairman, concludes “I’m heavily involved in all that goes on at the Shane Warne Foundation and for some time we were looking for the right people to give us a ‘face’ for the Foundation.
I’m very happy with the way the site has come together and feel it reflects what we are all about – children. I am extremely passionate about this cause and believe a website is a necessary tool to enable us to raise funds for seriously ill and underprivileged children. I also hope the site brings a smile to the faces of our young Australia”
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Lending Link is a leading Australian finance company that assists the referred clients of professional services firms in obtaining residential, commercial and development loans.
Unlike the majority of mortgage and finance franchises, Lending Link does not rely on consumer marketing or a direct-to-the-public sales model. Instead Lending Link has an ever expanding group of associate firms consisting predominantly of accountants, financial planners, solicitors and property advocates. These firms refer their clients for assistance in gaining access to a diverse range of financial products.
With the mortgage and lending market competitive as ever, it was critical for this Australian based aggregator to get it right, and create competitive advantage between them and their competition.
Lending Link knew they needed to implement a system that would manage their sales, loan application & submission process, and ongoing client relationship management. A bespoke solution was opted for, so that Lending Link could customise the entire package, and ensure it delivered in their key requirements, and way of business.
It was at this stage that Lending Link went looking for a suitable partner, with the relevant skills and know how, selecting Newpath WEB, to develop what is now known as the Lending Link “Links Application”.
“The Links software was an in-house CRM solution that we had deferred for a long time to ensure that we fully understood our data collection and reporting requirements. Newpath WEB actually took over the project mid stream and we began working together to add features to the CRM platform that will enable us to better understand our workflow and client base” says Lending Link Director Paul Ainsworth.
“Newpath WEB were a step up for us in terms of our overall approach to technology and support of business systems. Their confirmation of application and system requirements compliment the CRM development well – not least of which is a recent decision to re-organise the application to become a web based platform, largely driven by forecast capacity needs and interstate connectivity requirements”.
Newpath WEB had an existing relationship with Lending Link, having designed, developed, and hosted the companies corporate website. A conversation between the Managing Director (Brian Barnard), and Director (Paul Ainsworth) of Lending Link, and the Newpath WEB CEO (Nathan Sinnott) brought about a decision for Newpath WEB to take over development of the application, resolve existing work flow problems, and develop a road map for the application moving forward.
Newpath WEB moved to initially analyse and document the existing application, something that had not previously been done. With this in hand, both Newpath WEB & Lending Link could begin defining the current problems, both technically &commercially, with the application, whilst building a plan for further development of the tool, prioritising key aspects of the system that would provide immediate benefit for Lending Link and its partners.
When Newpath WEB took the project on, the application had features such as a performance and lead pipeline tracking and reporting capability. Over the past 12 months Lending Link & Newpath WEB have worked closely together to build in some great new features such as multiple lender product analysis reports as well as advanced CRM inter-related referral tracking.
The application is based on ASP programming, and has a real WEB 2.0 feel to it. Newpath WEB also host the application for Lending Link.
The application has helped Lending Link become a leader in its industry by streamlining the management of loan applications, redefining the customer service industry benchmarks and producing accurate progress performance reports to both clients and associate firms.
The application has been developed with a heavy consideration for its purpose and audience, it was critical that the application presented a functional, easy to navigate solution for Lending Link and its team. Functionality wise, Newpath WEB concentrated on suggesting as many features as possible to assist with usability, and functional ease, whilst working to a feature list that Lending Link had carefully considered and provided.
“A growing number of organisations are finding the need to take immediate control of their business systems and applications, yet lack the in-house technical skills to handle development of such systems, or simply don’t know that there are viable options available through speaking with web &application developers such as Newpath WEB to have a custom designed and built solution, to fit their needs specifically”, says Newpath WEB CEO Nathan Sinnott.
“The project has been a great success, we have a reliable, robust application that supports our business very successfully, which is now available from any PC in the world, connected to the Internet. Newpath WEB were quick to correct existing problems with the application, and deliver new modules as requested by our management team. We are all very pleased with the end result, a job well done”, says Ainsworth.
Lending Link is very pleased with the outcome of the project, and has received very positive feedback from both its staff, and partners alike that use the platform on a daily basis.
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AGR Upstream, Asia Pacific
AGR Asia Pacific is an Australian and Asian integrated oil and gas service provider. AGR-AP manage, engineer and service offshore and onshore oil and gas production facilities throughout their life cycle. From exploration and appraisal drilling, through to full field development, production and final abandonment.
AGR specialise in assisting oil companies with low cost, fast track commercialisation of hydrocarbon resources using leading edge technologies and world class processes.
Necessity truly was the mother of invention at AGR Upstream Petroleum, a natural resource exploration firm that last year found itself needing a way to co-ordinate a AU$100 million ship refit involving nearly 40 subcontractors in three countries.
Projects for the company include both onshore and offshore Australian sites, as well as sites in India, Malaysia and Papua New Guinea.
In the past, Upstream had managed such projects via e-mail, with new versions of drawings, schematics and other large documents regularly forwarded between team members separated by large distances. This approach, while more or less effective, introduced countless delays and retransmission efforts because of the sheer volume of information being pushed through the e-mails.
“You’re in a situation where you go through one design, have got to make modifications, then have to reissue the drawings and get everybody up to speed,” says IT manager Ivan Prescott. “We’re talking about 30,000 drawings to be sent to 30 or 40 people, and it was silly to try and put this stuff out over the e-mail. We needed to collaborate in a managed way.”
Upstream faced financial motivators as well as practical ones: with the company wearing nearly AU$1 million in lost revenue for each day the ship was away from its normal home in the Bass Strait, it was essential that the risk of delays be eliminated as much as possible.
Having identified a potential problem area early on, Upstream began discussions with long-time partner Newpath WEB about ways to address it through the use of technology.
By embracing custom development rather than off-the-shelf applications, Newpath WEB was able to spec out and build an online document exchange that would provide a common repository for Upstream’s documents.
Designed and built with a custom Web interface and MySQL database backend, the new exchange was fast-tracked and completed within just three weeks. “Normally, says Prescott, developing, testing and refining such a significant project would have taken up to three months”.
Hosted from Newpath WEB facilities in Australia, the document exchange was put through heavy usage during the course of the project, which ran through the second half of 2006 and involved the regular transmission of many gigabytes of data. Rapid turnaround in the delivery of the system proved incredibly valuable for Upstream.
The company began using the system from the beginning of the six-month refit, and it quickly proved popular with all parties concerned — including no fewer than five subcontractors in Singapore and four more in other countries.
“Newpath WEB were able to provide us with something that would fit in with our public Web site,” says Prescott, “and allow a secure login to a backend where all parties concerned could upload and download documents very, very quickly. Documents were available within minutes of being uploaded, rather than sending our very large files via e-mail and having the delays associated with that.”
One of the most valuable parts of Upstream’s new content management system was that it not only enabled upload and download of project documents, but also tied in with the broader scope of work that Newpath WEB was also performing for the company. This included a fully featured Website, with everything from corporate policies and organisation charts to information on procurement, vacant positions, system processes and other corporate information.
Newpath WEB built the entire site around an easy to use editing tool that let employees update the Websites quickly and easily. Building on the site, the company has also developed tools such as an e-mail signature generator, which produces consistent employee e-mail signatures according to a single common style. Another development included a job ad generator, which integrates with Upstream’s career management system to automatically extract and format job-wanted ads as HTML code for publication on third-party employment sites.
Online Marketing, specifically SEO & SEM was also an element that was included in the project, with results producing an increase in traffic by 1500% to the site within the first 3 months.
Having taken the company from a manual and inefficient email based method of collaboration to full online publishing and document sharing in just a short while, AGR is predictably enthused about the results of project and the long-term benefits it will deliver to the company.
“We were able to get the whole thing up and operational without too hassle, and had full collaboration via our Website,” Ivan says. “It was a job well done, saved us an enormous amount of money and has already paid for itself many, many times.”
Such innovations have helped Upstream greatly improve employee participation in the online conveyance of information. And, given its massive success in saving time and money on the Crystellation refit, the system is now being considered for a broader use within the company, with plans to roll the application in with its own Microsoft SharePoint Server environment, developing it for use by partners and other subsidiaries worldwide.
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The Website Standards Association has found that confusing navigation and bad design of many Australian websites are driving traffic away, failing to meet basic international standards.
According to WSA, website navigation standards are:
- consistent positioned main menu
- sub menus (each of them has no more than two levels)
- underlined and colour-changeable hyperlinks
- maximum three clicks to go to another page
- secondary menu on every site
- a sitemap that is accessible from every page
- a secured contact instead of displaying email addresses which will attract large amounts of spam emails.
Design standards are:
- a logo that links back to the home page at the header of every page
- a uniform font
- dark main content on a light background
- headings and links consistent in colour
- short paragraphs with bullet points
- a single layout
- avoid inserting text as images as well as using large flash animation areas.
Source: Website Standards Association