The work is not glamorous, but it's vital. Website maintenance is the blessing and curse of every marketing team - the excitement of creating new content and watching campaigns ebb and flow to the grind of searching for broken links and worrying about upgrades. Well, out of items like that, and the fact that many of our clients simply don't have the time to worry about upgrades, Hodgson’s Webmaster Services was born. We take care of any and all maintenance items you can imagine - use us twice a month or twice a day, doesn't matter to us.
Our team of dedicated web professionals whose skills include anything and everything you could want to do on your website are available to help. Specifically, we offer our Webmaster Services clients a dedicated project manager, online strategists,SEO professionals, information architects, designers, interface developers, certified CMS developers and applications developers.
As I said, the work is often not glamorous, but we welcome it.
The National Exchange Carrier Association, Inc.,(NECA) had implemented the Ektron content management system (CMS) but didn’t have any developers on staff to maintain the system.
Hodgson assigned a team of experienced Ektron developers to the NECA project. This team quickly remedied NECA’s most pressing issues, including using the Ektron PageBuilder functionality to significantly improve the design and functionality of the organization’s home page. Once familiar with the site and the implementation, Hodgson recommended a Webmaster Services contract. Under this contract, NECA had access to an entire web development team: a project manager, a business strategist, a creative team, and the developers who were familiar with the NECA website. Over the years, different team members have been deployed to assist NECA with functional changes to the site, including rendering the site responsive.
At one point, NECA felt a different CMS might serve their needs better than Ektron. Hodgson examined multiple CMSs for the client and examined each through the lens of NECA’s required functionality. The team concluded that Ektron was the most cost-effective and appropriate solution, and performed a product upgrade. Over the years, Hodgson has continued to serve as a partner to NECA, fully supporting their web development needs and providing experts to assist with all facets of their web presence.
The National Exchange Carrier Association, Inc., a membership association of U.S. local telecommunications companies, is dedicated to keeping customers connected on state-of-the-art communications networks. NECA’s services help more than 1000 members across rural America deliver high-speed multi-use broadband services.
The Rhode Island School of Design (RISD, www.risd.edu) sought a partnership with a web technology firm with experience in the Ektron CMS to assist their team with a variety of issues and requests, including an assessment of their existing server environment and an upgrade to the latest version of Ektron.
RISD leveraged Hodgson’s Webmaster Services offering to gain access to our team of resources in order to address a variety issues and requests as they arose. This “on call” aspect of Webmaster Services proved critical when, very early in our relationship with RISD, the school’s site suffered a SQL injection attack that exposed sensitive information to the public.
Our Webmaster Services team was able to quickly pull all necessary resources to address issues caused by the attack, coordinate with the RISD team, and provide insight and expertise to explain what site vulnerabilities caused the attack as well as what could be done to prevent such attacks in the future.
Hodgson’s Webmaster Services team assisted RISD with tasks like these: Ektron upgrade, .NET master page creation, database error resolution, eSync configuration, search server installation and configuration, cross-browser compatibility testing, and others.
The Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) is one of the premier schools for art and design in the United States. Founded in 1877, RISD was one of the first colleges of its kind and continues to push the envelope of social norms and expectations. Located in Providence, Rhode Island, RISD offers students a challenging curriculum in 19 different programs, over half of which are in fine arts.
Recent work of alumni, grad students and undergraduate students are showcased in local galleries that are open to the public. RISD Museum of Art was founded simultaneously with the college and serves as a cultural resource for the region, housing over 86,000 objects of historical significance.
Hood College had implemented the Ektron content management system but it wasn’t functioning as they expected. They were concerned and needed an experienced team of Ektron developers to diagnose and fix the implementation.
Hodgson launched a site audit and assessment to identify issues with the Ektron implementation. Hodgson partnered with the College to prioritize the problems and began fixing them in order of importance. Recognizing the benefits of having a web development team at their disposal, Hood entered into a Webmaster Services contract with Hodgson. Under this agreement, Hodgson has been able to maintain and troubleshoot the website, and has performed two Ektron upgrades.
Hood College is an independent liberal arts college located on a striking and stunningly picturesque campus in the vibrant and historic central Maryland city of Frederick. The College’s well-regarded faculty and caring support staff provide a quality education at the undergraduate and graduate levels in a small-college environment that integrates the liberal arts with professional studies and experiential learning. Hood’s core values and traditions, its commitment to continuous improvement, comparative excellence, and exceeding student expectations have made it a treasured institution to current students and to more than 23,000 graduates living in the United States and around the world.
CSA required a complete redesign of their website. The goals for the new website were to enhance the overall member experience and value proposition, and to provide leading-edge tools that would better serve the needs of the CSA leadership and members. Hodgson began the project by recommending a new content management system (CMS) to take advantage of improved technology capabilities. As the previous site had been built on a combination of Drupal and legacy PHP code, CSA wanted a CMS that offered a lot of functionality out of the box and could streamline all content. CSA also sought a vendor who could improve the design and navigation of the website, optimize search engine results, provide better search functionality, and enhance the member and constituent experience.
Hodgson began the project by conducting interviews with CSA stakeholders and evaluating content management systems that could, potentially, provide the functionality CSA required. We determined the functional requirements of the redesigned website and matched those requirements to Drupal, Ektron and Sitefinity in an effort to determine which CMS was the most suitable. Hodgson recommended Sitefinity, which offered a high degree of scalability. It is also built on the .NET platform, which was suitable to CSA’s intended integration with MemberSuite, the association management system. In addition, it was more cost-effective than other options; it included forum and e-commerce capabilities out of the box, and it offered a “Content Personalization” add-on that would meet many of CSA’s content targeting goals. This personalization, as well as streamlining the sign-up and renewal funnel and centralizing the member portal, were some of the tools we leveraged to better serve the needs of the association’s leadership and members.
The Definitions phase began with developing a taxonomy, which included tagging content to improve search speed and to identify related content items. We created an intuitive, logical information architecture to guide the user experience. Hodgson developed wireframes and created several designs for CSA to review. Once a design was selected, we developed annotated wireframes to detail the functional requirements for each element on each template, and then created HTML files before developing Sitefinity templates and completing the implementation. Hodgson integrated with MemberSuite to provide single sign-on (SSO) functionality, allowing members to sign in and be authenticated to access not only member-based content, but individual member profile information. We ensured the website was responsive and tested it thoroughly before training CSA staff on Sitefinity and launching the site.
The California Society of Anesthesiologists (CSA) is comprised of nearly 4,000 anesthesiologists who practice in the state of California. CSA’s mission is to promote the highest standards for the anesthesiology profession, to foster excellence through continuing medical education, and to serve as an advocate for anesthesiologists and their patients.
The National Down Syndrome Society (NDSS) needed a team of web development professionals to redesign their website and manage Episerver, their content management system. The client also had specific requirements to bring all of the site’s functionality, such as registration for the annual NDSS Buddy Walk, into Episerver. Finally, they sought a partner that could help them with ongoing tasks and website maintenance.
Hodgson assessed the NDSS website and decided that a Webmaster Services contract would be the most cost-effective option for the client. Under this contract, Hodgson was able to provide responsive designs, migrate the registration functionality to Episerver and add an image gallery to the website.
The National Down Syndrome Society is the leading human rights organization for all individuals with Down syndrome. NDSS is the national advocate for the value, acceptance and inclusion of people with Down syndrome, and it offers support to people with Down syndrome and their family and friends, and seeks to educate the general public about Down syndrome.
In 2014, The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) initiated a multi-phase project to revitalize their entire web presence, which was built
on the Ektron platform. ASCE needed a website that would provide an optimal visitor experience; be flexible and extensible; be fully responsive to smartphones and tablets; and support the organization in achieving their important goals—technological advancement, lifelong learning, professional development, civil engineering leadership, and infrastructure and environmental stewardship.
After the design phase of their project had begun,
ASCE sought a web development partner with extensive Ektron experience and a track record of success in integrating content management systems with member database software (e.g., Personify, which is the system utilized by ASCE) to perform the technical heavy lifting in the project. At that point, ASCE had already been working with a design and strategy partner to conceive a new user interface, navigation, and content for all ASCE web properties.
ASCE selected Hodgson to build out their web properties in Ektron 9 and to integrate Ektron with all their third party systems. The project kicked off with a review of existing documentation and requirements created by ASCE’s design partner, including responsive HTML and CSS templates. Hodgson’s Ektron development team built out Ektron templates, including Smart Form and PageBuilder templates, and they set up taxonomies within Ektron to relate content within Ektron to a number of external databases. The project also included implementation of an advanced, faceted search using Ektron’s Solr-based search technology.
As is often the case in large, complex projects of this type, the functional requirements evolved even after development had already begun. Early in the project, Hodgson developers had the forethought to create an effective framework for serializing and deserializing smart form data, which allowed them to build all importing, sorting, and filtering of Personify and Ektron data well in advance. This effort proved invaluable late in the project, when requirements were finalized with the go-live date imminent.
Throughout the project, the Hodgson team worked with ASCE programmers to integrate Ektron templates with various existing technologies, including e-commerce applications, the Personify association management system, and other ASCE web properties. The result was a successful collaborative effort that produced a modern, user friendly website that leverages the power and flexibility of the Ektron platform.
The main ASCE website (www.asce.org), ASCE Foundation website (www.ascefoundation.org), and other sites are currently live. Hodgson’s Webmaster Services has been engaged to provide ongoing maintenance and support.
The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) represents more than 145,000 members of the civil engineering profession in 174 countries. Founded in 1852, ASCE is the nation’s oldest engineering society. ASCE stands at the forefront of a profession that plans, designs, constructs, and operates society’s economic and social engine—the built environment—while protecting and restoring the natural environment.
It is important to note that the index NACUA wanted was not what the GSA would produce by default (i.e., just by pointing the GSA at the resources). We developed a custom feed for the GSA which provided all the metadata required to produce eight (8) individual indexes, which could be searched and displayed separately.
To accomplish the goals above, we wrote an application that crawled the document repository and built up a finely tuned sitemap.xml file. The sitemap used a configuration file so NACUA could easily specify the behavior for each index; for example, the configuration file would specify if sub-directories were to be included in the index and whether or not a file should be included based on its modification date.
We then wrote a .NET console application which would read in the sitemap.xml file before creating and sending the feed to the GSA. As part of the process, we had to programmatically open each file and extract specific information, such as “Author” and “Title.” This was accomplished for all types of MS Office documents as well as PDFs. These metadata were part of the feed and became part of the index.
In addition to the tasks above, we also created another index that searched the entire web, except for NACUA’s own site, for any given search term. We used Google’s Custom Search Engine (GSE) to accomplish this. For each search term, the query was sent to the GSE, but the results were normalized to match those coming from the GSA. All results were presented in an identical manner.
One of the most significant challenges inherent in this project was the fact that nacua.org is a Classic ASP site featuring authentication against the ClearVantage AMS from Euclid Technology, which is not a particularly well documented product. Given that the search site we developed was an ASP.NET website hosted on a Classic ASP site, we had to implement authentication for the search site separately—the credentials could not be shared across the Classic ASP–ASP.NET boundary.
While we were implementing the new search, Euclid upgraded NACUA to the latest version of their product; however, Euclid’s professional services group could not get the authentication working with the Classic ASP site and needed Hodgson to troubleshoot the issue. We re-implemented the authentication with the new product version, and ensured that the Classic ASP authentication was working as well.
The American Board of Addiction Medicine (ABAM) approached Hodgson in 2009 seeking a website redesign and WordPress implementation. The association had a list of functionality that was critical to the new website, including a searchable directory and results page, Google site search, ecommerce and a contact us form.
Hodgson took ABAM through the proven five-step web development process. The website was developed in WordPress, and Hodgson’s developers ensured the required functionality was part of the finished project.
As the website grew in size and complexity, ABAM found themselves requiring ongoing assistance. Through a long-term Webmaster Services contract, Hodgson has been able to provide a full team of web development specialists to ABAM. Tasks have included, among many others, WordPress upgrades, the development of microsites, and a domain name change that had to be incorporated throughout the front and back ends of the website.
Hodgson maintains the ABAM site under a Webmaster Services contract to this day.
ABAM is the nation’s first medical specialty board that certifies addiction medicine physicians across a range of medical specialties. The board sets standards for physician education, assesses physicians’ knowledge and requires and tracks life-long education. It is an independent specialty board established in 2007.
The National Association of Professional Employer Organizations (NAPEO) contracted Hodgson to undertake a comprehensive update of their web presence, which included a complete visual and user experience redesign along with the implementation of a new Content Management System (CMS). In addition, NAPEO was looking to integrate their existing Association Management System (AMS), MemberSuite, for a more streamlined member experience. NAPEO also needed to develop a solution to manage both traditional and online publications for members and non-members alike.
With a large portion of the NAPEO user base utilizing a variety of devices to access the website tools and publications, NAPEO required a strategy to ensure all devices provided an outstanding user experience regardless of screen size. Finally, all of these goals needed to serve two separate and distinct audiences: the public and NAPEO members.
One of the first critical choices was selecting a CMS that would best fit NAPEO’s needs. After considering a number of potential options, Hodgson recommended, and implemented, Sitefinity. This CMS provided NAPEO with standardized page templates, robust site search, workflow, SEO tools and enhancements and the ability to integrate with the MemberSuite API.
Through significant discussion and research, Hodgson determined that by developing a custom publications module, NAPEO could manage all activities related to their publications through Sitefinity. This included allowing members additional access to archived publications and articles, based on membership levels, incorporating a federated search, and allowing NAPEO content provides an intuitive way to add and edit article and publication content.
Hodgson integrated with the AMS to provide single sign-on (SSO) functionality, allowing members to sign in and authenticated against MemberSuite to access not only member based content, but individual member profile information.
The National Association of Professional Employer Organizations (NAPEO) is The Voice of the Professional Employer Organization (PEO) Industry™. A PEO provides comprehensive human resources (HR) solutions for small and mid-size businesses that include payroll, benefits, HR, tax administration, and regulatory compliance assistance.
BIO required a firm with extensive experience with the Ektron CMS to assist them with their existing Ektron implementation on many of their web properties. They also needed a vendor who was able to work with a wide range of third party applications that would need to be incorporated into the site.
Through Webmaster Services, Hodgson has managed and assisted with enhancements to all web properties for BIO, including convention sites for BIO India and BIO China. The organization purchased an enterprise level Ektron license and manages both public domain and internal operations websites through it. In addition to ongoing maintenance and support, Hodgson has built custom applications for BIO’s convention website (convention.bio.org), has redesigned the convention site, and has overseen all web-related activities for the convention itself. This includes incorporating feeds from social media outlets and other third party systems like Zerista, a convention-focused social application.
Hodgson has integrated session information, schedules, speaker information and personal bios from Zerista with the convention website. During the convention this year, Hodgson developed the homepage to be a large media outlet for all things social—YouTube videos, links to live coverage, multiple live blogs from attendees, Twitter feeds, a Flickr feed, and the official convention blog. Hodgson has also integrated the site with OpenX to allow for the display of ads with a wide range of sponsors and sponsor levels.
One of the most important tools Hodgson has built for BIO is a microsite creation wizard, which allows CMS users to create independent convention sites from the Ektron Workarea. To use the wizard, site administrators need only fill in a few forms and press the “submit” button; Ektron then generates a microsite automatically. This seamless process has allowed BIO to create numerous microsites with ease.
BIO is the world's largest biotechnology organization, providing advocacy, business development and communications services for more than 1,100 members worldwide. BIO members are involved in the research and development of innovative healthcare, agricultural, industrial and environmental biotechnology products. Corporate members range from entrepreneurial companies developing a first product to Fortune 500 multinationals. BIO also represents state and regional biotech associations, service providers to the industry and academic centers. The mission of BIO is to be the champion of biotechnology and the advocate for its member organizations—both large and small.
Hodgson first became involved with Front Range Community College (FRCC) (www.frontrange.edu) when they were selecting a new content management system (CMS) for their site. At that time, we arranged demonstrations of Sitefinity for FRCC stakeholders, and we set up sandbox environments to allow FRCC’s development team to evaluate the features of the CMS through a fully hosted trial installation.
After FRCC’s web team had settled on Sitefinity as their new CMS of choice, they engaged Hodgson to design and build an innovative site that would offer their users an intuitive, personalized experience. We began the project by working with FRCC’s internal team to define the functional and business goals for the new site. With the requirements in hand, Hodgson’s designers were able to craft an entirely new look and feel for the FRCC website.
The updated design features prominent, red call-to-action buttons characterized by the “torn” effect prominent in FRCC’s print marketing materials. The dropdown menus in the main navigation are designed to draw the user further into the site and to encourage exploration (the featured images liven up these menus as well). Furthermore, the grid layout of the homepage and landing pages (e.g., www.frontrange.edu/getting-in) gives the site a very clean, balanced feel. It also allows users to easily find the content they seek, as it is presented in clear, discrete blocks throughout the site.
As part of the creative process, Hodgson’s project team conducted usability testing on designs to ensure that the finished product would conform to usability best practices. One key element of usability is the “breaking from tradition” approach to the main navigation. Often, higher education sites use a standard menu that includes “Academics,” “Admissions,” and “Student Life.” Instead of staying with established conventions, the FRCC team had based the new navigation primarily on the timing of the prospective student’s engagement with the College. During usability testing, we found that the new menu concepts created by FRCC were very clear and intuitive, and that an eye-appealing dropdown menu would draw a visitor deeper into the site.
Another important feature of the site is its capacity to provide a personalized experience to students, parents, and faculty based on which of the four campuses a visitor was associated with. By making a campus selection, a user has a personalized experience on nearly 40% of the site’s pages.
Incorporating the blog into the website was also a priority for FRCC, as they had an extensive collection of blog posts, contributed by both students and faculty. As WordPress blog posts are imported into the site, tags and categories are assigned to each post. Throughout the website, the blog widget is filtered to display posts specific to the content on the page, providing a greater amount of relevant information for the site visitor.
In addition to the elements discussed above, Hodgson’s developers built other useful features into the site: custom .NET controls to filter and display calendar events; campus alerts and emergency notification functionality; a searchable, sortable faculty and staff directory integrated with Active Directory; and IntelliResponse search results with a “Top 5 Questions” widget, which displays questions relevant to content on the page.
Front Range Community College (FRCC) is a two-year institution of higher learning with campuses in Westminster, Colorado; Longmont, Colorado; Fort Collins, Colorado; and Brighton, Colorado. It is the largest community college in Colorado and the number one transfer institution for the University of Colorado-Boulder, Colorado State University, and Metropolitan State University of Denver.