Our role. Milwaukee/NARI hired AVS Group to help them plan, design, and develop a new website—one that would better serve its members by connecting them with consumers.
AVS Group began the process with a day-long discovery/strategy session to discuss critical factors like the website's audience, goals for the website, preferences for design, needed functionality, optimal navigation, and more. Several follow-up sessions were conducted to further refine the specifications for the website and ensure a well thought-out plan. Undergoing this process encouraged Milwaukee/NARI staff to think critically about the website's function in the organization—and they benefited from AVS Group's web expertise in uncovering opportunities to best leverage the availble web technologies to serve members.
Design, Development, and Training
Once the strategy for the website was complete, AVS Group's professional art directors created three distinct design concepts. With input from the Milwaukee/NARI team, the selected design was further refined. Using this approach ensured Milwaukee/NARI received a custom design that embodies their brand and looks professional, while creating a positive user experience for website visitors.
Following the creation of the design, development of the website itself began. The site is built on an easy-to-use, open-source content management system. This makes the site easy to manage without knowledge of HTML or programming. It also allows Milwaukee/NARI access to robust functionality at significantly less cost than custom programming. The site offers a variety of features that provide an excellent experience for members and consumers:
- Member profiles: Members can securely login to easily manage their public listings—they can select from multiple "website plans" that provide opportunities to display additional information, such as photos, more detailed company descriptions, or links to their social media sites. Members can also pay their annual membership dues or other fees, and access members'-only content. Members can even pay by check; and staff can record check payments in the system.
- New member registration: A robust membership application allows new members to easily register and pay online.
- Awards: A special awards section attractively highlights members' award-winning projects.
- Advanced contractor search: A robust search function allows website visitors to quickly search for contractors by name, project type, or certification. Site administrators have even more search functions, including searching by representative first or last name, and member status.
- Reporting: Milwaukee/NARI staff can generate various reports and invoices.
- Site administration: Staff can also update members' profiles, make private notes in members' profiles, control permissions, and hide or publish members' profiles from the public website.
- Events: A prominent rotating home page banner promotes upcoming events. Events are also listed in a calendar, and a timer counts down to upcoming events.
- Facebook Like Box: A Facebook Like Box on the home page encourages visitors to "like" Milwaukee/NARI on Facebook, and also keeps the home page looking fresh with current status updates from Facebook.
To help Milwaukee/NARI save on development costs, AVS Group provided multiple virtual training session to Milwaukee/NARI staff members so they could add a majority of the content themselves—with the dual benefits of saving money and becoming more comfortable with the new system while it was still in a development (staging) environment.
The website was designed in an SEO-friendly way (Search Engine Optimization) to help ensure optimal rankings in the search engines. Additionally, the website was fully tested to ensure compatibility with the most popular browsers and operating systems. Finally, since the website is built on an easily-extensible platform, plans have been made to add additional features to the website in the years to come.
"It’s been wonderful working with the AVS Group. Communication is important when working on a project like this and they were always able to keep us well informed on the status of project, and let us visually walk through the site and give our feedback. If we wanted adjustments or had ideas, options were given to us. We were always able to reach them by phone or email with an quick response time. They designed a great looking site within our budget and also helped us improve our SEO. The AVS Group is also very personable and easy to work with, I highly recommend them."
Michelle Brown, Education & Creative Coordinator, Milwaukee/NARI