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by Belinda Naylor-Stables

Developing a new content-managed website is an exciting project management challenge. Your site developer will have a project manager and it's a good idea as a client to have your in-house project manager too. Here's the first of 3 blogs to help keep your eye on the ball with these tips from an experienced project manager.

Kick off with a great web specification

If your bids or tenders provide a loose specification they will result in a vast range of cost responses – and it will be difficult to judge which web developer meets your needs best. Ideally, involve potential users from the start. Ensure their views are canvassed on what is required even BEFORE you draw up a project brief or tender. This helps you draft a detailed set of requirements and avoid changes further down the line. Changes are worth avoiding because they inevitably add to your costs and possibly reduce what you could achieve within your budget.

No U-turns

Get the design signed off early on and don't allow others to come back on this later. Changes to visual elements may be difficult and costly to implement - adding disproportionately to the cost.

Anticipate problems and use an Issue Log

Once you've decided on your web developer, agree a communication plan before the project begins. Share phone numbers, emails, Skype addresses and holiday dates. Know the different levels of communication that need to go on and who to contact about what. For example, strategic and resource management, project issues and planning, plus user testing and feedback all involve different people at different levels. Collaborative sharing of key project documents works really well for contact list, plan, detailed specification, Risk Register (aspects of the project that could cause difficulties or delays) and Issue Log (the record of issues that arise with a record of how they have been resolved).

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ISSUE LOG TEMPLATE - You do not have permission to view this object.
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Cartoon from UCAN

Church administrators let the UCAN network take the strain!

Congratulations to our membership organisation client, the UK Church Administrator Network (UCAN) whose numbers went through the 700 barrier yesterday, almost exactly three and a half years after the network was set up.

The UK Church Administrator Network (UCAN) links people employed by their local churches as Administrators, ranging from a part-time Church Office Assistant up to a full-time Director of Operations in some of the UK’s largest churches.

Launched in May 2009 membership has grown steadily to over 700 today with a current growth rate of 175 pa.  Everyone joins online.

The network is run by church consultant John Truscott from an eZ Publish website, designed and hosted by EAB.  The Administrators’ section offers an online database, a range of specialist resources such as a remuneration survey and audio files, web forums, details of area training events, annual conferences and bimonthly e-mailings.

UCAN is now starting to establish local groups and a distance learning course.

While much of the success can be attributed to the positive word of mouth John receives about his services, he has worked hard to market the network:

  1. Data marketing:  He used a mailing list of larger churches in the UK to get it off the ground.
  2. Market research: He used the internet to research churches with administrators on their staff by checking out websites and making email contact.
  3. Promotional events: He ran a continuous series of area training days with discounts for members and getting these publicised to churches through various networks.
  4. Content marketing: John loaded his website with many useful free resources covering all aspects of church organisation: his website now has over 100 items freely available.
  5. Customer communication: John distributes a bimonthly e-newsletter and maintains an active Twitter feed to promote resources to followers.

Andre Bottin, lead consultant at EAB, comments:  
“UCAN is a shining example of how using eZ Publish can help run a really effective membership organisation online with the minimum of human resources. John Truscott uses it to maximum effect to co-ordinate the work of UCAN and communicate with members. Used effectively, eZ Publish can become the powerhouse of any organisation, large, small or rapidly growing. The potential for continuing membership growth is considerable. EAB's client-centered approach and eZ Publish's flexibility and scalability have helped UCAN grow and will continue to support growth in the future.”

The UCAN membership organisation is hosted on the John Truscott website.

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Sally Davidson graphic designer

Enterprise AB Ltd is delighted to add Sally Davidson's designer's skills to its UK-based team as Dave Cooper, her predecessor, is now a member of the French team. Sally is an experienced graphic designer with a great track record of brand development and web graphics for the Arts and Leisure sectors in particular.

Her first project is to develop a new look for St Albans based Victoria Fine Art. Alongside this, Sally is developing a new identity for EAB which will be unveiled for our new French office.

We are delighted to have Sally work for us – her design flair, international experience and feel for visual trends are just what we need to complement our technical skill in bespoke application development.

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Victoria Fine Art – a specialist art seller in St Albans, Herts - has selected EAB to develop a new online gallery solution for its unrivalled stock of Victorian, Modern and Contemporary paintings.

Fishing Boats painting by Abraham Hulk Snr

Fishing Boats - a traditional marine painting by Abraham Hulk Snr from Victoria Fine Art - one of the largest private collections in the British Isles

Serving national and international markets for private decorative, interior design and investment buyers, Victoria Fine Art will join EAB’s roster of clients in the UK and international fine art sector.

The new site will showcase Victoria Fine Art's growing range of services including museum-quality restoration and framing. Designed for the discerning collector it will allow browsing and selection by subject matter, artist, genre, period and dimension. Contemporary artists will also be given a showcase alongside the Modern, Victorian and Impressionist periods.

One of the bespoke solutions required will be an increased zoom for online buyers to inspect quality and texture more closely than ever before.

The aims of the site will be both to stimulate footfall to the retail premises and to encourage online sales through supplying descriptive content of comparable level to an auctioneer’s report.

EAB has developed special expertise in online gallery development: view our clients in the arts and leisure sector.    

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How to increase engagement with your online community

You have created a beautiful new online community website. It’s well-constructed and it ticks every box.

So why aren’t people taking part?

There could be a host of reasons. We take a look at some of the barriers and highlight solutions:

1. No one knows it's there

They do have to be told! Look closely at your communications processes and points of contact with existing new and potential members and ensure that you are not overlooking the obvious. The online registration should state benefits very clearly and provide clear instructions and easy to access support. If your community also meets offline you need to take every opportunity to integrate discussions and information on your community website. Make it a critical hub for communications and visitors will soon arrive. Read how we helped the Executive Forum Alumni build member engagement.

2. People are too shy

Often people feel inhibited from making comments and contributing to public conversations. This can be countered with opening gambits that are easy to engage with such as photos, surveys or hot questions.

3. Resistance to online sharing

Here are some great ideas from Dawn Foster, author of Companies and Communities on what motivates people to participate. Your web solution and call to action must emphasise one or more of the following:

  • Status and recognition
  • Passion
  • Work help
  • Giving help to others
  • Career advancement
  • Skills development
  • Financial benefit
  • Learning
  • Social
  • Fun

We would add ‘mutual support’ to this list.

4. Make the site bespoke

There‘s a lot of competition out there from free web 2.0 platforms. For example LinkedIn gives groups of people fast access to sharing content and making personal connections. A membership community website must offer something bespoke to the needs of the community it serves.

For our client SOFT UK we found out the real needs of members which were sensitive, deeply private yet yearning for mutual support.

Our education sector client Yorkshire & Humber Grid for Learning comprises a network of teaching professionals linked to commercial training providers, course booking and an online platform for CPD. We constructed a profile section which allows each supplier to promote its brand.

5. Give people a reason to come

Are you using your community site to host information that can be relayed to the membership by their preferred medium? We helped our client Herts Visual Arts, to produce email and web-based newsletters like clockwork to keep interest and engagement high.

6. Make your website a workhorse for your organisation

Voluntary-based organisations frequently suffer from a lack of commitment from volunteers where administrative processes are time consuming and committee member roles and responsibilities are not clearly defined. Use your community site to define roles and ideally provide the tools to help the steering committee do their jobs efficiently. For example we have developed applications in the eZ Publish Content Management System for our clients to build and distribute announcements, meeting minutes and reports; manage membership registration and subscription renewals; conduct online accounting and allow members to fill in expenses forms online.

About us

Our Government, Education and Non Profit clients

We are the UK’s leading independent developer of eZ Publish web solutions for membership organisations.

Take a look at our list of clients:

eZ Publish is a world class content management system selected by membership organisations worldwide for its amazing power. Top international users include:

The Association for Women's Rights in Development (AWID)

AWID is an international membership organisation connecting, informing and mobilising people online in three different languages.

Living Beyond Breast Cancer

Living Beyond Breast Cancer spotlights LBBC’s “Community Connections” which is a multi-faceted sharing network consisting of forums, experts community content and their blog all supported by eZ Publish.

INFORMS

INFORMS is the largest society in the world for professionals in the field of operations research (O.R.), management science and business analytics. The society website integrates content with member accounts, events registration and online purchasing.

See the eZ Publish world class Government, Education and Non profit client list.

Are you looking for an online solution for your membership organisation? Talk to us first.

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We are delighted that the EAB business model has been recognised on the Guardian's Best Practice Exchange for exporting.

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Great news! Andre is back from Nice – tanned and relaxed -  bien sûr!

We have succeeded in establishing a Branch office in Nice. It is located in the very aptly-named Promenade des Anglais!

Our new business will have its own French trading name Entreprise AB – spot the difference?  

We also warmly welcome a number of new team members across the Channel:Jean-Marc Baldini, Odile Collin and Marina Leggiero.

Jean-Marc, Odile Collin, Marina Leggiero

The team will work with our Nice–based designer Dave Cooper to generate new business opportunities for our eZ publish CMS offering  - delivered by our Xi'an- based developer team.

As it happens eZ Publish is better known on the continent than in the UK: used on a number of high profile international French language websites such as Institut de Recherche pour le développement,so we don’t expect to have to spend so much time explaining its amazing capacities to our prospects on the Côte D’Azur. 

Nice is an ideal jump-off point for our French ambitions. We are well-connected to exciting projects in the Var Valley - an inland area of the Côte D’Azur which is earmarked for huge redevelopment.

Our new address: 

455 Promenade des Anglais
Immeuble Nice Premier A
06299 Nice Cedex 03
FRANCE

And our new French telephone number is +33 (0) 483580554.

Love to see you there sometime!

Andre 

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Just back from 6 weeks in Nice. Did you notice I had gone? This is me outside our new office at Premier A, Promenade des Anglais!

Andre Bottin standing outside Premier A, Nice

Andre at our new offices at Premier A, Nice

More exciting news to come….

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Online Training Screencasts aka Online Tutorials are useful to share with staff, customers, users of your website or online services, or prospects. You can use the format to introduce a service or explain a process to your membership.

Sometimes you need to encourage members to engage with an online community. A simple ‘how to‘ screen cast can be embedded in your website.

Tempting prospective members

You can use the ‘how to register’ process to reveal content that would be otherwise hidden. This is a great way to attract new members, users or subscribers by showing some premium or compelling feature which is inaccessible to non-subscribers.

Screen Recording Software

There are many types of screencast software. We use BB FlashBack Pro screen recorder an easy-to-use screen recorder to create compact, high quality movies for tutorials, demos and presentations. It's easy sharing with quick upload to YouTube and other video hosting sites.

Examples of screencasts

Here are two screencasts we have just produced for our not-for-profit UK client Executive Forum Alumni of St Albans. These tutorials have been designed to encourage engagement and increase access to the brilliant features of this online community website.

The first shows how to register or log in, to find opportunities, register for updates and apply.


The second tutorial is aimed at companies and entrepreneurs. It explains how to publicise a job or business venture opportunity with members of the EFA online community.

Sharing

Once complete you can upload and share your screencast on YouTube and Facebook or you can embed it on your website or blog. To publicise it directly to your database send an email to your users, members or prospects.

Help

Good luck with your screencasts. For more information about screencasts or other forms of online engagement for your membership community call EAB – we are experts in online community sharing solutions. See our Associations page to see which clients we support.

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G&N install conservatories in Hertfordshire

The Enterprise AB team has just completed the transfer of an existing website for a leading St Albans-based door, window and conservatory specialist G&N Windows

The original web design has been largely retained, but now accesses the power of the eZ Publish Content Management System. eZ Publish's powerful URL system, well-designed HTML code and meta tagging functionality means that any website converted to eZ Publish sees improvements in terms of search engine optimisation (SEO) but our content specialist also enhanced the image gallery and work blog features with the addition of alt texts which should boost the search ratings even further. 

We also helped GNW expand and enhance the content with the addition of dynamic 'page-flipping' online brochures for all the product lines. Social media has been integrated into the site and our training team is helping GNW staff including installers to start to feed in images and stories to the blog and drive social media engagement.

Enterprise AB are offering a content management service to help this lean and fast paced business stay on top of its web space.

"Now GNW have converted to eZ Publish the sky is the limit for them!" says Andre Bottin, "The website is poised for development to add on online purchasing, enhanced quotation and customer log in functions."

Enterprise AB is also providing IT software consultancy to advise this ambitious business on communications development. 

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