For the past few months I’ve been part of a team redesigning Sherlock Tech’s new website. SherlockTech Staffing is a boutique IT staffing and consulting agency for technical talent in Florida and other parts of the country.
I got involved with the project after running into a David Silverlight at the local WordPress meetup. I had worked with David many years ago and knew he was an excellent .Net and Silverlight developer so I was surprised to see him at a WordPress meetup. It turns out that David is working with WordPress now and was scouting out some plugin ideas for some of his sites. David introduced me to Alex Funkhouser Sherlock Tech’s President and I teamed up with Media In Sync and Steve Earle to work on the site.
In addition to re-platforming from a custom .NET/SQL CMS to WordPress, Sherlock had the following requirements:
- Support mobile devices
- Present a cleaner, more professional branding
- Integrate with social media, especially Sherlock Tech’s Facebook Page
- Integrate their website with a third-party recruiting application
Marsha Belinson, an Account Director with Sherlock served as the creative director/project manager for the redesign. Mobile support was a priority for Marsha and I recommended using a responsive design. I have been using the Genesis Theme framework from StudioPress for years and they had recently launched several new themes that were responsive. We selected the Genesis Streamline child theme and customized it to give Sherlock Tech their own unique branding.
Sherlock Tech uses a recruiting app called Sendouts to publish their open positions and track applicants. Sherlock wanted to use the Sendouts API to import open positions and add them as content on their new WordPress site. I created a custom post type to handle jobs and wrote a custom WordPress plugin to run each hour using the WP cron. The service pulls open jobs from Sendouts and synchronizes them with the existing custom posts on the WordPress site. Jobs are searchable on the Sherlock site and applicants then apply through the Sendouts app.
This was definitely one of the more challenging projects I have worked on in recent months. In my experience the key to a successful project is having good project leadership. Alex and Marsha provided clear direction on what they wanted and we launched on time and within budget.
Calvary Chapel Miami Beach recently launched a new website and I was privileged to be part of the project. Along with actual site implementation the church also started using multiple social media successfully to improve communication with the community. I am a volunteer assistant pastor at Calvary Chapel Miami Beach and I hope you can tell that I put my heart into this project.Â 🙂
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Calvary Chapel has been using WordPress for several years and we wanted to keep the momentum going with this redesign. One of the major goals of the new site was to allow church staff to design promotional graphics for events and activities and incorporate them into the site in addition to adding events, news and other textual content.
For this project I started with the Aperture theme from Woo Themes (affiliate link) and then customized the design and developed new widgets and along with other PHP enhancements.
We wanted to keep the design framework minimal but feature the colorful promotional images that Paul Funk (J.P.), our creative assistant pastor, creates week after week. The Aperture theme was designed for a photo blog and that worked out great to feature the image links on the home page which draw site visitors in to find out more.
Church and Social Media
Many of the church family members have been using Facebook, including the pastoral staff. It has been a great way to keep in touch with people here in Miami but even more so as a way to stay connected with those who have moved away. Calvary Chapel Miami Beach is in a “transient” community and we see many people come and go. If you come to our church and then return 6 months later you will find many new faces.
The logical next step was to create a Facebook Fan Page for Calvary Chapel Miami Beach. Pastor Robert Fountain updates the page regularly to let people know what’s coming up and to share devotional and encouraging messages.
We hooked up the Facebook page to the Calvary Chapel Miami Beach Twitter account. The twitter posts are really links back to the public Facebook page. We have found this to be effective since it expands our audience to the general Twitter community but makes it easier for us to post on Facebook.
The custom theme features in-site integration of our Facebook feed as well as an embedded Google Calendar for our events. It was a definite win to use Google Calendar for managing our schedule. With a little bit of tweaking I was able to get it into a widget on our site footer.
Lastly, we started using MailChimp for our email newsletters and mailing list management. MailChimp has an API that we use to allow people to subscribe right from the website and also manage what groups they are interested in.
The Point: Better Communication
The new site looks better and is easier to use. But the major change we have seen is improved communication with our community. Using WordPress and social media has allowed me (geek) to get out of the way and allow the pastoral staff to do the communicating themselves. I think I did my job right this time.
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Read more about the project on my projects page.
Last night Refresh Miami had its monthly meetup, this month at the Kelley Roy Gallery near Midtown Miami. Refresh is a community of web, technology and social media enthusiasts that was founded in 2006 by Brian Breslin and Alex De Carvalho. You can find out more about the larger global community at RefreshCities.org.
One of the cool things about going to Refresh Miami was that I got to meet in person many of the people with whom I had already interacted with over the web. It turns out that last night there was a common theme in the presentations and announcements that were made: I would tag it as “Working Together”. I really appreciate what Alex said about social media interaction over the web:
Social media is not about the platform, it’s about the people.
â€“ Alex De Carvalho
First up was a talk by Alex and Brian about Coworking, which I would describe as a new way of working that basically involves sharing: sharing office space, sharing tools, sharing ideas, sharing skills and experience. Coworking is something that is of particular benefit to freelancers, solo entrepreneurs and startups who should be working together rather than just going it alone. It’s obvious that coworking can help you lower overhead costs but as Alex also said at the event:
Coworking is not about the space, it’s about the people.
â€“ Alex De Carvalho
So, consider the benefits of coworking and get involved. If you’re not familiar with Brikolodge then you should be. Brikolodge is Miami’s first coworking facility and it’s run by Ali and Eduardo, two very friendly people who embody the ideal of sharing.
LaidOffCamp & FreelanceCamp Coming to Miami!
Next up at the event was a brief announcement about LaidOffCamp Miami and FreelanceCamp, two BarCamp-style unconferences that I hope to bring to South Florida. The idea is to have an event where freelancers, independents, startups and job seekers can come together, share ideas and opportunities; bottom line…find work. Please follow @LaidOffCampMIA and @FreelanceCampFL for updates and RSVP for the May 15 event on Facebook.
VOIS.com – Global Social Sourcing
Finally, we had a presentation at the event by Craig Agranoff and Herb Tabin from VOIS.com. VOIS.com is a social networking site that is all about connecting people who need projects done with those who can help them. VOIS stands for Virtual Outsourcing is Social. They call their concept “Global Social Sourcing” which combines a lot of the best features of social networking and freelance bidding sites and helps you build long-term relationships for business around the world. Visit VOIS.com – Social Networking for Freelancers, Outsourcing and Coworking!
This was my first time at Refresh Miami and I’m glad I finally made it. Thanks Brian, Alex and the rest of the community for a splendid evening.