KidSpirit – An Online Community Built with BuddyPress

We are proud to announce the launch of KidSpirit Online, a non-profiit magazine and online community for young teens who enjoy writing, creating, and exploring meaningful subjects such as spirituality, values, and life’s “big” questions.

BuddyPress Online Community

KidSpirit’s new website is powered by WordPress and BuddyPress.

Using WordPress as a publishing platform, KidSpirit Online now offers a more welcoming and secure environment for kids to interact with each other. BuddyPress powers the site’s social networking features, allowing young writers and artists to create groups and chat in forums. The BuddyPress registration process has been customized to comply with child privacy laws; comments, profiles, and other aspects of the site were all customized to protect personal information.

The project included the development of a custom avatar plugin that limits profile image selection to a handful of predesigned choices. The plugin integrates with existing WordPress and BuddyPress avatar functions to seamlessly display a users’ chosen avatar across the site, overriding both the Gravatar service and avatar features built into BuddyPress. This custom functionality prevents members from uploading their own images, ensuring child privacy and an appropriate environment.

The new site’s creative was designed by Mixit Productions and features a look that is colorful, kid-friendly and true to the spirit of the magazine.

Assorted client news: RFP Builder, Acelero, YAMI in NYT, and more

The Council of Public Relations Firms launched the first version of RFP Builder; a web application that guides prospective PR firm clients through the process of selecting the right firm. Our new case study has the details.

Acelero Learning released the new version of their public website. Built on CitySoft Community Enterprise, the site includes a new Head Start Resource Center with self registration, a custom news channel with improved formatting, and a custom jQuery-powered slideshow on the home page that offers all the elegance of Flash without the overhead or maintenance costs.

YAMI-U and the resulting campaign, No LOL in HIV, was featured in an article in the New York Times. We led the web component of this campaign, working closely with the youth advocates and the creative directors, The Watsons.

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Home page face lift for NELLCO

Most of our website design projects involve a first design for a new site or web application, or a complete redesign from the ground up. A home page and design “refresh”, however, can be a smart, often overlooked investment in a site’s vibrancy, particularly in times when budgets are tight and that vision of a redesign might be out of reach.

Of course, not all sites are suited to an evolutionary (as opposed to revolutionary) face lift. Putting lipstick on that 10 year old site with the scrolling marquee, blocky graphics, and green background is probably not a smart investment. But there are many websites with reasonable aesthetics – maybe a few years old – that don’t need to be torn down and rebuilt. Some creative thinking about how existing structural elements can be refined, coupled with a face lift of the home page’s content and, perhaps, key landing pages, can offer real bang for the buck.

Recently, we did just that for the New England Law Library Consortium (NELLCO).

NELLCO Home Page Face Lift

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YAMI-U campaign to launch this afternoon

There's No LOL in HIVSince last Wednesday, I’ve been hunkering down at the Hilton Garden Inn in Washington, D.C., leading the web component of Cable Positive’s Youth AIDS  Media Institute University (YAMI-U). The purpose of this 7 day program has been to develop and produce a multi-platform social advocacy HIV/AIDS awareness marketing campaign, working with about 20 young adults already active in various HIV/AIDS awareness campaigns.

Over the past week, we developed an overarching campaign theme that individual YAMI-U teams have translated into public service announcements that will be carried nationwide, a series of print ads, an interactive text messaging campaign, and, yes, an engaging and integrated web presence.

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Interactive Flash maps: using web games to teach concepts

Any educator will tell you that the best way to communicate a concept is not just by stating it, but by opening the door for the learner to discover the concept by way of their own experience or reasoning. Science experiments that go on in classrooms across the country are a testament to the importance of knowledge earned through experience, known, in the case of science, as experiments. Learning on the web, often called eLearning, is no different.

The Thomas B. Fordham Institute, a D.C. based think-tank dedicated to advancing educational excellence in U.S. schools, understands this concept as well as anyone. So when they approached us to help them build an interactive study resource and web based game to illustrate some concepts for their “Accountability Illusion” report, we were excited to get started.

Interactive Flash Maps for Fordham Institute

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Drupal website development: BALLE

Drupal website: BALLEWe talk a lot about WordPress, but it’s not the only open source content management system we work with. Just last month we rolled out a Drupal powered site for the San Francisco based Business Alliance for Local Living Economies (BALLE).

After electing to go open source, BALLE was drawn to Drupal’s ability to blend public and member only features into a unified website. With a healthy repository of plug-ins, Drupal offered a lot of value out of the box, while still allowing substantial control to the development team.

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“Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship” blog featured on WordPress Showcase

The Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship’s blog has been featured on the WordPress Showcase. The blog, featuring three distinct “columns” (in the content, not design sense of the word), engages is its readers with ideas and opinions on corporate citizenship.

Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship Design Comparison

We think this implementation’s most interesting features are under the hood. The blog needed to be integrated with BCCCC’s primary content management system – CitySoft CE. We developed a WordPress template that automatically pulls and caches the top navigation (drop downs and all) from its CitySoft counterpart.

On the CitySoft side, we developed a home page template that pulls the recent items (the Director’s Blog, and general news) from WordPress. The CitySoft template loads a cached version of the entire home page that refreshes ever hour, resulting in a “zippy” home page despite the number of complex elements, not to mention the site’s traffic. Most visitors never know they are switching between two completely different systems!

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Google Reader WordPress Plugin

Slideshow of Recommended Reading screenshots

Slideshow of Recommended Reading screenshots

Have you noticed our new Software section? Many of our projects involve innovative “mini-applications” that have greater application beyond the immediate project. One of our goals is to abstract some of these projects or apply new skills from these projects into generally available software. We’ll probably charge for some premium applications, but sometimes we’d just like to give back to the open source, GPL community that’s given us fantastic platforms like WordPress.

This week we christened our Software section with a called Recommended Reading: Google Reader Shared. The plug in, optimized for the latest major build of WordPress (2.7 at the time of writing), will let you easily feature selected items from any number of standard web feeds (be it a blog or company news) on your WordPress site. All you need is a free account!

The plug-in is also in less than 100 hours.

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