Website Launch: Community Development Society

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cdsmobileviewWhen a website is meant to serve a lot of people, you have to balance the needs of everyone.

The Community Development Society has hundreds of members worldwide. Many are involved in committees within the organization (so they need access to info regular members wouldn’t get). And, just like any membership organization, CDS has to attract new members and provide enough public information that people understand what the organization does and want to join.

The new CDS website is not only responsively designed but accommodates these separate audiences.

Created in Joomla 3.0, this website not only serves as a resource to thousands of visitors a month but shows what an open source CMS like Joomla is capable of in terms of function and customization.

Member Only Area

All members receive log in information when they join the organization. Once logged in, members see a special sidebar of content only they can access.

Members who want to blog are assigned permissions to do so and they can add and edit their posts on the website without accessing more sensitive areas.

As per the organization’s request, the profiles are connected to an internal social network, allowing logged in members not only to post to forums, create blogs, or see specific content but also create and maintain a profile that others can see and connect with… you know, once logged in. (We’ll be working with CDS this winter on further refining this feature with the help of member feedback.)

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Tagged Content

The homepage of the website displays the organization’s most important information for members and non-members alike but since the organization does publish content on social issues and about a variety of locations, it was important for this website to be able to have tagged content.

Tagging ensures people can move around the website and browse easily on topics most of interest. (The search feature is great if you know exactly what you’re looking for but tags can let you stumble upon cool content.)

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cdsresponsivegoogleform-mobileviewGoogle Apps Integration

The organization wanted the ability to have forms on their site but, rather than submissions getting sent via email, wanted them in a spreadsheet committees could edit and access easily.

Since they have been using Google Apps over the last year, this seemed like an opportunity to use them to handle conference submissions in a way that would cut down back and forth emails (they are all stored in a spreadsheet) and allow people to access/edit them while keeping a copy of each revision.

Not sure why anyone would want to fill out an in-depth form like this on a phone but it’s responsive too.

Training Videos

Because members are in many locations (and more than a handful of people needed to be trained on website updates), it made sense to make video tutorials on how to do things on the site (in 5 minute increments or less).

Every time someone asks about something, we make a video and put it on CDS’s own private Vimeo channel, in addition to the videos we thought necessary to have at site launch. This way, if someone forgets or a new person takes over, they are a short, fun video away from being able to do something on their website.

Though we launched this site back in May (!), we have only just now had time to write about it. So congratulations to CDS on their site and here’s hoping it inspires not only membership but activism in community development, a worthy cause indeed.

Nicole Ouellette
Nicole runs Breaking Even Communications, an internet marketing company in Bar Harbor Maine. When she's not online, she enjoys walking her short dog, cooking with bacon, and trying to be outdoorsy in Acadia National Park.

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