I’m going to go out on a limb and make an assumption about the folks who read the SmallBox blog. I’m guessing that you, like us, listen to public radio and/or watch public television. That means that you have probably heard this already, but at the risk of being redundant, here goes…
The new WFYI.org is live!
Yeah, it’s exciting. The new site means that a great organization that has served our city for so many years can now have even more impact. There is nothing better than building something that benefits everyone.
SmallBox has been partnering with WFYI on this project for nearly two years. Yes, you read that right…
If you are like me, you probably read that and thought, seriously, two years, how is that even possible?
We wanted to make sure it was right. Right for the myriad WFYI audiences. Right for the numerous WFYI stakeholders. Right for the workflow and processes necessary to provide great programming, up to date news, and access to community services and events.
Before anyone even considered opening Photoshop or writing a line of code, the SmallBox team worked with the WFYI team for nearly a full year of discovery, research and planning. The team conducted dozens of interviews and meetings with internal and external stakeholders. There was market research…lots of market research. We created audience profiles, and mapped their actions on the web. We even attended training in Chicago about the NPR and PBS program delivery systems.
This project was the perfect case study for the “measure twice, cut once” idiom. Because the audience was so large and varied, and WFYI’s opportunities were so great, we had to make sure the site was as close to perfect as possible before setting it loose on the world.
Though I am a bit biased, I think what we ended up with is the best public radio and television site in the country. We did this, in large part, through a relationship of trust and a willingness on WFYI’s part to work outside of the NPR and PBS box.
The site is built on SmallBox’s custom CMS and has some extensive functionality that just couldn’t be easily replicated in an open-source CMS.
Rather than integrating with the limited functionality of NPR and PBS’s program platforms (called Bento and Cove, if you were wondering), we built a custom program importer that allows WFYI to bring programs into the CMS and generate content for and about those programs. Though the process required a lot of learning, and hours upon hours of coding, it was the best solution to meet WFYI’s needs in terms of dynamic content that can be shared, talked about, and placed strategically across the site.
One fun and rewarding thing about this project is that once development kicked off, we didn't have to go it alone. Our team collaborated and co-developed with WFYI – we don't often have that level of expertise on the client side.
Did we mentioned we had a lot of fun along the way? Their entire team was incredible to work with. Here we are in one of the many coworking sessions we hosted between our two teams at SmallBox:
A second area of focus, and one that required a great deal of design thinking and user experience expertise, was the collection and dissemination of news. WFYI, following the lead of stations like KPBS in San Diego, is moving toward being a primary news source for Central Indiana. In order to do so, they knew they needed to be providing that news online as well as on the air. Now the new website acts as a hub for local and national news, as well as stories related to their four areas of focus: health, education, arts/culture and public affairs.
Furthermore, reporters can submit news stories to be posted online from anywhere in the field, directly into the CMS, which are then edited and made live by the content manager. Talk about up-to-the-minute reporting!
The site is fluidly responsive. (Honestly, that’s pretty much all we’re building these days.) That means that you can access it from anywhere and from any device. No need for an app.
These are just a few of the great upgrades to the new website. You really ought to go check it out, and while you are there, listen to some great programming, check out the news, and maybe support public radio with a donation!