iMarc recently completed a web site for Wolf & Company, Certified Public Accountants & Business Consultants. With a century-long history of service, it was important to Wolf to show their community heiritage side-by-side with their wide range of expertise. Since staff recruitment and retention is key to a service-based company such as Wolf, the site also showcases career opportunities and growth potential.
Of course, the site has to be easy to maintain and keep fresh. So iMarc built easy-to-use content management tools, that make publishing content fast and easy, and ensures that new content is attractive and complies with the company style guidelines.
"iMarc delivered on our project needs and objectives! And throughout the development process, iMarc was professional and efficient. In addition to the inviting new look and feel and user-friendly navigation, our new site allows us the flexibility to easily administer a variety of content updates ourselves without creating a drain on staff resources or investing in monthly maintenance fees."
— Margery L Piercey, CPA, Principal
Wolf & Company, P.C.
Certified Public Accountants & Business Consultants
The site architecture is built on a dynamic, database-driven framework that makes it easy to add, edit and remove pages from the site. At the same time, the architecture preserves branding and navigation across all pages, so contributions to the site contain appropriate branding and formatting. This means the site can grow, without redesign costs, to satisfy Wolf's needs for years to come.
About Wolf & Company
Wolf & Company, P.C. is a certified public accounting and business consulting firm with offices in Boston and Springfield, Massachusetts. As a leading regional firm founded in 1911, Wolf provides its clients with comprehensive audit, tax and risk management services delivering extensive resources, specialized industry expertise and outstanding service.
Visit Wolf's web site at www.wolfandco.com.
All of our dynamic sites come with their own online tool-kit that we call the "admin area" to help maintain your site and keep things fresh. Elements of a site are controlled dynamically from here, which enables you to keep your site up-to-date from anywhere in the world (which, as we all know is the full glory of the online life).
While the admin area never gets displayed to the public, its importance rivals that of the full-package of the public display. Many times this is like building two separate sites as one package, but the end result is well worth it.
Why? A couple of reasons.
First, a lot of clients will look at their admin area just as much (if not more) than the public side of their site. They should visit the admin area regularly to ensure that information is as current and valid as possible. This area should be easy to use, simple to figure out and well organized.
Second, this is what represents us (iMarc) on a regular basis to the client. When they visit their admin area, they should see us and our principals in the work we've done. (After all, if the admin area is amazing, just think of how good the front-end is.)
Third, while this reminds the client of us, it doesn't require the client to have to contact us. Don't get me wrong, we enjoy talking with our clients and don't mind helping them out, but a well-made admin area is easy enough for anyone to figure out. This also comes in handy when whoever is maintaining the Website moves on to other parts of the company and has to train someone else on how to use it.
This brings us to a theory not used enough on the Web these days: Occam's Razor. It is a principle that states "given two equally predictive theories, choose the simpler" (Wikipedia: Occam's Razor). This doesn't exactly fit here, but we can go a step further and say if two processes acheive the same goals, the simpler is preferred. (And as argued by Dave, if it's preferred, it must be better.)
In a lot of the things that we do in our day-to-day lives, one tool that can do many things (corporate buzzword "multitask") is better. Why have many remotes for many appliances when you can have one remote to control everything. This converence of technologies was thought to be the wave of the future at one point, and I suppose to a degree still is, but there have been noticable walls where such is not the case; take for example the Motorola ROKR, combining MP3 playing with a phone just never was really that appealing to the mass audience.
But I digress. While convergence may appear to make things simpler, it infact complicates the entire process. Two simple tools combined into one supertool creates the weird gateway between them in which they must interact, convoluting code and logic.
This is also something that must be watched in creating our admin tools. There have been times in the past where we have created one tool that actually manages many different aspects of the site (and sometimes multiple sites) with one form. Combining many ideas into one tool ends up in confusion and explanation.
Which brings me to my main point: the 1 Tool 1 Task initiative. Each tool in an admin area should serve to maintain one and only one aspect of a site. As an example: we may have a section called "News & Events," but I wouldn't expect to see a "News & Events" tool on the backend of a site if they contain different data. I would expect a "News Manager" and an "Event Manager," because although they're being displayed on the same page, most of the time these things feature completely different data. (In the case that these display the exact same data, combining them is possible, but it's still logically simpler to handle two tools.)
For a lot of our tools, there does seem to be a number of tools that have similar schema, but there is not a skeleton key to control them all, nor should there be. That's the reason we offer custom solutions to each of our clients instead of a Web tool to fix the current problems. Furthermore, I'd rather spend the time creating two separate tools instead of having to hack through the thinking to stuff it all into one. It's the better use of everyone's time (or 'money' on the client end of things, since time = money).
This can lead to one site having many tools, and while it sounds like it might be overwhelming it truly isn't. Check out this picture of what the Springfield Museums admin area looks like. Nice icons, simple layout, very easy to use. A lot of these tools look very similar, but we've broken them out into logical tools, and so far we haven't heard any complaints. (Additionally, this site is updated more often than a lot of the sites we've built due to its size. I wonder if these are related.)
As you can see, simple doesn't equal less. Simple means easier to understand, which in some cases (like this) means a little more work. Either way, the end product is worth it.
This may end up being just one of the many battles I'll be fighting alone around the Web, but it's a worthwhile cause.
1 Tool 1 Task
To the right is a screen shot of the extension in action after requesting http://www.google.com. As you can see, it displays all of the http headers including cookies. The extension is easily activated by pressing Alt-L (on Windows, not sure on OSX) and can even save headers to disk.
For everyone upgrading from Firefox 1.0.7 to Firefox 1.5, make sure you get the new version, 0.11. You can download it from the LiveHTTPHeaders site, or from http://ftp.rz.tu-bs.de/. I wasn't able to get the version on the official site to work, so I grabbed it from the ftp server. Enjoy!
A battle was never won according to plan and a battle was never won without a plan. —Napoleon
In 1999, a New Zealand Habitat for Humanity chapter built a house, from scratch, in 3 hours and 26 minutes, after spending 14 months planning the project. 0.03% of their time was spent in execution, 99.97% of their time, planning.
Chris Hardwick also had a plan when he solved a Rubik's Cube blindfolded in 18.50 seconds. He spent 99.8% of his time planning his solution by staring at, and memorizing, the cube for 1 hour and 54 minutes. The remaining 0.2% of his time was spent executing the plan.
Do yourself a favor, spend just a little more time planning your next project.
(A couple examples: Newburyport Downtown, Massroads.com)
We've always been missing from these paintings, at least until now.
The next time you're strolling down Inn Street, look up and you'll find a slick new 4' by 2' black and green sign that says:
Interactive Media Architects
When: Thursday, December 8th @ 6pm
Where: iMarc's Newburyport office (directions)
Who: The iMarc team will be there. We hope that lots of our clients and friends come too.
RSVP: Send an email to email@example.com if you're coming
This year's theme is Wine City (Wine and Sin City) - more info... Like last year, we'll have wine tasting, good music, and food.
See you there!
The "Law of Unintended Consequences" states that when you change a system, there will be resulting changes that you could not predict, and did not intend. When I was in high school, our guidance counselors told us that many of us would someday have jobs that didn't even exist yet. (I, of course, didn't believe them.) Over a decade later, we have interactive designers, web developers, and information architects, all developing strategy and content for a kind of business that didn't even exist in 1990.
Here's another one: commercial color printing.
In the early 90's, there were some really interesting developments in 4-color printing that basically allowed a print shop to bypass the traditional plate setup work. At the time, those in the industry thought this would mean that local print shops would take on more small but full color print jobs.
What really happened? Super-short run printing met the internet, and boom! CafePress.com.
Nobody saw it coming. Even the famed Bill Gates has been incredibly, amazingly wrong. In his early 90's book "The Road Ahead", he made a lot of bold predictions about the future directions of computing, yet he was completely blind-sided by the Internet. Who would have expected a largely academic and government network managed by a non-profit entity to change the world?
This morning, Fred received a shipment of a dozen or so gorgeous full color 2006 calendars featuring his photography. Photos were uploaded to CafePress.com around 12:30am in the morning on Monday; calendars were printed a few hours later; these colorful holiday gifts were put on a truck and delivered to Fred less than two days later. Unintended consequences are cool.