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Roger is Director of Information Technologies at DARTS, a nonprofit that helps older adults maintain their own chosen level of independence. DARTS provides services and resources for these adults, their families, caregivers and volunteers. Their website needed a serious overhaul to become the central resource and communication tool they envisioned. A collaborative approach and services were just what they were looking for.
We did not have anyone in-house with the necessary skills and we weren't in a position to hire an outside developer, so the Catalyst Program was a perfect option.
"When a website is truly a mission-based communication tool for a person or organization, that person really needs to understand how to use it effectively. That's something we would never have gotten if we had just hired someone to make our site."
Our Catalyst Program includes monthly check-in meetings, weekly collaborative work sessions, online project management tools and quarterly consulting hours. All of this is designed to give people like Roger the skills, resources and support while they build and maintain their online presence.
"The experience has been great for us -- not only affordable but also a great learning experience which is even more important in the long term. It has allowed me to get a grasp of what is possible with Drupal. That learning can actually be quite thrilling."
We worked with Roger to focus DARTS' initial ideas for the structure and functionality of their site, setting up a hosted site development environment using our Drupal distribution. Roger's hard work configuring the site was amplified not only by the Drupal experience provided by Advantage Labs, but also from the direct interaction Roger had with other Catalyst members as he participated in weekly Lab Hours sessions.
"The group dynamic of Lab Hours is inspirational. There's an element of best-practices in the air that comes directly from the experience of people I appreciate. It ends up being more than just about Drupal -- like taking a step back to strategize about how we can interact with our audiences more meaningfully, how to provide people in need with the information they require in an engaging manner."
Roger worked with DARTS staff, honing their organizational goals for the site and bringing the resulting priorities and ideas back to the monthly check-in meetings and Lab Hours sessions. Roger used this iterative process to ensure that all stakeholders were included in making key decisions.
"I take back to DARTS the ideas that come from others and I am in a better position to respond to questions like 'why don't we do this' to let them know what is possible and how. It has been important to hear others' experiences so we can benefit from collective wisdom and avoid going down the wrong path."
This month, Roger’s work has been rewarded with the launch of the new DARTS Drupal site. Roger and DARTS feel their decision to make a commitment to a collaborative approach to developing their site has been a smart investment.
"Everyone at DARTS is really happy with the result. We have paid Advantage Labs less than we would have paid an outside person and we have still gotten the site we very much wanted. More important, we now have a trained staff person and a process for being sustainable."
And it's no surprise to anyone that Roger knows this process does not end with the site's initial launch -- and that he has the confidence necessary to proceed successfully.
"Any decent website needs to change and evolve and update and be interesting. Not only am I now equipped to accomplish this, but I can also train other staff to be a part of this as well. I already have a list of things we want to do with the site -- some simple, some elaborate -- so we will be sticking with the Catalyst Program process based on the success we've had."