Epilepsy Association's site hits the spot

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Charities, more than most segments of the community, need special sites to foster the relationships on which they depend. Taking a watch-and-wait approach to its website development has paid off for the Epilepsy Association, whose easy-to-use Aptrix-powered site is delivering 'great value for money'.

Website-less until May 2001, the Epilepsy Association now boasts a content management solution that has placed it as a strong contender for a 2001 AMI National Award for Marketing Excellence.

A charity founded in 1952 and dedicated to enhancing the quality of life of local epilepsy sufferers, the association, 'after much deliberation', opted for Presence OnlineÕs Aptrix Multi-Platform content management solution.

"The greatest benefit for us is the ease with which we can update our data and system," comments Epilepsy Association head Keith Roberts. "Presence Online delivered far more than we expected and has already given us great value for money."

Roberts explains that a number of the associationÕs staff are involved in updating information on the website. "We therefore needed a simple process enabling them to do daily adjustments, whether or not they had any knowledge of web program language."

By separating content from presentation, Aptrix Multi-Platform allows non-technical association staff to update content and maintain the site without interfering with the interface design. In particular, content sharing between the three sub-sites (kids, teens and adults) means content needs only be entered once before appearing in all three sub-sites, ready for customisation from 'adult-speak' to 'kid-speak' and 'teen-speak'.

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The vibrant website has exceeded audience expectations and received international acclaim.

"Targeting people with epilepsy and their family and friends, medical professionals and other community segments, the site plays an integral role in helping us to meet our goals and deepens relationships with our members, the community, the government, medical professionals and sponsors," says Roberts.

"Charities, more than most segments of the community, depend on relationships. Establishing, fostering, nurturing and sustaining relationships are therefore key drivers of the site. The site is also driven by a commitment to enhancing services to geographically isolated communities and consolidating the associationÕs position as the pre-eminent epilepsy organisation in Australia."

Roberts says the association came to Presence Online through a process of progressive rational elimination.

Most likely to succeed
"We set clear criteria as to what we needed from our website and then assessed a large number of potential suppliers to arrive at a short list of three likely developers," he recalls. "All three submitted proposals, but Presence Online was selected as the organisation with the proposal most likely to achieve our web aims and with whom we could likely work with most effectively."

The long haul
According to Roberts, the Association was not so much concerned with assessing Presence OnlineÕs technology, but rather with finding a solutions provider who would be in it for the long haul. "To be honest, we chose Presence Online rather than the Aptrix solution," says Roberts. "At the time, Aptrix to us was little more than a word denoting a means of developing the site.

"Only after we launched the site and began to see how simple yet powerful the Aptrix content management solution was for maintenance did we really begin to appreciate its power," he says. "Minor run-of-the-mill implementation issues aside, our staff members are delighted with the Aptrix solution. Its simplicity means that the most non-tech-savvy are able to do their jobs without a hitch."

The association now looks forward to a long-term relationship with Presence Online as its site evolves and expands.

Presence Online is a global Internet solutions group that distributes content management, application integration and personalisation. Its alliance partners include IBM/Lotus and its clients include Alcatel, AMP, BITAL, British Airways, EnergyAustralia, Goodman Fielder, Linpac, McDonalds, Murdoch Media, Cable & Wireless Optus, Royal & Sun Alliance, Telstra, and Westpac.

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