2013: AgStar Rural Capitol Network
This regional bank needed an outlet for thought leadership from their mission-related investments team.
Challenges for me as a developer included stretching the boundaries of the WordPress platform to accommodate the project’s required site structure and the security requirements of the bank. This project was under contract to Ciceron.
2012: Army Advocates
The website offers resources for people such as guidance counselors who help young adults decide if they want to join the Army. Community advocates promote the idea that there are many career paths within the Army – the Army employs dentists, computer technicians, lawyers, veterinarians … bassoonists. The site was produced as an employee of Weber Shandwick. My role was creating the custom WordPress theme to accommodate the organizational structure of the site.
Having developed content management systems of my own, this was the first project I was involved in that uses WordPress to allow content creators to add and update pages. In recent years, the WordPress CMS has become the de facto standard CMS by virtue of it’s ubiquity. The typical analogy when introducing content creators to WordPress is to tell them it’s as easy to maintain your website with WordPress as it is to send an email with Gmail or Yahoo! Mail. This may be an oversimplification as learning any new interface takes at least some time for everyone but it is true that learning to update a WordPress site means you’ll know how to update any other site that uses WordPress.
Firebell creates a real-time, participatory simulation of experiencing and responding to a crisis on social media. This client-server desktop application I developed allows a team of media trainers to create and present a mock crisis to the trainees, typically public relations personnel and senior management. The tool has also been used to evaluate and test lines of communication between organizational departments to prepare for a potential crisis. The trainees discover and respond to the simulated crisis through off-line versions of their social media properties (Facebook, Twitter, etc). The software runs a walled-off version of the Internet existing only between the laptops of the trainers and participants.
For example, a mining company may wish to train key employees how to respond on social media if an accident occurs. The trainers begin the drill by showing the participants a YouTube video of a mock news report about a disaster at one of their mines as a simulated version of their Facebook page floods with posts criticizing the accident. The participants can decide how to respond, if at all, to the crisis and see their response show up and be responded to in real time.
Most everything the project required was a programming challenge so I got a lot of enjoyment out of the development. Custom client-server architecture was written to allow communication directly among the laptops of those participating in the drill — this was to meet a marketing requirement so we could tell clients the drill was unfolding “off-line and completely contained within this room”. Another notable challenge was developing the framework to facilitate the creation of new drills using unknown social media properties — The drills were run all over the world and it was interesting to learn, for example, that a social media crisis in China is likely to start on Weibo, the Chinese equivalent of Twitter. I designed, developed and maintained this software as an employee of Weber Shandwick.
2003: Josten’s Ring Designer
This project allowed Josten’s online shopping experience to provide a realistic, automated visual preview of a customized class ring — initials, stone color and cut, school mascot and other details.
Challenges included integrating the real-time preview with the client’s legacy database system and building the display framework to ensure the thousands of possible graphical assets would align perfectly within the composite image of a finished ring. The software was designed under contract with Ciceron.
This website was essentially a blog, although the term hadn’t yet been coined. The website consisted of original writing by the radio personality and voice actor (and later, founder of Regretsy.com) as well as curated content she gleaned from obscure corners of the Internet.
The greatest challenge was creating a custom CMS to allow my client to create and manage her own content.