One of the first things I learned after “retiring” from TMA Resources, Inc. was that there are a lot of organizations that need help that didn’t have the resources to do what our company did so well. What’s more, there are a lot more reasonable approaches to association software than those taken by the mainstream companies I know so well.
The Catalina380 International Association asked if I could create for them a new website. I am a member of the organization so the assumption was that this would be a volunteer activity. Furthermore, there wasn’t really a budget to speak of. New website with interesting requirements and for free – good if you can get it!
The association has several hundred members around the world who all own a specific series of sailboats manufactured by Catalina Yachts. Sailors are known for doing their own maintenance and customizing their boats in very creative ways. This particular association is very active as a social media organization with at least a dozen questions and responses going out to the entire group each day as part of their presence in a Yahoo Groups site. They participate with other Catalina associations and contribute technical articles to Mainsheet Magazine.
When I began the project, I had a pretty good idea of what I was going to do based on my long history doing association software. What I find most interesting is that what I finally did was nothing like what I originally thought of doing.
After analyzing the requirements of the organization, I realized that the primary requirement was a website containing a large knowledge base of searchable technical information including 15 years of Mainsheet articles plus hundreds of other less formal articles, project plans, photos, external links, and directories. Beyond that, the requirements included:
- Selective members-only access to full information to help drive the value of membership
- Ability for members to add to and comment on anything on the site
- Ease of maintenance so the next webmaster could take over with a minimum of effort.
So, there it is — collaborative contemporary website with membership capabilities that could be managed by non-technical people and put up with little cost. Read on….