09/17/2020

MCABC Modernizes Online Presence with Wild Apricot and WordPress

Since April 2020, NewPath staff and developers have been working on an ambitious digital transformation project for the Mechanical Contractors Association of British Columbia. MCABC executive director Kim Barbero and project manager Kaylee Sarich led a project that resulted in a new set of strategic goals and tactics. MCABC worked with a marketing agency to create a new brand for MCABC which included a new set of strategic pillars, a new logo and style guide. NewPath Consulting was tasked with implementing a website and association management system that delivered on the revitalized strategic direction of MCABC.

Project Objectives Aligned to New Business Strategy

MCABC asked NewPath consulting to create a digital platform to enable the organization to grow their major business objectives which to date have been hampered by disconnected information systems and lack of a cohesive brand identity. The main objectives of the project included:

  • a unified, mobile-friendly membership experience for existing members
  • a 360-degree customer data platform for each member company and their employees
  • integrated marketing capabilities to prospective member companies and employees
  • seamless ecommerce engine to sell events, courses and materials
  • self-service online jobs portal for prospective employers and employees or contractors
  • offer MCABC sponsorship to members which include banner ads on the website and in email newsletters
  • increase the capacity and productivity of MCABC marketing and operational staff

Vast, Complex and Exciting Requirements

The business requirements for the project were vast, complex and exciting.

MCABC chose to use WordPress as the front end to the Wild Apricot database. NewPath developers created a bespoke WordPress theme with the brand assets and mockups provided by MCABC's brand agency. The new MCABC website included a features aligned to the business objectives of the organization:

  • single sign on website capability using Wild Apricot contact and membership credential
  • member self-service portal to renew membership, edit profile, access to event and financial records
  • support for both business and individual memberships with self-service joining capability
  • a Members Hub, accessible to active members
  • an integrated jobs database with scheduled postings and approval workflow for members (free) and for paid postings for non-members
  • ecommerce integration to sell courses, events and various books and digital materials, all powered by the Wild Apricot online store
  • online advertising system to place text and image banner ads on a defined schedule from one or more sponsors

Here are some highlights of the new features available on the new MCABC website:

The 2020 Annual Golf Classic was a big success, with registration management run using the Wild Apricot event system. Over 150 members joined the event. As this event was held in person during the COVID-19 pandemic, health questionnaires were deployed and collected online successfully. A post event survey collected information using a WordPress-powered form builder. All of the content is maintained by MCABC operational and marketing staff with ongoing care plan support by NewPath consulting database and website experts.

Brand Redesign

 

Why use WordPress for a front end to Wild Apricot?

 
WordPress is a fantastic platform to build websites.

 WordPress powers over 30% of all websites on the Internet, due to its ease of use, fantastic selection of pre-made and custom themes and thousands of "plugins" or extensions to the core product. It is one of the most adaptable and well-supported Content Management Systems (CMS) out there, and it functions as a terrific "front-end" to the capable Wild Apricot membership management system. In this project the jobs manager and the advertising system are implemented with WordPress plugins to extend new benefits to members not normally available in Wild Apricot.

Large and Small Companies Use WordPress

Many well-known companies use WordPress as their web platform, including The New Yorker, The Official Star Wars Blog, MTV News, and The New York Times Company, just to name a few. The organizations that use WordPress implement an online brand that is distinctive from any other site on the Internet, and you don't even need to see a logo to find out which site you're on.

Instead of the limited set of themes and customizations available in Wild Apricot's website editor, WordPress gives you access to tens of thousands of themes. In MCABC's case NewPath built a bespoke theme, customized specifically to the approved brand guidelines and assets. The brand redesign was executed in collaboration between MCABC executives and Another Blank Page, a Vancouver-based design agency.

WordPress Grows With Your Organization

The integration with Wild Apricot allows you to enable members to login to your site with their email and password assigned to the Wild Apricot contact. This link enables WordPress to know information about your members including whether they are a contact or a member. WordPress also knows each member's membership level and status and can serve content in a variety of ways specifically to them. In short, member benefits can easily be extended with functionality well beyond what Wild Apricot offers out of the box. Having easy access to tutorials, free products, and a thriving support community makes  it easy to build and maintain a WordPress site.

WordPress Offers an Affordable, Reliable, and Responsive Design

WordPress themes are responsive out of the box and look great on any mobile device. The MCABC site has a special responsive design that changes how the website looks on mobile to suit a smaller screen size. Responsive theming has become a must in design, so most themes are designed with that capability baked in. In MCABC's case, we made it easy to insert Wild Apricot "gadgets" to insert content from the Wild Apricot platform such as a member directory or an event calendar, or even a landing page for an event.

WordPress is one of the most versatile platforms to develop your web presence with ease. Coupled with Wild Apricot, the combination is amazingly easy to use yet powerful!
 
If your organization would like to find out more about the Wild Apricot + WordPress capability, please reach out to us.

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