28 posts categorized "Wild Apricot"

02/22/2019

11 Steps to Membership Management Success - Building Events, Advanced Searches and SEO

 

Step 6 - Building Events, Advanced Searches and SEO
Step 6 - Building Events, Advanced Searches and SEO

The events module is the most powerful and rich part of Wild Apricot. Events are one of the most, if not the most, popular ways to generate revenue and add value for members of your organization. Events, like web pages, can be:

  • published to the public or restricted to various audiences.
  • free or paid, simple RSVP or advanced
  • span one or more days and can have multiple registration types, or types of tickets

The secret to mastering the events module is to understand how registration types work along with the registration form and custom fields. If you configure the event to work exactly how you need it to it will save you a tremendous amount of time and effort and simplify the pre-event data collection process as well as the event check-in process.

Remember, events are part of your website content. In fact when you publish an event a “web page” is created by Wild Apricot with its own link. Events have a unique link in Wild Apricot that can be shared. Events can show up in the event gadgets throughout your site pages or page templates.

The registration type is a really handy way to create different types of tickets. For example, one registration type can be setup for the public, and another can be setup for members only with a discounted price. So, if an active member logs into the website they will see the special registration type (aka ticket) with a price discount, whereas the public will see a publicly offered event price. Some organizations incent contacts to become members just to get the special event price, which can be done in the event description and email call to action. There are lots of special configuration settings for registration types including allowing guest registration and setting ticket maximums and early bird pricing.

This is the best way to engage your members and deliver value. Create events, invite your contacts and members and watch your community grow! There’s more information to help you: Wild Apricot’s events setup checklist gives a handy step-by-step for setting up events.

Advanced Content and Member Searches & Membership Groups

The advanced search features (contact and members) are an important way to create reports and segments of your database. Mastering searching is mastering the art and science of database management!

Advanced searches are not only useful reporting tools; they also allow you to target members of your database with emails or create custom member directories. When you save advanced searches you can reuse them over and over. The search results is dynamic based on the criteria you assign to a saved search.

Membership groups can be used to create groups of members (e.g., your board of directors). Access control to pages can be restricted to not only various membership levels but also to membership groups. This is the best way to create a set of pages only available to a subset of members no matter what level they may be at. Note that contacts cannot be part of a membership group, and a member can be part of more than 1 membership group.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

How will new members interested in your organization or community find you online? And more importantly, how will you attract people to your organization for fundraising or growing your membership? What would people search for when seeking an organization with services like yours?

To improve your site’s ranking in search results, Wild Apricot features search engine optimization features that can be added to your site content.

Make sure the keywords that describe your organization and its mission appear early in your content and in your meta keywords. Wild Apricot allows you to add a global set of meta tags as well as create a custom set of tags for every page you build in Wild Apricot.

Wild Apricot, by default, assigns numeric links to page titles, which  may not be very search engine-friendly. You can improve your site’s findability with:

  • customized page titles
  • description meta tags
  • you can also add a collection of favicons so that your website is appropriately branded in web browsers and mobile home screens.


Read more on SEO in the Wild Apricot help site.

Social Media

Similar to search engine results, links to social media need to be managed in a specific way with Wild Apricot websites.

Social media networks will try to infer various pieces of information about your web pages, such as a summary of a blog post, a specific page preview and your featured image for the page.

These elements may or may not load properly from your website. But there are quick fixes you can apply so they load properly:

  • You can use this social media optimization toolset from to take the guesswork out of setting up your pages ready for social media.
  • Learn to change your preview image right from the Wild Apricot help pages. You can modify your images to readily publish OpenGraph tags that will optimize an ideal social media sharing experience ensuring that the format, image size, title and description of your post is optimized for popular social media platforms like Facebook.

Configure Google Analytics and Google Search Console

Do you know how many people visit your website? And whether your site is properly indexed by Google?

Installing Google Analytics and Google Search Console is quite easy. You can use the Global Javascript option to insert the proper code for any third-party tracking system.

Ready to migrate? More info is coming to help you …

You’ve come a long way in this process … and you’ll see it come to fruition soon! Get ready to configure the payment system, the engine that will bring revenue into your organization.

Watch for this guidance our next chapter: Configure Your Payment System

 

02/20/2019

11 Steps to Membership Management Success - Create Your Website

Step 5 - Create Your Website
Step 5 - Create Your Website

 

Now that you’ve selected a theme and created a few page templates, you can use start to create your organization’s website pages.

Based on several Wild Apricot customers we have worked with, we recommend making pages in parallel with the master file import process. Setting up access control for website pages depends on the database configuration that is defined during database configuration and populated during the master file import, so it is good idea to work on this step and the import together.  This is where the rubber hits the road and you can see how the website interacts with the Wild Apricot database closely.

Page Template Management

If you want to reassign a page template to one or more pages, you’ll need to do this individually for each page – so wait until you have your page templates set up, before starting to create additional pages based on existing page templates.

The most common way to make page templates is to duplicate existing page templates you are happy with and make alterations to the duplicate page templates for a specific purpose such as a section of pages. A good way to start to design your website is to first create your top-level pages and one sub-page, assigning the appropriate page template to the new pages.

We have found a popular approach is to have a home page template, one standard template for all public pages and one or more members’ only page templates used for content relevant to members.

Populate All the Pages

We suggest mapping out your website's information architecture in Excel or in a diagram before you start designing the website. The diagram below illustrates a simple website information architecture.

Information Architecture

Here are some guidelines for organizing your pages:

  • A Wild Apricot page can be configured to be viewed by certain audiences: everyone (public), for members only or for Wild Apricot administrators only.
  • Pages can also be configured so that they are included — or not — in the primary navigation menu of the website.
  • If a page is configured to be “not in menu,” it can still be linked to from another page's content. This is a powerful way to simplify the menu system and help visitors navigate the website without a deep navigation system which could confuse visitors.
  • There are also  system pages that support various transactions and website interactions. They can be redesigned as well and all use a page template. Don’t forget them as many visitors will end up on a system page at least once every visit, for example when logging into the website!

Several tips for writing for the web

Overhauling your website no doubt will mean lots of writing and editing, either to create new pages or to revise or even rewrite your existing pages. Here are a few important considerations as you edit:

What voice do you use to address site visitors?

  • Is the writing interesting and engaging … or will their eyes start to glaze over while they look for another link to click?
  • Speaking of links: are they prominent and easy to find, with a consistent placement on each page?
  • Does the site use  friendly tone of voice that speaks directly to the reader, written in the first and second person? Words like “we,” “us,” “our,” “you” and “your” are almost always preferred on organizations that are smaller.

Is it clear what visitors can do on your website?

  • Can new and repeat visitors understand how to login to your website, renew their membership or register for an event?
  • Are your marketing “calls to action” clear? Pages to support specific actions need clear instructions and buttons or links.

Is the language direct and active?

  • Website copy should be mostly shorter sentences and paragraphs, with scannable headlines and sections. You can also use point-form lists to break down information.


Remember, effective websites inform and encourage action. People will more often be on your site to learn, engage and do something.

Wild Apricot Gadgets: the key to good page design

Placing gadgets on a page or page template is the key technique to inform your audience and help them interact with your organization.

Wild Apricot offers 33 useful and powerful gadgets that are used to compose pages and page templates. There are 5 categories of gadgets in the system, and they are listed below in order of frequency of use:

  • Content
  • Membership
  • Navigation
  • e-Commerce
  • Community

The lists below are not exhaustive, but these are the gadgets that we tend to used most often in site design.

Content Gadgets
Content gadget

Most commonly used gadget for formatted text, images, audio, video or a button.

Slideshow gadget

An interactive photo slideshow with optional links to pages.

Upcoming events gadget

Displays a list of upcoming events that have been configured in the Events module

 

Membership Gadgets
Membership application gadget

A form to help prospective members apply to become active members

Member directory gadget

An interactive member directory for the public or members

 

Navigation Gadgets

Menu gadget

A dynamic navigation menu that includes all menus in pages automatically.

Secondary menu gadget

A configurable, static menu that helps visitors navigate to any pages.

 

e-Commerce Gadgets
Catalog gadget

Displays an online store for physical and digital goods and services

Donation form gadget

A configurable form to collect donations from visitors and members

 

Community Gadgets
Discussion forum gadget

Enables visitors and members to have interactive, threaded conversations on the website

Subscription form gadget

A form to collect email addresses for a newsletter or email mailing list

Polls, Elections and Surveys

Conduct research with your membership base

Need a custom form?

Collecting information in a form (like a grant application or a job posting) is currently not possible in Wild Apricot. We use software as a service form builders to create custom forms to enable custom data collection and storage of submissions.

Tip: At NewPath Consulting we use Formstack as a tool to:

  • add dynamic forms to collect arbitrary data including file uploads
  • design surveys, grant applications and custom processes
  • accomplish a lot of what Wild Apricot cannot do out of the box

An example can be an online grant application or a complex event registration that has lots of conditional logic (fields collected only when other fields fit a specific criterion).

Files and documents can also be linked into pages and accessed by the public or by members only. You can store files in your Wild Apricot website and make files available for download including Acrobat PDF files, Microsoft Office documents, rich media files like videos and compressed zip files.

How do you publish events?

Publishing events is one of the most powerful modules in Wild Apricot. Learn how and more in the next article in this series.

Read the next chapter: Building Events, Advanced Searches and SEO

 

02/01/2019

11 Steps to Membership Management Success – Plan Your Website – Page Templates, Layouts and CSS

 

Plan Your Wild Apricot Website
Step 4 - Planning your Wild Apricot website

You’ve taken great care planning your database using our previous posts, and now it is time to design your new website. The website builder is one of the most powerful tools in Wild Apricot. Yet, we find it is the one least understood by administrators.

Getting the fundamentals of your Wild Apricot website set up correctly will give you a strong start toward a friendly and engaging system to manage your organization’s members and contacts – even if you use Wild Apricot on a budget.

Pick a Wild Apricot Theme

Wild Apricot has created four theme families with 11 themes. Each theme has several color variants. The current theme families are:

  • Kaleidoscope, Building Blocks and Tinted Tiles
  • Showcase, Firma and Terra
  • Homestead, Fiesta and Skyline
  • Whiteboard and Bookshelf

Each family of themes share the same basic look and feel and differ mostly in color palette. The user interface elements like the login/logout buttons, the call-to-action buttons and navigation menus all have a similar design in a theme family.

Themes can be greatly modified to suit the need of your organization. Here for example is the Kaleidoscope theme when it is first installed:

Kaleidoscope

After the theme is selected, a sample set of pages with placeholder graphics are added. The upper left corner in Kaleidoscope has a handy color palette that is used as a default in the theme.

Below is the Kaleidoscope theme customized for Denver Ballet Guild, one of our customers who has selected Wild Apricot. The logo, color palette and use of pictures has been customized specifically for their use.

 

Dbg layout

 

Theme advice from Wild Apricot

If you want to dig deeper, you should check out Wild Apricot’s website resources:

Learn and use page templates, for the win

Once you’ve picked a theme, it’s time to set up your page templates.  Page templates are powerful website design tools. Using a Wild Apricot page template is the best way to design web pages that look consistent.  A page template is a great “starting point” for a page that allows the designer to not have to worry about items that should be part of every page.  Once you’ve gotten started, you can use each page template as many times as you need. If you’ve used slide masters in PowerPoint, you already know a bit about how page templates can work.

What’s cool about Wild Apricot page templates?

When a new page is created, a default page template is automatically applied. You can also select a different page template for a page. If you change a page template, all the site pages that use that template will automatically change too and inherit all the changes on the page template So, for example, if you want to change the header and footer of each page you can change the page template and avoid having to modify each page. Wild Apricot sites typically have the following page templates:

  • a home page template unique for the website home page
  • a standard template used across many pages, usually the default template
  • one or more additional page templates for each section of your website
  • a set of page templates for members-only pages

Remember that a page template can have content that automatically is inherited by the page that uses it. A page template is the basic design tool in Wild Apricot, which helps you make pages look consistent and easy to use and maintain.

And layouts — learn them and love them!

Another useful tool in page template design is the layout. Layouts are a great way to create grids on page templates and pages. They allow you to create a structure on your page template. They can also be used on a page to create natural containers for your content gadgets. Layouts help with responsive design for mobile devices, ensuring content can be positioned dynamically when viewed on a mobile device. Learn layouts, and you’ll wonder what you did without them!

Refine your Wild Apricot site with colors and styles

The colors and styles module is one way to change your theme. Each theme has a set of style and design options that you can change quickly. Some global options that you can change include the fonts, font sizes and colors of text. Certain themes have more options to change in the colors and styles module, and that makes the scope of this feature a bit hard to pin down.

However, it is currently not possible to change all the elements of a Wild Apricot theme in the colors and styles module. And it can be confusing to know which option changes every part of a theme. There is another powerful tool that will give you a tremendous amount of customization control. Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) is the best way to customize Wild Apricot themes, in our opinion.

Use CSS for a truly custom look and feel

Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) are the preferred and most powerful way to customize your website’s look and feel. CSS is a powerful layout and style syntax supported by all modern web browsers that defines how a website menu, button, link or almost any site element will appear. CSS does not affect function but rather look and feel only.

You can even use CSS to hide certain elements from displaying altogether, such as a label that is confusing. At NewPath Consulting, we typically identify and customize several hundred CSS elements on every single Wild Apricot website we build.  In fact, to make it easier to customize any Wild Apricot website we designed our own Wild Apricot Text Manager (WATM).The WATM supports publishing websites in 2 languages as well!

Need a short video tutorial on CSS? Want even more help with CSS? Get in touch with us. 

Remember, a trial account will allow you to import up to 50 contacts (see Step 0 for more on Wild Apricot pricing).

Wild Apricot Theme Design, Illustrated

The diagram below illustrates the Wild Apricot theme architecture.  One or more master layouts are inherited directly from a Wild Apricot theme and includes all the colors and styles inherited from the theme. A master layout is the basis for a page template, but master layouts are defined directly in the theme and are not easily modified. The theme also includes the default CSS style sheet. A page template’s design and gadgets define the content shared between a set of pages. The page inherits the page template and contains the actual unique content for that page.

Wild Apricot Page Templates  Layouts and CSS
Wild Apricot Theme, Page Templates and Pages Architecture (click image to zoom)

 

Pro Tips in Wild Apricot Help

The Wild Apricot documentation can provide more guidance:

Design your site for mobile use

As you design your website, make sure you evaluate how the website works on mobile devices — you want your website to be mobile-responsive, so the page elements adjust to suit the user’s screen size and preferences.

Otherwise, you may find that the decisions you make while designing page templates and pages do not work well on mobile devices.

At NewPath Consulting, we find the Web Developer extension for Chrome and Firefox web browsers handy. We use it to test various mobile screen sizes without having to actually use a tablet or smartphone.

Does this sound more complicated than you feel you can handle?

We can help the process go more smoothly. Just get in touch with NewPath Consulting to learn more.

Next article in the series is Step 5 - Creating Your Website.

12/28/2018

11 Steps to Membership Management Success – Planning Your Database II – Final Prep of Your Master Import File

Prep Your Master Import File
Step 3 con't - Final Prep Your Master Import File

In our previous “11 Steps to Membership Management Success” article you created the spreadsheet containing your data for migration into Wild Apricot. Hopefully you’ve tried our suggestions for ensuring your data is clean before the import.  

Now, we’ll look at how you’ll combine the fields you’ve created in your master import file with those fields required for Wild Apricot. This is a crucial step, as including the system fields and assigning them valid values will make your import much easier to complete!

Mapping your database fields

Wild Apricot has a very powerful and flexible data import module that lets you import your member and contact data. The step-by-step data import process will:

  • Validate your data against business rules in Wild Apricot
  • Create the database fields you need on the fly
  • Do bulk updates of existing data already in the system

When you start the import, the system will ask you to map your fields to the fields already in Wild Apricot. If you have data that’s not already a field in their database, Wild Apricot can create any custom fields you need during the import.

We recommend that you create the custom fields based on your spreadsheet columns, before you import your data. Why is this important? If the field names in Wild Apricot are the same as the column header fields (the first row) in your spreadsheet, the field mapping will be done “automagically”!

Need to upgrade your account?

Remember, a trial account will allow you to import up to 50 contacts (see Step 0 for more on the Wild Apricot pricing model).

Differentiating contacts and members

In Wild Apricot, all members are also automatically classified as contactsbut it doesn’t work in reverse: not all contacts are classified as members.

Here’s are some ways to tell the difference:

  • Members have exactly one membership level assigned, whereas contacts do not have any membership level assigned.
  • You can create custom fields for contacts (known as common fields) as well as for members (known as membership fields).
  • Members pay fees and have access to members’ benefits, contacts do not. However, unarchived members and contacts can both log in with a password to your Wild Apricot website.
  • Members get all contact common fields as part of their record. Membership fields are available only for members. Membership fields can also be activated and available for specific membership levels.
  • The handy diagram in the Common vs Specialized Fields section of Wild Apricot’s help page is super useful!

The best way to think about it for most organizations is like this: contacts are all records that may eventually become members when they join the organization under a membership level. Members are people (or organizations) that have joined and are enjoying special benefits provided under their membership plan, like discounted events, products and services.

Wild Apricot encourages you to load all contacts and members into the database to use the marketing features like email to convert contacts into members. You don’t have to load contacts into Wild Apricot and can use external email systems like MailChimp to drive conversions, but the experience is not as well-integrated.

To learn more, check out this help document to distinguish between contacts and members in Wild Apricot. It is really important to understand this difference and get to know all the Wild Apricot features that are available for members but not for contacts.

Creating custom fields

There are several Wild Apricot system fields that can be updated. For example, to suspend a member, you simply set the “Membership enabled” field to “no”. Read more in this description of all the system fields you can set and update in Wild Apricot. These must be part of the initial master import file, especially if you wish to assign membership levels during the initial import.

Learn to update your system fields

If you still think there’s more to do to get your database ready to import, we can help — Contact NewPath Consulting for a free consultation.

Extra charge calculation fields will likely not be part of your legacy database. These are powerful fields that allow you to add costs to the base membership fees. They can be used to add various options to a membership subscription, like a t-shirt, or to add fees based on member salaries. Extra charge calculation fields enable an organization to have dynamically-priced membership fees.

Now that you’ve defined custom fields for both contacts and members, you can try an export of any current records in the  Wild Apricot. The correct field names will be in row 1 of the export (also known as the header row). You can use this header row in your master import file. This will make importing your full database easy and simple, as your columns will be “automagically” matched during the mapping process!

Want to practice before using your own file?

 Try this sample master import file to make simple transformations of data from your legacy database.

The database customization, membership renewal and event management features are where Wild Apricot shines and is most powerful. These are the tools that save the most time. In fact, some organizations are satisfied with these features alone and don’t move on to create a Wild Apricot-powered website. But we think this is a mistakethe full power of the platform comes when you combine Wild Apricot’s website-building capabilities with all the automation modules.

If you want to take full advantage of Wild Apricot’s website tool, don’t worry. We’ll take you through those steps in the next few articles in this series.

11 Steps to Membership Management Success – Planning Your Database I – Prepare Your Master Import File

Young woman designs database
Step 3 - Prepare Your Master Import File

In Step 2, you learned about managing memberships using levels and bundles. Now, we’re on to Step 3: creating the master import file that you’ll use to import your membership data into Wild Apricot.

But first, a few other quick tips to help you get your membership database in tip-top shape, to help enable a smooth migration.

Archived records are included

Do you wish to store certain contacts or members in Wild Apricot, but do not want to upgrade to a more expensive Wild Apricot plan? You can do this with archived records— and at no extra charge. And, you can still “revive” archived records and make them active at any time. If you exceed your Wild Apricot database contact limit by unarchiving records, you will have to upgrade to the next higher subscription plan.  

Either an administrative user or an archived member can reclassify archived records in Wild Apricot using the administrative system in Wild Apricot. However, there are some technical limits on archives: know these limits before you prepare to archive!

Keep prep work in the background

Here are some tools we recommend you check out before we move on to preparing your master file for migration, configuration and testing:

  • Prevent surprise emails being sent automatically by turning off emailing for all contacts during the import. Wild Apricot does start the renewal workflows when data is loaded, so make sure you load data with email subscriptions set to “no”.
  • Wild Apricot also has a handy member set-up checklist that might help you create some subtasks within your project’s data migration plan.
  • If you want to verify your email addresses before loading them into the new database, you can try this excellent (paid) service called BriteVerity.

Not sure your data is ready?

If you still think there’s more to do to get your database ready to import, we can help — Contact NewPath Consulting for a free consultation.

If you’ve followed all the steps previous to this one, you will have assessed and inventoried your membership data and made critical decisions about how to organize it as you prepare for migration to Wild Apricot.

Before we move on to starting to create your master import file — Congratulate yourself on completing this final preparation phase [it might be a good time to get yourself a beverage 😊].


Whether you plan to build your public and members’ website in Wild Apricot, or only to link your existing website to the Wild Apricot membership website, you will need to do three things:

  • Decide on the custom database fields you need
  • Clean your database
  • Do some test imports to check data integrity

First, build the master import file locally…

To start creating the master import file you will need to create a spreadsheet containing your contacts and members. This file will have data organized into all the fields (or columns in a spreadsheet) you’d like to migrate into Wild Apricot.

Start by building your “master import file” spreadsheet, which you’ll create based on the raw data you brought together in Step 1. Excel, Google Sheets or Pages are all good choices for manipulating and getting the file ready. We like to use Excel because it is great at handling a lot of data (up to 1 million rows per worksheet). It also has a lot of useful formulas for cleaning up and transforming data.

Creating a master “data model” can be challenging, especially if you have not been using another database but rather have had all your membership data in unstructured documents like Word documents or many Excel spreadsheets.  

Tools to help with data hygiene

Be aware that a messy database will create problems in Wild Apricot! Migration of data between systems is a perfect time to clean up your database and put into place some new data-hygiene rules.

The right steps, still in the right order …

As we’ve said earlier, it’s tempting to start planning the website before, or in parallel with, preparing to migrate membership data.

You’ll benefit more if you lay a strong and reliable foundation, before building the house and designing the front entrance. How? By preparing and accurately describing your database.

Let the pros help

NewPath can advise on how to use filtering, formulas and other spreadsheet tricks to get your data in tip top shape. Contact us to learn more

Watch for our next chapter to complete Step 3, where you’ll complete the build of your master import file. We will include a handy worksheet that will help you create a master import file and define a “dictionary” of all the fields in your Wild Apricot data model.

12/09/2018

Wild Apricot, Condo Residents and their Electrical Vehicles (EVs)

Over the last 60+ years, the internal combustion engine (ICE) automobile has seen a dramatic rise around the world. Every year there are more cars produced, and that trend is towards one car for every person in the world. Since the 1950s, the number of automobiles has considerably increased, especially in developed countries. This trend has caused a significant reduction in the number of people per automobile, from 48.2 in 1950 to 9.7 in 2010. There are consequently more vehicles per person, which is a good indicator of potential mobility. Even though an automobile is an expensive product, second to only housing, the penetration of vehicle use around the world is astounding.

Vehicle Use Indicators 1950-2016

Vehicle Use Indicators 1950-2016, courtesy of Dr. Jean-Paul Rodrigue, Dept of Global Studies & Geography Hofstra University

 

Internal combustion engine powered cars (ICE) emit CO2 and are not very environmentally friendly. A typical passenger vehicle emits about 4.6 metric tons of CO2 per year. ICE cars also are also more expensive to maintain. And it appears we are not, on average, travelling more than about 12,000 miles per year in cars. The world's automobile utilization has leveled off at about 1,000 miles per month on average, or about 30 miles per day.  Peak mobility has been reached, especially in the US. It appears we are ready for a transformation in the use of vehicles. We are not using them that much, and traveling by car more than 30 miles per trip is an exception rather than the rule, with a vast majority of our trips taking less than 30 miles.

And guess what? It takes on average  30 minutes on 240V chargers to power a car to go about 30 miles -- not that long if you think about it. All things considered, we can safely make the change now, as EV chargers continue to be deployed in earnest across North America. we will save money  in the long term and help reduce emissions with a transformation to EV cars. All it takes is a one time infrastructure investment, and it turns out the places where EV transformation is happening fastest are urban centres, and in particular condominiums.

Recently we encountered a very interesting use case with one of our Wild Apricot customers: a condominium using Wild Apricot as a resident management system. The condo told us that there are 4 or 5 electric vehicles among the 250 units, and the EV owners would like to setup charging stations in the garage. This presents a variety of questions that the board to this point has not been able to address:

  1. Can the electrical system of the condominium support the concurrent charging of several EVs? How about 50 of them? Or several hundred EVs?
  2. How are charging stations deployed? Does the condominium invest in them for all residents or do they rough in parking spots for EV charger installations for future use? Or do they let owners invest in their own stations willy-nilly?
  3. How does the condo manage the electrical use and recover the costs of the electricity and capital expenses?

In general, it seems like a large risk that most have to evaluate sooner or later. The concentration of EV cars in Toronto has increased dramatically in 2018,  and property managers and board of directors are searching for solutions.

SWTCH-Deck_Page_02
Canadian EV adoption since 2011 by quarter, courtesy of Swtch.com


We think we have one, which is not only friendly and affordable but also very easy to deploy! We have started to build an integration with SWTCHEV.COM - a charging station integration partner who focuses on condominiums in Toronto. They have tied up with electrical contractor Pacific Light & Energy to create a cost-effective and easy to deploy solution for charging stations. And in turn, we have created an integration with Wild Apricot to display various information about your car. The benefits of the solution are many:

  1. Condo residents with EV cars can benefit from an effective 0.10 to 0.20 c per liter of gasoline, a dramatic decrease in the operating cost of a vehicle. This useful calculator will calculate your savings on many popular EV cars on the market today. On average you can expect $700 in fuel savings per year but it really does depend on how much you drive and the cost of gasoline. The more of a gas-guzzler you drive today (or more stop and go urban driving you do), the more savings you can expect. Savings can exceed $1000 per year.
  2. The condo board is able to recoup costs of installed chargers by charging a fixed per-hour fee for charging. Level 2 240V/32A chargers span between $1,000 and $20,000 per charger, with the average charger costing about $4,000-$6,000 installed. Most EV cars can charge a battery from empty in as little as 4 hours, with plugin hybrids taking as little as 1 hour.
  3. The SWTCH chargers are able to manage the load of multiple cars charging without needing to install new transformers or retrofitting the electrical system of the condominium.
  4. The deployment can be both shared (in visitor spaces, for example) as well as dedicated for every parking space and be rolled out in phases.
  5. Condominium property managers are able to comply to Ontario Regulation 48/01 (Operation Part IV) that established a new process for obtaining approval to install electrical vehicle supply equipment (EVSE) in condominium buildings.  As of January 1, 2018 the Ontario Building Code require 20% of inside parking spaces in covered buildings to have EVSE installed, with the remainder of inside space be EVSE-ready.
  6. Most importantly, EV and hybrid EV cars are better for the environment!

We are investing in integrating Wild Apricot to support the ability to integrate a SWTCH account with your resident management system. Once logged in to the Wild Apricot portal you will have easy access to check your bill, pay through one website and reserve a charging station if so equipped.

It can look something like this once you connect your SWTCH ID to your account on Wild Apricot. If you want to know more, get in touch.

Condo home page

11/21/2018

11 Steps to Membership Management Success - Planning Your Database I - Managing Membership Levels and Bundles

Step 2 - Membership Levels and Bundles
Step 2 - Membership Levels and Bundles


In Step 1 of “11 Steps to Membership Management Success,” you read about planning and managing your membership database. In Step 2, you’ll learn about preparing your data for migration to Wild Apricot: managing memberships grouped around common elements.

One of the most important features of any membership management system is configuring membership levels (or tiers) and renewal policies. Membership management can be a complex topic, with several things to consider. We are going to try to make this topic easy to understand.

What are your membership levels and renewal policies?

A membership level is tied to one or more of the benefits your organization offers, and membership levels can be free or have a cost. Membership levels also have an optional renewal policy that specifies when members will have the option  to renew. As you assess your renewal policy, ask these questions:

  • How are your membership levels currently advertised, and how do you wish to implement these features into Wild Apricot?
  • What will your membership renewal policy be -- monthly, yearly, quarterly, or no renewal at all?
  • Do you want to take advantage of offering paid options or collect specific information for each member who signs up or renews at a particular level?

Do you offer membership bundles (such as a family or group plan)?

Membership levels can be configured as “individual” or “bundle” membership levels. The type of membership level will identify whether an individual can only renew their own membership or if they can renew on behalf of a group of others through membership bundle. All of this is easily configurable when setting up membership levels.

A membership bundle is a collection of members who are linked together under an “umbrella” membership managed by a bundle administrator — the lead member of the bundle.

Your organization can use membership bundles to offer group memberships to companies, teams or families. A membership bundle enables a group to renew together, rather than requiring each individual to sign up or renew on their own. Each bundle member receives the same access to benefits as the bundle administrator.

Read more about membership bundles from Wild Apricot

 

Priorities for a membership bundle

Members in a membership bundle share several important attributes:

  • a common renewal date
  • a common membership status
  • a common membership level

The entire bundle is charged a single membership fee, paid by the bundle administrator. That’s why identifying the bundle administrator is critical.

If you plan to use membership bundles, your database must be set up to support the “bundling” process during the database import. For example:

  • All members in a bundle must have a database field unifying them together into the bundle: in Wild Apricot, this is the User ID or email address of the bundle administrator.
  • You will need to decide whether you will bundle using the email address of a bundle administrator or whether you will use the unique number (aka User ID) of the bundle administrator.
  • To create the membership bundle, you will need to assign the  bundle key of the bundle administrator (email address or User ID) to each member of the membership bundle in the import file..

 

An simple import file will illustrate this process. In this file we are designating Sarah as the bundle administrator, using Sarah’s email address as the bundling mechanism.

 

Email Address

First Name

Last Name

Member Bundle ID or Email

sarah@gmail.com

Sarah

Bundle Admin

sarah@gmail.com

jim@aol.com

Jim

Bundle Member 1

sarah@gmail.com

liana@outlook.com

Liana

Bundle Member 2

sarah@gmail.com

 

Note that each membership level can be designated with a maximum or unlimited number of bundle members. This business rule will be enforced during the contact import process or when you are adding or removing bundle members.

 

Critical input to the planning process


In one popular CRM system, CiviCRM, the bundling mechanism is called a “household” and can be exported as part of the membership record. Other systems may have some other indicator of a membership bundle. In some systems you may have to create the membership bundle manually if there was never a bundling mechanism in place.

This can be a complex, iterative process — in fact, it’s usually one of the most complex and somewhat abstract parts of getting started with Wild Apricot.


We can help you navigate this key planning process — Contact NewPath Consulting for a free consultation.

In the next chapter in this series, you’ll look at some final considerations in preparing your data for migration to the Wild Apricot platform: Step 3 – Tips and Prep of Your Master Import File.

11/19/2018

Introducing the Wild Apricot Text Manager

Wild Apricot Text Manager logo
Wild Apricot Text Manager

 Wild Apricot allows any content gadgets to be edited by a website administrator. When placing your cursor over a content gadget you can see the option to edit, like below:

Content editor

However, many gadgets in the System Pages are marked as (System) and do not allow editing whatsoever:

System gadget

Now it is possible to change the text on form labels and buttons inside these System gadgets. You can also publish Wild Apricot websites in 2 languages!

The Wild Apricot Text Manager (WATM) is a simple to configure JavaScript library that levers the jQuery library already included with every Wild Apricot website. WATM will help any administrator manage and replace nearly every piece of system text in Wild Apricot. You can also use it to change CSS for any class or ID. WATM can be used optionally to enable 2 language Wild Apricot websites without needing to create any additional site pages or page templates. A list of replaceable elements is included in the easy-to-edit Excel configuration file. You can make a variety of changes such as global search and replace, modifying form labels and buttons, changing CSS properties on any class or ID and hiding certain labels or buttons altogether.

The configuration for the Wild Apricot Text manager is made inside a comma separated configuration file which can be edited in Microsoft Excel or another text editor. To activate WATM, a few lines need to be added to Wild Apricot’s Global Javascript. You will also need  to edit and upload  the WATM configuration file which includes the text edits and translations. The full WATM package is added to your site using Wild Apricot’s website Files manager.

Support for WATM is available by getting in touch.

 Download Wild Apricot Text Manager

 

Version History

0.1 - Initial Release 11/19/18

0.2 - Added support for many more system flags, added French translation into CSV configuration file, changed testing button toggle label 11/27/18

0.3 - Added support for adding a style, added several more system labels, added support for limiting the language toggle display "flicker" 12/5/18

0.4 - Added support for effective primary menu design changes, added support to override any CSS class or ID 12/13/18

0.5 - Added support for mouseover, mouseout (hover) and :before and :after pseudo-elements 1/15/19

10/18/2018

Modifying Text Labels on Wild Apricot Form Fields

Wild Apricot has a terrific system to manage website content, integrated with various membership management, event and ecommerce forms and workflows. In certain situations, it may be necessary to modify a form field label on one or more built-in Wild Apricot forms. These forms have hard-coded field labels as part of the various system pages maintained in Wild Apricot. It is possible to add other gadgets including content to a system page, but it is not easily possible to modify the content, formatting, placement or design of any fields.

One common suggestion is to use theme overrides to fix this problem, but at NewPath, we don't take kindly to theme overrides. They are not trivial  to create and are reserved only for specialized programmers and theme designers. Theme overrides are best for bespoke themes that require pixel-perfect placement of design elements, but for simple label changes and layout changes in system pages, we recommend jQuery.

jQuery is a code library already used by Wild Apricot and loaded by default on every Wild Apricot website. It is a really powerful set of JavaScript functions that can modify any part of a web page, on the fly as soon as a web page loads. 

The following code changes the labels on the form behind the "Send Message" button on a Wild Apricot member profile. In order to change the field labels (in the green boxes) we will modify the Email Member system page.

Email member system page

1. Add a Custom HTML gadget anywhere on the page

Custom html gadget

 

2. Select the Custom HTML gadget and click the Edit code button and copy and paste the code below into the editor. Click Save.

<script type="text/javascript">

jq$(document).ready(function(){
$( ".fieldBody h4" ).text( "Send Referral" );
$("#idMessageSubjectContainer .mandatoryLabel").text ("Subject of Referral");
$("#idBodyContainer .mandatoryLabel").text ("Referral Information (include type of referral, contact information, and any other important information)");
$("#idReplyNameContainer .mandatoryLabel").text ("Name of Referral");
$("#idReplyEmailContainer .mandatoryLabel").text ("Email Address of Referral");
});
</script>

Jquery code for email members

3. The field labels should instantly change. You can now Save the edited system page with the jQuery code snippet. If the labels did not change, check that you copied and pasted the code correctly into the Custom HTML gadget.

Changed email members system page
Using this technique it is possible to modify any hard-coded piece of text in any system page that is not easily accessible through the website page editor. One of the ideas we are tossing around is to create an easy to install code library that will allow easy customization of all labels and support mutli-lingual for Wild Apricot.

Note that the functionality of the underlying forms does not change in any way at all. Different labels may create alternative ways of thinking about the various functions. Similarly with this function the event registration, member signup and renewal, donations, store and just about all other parts of Wild Apricot can be modified.

10/17/2018

11 Steps to Membership Management Success - Planning Your Database I

Staff sitting around a table deciding on database
Planning your membership database helps you pull together your data to create one source of the truth about your contacts and members.

Step 1

Now that you’ve gotten set up and familiar with Wild Apricot in Step 0, you’re ready to start planning how you’ll set up and manage your membership database.

In these next three articles in this series, you will complete Step 1, which will help you:

  • understand how and where your information about contacts and members is organized
  • understand membership bundles and when they can be used
  • make decisions about archiving and cleaning up your data

Your database plan will help you create your master import file, which will contain all the information you will be adding or migrating into your membership management system. The database plan and related considerations are key to the process of defining your database and help work toward full membership management system implementation.

We’ve broken Step 1 into three parts, to give you time to think through and carry out this critical first step in the process.

Let’s start by understanding what your organization’s data looks like now. 

What’s the current state of your organization’s database?

From the wide range of organizations we’ve worked with at NewPath Consulting, we have found a small to medium-sized organization’s data is usually “organic” in nature. That’s a nice way of saying it has evolved and passed through many hands. It is also possibly quite disorganized, potentially lacking important pieces of information. In short, it’s probably useful for people—but not for computers.

So answering the question about what your database looks like now involves doing some digging and housekeeping.

  • Do you know where all of your data about members and contacts resides? Can you easily collect, understand and use this information?
  • Do you already have your data stored in a database system, or is it spread across multiple systems or storage methods?

Sometimes when volunteers manage a database, they make it useful for themselves, but not easily accessible for your members or your systems. When volunteers change, the integrity and accuracy of your database may suffer.

If you do use a system, is it:

  • a spreadsheet?
  • a commercial or open source database like CiviCRM or Salesforce.com?
  • one or more custom, legacy databases?

Even if your contact management system comprises a drawer full business cards and sticky notes, the starting point is the same – establishing what you have now, and deciding which fields you’ll want to use in your new set-up. You will also need to establish the “business rules” around certain fields in terms of what is allowed in those fields.

If your information is coming from different places or systems, you want to anticipate the issues that might arise with exporting or manipulating the data. Knowing what you want to keep, what each field means and what data needs to change to conform to Wild Apricot will help you manage this process more seamlessly.

Think of it as paving a smooth and manageable path to creating one "source of the truth" where everyone – your contacts and members, your stakeholders, your staff and volunteers – will be fully and accurately described.

Do you know how to export data from your current systems, if necessary? If not, do you have the documentation or access to the people who can help get access to your data?

NewPath Consulting can help with this part of the process. We have experience with all sorts of complicated and “messy” systems.

The steps and estimates in this series are based on our experience migrating diverse customer groups to Wild Apricot. We believe these steps have an intrinsic order, so it’s important that you follow the steps in the order we’ve described in this series. If you can’t finish one before we publish the next, you can always come back to it when ready.

Watch for the next chapter in this series, in which you’ll start the second step in preparing your data for migration to the Wild Apricot platform: Step 2 – Managing Membership Bundles.


Do you have questions about Wild Apricot or managing your member and contact database? Contact NewPath Consulting for a free consultation.