With over thirty projects and $14 million in grants disbursed, the original Michelson Prize & Grants website was in need of a major update in order to keep up with its steady expansion. Although the initial website was built on a content management system, updates always required the Michelson Prize & Grants team to produce a document with all the changes to a web developer, who would then implement them. As revisions to the site became more frequent and critical, this proved to be increasingly costly in time and resources. Furthermore, the site was lacking aesthetically and in features that were never developed. In an effort to fix all of these issues at once, I worked with the Michelson Prize & Grants team to design and develop a new site that would more strongly express their brand and their mission, while including all the necessary features in a custom environment that can be easily maintained by the organization’s staff.
The new site was designed so that maintenance of all types of content would require little to no training. Custom content types were set up so that administrators could add, remove, or edit individual pieces of information, which would then be updated and formatted automatically. Each custom content type, such as a board member, grantee, project, blog, etc. has custom fields tailored to that type of content, which are displayed and formatted according to that section of the site. I wrote documentation into these administration pages, so that training new staff takes very little time and the possibility for error is minimal.
The Michelson Prize & Grants in Reproductive Biology was launched in 2008 by Dr. Gary Michelson and his nonprofit organization Found Animals Foundation. With the goal of finding a single-dose, permanent, nonsurgical sterilant for animals, an incentive of $25 million was set as a prize for a product that successfully fulfills all requirements. Additionally, Dr. Michelson pledged to give $50 million in grants to researchers with unique angles for tackling this challenge.
UX/UI - The main objective I had to accomplish for the user experience of this site was to design something that would appeal to both the scientific and laymen communities. Similarly, the user interface had to engage both communities in a high-level understanding of the organization, while also providing easy access and navigation of comprehensive sets of scientific documents and data.
SEO/SEM - Organic search ranking was very important for this project, so I worked with the Michelson Prize & Grants team to revise their proposed site architecture and copy, as well as creating guidelines for future content. I also made sure that the site was developed in a way that would keep to standard practices as the organization continued to maintain it themselves.
Development - Using Drupal for this project made the most sense to me because of the requirement to make very specific custom content types that needed to be displayed in specific ways, and with a very easy and custom tailored administrative structure that would have minimal possible points for confusion. I developed a custom theme for the front end, and modified an open source theme for the back-end administrative interface to handle all of this smoothly. The minimal use of 3rd party modules made maintenance very infrequent and security much more reliable.