We’re excited to announce the completion of our latest project, the Portage Area Chamber of Commerce website. It was a real pleasure to work on this site, and we learned a great deal about Portage in the process!
From the beginning we decided to go with WordPress as The Chamber of Commerce staff wanted to be able to make changes themselves once the site was done. WordPress offers a great editing and back-end experience for those that don’t want to mess with code. We also chose the Bridge theme for it’s flexibility and features.
The hardest part about making this site was all the unique content. The Chamber of Commerce caters to two different groups of people: the local business community and residents/visitors of Portage. The content and imagery had to be friendly and welcoming but also professional. Since each page had unique content, each page had it’s own layout and design- no templates here! Some pages had lots of pictures, others had long lists. . . So there was a lot of discussion about the layout of the site. With over 35 distinct pages, one of our goals was to have the site feel unified and have a nice flow. So, we came up with 6 wire-frames and used these as the basic layouts you see throughout the site.
One other unique aspect of this website was Chamber Master. This is third party software that the Chamber of Commerce uses to manage all their members. It has some really cool features like a business directory, search, community events feed, a calendar, and even a local weather widget! Since the staff was already familiar with this system we didn’t want to change things or introduce anything new. So it was important to grab the features the Chamber of Commerce needed, and integrate this with the rest of the site. You can see this in action on the homepage with the scrolling ‘Upcoming Events’ feed, the business directory, job postings and various Join Now buttons. All of this syncs with Chamber Master- a pretty powerful combination!
For the design, we started with elements of the Bridge theme and designed each component to match the overall look and feel of the site. We also chose fonts and colors to reflect the professional and friendly nature of the Chamber. Lastly, we created all the banners you see displayed at the top of each page, as well as the weather and news icons in the header and footer.
All in all, we really enjoyed working on this project. It was challenging to organize and display all the content in a professional way, and fun to make the site visually appealing to visitors. Great photos! It also provided a new challenge as we brought in extra functionality from a third party developer. As members of the Chamber of Commerce and as new residents to Portage, it was an added bonus to learn more about the work that they do and about our new “home.” We hope the new site serves the Chamber of Commerce and the Portage community for a long time.
For more pictures and info check out our portfolio section.