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Innovation for a Stanford Journal

The Stanford Social Innovation Review is a well-respected journal written for and by social change leaders in the nonprofit, business, and government sectors. It’s full of amazing articles and run by some really sharp and passionate people.

But its site was built in 2006 with an early version of ExpressionEngine, and while it was really well-built for its time, the code was limited in flexibility and overcomplicated by the limitations of the old EE tool.  The site’s design also had stagnated.

SSIR wanted to have a site matching what their content deserved: something that showed advanced thinking, leadership, and the depth of the site’s information stores—a site that was a pleasure to browse and a snap to search.

So, we built that for them.

This project involved:

  • Navigation a very tricky upgrade from EE 1.x to EE 2.x, including rewriting several critical add-ons in 2.x
  • Creating some great animations, like the home page slide show, the relate stories box and my personal favorite, the login link—you must click the login link
  • Replacing the popup subscribe ad with an in-page, fully functionality expanding subscription promotion
  • Completely overhauling the way the articles and images are entered so that production can happen far more quickly, more error-free, and with better tools to re-use the content in multiple formats
  • Creating cool new content types, like book reviews, point/counterpoint blog pages, and more—in addition to removing content types that didn’t make sense any more
  • Overhauling site search to be more powerful and better integrated with the site design
  • Integrating with social tools like Facebook and Twitter—and Google Plus, if that matters smile
  • Oh, and migrating from one server to a faster two-server setup for only a slight hosting cost increase, can’t forget that

The design had to satisfy a lot of different audiences (internal and external, and the final result is striking without being flashy. Images that were constrained by the previous design—built at a time when monitors were smaller—really get the chance to shine in the new site.

The project took six months from start to finish, and already the benefits are apparent.  Traffic is up; user feedback is terrific; and the time it takes to build additional new features is way, way down, given all the new EE 2.x functionality and the new streamlined data model.

This isn’t just a good project, it’s a fantastic example of the kind of project we love to do at Hop Studios. We’ll be showing off this site for years to come.

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