Hand2Hand is a charitable organization that connects schools with a local church who provides food filled backpacks for needy students to take home over the weekend. This benefits the children’s nutrition, provides help to their families and improves their performance in class. With over sixty schools and forty churches partnered in western Michigan, the growing organization needed a new website that signaled to potential partners the effect they have already had and the seriousness they bring to their efforts to combat hunger in the community.
There were two parts of building Hand2Hand’s website that I would like to highlight; style tiles and the Content Management System (CMS).
We presented style tiles to Hand2Hand very early in the process, which made it easier to proceed with confidence toward a design. A style tile is similar to what an interior designer might present with paint swatches, carpet samples, etc.. In our case, we present different button styles, colors, textures, typefaces, image treatments, etc.. These seemingly mundane elements can become stumbling blocks later in the design process, so getting a feel for a client’s taste and the tone they are seeking early is helpful. With the style tiles we learned that, as a growing organization, Hand2Hand wanted to inspire confidence in their own capability to any potential partner.
Once the style tiles were chosen, proceeding to wireframes and design was straightforward. Front-end development began and proceeded quickly because of the streamlined design phase. Then it was time to begin the back-end development, building a CMS.
We chose to use Craft to build Hand2Hand’s CMS. It is a fairly recent entrant in the market, but is under very active development, and its makers come with a respected pedigree in Expression Engine development and add-ons. The flexible nature of Craft meant that we were able to build the CMS that Hand2Hand needed, without the control panel bloat and historical baggage of some other platforms. There are a couple major features that are helpful for people using the CMS worth highlighting; live previews when editing content, and a responsive control panel, as well as many features that make building a custom CMS straightforward for developers. I loved working with Craft, in fact it has been the most enjoyable first experience with a CMS I have ever had. I can easily recommend it, the only caveat being that the plugin community is still new so integration for obscure services/features and niche plugins might not be available yet. You should, however, not need any third-party help with the structure of the CMS as this is extremely flexible and intuitive to set up. Likewise, there is a tremendous amount of power in the base CMS and its first-party packages.
The Hand2Hand site was a wonderful project to work on for an organization that I respect and people I enjoyed working with. In addition, it was the first project I worked on, from beginning to end, at Mighty in the Midwest. I am eager to see Hand2Hand’s continued growth and apply what I learned with future projects at Mighty.