Building the Dentistry for All Website

Let’s face it: building a simple website is a monkey’s job. Many easy-to-use tools are available. As a result, almost anyone can whip up a page based on a boilerplate design in minutes. However, the companies that build truly awesome websites know all too well that building a fantastic website is not a monkey’s job. It takes a lot of thought, design, imagination, integration and great ideas to make it right. The Dentistry for All (DFA) website is an example of a well-designed site that Eureka iTech built in the last quarter of 2018.  

Dentistry for All is a nonprofit charity based in Calgary and run by a group of committed dentists in Canada and the U.S. Its members provide dental care and education to people in remote areas of Guatemala, Nicaragua and the Philippines. Since 1995, dedicated volunteers have assisted over 30,000 patients and completed more than 83,000 procedures. At least twice a year, DFA organizes trips to Central America with dentists, hygienists, translators and handymen. The charity is funded by regular donors and through annual fundraising events hosted in Calgary. Its Board of Directors meets regularly and maintains the highest standards to ensure maximum value is delivered for every dollar donated.  

The decision to change the website

In the latter half of 2018, the DFA board set a goal to rebuild the website, with these requirements:

  • Convert all printable PDF forms into fully electronic forms that users can fill out online.
  • Integrate with the organization’s online contact database so that new subscribers, volunteers and donors are managed securely and in one single database.
  • Post and edit content with ease; specifically, make adding new blogs, or uploading photos and videos, much simpler.
  • Integrate with social media sites such as Instagram, YouTube, Twitter and Facebook to facilitate content sharing.
  • Provide Spanish translation for people visiting the site from Central and South America.
  • Apply the latest SEO techniques for the site to appear in search results.
  • Generate website analytic reports to review what pages are most visited and what pages need work.

How did we design the site?

Building a robust website is never the job of a web designer alone. The process requires collaboration with the business to understand what the website should do. To streamline communications, the DFA board created an internal website committee comprising three members. The members had a firm understanding of the goals and were ultimately responsible for the delivery of the website. Eureka held several sessions with the committee to understand requirements and deliver a project estimate. Given that DFA is a nonprofit enterprise, we set a reduced hourly rate to make the cost more affordable.

Here are the steps we followed:

  1. Outline the requirements so that everyone understands what we are doing, why we are doing it and who is responsible.
  2. Create wireframes to help users visualize the site navigation, components and integration. Get the DFA website committee to sign off on the plan.
  3. Build the website in a password-protected environment and get a graphic designer to create the art pieces.
  4. Add relevant content, with DFA helping to create and edit the pages.
  5. Once all the pieces are in place and the committee has signed off, proceed to plan implementation.
  6. Execute the final release, move all components online, set Google Analytics and connect to social media sites.

What tools and software did we use?

We selected the following tools and software to complete our build:

  1. SiteGround to host the site: It is one of the most reliable and fastest multi-tenant hosting services around.
  2. WordPress to create the site: We used Divi to generate the themes and implemented the following plugins:
    1. Cloudinary to manage all the media assets, like photos and videos.
    2. Weglot to translate into Spanish: This tool is better than the default browser translation.
  3. Office 365 Nonprofit Business Essentials for the following features:
    1. Office 365 (O365) Outlook to send and receive email.
    2. Microsoft Flow to manage workflows for user registrations, notifications, etc.
    3. Microsoft Power BI to create dashboards and reports.
    4. SharePoint to access out-of-the-box features such as lists, views, document libraries and photo libraries.
    5. Microsoft PowerApps to manage SharePoint interfaces.
  4. Cognito Forms to create interactive electronic forms: Using Cognito Forms allowed us to connect directly to SharePoint lists.
  5. Mailchimp, to send campaign emails and newsletters.
  6. Google Analytics to create dashboards and monitor site visits and analytics.
  7. Instagram, YouTube and Facebook to create social media interaction.
  8. CanadaHelps.org to collect online donations.

Eureka required numerous usernames and passwords to manage all the components. We used LastPass to safeguard passwords and share them securely with DFA as needed.

How much does it cost to maintain the site?

One of the key questions we get after building a site is, “What are the maintenance costs?” Because DFA is a nonprofit, we were able to negotiate great deals from some of the providers:

  1. Eureka is a Microsoft Business Partner, and we helped DFA obtain a few licenses for O365 Nonprofit Business Essentials, which costs just $2.25/user/month. That package includes SharePoint online, Outlook mail, MS Word, Excel and OneNote.
  2. Cognito Forms extended us a 20% discount. For a $8.00/month, we created the volunteer forms and connected them to SharePoint.
  3. SiteGround, as a multitenant environment, charges only about $10.00/month for hosting services.
  4. The cost of the WordPress plugins, such as Cloudinary and Weglot, were free.
  5. Mailchimp was also free because the membership list was relatively short.

Eureka Moments

In conclusion, building a strong website takes time and creativity. We found five practices to be key to building this site robustly and securely for DFA:

  1. Forming a website committee: Eureka answered only to the DFA committee and not to the full board, which streamlined communications and approvals. This was a smart move we recommend when working with a large organization.
  2. Creating wireframes: We used the Balsamiq Cloud tool to quickly sketch the pages and give the website committee a visual of what we were going to deliver. This step made early design collaboration a snap.
  3. Having a solid grasp of WordPress and how to use it: This advice might sound obvious, but anyone building a great website needs to understand how to manager WordPress, plugins, and DevOps.
  4. Prioritizing security: By using LastPass and complex passwords, we were able to collaborate with sensitive data much more easily. Before the release, we provided DFA administrators with access to LastPass. DFA now controls all the components delivered.
  5. Streamlining automation and workflow: We added SharePoint Online and MS Flow, and moved to O365, to simplify DFA’s use of the site. We also leveraged Microsoft SharePoint security schema. Sensitive information about contacts, event management, documents and photos are safeguarded and audited using a common standard.