YMCA of Long Island

In considering a redesign of their website, the YMCA of Long Island faced this challenge: they needed to modernize and upgrade their capabilities to serve and interact with their members via the web. This regional initiative was launched in conjunction with a national YMCA rebranding program that was designed to improve communication of the Y’s brand promise and to grow its membership base. Affiliates like YMCA of Long Island are adopting the new logo, color palette and visual system as well as the updated messaging that focuses on youth development, healthy living and social responsibility.

In rebuilding its website from the ground up, the YMCA of Long Island needed a visually appealing design. But this was not simply a design update project. Improved functionality—for both members and staff—would also be a key component of a successful new website.

In developing their new website plan, the management team established four key goals for the project:

  • Incorporate new national Y branding and messaging in the design
  • Improve ability to communicate with members and prospective members via the web and social media
  • Provide enhanced online resources for members and prospective members
  • Enable branch managers to update their own websites, without the need for programming skills, while preserving and protecting the overall branding and messaging components

As with most websites, there are numerous pages of static or rarely changed information, such as facility overviews, hours of operation and directions to facilities. But there is also a significant amount of dynamic information, such as class schedules and news announcements. The Y already offered online e-commerce registration for most of its services. Smooth integration with the existing enterprise back-end systems and the e-commerce engine would be critical to the successful implementation of the new site.

Because of the operating structure of the YMCA of Long Island and its branches, it was important to establish a consistent look and feel for the site—in keeping with the new national branding standards—that still allowed each location to communicate its uniqueness. For example, some facilities have pools and aquatics programs, and some have summer camp programs, but no two facilities have the exact same offerings.

To achieve its goals, the YMCA of Long Island needed a website development team that had the right combination of experience in website design, systems integration, and CMS (content management system) implementation, combined with a solid understanding of today’s web environment from the end-user’s point of view. 

Following a national vendor search, mindSHIFT Technologies was engaged to build the new YMCA of Long Island website.

“We are not experts in the field of building and running a website, nor do we understand the intricate details that are involved,” said Anne N. Brigis, Executive Vice President and COO of the YMCA of Long Island, Inc. “Our expertise is running the YMCA of Long Island Association and delivering on our mission for the children and families of Long Island. We needed to work with a website vendor and strategic partner who could understand our business mix and needs, and also be able to work well with our IT and Branch staff.  We selected mindSHIFT because their mix of people skills and technical expertise was exactly what we needed.”

Assessment and Analysis
To kick off the project, mindSHIFT performed an assessment of the organization’s website needs for the present and future. This analysis included a drill-down on all components of the project: business goals and requirements, target audiences, process and workflow analysis, technical requirements and prototyping.

The analysis phase of the project set the stage for the selection and implementation of a new content management system for the website. The Kentico CMS was chosen for its scalability, easy to use interface and wide array of built-in widgets and online marketing tools.

From start to finish, the implementation phase of the project took just 10 weeks to complete. This included the set up of web server hardware, and the installation and configuration of all project and security software. For simplicity of operation—and peace of mind—YMCA of Long Island also decided to host their website at mindSHIFT, a #1 ranked managed services provider in the hosting industry, according to MSPmentor.

In parallel with the systems side of the project, mindSHIFT, a Kentico Certified Partner, was integrating the custom design it created into the Kentico CMS.

On the front end of the new site, mindSHIFT included these new features:

  • Intuitive navigation across the site, with prominent links to popular site features such as registration and newsletter sign-up
  • Engaging rotating banner images on the home page
  • Fully searchable class and program schedules for current and future seasons, with an easy link to the online registration system
  • A “Find My YMCA” button, offering immediate access to the locations, with addresses, Google maps and links to Facebook and Twitter feeds
  • A dynamic news and events tool to keep members and prospective members aware of what’s going on at their local Y

By building the website in Kentico, the Y could take advantage of the collaborative workflow and publishing capabilities of the software. Some of the back-end features implemented by mindSHIFT include templates for streamlined page creation, and customized user roles, to assign permission levels to administrators and content publishers.

A working CMS and a fully functional website were delivered to the YMCA of Long Island, but that was not the end of the project. The job was not done until the staff at each location could publish their own content, and run the site day-to-day, without the need to involve a programmer. To achieve this, mindSHIFT ran five training sessions to give the new CMS users (administrators and publishers at the branches) a personalized, hands-on learning experience in a lab setting. Users learned how to add and update pages, create news events and populate their class schedules. The users enjoyed the intuitive Kentico interface and were successfully building out their sites on day one. mindSHIFT also developed and provided a custom user guide, which supplements the extensive documentation available from Kentico.

The new website was a major step forward for the YMCA of Long Island in support of its strategic goals and the national rebranding initiative. With the launch of the new design, members and prospective members could now find the information they needed with ease. And branch managers were able to update their websites on the fly, to provide the custom and localized information and services that are the hallmark of the YMCA of Long Island.

“Our new website has been such a pleasure to work with,” said Billy Arasa, Associate Executive Director of the Huntington branch. “From the first training through implementation it has been well received by our staff and our members. The members are talking about how easy it is to navigate, and the staff love how fast and efficient it is to make changes or additions.” 

To see the new website, and learn more about the YMCA of Long Island, visit www.ymcali.org.

To learn more about Kentico CMS solutions from mindSHIFT, contact us!