Relaunched trade association website balances design, branding, and content

MCAR.com

This month my project team launched the new website for the Monterey County Association of Realtors, or MCAR, a trade group in Northern California. The new association website is a balance of design, branding, ease of use and a tool for curating large amounts of content for a large audience of site visitors.

“Curating” was never one of my favorite words – I had often thought that it was overused and overdone. And yet, curation is exactly the right idea: How else does one manage large amounts of data? In the same way that real estate agents curate the reams of new listings for their clients, a Realtor association website should make all of its content available while providing an easy way to access the most important data first.

The new site at MCAR.com strikes this balance. It was fun for us to plan, design, and build the site. It is equally exciting to see it already evolving to fit the needs of MCAR and its audience of Realtors, the media, industry partners, government regulators, and the public.

This was entirely the point of developing a site like MCAR.com: We built in tons of flexibility so that the staff can create new content and manage images, sidebars, menus, rosters, and calendars without writing any new code.

Bootstrap Again? Yes! But there are other design choices

The MCAR website is fully responsive and functions seamlessly on any device of any size. This is built into the site code itself: MCAR.com uses the Bootstrap framework which is widely used in thousands of websites. It may be a fair complaint by design purists that every Bootstrap site looks like every other Bootstrap site. However, with unique design elements like typography, color, logo, and the content itself, the site stands well on its own merits.

Design frameworks, like content management systems, are excellent design tools precisely because consistency and good practices are already built in. Bootstrap is excellent but is not a fit for every site. Another favorite layout framework is Bourbon.io which is created and maintained by the excessively brilliant minds at thoughtbot. Together with its cleverly named libraries Neat, Bitters, and Refills, Bourbon is a solid choice.

David Kissinger consults with companies, trade associations, non-profits and entrepreneurs on government affairs, public relations, marketing, IT strategy, web development and content.

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