Blog Archives

More Updates

The new year has brought fulfilling projects and exciting opportunities and we have a recent launch, present site transition and a panel SXSW to talk about. Read more ›

Idealware publishes updated Open Source CMS report

Anyone who knows me knows that I am a big fan of Idealware, the nonprofit that does research and publishes information on technology for other nonprofits.

So it comes as no surprise that I have been delighted to co-author the  2010 Comparing Open Source Content Management Systems: WordPress, Joomla, Drupal and Plone report. It includes unbiased detailed reviews with a feature summary,  as well as a directory of consultants. Read more ›

Updates to Portfolio

It’s been a busy busy fall here and I’m are still catching up with updating this site. In the meantime I’ve added a couple recent projects to the portfolio and have more almost ready.

One neat little project that isn’t listed yet are the ads Shayna Englin engaged us to create for the Global Day of Jewish Learning. Pairing their Big Questions with popular celebrities in tiny ad spaces proved challenging and fun. You can see a couple of the ads that are now in circulation below. Read more ›

Recent Launches & News

Its been a busy week and about to get busier. Right now I am getting ready to head to the Nonprofit Technology Conference in San Francisco and I am really looking forward to meeting some longtime and new online friends while I am there. I’ll be interviewing my fellow Idealware bloggers too and posting the results on the Idealware blog soon.

Also this week we launched the Bailout Watch Web site – a group project by six leading organizations in government transparency. If you have been wondering where all that TARP money went or need some help understanding the who, what and where of the bailout, check out the Bailout Watch site. Find out more in our portfolio.

And one more thing… NRDC asked us to translate their Eat Local campaign design to this cute little widget that’s all kinds of handy for eating local and eating well. Just pick your location and the time of year and you’ll see what’s available fresh in your neighborhood. This was another fun one and I learned a lot working with Sean Fremouw of Free Flow Data about iWidgets, which allows for the widget’s functionality and ability to be shared on all the popular social network sites and more.

Its really fantastic to get to work on projects where I learn more about the issue and that I know I will use them myself.

New update on Sproutbuilder: free accounts & more projects

Yet another update to the Sproutbuilder flash widget builder going to a fee for service model. Today Sprout Inc. announced a new more generous policy including a limited (3 projects, only online support and possible ads) Free account option as well as more generous allotments in their other pricing plans.

When Sprout first announced their plans to make the beta service a full fledged paid product with no free plans many were concerned and some upset. Their users spoke up and it looks like Sprout Inc. listened. What they have arrived at seems like a reasonable pricing system, including 50% discounts for nonprofits on paid plans – which translates to 15 projects (sprout widgets) for $10/mo at the low end. They might have saved themselves some trouble if they had just started out here in the first place, but I’m just glad this is where things are ending up.

Project Launch: Audubon Birds and Climate Quiz

We are really excited about the launch of our first Flash project in a long time – a quiz for the National Audubon Society’s Birds and Climate campaign. The quiz features the illustrations of Sherrie York and highlights important facts from the recently released Birds and Climate report. Audubon scientists analyzed 40 years of citizen-science Christmas Bird Count data and found disturbing shifts in natural ranges of many North American species. Customizations to the quiz, such as a drag and drop to match birds with the distance they shifted north as a result of climate change, led to a highly engaging way for supporters to understand the issues and spread the word to their friends and family.

It was a really fun project on an important topic. We were delighted to work with not only the truly wonderful folks at Audubon, but also with colleagues at Sea Change Strategies and Jackson River.

Please visit BIrds and Climate  and sign the petition – after you take the quiz of course

Updated: Sproutbuilder Widget making tool changes to paid

Sproutbuilder – a great drag and drop flash widget creation tool that has been a great boon for nonprofits trying to get their message out on blogs and Facebook etc. announced yesterday that they are moving to a paid model and will no longer be offering a free version.

Unfortunately this was handled a bit poorly with the information that there will be discounts for nonprofits buried in their FAQ and no real indication of what that will be. Also the timeline of the announcement – that you could be shut out of your account as soon as 2 weeks from now and no clear answer as to what happens to your published sprouts once this takes effect led to some panic and hot tempers.

Because I have been a vocal proponent of Sproutbuilder for nonprofits and have recommended it to clients and used it with clients already, I have been keeping an eye on the discussion on Twitter, news and blog feeds. There is good news. In response to Michelle Murrain’s very wise take on this at the Idealware blog, Carnet Williams posted the following:

“We are doing our best to provide Sprout free or at a highly discounted rate to NPOs. Meaning if you are a small nonprofit and not using a ton of our bandwidth, most likely free. If you are a large NGO with tons of traffic, we will discount the rate so we cover our COGs.

Michelle… you know I am going to do my best to make this type of powerful tool available to social change organizations… as long as I can keep my lights on.”

Combined with the interview he gave Adam Ostrow at Mashable, where it states that the intention is to keep Sproutbuilder available for free to nonprofits, I am optimistic at this point. However I would still like to see a public announcement from the company as to exactly what their plan and pricing structure is for these groups since most of the discussion I have seen from NPO’s is around what alternative service they can switch to.

So while I listen to Michelle’s sage advice and get my clients going on Plan B, I’ll continue to keep an eye and ear on the developments and will update here with what I find out.


Received email from Sproutbuilder saying that there will be a grace period for existing users to sort themselves out and make a decision. Whew, good. Also that email will be sent to all nonprofits contacting them at with details about the the special discount. So if you are in a nonprofit or educational institution, get your email in to them to receive the announcement when it comes out.

UPDATE 2 : January 21, 2009

In their email newsletter Sprout has announced the following policy for nonprofits and educators –

Non-Profits and Educators:
Qualified non-profits and educators can contact us for discount pricing. Basic accounts will be free and 50% discounts will be offered for the other levels. Interested in pricing for your classroom? contact with specific questions about pricing for education.

This means that up to 3 sprouts are free with some bandwidth limitations, 3-7 for $30/per month and over 7 sprouts will be $150 a month.

Eating my own dogfood

If you have visited my site before you are probably noticing some drastic changes and long overdue upgrades.

After years of being too busy to update my built-by-hand HTML site I have finally taken the advice I give to all my clients and moved the site into a database driven solution. Although it was a tough choice between Plone, Drupal, Joomla and WordPress I finally decided on WordPress.

One reason is that my site is small and basic and I wanted to demonstrate how nicely WordPress can serve as a content management system for simple sites like this. I have added a couple bells and whistles for usability and fun.

In the middle of this redesign, or more toward what I thought was the end really, WordPress released a new version that had me going back to the drawing board for a while since the plugins I had planned to use were not up to date and compatible with the new version. Needless to say I was not such a happy camper at first, but in the end I think the site is better for the changes.

For the curious and technically inclined, here’s a list of what I have used on top of WordPress 2.7:

Its still not perfect and I hope to find the time between clients to keep improving the site but hopefully having a CMS and all the nifty plugins will result in making it easier to keep this site up to date and useful for my visitors. I have plans for expansion in the near future and am also starting up a Email newsletter that I hope folks will find useful and fun. Thanks for visiting and feel free to leave your thoughts about the redesign in the comments.

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