Howard County Economic Development Authority

Doing A lot with a Little: Automation + Scalability = Sustainability

Winner, 2013 MEDA Marketing Award

Winner, 2013 MEDA Marketing Award

Shortly after launch, The Maryland Economic Development Association announced that EDA received its 2013 MEDA Marketing Award in recognition of the newly designed and replatformed website.

More about the award
HCEDA screenshot
Best Practice CMS Implementation Strategy

Best Practice CMS Implementation Strategy

By migrating to the Umbraco CMS, TBG created a system for EDA that allows them to distribute content management across their organization, relieving the pressure of having only the marketing department manage content. Other benefits of the CMS include: automation of related links and taxonomy, streamlined publishing processes, and—most importantly—reusable content items.

More about the benefits of moving to a CMS
HCEDA screenshot

TBG & Howard County Economic Development Authority

The Howard County Economic Development Authority (EDA) saw an opportunity to redesign their static website and migrate to a more automated and scalable platform. They reached out to TBG (The Berndt Group) to provide guidance for their content strategy, migration, and to lead them in this mission critical project, which emphasized the need for sustainability for the organization. Focused on “doing a lot with a little,” TBG looked to solutions that would allow EDA to maximally leverage their resources for Web publishing in the years that follow.

The organization has a series of strong stories to tell about Howard County—through text, statistics and photography. Building on the high quality of Howard County as a place to run a business and live, the organization very much wanted to launch the premier economic development organization website in the company.

One goal of the site’s content strategy was to reconcile a number of imperatives. The organization and site has a several-part structure which needs to be revealed to users in a way that will make sense to them. Likewise the organization needed to address a variety of types of users that do not necessarily overlap in terms of their interests; the site therefore has an important ambition to balance these different audiences without alienating any visitors.

Most of all, EDA needed a site that would serve as great collateral to sell the county, generate useful leads and allow users to request information. Finding creative solutions to EDA’s content goals and imperatives—while balancing the need for a sustainable and automated technical solution—represented TBG’s challenges when creating the HCEDA.org website. After the initial launch, TBG further elevated the user experience by making this award-winning website fully responsive, thus allowing for an optimized user experience on devices of all shapes and sizes.

Live Site

What We Did

Technology Partners

Awards

  • envelope iconeNewsletter Integration with iContact
  • star iconLeveraged the EventBrite API
  • trophy iconWinner 2013 MEDA Marketing Award
  • award ribbon iconFully Responsive Web Design
Usability for All Audiences

Usability for All Audiences

EDA needed an approach that would provide strong usability for all audiences. The site needed to provide a high standard of overall usability, including relationships between content, Google maps integration, Web 2.0 templates where appropriate, easy signup for events, and strong search capabilities. Addressing the needs of audiences on different devices (i.e. tablets, phones) was also of upmost importance. The result, according to EDA, equaled a successful project:

  • a fully responsive site, accessible on desktop browsers (old and new), tablets, and other mobile devices;
  • EDA won a coveted marketing award specifically driven by the “user-friendliness” of the website; and
  • structured HTML and CMS components allow for automated related links, giving users a way to easily find other content that might interest them.
Managing Competing Messages

Managing Competing Messages

With many competing messages, photographic elements and other content, it was important that the page designs successfully address these hierarchies of attention. If users are overwhelmed by too many equally weighted choices, or can’t intuitively figure out what different areas of the page do, they will get frustrated and leave.  TBG structured content so that it is broken up into visually manageable portions wherever possible, and used design and layout position on the page to provide sub-conscious clues to the user, letting them know what is most important, what to look at first, and what order (roughly) to scan the rest of the page.

Good examples of this include:

  • the tabbed approach to content on the homepage and throughout the site;
  • use of attention grabbing photography for areas of focus, such as the homepage features, which rotate to allow EDA to display multiple messages in this high-priority area of the site; and
  • integrated content features which appear as part of the various menus throughout the site.

The end result is a well-balanced site that doesn’t overwhelm the user, but still allows EDA to present all of their various messages to the user. The EDA site does a great job of establishing priority using different fonts, font sizes, and font weights.