Sea Kayak Guides Alliance of British Columbia
The Sea Kayaks Guides Alliance of BC (SKGABC) is the body responsible for maintaining and regulating the professional standards of sea kayakers in British Columbia. A non-profit society, they are thoroughly committed to upholding the highest standards of professionalism for both sea kayak guides and operators. This commitment is maintained by facilitating ongoing professional development and certification courses, which helps to ensure that safe practices are used on an industry-wide basis.
The best way to sum up the situation with SKGABC’s website would be “outdated”. They had an older website with limited options for interactivity that was not able to handle membership records. Because of this, everything was still being recorded manually, something that was creating an undue amount of work for the society’s volunteers. In short, it lacked the functionality required for an organization like theirs and was not providing anything tangible in the way of value or benefits.
The Society offered a unique proposition for us, in terms of being a volunteer led, membership focused, non-profit organization, so we began by listening to their needs, and figuring out exactly how to create a system that catered to those needs.
This began with unpacking the various structures that underpin their membership, which included a graduation program with a variety of certifications, and several legal requirements that come with their safety responsibilities. Our work was therefore to find a way to make all those various membership options manageable for them, and easy to navigate for members.
Key to this was a high degree of user functionality. Which meant, for example, making it so that a guide would be able to update their hours and any other metrics that counted towards their certification immediately after leaving the water. To ensure this, we focused on making things mobile friendly, and both simple and quick as users would often be in outdoor areas that may receive limited signal. Technically this meant having things load on the page as quickly as possible, foregoing pdfs in favour of simpler HTML coding.
Also, in the interests of immediate accessibility and usability, we ensured that the homepage could serve as a portal for everything members and potential members would need to know. This means updates on news, events, and upcoming exams and courses, all in one convenient snapshot.
The most crucial and detailed aspect of building this website was incorporating the full range of necessary membership features. The first step was to ensure that the membership roster was organized and accessible, with all the information contained on the site. We built a member roster where users could create a profile, with both private and publicly visible options. This profile includes their bios, contact information, and is linked with the member areas.
Because of the multi-tier structure of the membership — with members moving between levels depending on a range of certification requirements — we had to build an internal system that could recognize and incorporate all the various permutations. For this, we had a detailed certification map, and then translated that into something that was simple for the members to navigate and use.
Another part of providing value through a website like this is integrating it with the broader structures of the organization. For example, when members are taking part in any form of guiding, they need to have a membership card on them. We created the option for members to update and print current membership cards.
In addition to these membership features we also constructed a job posting section. This came with two options: a public and a members-only one. Alongside several other features including:
- A list of guides available for hire
- The ability for guides to edit their bios and availability
- Membership roster
- Automatic level upgrades
- A mobile-first responsive design, optimized to display well on all devices from smartphones through to desktops
- SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) for enhanced security
- Creation of membership cards
This was one of our most challenging projects, but also one of the most rewarding. SKGABC were a great group of people to work with, and we are glad we can help them keep doing the amazing work they do. We were also able to work with the group’s members, who helped consult us during the design process.
At the front facing end — what the user sees — the website is a smooth, simple, and seamless experience, but as is often the case in web design, the process of creating something simple to use is a long and complicated one. There is always a risk that a website this complicated will become bloated or clunky. Thanks to the elegance and expertise of our designers’ work, the SKGABC website is something that looks fresh and modern.
This was a really unique project for us, standing out in comparison to the business-focused sites we often create. It was a very enjoyable process to get to know the members and understand exactly how they would be using the site. There was a discernible emphasis on functionality first and on collaborating with the members themselves. Its features and needs are completely custom to their organization, and the website needed to reflect that.
What SKGABC now has is a hugely successful website — one that is a lively hub of activity for their members, compromising the most active membership site we are currently running. Every day sees 5-40 users logging on to update or log their activities, as well as plenty more to view the organization-wide updates and news. The simple fact of being able to automate their membership records has made a huge difference, saving the organization countless manual hours and efforts.
- responsive website design
- Custom website design
- Full content management system
- Document hosting and management
- Private members only area