The MOFGA site (www.mofga.org) provided many challenges and opportunities for us to explore the technology of database-driven websites. The site receives as many as 12,000 visits daily.
MOFGA is one of the biggest non-profits in Maine, with a 1.3 million dollar budget, 24 employees, and over 5000 members. They have several program areas and certify over 300 organic farms in Maine. They also sponsor several annual events, the most famous being the group's major fundraising event the Common Ground Country Fair, which brings over 50,000 people to MOFGA's Common Ground Education Center in Unity, Maine.
The site needed to serve many functions for MOFGA. Importantly, the group wanted a site that could be updated by the staff, with those who manage a certain aspect of the organization also maintaining that area of the site. Planet Maine websites allow a master account to give edit permissions to an employee or contractor for areas of a website, pages, one page, or even a part of a page. That person (or group of people) can only change that area of the site.
The Planet Maine client user interface is a feature-rich, intuitive web-based wordprocessor-type program. You do not need to be a webdesigner or know complex html code to use it. You can easily import work from MS Word or other programs in a Windows or Mac environment. You can add graphic images onto your site on the fly as you edit a page. This work can be done from any computer that has access to the Internet, so you can work from home, the office, or from the road. See a screen capture of how this page was edited by clicking here.
MOFGA also needed an opt-in email system. This system allows them to send email or email newsletters to a list of people that have signed up for the list and can sign out at any time. The formatted newsletters are attractive and designed to bring visitors back to the site to connect with MOFGA programs, donate their time and money, and to visit the online store. Newsletter delivery is tracked to determine how many people opened the newsletter and which links within the newsletter were visited. This system is also maintained online and it handles all bounces and opt-in and opt-out requests automatically.
The online store is another important feature of the MOFGA site. It generated thousands of dollars in additional sales in the first few weeks it went online. MOFGA staff can easily change items in the store. It keeps inventory, handles shipping calculations, and allows them to accept any credit card securely. The site also allows visitors to join MOFGA and donate online.
The content on the site is constantly changing -- on its own. For example, notice in the upper left corner of each page there is a quote related to the group's mission that changes with each page refresh. And on the right side of the home page you will notice a rotating image that invites the visitor into different program areas. The site also uses newsfeeds that are continually updated. The group can also create rotating content on the home page that highlights one of three upcoming events, for example, that change whenever the page is refreshed.
Planet Maine sites are also provided with detailed usage statistics, showing everything from how many visitors are currently online to what ISP, operating system and browser they use. It also shows how long visitors stay on the site and which pages they view. Go here for more details on visitor analysis.
Here's what folks are saying about the MOFGA site:
"Planet Maine helped MOFGA create a new website that is dynamic, visually interesting, and always-changing. With their help we've been able to add e-commerce, to refine our ability to mail to members and supporters, and to make information more accessible. We are consistently getting twice as many web visits each day as we did a year ago. The web site is generating memberships, purchases, and most importantly, real interaction from visitors who want information that connects them more deeply to our organization."
Russell Libby, Executive Director, Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners
Association (MOFGA), Unity, Maine.