What was the scope of their involvement?
They gave us the website of our choice, which worked well with our IT department at the time. Our IT had some requirements of what they wanted out of the website as far as how it should be designed in the backend, which content management system [CMS] they wanted to use, and how it should integrate with our online banking and other applications. 3rd Edge was able to adapt to that and give us exactly what our team wanted with a nice, fresh look. We needed to have this website ready within a very brief amount of time, and they made that happen. We were able to launch a beautiful website, especially in comparison to what we had previously, that has a much more professional and forward-looking feel. Now, our website is about 3 1/2 years old, and it still gets a lot of positive feedback from first-time visitors. It’s still current. I’ve worked with Rob [Director of Brand Strategy, 3rd Edge], Frankie [Principal and Creative Director, 3rd Edge], and their team over the years to freshen the site without doing a complete redesign. They added components like a blog area and provided some new graphics and designs that I could use as the banners and things of that nature on the website.
Today, as a division of NexBank, we are doing some other cool things with 3rd Edge. We are working with them to design new print ads. For each of our programs, we have print and banner advertisements, and we collect leads from our website via landing pages. We are working with 3rd Edge to give us a clean look, especially with these program components and their different aesthetics. The Arizona program has a desert look, while the Indiana program has more of a city landscape. Finding designs that balance between those 2 aesthetics can be challenging, but they are really good finding well-crafted graphics and elements that catch peoples’ eyes. In a magazine, their designs really draw attention. We are very happy with the designs that they produce for us.
Currently, we are working with them to develop landing pages for our website as we push out banner ads. They’re working on attractive creatives for us in the digital realm. A lot of our advertising has gone digital. I would say about 80% of our budget goes towards digital advertisements.
Do you know the technologies they used?
Typically, websites are built in a way that simplifies the handoff to the company. Someone on the team, even if they know very little HTML, is still able to do edits and updates to the website using something standard like WordPress. The developers on our team created an online banking platform and administrative portal using DotNetNuk [DNN] as the CMS. Unfortunately, that’s not what I wanted. I was looking for something that was industry-standard. However, 3rd Edge was able to build our website with DNN in a way that satisfied our IT director and also worked cohesively with other applications that were developed separately.
How many resources have been assigned to your project?
I worked directly with Frankie and Rob, and a team of developers worked alongside them. It was easier for me to describe what we needed to Frankie and Rob, and they were able to articulate our goals to their team and produce exactly what we wanted. It was a great working experience. To develop the website in record time, we really had an aggressive push to launch.
I had worked on website development of this sort for a 529 program at another company, but that website did not have all the capabilities that our College Savings Bank website has today. Actually, 3rd Edge built 2 websites using DNN at the same time—CollegeSavings.com and CollegeChoiceCD.com.
How did you come to work with 3rd Edge?
I went to 3 different vendors and got proposals from each of them. Our board of directors at that time reviewed all of the proposals and selected 3rd Edge. I have known Frankie and Rob for many years prior to joining College Savings Bank. Just having them in a lineup of other vendors and seeing how they compared to the competition reconfirmed what I’ve always said about their creativity and level of expertise in design and technology. I knew that with 3rd Edge as our partner, the site would look amazing in the end. That’s what happened.
How much have you invested with 3rd Edge?
We spent under $50,000 for both websites.
What is the status of this engagement?
We did the vetting in March of 2013, and the website was up by September of 2013. Everything was done from scratch in short amount of time.