Empowering marketers with digital platforms
COLAB creates digital platforms that empower marketing leaders to unlock growth and eliminate waste. We specialize in the strategic design and development of websites and cloud-based applications. Our clientele spans a broad range in size, from small businesses to large corporate clients. We serve a wide variety of industries, including healthcare, government, non-profit, education, legal services, financial services, food & beverage, travel & entertainment, real estate, and technology, among many others.
The Virginia Lottery, Discover NEPA, Cushman & Wakefield, Thalhimer, ChenMed, Virginia Credit Union, Maisons & Domaines Henriot America, Virginia Association of Realtors, Winebow, Bookoff McAndrews
ThompsonMcMullan’s previous website did what a lot of websites do: it listed information about the firm and its services. All of the information was correct. And the website was complete in its coverage of the firm and its services, but the sum of all these parts did not communicate a full picture of ThompsonMcMullan.
Initially, ThompsonMcMullan reached out to COLAB with some modest ideas to improve the site, but we felt strongly there was tremendous potential to make a much greater impact by bringing their unique story and brand to life. ThompsonMcMullan is so much more than a collection of people and services. They have very strong values and deep commitments to their clients, colleagues, and communities. In a word, they care … A LOT. Their values are so fundamental to the work they do, you get a palpable sense of their import when you speak with anyone from the firm. They are a special group of people, and the impact of their values is felt immediately. So we asked, why shouldn’t the website do the same?
VACU had an existing branch locator on its website, but it didn’t deliver a level of customer experience in line with VACU’s high standards. VACU wanted to offer a best-in-class experience, comparable to other best-in-class service industry companies. It wanted a branch and ATM locator that was modern, worked on all devices, and presented a complete mapping of branch and ATM locations, all delivered quickly and seamlessly.
VACU partnered with COLAB to deliver a solution efficiently and with the highest standards of reliability and security. COLAB had extensive experience providing map-based solutions for enterprise-level clients, such as the Virginia Lottery, and numerous other banks.
BoMc had a website, but they hadn’t invested a lot of time or attention to it over the years. As they grew in size, they developed a greater appreciation for the role the website played in forming impressions of the firm. Law firms rely on client recommendations, references, and word-of-mouth for new client acquisition far more than internet search or advertising; however a law firm’s website is still a critical factor in forming first impressions with prospective clients. Before they call or send an email, prospective clients are informing themselves about the firm through the website. The firm’s website has tremendous power to shape clients’ perceptions about its professionalism, reliability, and personality. BoMc had a website, but it didn’t have a website that truly reflected everything the firm had become over the past several years.
Legal services can seem staid and conservative, but that wasn’t genuinely BoMc’s vibe. They work with Fortune 500 companies and high-tech start-ups. Their team is comprised of musicians and marathoners. They’re a cool, vibrant group of people. Given their clientele, as well as the legal talent they need to recruit, it was imperative for the site to feel technologically modern, both in design and function. COLAB designed a visual experience to reflect the reality of who BoMc is, balancing the vibrancy of their personality with strong sense of intellectual rigor, professionalism, and reliability. The website looks bright and smart, diverse and well-balanced — just like the Bookoff McAndrews team.
CodeVA had an existing website but they weren’t meeting the goals they had with the traffic they were drawing to the site. When potential sponsors saw the website, they weren’t compelled to support CodeVA. The website didn’t communicate the legitimacy, efficacy, and seriousness of CodeVA’s efforts. In other words, they weren’t being taken seriously by corporate partners essential to support their mission. CodeVA was involved in a range of efforts to promote computer science activity, including education, training, and lobbying — however, those efforts weren’t tied together in clear messaging on the website, such that visitors could understand their broader mission and objectives.
ChenMed was in the process of migrating their internal systems to Workday, a large enterprise software platform that can streamline finance, HR, and planning functions ChenMed was particularly interested in leveraging some of the human resources features of Workday, namely employee data, such as locations, job functions, hiring, job postings, etc. They wanted to utilize Workday as a centralized resource for distributing physician information and job postings to the appropriate local websites in the ChenMed family of sites. They also wanted to coordinate role-based sales and marketing functions for their distributed staff. They hoped integrating Workday into their websites would open these possibilities.
The integration of Workday with Drupal 8 has created a very powerful platform for ChenMed and its facilities. They have tremendous control over the flow of centralized data to their website and fine-grained controls for permissioning who has access to each website. This functionality is critical for their business operations, especially for a company that has a centralized headquarters and distributed facilities across the country.
As a result of this integration, ChenMed has achieved higher levels of operational efficiency and consistency across the organization. Each site in their ecosystem operates in the same way, using the same tools and the same data, providing improved usability and comprehension for staff and site visitors. The shared platform also makes training and site operation much more efficient, in addition to lowering costs of maintenance and upgrade.
Sports Backers needed a conference website for Movement Makers that reflected the energy, activation, and movement of both Sports Backers’ mission and the conference’s purpose. Given this was going to be an annual event and 2017 was the first of many, it was likely that the conference would grow and evolve over time. The site needed to be both flexible and scalable.
The Movement Makers conference was a completely new endeavor for Sports Backers. There wasn’t an existing website, source of content, or even much of a brand or identity to work from. Everything would need to be invented as we worked.
The most critical content components of the site were the agenda (i.e. schedule of speakers), promoting the speakers themselves (photos, bios, etc.), locations of events, and sponsorships (showcasing the companies sponsoring the event). Speakers drive attendance at these conferences, so it’s very important present and promote them appropriately. COLAB built the speakers section with the flexibility of future growth and evolution in mind. For example, the conference may have three keynote speakers this year and five or ten next year, depending on how the conference grows. COLAB built the site in WordPress to handle layout changes effectively without needed to redesign the site from year to year.
Sports Backers is a well known athletic organization within the greater Richmond area. Their goal is to transform Richmond into one of the nations most physically active communities. Sports Backers came to COLAB for a new, interactive website that is compatible on all devices. This was especially challenging due to the complexity of different events and “sub-events”, training teams, and community involvement.
Sports Backers is a valued partner of COLAB’s, engaging in multiple projects since the Sports Backers site. We work together regularly not only digitally but within the Richmond community as well.
Most sporting and special event policies are small, inexpensive policies. All sporting events and other large gatherings should have an event insurance policy. That being the case, there is potentially a large volume of policies an insurance agency could issue; however underwriting these policies is not a very efficient use of an insurance agent’s time.
When an agent asks a customer all of the required questions and generates the insurance certificate, it takes a considerable amount of time, but not a lot of specific industry expertise.
COLAB quickly understood how digital technology could efficiently solve this business problem for Frazier Insurance, and provide an immediate return on their investment. It was the kind of solution COLAB provides for many of its clients — turning a business problem into an opportunity for growth and productivity.
Essentially, Frazier needed a form that customers could fill out by answering a series of questions about their event. Depending on their answers, the form would apply a predefined logic to adjust future questions based on the answers already provided (just as an agent would). After the customer completes all of the required questions, the app performs several calculations based on the answers to generate an insurance quote, which the app presents to the customer. If the customer wishes to purchase the policy, they simply agree to purchase it and provide their credit card information in the secured, encrypted form. Once the charge is approved, the app delivers the policy certificate as a PDF document to the customer’s phone, tablet, or computer, and their event is covered!
The app makes purchasing special event insurance quick, simple, and easily accessible for all of Frazier’s customers — they can literally purchase a policy from their home any time, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, whether the agency’s offices are open or not. It’s great for Frazier as well, because the process is fully automated and requires no support from an agent — a tremendous boost to their operational efficiency and an immediate return on their investment.
"Their team makes it feel that you’re working with friends who have your best interests at heart."
COLAB executed full stack development of a WordPress website to meet the needs of a statewide education nonprofit. They built features to improve usability and directed design to improve the aesthetic appeal.
"Their team makes it feel that you’re working with friends who have your best interests at heart."
Jan 27, 2020
COLAB delivered a functional website that gathers increased traffic from a wide audience and communicates the organization’s mission effectively. They were responsive and provided solutions efficiently. Their team was committed to achieving project goals, which results in additional engagements.
A Clutch analyst personally interviewed this client over the phone. Below is an edited transcript.
Introduce your business and what you do there.
We’re a statewide advocacy organization that provides teacher and student training programs. We focus solely on the state of Virginia but are also part of a national initiative.
What challenge were you trying to address with COLAB?
We started in 2013 as a tiny nonprofit. We grew faster than we could keep up with our marketing efforts. Our webpage was a semi-functional WordPress page that didn’t have the interactivity needed for individuals to register for our programs. We also found that individuals invest in a platform that's pretty, but we didn’t have time to put lipstick on this pig.
What was the scope of their involvement?
COLAB developed our WordPress website. Their team managed frontend and backend development as well as created the frontend design. We provided their team with content that they enhanced to better integrate into the experience of using the webpage.
We partnered with them again this year. For a specific initiative, we created a web app for schools and participants to pin themselves on a map of Virginia. COLAB integrated the backend of our web app with our website, allowing students to access the app and us to promote it.
What is the team composition?
The team that I met was not the entire team that worked on the project. I met with two project leads—one on development and one on UX. I had a member of my team who worked with them more closely.
How did you come to work with COLAB?
A mutual colleague recommended COLAB. While this was a paid project for them, it was also a labor of love for their staff. When they heard that we had issues, Eddie (President and Founder, COLAB) was interested in helping us.
What is the status of this engagement?
COLAB created our website in 2015. We had a usable product within a short period of time. We go back to them when we need revisions to be made.
What evidence can you share that demonstrates the impact of the engagement?
There was a significant jump in traffic on our site. The product's viewed regularly by everybody from parents to government officials of Virginia to national policy and advocacy organizations. When we talk to individuals, most of our story's told already. When we started our organization, we weren't able to register participants online and it was far too complicated to consider registration for multiple sections. COLAB made the registration page navigable. Teachers rarely experience issues and thousands of teachers register annually through the website. We have good searchability, so people can find us easily. Their team's SEO work was clearly effective. They created a product that allowed us to communicate rapidly.
How did COLAB perform from a project management standpoint?
They have a quick turnaround. If you have a question or need a change, they’re on it and contact us right back within an hour or two.
What did you find most impressive about them?
They’re a wonderful team and members of our community, which is important to us. I suspect anyone would feel that way whether contracting COLAB from Richmond, Virginia or Richmond, Ontario. Their team makes it feel that you’re working with friends who have your best interests at heart. They’re really nice.
Are there any areas they could improve?
Do you have any advice for potential customers?
Call them, speak clearly, and tell them your needs. They’ll take care of you.