Promet Source Leads Development of SBA Direct
DRT Strategies recommended Drupal and selected Promet Source to support the launch of the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) website and lead the development of SBA Direct.
SBA Direct is the transformational application that empowers small business owners to personalize their user experience to easily and quickly find the resources they need to succeed and create jobs.
Promet Source's Critical Role
Promet Source served as the lead Drupal development partner to DRT Strategies (DRT), a management consulting firm and leading provider of information technology and program management services. DRT served as the prime contractor leading the redesign of the new SBA website.
Promet Source provided guidance on key areas of the Drupal architecture and demonstrated a flexibility to adapt architecture solutions in support of the overall project. Most directly, Promet Source led the development of the SBA’s innovative and centerpiece application, SBA Direct.
About the U.S. Small Business Administration
The U.S. Small Business Administration was created in 1953 as an independent agency of the federal government to aid, counsel, assist and protect the interests of small business concerns, to preserve free competitive enterprise and to maintain and strengthen the overall economy of our nation.
They recognize that small business is critical to our economic recovery and strength, to building America's future, and to helping the United States compete in today's global marketplace.
Although SBA has grown and evolved in the years since it was established in 1953, the bottom-line mission remains the same. The SBA helps Americans start, build and grow businesses.
Through an extensive network of field offices and partnerships with public and private organizations, SBA delivers its services to people throughout the United States, Puerto Rico, the U. S. Virgin Islands and Guam.
About SBA Direct
As part of the U.S. Small Business Administration’s mission to ensure that small business owners and entrepreneurs have access to accurate, timely and helpful information, the SBA recently unveiled its newly re-designed SBA website.
The new site also features the launch of SBA Direct, the dynamic new interactive web application with a variety of personalization features that will help small businesses start-up, succeed and grow.
SBA Direct is a dynamic, innovative tool that leverages the overall site’s redesigned information architecture, full re-designed look-and-feel, content categorization/tagging, and content-rewriting.
SBA Direct allows visitors to personalize their browsing experience according to their business type, geography, and needs. SBA Direct then delivers relevant and targeted information on all aspects of running a business such as the steps involved in getting started, business growth strategies, and how to stay compliant with current laws and regulations.
SBA Direct also provides information on the available SBA programs that can help businesses succeed, such as financial assistance, exporting and government contracting opportunities, counseling, and training. Lastly, they provide mapping and geographical information to enable small business to locate local SBA district offices and other resource centers.
The original SBA websites were very difficult to navigate, and users were having a hard time finding the information they needed. They would have to perform a search in order to find what they are looking for, which was time-consuming and very unfriendly for the user.
To make their site more personal and self-serving, SBA wanted to redesign its web destination so that users could have a better experience on their site.
DRT evaluated SBA’s needs, requirements, goals, and vision and recommended Drupal for this monumental project. DRT then selected Promet Source, one of the most skilled Drupal development and consulting teams in the market to support the overall site and specifically lead the development of the project’s marquee application, SBA Direct.
Promet has worked on front-end development and theming of Drupal sites with a similar level of complexity.
Why Drupal for SBA
SBA wanted a new site to be developed quickly. The ability of Taxonomy to easily organize and filter their content to meet the user’s needs, as well as the ability to easily create complex menus also aided in the decision to move to Drupal.
The final selling point was the fact that many respected organizations’ and institutions’ websites, such as the White House website, use Drupal.
The site went through a major content re-write and all the content was managed on a parallel Drupal site while development was being completed. Throughout the process, there were several snapshots of the content migrated to the development environment.
The development of the site was split into two major areas: the main SBA site and SBA Direct. Promet was responsible for the SBA Direct web site theming and creation.
SBA Direct Requirements
The SBA Direct redesign had the following requirements implemented:
1. Relevant Content Targeting
This allows users to select specific topics and sub-topics to find the topic that is relevant to them. Content is refined to show the most relevant pages in descending order, aiding the user to find what they are looking for in a quick, efficient manner.
Users have access to a toolset as a panel that is a way to view supplementary information on the topics and sub-topics that the user has selected.
3. SBA Direct Search
Users can enter specific keywords in the search box to search through their relevant content.
4. Navigational Tags
In order for users to view similar related content, they can click on a content tag found at the bottom of each node.
5. Navigational Tabs
The navigational tabs are found at the top of the SBA Direct page and give the users a clear indication of the location in the site.
6. Map Visualization
This map displays local offices, partners, and lenders based on the ZIP code entered in the “Location” category. The map has two display options: a list or map.
If the user selects "map," the page will display a local map with pinpoints associated with all the local offices, partners, and lenders arranged by proximity.
If a user hovers over a pinpoint, a phonebook entry will appear for the local office, partner, or lender. Users can also select/deselect specific types of locations.
Users are only allowed to enter data for the three categories, "Location," "Tell Us About You," and "Learn More About," once. The necessary information is stored as part of a cookie. Persistence from session to session minimizes user frustration and system ineffectiveness.
8. Content Rating
The site uses a content rating to organize the pages based on content relevance and content value. Only the most relevant pages are displayed at the top of the primary windowpane.
Content relevance is based on the information architecture and associated tags. Content value is a numerical value that improves the content displayed on the SBA Direct pages. The value is based on the content analysis performed for the broader SBA website redesign.
9. Integration with CRM System
The system integrates with the CRM system to provide real-time data pertaining to SBA offices, partners and lenders which is then used in the map functionality. SBA Direct also integrates with the events management function within the CRM system.
All requirements were created with the intention of creating a positive user experience that allows the user to quickly and easily find the information they are looking for directly on the site, rather than performing numerous searches.
Here is a list of the modules that we used during implementation:
The parent site is made of Panels while the SBA Direct site is made from .tpl files. We created a single Panel which utilizes taxonomy term references to load data based on URL arguments.
The front page was created almost entirely out of Views.
3. Views Slideshow
Used for the rotating banner of the SBA parent site.
4. Views Custom Field
We needed the fields to display based on more advanced logic than what was provided in the standard views module.
To categorize and organize data.
DRT’s design lead for the new SBA website was The Push Group with Limina Application Office providing support. Liminia Application Office provided the design and usability engineering for SBA Direct.
DRT delivered Promet flat image files, which we cut into HTML/CSS and implemented into a Drupal theme. We implemented two separate designs for the two branches of the site.
First, a panels-based framework for the main site with the main site design and second, a .tpl based framework for the SBA Direct portion of the site.
The main site’s design goal was to maintain a constant as well as the clean and modern look and feel throughout the site. The SBA Direct design goal was to provide a targeted content/resource delivery tool based on user-centered personalization to the SBA constituents.
Features and Highlights
Here are some of the features and highlights of the project:
1. Modal Pre-Filter
One of the requirements for the project was to attain a zip code from users before they could see the website. The design requirements stated that there must be a popup modal which asks for a zip code and a few optional selections to be entered before seeing the website. This was accomplished by utilizing the jQuery UI modal function.
Once submitted, the user is able to see SBA Direct with their nearest SBA offices and articles filtered based on their selections, as well as a left-hand navigation with pre-selected options based on what the user chose.
2. Remembering Selections
We handled selections remembered in a 2-stage process utilizing URL variables to accommodate bookmarking as well as session storage to retain current user selections.
Our use of Taxonomy was very complicated, requiring a combination of out-of-the-box functionality as well as custom modules.
Working on an extremely tight deadline, Promet was able to deliver exactly what SBA was looking for. The site works exactly as designed and the client has expressed their great satisfaction with the new site.
The SBA Direct site has gone live and users are finding it much easier to navigate through the site and find what they are looking for.
Ready to have a great, easy-to-use website? Contact us today.