Wild Apricot Update January 2015: New Year – New Features & Resources

Shiv Narayanan 29 January 2015 7 comments

2015 Product Roadmap, Responsive Themes,  Building Your Membership Knowledge Base and More

Happy New Year! We hope your 2015 has gotten off to a great start.

If your organization is anything like ours, you probably spent a lot of time in December reviewing 2014 and making plans for the year ahead. (If you missed it, our Looking Back and Moving Forward post in December offers highlights of our year in review and plans for 2015.)

In a recent post on our blog, we asked what your theme was for 2015? At Wild Apricot, I think our theme, at least for the first quarter of 2015, could be defined as Responsive.

As you’ll see below, we’ve recently released two responsive website theme sets to help you offer mobile-friendly websites. But it’s more than just about responsive design. We have listened to our customers, through your emails, calls and in our Small Membership Advisory Community and Expert Webinar sessions. We’ve heard your challenges in managing and growing your membership organizations. And in response, we’re making product enhancements, improving our technical support, and building a range of information and resources to help you – individually and as organizations – build your own knowledge base so you can better serve your mission and your organizations.

Here’s a look at some of the product enhancements, new initiatives and resources we’re working on in the first quarter of 2015.

Product Roadmap for 2015

Last year’s Product Roadmap details, described in the Software News blog post back in May, were largely based on our Wishlist. But after a year of developing according to this Roadmap, we realized that there are a number of other areas, not directly reflected in our Wishlist, which we also wanted to pursue – like usability and performance improvements. So for 2015 we’ve updated our approach.

Rather than being solely Wishlist-based as in the past, our 2015 Product Roadmap combines both customers’ and internal priorities (Wishlist, surveys, support tickets, etc.). We have a team of 10 people involved in the Roadmap managing priorities simultaneously in multiple areas including Mobile, Usability, Wishlist, Payments, Performance, and Marketing. The Roadmap is really a list of all items, sorted by number of votes provided by managers of the areas. For example, our Wishlist is still mostly defined by how many comments we’ve received in a thread (threads with ten or more commenters are considered as high priority). But our decisions aren’t solely based on the number of authors or comments, we also consider complexity of analysis, design and implementation cost as well. However, it’s up to a manager to decide final priority.

We use the Roadmap to define a framework to distribute our key resources: analysis, design, development and testing teams. They all work in order of priorities defined by the Roadmap. You can always see all of our plans and current status on our help site Product Roadmap page. This information is constantly updated, including expected release dates.

In 2015 we will continue focusing on Wishlist requests and mobile-friendly (responsive) themes, but we will also be improving general system ease-of-use.

Mobile-friendly Product Enhancements

We live in a mobile world. And the increasing use of mobile devices – from Smartphones to tablets – poses both communication challenges and opportunities for membership organizations. If one of your New Year’s resolutions is to focus on “going mobile”, Wild Apricot can help.

We certainly know how important it is for you to provide a mobile-friendly experience for your members, website visitors and administrators. This has been a popular request on our Wishlist forum.

When it comes to “going mobile”, there a multiple ways to approach this – from creating native apps for administrators, mobile self-service transactions, offering responsive design templates, and more. Here’s a look at some of the recent mobile-friendly product enhancements we’ve implemented.

Mobile App

As you may know, we’ve already launched a Wild Apricot iPhone App designed to help associations, nonprofits, clubs, and other member-based organizations automate and simplify event and member management. An Android version of this mobile app is in production and is schedule to be rolled out in April.

Responsive Themes Now Available

But while the mobile app offers membership management administrators some mobile access, we have also been working hard to offer mobile-friendly or responsive design for your Wild Apricot websites. To do so, we have launched two new responsive theme sets and are also working to update our existing themes to make them responsive. In addition, all future themes that we develop will be responsive.

The development of the new responsive themes took place in two steps. First we created responsive layouts, then made the gadgets inside those layouts (e.g. member sign-up, events calendar + registration, etc.) responsive as well.

The reason we chose responsive themes over native apps or separate mobile websites was to enable our clients to leapfrog into having a mobile-friendly website, without having to wait for mobile apps or invest time into maintaining two separate sites.

Responsive Theme Selection

We recently released the following responsive themes: Whiteboard and Bookshelf. While both are a great starting point for any website created in Wild Apricot, Whiteboard is especially useful if you want to start with something closer to a blank canvas.

Creating responsive content

For tips on designing responsive pages, you can check out our online help here. Our responsive layouts and gadgets are a great start, but it’s a good practice to keep responsive principles in mind when creating content. For more on that you might want to check out this resource: http://responsivedesign.is/design/content-first-design.

Previewing your responsive themes

In order to preview your website using a responsive theme, you can open your website on a mobile device such as a Smartphone or tablet, or you can resize your browser. To test specific sizes you can also use a tool like http://responsivetest.net/.

Building Our Knowledge Base To Help You “Build, Connect and Grow” 

Building on the “Responsive” theme for 2015, we’ve also been listening to our customers and our Small Membership Advisory Community members who’ve told us about the challenges they face in managing their organizations. In response, we are building on our existing membership knowledge base (with new tips, tools, guides and articles) to provide the volunteers and staff of associations, clubs and non-profits with the knowledge, resources and information you need to run your organization more successfully. As we noted in our Wild Apricot Update post in December, we’re committed to offering a wide range of online resources, live webinars, on-demand videos, peer community idea exchanges and more.

Here are some of the projects we’re working on this quarter:

  • Membership Wiki: To provide you with easy access to all knowledge resources, we are working on creating a “wikipedia” of content for our users to better manage their organization. This means moving our current Membership Knowledge Hub over to a better organized Wiki system where things will be easier to find. We’ll also be building on and developing additional resources on topics such as: membership, events, volunteers, fundraising, communications, leadership and technology.

  • Wild Apricot Expert Webinar series: We’re committed to providing monthly webinars on topics you’ve identified as critical to your organizations’ success. The next two upcoming sessions are:

  • Small Membership Advisory Community – peer learning & exchange:  We continue to provide information exchange sessions to connect membership peers to one-another to discuss hot topics and share insight and ideas.

  • 1-On-1 Interview series: We’re continuing to interview stand-out members of our Advisory Community who share their experiences, best practices and lessons learned. You can read highlights of these interviews on our blog or listen to the one-hour interviews by checking our SoundCloud stream.

In addition to continuing all of these resources and learning opportunities, we plan to offer additional materials, make it easier for you to find resources as well as building more effective community information sharing processes.

We hope to provide the tools and resources you need to make 2015 the best year yet!

We’re excited to be offering up more responsive design and a whole host of product enhancements to improve Wild Apricot’s capabilities and ease-of-use so that you have the tools to succeed. In addition, with our initiatives to build on our Membership Knowledge Hub and offer up interactive expert and community-based idea exchanges, we hope to provide the information and resources you need to make 2015 your organization’s most successful year yet!

Image source: Vector-tablet and events – courtesy of BigStockPhoto.com

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Shiv Narayanan [Magnetic Apricot] Shiv Narayanan [Magnetic Apricot]

Posted by Shiv Narayanan [Magnetic Apricot]

Published Thursday, 29 January 2015 at 8:30 AM

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  • Arek Skibicki said:

    Thursday, 29 January 2015 at 3:59 PM
    This is nice but what we really need is the ability to track chapter memberships and payments. That would be God send. What you've got is gloss.
  • Chief Apricot said:

    Thursday, 29 January 2015 at 5:08 PM
    Arek - not sure what you mean (we have very extensive membership and payment tracking capabilities already), could you please email support@wildapricot.com with your thoughts and ask them to pass on to me?
  • Ann M said:

    Saturday, 31 January 2015 at 10:13 AM
    It would be nice if you could put a way of closing the irritating box that pops up on this screen wantting me to sign up for a copy of a consumer guide. I can't get rid of it and have to guess what the obscured ttext says. Hence any typos in this, I can't see the screen!
    Thank you.
  • Ann M said:

    Saturday, 31 January 2015 at 10:14 AM
    It disappeared when I sent the above! So I guess the workaround will be to send a dummy comment and then I can read the screen!
  • Chief Apricot said:

    Saturday, 31 January 2015 at 1:15 PM
    Ann - sorry about this. there is an X in the right top corner of the firms that closes it. We will look into making it more visible.
  • Nycole H said:

    Sunday, 15 February 2015 at 10:14 PM
    What I need from WA is the ability for my members to be able to choose multiple tickets options. I had to use FormCentral from Adobe to make this happen. Unfortunately, they are closing that option soon, so if WA could incorporate it into their design, I and many others would be appreciative!
  • Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot] Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot]

    Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot] said:

    Tuesday, 17 February 2015 at 10:01 AM
    Nycole: Thanks for your feedback. It would be helpful if you could add your suggestions to our Product Wishlist: https://community.wildapricot.com/8/ShowForum.aspx - which we use to develop our Product Roadmap https://help.wildapricot.com/display/DOC/Product+roadmap.
Sorry, this blog post is closed for further comments.

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