Supporting Our City of Independents
York Independent Business Association (YIBA) inception came about after businesses in York were severely impacted by floods that came on Boxing Day during 2015. With concern for the future of traders in the City, Indie York secured funding for the creation of a website.
The website was initially launched in November 2016 as a prototype to promote collective brands, showcasing York’s wonderful alternatives to the usual high street names. During this time Indie York has successfully bought businesses together through the website, social media and paper map. These channels have continued to provide a useful and engaging guide for residents and tourists alike.
Since its initial launch the website received growing desire from YIBA and its members to extend and improve the functionality. In particular for YIBA to remove inefficient manual processes by adopting technology to streamline processes and improve support for its members. Utilising Google Analytics data, direct feedback from YIBA and its members this collective insight confirmed the core focus areas for the redevelopment project.
The prototype website presented opportunities that were all solvable and to some extent the natural progression to support the needs of any growing website:
- The hand illustrated map was not to scale therefore no user location or online mapping tools could be utilised to help visitors find member locations easily.
- Visitors had no easy way to search by business category or the ability to view the map and directory listing together.
- Social sharing was limited with little opportunity for engagement and sharing of content.
Website Redevelopment Goals
During the spring of 2019 YIBA continued its partnership with I-Finity to redevelop and redesign the website to:
- Improve the experience for website visitors with more user-friendly features
- Provide operational efficiencies across member sign up, payments and renewals – ultimately removing all manual processes
- Enable operational savings by automating and streamlining interactions
- Enable members to securely access and update their own business profiles
Technology to streamline processes
Member Sign Up and Approval
This delivered significant benefits for new members to register online whilst enabling YIBA to adopt a streamlined way to manage the approval process within Umbraco Content Management System (CMS). Once YIBA approves new member requests, each approved member is granted access to their dedicated Member Profile area.
Securing and protecting data online:
Security forms an essential part of I-Finity’s technical architecture to ensure all data is protected to meet both compliance and industry best practise standards. These standards are needed to effectively defend and protect against any potential online threats. The new member form requires a username and password to be created. This process for signing up, requesting forgotten passwords and resets are all managed within Umbraco CMS securely. Best practises have been implemented for security such as data encryption at the database level, all passwords are salted and hashed, this means no password data is readable.
Member Profile Management
I-Finity developed a dedicated member profile area for each approved member to create and update details about their business. Quality assurance is supported with built in form validation and an approval process within Umbraco CMS for YIBA to approve all profile changes before anything becomes visible on the website. The quality of the imagery being uploaded is protected by auto-cropping and re-sizing to ensure all imagery is optimal for the design of the profile pages.
Secure Online Payment and Automated Renewal Process
Utilising technology to securely process payments and automate membership renewals was a much-needed capability to support YIBA’s growth plans. Therefore, quality time was spent upfront planning how online payments and the renewal process needed to work to support YIBA’s membership model. The planning time spent upfront enabled the capturing of user requirements to support the Agile development process. The solution was an integration into GoCardless supported with the development of a customised renewal process.