Midtown Detroit

Midtown Detroit, Inc. (MDI), is a nonprofit organization created in 1976 to support and enhance community and economic development in the Midtown area through collaboration and partnerships with key stakeholders and supportive funders. In other words Midtown Detroit helps landlords find tenants. They help developers find land, funding, and real estate. They help groups and individuals navigate the complexities of Detroit’s city permit process. They also promote tourism and encourage residents in the surrounding areas to visit the many events and programs in Midtown, many of which are organized and sponsored by Midtown Detroit Inc. MDI serves residents, visitors, tourists, developers, students, and professionals within the area as well as others that are involved or wish to become involved in the area’s ongoing community improvement initiatives. MDI’s ongoing services and community functions include maintaining the appearance of local public spaces; providing walk-able paths to area businesses and attractions; championing new construction; promoting and encouraging reinvestment; restoring and renovating area buildings and homes; and using marketing and special events to increase awareness and appreciation of the area. MDI also helps landlords find new tenants, developers find real estate, land, and funding, and helps groups and individuals navigate the complexities of Detroit’s city permit process. Currently, MDI has 17 employees and operates out of a single location in downtown Detroit.

Why Drupal was chosen: 

Trent Design uses WordPress and Drupal in designing websites for the companies that hire them. With larger companies, Trent Design tends to use Drupal for which they cite the following reasons, “Drupal was built from the ground up to handle larger sites that use a variety of content types. WordPress was created to handle a single content type and later adapted for greater usability. The features added to WordPress to make it run like a CMS were borrowed primarily from Drupal. The difference is that in Drupal those functions are fully integrated into a robust core while in WordPress they’re overlaid on a program architecture that wasn’t designed to support that sort of functionality. In most cases WordPress will become less stable as it is forced to handle more content. Because Drupal doesn’t have such problems, it is a much more cost efficient way to create large sites that won’t crash whenever someone changes, adds or deletes content.”

Benefits of Drupal

Drupal is an excellent open-source, PHP-based CMS (Content Management System) with a large programming community and a dedicated, in-depth support system. Open-source means that the software is free to use with no up-front cost, unlike proprietary software that has to be purchased. Drupal’s chief strength is the large number of well developed modules that have been created for it. These modules strengthen the software’s existing capabilities, add new functionality and allow an incredible degree of flexibity and customization for websites built on it. Drupal is an incredibly powerful platform in the hands of Trent’s web development team.

Benefits:
1. It is open-source (free).

2. It has a large community for help, support and documentation.

3. It follows and meets the current trends in web standards and the W3C standards.

4. It comes optimized for SEO and there are many additional modules and plugins to further enhance its SEO abilities.

5. With a large amount of modules and plugins available, it is extremely customizable.

6. Can utilize the latest technologies of jQuery and CSS to enhance the end user’s experience.

7. It is based on the PHP platform. PHP is an open-source programming language. PHP can also be installed on Linux based servers, which is more secure and stable than Windows based servers. If needed, PHP can also run on a Windows based server as well.

8. The backend is easy to navigate and work with. You can get many different themes for the admin to make it even easier to work with and visually appealing.

9 .List of businesses, organizations and government sites that currently use Drupal:
• spreadfirefox.com
• whitehouse.gov
• one.org
• standagainstpoverty.org
• fighthunger.org
The Drupal community is dedicated to building a strong robust CMS that is easy to use, manage and is as secure as possible from hackers. Our clients gain an up-to-date site that is secure, easy to use, visually appealing, excellent for SEO to increase search engine rankings, and can utilize the latest technologies for the ultimate end user experience.

Describe the project (goals, requirements and outcome): 

Goals

The goal of the website is to promote the Midtown Detroit area as a great place to live, play, learn and invest. Website features and overall design of the site are meant to showcase events, entertainment venues, restaurants and retail in the area to encourage people to visit. However, the overall goal of the site is to be the “One Stop Shop for Everything Going on in Midtown.” The site was created to get people interested and engaged in the Midtown community. The main sections were designed to be related to the website goals as each one is specifically titled for specific end user needs. Each section contains comprehensive, easy to understand information about certain aspects of them are.

Requirements

Brian Hartwell (Sr. Creative Director at Trent Design) created the site with assistance from Shawn Adler (Sr. Programmer at Trent Design). They listened to Midtown Detroit Inc to find out what exactly they were looking for in their website. The process was started with the installation of the core modules and third party modules. The skeleton and each content type were then themed. The client and Trent Design worked together on populating the site’s content.
To truly succeed at being a “One Stop Shop” for Midtown, the site needs to offer site users comprehensive (and current) information on the businesses, events, development projects, and property listings in the Midtown area.

Outcome

There was careful consideration around the end user’s overall experience (UX) and immediate needs. The home page was created and designed as a gateway for quick access to the main sections from the top navigation and the boxes in the lower half of the page contain teasers and quicklinks for events, newsfeed, visit, and live pages. The main header has a box on the right side used to search for upcoming events, giving instant access to that information. The site is structured around end user needs and on the types of information that the each audience type would be looking for. The Main Links for Midtown Detroit In are: Visit, Live, Development, Events & Newsroom.

Once the site was completed there was the question of updates, how would they be done and who would complete this task. Trent Design has set up a monthly maintenance plan that includes monthly back-ups and security updates for Midtown Detroit Inc.

After working on this site there were some lessons that were learned. The live and rent functions work well, there are ways to further optimize them to make them work smoother. The programmer would optimize them differently knowing what he knows now.
Although there were a few things the site creators would have done differently the site has been helpful to Midtown Detroit’s business. The effect of the website has been a tremendous increase in traffic and usage. From February 8 - March 8th 2013, there were 7,367 visits, 5,425 unique views and an average of 4.08 minutes on the site, with a 43% bounce rate.

Main Tabs

Visit

Underneath the “Visit” tab, site visitors can click on the “Local Area Directory” subsection to see a filterable map of Midtown’s many restaurants, entertainment venues, retail shops, and lodging.

Live

Underneath the “Live” tab, site users can access complete lists of properties in Midtown that are available to rent and buy. It offers short profiles detailing price, location, description, contact information, and a picture of the property. The views on the “Rent” and “Buy” pages also give the user the ability to filter property results based on location, type, price, and number of beds and baths. The section also includes a “Living Essentials” subsection that maps out the amenities within the Midtown area. The merging of these sections helps a potential buyer or renter to easily find a place that suits their personal needs in order to make Midtown a great place to live.

Development

The “Development” section of the site offers a complete map of ongoing developments in Midtown as well as commercial real estate listings and resources for anyone looking to start a new development in Midtown. Going along with the theme of other sections, the commercial real estate section is filterable based on location and property type.

Events

To find events happening at many of these locations, site visitors can click on the “Events” tab to be taken to a calendar with a filterable feed of events. Being able to filter these events and places based on location, type, and date provides site users with the ability to easily find their preferred places to play in Midtown based on their specifications.

Newsroom

To stay up-to-date on the latest news regarding MDI, site visitors can click the “Newsroom” tab to see a filterable list of the latest articles regarding new events, businesses and community improvements.

Modules/Themes/Distributions
Why these modules/theme/distribution were chosen: 

When it came to content types of this website, there were 14 different content types that were formed. Every website also needs special code in order for the website to function the way it was designed. For this website the Visit section / local directory had to be custom coded to pull in the icons. It was based on the X & Y coordinates that are filtered based on category.