By Grace Kuikman
If you haven’t visited www.bapa.org for a while, you’re in for a treat. BAPA’s new, beautiful and user-friendly website is up and running, and already receiving rave reviews.
The last overhaul of BAPA’s website was about ten years ago. Laurie and Jim Cleary, the creative masterminds at The Argus Company, have developed a new site that uses lots of images and content to introduce visitors to BAPA’s work and the Beverly/Morgan Park community. And it works on desktops, tablets and phones.
The six-month project started with an in-depth assessment of what BAPA wanted to achieve with its new site.
“People are always asking me, ‘What does BAPA do?’” said Margot Holland, BAPA Executive Director. “What we wanted from our new website was the ‘big picture’ answer to that question. That’s what we got! When people visit the new bapa.org they can really connect to the important work that goes on at BAPA and how that work touches all aspects of our community.”
With that goal always in mind, BAPA and the Clearys got to work.
“We really think through the website-building process – we call it information architecture,” said Laurie Cleary. “We discuss our clients’ goals and how they want the site to be used.”
Working side-by-side with the BAPA staff, the Clearys inventoried the old BAPA website, assessed how content should be reorganized and updated, then tackled the vital issues of improving navigation through the site. They created a site that really reflects the unique qualities of life in Beverly/Morgan Park and clearly informs visitors about the important role BAPA plays in keeping our neighborhood strong and vital.
Filled with neighborhood photos and succinct, detail-rich text, www.bapa.org visitors can easily learn about BAPA’s programs and find their areas of interest; access information about BAPA’s community events; learn about local businesses and institutions, and link directly to their websites; and read articles from The Villager. The site will be easy to expand with photo galleries, additional program information and, coming soon, a comprehensive community calendar.
“BAPA wanted a really useful tool, not just an online ‘business card’,” Jim said. “The site is pretty on the outside and functional on the inside. It draws people in and gets people engaged.”
Although www.bapa.org is up and running, it is designed to be a “living” online resource. Some parts of the site are still being tweaked to maximize easy use, and the BAPA staff is being trained on how to add new content to keep the site fresh.
The Clearys make a great team for website development. Laurie, a writer and editor who spent the first phase of her career as a newspaper reporter and editor for a Chicago-based publisher, focuses on content. Jim, a graphic designer who worked for publishing companies then founded a successful e-commerce company, focuses on design. They have been partners in The Argus Company since 2002, and have designed websites for many local businesses including Horse Thief Hollow, Running Excels and Fitcode Boot Camp. Their sites are dynamic and visually appealing.
“We were honored to be selected to build BAPA’s website,” Laurie said. “It was an opportunity to show how much we care about our neighborhood.” They worked hard – and successfully – to reflect the unique flavor of our neighborhood and neighbors in BAPA’s website.
“BAPA’s job is to make sure you love where you live,” Holland said. “The new www.bapa.org does that.”
The Clearys, who were both living downtown when they met, moved to Beverly/Morgan Park right after they were married in 1998. Jim’s parents were raised in the neighborhood and his grandmother still lives here, so he has a life-long connection. Laurie grew up in an Air Force family, and immediately fell in love with the “friends and family feel” of our community. They have three children, Duncan, a student at Chicago High School for Agricultural Sciences, and Elena and Devon, both students at Sutherland School. In addition to their work with BAPA, the Clearys actively support Sutherland School through the PTA and LSC and as volunteers. Learn more about The Argus Company at http://www.argusnet.com/