Omni have worked with the UK Chamber of Shipping communications team on some interesting challenges around the status of web technology within the shipping industry.

Covering the Basics and Establishing Change

At the beginning of our relationship, we realised that the Chamber’s data publishing requirements, had outgrown those on their previous site. This change was influenced largely by the new communications policy, in particular with regards a shift towards greater transparency plus the need to give more streamlined communication controls to the management team.

We embarked upon a rebuild from scratch and conveniently this also meant that we could reinvigorate the design, which had previously slipped behind developments made to the Chamber’s print branding. Gone was most of the member’s area functionality in favour of an open-by-default publishing approach. In came a single interface for managers to publish Chamber materials, populate a document repository, run mailing list campaigns to committee members.

Two choices were made at the beginning, the first was a technology choice: Wagtail - an elegant OpenSource CMS built on Django. The second was methodology: the Chamber team agreed to let Omni run the project using purely Agile techniques.

Wagtail itself was very well received by the Chamber staff - in particular its ease of use and friendly editing experience. From a training perspective, too, it excelled - it was simply easier for the Chamber project team to learn and then train the wider communications staff than any other system they had used previously.

More Advanced Projects

With a successful re-launch out of the way, the Chamber could begin to focus its efforts in improving the management of its member communications.

We built a system which allowed them to dynamically match the membership of users of a particular committee to a relevant mailing list handled by our chosen provider, Mailchimp. This dramatically reduced the burden on Chamber administrators, as Chamber members could declare their interest in a given committee in one place, and our system would add them to the relevant documentation access list in the Library as well as include them on the automated circulars.

Since first employing the services of Omni Digital, we have found them to be forward thinking, strategic, honest, trustworthy, hard working and utterly committed to our needs. They are now a fundamentally important asset to our work. - Head of Communications

Once this was completed, we built a function which allowed the Chamber to effectively go to its members and help them approach the web in a more modern fashion. The Chamber is now able to ‘host’ any one of their member or partner organisations’ sites on the back of the Chamber’s own. Any such partner site, crucially, has a strict separation of data at the database layer, meaning that their own user’s data was kept separate from that of the Chamber’s, and it also boasts a brand identity and theme of its own.

The benefits of this to the Chamber’s partners is clear: they are able to learn lessons from the Chamber’s own digital experience, and leverage a strong technology stack to promote themselves and their core operations. But it is also a cost effective offering - this ‘stronger together’ approach reduces the up-front back-end development costs; the hosting fees per month; and the yearly cost of keeping software up-to-date with security releases.