Financial Access Initiative

Solving poverty

The second major project I worked on at the Mechanism was for the Bill and Melinda Gates sponsored non-profit, Financial Access Initiative (FAI). Based out of NYU, FAI helps lead the way in the economic and poverty research. They needed a robust site that would allow their many contributors to add blog posts and publications. The key unique feature of the site was structuring all of the content around “Big Questions” that provided several levels of hierarchical organization. Later on we created the U.S. Financial Diaries (USFD) website, a microsite containing a limited subset of FAI’s content for use in a future publication.

FAI - Homepage
FAI - Publications
FAI - Publications Search
FAI - Big Questions
FAI - Blog
USFD - Homepage
USFD - Blog
USFD - Press
USFD - Advisory Board
Next Last

Both the FAI and USFD sites were accomplished using Drupal 7 and jQuery with numerous modules and plugins.

I entered into this project confident in my Drupal knowledge and abilities. My responsibilities extended deep into the back end as I helped our lead developer establish the site’s many content types, fields, pages, structure, and more. I also made the entire design adaptive using Skeleton, a challenge with the grid-breaking left column that extends to the window’s edge.

Using a shared field across numerous content types, we tied blogs and publications together under numerous “Big Questions“. These appeared not only in pages per group of questions, but also in organized tables per question as well. We also created a sophisticated publications search page using Solr search allows for a refined search via multiple facets and/or a text field.

Though I had little input into the site’s design, I had free reign over user interface design. The greatest challenge was discovering how to display publication abstracts in an intuitive and consistent manner. I ultimately chose a hidden sliding box you can activate by clicking the small speech bubble icon. This not only saves precious screen real estate but also allows abstracts to appear in the many different locations they’re required.

Due to the thoughtful manner in which we built the original FAI site, adding on the new USFD microsite was a natural process. First I implemented the new theme based on a static site that had been created by colleague in the interim. We then extended the FAI back end to allow the client to manage both sites off of a single content management system. We added the appropriate domain filter controls as well as any additional content USFD required, such as events and more complex user profiles.

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