InnovateLA 2016 is aiming to be the SXSW of Los Angeles. Hosting over 165 events with 25,000 attendees last year, and aiming to accomplish the same this year, they’re well on their way.
At Nation Media, we’ve created InnovateLA’s website and digital infrastructure for the past two years. We’ve been very lucky to build a fantastic relationship with them based on mutual trust and a strong rapport. We view the connection we have with our client, in addition to the customer experience we provide, as paramount to a project’s success.
InnovateLA 2016 is hosting over 100 events across Los Angeles in six different categories: Tech, Business, Art, Manufacturing, Education, and Civic/Social. They're selling featured event placement on the website, accepting sponsorship support, hosting partner events, and collecting comprehensive event attendance information.
While the digital infrastructure alone accomplishes many goals, we feel elements most influential to InnovateLA 2016’s success are:
No one is going to provide sponsorship support or pay for featured event placement on a website that looks like it was made in the early 2000's. Nor would they be interested if the site doesn’t work seamlessly on all devices (phones, tablets, and desktops). If InnovateLA 2016 was going to get the kind of attention and financial support it needed to be successful, it first required a website that illustrates it’s the real deal.
Attendance at events was critical to the festival's existence, so we made connecting the right events to the right people easy. There were two main components to this:
People needed the ability to quickly find events that interested them. Thus, we implemented a feature that allows potential attendees to filter events from the six main categories.
Los Angeles is quite expansive and events are spread out. People needed the ability to find events that are realistic for them geographically. So we integrated a map displaying all of the events and their locations, which allows people to easily create schedules around interests and proximity.
InnovateLA 2016 is two weeks long and hosting over 100 events. In other words, it’s pure and unadulterated chaos. Our goal was to craft a digital infrastructure that formed the calm and immovable center for all the moving parts around it.
In practice, this means maximum automation and making it as easy as possible for the InnovateLA team to manage this infrastructure themselves.
Our knowledge of NationBuilder means we know the ideal methods to make the site editable, maintainable, and scalable in simple fashion - no code or advanced technical insight required. For example, if InnovateLA sells featured event placement on their website, they merely add the tag “Featured” to that event's settings in the control panel.
The InnovateLA team doesn’t have to create events themselves either. We created a form on the website allowing partner organizations to post their own events, saving the InnovateLA team a countless number of hours manually inputting 100+ events. Also, instead of the partner events posting directly to the website, InnovateLA has to tag the event as “Approved” before they're actually displayed - a great balance of automation and moderation.
InnovateLA 2016’s website is not small. In fact, it was a massive project. Luckily, we've built our own custom base theme that allows us to start every project at 80% complete. This base theme - the NationBuilder Mega-Theme as we call it - provided us a nice foundation to work from while still enabling the creation of completely custom designs and layouts for InnovateLA.
A few other reasons why using a base theme is beneficial:
It’s much more affordable for our client, considering it’s 80% less build-time on our end. As such, we can charge far less than a studio building a site from the ground-up with the same level of quality and customization.
Since the core site is completed before we even start the project, we’re free to focus the entirety of our time and attention on custom functionality - particularly the features that are really going to make the difference for our client. In InnovateLA’s case, this means maximum automation and ease of scalability.
The site is delivered much faster. The entire InnovateLA digital infrastructure was built in two weeks.
Overall, InnovateLA’s projects have been some of the most enjoyable we’ve done over the past two years. We’ve thoroughly appreciated working with their team, especially Chris Rico, and are grateful for the privilege of creating their website.