In the Spotlight: Net Awards Nominees – Sparkbox and Wonderful Machine

In the Spotlight: Net Awards Nominees – Sparkbox and Wonderful Machine

DataYard’s friends vie for Agency of the Year and Redesign of the Year!

We love sharing good news about our friends, so when we heard that both Sparkbox and Wonderful Machine were nominated for net awards, we just had to tell you more!

Net awards

The net awards stand out because they’re not a pay to play recognition system. Nominations come from net magazine’s editorial team to recognize excellence in pushing the web forward—no entry fee and no application.

Nominated for Agency of the Year, Sparkbox stands out for us too! We spend a lot of time on the web and love to see different approaches to site design. The Sparkbox mission to make a more accessible and enjoyable web stands out in the sites they build and in their commitment to shared knowledge and education. Want to know how they rebuilt their own No secrets, in fact, it’s a deep case study shared with everyone.

As site designers, though, Sparkbox knows that teamwork with the customer is key. Wonderful Machine was on a journey to rebrand, bringing a new logo to the game, and rebuilding their website from the ground up.

“We realized that the branding and website we were using to represent ourselves went against the advice we give to photographers every day, and it was time to take our own advice and start fresh,” blogged Creative Director Melissa Ginsiorsky.

Challenged with a need to be beautiful, device-independent, and database driven, Wonderful Machine joined with Sparkbox to build their vision. Working together, the collaboration is nothing short of impressive. We were honored at DataYard when these great teams selected us to host the platform that supports the new site.

Wonderful Machine’s net award nomination for Redesign of the Year is well-earned!

“Working with Wonderful Machine and Sparkbox through this re-design and deployment was a rewarding experience – even before I saw the beautiful site and learned of the nomination. I’m pumped for both of them, and pumped to be a part of their future,” says DataYard Account Manager Alek Mezera.

A rising tide lifts all boats.

There is more to these teams than just personal success. DataYard recognizes that making a better web helps everyone who builds sites and everyone who uses them too. It’s integral to our own mission, and key to the success of partnerships as we witnessed here.

“A very important part of my job here is working with photographers on their branding, giving them advice about how to present themselves (and their work) in the best light and letting them know when what they’re doing isn’t working,” shares Ginsiorsky. She was drawn not only to talent when she sought out Sparkbox to work on the new site, but also to the Sparkbox culture of giving back.

The Sparkbox crew’s Build Right initiative lets us all in on the game. Internal training, conference workshops, and the fabulous local Maker Series (with DataYard as a proud sponsor) have something for everyone collaborating on a site. This is the clincher that really binds these two business cultures into something truly special.

Vote for Success

We want you to help! Net awards voting remains open – through July 13, 2015. Use these links below to vote for:

SBCrestOne        wonderful machine logo
 Sparkbox!                       Wonderful Machine!

New Flavors. New Updates. New OAMM.

Once a Month Meals’ redesign focused on helping visitors and members quickly get to the content they wanted.

Once A Month Meals (OAMM) is the premier site for all things freezer cooking. From their patent pending MenuBuilder product to the bustling community of members who love to cook and have fresh food on their table without the hassle of cooking from scratch every night.

In early March, OAMM launched a five month long project that was focused on bringing a streamlined experience to visitors and their current members. All facets of their technology were improved. The site design upgrade was the most notable, and it now focuses users on their lists of carefully curated menus and recipes. This change makes it much easier to search menus, recipes, and become a new member if the visitor chooses.

Joel Taylor (Technical Director for OAMM) said that the project was a huge undertaking as there are many different technical facets to how OAMM operates.

“OAMM runs on two custom Ruby on Rails apps, a WordPress install for its frontend and an Ember.js frontend for MenuBuilder. We built a new API from MenuBuilder to enable dynamic content to flow through WordPress to our visitors and members. Previously menus and recipes had to be published in both systems, and human error had twice the chance to introduce itself – not to mention double the workload. Now, we publish in one system, and it automatically populates throughout all our apps.”

Joel mentioned that DataYard was critical to their success in providing dedicated support throughout the redesign process for their server infrastructure needs.

“We had a couple meetings with DY in person discussing the new goals of our site and what technology we’d need in place to make our page load times sub three seconds. We have five web nodes all communicating to each other and three caching systems. If anyone knows WordPress well, they know how critical it is to cache well. We couldn’t just flip on page caching due to dynamic content for our logged in members, therefore caching our API responses and other pieces of communicated data was vital for page speed. Being able to talk through our infrastructure options with DY was one of the best hosting provider experiences I’ve had.”

The OAMM team worked very closely with their long-term partner, Sparkbox. Sparkbox provided OAMM with content strategy, their new design and a lot of the heavy lifting on the API.

“OAMM came to Sparkbox several years ago with a belief that families should eat together. With this vision, we helped them turn their previously cumbersome, manual process into a robust, customized piece of software that allowed users to create their own freezer menus—thanks to the years of experience the OAMM team already had in perfecting menu plans. We were excited to work with OAMM during the redesign to turn this robust backend system for managing menus and recipes into an API that now drives the entire site. The redesign also included updates to the brand to further evolve it into the smart and approachable product it had become. It has been a lot of fun to help grow and adapt the site with the OAMM team.” – Rob Harr, Vice President, Sparkbox

Tricia Callahan (President and Owner of OAMM) says that the redesign project had been long overdue.

“The greatest goal for our recent redesign was to create a cohesive experience for our users between our community and our product. As we worked to achieve this goal, it was important that we also increase site performance and functioning. This was no easy task as we have several appliances feeding into our WordPress site so we knew we needed some unique solutions. Throughout the process we received tailored support and recommendations from the DataYard team that made the cumbersome and delicate process of this redesign easier to manage. Most notably, they took their time to carefully consider how these changes could be made without disrupting the experience of our current users, giving me the peace of mind as a business owner.”

DataYard was thrilled to be a part of the project, and is proud to continually deliver the service, uptime, and performance that any high volume and subscription driven site demands. From both the technical and business perspectives, the match is one made in heaven.

“Working with Joel at OAMM on their environment is always enjoyable and collaborative. Continuing to improve the site performance – from an infrastructure and server application perspective – is always the primary goal, and something I’m happy to be a part of.” – Ryan Chewning, Systems Administrator, DataYard

 “The intersection of creative firms and DataYard as an infrastructure partner is one which seems incredibly natural. Every project I’m involved in with folks like Tricia, Joel, and the team at Sparkbox is awesome. When design, development, and infrastructure work together towards a common and communicated purpose, it’s a beautiful thing.” – Alek Mezera, Account Manager, DataYard

Visit Once A Month Meals’ site for delicious inspiration and membership information!

In the Spotlight: Cope’s Jumps into NASCAR

As a new NASCAR sponsor, Cope’s Distributing races to new heights. 

Spring rains, budding flowers, green grass, and the sound of racing! Greenville’s Cope’s Distributing hops on board with NASCAR, as a sponsor  on Tommy Regan’s #45 — “The Gun Truck.”

With both a retail store and large Internet business that takes firearms distribution nationwide, a NASCAR sponsorship brings in a new audience, and an increased demand on the technical resources of their Internet portal.

It all started when DataYard Account Manager Alek Mezera called Roger Cope, President of Cope’s Distributing, to check in.

“When Roger told me of Cope’s plans to sponsor Tommy’s truck, their video series, and Facebook ticket contest, I knew we needed to take a look at the hosting setup to ensure uptime and availability during this high-visibility campaign,” says Mezera.

“We started by segmenting the server roles onto two VIPs for web and database services, and built the new configuration to quickly accept new additional web nodes if necessary.”

This level of communication is part and parcel of the relationship DataYard has built with Cope’s, in listening and customizing to their specific needs. The attention doesn’t surprise Roger. “We make a phone call and they’re right there,” he says. “I recommend DataYard to literally everybody that’s looking.”

How is The Gun Truck doing? The team kicked off their season on March 28 in Martinsville, placing 32nd, and are headed for the Kansas Speedway on May 8! You can follow the team on their website, via Facebook, and on Twitter (@theguntruck45).

Thanks to Cope’s Distributing for letting us share their story! We want to tell YOUR story too!  Let us know what you’re doing, so we can shine the Spotlight on you!

LEARN MORE about Cope’s Distributing and DataYard.