March 2008 GWB Technology Column

McKim & Creed wins design award for website.

McKim & Creed, a engineering firm, started in Wilmington, with an office in downtown Wilmington, won the 2007 Construction Writer’s Association (CWA) for best website.   CWA a non-profit organization for professional journalists, writers, editors, and publicists serving the the construction industry and presented a total of  three national awards this year for electronic communications. Web sites are judged on criteria such as quality of content, overall design and use of innovative and accessible technology.

The number one challenge for this industry is hiring and retaining good people and this site helps attract quality employees, especially recent graduates,  said Pete Kienle, Chief Marketing Officer McKim & Creed and past national president for the Society for Marketing Professional Services.  Kienle stated that the firm has put a greater emphasis on their online presence than most of their competitors and that more employees are increasingly using the web to research employment.

“Most firms in this industry would not have spent as much money and time on their website but we felt it was money well spent, the owners are thrilled to death,” said Kienle.

The firms has also hired a full time person to administer the site and create a company intranet and used video of staff throughout the site.

The website (www.mckimcreed.com), launched in July 2007 and was built by Signal, a design, marketing, and technology firm with offices in Wilmington and Raleigh. The website includes a custom-built content management system that enables McKim & Creed staff  to update key portions, add pages and content to the site, said Bryan Kristof, Director of Marketing for Signal.   “McKim & Creed was easy to work with because they already understood the design and construction process.”   Since the award, there has been “huge activity” on the site, said Kienle.

Trio Visions launch new web content platform

National country star Tim McGraw and Wilmington based AAI Pharma have something in common.  Both are using Triovisions, a  local interactive marketing firm, new web content platform. Local interactive marketing firm Triovision developed their new Trio360i internet content management platform to provide users of websites and mobile browsers with a seamless experience regardless of the device.  Their first major project based on the framework,  recording artist Tim McGraw’s mobile internet site (mcgraw2go.mobi) , launched recently and provides fans a way to  receive SMS and email alerts, view news, tour dates, download photos or videos, and purchase electronic media.

The platform is not just for  content-rich sites like McGraw’s, said Richard Trio, company president .  AII Pharma’s new web site will be based on the Trio360i platform and will launch in March.   This site will primarily use a slimmed down set off features not the mobile or ecommerce features.

The Trio360i platform automatically recognizes the type of device and its capabilities to provide content to mobile phones or web browsers in HTML or Adobe Flash format.  Additionally, the site allows authorized users to edit the sites pages and content and includes so-called “social networking” features that allow components of the site to be used on mySpace and on personal websites.

For mobile device content, the platform uses the emerging dotMobi standard where sites use a .mobi ending to denote mobile content instead of the traditional .com, .net or .org Top Level Domain. (TLD)  dotMobi sites are optimized to display consistently across a range of mobile devices, regardless of manufacture.  “We made the decision early in the game to adopt dotMobi standards because we know consumers expect to receive content that works properly on their mobile devices,” said Trio.   dotMobi is a consortium of mobile phone operators and device manufactures and includes Ericsson, GSM Association, Hutchison 3, Microsoft, Nokia, Orascom Telecom, Samsung Electronics, Syniverse, T-Mobile, Telefonica Moviles, TIM, Visa and Vodafone.

Cyberlawyer Offers  Software for Attorneys

Wilmington attorney Stephanie Kimbro originally built a website to allow her to practice law online, in what she calls a “Virtual Law Office,” but is expanding her business to provide the software to other attorneys who would like to follow a similar model.  Kimbro’s web based product, VLOTech is offered as a hosted solution and provides tools to attorneys to deliver legal services online, in a secure environment.  According to Kimbro, many of their clients are solo and small firms who want to set up completely virtual law offices and work from home or collaborate with a colleague online who lives in different city. “Over the past couple months, we have gotten a large response nationwide to VLOTech with feedback from attorneys regarding the different ways they intend to use the product”, said Kimbro in an email to GWB. “We have even been contacted by several accountants who work with attorneys who see various applications for the technology for their own businesses and their attorney clients’ businesses.”

A 2006 ethics opinion by the North Carolina State Bar, the state agency responsible for regulating the practice of law in North Carolina,  supported the practice of providing legal services exclusively online. The opinion approved the “use of the internet as an exclusive means of promoting and delivering legal services” by attorneys but cautioned about several potential pitfalls, including unauthorized practice in other states and violations of advertising rules.

The software is currently being used as part of Kimbro’s personal virtual law firm.  (www.kimbrolaw.com) Once the software is launched to the public, it will be offered to attorneys and their staff as a monthly subscription with a per user fee which will include training and tech support.