Adventure Cycling Association
The Adventure Cycling Association is a nonprofit organization founded since 1973 and now services just under 47,000 members. Based in Missoula, Montana, they have made it their mission to inspire and empower people to travel by bicycle and fully enjoy the wonders if this great sport.
The ACA just recently completed a massive systems upgrade which merged their older web site and Point-of-Sales (POS) system with their new, high-tech and easy to use system powered by open-source CFML.
Dealing With A Changing World
The systems that the ACA were using prior to the move to open-source CFML applications were unique and diverse. Membership management is done via software on a local server which was originally designed to handle mail-order, phone, and walk-in orders. The ACA staff would interact with the system using tools based on MS Access.
A custom-developed web site was implemented around 1993 and gave the organization the ability to process online orders as well as a host of online features and member benefits. The features were there, but the web site came with no CMS system and orders taken from it had to be imported into the pre-existing order management system on a nightly basis. The lack of CMS tools made updating content on the site extremely difficult. Difficulties also arose with the previous site when the ACA wanted to implement a fresh site design. Because the code was custom-developed it was heavily integrated into the pre-existing design, which would make implementing a new site design quite costly.
According to John Seiber, IT Manager at Adventure Cycling Association:
“The old website was all handmade without any CMS or framework. It was long in the tooth and did not allow staff to edit content at all. The design was outdated and due to the nature of the spaghetti code it would have been difficult to update to a new modern design. We wanted to move into a modern content management system.”
The ACA needed something new. They needed a system that would allow various members of their team to easily add and edit their content on the fly. They needed a user management system that was integrated across all the various benefits and services that they offer. Looking over what they had now, and what their “dream site” would look like, the ACA came up with a demanding set of features and requirements that their new online system would need to meet in order to be a viable solution. Thankfully, open-source CFML was up to the task!
The following is a greatly summarized list of some of the things the ACA had on their list:
- A unified user management system with extensive features like gifted memberships, holiday membership offers and custom membership content based on membership type.
- An easy but very powerful CMS system with support for legacy content linking, content managed by multiple users, customized member content, content integrating external services such as flickr and other content feeds, and finally all content must have the ability to publish through a Media Director.
- A complex and unique donation system, including one-time and recurring donations, support for appeals campaigns, donations based on miles for trip sponsorships, etc.
- A searchable publications archive powered by the open-source Solr search engine.
- Online-only features to compliment the Adventure Cyclist Magazine that is included with memberships.
- Ability to support moderated “Cycling Companions Wanted” listings to help members find friends to go cycling with.
- Google Ad Manager Integration for managing ads on the site
- A flexible but powerful e-commerce system with support for member discounts
- Order tracking tied to membership system
- Support for downloadable content
- Inventory tracking system that could integrate into a legacy POS system
In With the New
Obviously, the feature list was very intimidating. In order to tackle these challenges, the ACA successfully tapped the freely available resources of the open-source Mura CMS System, the open-source Slatwall e-commerce system, and several other open-source systems such as the Solr search engine and the FW/1 framework. The use of these open-source products gave the ACA a solid foundation to start from, and saved them thousands in development costs.
According to John,
“Mura has so much functionality built in that it would have taken forever for us to create on our own and it would have not been nearly as polished. Mura allowed us to focus on the custom items we needed for our specific operation, but leverage all of the common features that a strong CMS provides.”
The Slatwall open-source e-commerce system was equally important:
“Slatwall allowed us to move our store to [an existing] product which had all of the features we were used to having, with room to grow our operations and improve our back end systems.”
Slatwall also enabled the site to take full advantage of a completely merged user management system. This meant that all the user accounts that were migrated from the old site to the new Mura-based CMS system could also be seamlessly integrated into the ACA's e-commerce site. John had nothing but positive things to say about Slatwall's user integration abilities:
“With our past site, we had user accounts for the main site and different accounts for the online store portion. Now we have one login that allows people to renew their membership, use member only features, sign up for one of our guided tours and shop in our online store. This integration with Mura accounts was one of are largest requirements when choosing an online store component.”
Utilizing open-source CFML, the ACA was able to accomplish all of it's existing goals, and easily make plans for new goals for upcoming years.
The Adventure Cycling Association's new website is currently online and running strong. See it in action at:
Thanks to John Sieber, the IT manager of Adventure Cycling, who spent the last six years working at a non-profit doing IT and web-related development. John has spent a total of 15 years in the IT industry doing a variety of tasks. Outside the office, John is seen riding mountain bikes and playing ice hockey.
Slatwall is a powerful, open source eCommerce application that delivers a tremendous amount of flexibility for developers and robust features for users:
- Shopping Cart
- Order Fullfillment
- Third Party Integrations
- and much more
About Mura CMS
Mura CMS is built with one focused purpose in mind - to make it easier and faster for people to build and update websites. Whether it's something as simple as adding a news release or as complex as integrating website data with an enterprise CRM system, Mura CMS provides a clear and complete toolkit.