Through 35 years and 29 print editions, the Interfaith Conference of Metropolitan Washington (IFCMW)’s Emergency Services Directory has been the D.C. region’s most comprehensive guide of its kind, serving more than 300,000 people in need of critical services such as housing, meals, health care, and legal representation. IFCMW approached Perisphere to build a searchable online version to add to the website we had previously designed and developed. Through a grant provided to IFCMW in spring 2015, the custom development of a robust, scalable and responsive directory encompassing 400+ service organizations became a reality.
Project components included mapping the print listings to a set of end-user-searchable database fields — such as service types, specialized services, regions of Washington, D.C., and suburban Maryland and Virginia, and an organization name search — while ensuring both data-entry quality and an optimal user experience. Further, we worked to match the look-and-feel of the directory to the existing IFCMW website.
The directory features a Google Maps integration, social media sharing capabilities, and the option to bookmark particular search queries or records for subsequent retrieval or hard-copy printing (important for easy referral to those in need of emergency services). It also is completely responsive (mobile- and tablet-friendly) and can be quickly accessed by mobile visitors via a web app icon that can be added to their smartphone home screen.
A custom-built back end allows administrators to edit records and related data tables, and associates individual records with the email addresses of organization contacts so as to facilitate quick and ongoing changes to records from such contacts – meaning that the directory is always as up-to-date as possible. It also includes the ability for administrators to generate a PDF document of the entire directory as well as an Excel export capability to assist with publishing of subsequent print editions.
Finally, we designed digital collateral (sample 1 | sample 2) to promote this substantial resource among the many Greater Washington, D.C., organizations — and people in need — who benefit from this robust tool.