Maine's North Star Alliance Initiative is an industry-focused economic development initiative devised to drive business and create jobs in coastal Maine. The initiative includes business, R&D, education, and workforce development centered on Maine's boatbuilding, marine, and composites industries.
The Maine Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD) contracted with Image Works in June of 2007 for a 21-month engagement for the purpose of redesigning and enhancing the functionality of the four web sites of the North Star Alliance.
The North Star Alliance is comprised of three organizations: Maine Marine Trades Association, Maine Built Boats, and Maine Composites Alliance. Maine Marine Careers is a subsidiary of all three.
One of the major goals of the North Star Alliance web initiative was to give its organizations the tools to maintain their websites independently going forward.
To date, Image Works has redesigned MaineMarine Trades.com and MaineBuiltBoats.com. The North Star Alliance recently launched a third new site, designed by Image Works, MaineMarineCareers.com. It focuses on attracting high school students to careers in the marine and composites industries.
The graphical approach for these 3 sites was driven by their respective audiences. Maine Built Boats has a classic look that speaks to the tradition and heritage of boatbuilding in Maine and highlights its status as a world leader. The Maine Marine Trades site is primarily directed at its membership, building awareness of training and career opportunities. Its look is more utilitarian and down to earth.
The Maine Marine Careers site focuses its messaging on high school students and their parents, with a playful design and imagery full of "cool factor." Sparse, scannable text outlines the range of jobs available in Maine, from dock hands to marine engineers.
For all of the sites, Image Works has implemented custom content management systems (CMS) so that the executive directors and staff of these organizations can add, edit and delete content through an easy-to-use browser-based administrative area. Besides keeping their member profiles and sponsors up to date, the organizations can also add news and events items, videos and podcasts, training and education opportunities, and job postings.
The primary audiences of these trade organization sites are interested businesses and individuals seeking resources including vendors, training, and jobs. The second major primary audience is the memberships of the organizations themselves.
Maine Built Boats provides a home on the web for all members where they can tell their stories and direct visitors to their own sites. In some cases, the Maine Built Boats site serves as the only presence on the web for smaller shops.
Maine Marine Trades promotes the growth and prosperity of the marine industry in Maine. A major component of their effort is to provide quality programs and services such as timely educational and training programs focusing on workplace safety, environmental compliance and technical training. The new Maine Marine Trades web site features a robust client-administered training section where visitors can search for training classes by subject, date, and location.
The Maine Marine Careers website leverages the programming developed for other North Star Alliance sites and enables MMC staff to upload up-to-date content regarding education, training and career opportunities.
The North Star Alliance web sites have a strong visual presence that reflects the organization's goals.
Our custom CMS has enabled all of the organizations to become self-sufficient in updating their web sites and keeping their content fresh. The CMS is expandable to accommodate other content types over time.
Basic search engine optimization services featuring member names leverages the size of the trade association sites, allowing even the smallest members to be represented on the web.