Erwin, a futurist and a professional speaker, was the voluntary driving force behind the new PSA Holland website which successfully attracted new members. Earlier, he had created other creative and effective websites. With a background in programming, and a website that received three nominations in several categories for the Dutch Bloggies (the Dutch awards for the best weblogs), Erwin was the perfect candidate to volunteer his help for IFFPS.
After a Skype call with Robyn, he saw the challenges in setting up a new website for the whole Federation. At first, Erwin assessed some proposals from external companies, but decided in another direction.
In December 2008, Erwin created the IFFPS Community group on LinkedIn and invited the leadership to join. Whatever website he designed, it would definitely use social networking and the earlier he could start, the better. As well, it would be good to affirm the IFFPS name on LinkedIn.
While in the process of migrating to Australia, Erwin visited Sydney for three months in January 2009 and also met Robyn in New Zealand. Many ideas arose from that very constructive meeting and the energy started to flow.
Erwin realized that this project would be more than just a new website, it would really change the way associations cooperate within the Federation. Therefore, involvement of the leadership was essential. He wrote the document IFFPS Web Strategy titled: ‘Connect with Speakers’ and subtitled: ‘this is not about a new website, this is about a new strategy’.
This document was presented and approved during the NSA/US Phoenix Convention in July 2009 by GSF Presidential Leadership Group. Past president Joe Sherren, elected president Lindsay Adams 2009-2010, president-elect 2010-2011 Alan Stevens and GSF Executive Director Beverly Babb were in attendance.
During that convention the Executive Council (EC) also discussed the elements of the new website. Creating revenues for the Federation was one of the topics mentioned in a brainstorm facilitated by GSF president Lindsay Adams, about. All inspirational ideas were merged in the creative design of the website.
At the very same EC meeting, it was decided to rename IFFPS the Global Speakers Federation. This meant also a new domain name.
GSF president W. Mitchell, CSP, CPAE invited Erwin to join the main platform and honored him with the Presidential Award for Service, in gratitude for his contribution to the website so far. There was no turning back for Erwin.
in December 2009, after a period of collecting ideas, Erwin finally started work on the website. He chose ‘globalspeakers.net’ from several domain names pre-registered by Beverly. This facilitated brand extensions like globalspeakers.net/summit or globalspeakers.net/network. Furthermore, this domain would enhance for Search Engine Optimization (SEO), on using the words ‘Global + Speaker’, and was still short enough to remember easily. Unfortunately, the .org extension was not available.
Erwin simply started with a copy of Chatbots.org, his business website, and started from there. From this framework, he built the prototype. Among many ideas, he implemented the tabs and the registration mechanism.
The prototype was discussed in a Skype call in January 2010 with the then current president Lindsay Adams, elected president Alan Stevens and Executive Director Beverly Babb. Their agreement on the prototype made way for the next step: the graphic design.
Erwin wrote a document describing the graphic design specifications. He was inspired to create a 3D view of a stage with two massive projection screens, theatre lights, theatre curtains and chairs.
In March 2010 Erwin demonstrated the early version of the website, still in its prototype jacket, to the international registrants at the PSA Holland convention. NSA/US president Philip Van Hooser signed up, Scott Friedman created his profile and so did Dan Poynter. Also Hans Ruinemans and Lindsay Adams brainstormed additional requirements. Feedback from the convention improved the prototype further.
Immediately following this event, Arthur de Wolf made his entrance. Arthur, a Dutch freelance web developer and graphic designer, had worked with Erwin during his time at former employer CMG in the Netherlands and had done some excellent work for Erwin on Chatbots.org. Arthur was the ideal person to finish this part of the project.
The first design still looked very much like the prototype:
But that changed after the second iteration:
Only 6 people in the audience would probably not appeal very much to ambitious speakers, so they worked in a few iterations towards a new header:
When they discovered that this header had a height, that high it would cover half of the screens of visitors, they had a problem. But Arthur found a solution to reduce the height of the header:
And that’s where they kicked off implementing the website.
In May 2010 Executive Directory Beverly Babb invited the leadership of the member associations to visit the new website and to register. Also she helped bring more new people to the project.
In June, Content was King! Beverly selected, uploaded and tagged many phtos and images for the header, and she also corrected many profile pages of key members. Martin Laschkolnig structured the ‘Content To Complete’ list and helped identify additional people who could help. Elizabeth Noble, just moved to her residence in Panama, was so kind as to participate in a Skype call of almost three hours, optimizing all the static text on the website. The Associations were assisting to make their special association pages as attractive as possible, too. Heilee O’Quinn of NSA/US assisted with the Federation pages, privacy statements and terms and conditions.
On June 29th, 2010, the website officially replaced the Iffps.org website and the rest is undocumented history.