IBHS, or the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety, is a very cool non-profit that focuses on structural integrity. In their South Carolina research facility, they build homes filled with sensors, then simulate natural disasters (fire, hurricane, hail, etc) and observe and record where the safety concerns are in the structures. One of their aims is to spread their FORTIFIED certification so homeowners and commercial property owners can strengthen structures, mitigating risk and overall increasing safety.
Discovery / Consulting
Initially, our connection with IBHS was over building a new website – which was to be a simple project. As we delved more into the project, we realized there was a need for more clarified organization and better definition of internal workings. Questions like “what is the focus of the site?” or “what are the post categories you use?” couldn’t be answered, and Laicos began an in-depth discovery process.
Our discovery process varies on a case by case basis, but IBHS’ rapid growth the last 5 or 6 years necessitated a deep review of processes. Over 2 months we interviewed employees on internal organization, frustrating bottlenecks they noted in their technology stack, and improvements desired. We developed a 3 phase plan to address these issues and began building.
Custom Web Design
Our first stage with IBHS was to re-create the public-facing website. We built a custom theme in WordPress designed from scratch, using responsive design.
Their site over the years had accumulated thousands of posts, many repeated or with outdated material. A full content audit was created, and the post library was condensed from over 3000 to less than 200. Old posts were archived.
Custom Web Application
Various custom widgets were created to manage specific needs of IBHS, such as an internal tool to handle a .csv upload and automatically update an online database (this widget alone took 6 hours of work off a staff member’s plate weekly!). A custom tool was also built for the IBHS homepage to allow a user to input their zip code and see a list of natural disaster risks in their area.
Custom Web Application – Member Portal
Members of IBHS require a separate portal to access various resources, which we custom-built. Members were managed through Salesforce, and we built a custom interface to auto-magically sync the Salesforce and WordPress user databases. When users are logged in, they see a Members menu item which directs to a custom web application allowing users to browse a collection of resources, and download if they desire.
Mobile Development and Design
The IBHS team had an old app designed for the HP Ipaq, which they actually had a collection of Ipaqs running. We were tasked with converting this app and updating it’s feature set to both Android and iOS.
The app allows for users to move through a form in an easy-to-use manner, answering questions about a structure after a disaster. We built the system to allow for a variety of forms to be added, and with logic built in to tailor the question flow based on the user’s answers. A cloud-based custom API syncs the data both locally on the phone and in the cloud, and a web-based admin allows permitted users to manage the data from a browser.