The Cornerstone platform goes beyond presenting information, it has modules to build fundraising and crowdfunding solutions with multiple payment modules. Those same payment modules can be used to collect Membership fees online. The platform features an online store. You can build directories of people and groups displayed on a map. And one particularity is that people are central in the system. In opposition to other CMS extended by plugins where each plugin stores its own list with for example one list of email subscriber, another list of clients, and a third one of donors, in Cornerstone a person will be stored once with multiple roles. This allows for powerful search, segmentation and communication. But also more effective administrative processes. Contact us for more information about the possibilities.
If you visit your website while signed in, you will see additional blue cubes when hovering the content. Those cubes allow you to alter the content you are hovering. This makes it easy and intuitive to quickly edit your content.
Additionally, if you turn on the design mode, and have the right to do so, by means of drag and drop you can edit the structure of the webpage without leaving your website. You get to see instantly the result of your modifications.
The main steps of building a website are:
Choosing a Cornerstone theme
Importing, organising and inserting content as articles
Building a hierarchy of pages
Placing the content on the pages by placing windows
Points 2. to 4. can be performed by either Kommunion as consultancy hours, or yourself. This will be assessed for each project depending on your goals and available resources.
Regarding the Cornerstone theme, there are multiple possible approaches depending on your budget and ambitions.
The traditional approach, and most common way of building a website until recently, is to hire a designer that will create a concept from scratch. We tend to favor more cost effective approaches whenever possible, but this is still valid for bigger budgets and when there is a demand for a highly creative, complex or exclusive concept. We can offer our help to choose a designer, review the deliveries, and advise in the field of strategic digital communication. Or you can simply deliver the design as you want it. Building from scratch is the most expensive approach, but it gives most creative freedom and creates a unique expression.
An interesting variation of this approach is to choose an existing theme online. It can be a clean HTML theme or a theme developed for another CMS like Wordpress. Templates can be purchased for example from https://themeforest.net/category/site-templates. Web designers are selling coded designs relatively cheap. Such themes are solds hundreds or thousands of times, therefore the cost of design is a lot lower. They also have visual features and details that would normally be too expensive for a single client to justify on his own. The theme can then be adapted to Cornerstone. The main advantage of this approach is that you get to see and test the theme before you buy it. While with the traditional designer approach, you don’t know what you are going to get until the end of the design process. This approach is also cheaper than building from scratch as we can reuse some of the code. By using our services as opposed to simply purchasing the theme for another platform, we can offer to alter and customize some aspects of the theme to suite your needs.
We have several themes that are ready to be used. With this approach, we can do the basic setup of a website and start working with the content and its placement within minutes, while the design is being adapted to perfection. If you find something you like within the themes we already have, this is very cost effective approach while still allowing for customizations. It will allow you to focus your resources on content and communication.
We have some themes used by multiple clients. This is the most cost effective approach. As we add new functionalities to the theme, they benefit all our clients. This is particularly effective for the smaller budgets, and for networks of websites. The main added value compared to using an open source tool or a cheap online service is that you can benefit from the integration with the Cornerstone administrative tools, you get access to our customer support, we take care of the hosting, the backups and keeping your website up and running. One of the main issue in small organisations heavily based on volunteer work is continuity. Our clients appreciate to have a point of contact where they can get the help they need so that their communication never gets stuck.
The core information element in Cornerstone is an article. An article can have a title, subtitle, abstract, body, links, Geographical location, attached media such as film, audio, document, and more… There are multiple ways to organize articles, they are a part of article modules, each module can contain article lists, and articles can be tagged. All these mechanisms allow you to organize your information in multiple ways and build anything from simple blogs to complex information portals. We are often involved in the process of shaping a good information structure to build from as a part of the startup process.
A Cornerstone website is composed of pages containing windows. So developing a theme is about developing design layouts for these pages and windows. Consider this a designed toolbox that you can then use to build your website. You create your page structure, often equivalent to your menu structure, and then you drag and drop the relevant windows on each page, and choose a design for each window. A window can for example show a list of articles, show a single article, a map, a menu, a picture, a video, a person, a group,... Cornerstone has over 500 windows available to build anything from a simple presentation page using less than 10 window layouts, to a complex information system using tens of layouts.
Many CMS have hard coded mechanisms to display content in the layout. This means that restructuring your content involves development work. With Cornerstone, it is about drag and drop, and window options. So you can grow your website together with your need for communication.
In the design process, we cut the design into pages and windows, and a cost of development is based on the amount of window and page layouts that are made available.
The startup price is estimated based on the points mentioned in the building process. The building of the theme is estimated on the amount of windows and pages, plus potentially the design cost if you want us to provide a designer. Working with the content, the structure and the training is an hour based estimate. In some instances we are able to land a clear plan on before hand with a fixed cost. For more complex projects, we advocate a more agile approach built on iterations:
We plan the first iterations with a certain amount of windows and pages. Upon agreement, the initial plan is invoiced and the work starts.
In the design process, you might see new opportunities or needs you had missed as the website is taking shape. We count the windows and pages, and can determine if the design fits within the concept. If not, you will know right away the additional cost, and decide if it’s desirable based on the value of the change.
As we develop and work with content, it is common that additional changes arise. At this point, we focus on implementing and delivering the project as designed, but take note of the change requests. There might be exceptions for critical changes.
When the website is launched, we review the change requests with you, and establish the cost of it. You can then decide what is of strategic value and keep control over your expense, while not missing on opportunities.
If after some time you want further development, or have an idea you want implemented, it will be similar to that last iteration. So that last iteration can be performed anytime during the life of the website.
The monthly cost covers the hosting of the system, free access to our customer service, regular updates of the system and backup. In this way we make sure your website is up and running at all time, and you have a place to call when you need help. The price is estimated based on several factors such as traffic, size and complexity. The monthly cost starts running from the time of the order as content and development work starts immediately.
We have some more advanced functionalities, take contact if some of it can be relevant for you.
Different websites can share articles, calendar events, and fundraising projects, based on the usage of tag. So a single information can be spread on multiple websites with a single tag.
Every element on your website can be hidden for users with a certain role, or for a certain time frame. For example, if you do a live event with streaming, you can schedule that your video player will automatically show 5 minutes before the event starts, and be replaced by a picture right after.
Articles being a core element in Cornerstone, you can also use them to build visually attractive newsletters. They can feature the events and articles of your website automatically. The edition of the newsletter is also done using the same technology as the CMS allowing you to manage all your digital communication in one place.