Pop the champagne

Yesterday, we launched Penn Wharton Public Policy Initiative’s new website after many months of talking, tweaking, and perfecting a whole bunch of rad features, cooked to order.

Many college campuses include a number of independent interdisciplinary centers, but PPI is unique among them. Yes they offer programs and courses for students and aim to nurture a new generation of socially- and politically-engaged young leaders.

But they also maintain an office in Washington DC and their broader goal is to influence smarter, safer, better social and economic policies in the United State of America right now


What They Needed

Among other things:

  • An easy-to-navigate section targeted to current and prospective students, showcasing their academic and co-curricular offerings, that wouldn’t get lost in the shuffle.
  • Web-friendly, scannable, beautiful, and printable Issue Briefs (aka #longreads)
  • A way for external audiences (DC and the media) to search Briefs by trending topics or policy issues
  • A powerful, dynamic homepage that can be customized to the user’s immediate needs
  • The best got dang campus events calendar the world has ever seen, with built in RSVPs and maps
  • More pictures and visuals. Just like everyone else.

What They Got

And of course, all of the bells and whistles and neat tools and tricks that come pre-installed with the LiveWhale CMS. 

All in all, the new site is powerful, visual, and highly interactive. It is also of course accessible and easy to update. Jason, Janie, and our beloved LW squad put in months of hard work and collaboration with PPI to make this kitty purr.

We hope the PPI community is as pleased with it as we are.

Job well done everybody!

Now let’s get back to work. The .edu web isn’t going to build itself.


There are words and there are words

The Seafaring Dictionary


Back from an enlightening (and beautiful) trip to Bemidji State.

Resetting the brain for forward movement.

But first, The Seafaring Dictionary. 

Fiesta de Ballenas

Last week, all of our IRL faces got together in Oakland.

White Whale Staff Retreat 2014 had it all: brainstorming, tamales, a behind-the-scenes look at the newest LiveWhale Calendar, a four-year old playing the drums, and a beautiful afternoon in Jack London Square.

Manifest Destiny We all wear a lot of hats. Standing around. Thinking about the internet. "Knowledge sharing" Half full.™ Only one of us is a patriot I guess dimples.me The Virgos, obviously. Just hanging out. Get it?! You get it.YOU get a website. And YOU get a website.

Thanks to the uber lovely and talented Mary McHenry for all the gorgeous snaps!

My Last Day

Today is my last day as a whale— one of the pod. While I planned this change so that I could spend more time with my wife and especially my one year old son Jake, it’s been a huge ride and a bit hard to give up.

Today was a right good day though— some normal and fun craziness in the staff chatroom, a couple of great questions via support@, some CSS and a vexing SQL with Alex. There was even some sudo to be had— I couldn’t ask for better.

I know I won’t have the daily conversations with you all, whales and LiveWhale clients both, but I do hope that we won’t lose touch and will find each other in future circles— perhaps sooner, perhaps later.

I leave you in Laura’s good hands. I know she’ll do things differently and certainly make LiveWhale Support her own— and it will be great! For me, it’s time to go. :)

Thanks everyone!


P.S. I’ve promised to tweet more @davidmckelvey and instagram @mckelvey— I don’t do facebook. :)

One hello and one farewell and many warm feelings

Tuesday, April 29: It’s summer in Portland, hail in Chicago, and we’ve got some big changes here at White Whale.

First up: New Whale Alert!

Laura McCord has joined our team as the Director of Product Support for the LiveWhale CMS!  She’ll be taking the reins from David McKelvey, who has served his post with a degree of knowledge and passion that we feared we might never find again. David will stop by this space tomorrow to say so long, and we will miss him dearly.

We are extremely fortunate to have snagged Laura, who is a LiveWhale ace with a ton of experience in higher education. She was an obvious choice for the job, and we can’t wait to see what she’s got in store for the LiveWhale community.

Hello Laura!

Laura McCord

 Laura has 14 years of experience providing technology support for higher ed. She’s worked for institutions, including LiveWhale client Southwestern University (where we first had the pleasure of working with her), as well as support organizations like APEREO.

A lifelong techie, Laura holds both bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Computer Science, and began working in support as an undergrad, serving as a teaching assistant to her fellow programming students. That’s right, her school hired her to help her peers complete their programming assignments. (Nerd!) She has worked as a graduate assistant, a programmer for an engineering company, a web portal programmer,  and in Java development. In every environment, at every position, she’s been committed to providing adept, personal support to anyone who has needed it.

She lives in San Antonio, Texas with her husband and two kids. Her favorite things include sitting on any beach and reading any book, however, her best times are the ones she spends with her family.

Say hello to Laura on Twitter, @laura_lou2u.

Next up: So long Sarah, Sarah who we’ve so loved.

Sarah Williams is the woman we have to thank for such a wonderful LiveWhale Developer’s Conference in Austin, TX last year. She has been working part-time for White Whale as an Office Manager and Assistant in the Oakland office, doing all kinds of work for clients and our company, from building web pages to coordinating great parties.

She’s landed a full-time gig at the Berkeley City Club, which looks as impressive as it sounds. Host your fancy parties there.

Sarah, you’ve been an extraordinary help to all of us, and we look forward to seeing where you go. Good luck with the new career, good luck with your recent engagement(!!!), and good luck with absolutely everything. You’re gonna kill it.

LiveWhale heartily condones all of these wonderful activities.

On Mystery and Coincidence

The world is full of inexplicable wonder.

This morning I received a mysterious box, marked fragile all over. No return address. Inside, I found this little nugget:

tripod piglet


A three legged wooden piglet, made in Chile.

How did this little guy get to me?

Now what am I going to do, *not* share this terrific little enigma with my coworkers? Of course not. By which I mean of course I am. Going to share, I mean. So I do. I drop a photo right square in the chatroom.

And wouldn’t you know it, David, our Director of LiveWhale Customer Support (at least for a few more weeks!! But that’s a post for later.) has the EXACT. SAME. TRIPOD. PIGLET.


What does it all mean?!

Well for one, he tells me that the three legged pig is a symbol of luck in Chile. They are called Chanchitos, and they given to friends and family as a token of goodwill and love.

I’m on the case and have a few leads, but for now, I think we can all agree that we live in a strange and mysterious and occasionally incredible world.

Have very excellent weekends, friends and families. May our little luck piggies share some good fortune with you.


Strategic Recommendations

Never underestimate the importance of some killer strat rex.

If you can dream it you can photoshop it.

An Appropriate Use of “Excellence”

Congratulations Menlo School on all the Gold!

Menlo, WW Class of 2013, has received a richly-deserved CASE District VII Award of Excellence for their stunning, student-powered website. What’s more–Menlo, a middle and upper school, was considered among a field of higher ed websites that included some top tier western region universities. And they beat ‘em all out. 

As a rule, we avoid the E-word. The more you see it, the less it means. But here we have a case of a site that has defied many conventions and allowed for authentic, youthful student voices (and photographs) to show the school’s beautiful bouquet of colors, characters, and quirks.

It is truly exceptional, and no one deserves these accolades more than the digital communications team at Menlo. They are creative, committed, and they trust the community they serve to help them tell Menlo’s story as it evolves every day. Not many schools can have a website like theirs. It requires a passion for photography and a real interest in curation, not to mention a genuine love for the place they work. Quite simply, Menlo was, and remains, a dream client.

Well won, dear friends. Well done.

The Real Bemidji

Whale Spotted

Next week we’re heading north to Minnesota to spend some time with Bemidji State University,
Home of the Beavers and, as far as we can tell, some pretty stellar humans too.

It's a frozen whale. Get it?! Weather am i right?!

It's a frozen whale. Get it?! Weather am i right?!

My favorite part about every project is, of course, the whole thing.
But that first campus visit is something else–talking to students, observing them in their natural habitats, learning the ins and outs of each school’s character, history, and organizational mechanisms, consistently making the wrong dining hall decisions while Janie makes all of the right ones.

We are all of us lifelong learners after all.

Welcome to the family Bemidji, can’t wait to meet you!