Resolve to Quit Smoking with BecomeAnEx.org

, Sunday, January 10th, 2010

As the New Year begins and resolutions to quit smoking proliferate, Beaconfire is pleased to be working with the The American Legacy Foundation and their smoking cessation program – BecomeAnEX.org. The EX campaign is about re-learning your life without cigarettes and the EX site plays an important role in helping smokers learn their triggers and then maximize support from family, friends and the community of users at the EX community.

Recently, Beaconfire helped Legacy revitalize their website and migrate their users from Ning to the Elgg social networking software solution. Read more after the jump.Beaconfire inherited a website which used a custom application that helped smokers track their smoking habits and learn to quit. However as Adobe Flash based website, it was difficult for Legacy staff to manage their content and for users without Flash the site was not accessible. The community portion of the site was originally created using the Ning social networking platform. But with Legacy’s increasing need for the community to be more integrated with the custom application and with integration options that didn’t work for Leacy, another solution was needed.

Overall, our approach was to try and keep as much of the site’s existing and most valuable assets and build on them to create the new and improved EX site. The new site uses the RedDot (now OpenText) CMS to manage the information about triggers and nicotine addiction. The custom application powering the cigarette tracking and your quit attempts is built on a PHP framework supported by RedDot driven content enabling non technical users to manage the site. Beaconfire also built an API that allows a mobile site version and eventually and an iphone application to access the core user database to track cigarettes when not at your computer. Beaconfire also integrated Google Analytics and Omniture to ensure effective analytics tracking for gauging the site improvements.

By far, however, the most critical part of the project was to migrate the community of users from Ning to Elgg. With nearly 130,000 users in the community this is the largest Elgg site we know of. Since Elgg is open source and modular, we were able to theme the new community site to make the look and feel similar to the old Ning design so that users wouldn’t be confused when we shut down the old community. We also customized the Elgg registration system to build a Single Sign On (SSO) solution that enables users who register in the EX plan to also be added to the community and be logged in with no additional steps. After we had built the solution, we had to migrate the users from the Plan site and the Community site. We plant to describe the process of migrating the community in another post (coming soon).

During this project we learned a few lessons that will be useful for future projects. First, we have to be flexible in working with the situation at hand. In this case, we took the best assets of the existing system and built from there. We didn’t have the time nor could the client start from scratch so it was important to be flexible and creative. Second, migrating content such as hundreds of thousands users and all of their content from one system to another is not an easy task. Even when everything is understood, things can change at the last moment. We had a plan and stayed focused while handling the unforeseen. Essentially, we persevered.

We know that for those looking to quit smoking, perseverance is indeed required and hopefully with tools like BecomeAnEx.org much easier now.

One Response to “Resolve to Quit Smoking with BecomeAnEx.org”

  1. Electric Monkey Says:

    Smoking not only kills the smoker but it’s also killing the environment. From the article it seems that BecomeAnEx.org is a great way to help combat this terrible addiction. Kudos to all those working together in making this world a better place to live!