Coming Soon! Indigetal WebCraft

Since 2017 I have worked as the technical coordinator for the National Association for the Practice of Anthropology, designing their website at the time and then maintaining and later hosting it on a virtual private server. In 2020 I designed the website for LTG Associates, one of the oldest anthropology consultancies in the United States and I learned a lot about the website needs of an anthropology consultancy. I have also been actively working on developing the Collaborative Anthropology Network since 2021, a “multi-service platform for anthropologists, cultural advocates, and field-adjacent researchers… to promote the full diversity of anthropology as a field, as a practice, and as an agent of cultural advocacy.”

Over the winter of 2023/2024 I began to review every anthropology-related website that I could find as part of my effort to build the most comprehensive and feature-rich anthropology directory on the internet (you can see the working concept here). However, what I also found was that almost every anthropology-related website was dated – or very, very dated – and the more modern-ish ones were using heavy, clunky plugins and generic website template designs almost out-of-the-box and merely grafting its anthropology subject matter onto it (Wenner-Gren and its project websites being the exception with a budget to build and maintain one-off custom sites). So, I decided to develop a web agency for research freelancers, consultancies, organizations, and other related projects in order to improve their online presence and services in an affordable, easy to use platform that they can use to create and run their websites on.

Launching a web agency for research professionals will allow freelancers, consultancies and organizations to nearly instantaneously create a modern website fit-it-to-purpose to promote their services. Custom websites – that would otherwise cost thousands of dollars to develop and maintain – can be selected and spun up automatically for the same price as what good hosting would typically cost. The point isn’t to have hundreds of the same-looking websites though, it is to develop functionality that would be widely useful to research consultancies and then to package them in easy to use site templates that are fully customizable in order to design the look and feel of each website. We are able to achieve this by developing a modular and maintainable network framework based on the Model-View-Controller (MVC) pattern, a widely recognized development best practice:

  • Model (Custom Child Themes) – A custom child theme will be created for each genre of site, whether that be an research consultancy, organization, or other type of site. This is the Model handler where functionality, such as custom post types, custom taxonomies, and custom functions appropriate for a specific type of site are developed. These features affect all of the sites on the network using them and additional functionality will be added for each genre of site whenever a consensus of client feedback is achieved.
  • View (Ready-made Site Templates and a design component library) – Several ready-made site templates will be offered for each genre of site. This is the View that handles the overall look and feel of a website but can be customized individually per site. Things handled by the site templates include the header and footer design, the color scheme, the typography, and the sidebars. Site templates will also make full use of “Content Blocks” and “Reusable Templates” as well. These are cutting-edge capabilities that allow site owners to design full page layouts and individual page elements to assign and reuse throughout their website. A library of relevant content blocks and reusable templates will be made available beyond the site templates, providing client sites with the potential for endless variations.
  • Controller (Individual Plugins) – The individual plugins used, including the page builder, are the Controller. Indigetal WebCraft provides a selection of premium plugins to our clients that extend the functionality of each website. Plugins are handpicked in order to ensure development consistency, optimal site performance, security, and to benefit from agency licensing that unlocks premium features. Plugins include a form builder, SEO, and a user-friendly, but powerful upgrade to the core WordPress editor for maximum performance. What’s so great about WordPress is its huge ecosystem of plugins, but it can also feel overwhelming and quality and upkeep is inconsistent. Every plugin activated on client sites are vetted and security vulnerabilities are actively monitored.

Whether or not you fully grasp all the technical jargon, we have developed a platform that simplifies website management for research consultancies. Many important and technical aspects, such as hosting and enterprise-level security are managed by the network as part of the service offering, while providing tools to make it as easy as possible to create and customize your research-focused website. Clients can simply select what genre of site they want, choose a site template for that genre, and then customize the design. Customer support is there to help you along the way, and additional web design services are available when you need it – or you can just let us know if you have an idea to improve the platform for everybody. With security and the majority of day-to-day maintenance tasks managed by the network, it’s like having a full-time web developer at your disposal! Moreover, being built on WordPress means there is no vendor lock-in. After purchasing a one-year plan, site owners can freely and even immediately transfer their website to another hosting provider, although they will need to purchase separate licensing for premium plugins or switch to free ones. Despite this, client sites retain full control and ownership of their website and its future direction.

I view the broader Collaborative Anthropology Network project as the culmination of my experience, challenging and advancing my knowledge of full stack web development, server administration, and design. With the Indigetal WebCraft agency, I have come up with a streamlined, modular approach to a containerized server architecture that can deliver maximum customizability in an accessible, yet powerful package.

Stay tuned and feel free to send your feedback about what a research consultancy or organization website should be – I will read everything!

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