The Company
The Cancer Research Foundation of America (CRFA) is a national, non-profit health foundation with a single mission: the prevention and early detection of cancer through scientific research and education. The CRFA's Web site has historically been an important means for reaching its most important audience, the general public, and educating consumers on the prevention and detection of cancer.

The Problem
CRFA's original site had been built in ColdFusion, and an in-house developer had built a simple tool for updating content, used along with Microsoft FrontPage. While this home-grown solution worked fine initially, it was inadequate for the organization's evolving needs. Thus, in 2001 CRFA engaged Washington, DC-based Fig Leaf Software to develop its next generation site. CRFA wanted a solution that was more flexible, allowing non-technical users to maintain the site. They also wanted to publish more dynamic content, and expand the site's search capabilities, so that consumers could more easily find content. Finally, with regard to look and feel, CRFA sought to improve site structure, revise the navigation, tighten the layout, enhance the photographic imagery and strengthen their identity.

The Solution
Fig Leaf Software recommended CommonSpot™ Content Server as the CMS tool that would best fit CRFA's budget and content management requirements. Working with the CRFA team, Fig Leaf developed a new site design, incorporating feedback from users, and built the new site in CommonSpot. Fig Leaf implemented features such as CommonSpot's out-of-the-box multilanguage support, in order to publish content in Spanish, as well as handy features like 'email this page to a friend', and the ability to generate printer friendly versions of pages. In addition, leveraging CommonSpot's powerful customization capabilities, Fig Leaf created a custom module that pulls information from three specific subsites to dynamically populate a "dueling select" style javascript navigation, to make it easier for users to find cancer-related information on the site. The site visitor selects their sex, age and health category, and the results are displayed dynamically based on those criteria. From a design perspective, Fig Leaf worked to fine tune the selections of stock photography, modernize the color palette, and create several navigation schemes to cater to their different user groups, and with a focus on marketing to new visitors of the site and potential donors.

According to Larissa Payne, Assistant Director of Online Marketing and Web Development for CRFA, CommonSpot has been very easy for non-technical staff to learn to use. Payne, who has had experience with other CMS products such as Spectra and Active Matter, noted that CommonSpot was much easier to implement, with so many features available out of the box. With no formal training, Payne was able to implement a number of CommonSpot's advanced features. "It's very easy for content contributors to add photos, links and other graphics to a page, and use CommonSpot's keyword feature to enable content to dynamically display," she added. An example of this dynamic display of data can be found on the CRFA's home page, where a current list of the latest news items is rendered on-the-fly.

The CRFA's site ( typically gets about 50,000 - 60,000 visitors/month, and content contributors in the CRFA's external affairs department are currently maintaining about 800 pages of content on cancer-related topics, including numerous articles, events, legislative information, and information for researchers. To make learning about healthy living fun for children, the CRFA also developed an interactive educational game--Dr. Health'nstein's Body Fun, which can be played on the site.

The Return
Implementing CommonSpot allowed CRFA to meet all of their strategic objectives for the site. The site is much more dynamic, can now be more easily and efficiently maintained by non-technical staff, and provides improved access to information. Payne noted that CommonSpot's ease of implementation, robust and mature feature set and intuitive interface have made it extremely easy for new contributors to be immediately effective, and easy for CRFA to add new functionality to the site. Basically, anything that we have wanted to do on our site, we have found a way to do in CommonSpot.

Customer Information

Site Type: Internet