Ottawa’s OPIN Software launches new website built through intern mentorship program

The redesigned website was a collaborative effort between OPIN CEO Chris Smith and a team of interns
Chris Liko and the internship team
From left, OPIN marketing coordinator Chris Liko and interns Vatsla Chauhan, Le Liu, Jacob Richman and Jennifer Aube. (Photo by Mark Holleron)

When a digital agency sets out to redesign its own website, it’s important to get the fundamentals right.

Logically, it follows that an agency would want to hire the most experienced developers and designers to create that website – or you could leverage the opportunity to mentor new developers.

Over the summer, OPIN Software took on a team of four interns and asked them to redesign the company’s website.

“We thought this would be an excellent opportunity to coach and mentor new interns learning to work in open source CMS technology like Drupal,” says Chris Liko, OPIN’s marketing coordinator. “Part of the graduation from this program involved each intern achieving the Drupal Site Builder Certification.”

Over the course of the 12-week internship, the team’s three web development interns learned how to use Drupal to build a new platform for OPIN’s website. Each intern helped to design and build the website and upon graduation commenced work on client projects. A fourth intern joined the marketing team to develop marketing content and advance the new site’s SEO capabilities.

More than an academic project, the new website serves as an integral part of the enterprise sales system used by OPIN Software to generate sales leads.

“The internship program here at OPIN was a training framework for prospective new hires at OPIN,” says Chris Smith, OPIN’s founder and CEO. “In 12 short weeks, our talented intern team learned Drupal, achieved industry certification and gained some excellent project experience by participating on existing teams doing client work. We are excited to present our own website as a showcase of the results of our internship program and we look forward to onboarding our next cohort of interns through similar projects.”

Collaboration

As a digital agency developing web projects exclusively in Drupal, it’s fitting that OPIN took such a collaborative approach.

“At OPIN, we foster a culture of curiosity and learning,” says Liko.

"At OPIN, we foster a culture of curiosity and learning."

Drupal relies on a growing community of developers from all over the world who continue to add and improve on the many modules available on the platform. Approximately five percent of websites worldwide currently run on Drupal.

OPIN has successfully partnered with a number of local organizations to design their websites, including Ottawa Tourism, Canadian Paralympic Committee and the Office of the Prime Minister.

“Our digital agency seeks to work with partners in larger enterprise businesses where complex problems and solutions are required, so we really have to lean on each other and work collaboratively,” says Liko.

The interns worked directly with Liko and Smith on this project. In the first eight weeks, the web development interns earned their Drupal certification after having never worked on the platform before.

“It was more important to be hungry, ambitious and curious than it is to come in with a high level of expertise,” says Liko when referring to this new internship program.

A powerful tool

The new website, which launched this week, was designed as a powerful lead conversion tool, both for prospective clients and employees. Along with its updated look and feel, the new OPIN.ca also comes equipped with a powerful chatbot feature designed by Boston-based Drift. The bot is powered by artificial intelligence and responds to website visitors based on their search interest and click-through behaviour. It can answer questions and make recommendations on useful content, drawing on OPIN’s extensive catalogue of blog posts, podcast episodes and case studies.

A screengrab of the new OPIN.ca.
A screen shot of the new OPIN.ca. (Photo provided by OPIN Software)

And for those website visitors a little further down the sales funnel, OPIN’s chatbot can also book calls directly with its account executives.

“We want to take people on an efficient journey through our website, creating email subscribers who eventually turn into customers,” says Liko. “Every single piece of information on the website has value, with a call to action attached to it.”

The result is a beautiful, intuitive web presence, a showcase of what OPIN – and Drupal – can do.

“This internship program helped us see that it’s possible to take somebody with minimal real-world development experience and no Drupal experience, and graduate to doing client work within 12 weeks,” says Liko.

Check out OPIN's new website at OPIN.ca.

Meet OPIN's interns

Vatsla Chauhan Carleton University
Masters in Computer Science
Working at OPIN has been a wonderful experience. They have given me great insights into different web development platforms and have been so patient through my learning process. The staff is helpful and warm. I have been here for less than three months and it already feels like years.
Le Liu Algonquin College
Mobile Application Development and Design
As an intern at OPIN, I got the chance to learn and experiment before diving deep into work. Everyone here helps me to learn and succeed. I enjoy being exposed to new stuff every day, getting involved in awesome, real-life projects and working with colleagues from the development, design and marketing teams. I am lucky to have had this valuable experience at the start of my  career.
Jennifer Aube Algonquin College
Computer Programming
Everyone here at OPIN has been so influential in our learning. From the very first day, everyone was so open and eager to meet us. The willingness to lend a helping hand made learning fun and exciting