Potential web development contractors to the University of Auckland face a problem — it has a number of highly trained staff who are experts in this field. But Grant Straker, founder of 10-person Ponsonby firm Straker Interactive, wasn’t fazed.
“It was kind of like the Spanish Inquisition. I had them fire questions at Straker and he fielded them all,” says the university’s project director for internet development, Chris Robb. He chose Straker because it predominantly uses Cold Fusion for its development.
“We wanted to go with a mainstream application and I’ve used Cold Fusion before with the revamp of the business school site, so I knew it was capable.” Robb set up Cold Fusion as a “strawman model” and invited his colleagues to try to come up with a better alternative. “We all have our favourites and our chosen platforms so I did it this way to see if we could make the best choice.”
“Often you’ll get a team that is expert on databases or perhaps on web design and you spend most of your project trying to ensure one part talks to the other. With Straker we had a team that had extensive experience not only with Cold Fusion but who could also do database work and graphic design as well as hosting the site.”
Straker was subsequently awarded the contract to put information on 1000 of the university’s courses online. Not only that, but the project had to be completed within two weeks. That work has lead on to another contract with the university — a three-stage project that will see the university’s entire web site given a consistent look and feel, and by the end of the year will see a portal project completed.
This will allow different users to see the site in different ways. Students will be able to see timetables and course information as well as things that are relevant to them and have an email account set up as well.
Not bad for a team of only 10 staff. “It’s not how big you are, it’s how good you are,” says Straker, who says the company has also won contracts with Southern Cross Healthcare as well as Turners and Growers, a $200 million a year company. “It’s more about expertise and ability.”