Various things we wrote



We don't always get around to posting write-ups on websites we launch, but we decided to schedule a little bit of downtime for just that purpose while our digestive systems recover from the holidays and return power to our brains.

Last year, we launched a new website for the Health Equity Leadership & Exchange Network (, but you can call her HELEN. It's rather fulfilling to get to work on those 'make the world a better place' websites, and HELEN is one of those. In their own words:

HELEN is a national network designed to bolster leadership and the exchange of ideas and information among communities of color and other vulnerable populations relative to the advancement of health equity in laws, policies, and programs.

To achieve those goals, PaleoSun worked closely with Karen Mazza of Studio 88, and the folks at HELEN, to build a new web presence that facilitates communication and the exchange of ideas related to health equity. The new website is member driven, and has already grown to over 600 members since its launch in late 2014. Members have access to a growing resource library that contains various legal documents, reports, and other useful content, and can communicate with other members in various ways. Being a membership site, you have to become a member in order to see all the goodness inside, so let's point out some highlights.

Interactive Map

As soon as you log in, you land at the interactive map, which offers a one-click launchpad to get to state specific library documents and other members in that state. Clicking a state brings in a pop-up window in the browser that lists out relevant library documents, and other members in that state, with quick links to see the full result set.

Library Search

If you're searching for a very specific document, you can use the many search options to find what you need. Most documents have had their text content completely indexed, so the keyword search will help you track down very specific or obscure information. Or you can browse documents by topic, type, population group, publish date, state, or jurisdiction. You can even combine any or all of these filters to drill down to exactly what you need. 

Members can even engage in a discussion about a particular document in the library by using a threaded commenting system on that documents page. 

Discussion Forum

The site also features a fully featured discussion forum, where members can create discussion topics, or join in on any ongoing conversations. HELEN admin have organized the forum with relevant categories, and have seeded it with interesting topics.

Messaging System

To facilitate easy, fluid communication between members, we borrowed some ideas from Google, and built an interface very similar to Gmail, to allow members to send and receive messages. Anywhere you see a member, whether through member search, the interactive map popup, within the forum, or on their individual profile page, you can initiate a private message to them (if their personal settings allow it). A compose window will pop up, and allow you to compose a message. You can add more recipients from the compose window with the handy-dandy auto-complete text field. Also, your message progress is automatically saved, so you can continue navigating through the site, and pick up where you left off at any time.

We even 'borrowed' gmail's threaded message view for viewing an ongoing email conversation. This makes it easy to keep track of the entire thread of conversation.

Polls & Surveys

Nothing helps a community grow and adapt like good user feedback, so we included a section for polls and surveys. HELEN admin can create any number of multiple choice polls, or multi-question surveys. Engagement in these features will allow members to provide HELEN with the information they need to make this tool even better!


This exciting new site was only just recently launched, and we've already got a load of Phase II features in the works. We look forward to growing this website and community with the HELEN team!

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