Baldwin County Public Schools
Robertsdale High Robertsdale, AL
Thursday, May 20, 2010

           Joe Kitchens, Jr., the owner of Furniture City in Robertsdale, was attending a Business Technology Council meeting at Robertsdale High this past semester when he heard Mike McCrady say that one of his classes was designing websites as part of their curriculum.

           Kitchens told McCrady, who teaches business technology, that if his class needed a guinea pig in order to get some "live" experience, he was willing to let the class redesign his current website.

            "The purpose of the Council is to seek input from the business community about the types of graduates they want to see us produce," McCrady said. "One of our goals is to show the business community what our students are capable of doing."

           McCrady added that when Kitchens offered his site, he jumped at the opportunity for his students.

           "I assigned several student leaders to head up groups that would work on such aspects of the site as graphic design, photography and taking the ideas that Furniture City wanted to see in the site and make them happen," McCrady said.

           Amie Bailey, a senior-to-be, along with Erica Mimms, who will be a junior, headed two of the website design groups.

           "Our job was to combine the colors of the furniture with the colors of the website," Mimms said. "We used a khaki and green since they came closest to the look we were after."

           Katie Kitchens said her father's company not only wanted to use the site to advertise specials, but to be able to offer website only coupons, furniture viewing, financing terms and delivery, but e-mail capabilities so that we could send out a weekly newsletter to everyone on Furniture City's customer list.

           "We also wanted the site to offer Facebook capabilities as well," Kitchens said. "Another application was a counter so that we could see how many hits the site was bringing in."

           Kitchen's brother, Jonathan , said the website not only gave a brief history of the family-owned company, which will be celebrating its 50th Anniversary later this year, but that it met all of the criteria their father had asked for.

           "We've been really pleased with the efforts of Mr. McCrady's class," he said. "If anything, we don't feel we are a guinea pig as these students responded in a very professional manner."

           Both of the Kitchens said they were looking forward to being able to produce a newsletter for their customers as well as send out the latest information about upcoming sales.

           "Our website is ," said Katie. "We feel that websites have become a necessity; much like business cards that contains so much useful information."

           Bailey said the class not only had a lot of fun working on the project, but it gave the students a lot of experience.

           "Being able to go to your Facebook account and see a link to something you worked on really means a lot," she said. "Although I plan on going to dental school one day I realize the importance of having a website; especially if you are a small business person."

           Mimms, who said she is considering a career in physical therapy, said there were a limited number of students who helped develop the Furniture City website.

           "I enjoyed working on the site and helping to edit it," she said, "but the aspect I really enjoyed was learning how to work with Dreamweaver, which is a design program."

           McCrady said it took his class approximately four days to complete the project and link it to a server that gives the site a place on the world-wide web.

           "The class's overall design allows the site to be expandable," he said. "Although it is a basic-type site it contains more elements that the company requested."

           In addition to the overall website one of the groups developed a new logo for Furniture City.

           "If the company had gone out and purchased a commercially designed website they would have been looking at paying $75 an hour for a good graphic designer," McCrady said. "Not only do we feel that we saved Furniture City some money, but we were able to show the business community the kind of student we are matriculating through RHS."

           The world of business is what makes the economy go around, McCrady said.

           "Producing students who can go on to college and major in business is another of our goals," he said.

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