YMCA of the North

A large website improvement project which required an extraordinarily diverse team to tackle all challenges successfully

YMCA of the North attracts 3,000,000+ unique users annually. With that amount of traffic, every single website improvement becomes a complex project. In order to delight customers, increase impact and grow their organization, YMCA of the North hired Five Jars to carry out necessary development work as well as improve the user experience across its online presence. Five Jars evaluated the required steps and kicked the project off with a diverse project team. Integrations we built generate demand and revenue for YMCA products and services. Our solutions process tons of data and allow people to book and register for programs, training, and camps online. In addition, processes we automated save time and money and showing high ROI. By simplifying the scholarship application process, we made it easy for many families to join the Y.


Five Jars’ solution reduced overhead cost for video processing by $125,000 on an annual basis once a second studio is opened by our client
Our solution saves 70+ hours per week by reducing workload from over 45 mins to just under 5 mins for video processing
250,000+ personal trainings purchases have been automatically processed by the integration we built
30,000+ personal trainings booked via the developed integration
20,000+ hours saved by automating the manual accounting of personal trainings
6,700+ scholarship applications processed by the solution we built
33,500+ hours saved by automating manual scholarship applications review and processing
10,000+ camp products were processed by the solution we built
45+ camp cabins are available for online booking for families

A project with multiple objectives

The project aimed at carrying out the required website development, front-end improvement, as well as back-end improvement. More specifically, the project outline requested a more sophisticated user experience across the web platform and a simplified content editing experience for their content creators. Five Jars recognized the multitude of requirements and assembled a diverse team consisting of digital strategists, developers, quality engineers, UI/UX experts, and project managers to capture all the requirements in the project evaluation phase and implement the required features effectively.

More specifically, the project goals were:

  • To migrate the current platforms to the latest content editing experience environment
  • To integrate third-party applications
  • To create efficiencies across the platform and exploit these

Optimize the content management structure

YMCA of the North manages web content for more than 20 locations with more than 220,000 members. The amount of content being uploaded daily is enormous. Therefore, an efficient content management system is of utmost importance. Five Jars recognized the vital role the CMS system plays and analyzed the entire structure of the CMS and proposed necessary changes. More specifically, our developers recognized the opportunity of process automation across the workflow within YMCA of the North. Our proactive approach led to an extensive degree of process automation which was not only within the provided budget but furthermore will save YMCA of the North significant overhead costs in the future.

Implemented the latest content management (CMS) features, making content creators more productive and efficient
Decreased operating costs related to content management and maintenance
Lower costs, effort and risks to conduct CMS upgrades

Third-party integrations for personal trainings

Five Jars offers an extensive amount of experience in the integration of third-party tools. Prior partnering with us, YMCA of the North’s process to buy and register a personal training training required more than three steps with duplicate tasks. This not only increased the error rate and dissatisfaction of the users and members but also increased costs due to systemic inefficiencies. Five Jars acknowledged the importance of a streamlined registration process for users and members.

After our developers mapped the user journeys and the required steps to buy and to register a personal training, the task was straight-forward – to automate the process and empower users to become independent. Through our solution, users are now able to buy and book any kind of training easily and seamlessly online without the need for a YMCA of the North staff to finalize the transaction. By empowering the users, Five Jars not only increased customer satisfaction but also decreased non-used training sessions due to no-shows, increased the efficiency of our clients back office and, eventually, decreased the costs substantially.

Third-party integrations

250,000+ Orders processed

More than 250,000 orders have been automatically processed by the system

130,000+ Trainings booked

Over 130,000 personal and buddy trainings booked via the developed integration

20,000+ Hours saved

Saved more than 20,000 hours by automating the manual process (5 mins per order)

One solution to solve multiple project objectives

Five Jars strives to keep project costs as low as possible. We do not believe in inflated pricing and live up to a high standard of transparency and honesty. Whenever we see the opportunity, we design tools and integration interfaces which solve more than one problem at the same time.


George Wellbeing Center

With the successful integration of Personify and MindBody, we decided to use the identical interface to extend the automatisation from personal and small group training registrations to the service offerings of the George Wellbeing Center. These services include, among many, massages, health coaching, nutrition coaching, meditation coaching and acupuncture.

While the underlying process was comparable to the personal and small group training one, additional challenges arose due to the nature of the services. While personal and small group training registrations are rather straightforward, booking acupuncture treatments or other wellbeing services required more user guidance. In fact, one main focus of our developers was to reassure users that they are choosing the right service – through the user experience design. Our solution increased the number of services booked online manifold.

George Wellbeing Center


Family camp reservation

Moreover, the integration of Personify was also utilized to re-design the family camp reservation page and to create a coherent user experience across the website. The key focus for the new camp reservation page was a sophisticated search and filter function. YMCA of the North and its subgroups run many different camps and choosing the right one without a proper overview is challenging. To provide the user with the feeling that they truly chose the right camp for their family, we developed a search function which searches through all fields and offers the possibility to use several search terms at the same time. Our developers increased the user experience by implementing a process which keeps users and their desires at the center.

Family camp reservation

10,000+ Products

More than 10,000 camp products were processed by the solution

45 Cabins

45 cabins are bookable for families

Simplify the scholarship application process

YMCA of the North is a non-profit organization focusing on an inclusive, accessible and open community offering. To foster the accessibility of their services for lower-income households, need-based financial assistance is available. Prior partnering with Five Jars, they have used a large spreadsheet to calculate the personal pricing based on documents provided by the applicant. Entering all information such as income level, household size and many more details required a significant amount of time. Further, the process of granting financial assistance was, while they were trying to do so, not centralized and neither coherent across the various subgroups of YMCA of the North.

They did the first phase very quickly and professionally. Five Jars did a great job in our project, and the best part about working with them was their listening skills. We had specific needs and Five Jars was able to execute them all.

© Josh Cooan, Senior Director, YMCA of the North

Five Jars mapped the entire process of a need-based assistance application and proposed an automated tool which can be filled out by applicants and enriched through staff members. Eventually, the personal pricing based on all provided documents will be calculated and guarantees a coherent standard across the entire organization.

Image with scholarship form

6,700+ Requests processed

Over 6,700 scholarship applications processed

33,500+ Hours

More than 33,500 hours saved by automating manual process (5 mins per request)

Digital signage to create an offline user experience matching the online one

Five Jars knows that user experience does not stop when the computer is switched off. We believe that offline and online experiences must align to create a strong and lasting brand awareness and user satisfaction. That is why we have implemented a customized digital signage solution which simplifies the finding of facilities across the territories of our client. More about our digital signage solution can be found here. But the best thing first – our entire digital signage solution is available on GitHub. Interested in what that looks like? Check it out right here.

We created a user experience which reaches into the offline world
Launched additional content funnel for the marketing team
Increased brand awareness by integrating the online corporate identity into the physical operations
Digital Signage

Video automation to speed up the content upload

Uploading new video content onto the Virtual Y platform of YMCA of the North requires a considerable investment of manual labor. As the required steps are repetitive and will not differ from video to video, process automation is the solution to call upon. Read more about how cumbersome the process was prior to the solution provided by our developers. Are you interested in the actual solution we’ve provided? Check out our GitHub repository.

Easily the most brilliant devs I have ever worked with. They never seemed afraid of a task thrown at them.

© Nathan Hippenmeyer, Director of Digital Marketing & Platforms, YMCA of the North 

70+ hours saved per week

Our solution saves 70+ hours per week by reducing workload from over 45 mins to just under 5 mins

$125,000 saved

Five Jars’ solution reduced overhead cost by $125,000 on an annual basis once a second studio is opened by our client

Unlimited videos may be processed

We prepared the workflow for the scaling up of the platform in the near future by streamlining and automating processes

Multi-participant registration made easy

Prior partnering up with Five Jars, YMCA of the North offered a rather frustrating user experience when it came to multi-participant registrations. As per reservation only one participant could be registered, a family of four was required to register each family member individually.

Having an outstanding user experience in mind, our developers recognized this pain point and started to alter the registration process in order to allow multi-participant registration. To achieve this, we integrated Personify and MindBody into the YMCA of the North platform. By integrating leading third-party tools, we not only simplified the registration process for the participants but also accounted for the increasing need for insights of YMCA of the North as both integrations foster the analytical capabilities of YMCA of the North through a continual, streamlined and accessible stream of data. By acknowledging the importance of analytics, Five Jars enabled YMCA of the North to thrive and grow based on quantifiable facts rather than intuition only.

Multi-user registration


Added ability to perform a multi-participant registration
Improved awareness about YMCA offerings
Increased the number of registrations
Made registration process accessible on mobile

An extraordinary project

Five Jars has known from the very beginning that this project will be different. First, the size of the website of YMCA of the North was extensive. Their vast network and impressive traffic figures indicated that the project would test our developers and their skills thoroughly. Secondly, the budget constraint was predominant and with such a large project, increasing costs can quickly become a challenge for both Five Jars and the client. Third, the diversity of project objectives required an exceptionally diverse team working towards the same aim. 

Our team has extensive experience in agile project management methods and has outstanding communication skills. These helped to create a transparent and open environment in which both Five Jars and YMCA of the North could collaborate and partner with the greatest possible efficiency. Besides that, our strategic approach enabled us to deliver milestones on time and in the most cost-efficient manner.

While we fulfilled the initial project objectives, we are not yet done. YMCA of the North was fully persuaded of our skills and methods and granted us an ongoing collaboration. While many tasks had to be done within a short timeframe, we are now able to update the website on a more continuous and future-oriented basis as we became long-term partners. Read our review on Clutch.io to find out more about what our client has to say!

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