Will Froelich


Will Froelich

UI/UX/Frontend/iOS in Los Angeles, CA

{ "title": "eTribute", "data": "03/13/2005" }


The Goal

I was asked by a political accounting firm to provide a way for their clients to accept donations through their website.

The Problem

The year was 2003. Paypal was new and other online merchant vendors were just figuring out how to offer accounts in some form of api. On top of that, political donations need to pass through a vetting process before actually removing money from the donor account. The firm was already positioned to do this through mail and in person, but not over the Internet.

Another issue was trust. When a donor visits the website for their candidate of choice, they would see a "Donate Now" button. This would typically drive them to Paypal (not actually allowed) or some other form they would then have to print and mail in. Even if they were redirected to a new website, the look and feel would change drastically and lower their confidence in giving money online.

The "Must Haves"

The Process

I spent time at the firm walking through each aspect of the process, from opening the mail to running the credit card. I looked for opportunities to integrate with the firm's current software, wherever possible. I also looked to streamline overly complicated steps.

We decided to use a automated and manual approach to ensure there was always a human reviewing the transactions and helping to alleviate any potential fraud beyond the build in measurements in the code.

To accommodate the need for donor form customization, a easy to use style builder was created. This allowed web master or even a non tech savvy volunteer to build a donation page that matched their current site.

I designed and built a custom analytics tracker to help campaigns determine where in the form donors were leaving the process and to analyze their conversions.

My Contribution

I was the sole developer for this project. I collaborated with the accounting firm to help shape it based on the needs of each interested party.

This was largely a backend focused project using a typical LAMP stack. Everything was custom coded, no frameworks were available at the time (maybe ZEND was around but commercially encumbered.)


This project was a great learning experience for me. I mark this as my first experience in user driven design. There were many "clients" in this type of a project: the firm, the political campaigns and the donors. Balancing each users goal was challenging but in the end the project was extremely successful and spawned many competitors. Unfortunately, the accounting firm I worked with changed direction and this product was shelved, but for over 6 years it was used every day with great success.