Case Study: CRDF Global and State Department’s FIRST Program

Lean and agile development for a quick and extensible web solution


Website Design & Development, User-Centered Design, Agile Project Management 


Luis Cuellar, Shefali Naik, Blake Newman


WordPress, Pantheon, Bootstrap


CRDF Global is an “independent nonprofit organization that promotes safety, security, and sustainability through science and innovation.” Its history can be traced back to the collapse of the Soviet Union, when it was established to ensure nuclear weapons and technology from the USSR didn’t end up with rogue nations or individual groups that threatened national security. The organization now has the broader goal of assisting with nuclear non-proliferation worldwide. It is partnered with the State Department, Department of Defense, and National Science Foundation.

One of the CRDF’s current initiatives is Foundational Infrastructure for Responsible use of SMR Technology (FIRST). It’s aim is to help countries use small modular reactors (SMRs) to meet their energy needs through nuclear power. As a part of this initiative, CRDF Global needed a website to communicate with other countries about the potential benefits of SMRs and, given the executive branch’s current emphasis on lowering carbon emissions, they needed the site quickly. Within a month, the CRDF needed to stand up a website that fit the CRDF Global brand. Not all the content had been created, the site needed an easy authoring experience and flexibility.

A mac computer monitor Displaying CRDF Global Website

Given the quick timeline of the project, Agileana built the site in WordPress with a pre-existing theme. WordPress was an ideal option because not all of the content for the site was ready to deploy. WordPress has an easy-to-use interface that allows CRDF Global content authors to easily add content and edit existing content while adhering to the design standards of a public facing federal government site. 

We hosted the site on Pantheon which is a good accelerator. It is geared for WordPress and Drupal and allowed us to stage a website. Additionally, with Pantheon, no payment is required until the site goes live, which saved the client money.


Luis led this project, he’s a multi skilled developer who can work in development, visual design, and quality assurance. Throughout the creation of the website he worked closely with various stakeholders at CRDF Global and the State Department to incorporate feedback during a quick 3 week sprint. To speed up the process of building the site, we bought and reused a pre-existing theme, incorporated stock photos from SMR providers, and put in placeholder text on an easy to use CMS. 


Because Agileana is nimble with a proven track record of startup incubation, we were able to provide CRDF Global with a minimum viable product (MVP) on a tight deadline. Whereas most government contractors need around six months of discovery time and hundreds of thousands of dollars to get a job done, Agileana was able to finish this quick turnaround project on time and on budget. We provided CRDF Global with a quick and functional prototype that fit the look of a public facing government website, so they could not only launch their START initiative, but also refine their communication on the site over time. 


Hi Blake, Luis, and Shefali.

We just wanted to reach out and convey our thanks for all of your efforts in helping create the FIRST Program Website. We look forward to working with you all closely in the future. Please keep in touch.


CRDF Team and the U.S. Department of State.

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