5 Nonprofit web design challenges, solved
How do you get young people interested about science, enough to drive them to learn more?
How do you make a nonprofit social enterprise look more competitive than their private sector counterparts while limited to an existing brand guideline?
How do you get data in the user’s hands in a format that actually helps them?
How do you make a complex process more manageable to digest so users get it and participate rather than give up in frustration?
How can foundations extend the value of their awards announcements and events?
These were five questions presented to us last year, five challenges to nonprofit interactive web design that we helped solved with our clients in 2013.
Heres how we did it
R&D STEM Learning Exchange repository website
When we first met with the team in charge of the R&D Stem at the Illinois Science Technology Institute, we werent sure what shape this platform needed to take. We knew it needed to get national attention, fit in a state-wide program, have its own brand separate from the ISTI and also make the experience for users to be fun, informative and entertaining.
We wanted to remove old assumptions about science and move thinking into a direction where science was relevant and exciting, especially for the young students we wanted to attract to the site.
Youth can not only search for resources to create great science projects but they can also explore future career opportunities and watch videos that show real world applications in a fun way.
Heartland Alliance Housing
We knew that Heartland Alliance Housing was different than most property development and management organizations from the first day we met with them.
Their approach was unique and centered around their mission of housing as a human right. We wanted to make sure that this was translated well with their new website design. As a nonprofit social enterprise, they also wanted to make sure that their work was taken seriously and competitive with other private development companies. Another challenge was to ensure that the design complied with the general brand guidelines of the main organization, which had just changed.
What we came up with was a refined presentation of their work through curated photography, storytelling and messaging and the use of large format images to help emphasize their impact with communities they partner with. This site is designed with the persona of an architecture firm and Heartlands mission shines through with every image, case study, property listing and explanation.
Heartland Alliance: Social Impact Research Center Illinois Data Report Portal
When Heartland came to us, they had never displayed their poverty report data online. They had published it in a number of print formats and other groups had displayed large amounts of data online, so that’s where we started with our research.
The biggest challenge with this site was how to handle all of the data. The database was massive, and required a huge amount of memory and a unique hosting solution. Then the next challenge was: how do we get the data in the user’s hands in a format that actually helps them?
Once we figured out the database issues and how users wanted to receive and use the data, designing wasn’t much of an issue. All of the pretty overlay flowed from the site’s function and Heartland’s existing nonprofit brand guidelines.
This microsite was built in Drupal 7, so Heartland has full control over the data and all of the site content. Drupal was the best solution because it’s great at dealing with a massive amount of data chopped up various ways.
College of Nursing at the University of Illinois at Chicago
The College of Nursing at UIC is a prestigious institution that has five academic programs and a number of certification programs. Each program has very specific requirements and application processes. Because of the unique requirements and processes for each program, the College of Nursing relied on creating tons of pages of text describing the process for submitting applications to programs it was difficult to understand and consume as information.
Special attention was made to content auditing, user interviews and case scenarios,?? collaboration with the college staff and design analysis to simplify the display of information for prospective students looking to apply for programs.
Our approach was to make it more visual and allow the user to understand the big picture all on one page. The result was the creation of a 4-step admission process with actionable items and creating large buttons linking to each program.
Vilcek Foundation award website
The Vilcek Foundation first approached us to take their 2013 Awards print program brochure online in?? way that could be accessed by phones. We could have made an app, but we thought they would be better served with a small responsive site that would on any device.
We created an online interactive brochure website for their awards program that was responsive and included other information graphics adapted for the web.
This microsite now has the ability to extend the life of the content developed around the awards events and used all year round to promote the winners and the work of Vilcek Foundation.
What were some of your web design challenges this past year? Did you redesign your site? What were the biggest issues and concerns about the redesign and how did you solve it?