NewYork2008:Assessing and Redesigning Web Sites

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How does managing a website redesign differ from managing a website build from scratch? What techniques and best practices can help you assess what needs to be updated, redesign appropriately, and then effectively implement the changes?


Three AH-HA's!



Clumsy generalizations ask internally - “IN THE LAB” behind closed doors, budget reasons, timing reasons ask externally - “IN THE FIELD” who is using your website TEASE OUT THE MANDATE! What do your people need from your org?

This is step number one: TEASE OUT THE MANDATE! look at log files for current website build out pages that are most visited vs. building new subsection with no inpu

Invite users from your mailng list to give feedback, ask for team to give input on web redesign look at “PASSIONATE USERS” and talk to them.

Org's see website as MEGAPHONE vs. figuring out how your website can serve your users needs iterative - do it, roll it out and share, take feedback, do it again You need to give your users something If your user is really into your subject, they will come anyways, but if your user just wants to know

2 p’s

  • If they have a point of PAIN, they will come to site
  • If they have a PASSION about your issue, they will come to site

2 f’s

  • If they gain visibility or reputation (FAME) from interacting with your site, then they will come to your site and come back to your site and send people to your site
  • If they have FUN on your site (e.g., Meatrix), they will return to your site, they will get FAME by telling others about it.

ANITA How can we get qualitative data from users GUNNER: call people about your website do you use page x (most popular page) why do you use it what else would you like to see on it what else do you look at that is similar

check out clickthrough’s on e-newsletters look at it over time look at phrasing look at content/subject matter tells you what people respond to in messaging and in your work NORMAN: Get info from info address, from complaints, take time to talk to people who are contacting you with questions/complaints

GUNNER: Check out 404’s - tells you what links aren’t work AND what people WANT to look at MANAGE your info account, be sure that someone is able to respond - it’s “DEVELOPING PASSIONATE USERS” - Kathy Sierra people like to be loved, to be listened to, keep talking to the people and cultivate the people who Stay close with advisor’s, get their feedback on new things

JED Acknowledge users, fish for those people by adding “GIVE US FEEDBACK” link that is higher up on page, get more feedback NEEDS-BASED ARCHITECTURE - make sure whoever is designing site is able to design based on the needs of your users e.g., Zagat’s initial site, reaching out to specific needs via their search Know who your users are - how many people are using it to different things (donors, knowledge seekers etc.) Purpose driven vs. Curious users Purpose-driven will come see it regardless Curious user who has heard about your issue or your org and is curious needs navigational guidance, your opportunity to cultivate someone new They need more help

GUNNER: you can find out what google search terms key words to find out where it is directing your users, what terms are driving you traffic

LIZ: we want to use the web to increase our donor base what makes the passionate people not just look but also donate

JED Conversion path - from curious to regular to donor - the holy grail of web design

GUNNER call everyone on the phone that has donated on line and thank them be sure to respect their privacy preferences find ways to ask them why they decided to give you money Software to analyze click-throughs - traffic analysis Clicktrax A software that reads clicks with heat visual AWstats doesn’t really understand paths Other softwares analyze paths

You can choose to do two homepages and randomize to figure out which homepage design gets more clickthroughs

BILLY: lots of different kinds of donors, try to see who’s who in your community, then you can build value for different constituencies should try to build different kinds of user experience for different users we’d be silly to think that you can talk to everyon the same way

Gunner: $ a month pitch - start at a $ a month, then ramp them up

JED ASPCA did it and made 1/2million quickly

GUNNER: build circle of people by having personalized email - “Hi I’m jim and i totally support this cause” JPG image of a donor, user, for “rotating community quotes” or something online - FAME

SON: donating online is only one tool, but things that work include compelling stories - success stories, evaluation of programs acknowledgement of donors, having a donor page, quoting from donors in a story, esp those who have funded particular program, donor of the month coming up with concrete things to solicit donations, e.g., $28 can support a child, give linkage to program, to concrete thing


Emotion to get people to donate

Heather webpages for different audiences as a possibility it’s a huge amount of work, to create content, manage site so we haven’t done it

STEVEN if we have opportunities to do them, it would be great but will add to cost of site make sure you have email strategy - most people who will donate are people you know, make sure that once you have the donation, send them email to connect to website, get them more involved. pitch to people who have already donated once, they should be on a newsletter email is cheaper and effective for gathering donations

re: analytics look at how long they stay on a page, if a huge number of people come from google etc. and they only stay a short time, then they aren’t finding the info they need

TALLY: Many tools that are all different, cost different, vendors different - how can we assess?

GUNNER: Will talk more tomorrow morning, but here is basics: Vendor: Pick a partner and not a technology, find a GOOD vendor, then ask that they use a tool that is appropriate - don’t choose proprietary vendor (MS, ColdFusion), choose open-source because they are more scalable and won’t lock you in (Drupal, Joomla!, Plone)

JED: Want to find a vendor who will ask what you need mission-wise, know that they’re going to listen first and recommend later

STEVEN: IF you don’t know what it’s going to cost, then picking a partner could take you away from having control over the final cost

GUNNER: Do you outsource? It’s ok as long as you know that your project can continue if your consultant/point person is out - and open source is strong because it’s easily taken over

JULIA: Go out and ask them - how do we do it? Send emails about different points of web design project to get their feedback

GUNNER: and be sure to send them love - build mediated trust relationships map people’s contributions into outcomes - they will appreciate it.

JULIA: But you solicit input but at some point you decide not to take some input

GUNNER: Set expectations - we’ll get lots of feedback so we thank you for your input we may not use everything etc.

JED: Be sure that you know who you’re sending it to as well - don't dismiss feedback from board member of spouse, for example!

GUNNER: Be sure to get people that are passionate and on your side

JULIA: Balance between listening and making decisions


Creating customer evangelists (book) - I’ve learned from building little advisory groups - i can leverage their trust, attention, expertise within org - it’s not me making the changes on the content, it’s what my advisory group wanted

JULIA: Had communications audit, that I didn’t think was that good, but it gives you political cover in internal management


We’ve been talking in traditional us/them dynamic but the trust we build is essential -

NORMAN: When would be a reasonable frequency to do a redesign. Our org traffic has been down, people looking for answer to why. Site was designed 3 years ago - what is a good reason to find that we should do a redesign?

GUNNER: “We need to fluff the pillows” version of web redesign if its main goal is to REFRESH it. But you upgrade your website when youu need - know why you are doing the redesign

JED: Think of site in 2 ways - storefront - change the look set of behaviors - if it’s still meeting the behaviors that your users are engaged in, then you may not need a full rethink - if it ain’t broke don’t fix it.

GUNNER: You may alienate people by doing redesign

STEVEN: Whether or not an org is evaluating their technology as often as their policy priorities - if you’re making a change in what you’re doing, then you can do overhaul/redesign

SCOTT: Did a whole redesign and got a call back a month later saying “WE changed our name and our mission”

GUNNER: Decoupling your feedback for design vs. for content get feedback on content FIRST then design Give text only website to check out content and architecture - validate your site not your designer. ONce that works move to design phase


The graphic design has so much to do with if you find what you’re looking for. If you can’t show me that i can figure out the site up front, then i’m not going to stick around. Brought in graphic designers to work with our web vendor, didn’t want vendor to design site.

JULIA: Can we talk more over the next few days about data tools?

GUNNER: Colin as a resource. I try not to

JED: You’ll need someone to ask the right questions and help you interpret it.

JULIA: What data can I get? What will the data tell me? STEVEN: Google analytics - free, ask someone to help you go over stats with you GUNNER: be careful about using google - using google is effectively yielding 4th amendment privacy rights - they will crawl your data.


-Who's your Audience? -What are you trying to get them to do? -How are people using the current site? -Look at log files to see where the traffic is really going -Defining Organizational Goals -Business Process, finding better more efficient processes -Legacy Content? -Actually watch clients go through their current processes in order to determine what they actually need to change, and what can stay the same -Talk to members of the organization who do not have a direct connection to the website, in order to get a broader picture of how people percieve the current website -Making sure requirements are mapped out to the implementable, practical level -Translating from layman/exec speak into tech speak -Doing an Audit to figure out what you need to change -Be specific, Define things clearly in the RFP -SCRUM

 Client comes up with priorities (Naratives)
 Whole group gets together, clients and developers, and builds a product in 30 day sprints

-"Don't Make Me Think" by Stephen Krug -Internal Tensions within the Company -Let people know that with templates, you can shift things around easily, so don't get stuck on look and feel if it's easy to change it later -Often when people make a small item a sticking point, there is often a larger issue behind it -Planning for changes in the future.

-Redesigning can be more difficult than starting from scratch, there are emotional issues in addition to practical -Address basic communication points, finding out what people actually want/need, what needs to change, what really doesn't -Getting results up quickly, phased approach, avoid stalling out