Ayiti Now Corp is a small non-profit organization working to bring school books to children in Haiti. It has a big mission and their existing website was failing them in a big way. The site had become a mix of missing links and haphazard web design. They were in need of a serious web site overhaul, and so we embarked on the task to give their website both form and function. Joining me on the adventure was a web developer Steve from Seattle for some bi-coastal web site design & development.
The first step with any new web design project is deciding how work will be divided. Our client, Alex was going to be responsible for creating needed text content. Steve would responsible for database integration, including making our site work with Salesforce. Steve’s wife Carol would responsible for helping with editing of text content. I would be doing the design, layout, information organization and implementation of the design.
Defining Needs vs Wants vs Dreams
Once we got the team together, we needed to get the goals for the new website ironed out with our client, Alex. That involved making very clear lists of what the site needed to have, what Alex would like the site to have, and what his far off dreams for the site were. This involved some back and forth, but after some emails and phone calls we got the lists sorted out.
The needs boiled down to recreating the same content and functionality of the current site but with a CMS or Content Management System to handle it all. We selected WordPress for this as Alex was already using WordPress for his blogging.
Wants for the new web design were well, design. Alex wanted clean navigation, interactivity, fun colors (the organization works with kids, so bright fun colors are excellent to use) and a sense that the whole thing was designed. After looking at few other sites to get inspiration and find design elements that Alex liked, I did some mockups using Keynote. A couple revisions to those and we had a basic design to start building.
The dreams for the new web design were a lot of integration with the Salesforce databases that Alex uses to track information for his organization. He also dreamed some Google and Amazon integration. You know, everything magically all works together!
Implementing the Web Design
With our lists of needs, wants and dreams we were able to pair down what we were going to do and make a plan to do it. So I embarked on building up the template files, producing the images needed for the site look and creating the WordPress theme in HTML & CSS matching the web design. Steve came in to get the website integrated with Salesforce, which proved to be no small feat.
Once we had the basic files and pages created and the navigation set up Alex came in to add content and Carol to do proof-reading and copy writing as needed. As the content was added, Steve and I continued to be add features. Design elements got their finishing touches and the whole web design in all its glory came together.
A number of my favorite plugins were tied into the WordPress site, including:
Anything Slider for WordPress – A very powerful slider for WordPress which allows for all sorts of content including embedding YouTube videos.
NextGEN Gallery – Photo Gallery plugin which easy to use yet still customizable.
ShareThis – The social sharing plugin that allows easy styling and choosing of which buttons you have without programming skills.
WordPress SEO – Excellent plugin to help you with some getting some SEO done. Lots of explanations and support on their website.
WP Realtime Sitemap – Simple plugin to create a Sitemap that will automatically update as you add or delete content.
Web Design Wrap Up
The Ayiti Now Corp redesign project ended up being bigger than initially expected so I was quite glad to have Steve helping out with some of the heavy lifting. I’m very proud of the final product and that Alex now has a website that he can do the maintenance for himself.
What Alex Had to Say
I started asking for help in January 2010. I came across many resources and talent but nobody had commitment. I learned to use CSS and tried my best.
I finally met Gen & Steve in July of 2012. You merged the humanity with the professionalism and got this project accomplished. Your intervention is exceptional, my job is to ask help everyday and I guarantee you that commitment is hard to find even when you are able to pay for. I am grateful for the work you accomplished and how your work is directly linked to the children I made promises to.
I know Gen did the heavy lifting on the new site and spent lots of time analyzing the old site. I recognize her sharp mind and I am grateful she decided to commit to this project.
If your organization needs web design or other graphic design work done, please contact us! We’re always thrilled to unleash our creativity on your projects. We work with various sized projects a variety of budgets, so just drop us a line and let us what we can do for you!