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This is the second post about the launch of our new website. This one comes from my perspective, the right-brained designer experience. Like Bob mentioned in his post, I also found the task daunting (but exhilarating at the same time). 

It’s always a challenge to create internal (unbillable) work, and this project proved to be no different. It was a huge undertaking in terms of developing a concept that effectively speaks to who we are, designing an innovative site within the constraints of our technical specs and honestly, just getting it done. Other considerations were our updating, refreshing and promotional strategies.

The big concept behind it all.

I’ll start with our concept. It actually came from an off-the-cuff comment from a designer after a frustrating internal meeting where we clearly recognized the need for two different types of content – left-brained informational content and right-brained feel-good, visual content. “…let’s give them both”. And so an idea was born. Our concept speaks to one of our strengths – the ability to communicate effectively to our audience.

Concept whiteboard

Showing off our concept whiteboard

Designing a responsive website in WordPress. Oh joy.

I received (not with open arms) the technical specs for our new site: a responsive site developed within WordPress. Frankly, I felt that the WordPress environment created design limitations, and I had to balance that with my desire for a well-designed, unique site. I really pushed our design team to come up with something different and exciting, which in turn pushed our technical team to make it work. And they came up with some brilliant solutions to produce our design vision. I love it when everyone plays nicely together.

Anyway, so it can be done. Oh joy! (for real this time)

The trick behind completing internal projects.

Another challenge, getting the site done. I directed our website knowing this: Internal design work gets bumped. Billable work takes precedence, and rightly so. Unless you have a dedicated team for internal work, this is a chronic problem.

Normally I work with small teams on internal projects. I took a slightly different approach with our website development.

I got everyone involved.

Here’s how it played out – following our strategy whiteboard session, Noel designed the main structure and Diane reviewed for usability, Anita, Kristi and Cindy each designed a section. Deb and I developed the content outline and wrote the copy. Kiersten edited and proofed the content. Gery took all of the photos, and I illustrated our staff. Bob, Chris and Gery developed the site. Jenna and Deb managed the project. Matthew, Gail, Jason and Liana tested our designs for user experience. Hilary and I strategized the promotion and Noma was a decisive client. Tintin gave the final go ahead. It was a true team effort. (You can easily meet this talent in our OUR TEAM section)

Other seemingly small details that are actually quite big.

Long headline, I know. But it’s important content. These are other considerations that we addressed while developing the new site. They include keeping the content fresh, updating content easily and promoting the site. I think these make or break a site’s success.

Keeping content fresh is necessary for both user engagement and for SEO. But again, because it’s an internal project, I recognized the challenge in front of us. Therefore, new content and updating needed to be easy. Very easy. 

We did a few things to accomplish this.

  1. Landing page illustration interpretations will update quarterly.
  2. New blog posts appear at least weekly, updating the landing page.
  3. Copy, photography and illustration are all done in-house, so updating is not dependent on outside vendors.
  4. And finally, our social media team is committed to wrangling and managing content providers to adhere to a schedule.

Promotion of the site (and promotion of marketing materials in general) is often overlooked, or becomes a reactionary panicked situation after a project is finished. Our initial website plan included our site promotional activities, an email blast and an upcoming newsletter. And a few other brainy little surprises to watch for.

And finally…

Designing and launching our new website was a challenging task, but we’re all very excited with the outcome. I hope that it speaks well to all of our viewers, both left- and right-brained, and that it shows a bit of who we are and what we do in an engaging, communicative way.