Netroots presentation website redesign

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Presentation at Netroots Nation, Las Vegas, NV, July 22, 2010

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Netroots presentation website redesign

  1. 1. Surviving the Website Redesign Process<br />perspectives of an accidental techie<br />Paula Brantner<br />Executive Director, Workplace Fairness<br />
  2. 2. Paula’s Background<br />Employment lawyer, not trained in technology<br />Started building Workplace Fairness website in 2001, before many current tools available<br />Survived two major redesigns: <br />2004-05 to build custom CMS to manage content<br />2008-09 to improve design, make more user friendly<br />Learned what I needed at conferences & trainings like this one.<br />
  3. 3. It turned out all right…<br />www.workplacefairness.org: (website)<br />two-time Webby nominee (2007 for Best Employment Site; 2009 for Best Law Site)<br />PC Magazine’s Top 100 Sites You Can’t Live Without<br />500,000 unique visitors per year<br />www.todaysworkplace.org: (blog)<br />One of the very first nonprofit org blogs (Jan 2003) <br />Forbes.com Best of the Web Career Blogs<br />
  4. 4. Important Lessons I’ve Learned<br />1. You don’t need a huge budget or a big-name web firm.<br />Never spent over $25,000 a year, even when redesigning<br />Don’t have dedicated in-house staff, never had more than 4 staff members total<br />You probably haven’t heard of my web firm (Midwest New Media, based in Cincinnati…although you should have!)<br />
  5. 5. Important Lessons I’ve Learned<br />You do need to know WHY you’re redesigning your site.<br />What is the most important thing you want to accomplish?<br />What is the most significant failure/deficiency of your current site?<br />Who will be happiest when your redesign is complete?<br />
  6. 6. Important Lessons I’ve Learned<br />3. This must be the most important project for someone: make it someone’s priority.<br />Program Staff: Web project probably isn’t as important as the substance of your work.<br />Communications: Trying to integrate web work with other organizational communications.<br />In-House Web Staff: Working on daily content and strategy, hard to focus on long-term project<br />Outside Consultants: Juggling w/ other clients<br />
  7. 7. Important Lessons I’ve Learned<br />3. This must be the most important project for someone: make it someone’s priority. (continued)<br />Program Staff: make it be part of deliverables<br />Communications: offload some other tasks to someone else, outside consultant<br />In-House Web Staff: Block out time; interns to do some routine tasks<br />Outside Consultants: financial incentives for meeting deadlines<br />
  8. 8. Important Lessons I’ve Learned<br />3. This must be the most important project for someone: make it someone’s priority. (continued)<br />Person in charge: project manager (whether it’s in the job description or not)<br />Problem-solver<br />Decision-maker<br />Stakeholder herder<br />Consensus-builder<br />Deadline dominatrix<br />
  9. 9. Important Lessons I’ve Learned<br />4. You MUST know your audience better than anyone else.<br />Your site probably has multiple audiences, but who is the most important one?<br />Who is it today? Who isn’t there, despite your best efforts? How might it change in the next 3-5 years?<br />Don’t let web firm guide this: you must do the work to find out if you don’t already know: surveys, user testing, analytics.<br />
  10. 10. Important Lessons I’ve Learned<br />Rolling your own is fine, but do you really need to?<br />I’m a bad example: <br />custom-built content management system (CMS) <br />back-end customer relationship management (CRM).<br />Why? started building our own when we couldn’t afford what was out there; web developer builds exactly what we need<br />
  11. 11. Important Lessons I’ve Learned<br />Rolling your own is fine, but do you really need to? (continued)<br />I’m a good example: <br />WordPress (formerly blogger) for the blog<br />Democracy in Action for e-newsletter signup, advocacy tools.<br />Why? I knew there were tools that were more than adequate for us, wouldn’t allow my developer to tinker.<br />
  12. 12. Important Lessons I’ve Learned<br />Content is king. And queen. And the whole frakkin’ royal court.<br />Know your audience, know what they’re there to read.<br />What can people find at your site that they cannot find anywhere else?<br />What do people expect to find at your site that’s not currently there?<br />Your audience probably doesn’t have your expertise<br />Keep things jargon-free, industry-speak free, acronym-free (my site: problem is legalese – what’s yours?)<br />Use friends who know nothing about topic for feedback <br />
  13. 13. Important Lessons I’ve Learned<br />Content is king. And queen. And the whole frakkin’ royal court. (continued)<br />Write and display your content for an internet audience.<br />No PDFs.<br />Information architecture help if you have anything beyond a basic brochure site. <br />Make content searchable. <br />Accessibility guidelines: no excuse for lack of accessibility : moral if not legal imperative, will help with SEO, mobile use, etc.<br />
  14. 14. Important Lessons I’ve Learned<br />7. Having the latest bells and whistles isn’t the most important thing<br />Simplicity and usability are highly underrated.<br />Everything you add should have a function: <br />Is it important enough to be part of your navigation menu? The fewer choices the better<br />If you add Facebook and Twitter buttons, is there a staff member who will actually use Facebook and tweet on your organization’s behalf? Same with a blog: whose job is it to blog regularly?<br />Everyone who’s done sites for a while has made a Flash mistake: what is the next big no-no?<br />Midwestern cool<br />
  15. 15. Important Lessons I’ve Learned<br />8. Trust your instincts: don’t let lack of expertise derail confidence in your own judgment<br />If you know your audience, have done content homework, and ensured everything has a purpose, then you’re an expert on your site’s audience.<br />Don’t pay by the hour, design process so that you must be satisfied every step of the way without taking financial hit.<br />Ask for multiple drafts, regular check-ins in at multiple stages so you can troubleshoot before entire project derailed.<br />Don’t fear saying no or starting over if you have to.<br />
  16. 16. Important Lessons I’ve Learned<br />9. Document, document, document<br />If you left your job today, would someone else be able to complete the project?<br />If you changed web firms for your next redesign, how would they keep from reinventing the wheel?<br />Internet history is ephemeral: are you doing screen captures, saving documentation of each iteration of your site?<br />
  17. 17. Important Lessons I’ve Learned<br /> Redesign every day.<br />What dynamic content should be part of your site?<br />Build in last-changed date for every page: incentive to regularly review<br />Redesign process should include post-project testing, analytics, review timeline<br />What mini, low-cost project can you do in the next six months?<br />A website is never, ever done! Nature of the beast.<br />Change your copyright date – obvious, yet oft neglected.<br />

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