My roles: UX + Information Architect, Content Strategist, Project Manager
After redesiging the Information Architecture, user experience, and content strategy for Clean Water’s organically grown site in early 2007, demand for use of digital services rapidly outpaced internal capacity to maintain functionality using a tapestry of third-party applications and a flat HTML site.
It was time for the next phase in Clean Water’s digital communications evolution: Migration to a content management system.
Questions on the staff survey I created included:
- list five adjectives you would use now to describe Clean Water’s public image?
- how do you want supporters and potential supporters to see Clean Water?
- do you think Clean Water’s current image matches how you want the organization to be perceived?
My analysis showed most staff members felt the logo and visual branding Clean Water had been using since since the early 1970s wouldn’t fit with the image they wanted the organization to project. This realization expanded the project from a site migration into a complete rebranding of Clean Water’s digital identity.
While most staff agreed the organization’s branding was out-of-date, Board members and senior managers with long tenures saw no reason to change.
I created a competitive research document and mood board illustrating the visual brands of organizations similar to Clean Water. This direct comparison convinced senior leadership Clean Water needed a brand identity redesign.
Design, Development, Migration
State offices were eager to control their own content but this complicated the content production and approval process.
It also surfaced a need for more education about content strategy; letting state communications staff post press releases on a state’s homepage wasn’t going to achieve organizational goals.
Because it would support both the workflow and the need to share content between the (c)3 and (c)4 sites, I recommended Drupal for Clean Water’s new CMS.
The vendor chosen by the Board and senior management offered Free Range as an outside design partner. Time constraints imposed by the Board meant visual rebranding would happen simultaneously to site’s development and content migration.
Building the Team
I put together a cross-functional, locality distributed team that included staff members of varying tenures, ages, and responsibility areas to ensure the rebranding accurately reflected all staff members’ concerns.
Parallel development processes meant managing the technical development firm, the visual design firm, and the internal approval processes simultaneously, keeping each on track to avoid work blockages.
I guided these teams through two rounds of wireframe analysis and feedback for Clean Water Action and two rounds for Clean Water Fund. Visual design included three initial homepage comps and three rounds of revisions to the final design.
Organizing the Site
Based on direct feedback from state offices, I deepened the Information Architecture I created when I standardized the organization’s flat HTML site.
I then created a phased plan allowing Clean Water to publish the redesigned site with up to a year’s worth of content for each major section. I recruited a separate team help with content editing and migration.
Rebranding included a new logo, color palette, and brand style guide. This rebranding approved by the team I assembled and guided is still in use by Clean Water today. IOther deliverables included:
- competitive analysis and moodboard
- staff survey on organizational perceptions
- survey analysis and recommendations
- determination and writing of technical requirements for CMS implementation
- recruitment and management of two separate cross-functional teams simultaneously
- revised Information Architecture structure providing state offices more flexibility
- content classification and migration plan
- editing and physical migration of content
Post launch deliverables included the creation of reference training materials and the direct training of more than a dozen approved content creators located in Clean Water’s various state offices. Because mobile was not a factor in 2008, the team only had to consider desktop designs.