Our newly designed website: the Why and the How of it

by Jan Gunter

This week we launched our newly redesigned website, and we are thrilled that it is finally live! Please check it out and let us know what you think! It has been months in the making, and as projects go, we learned a lot along the way and made mid-project adjustments to lead us to our beautiful new site.

New RMHC Austin Website Homepage

Our newly redesigned home page.

What an exciting project this has been, and what an amazing team I’ve had the pleasure to work with to bring it to reality. A well-designed website will help us better fulfill our mission to provide care for families when their children are facing pediatric medical crisis. It will help families find the information they need when they know they are coming to the Ronald McDonald House or Family Rooms. It will make it easier for donors to know the impact of their donations, and easier for volunteers to access the information they need for their volunteering efforts.

In short, a more effective and more beautiful website is simply good stewardship on our part as we work to maximize our impact so that we can ensure that no family is without the resources they need when their children are facing pediatric medical crisis in Austin.

Here’s a little of the back story of how we got here. If you’re a nonprofit thinking of redesigning your own site, perhaps you can learn from our experience. Or maybe you are simply an enquiring mind, and you want to know!

We have known for quite some time that we wanted to have a fresh new design so we set that as one of our goals for 2013. While we were in the preliminary stages of our project, RMHC Global shared with all of the RMHC Chapters that they were working on a major site redesign – which has since launched – so we knew we wanted to at least incorporate their beautiful, clean colors into our site. They shared the colors with us, and that made our color selection simple!

Around that time I spoke with one of my daughter’s professors from the Communication Design (ComDes) program at Texas State University, and told her I would like to have a ComDes intern to work with us on this project. We were fortunate that Molly Jordan, a design student, was looking for this kind of experience, so she joined us in May and got to work right away on our site design as well as our mobile site design. (Watch for our mobile site to launch in mid-October!)

Then we were inspired by the RMHC Kansas City homepage design, and knowing that their site was also a Blackbaud NetCommunity site like ours, we asked them if they would share their super-secret code – HTML and CSS as well as template design – with us, which they gladly did! Molly set to work borrowing from their design, crafting and honing until we had a beautiful new home page.

All this time we were working with the most amazing senior designer at Blackbaud, Amy McIntyre, who deserves kudos beyond measure for her guidance in this project. Not only did she ensure that we had the design we wanted, but she also mentored Molly along the way, ensuring that Molly grew greatly in her design skills.

After delaying the site launch a couple of weeks, we were finally ready and planned the launch for Tuesday, September 17. The amazing wizard, Amy, had told us it would take about an hour and a half as she manually changed each of our several hundred pages over to the new templates. However, after only an hour, she had the site completely switched over and LIVE! Of course there were a few glitches, but we have worked most of those out, and now we are enjoying the beautiful new site.

What is your favorite part of our new design? Let us know in the comments.

Thanks for reading, and please stay in touch!

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