At Wordcamp Kansas City, we had an opportunity to work with fellow campers to build a website for an area nonprofit, Maison de Naissance. Maison de Naissance (“House of Birth” in French, the national language of Haiti; French doesn’t have a word that translates to “home”) provides free medical care for women and children in rural Haiti.
Their old website, a screenshot of which you can see below, was hard for the staff to keep up. They posted pictures and information, but wthout a good content management system to help them they didn’t have much control over how the updates looked.
The site contained a lot of good information, but it wasn’t organized or presented in the best way for reading online. In fact, a lot of the text read just like a brochure, and the nonstandard navigation made it hard to find information. We kept having the experience of reading along and saying, “Wow! Look what I found! Not where you’d expect it, eh?”
This is not what you want your visitors to say.
The volunteers divided up into groups: designers, developers, and content people. Any attempt to list all the volunteers will certainly fail, if only because people kept arriving and I didn’t meet everyone, but I particularly remember the sterling work of Brian Bookwalter, Sean Borsodi, Chris Ensell, and Jess McGregor, so I’m going to acknowledge them even at the risk of leaving out numerous equally useful and important people. Feel free to add names in the comments.
We used a premium theme to create a new WordPress site for the organization. Premium themes tend to be kept up better than free ones, and often have fewer compatibility issues. The designers’ group updated the logo with a more modern shape and a pop of tangerine.
They chose a theme that would showcase the organization’s excellent photos, and we worked with the client to come up with a more usable navigation plan for the site.
Jess McGregor and I tightened up the content, making sure each word said exactly what it needed to say. I rarely get to work with other content people, as it happens, so it was a great pleasure to zoom in on the connotations of specific words and their consequences for search.
“What do you do with the future, if not build it?” one would say, and another would suggest that a future could be rebuilt, or incubated, or raised — and then there’d we be, back at, “Can you really raise a future?” This is my idea of fun.
Meanwhile, the developers were having equal amounts of fun. I don’t actually know what they were doing; they’re in charge of plugins and I don’t have an access level that lets me see what they put in, though I’m sure whatever it was is doing all kinds of cool stuff. I know that we’d go in to update text (having found some more content in some surprising place) and the text would have been moved somewhere else entirely.
In four and a half hours, we had gotten the new site about 80% complete. Sort of like a barn-raising. I’m not sure what happens next, but the new site should improve their results in gaining donations and volunteers once it launches.