In my Anatomy of a Website Redesign course for NTEN (returning in Feburary and October 2020!), I always encourage participants to celebrate their site launches. But like the cobbler’s children and their shoes, I don’t always follow my own advice.
As we enter the new year (and decade!), let’s do a whirlwind review of the TEN sites I launched this year for a group of amazing clients! Each site posed interesting challenges, and, in each case, we worked together to find beautiful, accessible, user-friendly solutions.
The first site launch of the year came in January 2019 with YouthCare. You can learn all about the project in my portfolio. This was a huge overhaul that took close to a year, but we completely transformed their decade-old site into a hopeful, vibrant website—designed with Kat Marshello—that is ready to tell the story of their work in the new decade.
Consortium for Service Innovation & The KCS Academy
This was a fun two-for-one website redesign that rolled out in March. Seeking to show their best-practice-driven work to their membership and peers, The Consortium for Service Innovation and their KCS Academy launched two websites at once! Using a similar “network” motif, we used an efficient design process to launch two great looking sites with a shared identity. Further work later in the year has begun extending that brand identity to an internal knowledge sharing intranet site.
Poverty Action does critical work in Washington State to turn grassroots energy into legislative action that supports low-income people. Their new website also launched in March with a vibrant reinterpretation of their brand that boldly states their vision. Given the fast-paced changes of a part-time state legislature, their custom Bill Tracker tool allows staff to quickly and efficiently launch and update information about their day-to-day lobbying priorities when the legislature is in session.
In May, the new Computing Kids website launched to showcase upcoming computer science Summer Camps and Fall school programs offered around the Puget Sound area. This website project introduced an entirely new look-and-feel to the website that colorfully showed off the programs they offer to K-8 students, featuring wonderful illustrations from their Creative Director. Underpinning that work, a brand new information architecture with custom content management tools allows staff to update their course and location information every quarter.
Friends of Seattle’s Olmsted Parks
The new Friends of Seattle’s Olmsted Parks website is a great example of getting the most bang for your buck! By sticking with their existing design that still worked well following a few minor changes, this website launched in June made big upgrades behind the scenes and to the most important information on the site: the parks themselves! Coming from an old website that was not responsive and difficult to edit, this new WordPress-based site puts editors in control of a beautiful custom interactive Parks map, SEO-friendly park profile pages, and a new calendar of events.
Northwest Behavioral Associates
Northwest Behavioral Associates came to me in need of a quick site redesign to resolve some technical problems with their old Drupal installation and upgrade the look of the site for their 20th anniversary in 2020. Using a very fast child-theme-driven design, this site greatly simplified the navigation for visitors and will allow future phases of work to build on the solid foundation laid in August 2019.
Communities In Schools of Washington
Easily the biggest focus of my year, the September launch of Communities In Schools of Washington capped a years-long push to redesign and upgrade this WordPress multisite network. Thanks to the wonderful efforts of their state office staff, we invested our time in a brand new design and significant feature improvements, some of which are still in the works! This beautiful new image-heavy redesign launched across all 14 state affiliate sites at once, and instantly lifted each site to among the best for any affiliate of this national organization.
During the project, I also introduced new processes that I will use on projects this year and beyond. This site was built with the new WordPress block editor from the start and used a live, in-the-browser, iterative approach with the design. The results speak powerfully for themselves, and you can read even more about the project in my portfolio.
In early 2019, I was thrilled to learn that two wonderful clients of mine—NAC and Wayfind—would be merging into a single powerful organization: Communities Rise. Following basic website planning and a separate rebranding process by Pyramid Communications in the summer, this site quickly came together in time for the big name reveal party and site launch in October.
Their website design is dynamic and captures the incredible spirit of the community and the organizations they serve. Continuing a trend of 2019, this site relied heavily on the new WordPress block editor to create unique content-appropriate layouts for key landing pages of the site. Throughout early 2020, we will continue the work of merging these two sites into one to complete the birth of a new organization that must now carry on the legacy of two.
Rounding out my year of website launches was McRea Consulting, also launched in October. Built for a colleague and collaborator on the Computing Kids and Northwest Behavioral Associates websites, we created a site that leaned in to an invigorating brand image and focused visitors on the key service offerings of the consultancy. And to wrap up a theme, this site was built natively in the new WordPress block editor. This site is now ready to grow with its business into the new decade!
What a Year!
Considering I took over two months off amidst these launches to spend time with my now 7-month-old son, it was quite the full year! You can expect plenty more site launches in 2020. (Probably starting next week!)
To pause for a moment and reflect, I am really proud of these sites and the work I did alongside staff and board members from each of these organizations. While it’s easy to see the design and coding work that goes into the sites, it’s crucial not to forget the less-heralded writing, editing, and content-entry work done by others that go into these sites as well. I do my best to support those tasks, but each of these sites is the result of a true team effort. To everyone who played any role in one of these site launches, thank you for choosing to work with me and for all the effort you put into your project.
Websites are just tools that support organizations as they work toward their missions to improve the world. So more than anything, I hope these new sites make each organization more effective and efficient as we head into a new decade with lots of problems that still need solving.
Photo by Michel Berube.