November 28, 2014

Case Study of NTEN’s Website Relaunch: The home page

We at NTEN are finally working on a website overhaul and re-launch in earnest. After all, the nonprofit association for people working at the intersection of technology and social change should have a website to match that mission and vision. Follow along as we chronicle the joys and occasional headaches.

In our last post, Karl Hedstrom and Jessica Holliday discussed the overall website redesign process. In this installment, we take a look at the home page design.

The home page of any organization’s website is something between a welcome mat and an elevator pitch: you want it to be a clear and thoughtful statement of the organization’s identity and purpose, and you want to entice visitors to linger and explore the website. We recognize that NTEN’s current home page could use some improvement…and we have heard as much from the NTEN Community.

Our web design experts from Cornershop Creative, coordinated by our Creative Director Contractor, Philip Krayna, put together a strawman page, which we turned over to our trusted NTEN Community for a first impression test. Huge thanks to all who took the time and effort to test the home page and help us understand what should stay, what needs to go, and how to change.

We had a list of seven tasks that we asked folks to complete so that we could see how usable the page was. People were asked, “Where would you click to …”:

  1. Register for the big NTEN conference?
  2. Learn about becoming an NTEN Member?
  3. Research ideas for your End of Year email fundraising campaign?
  4. Find NTEN events that you can attend near you?
  5. Engage with NTEN’s online communities?
  6. Find the latest report on nonprofit benchmarking?
  7. Explore career opportunities in the nonprofit technology sector?

The results were aggregated in heatmaps that showed where people’s mouses lingered.

NTEN home page on Chalkmark

This exercise was a great way to challenge our assumptions. From the great comments received from the NTEN Community, we learned that the top navigation bar was too subtle, bordering on obscure. We also learned that we need to better communicate NTEN’s membership opportunities. Additionally, the paths that we thought were the most direct to complete tasks turned out to be quite indirect in practice — so we’re glad we found that out beforehand!

Going above and beyond our request for feedback, one awesome participant described concerns about the accessibility of the color scheme. We shared this with the team and are looking forward to a better, more accessible new website, thanks to the wisdom of the NTEN Community.

We at NTEN would all love to hear from community members who have recently undergone site design projects. What best practices have you found for home pages? Do you have a design triumph or lesson-filled fail? Share in the comments section below!

Steph Routh
Steph is Content Manager at NTEN: The Nonprofit Technology Network. She has spent over a decade in the nonprofit sector, with a focus on organizational development, communications, fundraising, and program planning. Steph served as the first Executive Director of Oregon Walks for five years prior to joining NTEN. She is passionate about removing barriers to opportunities and finding equity at the many intersections of social justice work. And she feels lucky every day she is at NTEN, with a Community that does exactly that. Outside the NTEN office, Steph is the Mayor of Hopscotch Town, a consulting and small publishing firm that inspires and celebrates fun, lovable places for everyone. Steph is married to her bicycle and an aunt of two.
Interest Categories: Project Management, Websites
Tags: case study, website design