Tag: case study

University of Wisconsin Extension (UWEX) is known for extending the boundaries of the university to the boundaries of the state through continuing education, cooperative extension, business and entrepreneurship, and broadcast and media innovations. It makes sense, then, that it is also the base for the state’s evolving digital adoption initiative, which is run through the Broadband & E-Commerce Education Center.

To you and me, UW-Extension’s program looks to be well-established and hugely successful. However, they still talk about their program as a “pre-game warm-up” where they are setting the stage for what needs to happen regarding access and adoption in the state. They continue to work to understand the need so they can address it.

The roots of UW’s program can be traced back to a former UW-Extension member who had been doing research on digital adoption for some time. He had the data and understood the need. His research became the catalyst for the program that exists today. Based on his data, the Center pursued an American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) stimulus grant, which they used to install more than 600 miles of fiber to connect community anchor institutions in four Wisconsin communities; and to launch pilot adoption programs in five Wisconsin communities. Working with county officials, extension educators, and other community-based representatives who reported back on what their local citizens needed, UWEX built a bottom-up awareness of adoption need. This awareness led to programs geared toward seniors, veterans, students, and low-income residents.

When the grant program ended in 2012/2013, UWEX chose to focus their ongoing efforts around adoption initiatives for these specific audiences as well as new ones. They worked with the Public Service Commission on a statewide mapping effort to identify gaps according to Federal standards, and collaborated with nonprofits and other community-based organizations where they were able to widen their reach. Their engagement and influence was critical to the overall success of the program. The Center worked with external partners and brought in major stakeholders, such as telco providers, state agencies (i.e. Public Service), economic development organizations, city Chambers, foundations, associations, educational institutions, and county boards. They shared information, cleared up misunderstandings on both sides, and addressed the needs of individual counties.

Despite the unique factors facing each county, they had one thing in common: a need for educational training. This lead to UWEX’s broadband bootcamps, designed to answer questions and empower communities. Bootcamps provided answers for questions like:

  • I’m not a techie. What do I actually need to know to get broadband for our community?
  • How do I have this conversation with my telco representatives?
  • How do I identify a broadband champion in my community?
  • How do I move my community forward, in access or adoption or both?
  • How do I identify and work with community partners for access/adoption?
  • How do I identify who needs what?
  • How do I get started?

Measuring Success

Ideally, UWEX would measure adoption efforts by subscription rates,  but this proved challenging. Instead, they measure success by the number of counties involved, broadband bootcamps completed, and the number of partners or businesses that came to the events. “Demand is our greatest measurement criteria,” says Jennifer Smith, head of Communications & E-Commerce Research/Training for UW’s Broadband & E-Commerce Education Center. When a county or community group says, ‘I want a bootcamp, or an e-commerce training, or a presentation here too,’ we know we’re achieving our goals.”

Wish List

UWEX will tell you they will have won the game when they have eradicated the need for the Center. That would mean their job is done. Until then, their immediate future involves focusing on specific niches where there continues to be a divide: elderly, low-income, small business and e-commerce. For these groups, the Center continues to work with communities to look for solutions related to physical access, money for equipment, and pathways to adoption.

Advice to Others

For other communities or individual nonprofits interested in developing a digital adoption program, Jennifer offers this advice:

  1. Access and adoption go hand in hand.
  2. Be collaborative. Work with internal and external stakeholders who can influence or advance mission. No matter what area, sector or demographic, broadband is critical.

Find a local champion. They know and understand the community and its needs.

Having Internet access is like having food. Everyone needs and deserves it, even if they cannot afford it. Thanks to nonprofit organizations like Minnesota’s Neighbors Inc. (aka “Neighbors”), people living below the poverty line are getting both.

Neighbors is a nonprofit providing emergency and supportive assistance services to low-income community members in northern Dakota County. They understand that hunger is often the presenting issue, but have learned that there is always something behind hunger and that technology can help. Organizations like Neighbors can distribute bread all day; but if the underlying issues are not addressed, the challenges that bring people to social service agencies will continue.

According to Rick Birmingham, Neighbors’ Director of Development, “If we can have a positive impact on digital literacy, we can have a positive impact on poverty.”

Today, this solution is an obvious one, but that was not always the case. When Rick left MAP for Nonprofits, a tech consulting nonprofit, to join Neighbors in 2012, he made some basic online changes. He updated the organization’s website and added videos of clients telling their stories to try to make the food bank more inviting. He was surprised to learn, however, that few people were using either tool, so these technology advancements weren’t the answer. After all, if you don’t have access to the Internet, or understand how to use it, the best website or most insightful video will have little impact.

What will have an impact is the work Neighbors is doing today to help their constituents get access to healthcare, housing, education, and jobs.

For example, the digital divide was keeping Minnesota’s poor from having equal access to healthcare. Many of Neighbor’s clients were compelled to apply for MNSure, Minnesota’s version of Obamacare, which was online. The people Neighbors serves were not online, so in some cases, they had become eligible for additional assistance but weren’t able to take advantage of it because they weren’t registered online. Neighbors worked with Dakota County and three local nonprofits to provide a computer and Internet access to offer one-on-one access to medical information for people living below the poverty line. Additionally, the program put a trained Dakota County social worker available to clients on site at the food shelves with a computer and Internet access to help clients sign up.

During the first year of the program in 2014, Neighbors screened 14,808 clients. Providing access to the Internet, and Dakota County workers in a location where the clients were comfortable, made a significant difference. During the first 6 months, 17.3% of the clients were uninsured; during the last 6 months, only 5.6% were uninsured, eventually reaching 4.4% in the final month.

In addition to assisting Dakota County families with healthcare access, Neighbors, Inc. serves an area covering three school districts. Unfortunately, many of the children in the area do not have reliable access to the Internet or computers at home. These families may have a cell phone with Internet access, but they do not have the kind of access to technology students need to be successful in school and our modern economy.

That is why Rick will be the first to tell you that work still needs to be done, and that includes bundling computers, affordable Internet and training. It also requires bandwidth. As Neighbors’ digital literacy program continues to evolve, it will become the 16th mission-critical program they offer. “I know there are programs that give the poorest residents in our communities some access, but that is simply not enough. I have a problem with an industry that thinks that those living below the poverty line deserve less bandwidth than their peers simply because they cannot afford to pay for it. It is unacceptable to think poor people would or should use it any differently than those who can afford to pay for the services needed to advance in life and work.”

Wish List: Survey Resource

As a part of the 2015 Digital Adoption Survey conducted by NTEN and Mobile Citizen, nonprofits were asked to suggest ways industry partners could support them in closing the digital divide. In addition to bundling computers, affordable Internet, and training as noted here, Rick Birmingham added “survey resource” to his wish list. Neighbors continuously strives to understand their constituents in order to determine how their programs can be most effective. Ideally, surveying would be done online, but as long as a digital divide exists, Neighbors will not do anything online that they don’t also do on paper.

April Fools' Day Website Prank
April Fools’ Day Website Prank – Did we fool you?

IT Director, Karl, and I have been dreaming about this little April Fools’ Day prank for over a year. We brought in our Drupal consultant, Mark Burgess, to create some funhouse-style CSS and asked Membership Director, Megan, to contribute some of her signature bad puns and goofy jokes to the April Fools’ Day beta launch announcement blog post.

Seriously though, the NTEN staff, with help from wonderful consultants, have been making big strides towards the website redesign. Karl and Marketing & Publications Director, Joleen, give their updates below.

A big focus of our redesign has been to improve our Members’ online experiences when logged into our site. We’ve overhauled everything here, from creating or editing an account, joining or renewing Membership, to registering for an event. While it’s still not a perfect system (yet), we hope this new site will be a big improvement in terms of usability.

From a design perspective, we’ve taken advice from our Community and will be enhancing the reader experience for our three flagship publication areas: the monthly Connect Newsletter, quarterly NTEN: Change journal, and research reports, making it easy to access and read on a mobile device, browse through other content, and check out other articles on related topics.

The most significant change will be with the NTEN: Change journal. True to its name, the NTEN: Change journal will be, well, changing. Starting with the next issue in June, we will be hosting this on our website, instead of on Issuu and in a PDF. This will enable readers with an infinite scrolling functionality and a clean, minimalistic reading experience. We can’t wait to unveil this in June.

One final note on the upcoming redesign is that this is only the first phase of the project. Even as we’re putting the final touches on the new site, we’ve already started to compile a list of features and improvements to tackle in the next round of work later this year. We’re also in the process of hiring an in-house Web Developer to help keep things moving forward, as well as budgeting for continued outside development for bigger ticket functionality. So that’s really all just a long way of encouraging you, the NTEN Community, to help keep us accountable and let us know what’s working, what’s not working, and what we could be doing better.

April Fools' Day Website PrankApril Fools’ Day Website Prank

April 2 Update: This was all an April Fools’ Day prank! Read about our actual latest progress in our April Fools’ Day! + A Real Update about Our Website Redesign post.

April 1 Post:

We’re happy to announce the beta launch of our website redesign! This launch has been a long-time coming — read through the process in previous case study posts:

Just as we say in our organizational values, we embrace change. We love it when we have just the right amount of quarters for the Pac-Man machine. Change is inevitable (after all, there are only so many paper bills in the world), and we strive to be heads (and tails) above the rest when it comes to embracing new technologies — sometimes with a hug; sometimes with a firm handshake. We think our new website reflects our new direction(s) and reflects our responsiveness to the dynamic, often uneven, pace of technology innovation.

In the interest of transparency, we wanted to point out a few design elements and considerations that went into our new website:

Stick with classic design. As any bow-tie-wearing Portland hipster on a fixed-gear bike would agree, retro is the new modern. We chose to stay with our existing information architecture to truly reflect NTEN’s history and founding in 2000, recalling the early days of web design. We learned from Community feedback that keeping a simple appearance should be a key consideration in our redesign. We’re listening — and kept the new site simple, with identical content and organizational structure.

Data-driven decision making. We love data and, according to our Google Analytics data, a growing number of our website visitors access the NTEN website from a mobile device or tablet. Increasingly, NTEN Community members are interacting with our website while taking a bumpy bus ride or balancing a cup of coffee with one hand and typing in a password with the other. Since we know it’s important to adapt marketing efforts for an increasingly mobile world and meet your users where they are, we wanted a look and feel that would truly reflect the shaky hands accessing our website.

Use graphics to get attention. Marketing experts often point to the importance of graphics to get attention. With so much information at our fingertips in today’s world, your nonprofit website needs to stand out. Therefore, we picked a bright color palette to catch the eye and create an impact (and a migraine or two). We hope it captures the playful spirit of NTEN, and perhaps inspires you to visit a carnival.

Pick a bold font. When you have to deliver controversial information, Comic Sans is your font of choice. No matter how difficult or devastating the message, the news is much easier to swallow when it’s written in Comic Sans font. (Side note: We highly encourage the use of Comic Sans the next time you have to make an office sign reminding your co-workers to please clean up their dishes.)

We’d like to give a huge thanks to our Community for all the helpful feedback and support you’ve given to make this beta launch possible. Please let us know what you think in the comments.

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!

When Stuart Scadron-Wattles joined Image three years ago as Director of Resource Development, he was charged with boosting unearned income to help make the 25-year-old organization as sustainable as possible. Image began as a literary journal featuring visual work and critiques of performance by artists interested in the nexus of art, mystery, and faith. Today, it also offers more than a dozen other programs, including events and conferences.

Scadron-Wattles participated in the Nonprofit Tech Academy (NTA) in 2013. Prior to the NTA, and not long after he joined Image, a few factors were converging: The journal’s subscription rate was dropping; the subscriber population was aging; and direct mail promotions were not working like they used to. Internally, the organization maintained six discrete databases to manage subscriptions, donations, events, and other processes and programs.

“In my role, I wanted to be sure that the people participating in and benefiting from our programs were given opportunities to support the organization,” Scadron-Wattles said. But with multiple databases, it wasn’t happening consistently or easily. “We also knew—suspected and then confirmed by a survey we did—that word of mouth was the biggest factor in the decision to subscribe to the literary journal, but we weren’t sure how to support that.”

Image had been using Convio Common Ground, which was acquired and discontinued soon after Scadron-Wattles completed the Academy. In retrospect, the timing of the disappointing news was as good as it could have been, he said.

“We could have left Salesforce altogether at that point and gone to something else, but it offered us a great deal in terms of consolidating data from many sources and giving us that clichéd but valuable 360-degree view of the customer.

“What I could see from our plans was that we needed that 360 view—who’s buying, who’s donating, who’s doing both, who’s getting our e-newsletter, and what they’re doing with it. We needed a central place where that was all clear. The Academy gave me the courage to say, ‘Okay, we’re not leaving Salesforce’ and a better framework for figuring out how to move forward.”

After several months of researching, Image selected Causeview, a fundraising application built on the Salesforce platform. The transition went well, in part due to Scadron-Wattles’ temerity to ask the company for an A-team consultant, another tip he gleaned from the Academy.

The application is simple yet flexible. For example, it integrates well (running a connector) with Eventbrite, “without us having to pay the big bucks for a turnkey solution, two-thirds of which we don’t need,” said Scadron-Wattles.

In the past, events data were housed in one of those discrete databases, and the Image website directed event attendees to call the office to register. Registrations for two conferences—several hundred attendees—were handled by three interns and the program director. “Not customer friendly.”

Now participants register through Eventbrite, and the data is uploaded (manually) to Saleforce. It’s not seamless, but it’s an improvement, said Scadron-Wattles. “It’s worth [the extra steps because] we get new donors from any group we upload, which helps our totals from a fundraising standpoint.”

Today, Image has more data stored in Salesforce than ever before. The next step, according to Scadron-Wattles, is to look at upgrade pathways and journeys for individuals who engage with Image through its multiple programs. “Say you come in through our newsletter, a journal subscription, a conference or event, or you buy an e-book or access an online article. Where do we take you from there? How do we get you to engage in new ways, to make a gift and to further support Image?”

The discussions around customer journeys raise many questions, and the planning takes time. “The good news,” said Scadron-Wattles, “is that having gone through the Academy, we know we need to have a plan for this, and we know how to go about strategically mapping out how it’s going to work.”

With NTEN’s website redesign project underway, we took a step back and asked, “How do we know how our users use our site and what they want if we don’t ask? So we turned to the NTEN community, as we will continue to do at various stages of the redesign process, for your candid feedback about the NTEN website. We conducted a website survey with about 80 respondents, and conducted some one-on-one interviews with eleven members of the NTEN community. Here’s what you had to say.

First the good: While there’s definite improvements to be made, NTEN’s existing site does have clean appearance that is fairly simple to use.  As several users pointed out, keeping a clean, simple design should be key consideration in redesign so as not to detract from NTEN’s offerings. In general, people were able to conduct transactions (i.e. register for an event, renew their membership, etc.) with no problems, but it is a confusing, non-seamless transaction experience, both in terms of design interface and glitches in data sync between different systems.

Lots of users find NTEN content to be of high-quality, but it needs to be presented in a design that’s easier to digest and more attractive as a place to return to more often. Many people shared that the community groups provide a lot of value for them, so we would do well to put more community-generated content throughout the main site and highlight community-contributed articles more prominently. Membership information is easy to find, but the benefits can be highlighted more, and this is another opportunity to bring in visual content and feature more Member Stories.

The not-so good:

There’s too much text. The biggest pet peeve users cited was that NTEN is very-text heavy and not very engaging. More visual content would make the site much more useable, appealing, and easy-to-read. As one respondent wrote, [the site] “does not reflect the fun, caring, social personality of NTEN and the NTEN community. It should be much more “human,” much more “cool,” and should point much more quickly and easily to the resources people need (research, tools, community for questions, etc).”

The site is really hard to navigate. There’s a lot of resources, but it’s hard to find them, as the navigation drop-down menus aren’t very intuitive, and the search function doesn’t work well. Navigating across the different NTEN sites (myNTEN, myNTC, etc.) gets confusing and time-intensive.

NTEN.org is not very mobile-friendly. Responsive design needs to be a key piece of the redesign so the site renders clearly on any device.

One user summed it up well, “NTEN tries to be everything to everybody. As a result, the site is overwhelming with a lengthy homepage, text-heavy content, and long drop-down menus that aren’t particularly intuitive result. Consider nailing it down to 3-5 key highlights of NTEN’s offerings or calls to action that switch on a daily basis to show the diversity of content and be responsive to different audiences by giving users a more personalized experience.”

Good Website Examples Suggested by Respondents:

  • New York Public Library uses an appealing block layout
  • Tu.org‘s personalized user experience on their homepage. Like NTEN, they serve multiple audiences (e.g. beginning, intermediate, advanced users).
  • Emilyslist.org and Care.org both have an attractive, clear presentation of information

Key feedback from our users we’re prioritizing in our redesign:

  • Responsive design that is mobile friendly
  • Intutitive navigation and taxonomy
  • Robust search function
  • Clean, clear, and visually compelling layout
  • Community-centered design
  • Seamless user experience across all of NTEN’s sites

Thanks to everyone who gave us their feedback. Read more about our progress and stay tuned for the next web redesign update!

After thinking and talking about it for a long time, this year we at NTEN are finally beginning a website overhaul and re-launch in earnest. After all, the nonprofit association for people working at the intersections of tech and social change should have a website to match that mission and vision. Follow along as we chronicle the joys and occasional headaches.

NTEN is excited to announce we will be working with Pongos Interactive to implement our new site. Pongos is a WordPress development firm located in Maryland.

The decision to move from Drupal to WordPress was not taken lightly. NTEN has deep ties with the Drupal community and has been on the Drupal platform for years. However, while we plan to continue our support of the Drupal community as much as ever, we decided for our own website redesign that WordPress was the better option.

One of the primary factors behind this decision was our need to create a strong integration between our CRM (Abila’s netFORUM) and our content management system. With WordPress, we were able to find an existing and fully tested integration that we could build on top of. With Drupal on the other hand, while building an integration was possible, it would have needed to be developed mostly from scratch, which would have been much more difficult and expensive.

Another factor that weighed heavily in this decision came up once we started analyzing our actual website needs. While Drupal still seems to have the edge in overall functionality, it turns out we don’t really need any of those additional features, and in the end found that WordPress was more than capable of meeting our needs while at the same time being more accessible to our end users.

We are now in the planning stages of this rebuild and are looking for help from our community.

  • Website survey – we have a survey live on the site now. Please – we need to hear from you to be sure we are building the right thing!
  • Usability testing – we will be doing a lot of usability testing over the summer and early fall. Please contact Jessica (Jessica@nten.org) if you would be willing to participate.
  • Content Strategist – we are looking for a consultant to advise on content strategy and information architecture. More information is available here
  • Graphic Designer  – we are looking for a graphic designer for the website. More information is available here

Read our previous blog post here.

After thinking and talking about it for a long time, this year we at NTEN are finally beginning a website overhaul and re-launch in earnest. After all, the nonprofit association for people working at the intersections of tech 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 first installment, NTEN’s IT Director, Karl Hedstrom, and Operations Director, Jessica Holliday, answer a few questions about what we’re setting out to do, and how, and why…

Julia: Why a new NTEN website? Why now?

Karl: This project actually goes beyond just a new website and is really more of a web presence redesign. One of the biggest issues we’ve faced for a long time is a complete lack of integration between our CRM and CMS, meaning it’s very difficult to direct our community towards the content they’re most interested in. Furthermore, across our multiple online platforms and websites, there’s little to no design consistency, and the transitions between the sites are clunky at best. Finally, and perhaps most glaringly, none of our sites have a real responsive design, making them difficult or impossible to access on a mobile device.

As far as timing, while we probably should have tackled some of these issues years ago (e.g. responsive design, consistent theme), for other issues like building an integration between our CRM and CMS, until now there weren’t really great solutions available that met both our needs and our budget. However, as technology and the available tools have progressed, we’re now finally able to tackle all these issues in a comprehensive way and within a budget that our board will actually approve.

What are the specific pain points and challenges you hope to overcome through this re-launch? I’m curious both about the big picture but also about the little things that YOU are personally most excited about/invested in.

Jessica: Mostly it’s really fun, and a bit intimidating, to get this chance to work on a great new web presence and finally address some longstanding technical and design issues. I am excited about being really open about our approach and our processes, both as a way to get a great product out there and as a learning tool. We have a fantastic opportunity to leverage all the knowledge in our community and get lots of expert feedback along the way.

Karl: I already mentioned some of the pain points above, but in general the main issues we’re hoping to address with this website redesign are:

  • Making our sites mobile-friendly with a responsive design

  • Giving our overall web presence a consistent and purposeful design and feel

  • Integrating our various systems to make for a smooth and seamless experience on the front end

  • Overhauling our content strategy to make sure it’s as easy as possible for our users to find the information they’re looking for or to accomplish whatever task they set out to do (e.g., register for an event, become a member, connect with their peers)

What data helped name the problems that we’ll try to solve, and what data will guide our decisions throughout this process?

We have loads of anecdotal data from the last few years based on emails and phone calls from our community members who weren’t able to do “X” on our website. Then we’re also in the process of diving into the actual hard data available to us through Google Analytics and a full content audit; we will supplement this further with targeted interviews and surveys for the community to help weigh in on various parts of the project.

How long has this been brewing? What did you do to prepare for the first all-staff meeting about this?

Karl: A “website redesign” has been brewing for at least the last 2 years, but it finally got the kick it needed when Jessica and I attended the AUDC (Avectra Users and Developers Conference) in March and saw some demos of how our CRM (Avectra’s netFORUM) could smoothly integrate with a CMS like WordPress.

Then, at the 14NTC, I attended a session titled Progressive Enchantment: Crafting a Responsive Design presented by Daniel Ferro, Sean Powell, and Karin Tracy, where they actually had redesigned NTEN’s website as a case study for how responsive design could be used to modernize a very outdated website. This was my first introduction into the details behind responsive design, and it was a real eye-opener for how badly our website really did need an update.

Jessica: We field a lot of calls in the office that could be unnecessary if we had a more straight forward user experience. And I worry a lot about the folks who don’t call—who just get frustrated and give up. A better website is going to really help us serve our members and encourage new ones.

Our team is small, just a dozen people. How will we divide responsibilities among the team? What are the next steps?

Jessica: We wanted to make sure that all staff are engaged with this project, bringing their perspectives and growing their skills. At our first meeting about the site relaunch, we divided into four “committees” that are doing user research as part of a discovery process and will report back at our annual all-staff retreat. They are:

1) Analytics—analyze our Google Analytics data to better understand how people are using our current site, who they are, and what they are trying to do/find. This is a quantitative approach to defining our target audiences…

2) Interviews—use in-person and online surveys to understand how people are using our current site and what they would like to see in a new site.

3) Content—this committee is both backwards-looking (performing an audit of our current content) and forward-looking (sculpting a new content strategy). The content committee will facilitate a card-sorting exercise at our upcoming all-staff retreat.

4) Reporting—this committee is ensuring our processes are documented and shared with the NTEN community.

How do you see us addressing all of this, and by when?

Jessica: The plan is to have each committee present their report at the all-staff retreat this week. We hope to have the bulk of user research finished at the end of June and move on to building an information architecture and initial prototyping. We will refine the design throughout the summer and move to implementation in late September. Fingers crossed!

Who else will be involved other than staff?

We really do want to hear from our community! We want to present opportunities to not only suggest features but also be involved on a really hands-on level. You can help us by answering a few questions about how we could improve NTEN.org. If you’re interested in providing more feedback in a phone interview, email us your contact information, and we’ll get in touch with you.

We’ve also dug up some good-looking online tools to open up usability testing. And we’ll certainly be turning to our knowledgeable community as we contemplate some of our trickier questions, whether through the NTEN Discuss list, surveys, or other nifty tools we discover. And please, please share your favorite go-to resources with us.

We at NTEN would all love to hear from community members who have recently undergone site design projects. Have a taxonomy horror story? Design triumph? Or a question for Jessica and Karl? Share in the comments section below!


Interested in free wireless Internet for a year for your nonprofit? Mobile Citizen is looking for a few NTEN Members to participate in their Enabling Programs & Resultscase study campaign!

Nonprofits selected to participate in the campaign will receive one free wireless Internet account and modem for one year.  Over the course of the year, Mobile Citizen will work with the nonprofit to document experiences and results, seeing how wireless Internet helped the organization improve efficiency, productivity, communications, or their ability to provide community outreach. Case studies will be promoted on Mobile Citizen and NTEN’s website as well as included in a webinar later in the year.

To nominate your organization for the campaign, and to learn more about how nonprofits across the country are already leveraging wireless Internet, go to: mobilecitizen.org/ntenfriends. Deadline for nominations is April 30. 

Also, don’t miss our upcoming webinar on April 22: Leaders Leveraging Wireless: 10 Ways to Lead by Leaving Your Desk. Michelle Warner, Director of Mobile Citizen, will challenge your thinking on ways to leverage wireless technology in each area. Attendees will learn 10 concrete examples, and specific best practices and success stories from nonprofits around the country.