Almost every day I talk about something related to design that’s caught my attention here on my blog DesignNotes. But rarely do I mention anything that I’m working on or have been a part of. There’s a lot of reasons why that is, though one of the practical reasons is that the projects I’m now designing are 1. complex, 2. have large teams and 3. take a long time to launch.
But with that said, one of the first projects that I worked on at Renegade launched last night. Children for Children’s http://childrenforchildren.org/ new website (redesign) is now working. There were a lot of Renegade people involved with this project: Alan, Michael (me), Frankie, Sonali, David C., Gordon, Rob, Bryan, Kumail, Jade, Adrian, Fanny and Drew. Aside from everyone at Renegade, there was the dedicated team at Children for Children. Without getting into defined roles of each person, I’m going to talk about a lot of the considerations of the site and how they were implemented.
“Children for Children® (CFC), a New York not-for-profit founded by parents to foster community involvement and social responsibility in young people, offers opportunities for young people from preschool through high school to “grow involved,” through hands-on service and philanthropy programs that teach the value of volunteering and giving.” With that said, the website talks to a couple different audiences, first and foremost to the kids that may want to get involved with the organization, and additionally to the parents of the kids. On a different level there’s the public, whether it’s potential donors or media groups. And a third important group, Children for Children – the organization itself. Each of those audiences have different needs, expectations and uses for the website and I think we’ve made the site understandable and useful for all of them.
At it’s most essential level Children for Children is run by children. Anyone that has designed for kids runs into the challenge aesthetically to balance fun an playful without going too far that the look and feel seems contrived, speaks down or becomes a rainbow of color. There’s so many reasons why they may come to the site: more info on events, wanting to volunteer, see the latest news, publish etc. A lot of those reasons are similar to what parents, donors, media and volunteers want too. So all the diverse groups in a lot of ways have similar goals when they come to the site.
After meeting with Children for Children and talking with kids that were actually going to use the site, visual explorations began. At the same time the site architecture was updated and content began to be re-purposed. That evolved and merged together to create the framework of the site. Because there was so much valuable content, we wanted to create quick entry points so the person using the site wouldn’t get overwhelmed. That’s why tabs on the home page underneath the flash banner were created. Each of the audience groups could get quick bits of info. Other essential elements was the calendar and how it displayed upcoming events. There’s a monthly visual and if you click on the date it takes you to a dedicated events page. That page also gives an upcoming three month overview of future events. If you wanted to donate or get involved there’s easy access buttons. There’s also typical questions that people might ask, so we tried to anticipate a lot of those and placed a drop down button at the top of the page.
There’s been a lot of talk of web 2.0 and we wanted to take those technical elements that would help foster the community and help Children for Children internally. The biggest thing that isn’t seen but runs the site is the content management system, aside from giving Children for Children the tools to update their own information, it had to be understandable enough to work with the calendar. The home page also works similar to a blog, each new entry or post will find itself on the homepage. As newer content flows, older information goes down and can be found in it’s proper section. Flickr is used to collect photos of events, multiple ways of saving information like Delicious, Digg, Google and Yahoo were also implemented. A rss feed was created to send info to users that know how to use an rss reader.
A website never really finishes. Once people use the new site both internally and externally now that it has launched, tweaks eventually will be made. However a new framework has been designed and I’m extremely happy and proud to see the site come to be as it is now.