Monday, January 29, 2007

AHR mock-ups reviewed, desired design elements explored

The Act for Healthy Rivers team met again last Friday to discuss the mock-ups. We had a great meeting and it was the first time all of us have sat down and accomplished what we set out to do over the typically short time together (finished early in fact!).

This was not because we had a hard time agreeing in previous meetings, but up until now the project was still too ambiguous. This meeting had legs from the beginning as we finally had something to wrap our heads around. Instead of proposing 'what it could be', we were finally getting a glimpse of 'what it will be'.

From my first day at American Rivers, we've been talking about this project, fighting for its funding, and making our case internally why it was important. That was eight months ago and even I came in the 5th round, so this project has been bubbling for well over a year.

This past July we decided to put this project to paper and write a Request for Proposal (RFP). After hallway chats, meeting requests, and email galore, we laid out what we wanted (applications and all) and tossed it to 10 different firms. And we got 10 different proposals. It was everything from a 6-line email to a binded 40 page report (ouch!). The proposed project budget was also all over the place. We mulled over each proposal, responded to follow up questions, and further attempted to identify what Act for Healthy Rivers meant to the organization, steering committee, and prospective river groups who join the campaign.

The funny thing is that where we are now is nowhere close to what we envisioned in the RFP. However, going through this process helped us to 1) identify our developer/firm for the national site, 2) further grasp the project goals, 3) find a gritty, campaign proven firm developing exclusively on Drupal.

Since basically October, we've had multiple meetings with our design team that have gone on many tangents (we are talking about sewage, so all fun), and all of it has lead us to where we are now, project mock-ups for our 'river group' site.

Our meeting on Friday touched on the following:

Mock-up 2 was the preferred design template, but there were elements of the other two (here and here) that were equally as attractive for AHR’s look, feel, and navigation.

Our discussion revealed the overall desired design features for moving forward:

  • Greater balance between slog and policy (if not weighted slightly more to policy focus)
  • Horizontal navigation
  • Prominent supporter map, a play for river groups to join
  • Strong call to arms intro to campaign, our “manifesto”
  • AHR logo design and colors that pop
  • Participatory/collaborative feel, 'slog your story'
  • Simple navigation
  • Drop-down support locator (by state)
  • Full/fat footer to reinforce message/navigation
  • No distinction between guest and main blogger
  • Slog email capability

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