Tuesday, February 06, 2007

AHR gut check for front page design

The clarity from last meeting was quickly forgotten as we grappled with design elements, messaging, and structure. We didn't necessarily take a step backwards, but we did slosh about in the weeds. The deeper we went, the more we needed to revisit our goals.

And that's what we attempted to do, back off for a few minutes and get a fresh look at the front page, direction of site/campaign.

After a little more consideration, the initial sizzle we felt with the rain theme backdrop and header image started to wane. Rain is not the sole contributor to sewage in our rivers and offering that as the lead in to the site was potentially distracting to the overall effort of the site to engage and activate river groups around 'Right to Know' legislation. So our thinking went.

A little more detail about our likes/dislikes of existing front page mock-up:

Images: We're shooting for the lead image to reflect the positive side of rivers and communities, e.g. recreation, water source, healthy ecosystems. The second, smaller image underneath, we’re going for an ugly sewer shot that contrasts the lead image. The tag line: When the rivers flow with sewage.

Backdrop: We’ve given this a lot of thought following the suggestion regarding the use of a river image at top. With the current backdrop, a river image is out of place. And since the rain is not the sole contributor to sewage, we’re planning on deleting the rain backdrop.

Navigation: We like it at the top as well as the idea of a highlighted section to the right (currently, River Group Supporters). This is an attention getter and one we can utilize as a call out to join. Specifically, we're thinking of bringing the box to the top and doing away with the map and state drop down.

Bottom half of front page: The two posts on the homepage will also be the two most recent posts. On the right, another section/box about ‘The Legislation’ will be pretty key for us to keep our eyes on the prize.

I suspect our next design to look drastically different, but we'll be one step closer.


Dennis said...

Your re-design looks great so far. Drupal and Convio are excellent choices. I would caution you to not forget about search engines in the process. Make sure your design firm doesn't just create a site that is merely nice to look at and has a list of required functions-- those mean little if you can't drive traffic there.

Have you applied for Google Grants (and the counterpart at Yahoo)? As a 501(c)(3), the search engines give out free ad budgets. Thus, you can show your message when people search for "act for healthy rivers", "clean rivers" and so forth. Our firm manages such campaigns for no charge, provided you are a non-profit. We do charge if you are a commercial client.

Let us know if we can help with SEO and SEO. I commend you for sharing your design process for other non-profits to learn from.

Dennis Yu

Chas Offutt said...

Dennis, thanks for the field of dreams reminder. This is a good point and one that I do need to consider rather quickly.

We have a google grant, but have not used it as effectively as we could.


Jason said...

Very, very sexy. The top nav could be slightly clearer/prominent, but it looks great.

Chas Offutt said...

Jason, thanks for the read, and that's what we like to hear!

Hmmm, good point about the nav, it is tucked away at the top...