Monday, April 16, 2007

American Rivers dot org is LIVE!

It's been one year since I applied to American Rivers, 10 months of website redesign internal chatter and more than six months of blogging about our redesign(s) and I'm happy to report that we've reached the end of the road...maybe the end of this road (like a launch is ever an end).

I had all of these great ideas about how I could show the good, bad and not so good times along the way, but I'm just too tired at this point.

To quickly recap: We were supposed to launch last Thursday, before everyone awoke the next morning, but Convio had a widespread advocacy module update deployment that same night which brought roughly a quarter of the servers to their knees. That was sleepless night #1. We weren't aware of this and it inevitably cost us a night's worth of work. We've been backpedaling ever since.

However, as another weekend was consumed by updates, review and pages being built out (America's Most Endangered Rivers report comes out in a few hours, so new pages needed to be built), we finally flipped the switch this morning at 5:45.

It's good to finally have all our cards on the table, but it doesn't make the *cleaning* any easier. There's a lot to do before the biggest traffic day of the year (release of Most Endangered Rivers report), but all and all, we're very pleased where we are right now. Take a spin.

Here are a few before and after pictures -


About Us


Join Us

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Blog and first wiki glossary are LIVE!

Though the national redesign is on it's fourth day of delay (not bad!), the wiki glossary and blog are now live. Over 60 posts fill the community blog, dating back to 2006, and more than a handful of terms exist in the first wiki glossary dedicated to river conservation - very cool.

For me, the blog wrangling continues - hence my light blog posts over the last couple of weeks - and wrapping up what we plan is the last day of web development.

There are lots of little details left to complete, but we're planning on launching the redesigned national website tonight. Really.

As somewhat of a teaser, I released the blog and wiki to the organization last Friday and have gotten some good feedback as well as suggestions for moving forward. One in particular was to create a redirect for our blog and wiki so we can drop the added verbage (i.e. /wordpress/ and /wiki/index.php/Main_Page) at the end of the URL.

I assumed that we would keep these URLs as destination sites, only accessible via our website, but it didn't make sense as a co-worker suggested. So we redirected both to simply the subdomain, and

On a side note, I recently learned what that little box was actually called next to the URL...favicon (favorite + icon). Pretty cool.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Act for Healthy Rivers is LIVE!

After 8+ months of conceptualizing the whats, whys, whos, and hows, we've finally launched Act for Healthy Rivers ( The first site, phase I, is designed to speak to river groups, or anyone working (and possibly profiting, ie rafting or guiding services) on the water.

Phase II, which is scheduled to launch early this summer, is geared to *Joe Public*. Not too many details on this site, but it will be short, sweet, and subversive (keep your fingers crossed with the latter).

Until then, take a spin on Act for Healthy Rivers. It was just launched the other day, so it's still in beta mode...if you have suggestions, ideas, or comments, now is the time to share 'em.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

How redesigns really work

Creativity is good, but finding those who are doing well is better.

That's at least been my mantra as we've gone through the redesign process. I love finding good examples of what others are doing online and using it as a benchmark for us and our work on the web.

And fortunately, there are some great brains in the non-profit tech/strategy world who have really opened my eyes as we near the end of our redesign road (yikes, it's been six-months already?). And thankfully, there are people who've been involved in this process who I don't work with and who have provided that outside prospective - you know who you are, thank you.

One of the cooler functions (IMHO) with our redesign site is the Find an Expert page on our site. I wish I could take credit for this, but I can't. I first saw this on Environmental Defense's site and just thought it was a brilliant way to put people in front our your organization.

People give to people, right? Well, we're banking on the fact that people support people too. Our goal with the redesign is to put our people in front of our audience. Then the organization. Hence the community blog, wiki glossary, and the Find an Expert link.

I hope you get to know the folks who are working on the front lines of river conservation, hear their stories, see their photographs, watch their videos, and learn about their work through their eyes.

Our Find an Expert page:

Same tabbed (?) browsing experience for our Citizen Guides:

Houston, we have a...

delayed launch.

It's Wednesday morning and we have a national site that is looking great, but is taking a little longer to develop than expected.

Since last fall, we've been shooting for an April 6th launch date to give us a couple of weeks to work out the kinks prior to the biggest media event of the year (i.e. traffic to the site), the release of America's Most Endangered Rivers of 2007 report on April 17th.

However, I don't see our delayed launch as a downward turn, and in fact, I've never been a part of a project of this size that wasn't extended slightly beyond it's due date. But still, it's not a good feeling having to turn to your co-workers, supporters, and members and say, "sorry, we need just a little more time."

But we needed to set a date, a deadline to act internally as well as serve as a greater motivator for our four separate consultants to develop our redesigned (who am I kidding NEW) national site. I never thought it would take four teams of *partners* to build out our site, but to do it within our budget and on time, it required us to patchwork the development teams. Yes, crazy coordination, but on the cheap.

Though it's not looking like a Friday launch, we're hoping to 'go live' on Monday, April 9th. However, our ABSOLUTE deadline is Friday, April 13th, since the release of America's Most Endangered Rivers of 2007 report is the following Tuesday.

As soon as our partners are done with the pages being built out in Convio, our staff has to get in there and fine tune the pages - I'm hoping we can complete this over the weekend. Keep your fingers crossed.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Video production(s): behind the scenes look

We're still planning on launching Friday - as of now. The pages are being built, content being migrated, and staff being informed of the various (and exciting) upgrades to the new site. And funny thing, after five or six straight weekends of work, I suddenly feel like there isn't much to do. Calm before the storm?

Our partners have all of the content, the blog and the wiki are gearing up for the launch (35 posts already back dated in the blog), and I went for a bike ride today during lunch to see the cherry blossoms on the National Mall. And, to boot, we've also produced our video web introduction, video introduction of America's Most Endangered Rivers of 2007, and a blog audio introduction - similar to what I have on this blog.

And all of this was a lot of fun too. A few photos of the day are below. The videos are awesome, I hope we can do more video...but it was also nice to just get out by the water on a beautiful spring day.