How to create a new website

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Session 1, Thursday 4/3/14: Website Development Process with David from CPEHN

Go around:

  • We don't do a good job of keeping our site updated, the folks who built it aren't around and we don't know how to deal with it
  • Sysadmin, want to hear the web process side of thing
  • Web developer, want to hear the organizational perspective
  • We've got a hideous website, we're rebranding and getting all our online ducks in order; trying to revamp the site but Google Sites are mystifying!

David from CPEHN:

  • Just redid our website
  • We had a website built in 2003 with a custom content management system, developed by that developer; that person left, she was the only one that could fix the CMS, so it was getting old statle and buggy; only worked in in IE6 or god knows what.
  • That's the danger with a custom site--the people who built it will leave, you'll be left in the lurch. Went with an open source platform, Drupal or WordPress, so they could bring in someone else to work with it if their original developer bailed.
  • Wanted a more dynamic site.
  • Met with Aspiration and Gunner; they helped CPEHN with the process.
  • Redoing the website is in addition to your usual work, need to fit it in. Wanted to do the process well but do it efficiently.
  • Aspiration helped them figure out an RFP, make sure CPEHN knew what they wanted, make sure the developer had all the info they needed from the start.
  • First step: identify your constituents.
    • Example: teens who participate in drop-in program, donors who come to the site, the community. Primary audiences: donors, funders, local community. The youth might eventually use the website too, though probably through Facebook or Twitter.
  • Each audience might use the site in very different ways, but you want a site that speaks to and appeals to all audiences.
  • CPEHN broke down who's coming to the website, who they want to come, how they want them to use it.
    • Primary audience: community-based health organizations working with people of color; donors and funders; people looking for data and resources.
  • They had to prioritize the hierarchy of different audiences. Show what you do, target your primary audience, hopefully other audiences (esp donors and funders) will get something out of it.
  • Next step: user stories. How are people using the site? How do you want them to use the site?
    • Advocates are coming from advocacy information. Want to get them info on ongoing legislation, have it be searchable by county.
    • Write out what you want people to do on your site, processes for how they do it.
    • Those user stories are transformed into the RFP. You don't have to think about the "how," that's the developer's job; your responsibility is to figure out what you want.
    • The more that you can provide up front about what you want the site to do and who it should serve, the better.
    • Staff should also be included in user stories; what does the staff want to be able to do with the site, and how? E.g. "Enter in all policy info, tag it so it can be searched by category."
    • Try to only use active verbs in your user stories! Focus on the user doing things on the website.
  • What's the value your site gives to people? What makes them want to come back to your website for the third time? Become a trusted source of information.
  • If it's a static page, they're not gonna come back. How do you get folks to return, make the site valuable to them?
  • CPEHN can share the RFP they came up with after going through this process.
  • Had a couple of conversations with Gunner; transferred all the user stories and priorities into an RFP.
  • You don't have to decide on Drupal or WordPress ahead of time; the developers will tell you what they work with and how they see themselves developing what you need on their system.
  • (Discussion of platforms like Squarespace or Google Sites, different hosting options, ongoing support and maintenance for sites built in Drupal and WordPress.)
  • Aspiration folks are down to help organizations make good choices! They can help you evaluate proposals that people are submitting and tell you if you're getting ripped off or not, give you lists of people that are "righteous."
  • You figure out all the stuff above and put it into an RFP; developers send proposals back describing how they'll approach the project.
  • CPEHN also sent out an email to their whole list saying they were creating a new website and asking for help; got some super-advocates, a group of 10 or so folks to provide feedback on the website, how they use the site. Maybe one person for each different audience or user story that you identified.
  • Keep staff involve, you want their buy-in for the new site.
  • Responsiveness is important! Make sure that's from your RFP.
  • Get your developers to provide training and/or documentation on your site.