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Helping a leading non–profit reflect its mission in form and function upon its own website

In 2003, the Markle Foundation — a non–profit foundation at the leading edge of using technological innovation to improve people's live, and a long time client — came to swandivedigital in search of a facelift for their current website. They knew there was something wrong, but they weren't quite sure exactly what was wrong, so they commissioned us to perform a website needs assessment.

Our multi–pronged approach included an online site survey, discussions with organization staff, technical review of the current technology environment and analysis of the site using Swandivedigital's own proprietary User–centric assessment technique.

Taken collectively, our research yielded substantial, specific feedback regarding the site — target audience considerations, desire for new features and functionality, levels of satisfaction with the current site and a better understanding of the role the new site should play with respect to telling the Markle Foundation "story," and embodying the foundation's Mission.

Clear patterns emerged. First and foremost, site visitors almost universally referred to the high quality content contained on the site, but the problem was that they couldn't get to it. Navigation–oriented users recounted trouble finding desired information, while search–based users spoke of vague and untargeted search results. Others had trouble with layout, lack of support features and the readability of online content.

Other trends came to light. Markle staff felt the site should more strongly communicate the foundation's work, effectively engage users on a personal and emotional level, and better represent, through form and function, the Markle Foundation's forward–looking Mission (i.e. that it should utilize an open source platform and comply with best practice universal accessibility standards).

A complete redesign of the website — including information architecture, aesthetics, messaging, technology and infrastructure — was the only cost effective and complete solution to fully address the organization's needs.

  • The new site adheres to Best Practice usability and universal accessibility standards, including compliance with Section 508 of the Rehabilitation act of 1973 (legally mandated for all New York State and Federal Websites, and the de facto standard for most educational and non-profit institutions).
  • In keeping with the Foundation's support of cutting edge, low cost ICT solutions that can help bridge the global digital divide, the new website is built upon an open source backend architecture.
  • For the first time ever, the Foundation's extensive body of research has been made easily available to researchers, policy-makers and the interested general public.
  • Improved home page messaging quickly conveys Foundation Mission and "story," while a modular structure allows for the showcasing of timely news and foundation initiatives.
  • Revamped navigation and page layout helps site visitors browse to desired information with a minimum of false starts and wrong turns.
  • Vastly improved search functionality and results, including an advanced search function, allows site visitors to find relevant information quickly and accurately.
View site: www.markle.org

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