Learn about our website design process and goals in taking on the responsive redesign of NASPA’s website.
Every new website project feels a lot like starting a garden in an abandoned or overgrown yard.
First, you clear the debris and remove the dead plants to uncover all of the issues and the ways in which the garden fell apart. Second, potential environmental hazards need to be examined to ensure solutions are ready for all potential weather threats, hungry animals, and other outside forces. Finally, you need to plan the garden for irrigation, sunlight, and aesthetic appeal – essentially all the tools it will need to be fruitful and enjoyable.
Digging into the project with NASPA was like discovering a secret garden that had one of every type of plant in the world all growing on top of each other. You could sense the amazing potential, but it was hard to see it through all the clutter.
Who is NASPA?
NASPA is an organization of more than 13,000 student affairs professionals from around the world. Not only do they host over 60 events a year, but members are actively posting blogs and writing scholarly articles on topics that are relevant to education, including issues on public policy, equity and diversity, and the growth of technology in higher education.
It was clear almost immediately that a new website with a robust strategy, mobile optimization, and beautiful design would be transformative in the higher education industry. Together with the amazing team at NASPA, we began to dig the rows and prepare to plant the seeds.
Core Issues to Solve
NASPA produces a really large amount of content. Making sure the content was easily accessible and sharable were key features for the new site.
Leadership Volunteer Permissions
NASPA has more than 60 volunteers who contribute to content on the website. We needed to have a robust solution so that many users could easily add and edit website content cohesively while still maintaining security.
Russian Matryoshka Dolls – Websites within Websites
Because NASPA has many smaller communities within the overarching NASPA community, we needed to develop a way for each community to feel as though they had their own separate website while still fitting seamlessly into the overall website strategy and architecture
With the increasing rate of mobile and tablet use, the NASPA site needed to be beautifully responsive in order to ensure content was always accessible.
Along with tackling the primary hurdles, we developed a set of goals for the new site.
Goal#1: Build a site that not only speaks to members, but allows them to engage and connect with each other.
The website needed to be a place where members of the student affairs community could collaborate and discuss current events, key issues, and changes to their industry. The content on the site is not meant to be static, but the catalyst for a broader discussion and further interaction.
Goal #2: Create a website that also serves as a resource and source of information for non-NASPA members.
While NASPA’s site needed to serve its members, it also needed to effectively attract new ones. With the old site, it was difficult to determine exactly what NASPA did. We wanted to make sure that this site would provide easy-to-access information about what NASPA is, the benefits it offers, and how to join.
Goal #3: Increase user involvement.
Our primary goal was to get current members to login and enjoy the benefits of the new website and interact with the site by commenting on posts, sharing on social media, and exploring new content areas.
Goal #4: Provide a personalized Experience.
Since the members of NASPA are many and diverse, the goal was to ensure that each member had an experience tailored to them so that the site would be the most beneficial to each specific user.
- By the end of the first day, more than 700 members had logged in to begin using and enjoying the site.
- By the end of the first two weeks, more than 3,000 members had logged in.
- As the website grows and more content is added, people are beginning to comment on posts and share them on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.
Within the first three weeks, there were nearly 100 new content posts on the site, including Regional Posts, Research and Policy posts, Knowledge Community Posts, and Group & Division Posts. Additionally, NASPA staff and volunteers had posted pages for more than 50 events, including an entire subdomain dedicated to the NASPA Annual Conference.
A true mobile experience would be cognizant of the device-specific abilities small devices have. Using Foundation 4's framework, we were able to build an experience that went beyond the single column approach and create a better mobile experience with off-canvas navigation, touch-enabled media galleries, mobile-friendly menus, and controlled source ordering of page elements.
The design is best admired when comparing the old site to the new site. It focuses on ensuring content is readable, adding photos to make the site more visually engaging, and using color to help distinguish between sections of the site.
We had an amazing time working on this project with NASPA. They are a team of incredibly intelligent, hardworking, and creative people, which made brainstorming and collaboration a delight.
The final NASPA website is like a beautiful and intriguing garden—full of neat little rows of plants and areas to explore, but always with a clear path back to where you started.
Visit www.naspa.org and wander around.