We are excited to launch the brand new website for the Humanist Community of Central Ohio. The last time we had a major update to the website was 2011, so a facelift was long overdue. However, it’s the technology underneath the surface that we hope will help us better achieve our mission of providing a supportive local community for humanists and other nontheists in the Central Ohio area. In this post I’ll walk you through the changes we’ve made and explain how they affect you and the community as a whole.
The New Design
First, let’s take a brief look at the design makeover. The overall goal of the new design is to visually simplify and modernize the aesthetic so that our message can take center stage. We also wanted the structure and flow of the site to encourage participation by guiding visitors and signups to the information they need when they need it. I’ll show you what I mean in the examples below which, organizationally, are some of the site’s most important pages.
The HCCO Homepage
On the old website when a new visitor arrived, it was hard for them to determine what information was most important or what action we would like them to take. It was also difficult to understand at a glance what our organization is all about. In the homepage redesign we tried to make sure that new visitors know in a single phrase what humanism is and how to get involved.
Then, if they want to learn more, the natural thing to do is to scroll down. As they scroll down they are presented with new pieces of information about who we are and what we do as well as more calls to action to join the organization. If someone chooses to become a member, they are sent to the join page.
The HCCO Join Page
On the old website the join page was a little cluttered. It definitely got the job done, but again, with the update we wanted to simplify and focus the design on the primary objective.
The form is also much more prominent; it’s higher up the page and it has a bold border and subtle shadow behind it. It’s also shorter, to encourage those who are averse to long signup forms to power through and join. Upon successful registration a new user should automatically be redirected to our new Account Page.
The My Account Page
On the old website the account page was primarily for editing your contact information. On the new website we wanted to turn the my account page into more of an “HCCO portal”. The one place you need to go to find whatever it is you want to do, see, or get involved with organizationally. At the top of the page there is set of “quick links” that will jump you to other sections of the page or even other pages on the site.
Under the “manage account” section of the new my account page you are able to quickly and easily edit your profile, subscription details, and view your donation history. You can also see where we’re at as an organization in meeting our funding goals for the year.
Below that are two sections: the “volunteer opportunities” section and the “activism opportunities” section. Since the activism section is still in progress, I’ll review the volunteer section.
In the “volunteer opportunities” section we’ve highlighted six things you can do that will make the biggest difference in furthering our mission as an organization. Each “learn more” button allows you to instantly start your journey in that direction. Whether that’s sharing your story, contributing to our blog, or volunteering your time and talents to serve our community in other ways.
The Technology Under the Surface
All of these changes (and many more that you cannot see on the surface) are possible because of technology changes we’ve decided to make. First, we decided to switch our website from Drupal to WordPress.
The reason for this switch is that while Drupal is a great piece of open source software, it’s geared more towards web developers than it is end users. WordPress on the other hand (as the world’s most popular tool for creating websites) focuses more on the end user.
In practical terms, that means it will be easier for non-technical members of our community to manage and contribute to our website moving forward.
And because of WordPresses’ massive community of third party developers we have access to some excellent tools that are sure to grow our membership and help us achieve our mission. The three key ones being:
The Extra WordPress Theme
The Extra WordPress Theme is a powerful tool designed for anyone creating rich, beautiful, and interactive content. As an organization that regularly creates content for our members and the broader secular/humanist community we wanted to make a change that would not only showcase our existing content better but also increase its impact by: boosting our visibility on search engines, making sharing on social networks easier, and removing friction from the commenting process.
Extra also comes with some powerful features under the hood that will help us improve the performance of our site over time. A great example being the Divi Leads split testing system that allows us to test certain page and section designs against each other for better optimization. Hopefully resulting in us understanding how our community uses our website and allowing us to make small changes on a regular basis that keep folks better engaged with the work we’re doing and the services we provide.
Restrict Content Pro
Restrict Content Pro is our new membership tool. It allows us to do one of the most essential things we need organizationally which is to manage new and existing memberships in a straightforward way. We’re able to set member levels, track recurring payments, look up existing members by status, generate easy to understand reports, and much more.
Give is our donation tool. With Give we’re able to create beautiful, interactive donation forms and place them just about anywhere on our site. This means we can run specific ongoing or one time fundraising campaigns with specific forms that track our goals and the donors who have helped us meet them. In fact, you’ll notice we have a form at the bottom of this post!
What All This Means For You
As you can see, we’ve made a lot of changes. And honestly, what I’ve gone over above just begins to scratch the surface. But now I’d like to move into the truly important part of all this, which is explaining how these changes affect you and our community.
First and foremost, this update means we are perhaps better equipped than ever before to fulfill our mission of providing a supportive local community for humanists and other nontheists in the Central Ohio area. By improving our new member onboarding and existing member management processes we can better connect our community members (you!) to events, programs, or services. We can also organize and harness our volunteer efforts more effectively when providing community service or standing up for our organizational values through activism.
In short, it’s an exciting time to be a part of the Humanist Community of Central Ohio and we want to make sure you can plug in (or reconnect) right away.
How to Get Involved
When we were making the switch from our old website to our new website, it wasn’t exactly a simple or smooth process. Our old system had a bloated database with literally thousands of entries generated by spam bots over the years.
Thankfully we were able to salvage a few lists of existing members and former/expired members, totaling 227 people. Those accounts have been transferred manually to our new website and emails sent explaining the current status of their account and instructions on how to begin using the new website.
If you are an existing member in good standing, of which there is approximately 60, you can sign in to our new website via the login page (also located in the top left-hand corner of our website). You should have received an email from our webmaster email account with your username and password.
If you have not received that email you can go to our new login page and use the password recovery link to reset your password and log in.
If for some reason we do not have your account set up on our new site yet (or it is expired) then follow the same instructions as the former/expired members below.
Former or Expired Members
As I mentioned above, our old system was a little out-dated and hard to track things in. As a result, a lot of people who probably think they have up-to-date memberships, in fact do not. This is because our old system was not automatically recurring and the notifications for soon-to-expire accounts didn’t always work.
So here is what we’re doing:
If you think you should have an account with us but did not receive an email from our webmaster email (me) and cannot login to our website you can reach out to me at webmaster at hcco.staging.wpengine.com. I will cross check your name and email with our salvaged member roles and paypal records to see what your status is and make sure you get an account set up.
If you are not and have never been an official member of HCCO but would like to become one, you’ve got it really easy. All you have to do is go to our join page and fill out the form. You’ll receive an automated confirmation email with next steps on how to get involved in everything we’re doing as an organization.
We’re Just Getting Started
I hope you are as excited as we on the Board are about these website updates and changes. Launching this new website is just phase one of a three phase plan we have for our new site. In fact, phase one is still technically in progress as we continue to migrate our community and address any bugs or performance issues we identify along the way.
Phase two will consist of us integrating this new website with Salesforce for Nonprofits, which will help us centralize our organizational data and improve our growth, outreach, and fundraising efforts. Then, in phase three, after our digital infrastructure is complete, we’ll re-shift the focus back into building out our core programs with online elements geared towards Education, Activism, Community Service, Humanist Celebrants, and Member Care services.
We’d like to make 2017 a year to remember in the Humanist Community here in Central Ohio and use that momentum to make a lasting impact it the years to come. Join us!