The Urban League of Greater Oklahoma City is an affiliate of the National Urban League, a civil rights organization dedicated to raising the standard of living and providing opportunities for underserved urban communities. Waqa Studios was approached by their leadership to rebuild their aging website under one of our non-profit programs.
ULOKC had a website that was built over ten years prior but had certain issues. For the administrators, technical issues made things very difficult when adding or editing content. There were usability issues for the end user that made it difficult for them to find the information they were looking for. Content was hidden behind a series of submenus and users had to know exactly what they were looking for and how it would be categorized to be able to find it. With assistance programs and events that require registration on constant offer this was less than ideal.
The website was based on proprietary software, a Content Management System that they were locked into and forced to pay for monthly. In our view this ran contrary to their need to be able to dedicate more of their budget towards the communities they serve.
The proprietary system was limited in how it allowed ULOKC to add and edit content, with certain elements completely non-editable without contacting the provider.
It did not respond well to mobile visitors and would even display a reduced-content version of the website in these cases. Ideally, whenever a website is visited, on any device, the same pertinent information is displayed and accessible because the design responds and adapts to the limitations of the device being used.
Just as importantly for an organization looking to interact with their audience, the means of interaction – namely the ability for people to sign up for programs or for sponsors to signup and pay for events – was flawed. Creating forms and managing submissions were both incredibly difficult. The forms were often overwhelmed by spambots, making sorting through submissions ever more complicated.
The lack of interoperability, access for an outside developer to modify functionality in the CRM or the ability to replace components with better ones was a huge concern. It meant things could never be fixed or improved and is what ultimately forced ULOKC to reach out for our help.
We’ve always felt it was important for all our customers to have complete control over their own platforms independent of any agency they might hire. Third party providers should merely be granted access to the client’s property, not wield power over them by locking them into their services.
For this to happen we make sure our clients are paying for their own domain name, are in control of their own hosting platform and are using open source software that can be expanded without seeking permission from anyone.
For ULOKC, locked into a provider, had them purchase their own hosting account tailored towards the open source CRM we recommended for them; WordPress.
We created a custom theme that implemented a website strategy focused on two main concerns; allowing users to find the information they needed in order to receive the help they needed, and directing sponsors and donors towards a platform where they could contribute financially.
We implemented a number of key features to make information accessible. A shortcut menu allows visitors to go directly to subsections of the website and ULOKC is able to update this based on what content is relevant at the time and what content they find is most requested.
We split the website content into topics; Jobs, Education, Housing, Social Justice, and built an interface tool to list the content for each topic that might otherwise be buried, displaying this tool prominently on the homepage.
We wanted to make it easier for visitors (users, sponsors and media) to see what ULOKC was doing and what was being achieved. We improved how news and press releases were delivered, replacing a small “news” column on the old website with a prominent news and events section on the new website. Individual articles focusing on the success of events and of programs taking place, of mentions of local media appearances, would help demonstrate the valuable work taking place and keep users apprised of what was on offer.
For the events themselves, we built a system that would display past and upcoming events, allowing ULOKC to add flyers, booking buttons, streaming videos, resources, etc, to landing pages for each event that they can then publicize.
The end result is a simple but functional website better tailored to the Urban League’s needs, freeing them from being locked into a specific provider and allowing them to better interact with their audience using just their website in post-Covid 2021.
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