As we implement our own Digital Strategies program on filene.org, we want to bring you along, in real time, while we redesign our website to make it more convenient to get access to the information our busy members are looking for. We hope it may help streamline your digital strategies as you continue to evolve your own technologies.
We start this journey with an interview of the process to date with our Information Technologies lead, Josey Siegenthaler, and our Marketing & Communications lead, Holly Fearing:
Q: How did you know it was time to update Filene’s website?
Josey: We knew it was time for several reasons. First of all, our current Content Management System (CMS) wasn’t keeping up with the new ways Filene wants to use and share our research and information. The site was also hard to update and wasn’t as flexible as some of the newer CMS options are today.
Secondly, we heard from staff and our members that the search functionality on our site needed to be improved. As Filene’s library of research and content grows each year, we need to make it simple and easy for members to find the solutions in our research and programs.
Lastly, the Filene site is not device-responsive. We want to ensure that our members have access to Filene’s content whenever and wherever it is convenient.
Q: What was the first step you took?
Holly: Once we decided that now was the right time to update our website, we started with an assessment of current state and member Live Observational Research. This is the same process we would do to help credit unions with their digital strategies.
Josey dug into our website analytics to discover our most commonly visited pages, most frequently searched terms, and common visitor patterns such as average length on site and average site visits per year. Then we spoke to a handful of members about how and why they use Filene’s website. We identified a mix of members to talk to try to get different perspectives. We looked at Web users that came from different size credit unions, a mix of different job functions (CEO to HR Director) and members that regularly use the site versus some with limited exposure.
Since we are a research institute we also looked at our login history and recent report downloads and compared what we knew about those members from the above categories. From there, we started contacting members asking them to meet with us to provide feedback. We not only spoke to those members but even visited some of their offices to watch how they navigate our site.
The most important outcome from this work was when we gathered all the key stakeholders (project sponsors, content and design lead, technology lead and subject matter experts), and Filene’s Digital Strategist, Cat Fitzgerald, led us through a session where we walked away with a shared understanding of the project and agreed-upon goals for Filene’s new website. That sense of clarity felt really good!
Q: Where are you currently at in the process?
Josey: We have selected our vendors, the CMS tool and have kicked-off the project. We are in the Discovery phase and working hard to identify some common user journeys and beginning to map out some new site architecture. Next up, our vendor will wireframe some possible solutions and we plan to get member feedback on the new ideas and possible site structure so stay tuned over the coming months. There’s a lot more to share!
Q: What advice do you have for organizations that are evaluating if it’s time for a website upgrade and update?
Holly: Keep it simple! Everyone you ask will have a different pet peeve or dream for your new website. In order to not trip down a rabbit hole and end up blowing out your budget, start with a simple assessment of what you believe to be the highest priority issues or needed elements of your site. Then gut-check those against what your members are saying and asking for - this is where that live observation technique can be so helpful.
From there, as hard as it may be, you’ll have to prioritize your goals for the new site and align this with your leadership. This will serve as your roadmap through the entire project and help be a guide for making tough decisions. Then put an appropriate budget next to that map, assess if it’s doable, and start your search for vendors. Knowing what you need, and what members want, will help so much on every decision point down the road.
So, what’s next?
There is so much more to come as we continue this journey together so make sure to check back in for another update in a month or two.
If you are itching for more information now, our Digital Strategies program can assist with the strategy and planning behind a website redesign. If you’re facing some of the same realizations about your lacking online presence, contact us at [email protected] to see how Filene can help.