ALF Celebrates New Website
The American Liver Foundation’s leadership was aware that our 2005 website no longer served ALF’s varied constituencies as it once had. Not only was its appearance outdated but its size had ballooned to more than 3,000 hard-to-navigate pages. It had become a dinosaur. But we thought a new site would need to be built by an outside company at a considerable expense. Happily, times and technology change and we were able, three months ago, to launch a new site through a cost-effective and mostly in-house process.
ALF’s Web Content Manager, Andre Paquin, summarized the process succinctly, “Reimagining the ALF website was possible with the help of a solid team of cross-functional ALF staff and supporters. The 15-month process involved feedback from site users, interviews with staff, patients, caregivers and medical professionals as well as replotting the content and navigation strategy for the site. This new vision for the website will help position ALF to deliver support for patients, caregivers and medical professionals, now and into the future.”
We began the process in September 2016 by designating a three-tier team. The first tier, the developers, consisted of staff members and consultants from ALF’s electronic communications, graphic design, program and fundraising teams as well as a Division Executive Director. The second team consisted of the validators: another Division ED; National Helpline staff; the National Senior Director of Divisions; members of the National and Division Medical Advisory Committees (both a physician and a nurse-practitioner) and National Patient Advisory Committee; a transplant recipient and his wife, who represented the caregiver viewpoint; and a representative from ADCIEO, one of our database vendors. By the time we reached the third tier, senior leadership, there were very few issues to resolve.
The process of designing a new website was just as deliberate as the choice of stakeholders to involve. Between September and November, the developers and evaluators discussed the qualities ALF wanted in the new site–what different constituent groups (patients, caregivers and medical professionals) would need, looked at other nonprofit sites to determine best practices as well as some things we wanted to avoid. In December, we circulated a questionnaire based on these findings to ensure that we had even wider feedback, and by March we were well into the design phase.
The “look and feel” of a website involves more than I ever imagined. Not only appearance issues – text, images and white space – but how the content is presented. There are points of entry for patients, medical professionals, caregivers and those who are looking for resources in their own states. There were decisions about navigation and we decided on a multi-level approach so that our visitors can see an overview of all information and then use pull down menus for a more in-depth view.
Then came testing. Was the design engaging? Did the links all work? How would the site reinforce ALF’s monthly messaging (hepatitis awareness one month and liver cancer awareness another, for instance)? Once this exhaustive process was complete, we were ready to launch. I’m happy to say, after three months in operation, that it has all been worthwhile–we have transitioned seamlessly to the new site and look forward to our improved on-line presence in both the near and distant future.
American Liver Foundation
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