The National Peace Corps Association

Client

The National Peace Corps Association manages various affiliate organizations that support Peace Corps alumni with membership initiatives.

My client was The Friends of Nigeria (FON) organization, a subsidiary of the National Peace Association which manages all membership initiatives for Peace Corps alumni who served in Nigeria since 1961.

Role

Researcher + designer

Problem

The existing website was a collection of links and pages that did not reflect the true needs of the organization or audience.

Solution

A user-first sitemap, navigation-menu, and front-end design that solve for the goals of the Friends of Nigeria audience.

Through user-research, my client saw an email open-rate of 60% after sending their quarterly newsletter to their 400 subscribers via their newly designed website.
Note: The website is now property of the FON organization, along with any customizations done on their end. Any broken images, links, or missing content is beyond my scope as the designer. An image of the most optimal version of my deliverable is provided below in this case-study.

Table of contents

  1. The Problems
  2. The Process
    • Setting S.M.A.R.T goals
    • User research
    • Sitemap design
    • Front-end redesign
  3. Impact
  4. Lessons learned

The problem- not a user-first website

01/03

Static nav-menu with a focus on information and not much user-interaction

The existing nav-menu described the site's overall structure and intent; which was to inform the users about the organization, its projects, and how to get involved. However, the goal of the new website is to create an engaging web-platform for alumni of the Peace Corps Nigeria cohort.

To accomplish this, we needed to ideate a new navigation menu; one that informed users on how to get connected with each other as opposed to passively learning about the organization. In short, we needed a user-first navigation menu.

02/03

Lack of "sticky" features for increasing returned-visits to the website.

The existing website was a static collection of links that did not encourage repeat visits among its primary audience. With commonplace pages such as "our projects", "about us" we needed to re-imagine what a user-first website could look like in order to enhance interactivity, connectivity, and overall stickiness for repeat visitors.

03/03

Not visually accessible

Limited readability

The lime-green background color against white text failed the color-contrast ratio test. For individuals with visual impairments, reading the text would prove to be a needlessly difficult task (and irresponsible on our end). Rectifying this accessibility flaw was paramount to our design process.

Inconsistencies in spacing

With no real consideration for vertical rhythm, padding, and spacing, the existing site needed a complete overhaul.

The Process- goal setting

Setting S.M.A.R.T goals

As the purpose of my client's new website is to manage monthly visits, along with membership and donation growth, we had to tailor our goals to achieve those aims.

I set SMART goals by working with existing benchmark figures.

Benchmarking monthly visits

The Friends of Nigeria organization already had over 2000 members in an email contact database. I used this figure to benchmark a target for monthly visits. Assuming that 2000 members received a "welcome" email, and that 5-10% of the recipients opened it, then 100-200 visits would serve as a goal to reach.

However, acknowledging the fact that this site would be brand new, I suggested a monthly visit target of 30-50 views for the first three months.

Benchmarking membership growth

In August 2020, Friends of Nigeria saw 10 new members subscribe to their email list. I recommended that a funnel of 5-10 new members during the first quarter, from a group of 30-50 visitors would serve as a realistic goal to reach.

Overall engagement

The original website was static and offered little in the way of engagement with fellow alumni of the Peace Corps Nigeria cohort. We concluded that a new website should have the ability to promote and host remote events for alumni, especially during the pandemic season. We hope for the covid pandemic to pass so that events could also be held in-person.

A reachable target would be to host 1-2 events per month.

We also concluded that a digital newsletter subscription would be important for keeping memories, news, and events top-of-mind for our audience.

Donation amount

Our team saw a 40% growth in donation figures from July to August. We decided to benchmark our donation goal at 40%, month-over-month.

SMART goal-setting was our first step in creating a results-oriented website.

The Process- user research

Creating personas

My clients were the first cohort of Peace Corps volunteers to serve since the inception of the organization in 1961. If anyone knew their target audience well enough, it'd be my clients. I conducted a round of interviews to learn more about our intended web-audience, specifically:

  • Goals
  • Demographic info
  • Tech saavy level
  • Pain-points

"Peace Corps Peter"

Goals
  • Connect with alumni, get in touch with fellow Peace Corps volunteers after 50+ years of service.
  • Learn about membership benefits
  • Renew their membership digitally and not be snail-mail
Demographic info
  • Retired, 70 years old +
  • Worked for federal government, non-profits, or academia
  • Tend to be parents and grandparents
  • tend to live across the US
Tech-saavy
  • Comfortable with basic online use
  • Tend to have access to desktops, laptops, and smart phones
Pain-points
  • Renewing membership
  • Paying membership dues
  • On over-reliance on snail-mail
  • Not knowing how to connect with others through digital means

Keyword research

According to the keyword research tool, Ubersuggest, FON's website had been ranking for the following keywords:

We came together to brainstorm longer-tailed keywords that better reflected the true search-query lexicon of our "Peace Corps Peter" persona:

  • "Peace corps nigeria {insert year of service}"
  • "{name of volunteer}" job/location/"
  • "How do I become a member of Friends of Nigeria"
  • "travel ideas Nigeria with Next Step Travel"
  • "getting in touch with Friends of Nigeria"
  • "Nigeria projects diaspora and Peace Corps"

Information architecture through card sorting

After brainstorming longer-tailed keywords, we sorted them along an affinity map and grouped them by theme. These themes would serve as menu items for our future navigation and sitemap.

From card sorting to site mapping

We transitioned from a static, information-centric sitemap to one that was user-first by prompting our users to take immediate action on the website. We used language such as "Learn about Nigeria", "Start connecting", "Get involved" to afford more pathways to interaction.

  • Start connecting
  • Get involved
  • Stay updated
  • About/Who we are

The process- designing the front-end

Styleguide principles

Our design principles served to position our website as a dynamic forum by which users could derive value. We needed to appeal to our audience's memories of their time as Peace Corps volunteers in Nigeria. This included a color-palette, typographic system, imagery, and marketing content that spoke to the lives of our persona audience.

A celebration of Nigeria

In order to ideate a suitable design guide for the website, I created a collage of images that represented aspects of Nigeria's culture and geography. This collage served as a first step for creating our site's design principles for guiding our color-palette, typography, imagery, and marketing language.

A homecoming not just a website

The new website should appeal to our audience, while communicating marketing copy in an inviting manner. All images should evoke nostalgia and make the website like a homecoming for its audience.

Consistently actionable

The website should contain call-to-action buttons everywhere throughout the site. The user should find a pathway for interacting with the website and other members.

Our styleguide in action

measuing impact- A Website with roi

Increased connection among Peace Corps alumni

The website evolved from a static collection of links to a dynamic platform through which folks could interact with each other. This was the foremost aim that my clients were keen on achieving on behalf of their community.

Better knowledge of users means higher open-rates

In our first week after launching the new site, my client saw an open-rate of 60% after sending their quarterly newsletter to their 400 subscribers. This was a great start to a successful project.

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