It started with an infographic…
Haiti-Now’s founder initially asked me to revise an existing infographic with some updated, grim statistics. When I reviewed the site, I realized that an infographic was the least that was needed. The photos were distorted with large watermarks on them, the amount of content was overwhelming and sprinkled with typos and incorrect grammar. I wanted to help!
Original Home page, images stretched and watermarked
The founder created a successful Book Bank project and now had a vision to build a safe house and school for Restavek girls, (children that have been indentured servants from a young age). His website was filled with information about Restavek children, with bleak and terse pleas for donation. The site had originally been professionally designed, but over time, unfortunately, elements and copy had been changed and added for a much less compelling experience. To reach the founder’s goals it needed to become a money-making, marketing tool. It needed to be clean, credible and clear about its message.
Rolling up my sleeves…
I volunteered to lead the update of the website. I had many long conversations with the founder, and we also interviewed a number of the existing supporters of Haiti-Now to discover their feedback and thinking about the existing site. The consensus was the content was overwhelming; it wasn’t clear what could be done for the children. The information was there, but couldn’t be found. We also spoke with people that had not seen the site before. They said they appreciated the cause, but they didn’t feel they could trust the site because of the presentation and the typos.
There was a LOT of information on the site and it was clear that we would need help editing the existing content into one clear, compelling voice. We wanted people to become invested enough in the proposals to donate. We gained 10 volunteers to work on the content. Thankfully one of the very talented writers stepped up to become the site editor.
We all had other jobs and obligations, but I hosted a weekly status conference call with everyone so we could touch base and keep things going.
Using Marketing for good
Knowing that the content was in good hands, I wanted to focus on creating Visual Design for the site that was true to the mission of drawing the audience in. Having combed through Haiti-Now’s archives, I found the most pensive and joyful images to encourage the audience to embrace these children. I used black and white on the initial image to reinforce the harsh realities of the Restaveks’ lives which then transitioned into a color image to reinforce the positive effect of supporting these children. We floated a donation panel here to donate easily.
Proposed Home page initial image
Proposed Home page transitioned image
The supporting pages utilized the black and white images for the more serious topics and color for the positive impact donations could make. They carried through the logo, color palette and clean layouts containing the streamlined information.
In addition to the Home page donation panel and the “Donate” button at the top of every page, on the donation page we showed a grid of suggested donation amounts (eg; $50. One child’s school supplies for 1 year) to allow the donor to envision what good their money could do.
My work on the Haiti-Now website immersed me in the challenges of the non-profit world. Being patient, resourceful and tenacious (but kind) I learned how to manage volunteers:
I also learned how to interpret a very passionate and determined founder’s vision.
This was tough, but an amazing experience. Going forward, I am committed to work for the cause of educating children, especially girls in underserved communities.
I’ve checked back with the site recently and it has morphed a bit from what was first designed. That said, it does represent the founder and his cause well, which was what all the efforts were for.
Since reading the books, “Half the Sky” and “Three Cups of Tea,” I knew I wanted to work on supporting the education of girls in developing countries. I answered a volunteer request for a website infographic and was introduced directly to the founder of an organization called Haiti-Now. He had a very compelling story and I jumped in with both feet.