Lessons from MapLight's Web Site Redesign

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SESSION #1: Lessons from MapLight's Web Site Redesign (focus is on homepage)

Facilitated by Jay Costa, MapLight (Revealing Money’s Influence on Politics)


I. Redesigning the Home Page

· Your redesign strategy must take into account your organization’s strategy; you are not smarter than your users! They know what they want and need!

· Embedding dynamic content on the sidebar (i.e. the FORM for a take action, versus making people click through)

· Determine where the “prime real estate” space is on the home page.

· Involve your users and incorporate theirfeedback; they tell how things should be positioned on the site; try and orientate your users as much as possible. Use your users!!!

· Do interviews with a dozen or so users you have a relationship with. Bring them into the process early; it will make thingsclear.

· Ask general questions to get a sense of what needs are:

o What would you click on first? Then next? Then next?

o What’s most interesting to you on this page?

o Can you find what you need?

o How would you go about looking for what you need?

o What do you see in the first glance?

o More than just getting an impression

o Try to understand who your users ARE; develop from there.

o When you get up, what is your process for work?

o What would you ideally like the website to be?

o How can it be the most valuable to you?


II. Considerations

· Real World vs. Online: a NYTimes mention will generate more views than just a web-based approach.

· Should showcase the things that would interest your target audience/primary user type.

· Get feedback and incorporate prior to re-design via forms, informal conversations with primary users etc. “Does this serve their needs?”

· Need to involve the users: they will tell you what they want and don’t want. (Map Light’s user type = journalists (wonks and beats)

· Make data relevant and accessible to primary user type.

· User types include “citizens” and “issue advocates” – need to take into consideration how the NOT primary user could use it.

· What is the most effective use of space on the home page? Don’t distract of confuse users with things you don’t need.

· Maybe present a couple prelim designs to users and have them vote on what they like. But don’t spend all your $ on mock-ups!!

· Talk to the funders: we have a plan, it will cost this much, we will put in X, can you put in Y amount?

· In-house versus outhouse

· Attach price tags to ideas! (Cost not hours!)


III. Lessons

· Involve users

· Figure out who you are trying to reach (primary user)

· Cater website to primary user

· Maybe want to do quick iterations

· PRESENT STEPS AND REALITY to match Top-End “ideals” and “fantasies” of the non-tech staff (mitigate “founder’s syndrome”)

· Consider using a beta page, more cost efficient than several mock-ups sometimes.


IV. Resources

· Nielson blog

· Make sure to look at websites that you consider “good”

· Look at Sierra Club website (beyond coalcampaign)

· Drupal versus Wordpress

· Look at Exhale.org website