Refresh and Reset: A Pro Bono Website Upgrade
This is the second in a series of blog posts tracking Common Impact's long-term skills-based volunteering project with America Needs You and Fidelity Investments to upgrade the nonprofit’s website. Read the first post here.
Where it Started
A few weeks ago, Common Impact began to share about our skills-based team consulting project with Fidelity Investments and America Needs You (ANY), a nonprofit that fights for economic mobility for ambitious, first-generation college students by providing transformative mentorships and intensive career development. The goal: redesign and upgrade ANY’s WordPress website to make it more accessible, user friendly, and representative of the organization’s values and expanded footprint.
“We had a not ideal situation with our website in recent years. It was band-aid solutions,” said ANY Chief External Affairs Officer Emily Ashton. “Our goal was to spend time where it matters and to think about the user experience.”
The Fidelity volunteers came to the (virtual) table from across the Northeast U.S., never having worked together, but looking forward to the exposure to new colleagues and departments. Between them, they had several decades of experience in project management, user interface (UI), user experience (UX), quality assurance (QA), database engineering, and IT. While they had the transferrable skills needed to conduct ANY’s website assessment and upgrade, the volunteers did not have previous exposure to WordPress specifically. This made for an exciting exercise that challenged them to gain new competencies over the course of the partnership. The volunteers dedicated a few hours every week to teaching themselves and each other how to best navigate, customize, and optimize WordPress for the project at hand before passing on their learnings and recommendations to the ANY staff.
During the discovery phase of the project, the ANY staff and Fidelity volunteers aligned on the story they wanted to tell through the website and their vision for enhancements and integrations. “The team really listened to us and thought to learn about how this supported our work organizationally in order to create a platform that will work for us and grow with us,” Emily said.
The Fidelity volunteers went on to present ANY with a prioritized list of website enhancements and developed a high-level plan that included the phases of the project, the distinct work streams, a timeline, and ownership, taking into account how they could best leverage the unique skills of each team member and distribute leadership opportunities. “It was great to have a timeline outlined in advance. It helped to understand what we were getting into and what we should expect from all parties,” Emily commented.
With the project kickoff and discovery phase complete, it was time for the Fidelity volunteers to conduct a more detailed assessment of ANY’s WordPress platform in relation to the website structure enhancements and improvements to user experience.