A website redesign for a local spiritual nonprofit organization, to increase attendance and membership
Role: UX/UI Designer, Developer
Duration: April - June, 2023
Learn how I redesigned the site, and raised their site’s
System Usability score from 60.6 to 92.5
The website, as it existed, was difficult to navigate and contained outdated, inaccurate information. For instance, the current classes and events were not even listed - any user who wanted to join would have to either call or email the leadership to get accurate information.
The two main goals the leadership put forth were:
1. Make information about talks and gatherings easily available to existing members
2. Attract new members
The founder, Sivea Key, decided that it was time to create an updated website to help them attain their goals, and asked for my help. Her main asks were that the new website have a modern look and updated information, but to maintain the openness, acceptance and love that they had emphasized while creating the original website.
This project took approximately 80 hours over six weeks to get to a completed website prototype. I was the sole designer on the project, although the content and some design input came from leadership and members of the organization.
My research began with an in-depth interview with the founder of the organization, Sivea Key, as well as less formal talks with the other leaders. I had prepared foundational questions to ask beforehand, to determine the structure of the organization and the most important information they wanted to communicate with the website's intended audience (existing members, and people interested in joining). Key insights from this interview:
1. Unlike most organization websites, this group doesn’t want to advertise a location. The group doesn’t currently have a building of their own, so meetings take place at a personal residence. However, people interested in joining need to reach out by phone or email, so the contact information needs to be clearly visible and available.
2. When asked about emotions she wants the website to evoke - “Welcome, calm, acceptance, welcome to everyone as they are, they don’t have to be something else.”
On the other side, I also needed to interview people in the target market of potential members. I interviewed 4 people virtually who were identified themselves as interested in philosophy and spirituality. I also sent out a survey that was completed by 8 people who identified the same way.
70% of respondents reported meditating
75% of respondents reported reading about philosophy or spirituality
70% of respondents reported listening to talks or attending groups
This information helps determine what activities and resources should be available on the site: meditations, talks, and recommended books
7 respondents said they'd prefer to first attend an in-person meeting when joining an organization.
5 respondents said they'd prefer to first attend a virtual meeting when joining an organization.
There are nearly equal portions of people who prefer in-person vs virtual meetings for a first meeting, so both options should be easily available.
100% of respondents said that doing research on the leadership was either somewhat important or very important to them before joining a spiritual group. Background information on leadership builds trust, and needs to be easily accessible.
The most common source of distrust stemmed from money — for example, running ads on the website or not being transparent about where donated funds go. That's why I avoided putting the donate link in a primary button and added a description of how the donated money would be used.
I found three websites for similar organizations to run a competitive analysis on: the New York Vedanta Center, the Denver Hare Krishna Center site, and the NYC Hare Krishna Center. Below is a chart of their similarities and differences. In general, I was surprised at how similar the three sites were to each other.
To ensure the needs of the user would be kept at the forefront, I developed a user persona. The user persona was a reflection of the data from user interviews: a young, open-minded woman who is craving spiritual connection and community.
The user flow for this website is relatively simple, since the main purpose of the website is to communicate information. In this chart, I separated out the different types of information people would seek out using this website, and their path to its discovery. The flow ends when the user has found the required information and exits the site.
I conducted a card-sort exercise with six participants to determine where future users of the website would expect to find information. Using the results, I was able to create a site map. The biggest discovery I used from the card-sorting was putting all the "about" information in sub-pages under one tab.
I then created mid-fidelity wireframes on Figma, using the organization from the site map as a guide. Although I was using placeholder content, I tried to estimate the approximate text lengths that might go in each type of container. I knew I wanted to use feature photography prominently on the site to give it a modern feel, so I made sure to create many spots for placeholder images to go in the design.
In my color selection, I wanted to communicate several things to the audience. First off, I wanted to make sure that the colors were similar enough to the parent organization to show cohesion. I also wanted the colors to impart the feeling of peace and calmness, which led me to use a darker blue than I had originally chosen. I wanted to swap out the original website's washed out colors for a brighter, more saturated palette to give the new site a more modern look. Last but not least, I wanted to be sure that the colors looked good together. As complementary colors, blue and orange are an obvious match. I created the neutral palette starting with a very dark navy blue and going up to pure white, to make sure that the neutral dark and primary colors would gel.
This was the logo for the original version of the webpage. They didn't have access to a high resolution version of it. The seven-pointed star was chosen to symbolize the seven chakras, as well as the importance of the sun to cultures around the world.
This is the logo for the parent organization, the Ramakrishna Order. The elements of the swan, lotus, waves and cobra symbolize the four paths of yoga.
I developed this logo to incorporate the name of the organization, LUV, with two of the elements from the logo of the parent organization. I wanted to create a much more stylized, modern and simple version of the complicated crest while still honoring its roots.
When I discovered that the orange lettering of the first logo looked best on a white background, I tweaked the design to create another version that would stand out on a blue background, such as on the header.
I created the UI kit, designing the most essential components for the site's design. By creating both the mobile and desktop versions of components at the same time, I kept the site's responsiveness at the forefront of my mind.
My final design for the homepage encapsulates my goals: an overview of the organization, for the casual observer; a quick link to a meeting, for an existing member; or a deeper dive into the organization's history and goals, for an interested reader.
Using a Figma prototype, I conducted a System Usability Scale (SUS) survey with four participants. I compared the average scores given to the previous website to the prototype created from my designs.
These scores show a measurable improvement in the usability and clarity of the website
average score for the original website
average score for the new website design
I conducted moderated usability tests with four participants, using the desktop screens of my Figma prototype. I gave four simple tasks to the participants, all starting from the homepage:
• Find information about the leadership
• Find book recommendations
• Find and join a virtual class
• Find information about how to join an in-person seasonal celebration
Participants were able to complete all these flows, but the seasonal celebration task caused the most confusion. The most important information was located in a top banner, but many participants scrolled past the banner without seeing it the first time, searching for the information further down the page.
To add more emphasis to the informational banner, and to prevent it from blending in with the header, I added padding between it and the header, and made it the length of the grid. This way, the necessary information on the page becomes more visible.
After completing the design and prototype for the site, I used WordPress to create the live site. The use of WordPress not only expedited the development process, but also facilitated easy content management, allowing for future updates and scalability. The platform's extensive plugin ecosystem, especially the plugin EditorsKit, further empowered me to enhance the site's features.
The participants from my usability tests said that the website was calming, inviting, clean and clear. Participants used a mixture of navigation methods to traverse the site, and appreciated that pages could be accessed through either the homepage or the navigation bar. In this way, the new site design fulfills the original goals: existing members are able to quickly view and join events, while potential new members are able to learn about the organization.
© Megan Archer 2023