Online Optimism worked with us to completely overhaul our website and marketing materials. This was no small feat considering that our organization oversees three distinct programs and also has a presence of its own. We started with three separate websites, and marketing materials that changed fairly regularly and were not always cohesive. OO helped us unify our brand while still honoring each program’s distinct features and focus.
Raphael Village approached us with a need for a more holistic website that encapsulated all three of their organizations: Raphael Academy, a K–12 school; The Guild, a young adult program; and The Hearth, a forthcoming life-sharing program for adults, all of which aid differently-abled individuals in leading purposeful and enriching lives. Previously, Raphael Village had maintained three separate websites; now, we needed to incorporate each part of the organization into a central site while still maintaining their identities. Additionally, Raphael Village needed updated, cohesive, and attractive collateral to advertise for Raphael Academy and The Guild.
Raphael Village’s previous three websites
Combining Three Sites into One
Our team needed to consolidate Raphael Village’s previous three websites into a single site that could still be just as useful and easily navigable for users who might only need information from one of the three organizations. Some of our main strategies for doing this included intentional copywriting, a color coding design system, mega menus in the navigation bar, and a detailed page redirection setup.
Intentional, Consistent Copywriting
As an initial step for this website build, our Content team did a full audit of Raphael Village’s existing written content from its three previous websites and other materials. Together, our Content and Design teams planned the structure of the new website to outline where all written content would live on the site and what new pieces of content we needed. Then, we worked alongside our clients to write or rewrite nearly all of the site’s text to make it consistent in both information and voice. Voice, tone, and vocabulary were essential during this process. While working with a client that supports differently-abled people, we needed to understand the appropriate names for the organization’s teaching styles and philosophies, so parents of potential students would recognize them.
Color Coding Each Organization
A significant part of consolidating Raphael Village’s three sites into one was creating a color coding system to differentiate the organization’s three components. Using Raphael’s existing logos and incorporating some new colors, our team developed a color system that separates the site into distinct visual sections:
- Teal, the organization’s primary color, for Raphael Village and across the site
- Yellow for Raphael Academy
- Blue for The Guild
- Orange for The Hearth
Custom-Built Mega Menus
We also used a custom navigation menu to create a single cohesive site that still highlighted everything users might need from Raphael Village’s various organizations. Our team utilized the Max Mega Menu Pro plugin to create more involved dropdown menus for Raphael Academy and The Guild (eventually, The Hearth will have one, too). These custom-built mega menu dropdowns include Raphael Academy’s and The Guild’s logos, short descriptions of the organizations, and links to the most important pages in those sections of the site.
Redirecting from the Old Sites
We always set up 301 redirects for our new websites so that URLs from the previous website will automatically redirect users to the new site. For Raphael Village, we implemented a redirection setup that included redirecting the previous domains for Raphael Academy’s and The Guild’s websites to their main pages on the new site. For example, raphaelacademy.org, the old domain for Raphael Academy, now redirects to Raphael Academy’s new About page. (Try it!)
There were several custom development pieces our team worked on for Raphael Village’s site, many of them related to its status as both an educational institution and a 501(c)(3) nonprofit.
Functional, Lightweight Custom Theme
Our Development team decided to build a custom theme from scratch that could be fully adapted to the client’s and Design team’s style and intent. Pre-built themes can make it challenging to change the functionality or add new unsupported features to a site; building a custom theme gave us a clean slate to develop custom elements like the mega menus. Furthermore, in creating a unique theme, we only included what functionality the site needed, which speeds up page speed and overall website performance compared to using a pre-built theme with extraneous capabilities.
Online Application Forms
Before this website redesign, applications to Raphael Academy and The Guild could only be done on paper. As part of our build, we created online applications for both organizations that applicants can start, save, and come back to later.
When applicants submit their applications, the Raphael Village team now automatically receives a PDF copy of the application via email. And instead of having to search for filed paper applications, pass around paper copies between team members, or scan paper applications to send to employees working remotely, they can now access an archive of all previous applications in the back-end of their site.
The online applications also incorporate payment of the application fee as part of the application process, so applicants can pay online without having to mail a check or drop off cash, and the administrative team at Raphael Village can easily associate application fees with the correct applications.
Private Family Portals
There are some documents and other resources that Raphael Village wanted to be exclusively accessible by their students, members, and their families. We included two password-protected Family Portals on the site, one for Raphael Academy and one for The Guild, to which the Raphael Village team can upload family-specific resources in one place.
Filtered Events Calendar
Our team created a calendar that Raphael Village can use to display events for each organization. Users can filter through Raphael Village’s various organizations or view all events at once. The events, of course, are color coded! Our team used the Events Calendar Pro plugin, which we continually monitor and update to ensure it’s working correctly for this calendar.
Bloomerang Donation Form Integration
Raphael Village is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, and it depends on donations to supplement tuition and fees to provide the highest quality services possible. They use Bloomerang, a donor management software specifically designed for nonprofits, to track donors and donations. However, before our build, their team accepted donations through PayPal, then manually entered that information into Bloomerang. As we built this new site, we integrated Raphael Village’s PayPal with its Bloomerang account so that donations would show up automatically on Bloomerang with information about the donors. We also created native donation forms on the site so that instead of donating through PayPal, donors could give to Raphael Village’s Annual and Capital Campaigns without ever leaving the website.
Collateral for Prospective Students + Members
The second portion of this project included crafting several collateral pieces to use for recruiting for Raphael Academy and The Guild. Our team made a postcard, one-sheeter, and a multi-page packet for each organization, using the color coding and other design direction we developed as part of the website build and making good use of two photoshoots’ worth of photos of current students, members, teachers, and other staff.
A Second Round of Copywriting
As with the website build, our first step in creating these collateral pieces was writing the new text based on the rewritten copy from the website. Our Content team worked closely again with Raphael’s team to craft content that was both accurate and stylistically consistent with the website. Every piece of collateral was guaranteed unlimited rounds of review to ensure that the language accurately reflected Raphael Village’s vision for these documents. By tracking each page and each revision by both the Online Optimism Content team and the Raphael Village team, we created a perfectly consistent set of sales collateral.
Postcards and One-sheeters
The postcards and one-sheeters we created for Raphael Academy and The Guild included essential information about both organizations that prospective students or members and their parents might need. The Raphael Village team will use these collateral pieces to hand out at school fairs and give to parents with potential interest in their programs.
Raphael Academy’s and The Guild’s packets were more involved than the postcards and one-sheeters, packing in much more information and intended for more seriously interested applicants and their parents. Each packet consists of an outside folder with a four-page booklet stitched into it. The content of the packet is evergreen so that Raphael Village won’t need to update it for some time; because of this, the folder also includes an inner pocket that the Raphael team can use to insert flyers or other materials with more temporary information.
Raphael Academy Packet
The packet for Raphael Academy includes a close look at the Pyramid of Learning, which illustrates the progression of the school’s curriculum; a list of arts-related programming at the school; and a detailed chart of curriculum highlights in each subject area sorted by grade level, among other pieces of information.
The Guild Packet
The Guild’s packet incorporated custom iconography and several testimonials from current Guild members and parents. We also used photography intentionally to display the different aspects of The Guild, from its focus on community and friendship to its incorporation of artist guild training to its supported employment program.
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