Over a year ago, we took on a major challenge: move an organization, with a long history before the internet was created, into an online presence, with multiple tools for members and administrators alike.
US Servas is member of an international network of organizations under the umbrella of Servas International. The home page of the US Servas site defines the organization succinctly: “Servas is a worldwide cooperative cultural exchange network of travelers and hosts working together to foster peace, goodwill and mutual respect."
US Servas had a website, though one built on an ancient version of Joomla, cobbled together with custom scripts, backed by a database cluttered with bad data. They were reaching the limits of what the old site allowed them to manage and increasingly proved more a hindrance than a help as their organization evolved.
The main goals of the project were:
- Create a new, design that works well on various platforms, from phones to desktop computers that would appeal to both the existing members and attract new people looking to learn about the organization.
- Create a system to make it easier for members to control their accounts, easier for new members to join and easier for staff and volunteers to manage, track and help these members through the processes.
The first goal was relatively easy and a typical process for us with every website we design and build.
With the second goal, we entered uncharted territory.
If you’re not logged in, viewing the new site provides little in the way of understanding the depth and complexity of the web application that runs underneath. It’s a highly interactive site, with e-commerce, social media interaction, geolocation systems/mapping and complex customer relation management tools. All of this compounded with about a dozen different types of users, each with specific requirements and sets of data they need to see as well as sets of data they shouldn’t see.