Websites have become an essential component for disseminating information to the public about an organization, cause or company. A website today is what a brochure or company catalog used to be, but where the reach of printed materials was limited to those who actually received a copy, a website is available to anyone with a computer or smart phone and provides interactive options for users. Unlike a brochure, a website can be updated with current information and events without delay or the cost of reprinting and resending.
Hatha Communications employs a formal process for web development, but we recognize that each client has individual needs and wants and we are able to tailor the process to meet their criteria and intentions. Some of the important parts we consider are:
- Front page – this is the first impression and needs to give an overview of the organization and offer clear and easy to use links to additional pages.
- Overall themes – formulated by getting to know the client and what they do. The design needs to reflect the voice of the organization visually, showing if they are direct and all-business, creative or something in-between. It sets the tone.
- Site map design – the road map for the project that shows where the details will be inserted.
- Content and Concept – the organization has the framework and potential to be effective through a website. We can take it from information to intuitive interaction.
- Redesign – in the case of an existing webpage, we can work with the backbone of the existing page or completely rebuild using the existing information and new information.
- Titles and Meta tags – important for garnering more hits during web searches, we keep a keen eye to using key words when developing titles and meta tags.
The following four examples outline four different scenarios we have encountered in web development.
Case study #1: Princeton Dental Care
Princeton Dental Care is a client who had a prior relationship with Hatha Communications. They reached out to Hatha Communications seeking some strategic direction for their website but did not initially intend to rebuild their existing site. However, after discussing strategies with Hatha Communications, they embarked on a complete redesign of their website.
Princeton Dental Care is located in a small town and serves multiple counties. They use the latest equipment in the office but still employed old-fashioned forms of outreach to customers and potential customers: word-of-mouth, the county newspaper and phone directories. They wanted to reach a larger service area, be able to showcase their state-of-the-art technology and expertise, offer a FAQ page, highlight their services, and more. They recognized that the web is a great way to sell their services.
Hatha Communications produced a clickable, user-friendly site that easily moves a visitor from page to page. To do this Hatha followed this process:
- Met with the client to become familiar with their business and determine their wants and needs.
- Princeton Dental supplied information on the technology they use and dental sites they admire. This step allowed Hatha to bring in technical knowledge and gain and understanding of the look and content that Princeton found appealing and important.
- Hatha designed the site using an easy to update content management system and several themes that Princeton Dental selected.
- Samples were generated and reviewed by the client
- Changes were made at the client’s request and the site underwent a final internal review by Hatha.
- The final website was launched.
The entire process took five weeks. This client is located in a different state than Hatha Communications and they used Dropbox and Skype to share information and facilitate discussions.
Case study #2: The Literacy Cooperative
The Literacy Cooperative (TLC) was a current Hatha Communications client with multifaceted needs. The need to update their website grew out of a Communications Analysis Plan conducted by Hatha Communications. At the time, TLC was shifting its mission from disseminating policy data to advancing programming and needed to reflect that change on the web. They needed their website to accomplish two different tasks directed at two vastly different audiences: 1) advocate for policies with a target audience of educators and policymakers and 2) publicize information about their programs for closing the literacy gap, with a target audience of those seeking reading education. The nonprofit was in a tough position in terms of resources as well. They had funds available to promote their programming but not necessarily for web development. However, TLC did have an existing website with a Client Management System and the original web developer was willing to make updates.
To restructure the website, Hatha Communications interviewed TLC’s program directors to gather information on how they interact with participants, how they use white papers, what they felt people wanted to see and what they wanted to share. Hatha Communications’ task was to put the information in the right place, making it easily accessible, for the two distinct audiences.
What Hatha Communications did:
- Created a completely redesigned sitemap for the developer
- Wrote the new content in a Word document (more easily edited by TLC staff)
- Produced a final copy of all changes to send to the developer to help save on development costs.
- Updated the Client Management System
- Provided a tutorial guide and instructional time for TLC staff so that they could maintain the site.
In the end The Literacy Cooperative had a bright, intuitive website that they could use to deliver multiple messages to multiple audiences.
Case study #3: Property Advisors Group
Property Advisors Group (PAG), a commercial real estate developer and broker who was familiar with our work, came to Hatha Communications specifically for website development after a marketing professional pointed out the need for one. The site required development from scratch.
To accomplish a new website, we first met with the marketing director to discuss the company’s vision for the site, what they wished to accomplish with it, the feel they would like to achieve, and what were the important sections to include. In developing the original site plan, we knew that the site would need to be highly visual in order to showcase PAG’s properties. We reviewed similar company sites to get an idea of what they found visually appealing and used that knowledge to develop PAG’s own look.
After the initial meeting the website design and development followed our prescribed course:
- An initial layout was drawn up for PAG
- Content pieces were gathered, the framework was developed and copy written
- A first draft of the website was presented to PAG
- They reviewed the draft and had input on suggestions and changes
- Changes were implemented
- Continued review with changes
- Final website was presented for approval and then launched
Case study #4: The Dann Law Firm family of websites
This is an interesting case as it involved not one, but four websites for the same client. The Dann Law Firm specializes in Foreclosure and Bankruptcy law and had worked with Hatha Communications on Crisis Communications, Media Relations and Outreach Strategy and Implementation. Because of that relationship, he approached Hatha Communications President Katherine Bulava for an opinion of his website at the time and asked for input on how it could be improved.
This first website we tackled was www.StopOhioForeclosure.com, a complete redesign of a simple website that The Dann Law Firm had been prompted to create in order to conduct an online pay-per-click marketing campaign. The Dann Law Firm asked Hatha Communications to create a clean, simple site with the ability to expand along with the law firm. The rebuild included moving The Dann Law Firm to a WordPress platform that could easily be updated by any of their tech savvy attorneys, linking to important materials, building out relevant content, developing a welcome video and FAQ videos and making the site user friendly for less tech savvy consumers.
Hatha Communications met with The Dann Law Firm to ascertain the types of information their clients and prospects may seek on the web. Quick access to up-to-date legal information was key.. Hatha Communications redesigned the site, produced video clips to sharpen the messages, added more graphics and featured online contact forms on the home page that tie directly to The Dann Law Firm’s automated phone messaging systems so that anyone contacting the firm through the site receives an immediate response with follow up from an actual attorney within 24 hours.
The second website in the family was for the Payton Dann Law Firm in Chicago, www.paytondann.com. This was a new partnership and needed a new website. The Dann Law Firm approached Hatha Communications to handle this because their work on the Ohio website. We met with The Dann Law Firm’s Managing Partner Marc Dann and his new Chicago-based partner Rusty Payton to gather information on the structure and needs of this website. They decided that they’d like to mimic the look and feel of the Ohio site but the content and design have features unique to the Chicago and Illinois markets. The same steps were followed in development: initial design review, presentation of the first draft, review and changes/corrections, presentation of the final draft and implementation. We used videos to provide complex information in an easily digestible way and utilized the contact form system used on www.stopohioforeclosure.com to ensure quick response to inquiries.
A year later, The Dann Law Firm launched a bankruptcy division and added a bankruptcy website to the family. www.ProtectYourAssetsOhio.com is linked to www.stopohioforeclosure.com but was launched as a separate site because The Dann Law Firm determined that a the client base for bankruptcy differs from the other practice areas and wanted to provide a site that focused specifically on the needs of these clients. Mr. Dann had come across a few websites that he admired and asked us to use them as a template for designing his bankruptcy site. Using the same structure as the previous two websites, we wrote content for multiple pages, using language and examples that a reader without a law background could understand. The site includes an extensive FAQ section and information on Consumer Protection as well as information about the firm’s overall practice, all geared for potential clients facing or trying to avoid bankruptcy. The final wording and design was approved by the law firm before being implemented and going live.
The last website was created for the Oregon Consumer Law Center (www.stopforeclosureoregon.com) and its principal, Jeff Long, with whom Mr. Dann partnered to offer services in Oregon. They decided to re-do the existing Oregon Consumer Law Center (OCLC) site to create a consistency of design between it and the other Dann sites, with a strong use of videos we produced, graphics and online forms to facilitate easy interaction by potential clients landing on the site.