The Redesigned Volunteers of America Website: A New Way To Help America’s Most Vulnerable

Jason Sperling, Former Senior Digital Strategist

Article Category: #News & Culture

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Building beautiful, functional, and innovative websites is always rewarding, but there’s a special feeling that comes from creating a new website for a non-profit organization that changes lives. We are proud to introduce the brand new Volunteers of America website. Each year, through their hundreds of human services programs — including housing and healthcare — Volunteers of America touches the lives of more than 2 million people in over 400 communities, 46 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. Since 1896, they have supported and empowered America's most vulnerable groups, including veterans, at-risk youth, the elderly, men and women returning from prison, homeless individuals and families, people with disabilities, and individuals recovering from addiction.

One Amazing Year

Over the past year we’ve worked with the amazing people at Volunteers of America to create a website with significant improvements: navigation is now more focused; users who need help can take advantage of more powerful search functionality to find relevant services; and the important work Volunteers of America is doing is now more easily, prominently, and beautifully highlighted.

Beyond Designing for the Website User

While it was rewarding to focus on creating a site that will have an impact on so many, there was another significant element to this project as well — the opportunity to build a multi-site Content Management System (CMS) platform. We created a brand new CMS that makes updating the website easier for Volunteers of America’s web team in the national office, and for all the people editing affiliate websites across the country. Affiliate employees often wear many hats as they work to support their communities, so making a website that’s simple to edit was critical.

To create a flexible CMS that worked for a national office’s website, could support 28 affiliate's websites (with the possibility of supporting an unlimited number of sites!), and also support the creation of microsites for specific programs (which have their own sub-branding), we had to think outside the box. The end result is a powerful comprehensive page builder. Web editors can choose from a variety of page templates to build a new page, or they can create custom pages with the option to pick and choose from dozens of page modules (images with text to the right, 3 types of hero image areas, image grids with one, two, or three columns, etc.). The ability to select either structured or flexible design options means each affiliate can create the website that’s right for their organization and the people it serves.

High Fives All Around

Like any project, there were challenges along the way, but the end result is a beautiful, simplified website and a sophisticated multi-site CMS. For more information on the project, visit our portfolio.

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