We decided to create a system that would let the national and affiliate organizations of Volunteers of America share resources, but at the same time provide design and build flexibility to address their specific audiences. We also wanted to find a way to make onboarding such a large network as efficient and painless as possible.
Since 1896, Volunteers of America has supported and empowered America's most vulnerable groups; each year they serve more than 2 million people in over 400 communities in 46 states, as well as the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. Our challenge was to improve the quality and functionality of both their national and dozens of independent affiliate sites, while also incorporating the rebranding efforts already underway in their offline communications.
What we did
Our solution was to develop a custom multi-site content management system (CMS) built on Ruby on Rails. This allowed each affiliate to create its own site and content, while still leveraging shared resources such as the housing database maintained by the National office. We built templates that were essentially collections of components — videos, hero images, and taglines — which made the sites customizable within a consistent design pattern. We introduced Volunteers of America to the idea of a pagebuilder that allows their teams to not only create their own content, but also build their own page structures using the templated components.
We used interactive wireframes prior to visual design to help the Volunteers of America team fully understand our approach, and ultimately created custom training videos and a CMS guide to help the entire organization start taking advantage of everything their new custom CMS has to offer. Volunteers of America has been serving our nation for over a century, and we were excited to deliver a fully redesigned system that will help them continue that mission for years to come.