Saturday, May 9, 2009

Presentation reaction

I am pleased with the group presentation we put together for last week. We piled as much information into 30 minutes as possible to give everyone an idea for our website design. We hope we got the point across that our focus was on building a site from the ground up as opposed to dissecting the current site and picking and choosing things to keep and eliminate. Of course, we took much of the current site into consideration in our design, and we looked at many other dot orgs websites to get a feel for what others are doing right and wrong.

Special thanks to Constance, Craig, Nancy, and Caroline (the SIPA student who worked on an IJDH project last semester and was a guest of ours for the presentation). We hope to expand on our thoughts and hit any missed issues in our final report. We were able to get in touch with Monica from IJDH once already since our presentation, and they are looking forward to reading our report and proposing a website enhancement based (well, hopefully) on our recommendations.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

And on it goes...!

Although it's nice to be finished with the presentation, we really need to devote time now to finishing up the final report.

I think we're on track, its just a matter of trying to include and remember all the suggestions and ideas that have crossed our minds over the past 4 months!

One thing we definitely need to address- which was highlighted by the judges during our presentation- is the news/blog dilemma. Should the blog be under "News"? Should news articles just be incorporated into the blog?

Also, the suggestions to feature the blog directly on the homepage were interesting, and worth reflecting.

Thursday, April 30, 2009


Here is a mockup of a IJDH homepage. My group sketched it and Anatoly, my go to web developer, designed it.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Lessons learned

I think we all definitely learned a lot from the presentations done by the Lend-a-hand India and UNANIMA teams- it was useful for us to see how they confronted their main challenges.

Not only was it helpful for us to gauge what works and what doesn't work as well when it comes to presentations, but watching these groups helped us better articulate our own priorities and challenges.

We still have a lot of work to do, but things seem to be coming together! I'm looking forward to the presentations next week~~

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Is it possible?

At our meeting this week, we took a step back to figure out whether our recommendations are feasible given IJDH's resources. The most likely answer is yes, but no. Thus, we have clearly defined our short run recommendations and our long run recommendations. We wanted to give them reasonable goals that they could immediately implement, as well as more ambitious goals to strive for in the future.

The good news is that we learned that Brian and Monica will be taking our presentation and report to a board meeting in which they had already been planning on making a proposal pitch for funding for website development. So, it is possible that our analysis and recommendations will see the light of day sooner than we though with appropriate funding and the hiring of a professional web development team. As our clients will not be present during our presentation, we will not know exactly what aspects of our project they plan to undertake, but we are open to meeting with them when they come to a conference in New Jersey in early May to clarify anything in our report if they have questions. Otherwise, the future of IJDH's website looks like it is in good hands for a possible revamping!

A Work in Progress

This is a homepage sketch by Ker with input from Jacqueline, Nick and myself. We still have a lot of work to do, but we're making progress.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

What to do with video?

It has been interesting for me to figure out how IJDH can best incorporate video into their website. Part of me feels as though its a new, interesting medium that is relatively easy to add to websites, yet at the same time, I feel that lots of the material that IJDH would likely put on their website would fall prey to the "talking head" syndrome.

Hopefully there are good, interesting documentaries available to supplement or replace the current videos of lectures and talks on the websites(even if they do feature Matt Damon!).

...for further investigation!!!


Things are shaping up well, it was extremely constructive to speak to IJDH last week to get a better understanding of things going on in Portland, and get a better perspective of their hopes for the project.

I think one of our biggest issues will really be prioritizing the many changes that are possible. So much can be done with the website, it is definitey imprtant to recognize what we should suggest IJDH to confront first, especially given time and financial constraints.

Hopefully all the group members will get together this weekend to really hammer out a plan for the upcoming week, when we hope to finalize our main arguments and create a solid presentation. As of now, it's been slightly frusterating to coordinate schedules and deadlines...


One of the takeaways from our last call with IJDH was that we can see some of the past stuff they've done with their website in the archives section. In other words, specific to fundraising, they have altered the fundraising destination page during certain times of the year where particular issues in Haiti were at the forefront.

It was good to see that they have put some effort into revitalizing the fundraising section in the past. But, why not always have some interesting material there? Currently, it's literally just the paypal page to donate money. That's it. You click on "click to contribute online," and bam, give me your money! It would definitely be a good idea to highlight their current programs here and demonstrate how supporters donations contribute to the work of IJDH. We hope to create a sample of a good example of web writing that could easily be implemented as their default fundraising/donation page on our recommended new website design.

The past fundraising campaign from their archives was a good effort. With some more efficient and tighter web writing, the general message for the need for donations can be told permanently on the website, and hopefully, they can solicit donations throughout the year for their ongoing programs.

Thursday, April 9, 2009


I think a major focus of our website design has turned to the importance of fundraising. After another conference call with Monica and Brian of IJDH, all of us noticed a recurring emphasis on donations and potential alternative revenue streams.

Dot orgs rely on donations to survive, so it's not like this is a surprise, but if you have seen a lot of .org websites, you wouldn't know they're focused on attracting donors! IJDH is no exception. When you click on the donation link from the homepage, you don't even get a pathway page that describes the organization's current or major projects. It goes straight to a paypal transaction page! The ironic thing is that Monica and Brian have very compelling stories about the mission of IJDH and moving testimonials that would all be suitable content for soliciting donations on the website.

To take action on this topic, they have sent us archived parts of the website that they used in the past during major fundraising campaigns. We are going to propose recommendations that suggest an greater fundraising presence at all times during the year.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009


I have been focusing on Mapping and Storyboarding analysis of the IJDH website, and the first thing that I encounter, and the consistent thing that has been driving me crazy, is the inconsistencies across the website. The worst part is that the navigation bar menu at the top of the website changes depending on what pathway you are navigating. So, "Prison Project," which is one of IJDH's major initiatives, is a link in the nav bar from the homepage, but it disappears, or is replaced by Section Francais (which is itself a grammatically incorrect name), if you navigate to the "Haiti Justice Videos" pathway page!

As we now subscribe to the Steve Krug school of web design, this inconsistency is unacceptable. It frustrates the audience, and it makes you have to figure out what happened to your menu links, which is not something we should have to deal with as website readers. In summary, I give the IJDH website a failing grade in navigation.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Post-Spring Break Plans

As we head into the home stretch of the semester (and, for some of us, our time at Columbia), we're keeping in mind a few basic strategies for the IJDH project.

  • Posting to Google docs to make sure we're sharing progress and ideas
  • Meeting for a half hour or so outside of class each week to discuss developments
  • Checking in with the "client" through phone conferencing
  • Applying what we've learned in class that week to our report on the client's site. For instance, I took Mary-Lea's advice (from the first or second class) of printing out the entire site to map the , which was a really useful exercise.
Given our wildly varying schedules, we have had a bit of trouble so far finding common times to meet. (Too many classes and jobs, it seems!) But tools like Google docs provide a great virtual space in which to communicate, and the work we do there will probably form the bulk of our ideas and report material.

Will the IJDH site rise like a phoenix? We will do our best.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Project Approach 1

I think our meeting yesterday really drilled home the fact that although there are many different facets of this project, they are all interlinked, so it will be essential for us to collaborate on all sections together.

Also, it was useful to note that although the class to date has been divided into sections, it might be more useful to the team to formulate our own categories of what we think needs to be done to improve the website.

IJDH Homepage overview

We have talked about the value and function of the homepage in class, and I had several initial impressions of the IJDH homepage that I wanted to share. Essentially, I think the homepage lacks the basic tools to make an effective introduction and explain the general IJDH message.

At this time, I just want to address the structural layout of the current hompage and some recommendations for improvement. As we continue to learn about the website's function and target audiences, we will go into discussion on actual content. Here is my overall evaluation of the present homepage structure:
  • Add a tag line. It is not immediately recognizable what IJDH is as an organization to many potential site visitors.

  • Add a welcome blurb into the “About IJDH” section.

  • The top menu bar could be reorganized by moving Haiti Justice Videos, Haiti JusticeBlog, and Links sections to be the final three items. This seems like a more logically listed cohesion of headings.

  • Center the main feature photo (Matt Damon and others at JFK library).

  • Realign the bullets in main feature section.

  • Resize the chart box in main feature section.

  • Change the color scheme (currently orange, red, white, grey).

  • Reformat the “Major Campaigns section” to either decrease font size and make it look more like a cohesive list, or add one line briefs after the headlines.

  • Stay consistent with the font difference scheme that symbolizes hyperlinks (e.g. always bold print, always same color).

  • Resize image files so that they are all the same size per section, which will help delineate sections within a page.

My Web Com. Group

Where am I? Taking the picture of my cool web com. team in Lehman group study area last night. I'll get in on the next one.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

News on the blog scene

The SIPA IJDH blog has been created!!