The United Way for a large US city had a first generation web site that
was mostly a web-based brochure and wanted to greatly expand the functionality
of that web site. They wanted to include an online version of their
very popular human services directory, "Where to Get Help".
It had several hundred pages of useful information about 25,000 social
service programs but was expensive to publish in a paper format and
was impossible to keep up to date because of frequent changes in program
funding, client eligibility guidelines, office locations, and staff
contact names at several thousand agencies in the area.
They also provide a "donor choice program" for all their local
contributors so they needed to make available an up-to-date directory
of the thousands of agencies for whom they were authorized to accept
donations.. A third online directory was needed to list available volunteer
opportunities so that those wanting to volunteer could be matched with
agencies in their area needing volunteers. Beyond this, the United Way
wanted the site to be "the place to go" to get information
about how and where to give and where to get assistance in the region.
Action: Working with others at a large software technology
firm, reviewed the RFP documents, met with the department heads at the
United Way office to understand their specific needs, then developed
a detailed scope of work. Spent 2 months meeting with various United
Way departments to define and document all the details of the required
functionality, then developed sketches showing the layout and content
of every page and logic flow diagrams showing user paths. For each page
requiring user input, defined the location and size of each input field,
the related user instructions, the error checking rules, and the wording
of each error message.
After the detailed Java coding was completed by a multi-national group
of programmers, tested every option on every page using a pre-written
detailed test plan. Tracked each problem found and verified when it
was corrected. Conducted usability tests both with internal staff and
with selected United Way staff. Before formally launching the site,
facilitated a complete review of the site with senior United Way managers
to insure usability as well as consistency in the look and feel of each
page of the site
Result: The fast track project that involved several
hundred web pages and 3 large databases was designed and developed within
6 months then were transferred to a commercial web server and formally
launched a month later. The online "Where to Get Help" directory
now displays accurate, up-to-date information, and includes a lookup
capability by agency or key word. Unmatched key words are kept in a
separate file that is routinely examined for additional key word terms
that can be added to improve usability.
The volunteer / agency matching feature is also working well to provide
volunteers with many nearby opportunities to "make a difference
in someone's life", as well as providing agencies with a new source
of volunteers. The online directory of agencies for the donor choice
program is also working well, aiding those donors who want to target
their donations for particular causes or for specific nearby agencies.
Case Studies |
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