NetHope's new website helps top non-profits be smarter in their use of technology

News portal for the nonprofit sector

It has been a privilege for Parasola to work with NetHope Inc. to design and build their new, public facing website.

The opportunity

Parasola are delighted to help NetHope, a non-profit consortium whose membership comprises 63 global non-profit organizations, to design and build a bold new website to better inform the public, serve the global non-profit sector, and amplify the collective impact of their members.

Under an outdated paradigm, NetHope’s digital resources had been divided into several domains and cloud storage systems, often requiring unique User logins for each system. They actively managed both WordPress and Expression Engine websites with much of the content shared across both. Visitors looking for content were often redirected or presented with insurmountable roadblocks. The Expression Engine website was slow, hard to navigate, and the website search engine was ineffective. Their WordPress site lacked robust content, effective SEO, and a modern design that translated well to mobile devices. For an organisation connecting world-leading IT partners, with the top tier non-profits around the world, building a better looking, better organised website was urgent.

In 2021, Parasola worked with Stone Barrell to redesign NetHope's Idea Journey pages and a page to celebrate their 20 year anniversary. Our focus on straightforward copy, impactful graphic design and fast loading pages was appreciated by NetHope and led to us working with them over a longer period to bring their public content onto one streamlined WordPress website.

Parasola created NetHope at 20 and Idea Journey pages

Design process

The design process started by looking at comparable news websites to identify best practice User Interface design and to design mock-ups that helped form the new website's visual design. NetHope is not typically a public facing organisation, most daily Users of the website are from other nonprofits, technology companies and corporate donors. Thus, the design focus was professional, utilitarian, comprehensive and easy to use.

Despite the project team being located across Europe and the U.S., we enjoyed working together on the new website using tools such as Asana for project planning, Miro whiteboards for shaping our structure and taxonomy, Box for document storage and Zoom for our weekly calls.

NetHope had already created a new top-level navigation for the site which focused on communicating how NetHope collaborated with its members. We expanded NetHope's orange and blue branding to include several new colours and a contemporary typeface. A pale grey background across the website allows cards and pages across the site to be flat yet defined. With these assets in place, I designed mock-ups in Adobe XD and presented to the NetHope leadership team for review.

A homepage that defines NetHope's offering

We identified a need to provide quick access to the latest content for visiting members and a straightforward statement to allow new visitors to quickly understand who NetHope are. The first section of the homepage does both immediately. A series of cards linking to the latest news and resources, and a solid blue block explaining NetHope's top three ways they support non-profits. E

We identified a need to provide quick access to the latest content for returning Users and a clear statement to inform new visitors to who NetHope are. The first section of the homepage does both immediately with a series of cards linking to the latest news and resources, and a solid blue block explaining NetHope's top three ways they support non-profits. Each of these use an anchor link behind an arrow graphic that scrolls the page down to their corresponding explanatory sections below.

The structure of the website starts with simple explanations that move to sections, on to landing pages and then individual content items.

Advanced categorisation for powerful filtering and search

Combining two legacy websites with thousands of urls into one straightforward resource that can be easily filtered, searched and cross-referenced was no insignificant task. WordPress usually has two content types - pages and posts. For this website, we created 8 more: articles, case studies, events, press releases, programs, toolkits, webinars, events and organisations. Each of these shared 8 taxonomies. This allows visitors to search for content by keyword and view all related content. When viewing a single resource, all other taxonomies and their categories are hyperlinked to an archive listing page.

Once the categorisation and taxonomies were set up, we looked to move content. The WordPress articles could be exported easily, but we needed also needed to move content from an Expression Engine site. Web scraping allowed us to crawl pages and extract data and images and put it into a spreadsheet. We then imported the data to WordPress, connecting it to the taxonomies.

With so many types of content with shared taxonomies, we needed a smart, fast filtering solution. Visitors can view a single resource type such as webinars and all the different pages are displayed as cards. These cards can be filtered by different taxonomy dropdowns. Only relevant choices are shown. If a visitor wants to view all content, they can view all resources and filter across all resources on the website.

NetHope didn't just need individual pieces of content to be found, they needed to be able to place these into hand-curated groups that we named 'collections'. Website editors can create new collections and pull through any existing article, webinar etc to be part of that collection. The 'Center for Digital Nonprofit' is a website that has been incorporated within the Accelerating Together part of the website. The sections within have been created using the collection template.

Pieces of content will often have child pages. 'Acting together' are listings of programs that NetHope runs such as providing essential connectivity in disaster situations. The Acting Together landing page lists collections within a particular type. We added a drag and drop interface for managing pages within the WordPress admin menus to allow editors to nest pages within each other.

The launch of the website and the subsequent shutdown of the 'Solutions Center' website required 800+ redirects to be set up to ensure existing web search traffic and backlinks continued to serve relevant pages. We used a combination of existing sitemaps with Google Search Console data along with, an excellent AI-driven 301 redirects tool to produce a detailed spreadsheet the NetHope team manually checked for quality. Since the launch of the new website, NetHope receives 190,000 impressions per month. Parasola continue to work with NetHope on enhancements, security updates and as a consultant.

The CLient

NetHope are a consortium of over 60 leading, global nonprofit members which collaborate across geographies and missions to solve some of the world's greatest development, humanitarian, and conservation challenges.

About Parasola
Parasola was founded by Paul Dyke, a Digital Design professional in 2019. He has worked with top brands including McDonald's, Lloyds Bank and The National Lottery and wants to help brands to improve their visual design.
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