The Brooklyn Bird Club has hundreds of active members ranging from world-class experts to brand new birders still trying to figure out how to operate their binoculars and choose the right field guide. The age range is equally wide. The challenge of the redesign was to accommodate these various needs in hand-holding and differences in technological literacy while coming across as a friendly place where everyone is welcome. The future website would need to accommodate multiple editors along with multiple invited writers while allowing for an easy in-house maintenance and support.
It’s been quite an adventure to redesign the old, circa 2003, bird club site and provide its members and wider bird loving audiences with a modern – easy to use and update -mobile-friendly solution.
Club Member Interviews
While talking to the stakeholders and club members about what they want to see on the new site, it became apparent that the most needed new features would be maps with the directions to the birdwatching hotspots, and easily updatable calendars – to keep club members and everyone else interested in birding abreast on the latest happenings. The older audiences would prefer to print out maps with directions at home and take them along on the hike, the younger generation would much rather use their phones for the same purpose.
As excited as the club members got about the new site, there were two major constraints–time (the migration season was approaching fast, birdwatchers from all over the world were expected to arrive at the Prospect Park and will need all bird watching guidance they could get) and budget (non-profits are rich in ideas, but sadly not funds).
To better understand the site audience and how they are going to interact with the site, I started off by creating a couple of quick personas using personapp.io application.
Proposed Site Features
After doing the inventory of the existing content and adding the new areas, I proposed the following site structure. The new site architecture proved to be intuitive and easily understood by selected user testing group.
After a few discussions with the stakeholders, and checking with club members, we decided to focus the redesign on introducing a few most needed features as per sitemap above, to be able to release the site in time for the spring migration season.
G O O G L E F O N T S
Due to the time and budget constraints, we moved straight into the prototyping stage. The website was going to be maintained in-house by the club members, and it also needed to have the capacity to invite outside writers to submit their content. This is why the variety of user roles/permissions was important, as was a low learning curve. I suggested going with WordPress as a Content Managment System, due to its ease of use, and a vast variety of plugins available allowing further feature expansion at the later date.
Responsive by design
The layout easily reflows to any screen size, so it looks great on any device from a mobile phone to a large high-resolution display.
Allows visitors to focus on the actual content, such as birding maps shown here, and not to be distracted, especially on smaller devices. None of the precious real estate of the screen is lost on unnecessary – at the moment – navigation, while it still remains at the user’s fingertips once they need it again.
Implementing a multi-layered calendar system, allowed users to keep track of all events happening at the club, from field trips to meetings. It also allowed the club admins, to easily update the system, even for the recurring events, the feature that has proven to be highly valued.
Once launched, the redesigned site received a lot of wonderful feedback from the usual birding audience and the newcomers and has proven to be a very useful informational resource.