After a year of hard work, our new web platform is launched! We last launched a website in late 2010 and for the past couple of years, we've been spending most of our time making sure that platform worked well for our users. NeighborLink has grown exponentially in Fort Wayne over the past couple of years as well as around the country. We've launched in 7 other cities since we launched our last website. We've taken all the user experiences and combined it with the vision of where we're headed to build this website. This is phase 1 of 3 that we hope to launch in 2014, and is basically a much better version of the previous website in terms of overall functionality.
Below are some of the key changes you can expect with this new website:
View Projects Wizard: We've gone from having a high of 100 projects needing assistance posted at any given time to upwards of 200. The view project list of old became hard to sort and we knew we needed make some project management improvements. Now, when you visit the View Projects page, you'll see two different navigation options to get to the projects.
Choose Your Adventure - If you click on the icons to the left, it will lead you through a series of project discovery pages that are designed to help you quickly find a list of projects that fit your skills, abilities, and even your zip code location preferences. If you proceed through the steps, you could technically find a list of projects that cover all the lawn mowing projects in 46806. That way, the rest of the project list is invisible to you and you only see what you want to see.
Advanced Wizard - The boxes on the right will become your best friend as you get more comfortable with the website. You can use the search box like a search engine and enter the keywords you're looking for. Want mowing projects, just enter "mowing." The rest of the check boxes do what the choose your adventure icons do, but in a quicker way. Want to see all the projects like before, just click on the "New Search" button.
Previously Viewed Projects - That new Advanced Wizard keeps track of the projects you've been looking at for easy reference. So, if you're looking at a couple of projects, you can always go there to easily navigate back to it.
Volunteer Registration Process: We've combined the "Coach" Account with the "Volunteer" Account after 10 years of having the different categories. It was one of the biggest causes of confusion with our process we've learned. We found that individuals didn't know which account to sign up for and would choose the easy route by default. Coaches used to be the only ones that were able to see the full details of the project and select projects to complete. Our Volunteers were only able to join the projects that were being led by Coaches. In an effort to simplify things, there is only one category of Volunteers moving forward.
From now on, everyone that registered will be asked to provide more information on why they want to join us at NeighborLink as a volunteer. Once approved, all volunteers will be able to see the project information and be able to select projects. We've changed the terminology a bit to simplify things, but increased our requirements for all volunteers. We believe this move will help us create a stronger and active core of volunteers.
SPECIAL NOTE:If you previously had a Volunteer Account, you'll temporarily be a Basic Member in the new website. Once you try to login, you'll be prompted to fill out some additional information so we can re-approve your account under the new Volunteer Registration process. Also, if you haven't logged into the website since before the beginning of 2013, you account has been removed as we attempt to have a more accurate database. Please re-register.
OTHER NOTABLE IMPROVEMENTS:
Homepage ReDesign: We revamped the homepage to bring more "life" to the homepage. We realized that our website is full of a lot of information about what needs fixed, but doesn't tell you much of the story of what's been done already. So, we've re-oriented the homepage to bring you more of the story that is unfolding on a regular basis as well as continue to provide you easy navigation to get where you want to do.
Icons: You'll see brand new project icons throughout the website. We know people navigate better and faster when there are visual prompts. We hope they'll bring some life to the website as well as help you identify the projects you're looking for much quicker when searching. We've got some fun ideas in store for the future with them.
Individual Project Page: We've re-designed the project page in order to help you see the full details and understand how to better manage the project. This page will continue to be a work in progress as more and more users are active. However, we believe this is a great improvement over the previous page layout.
Add A Project: We've gone back to a multi-step project posting process for individuals that post projects for the first time. We were realizing that many were skipping over things and having a harder time understanding what to do with just a one page layout that created an account and posted a project at the same time.
Fund Projects: We've had great success with our Crowdfunding tool the past couple of years and we're making strides to improve that tool for our users. You can find those projects either through the navigation bar or through the View Projects page. Every donation made to one of those projects go directly to purchasing materials for that project.
Fundraiser Page: Want to do a fundraiser for NeighborLink? Give up your birthday, run a mini-marathon, do a fund drive, or whatever your imagination comes up with. We can process your donations through our Crowdfunding tool. Login in to your dashboard and look for the donate button in the toolbar.
Countless Behind the Scenes Improvements: There are hundreds of improvements made to our databases and how the website was built that will greatly improve the overall functionality. Unless you're into web development tech speak, you'll not find those details quite a thrilling.
We have a long list of new improvements to be launched in Phase 2 and 3 this year. We're going to give our web development team a few weeks to take a break and then we'll be back to the grind. Thank you for your continued support and I hope you enjoy the new website. If you have questions or see things that aren't quite right, click that support link at the bottom of the page and let us know.