Several years ago, Sam designed the website for El Alfarero, the non-profit which his parents founded in Bolivia where he grew up.
Looking back, it was a website that looked nice but was lacking in functionality and content. The organisation had also grown so significantly that the website no longer reflected the breadth and depth of their work.
Thinking it would be a relatively simple redesign of their existing site, Sam offered to work with them. We had no idea how big of a project it would turn out to be.
El Alfarero's vision is to see university students and leaders transformed by God’s work in their lives. They work with local communities in Bolivia, as well as training up leaders to go out to the nations.
Their local centres are the cities of Sucre and Santa Cruz in Bolivia, providing services to meet students' needs holistically. These include a cafe, counselling services, and a library. Courses and events help the projects sustain themselves financially.
The international arm of the organisation runs several programmes to equip leaders to have an impact in areas they are passionate about. Since El Alfarero was founded in 2001, thousands of students and leaders have been impacted through their work.
Being a non-profit which relies upon donations and external funding, El Alfarero's website must represent the variety of work they do.
We set out to build a website with them that showed the connectedness of their services across different local centres, while also demonstrating the individual identities of those centres.
The website also needed to incorporate the new international arm, all while highlighting the vision and mission of the organisation.
We took the leadership at El Alfarero on a journey, and the first step was to make sure we understood who the users of the redesigned website would be.
We ran an online workshop with the leadership team to collect information about who the different users of their website would be. In the end, we identified six main groups.
We collected research online and insights from the team to create "personas", or fictional characters who represented these six groups to us. That means we could refer back to them throughout our design process.
Content and structure
Once we understood who the users of the website would be, the next step was to list out all of the content which we thought might go on the website. We brought a basic list to the workshop and filled it out with suggestions from the team.
We used the digital whiteboard tool, Miro, to map out together how we wanted to organise the content across the site. Throughout this process we tried to keep in which parts of the site each of the six personas would consider most important.
Once we had the content nailed down and we had organised it into a structure that made sense, we set about creating some "wireframes" or sketches of what the pages on the website would look like.
As always, Bekah's drawing skills on the iPad came in handy to get these drawings done very quickly. Wireframes are extremely useful for Sam when he is building a site, as it gives him a structure and a reference to work from.
The final design rarely stays fully true to the wireframe, as there are always things that will change along the way and challenges that need to be worked around in the website building tool.
Building the website
Once the wireframes were done and approved, it was time for Sam to get started with building the website in Wix, the tool we used to build this site. Building any website takes work, but this website turned out to be much more complex than any which Sam had worked on before.
The structure is complex as it is a huge organisation, there is so much content on the site, it's multilingual in English and Spanish, and the site relies heavily on a content management system (CMS) so that information like course dates and prices can easily be kept up to date.
Because the project itself expanded so much as we went on, building the website took months longer than we had anticipated. However, all the leadership team agreed that it had been time well spent.
Looking back now, there are definitely things we would have done differently to speed up the process and maybe small tweaks we'd have made along the way. However, there really is no comparison between the original website and the new one.
Get in touch if you're looking for someone to create a new website for you, or to redesign and refresh your current one.