In the spring of 2016, we launched the redesigned portal and website for the Certified Wildlife Habitat program through the National Wildlife Federation’s Garden for Wildlife initiative. The program incentivizes people to create habitats in their own backyards to help local wildlife. The program’s web presence was cumbersome, confusing, outdated, and not mobile-responsive. It was a great opportunity to modernize the program.
My main objectives for the project were to streamline the application process and to make the content easy to navigate. This was one of the organization’s most engaging program, with a plentiful following of gardeners and wildlife enthusiasts. We needed to make the website and portal as easy-to-use and accessible as possible.
Pairing down the application portal was a daunting task. We needed to have consensus from our stakeholders to remove or consolidate questions and data points from users. In order to convince the stakeholders to remove data that wasn’t valuable, I was tasked with designing the new data structure and the wireframes for the portal. These visual aids demonstrated what a difference good, modern design makes in terms of usability. Once the stakeholders reviewed the new interface and how the system would be structured, they were on board to continue streamlining the process.
To further validate our new structure and interface layout, we conducted in-person user testing with users that were interested in gardening and wildlife conservation. I walked the users through different scenarios and asked them to complete specific tasks. With very little guidance they were able to complete the tasks. They did have some questions about specific terms that were used, which led us to include some helpful pop-ups through out the process. They seemed very excited that a portal like this would be available for them.
The complementary website also needed to be redesigned and reorganized. There were sections of content that hadn’t been updated in years; there were broken links and outdated and irrelevant content all over the place. Since one of our main goals was to increase the number of Certified Wildlife Habitats in the program, I focused on making sure that a new user could easily find the basics about the program and how they could get involved.
The new sitemap reflected actionable items for the users. We included clear paths to learn about the program and what they needed to do to have their own wildlife habitat. Using analytics and metrics, we significantly decreased the number of pages on the website. The content had been incredibly verbose, so we rewrote most of the kept pages to make them succinct. One of my favorite parts was the photo research for beautiful wildlife imagery, which drove the design of the website.
After launch, we saw traffic steadily increase and we’ve seen steady growth in the program since.
In 2018 we took on a few functional and design requests for the online portal. We wanted to make the log-in process easier and add a Guest checkout option. Additionally, we wanted to add product links from our catalog to the certification criteria where users could purchase items they needed for their habitats. Alongside our development team, I created mockups and tested several iterations of the new log-in process. Within a few weeks, we were able to turn the original log-in process into a more modern interface.