A6: Design Review – RIF

For our A6 project, we are redesigning a nonprofit website to help ensure that the organization’s goals are better met. I decided to work on Reading Is Fundamental – Pittsburgh, a local branch of a national initiative to provide children with the resources to develop a life-long love of reading. RIF Pittsburgh works with the most economically disadvantaged children to start their own library and encourage independent reading and increased literacy.

  1. What are the client’s primary pain points? What parts of the website’s design might be causing this? What design solutions might be appropriate?
    1. Pain point: congested volunteer page
    2. Causes:
      1. Too much text
      2. Not enough hierarchy
      3. No visually interesting elements
      4. Confusing calendar
      5. Unclear cause
      6. Sign-up link is too far down
    3. Design Solutions:
      1. Use graphics to represent ideas instead of text
      2. Use clear hierarchy when for any text
      3. Design a better, streamlined calendar
      4. Reposition sign-up link (maybe even to header)
  2. Show the website to a roommate/friend. What is their initial reaction to the site? What message are they receiving from the organization?
    1. Initial Reaction: Aversion towards the shade of blue used, and the color and font of “Pittsburgh.”
    2. Message Received: This institution is try to look fun, child friendly, and creative, but is not succeeding. The blue looks very clinical. All the colors are in the same value/saturation range, and the page is too cluttered.
  3. Next, rate the client’s current website on the following criteria on a scale of 1-5 (with 5 = excellent), and briefly rationalize your rating
    1. Consistency – 3
      1. There is a main navigation bar and a sub navigation bar, in addition to a side bar. The decision of which links go in which sidebar are unclear, and the navigation bars are not the same on the main page.
      2. Additionally, there are no breadcrumbs to aid navigation.
    2. Layout – 3
      1. Generally, there is evidence of a grid (2 columns).
      2. Sign-up link is too far down.
      3. Vertical organization of text is haphazard and inconsistent.
    3. Navigation – 2
      1. Navigation bars are generally inconsistent and unclear. Some titles have additional options while some do not. There seems to be overlap, and no explanation as to why some subpages fall under their respective titles.
      2. Again, no breadcrumbs.
    4. Text – 3
      1. The body content is formatted in blocks, with only a change in weight (from regular to bold) to differentiate headers, new sections, and important words.
      2. Some blocks of text are very long, and therefore hard to read.
    5. Imagery/Headers – 3
      1. Images generally add no additional information to the content, they are placed for decoration.
      2. Image on the “Donate Now” button is out of place, and unnecessary.
      3. No consistency to the placement of images. Sometimes in body content, sometimes on sidebar, sometimes on the right gutter column.
    6. Colors – 2
      1. Too many colors.
      2. Navigation bar looks like a rainbow.
      3. Other important navigation elements are in light blue boxes with slightly lighter blue text, making them hard to read.
      4. Colors are trying too hard to be ‘friendly.’
  4. List some examples of websites that are similar but are working well and discuss briefly why they are working well.
    1. The parent RIF main page has more consistent and user-friendly design. Pages for Donation and “Getting Involved” are bold, clear, and unambiguous.
    2. Jumpstart, a nonprofit dedicated to developing literacy in preschool children in low-income neighborhoods makes especially good use of the “Make a Gift” and “Join the Corps” buttons that are at the top of every page on the site.
    3. LitWorld, another nonprofit tackling the challenge of illiteracy worldwide, has a striking minimalistic design that is consistent on all of its pages. The donate button is clearly the call to action, and the edge-to-edge pictures create dramatic effect.
  5. What are some design directions that you think would be suitable for the site’s redesign? Include at least three examples. You may use Behance, Dribbble, Patterntap, etc.
    1. I like how this website template remains friendly by using the rounded font, yet is still unmistakably clean, minimal, and visually appealing.
    2. This page outlines a design language that I think will work well with RIF-Pittsburgh. The text combinations are clean yet friendly, and the illustrations follow the same style. I especially like the main page idea.
    3. This is a clean, high-impact general template for nonprofit organizations. The donate call to action is huge.
    4. Similar to the previous template, this one is also clean and easy to read, yet feels a little more refined and less daring—which can be a good thing in many cases. The grid system is very strong, and edge-to-edge pictures add visual interest.

One comment

  1. Jacklynn · · Reply

    Really great research! I thought your friend’s review was interesting: he said the website look like the website is trying to appeal to children (unsuccessfully). Do you really think that’s their audience? (I don’t). Your examples and inspiration are nice, but I’d be interested in seeing how you make the website feel unique to it’s content/community and not like a charity template too.


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