CHN Foundation Website

Project Overview

This is a story of a golden lesson in web design. When CHN Foundation came for Looking’s help, they had recently refreshed their brand and went from a flash-based website to an HTML5 site, and they were looking for help with a redesign.

Knowing the redesign was maybe a year in, we did what anyone would. We hit the grindstone. We could make the website better! We did user-studies, interviewed different members within the organization, found out who the user will be, what information they will want, etc. User scenarios were drafted and tested, until a website came into resolution. Design. Build. Launch. Pat on back.

However when they came to us 1.5 years later for further development, anxiety set it. Dream client, dream project (first time) = great. Dream client, redesign-too-soon = concern. What did we miss the first time around? Keep reading…


homepage as inherited
An snapshot of the homepage we inherited.

Redesign I: Content Strategy and User Scenarios out

After initial creative brief, to bring about a corporate feel and professional flow to the website, it became clear that content would need to be a priority of the redesign.

Information on the original site leaned heavily toward reducing overhead by clarifying the different types of funding. With some quick comparative research it was apparent that to a common user, the organization was not spelling out clearly who they were. Transparency would be a main point. Who is CHN Foundation?

user flow chart of the new website
The entire right side of this diagram was produced.

Observations & Hypothesis

redesigned homepage
Redesigned homepage, the first time. From multi-click buttons with redundant navigation, to responsive drop-down menus.

Swinging of the Pendulum

New leadership from the client meant a new voice was present to open up awareness and transparency to researchers and the general public about the foundation. We reduced holistic imagery for what I would retroactively call “Medical Microsoft Surface with dropdowns.” A perhaps colder overall look was intended to give scientific clout, and much warmer copy helped to compensate.

expression finally
The redesigned “about us” page, was a single-scrolling page designed to inform, honor the founder, and express the individuality of the foundation.

The site passed through our core team, through reviewers, leadership, and the board of directors and launched. Again, pat on backs, hugs all around. We did introduced Wordpress CMS on the news feed section and a heavily visited deadline and announcements page.


More than a pendulum

In the case of CHN Foundation, iteration came in the form of a call that it was time to redesign again. It was just outside of 18 months, and while small updates were made up to the call, a complete rehaul was in order. Had we under-delivered in the redesign?

Early on in phone calls, I sat down with John Clark, and we hashed out the lesson of this project. Redesigns would be perpetual. While the look could be adjusted away from the colder redesign, there was something missing that a topical redesign would not fix. The Foundation needed a platform to voice their leadership in the industry.

Every good organization needs a why? For CHN Foundation, their why was apparent to everyone except for the common site visitor. This time the website was built with a section “On Our Minds”, where Foundation leadership can drive conversation about what they are doing, where research could be headed, items that are in need of research, etc.

So the golden lesson is to listen to the inner problem at hand, here it was what the customer needed. In this case, streamlining a user experience alone would not solve the problem that spurred a redesign.


Launched Website

Click to see the site

The site has been active for a few months, and the “On Our Minds” page is wonderful. I get inspired thinking about all of the research that is being done now in the name of progress. While I no longer have access to analytics, a simple google news search results in an inspiring exploration.

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