This past weekend I took part in this year’s Cleveland Give Camp. 3 days of helping out local charities and non-profits with their web presences.
Lean Dog opened their office (a converted boat) and we also had the run of Burke Lakefront Airport too. Though hot, it was great catching up with some local web folk I hadn’t seen in a little while, as well as meeting the new people on my team; Roger, Joe, and Joann.
We helped out Long Term Care Ombudsman, an interesting and vital service, with their website. Where some teams could do a new website, LTCO had to stick with the current hosted solution.
While it did offer them some useful tools, it limited the amount of “design” we could do for them.
- We had to use one of the stock templates
- We couldn’t change any of that templates CSS or HTML
- We couldn’t add “style” or “code snippets” to that template
We decided early on to focus on two objectives:
- Write new content to help educate visitors, and to improve search engine results
- Change the site architecture to make it easier to navigate
Joe Zitt did a great job, working with the client and writing new content to explain what the LTCO does and how volunteers can help.
My challenge was to put that content onto the site. My nemesis for three days was the CMS (deserves a separate post).
I worked in the HTML view, marking up the content semantically, but I had to remember that our client would not be comfortable using that view. In fact they had been frustrated that the formatting was not consistent and hard to implement using this. So I created a
<style> block that I pasted in the HTML view at the top of every page. This way they could just use the “normal” view to enter content and choose they type of tag (
<p>, etc.) and not have to use the color picker and text size options. Using these results in a ton of
<span> wrapping around everything.
Though not a wholly new site, at the end of the weekend they had new, topic-specific content, semantically marked-up & styled, with a better site structure. We also gave them some documentation for a strategy including blogging & social media, as well as instructions on how to paste in and use the
<style> block and address using hCard.
Our clients, Susan & Lauri, were great to work with, happy with the work done and excited to start using their site again.
All the volunteers kept us fed, LeanDog kept 200 people on WiFi, and it was well-run 3 days. I’d recommend anyone who works on the web, and is interested in helping out local charities, to check out the next Cleveland Give Camp (or find one in your area).