November 7, 2009

David Suzuki Foundation launches new website, blog share

DSF website

Our team at DSF has been working steadily for months to bring you a new website that lets you — people who care about environmental issues, sustainability, and health — share your ideas, questions, and stories about how we can all make a difference. The site also makes it easy to learn about relevant issues and take action in meaningful ways, big and small.

The design is a significant departure from our old site, which is cluttered and inconsistent. We’ve taken on a new strategy as well: most content is written to fit into either the Learn, Do or Share category, then pulled into project pages where relevant. This allows content to fit into two projects without duplicating pages, gives us flexibility when projects come to an end, and helps you get the freshest content. It’s a more accessible approach than organizing content around our programs, and avoids dividing complex topics like climate change into single issues. Everything is interconnected.

The project has been the biggest learning experience of my career to date. As a technical and design challenge, this is my first time building a website of this scale, and with integrated community features. I am immersed in a steep learning curve in programming a complex site structure with a short timeline. In my design, I am tasked with accurately representing the brand of one of Canada’s foremost environmental non-profits. I’m training staff and volunteers on using the content management system, and finding ways to make their process as simple and efficient as possible. I’m handling a to-do list four pages long that is in constant evolution and slowed down by bugs that need fixing. I played a role in strategy development and brainstorming of features, and created wireframes and complex information architecture on my own for the first time. (Even more difficult was communicating of what a wireframe consists.) I had to plan how content would be organized and decide on naming conventions to keep things clear and consistent. Site features have been altered, added, and removed, which has kept me thinking up creative solutions in both design and programming. I have discovered answers where I thought there were none because I experiment and rarely jump to “that’s not possible” unless I know absolutely. I still have more work ahead of me streamlining processes and templates, polishing details and improving navigation and features. This is huge. It’s also still a beta site, so we’re eager to hear your suggestions and also ask that you bear with us while we transition to this new platform.

I hope you’ll share your stories and be inquisitive. You might just get a call from David Suzuki himself — but first you’ve gotta call the Prime Minister and deliver your thoughts! Show us what you did for the International Day of Climate Action, and tell us about your blog where you care about things. And as always, you can find out what David Suzuki’s up to. Speaking of David, did you know he is giving a lecture on December 10 to which you can get tickets? It’s going to be phenomenal; you don’t want to miss this.