About the project
Our team of post-graduate UX students were paired with Toronto charity The Neighbourhood Group for a semester to refresh their digital presence. The Neighbourhood Group is the product of a merger of two local charities, Neighbourhood Link Support Services (NLSS) and Central Neighbourhood House (CNH).
Project Manager, Communications Specialist, Branding Strategist, Content Strategist, Visual Designer, Marketing Lead
Invision, Adobe Illustrator, pen and paper
How can we integrate the digital identity of three entities without diluting the histories and raison d'être of each organization?
Both charities have extensive histories in the community and their work with underserved communities in Toronto spans a combined 146 years. Many of their relationships with community members have been forged over decades, meaning that there is strong brand loyalty to both NLSS and CNH.
Leaders in both sub-brands raised a concern—they didn’t want lose the unique personalities of NLSS or CNH. Currently, The Neighbourhood Group has three separate websites which house their virtual presence: www.theneighbourhoodgroup.org, www.neighbourhoodlink.org/, and www.cnh.on.ca/.
The strong community presence which The Neighbourhood Group has developed with community members through NLSS and CNH is not reflected in their digital strategy.
One NLSS client we interviewed had never heard of The Neighbourhood Group. They had been a client of NLSS for years, and had built a strong rapport, but hadn’t known about the merger.
With The Neighbourhood Group’s many user groups, our team needed to learn more about each users’ distinct needs. We contacted donors, volunteers, staff, partners, and clients, and inquired about their experience with any of the three websites.
Using findings from the user interviews, we created five personas to keep the needs of all user groups at the core of our work.
The communications team shared their concerns about the three websites. Coupled with their insights and findings from our user research, our team had an idea of what to keep our eyes open for throughout the audit.
Navigation: Some of the menus and navigation bars had a lot of subcategories and content, which made for an overwhelming experience.
Content Structure: The text hierarchy was inconsistent, meaning that titles and headings weren’t always the same size or colour. As well, pages with similar types of content were not organized with parallel structure or similar writing schemes.
Content Layout: Usage of screen real estate was inconsistent. Some pages were cramped and content-heavy, while widgets and footers took up a lot of space but was content-sparse.
Interactivity: Across the three websites, there were few external and internal links. As well, the website was unresponsive and not was not optimized for all devices.
Core User Journeys
Integrate online identities onto one website
One umbrella website, sub-brand specific services and content should still be housed separately within the main website to maintain existing brand identity of NLSS and CNH.
We re-envisioned the navigation bar to fit all the content under The Neighbourhood Group’s brand umbrella. Inspired by the 5W1H framework, we sought to categorize TNG’s site content under major questions a user would have.
Implement content structure and writing guidelines
All text and visual content would be organized with the same guidelines to strengthen the brand voice and give The Neighbourhood Group’s digital identity a consistent and familiar look.
Showcase unique sub-brand histories
To preserve the distinct pre-Neighbourhood Group histories of both CNH and NLSS, we crafted an interactive timeline. Users could explore the The Neighbourhood Group’s past and learn about the merger and more clearly understand the relationship between the three entities.
Guide users to relevant content
To better suit the needs of each persona/user group, our team designed a splash page to greet all five user groups. This page streamlines navigation by showing users content relevant to their needs, guiding them to what they’re looking for in fewer clicks.