Center for Civilians in Conflict (CIVIC) is an organization that works to make warring parties more responsible to civilians before, during, and after an armed conflict. Their vision is “to prevent civilian harm, protect civilians caught on the battlefield, and make amends for the harm [warring parties] nevertheless cause.”
CIVIC works with civilians in conflict zones such as Afghanistan, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, Iraq, Mali, Nigeria, South Sudan, Syria, Ukraine, Yemen, and more. During their work in these countries, they listen to the civilians affected — they listen to their stories, struggles, and hopes. The CIVIC team documents each story and then brings them to leaders with advice on how the country can do a better job at recognizing the issues, protecting and helping the civilians, and preventing harm. With such an important message and vision, we knew CIVIC was the perfect project for Diamond + Branch. Our agency might be small, but our powers are mighty and we couldn’t wait to use them!
When CIVIC came to us, their ExpressionEngine-hosted website had lots of great content and important stories, but they needed organizing. They were looking for a marketing agency that could build them a new customized WordPress theme that would be 100% responsive, have a strong structure, be optimized for search, and present clear calls to action. In addition, this website had to be created in a way that would be easy to edit and manage for anyone with minimal WordPress experience.
This is what D+B calls a customized WordPress website. For these website projects, our goal is to create a new digital home that increases the visibility of the organization and highlights its impact on making the world a better place. Not only does WordPress allow users to create beautiful, fully-functional websites, but its simple interface also makes it easy for non-tech savvy people to manage and maintain their website. D+B handles the setup, design, customization, and optimization; it’s up to you if you want to learn how to manage the website through our tutorials, or our team can make updates for you. This case study will walk you through our process and how we created a well-organized, optimized, and effective website for CIVIC.
Our process for building customized WordPress websites consists of three phases — preparation, execution, and launch. Throughout the entire process, we typically arrange a weekly check-in via video call to review what’s been completed, what’s in the works, and any potential roadblocks. Having a seamless process in place ensures that the whole website-building experience is efficient, effective, and easy for both teams.
During the preparation phase, we analyzed CIVIC’s current sitemap and identified key opportunities like renaming pages for readability, adding additional pages, and rearranging the architecture of the main navigation. Not only did this set us up for a well-organized website, it also helped us:
- Determine what new content needed to be produced.
- Identify existing content that would need to be optimized and migrated.
- Establish a page template inventory.
- Create guidelines for content tags and categories to empower CIVIC to grow their site while maintaining the new structure we helped them create.
After we had a clear strategy for the new sitemap and content, we started the execution phase — creating page templates in a customized WordPress theme. Each week we would create a new page template and present it to CIVIC in our weekly meetings. Together, we would review each element on the page, talk through any initial feedback, and discuss the next steps. After the meeting, CIVIC had a week to provide us with any additional feedback, and if there was any, we would implement and present for final approval. The approval process is critical to staying on track with launch deadlines. The bulk of this phase was creating page templates and migrating existing content to the new WordPress site. In addition, we also executed the following:
- Configured plugins for donation management, email subscription sign-ups, event calendar, and search engine optimization.
- Provided video and written tutorials on how to edit specific features on the theme.
- Content optimization for search engines on existing content.
- Provided taxonomy guidelines for organizing blog posts, articles, and news with specific categories and tags.
The final phase included reviewing pages and features for launch. We reviewed and tested pages on different browsers and devices — desktop, tablet, and mobile. We considered photo scaling, font sizes and weights, and how elements stacked on different devices. In addition, we also reviewed and implemented the following:
- Metacontent for search engine optimization.
- Tracking tools like Google Analytics and Search Console.
- Sitemap and submission to search engines.
“Six months in the making, Center for Civilians in Conflict (CIVIC) worked with the excellent folks at Diamond + Branch to come up with a new design that is mobile first, discoverable, and encourages greater visibility for CIVIC and the protection of civilians. And I have to say, Diamond + Branch were a joy to work with, and Lindsay and Jaimie were responsive and open to feedback. I highly recommend them to anyone looking for a website re-do.”
– Chris Allbritton, Manager of Communications for Civilians in Conflict