Rigpa are a charity who teach meditation in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition, but for the benefit of all modern men and women. In the UK their activity ranges from free meditation instruction, to a long term path of authentic study & practice, running multiple events each year hosting a number of different speakers, outreach work with the sick and dying and an annual 10 day retreat.
Their website was painfully outdated and contained an overwhelming amount of outdated information. They approached me to re-build it from the ground up, with the aim of it becoming a vibrant platform for all of their activity.
The consensus was that the old site felt too corporate and was weighed down with redundant information. The home page was a melee of different content and a complete lack of information hierarchy meant that knowing where to go next was almost impossible for the user.
The first step we took was to try and better understand the audience. Interviews were conducted with both long time members and those people who had just come for their first drop in meditation session. These helped clarify assumptions about their different needs and allowed me to develop a set of user personas which would help guide the design process. I wanted these peronas to be a tool that people were keen to use throughout the project, so I made them colourful and printed off sets of them in a convenient card form.
I then ran a series of workshops with a cross section of volunteers and staff from the organisation. The exercises were varied and the outcomes helped to:
- establish an agreed tone for the content
- simplify the content into fewer, clearer categories
- map out a series of user journey's for the various personas
- clarify who would be involved in creating content going forward
Armed with the output of these sessions I set out to define the new structure for the site in a google spreadsheet, and then worked with different people from the organisation to write new content for each section. This ensured that there were no big hold ups to the launch, and also helped to inform the design process around the actual content that would be used.
When it came to the design, there was a real desire to make the site more approachable - losing the corporate feel of the old site and emphasising the very human connections which make up their courses.
I presented a new palette of bright pastel colours (inspired by the colourful patterns associated with Tibetan Buddhism). These were chosen to communicate a friendly, vibrant and approachable atmosphere.
I also commissioned a photographer to attend their events, which meant that we had a good range of quality photos showing the people that make up the organisation.
It was clear from the UX research that the navigation needed to be completely reimagined. Although the website served the whole UK, it had previously been used only by the London branch. It was essential that the new navigation was kept simple and clear, while still signposting users to their local branch pages.
The organisation were already using an open source CRM for their student database and event management. This tied us down to a limited number of CMS solutions, and Wordpress was elected for ease of use - it was important that volunteers across the country could feel confident in updating their own content independently.
I undertook building a Wordpress theme for the design, installing a local copy of their CRM on my local development environment to ensure they were playing nicely together. This meant I could configure the setup so they could create an event on their CRM and then have Wordpress display registration forms for the events directly in the theme wherever they chose.