Buckner International is a Christ-centered ministry focused on transforming the lives of vulnerable children, enriching the lives of senior adults and building strong families. They accomplish this mission through four key ministries: Adoption and Foster Care, Family Hope Centers, Transitional Care and Senior Living. These ministries include more than 60 programs spread across Texas and six other countries.
The scope and complexity of Buckner’s work was creating fragmentation across the organization's brand, website and communications. Buckner as the parent organization needed to streamline its website and digital communications while also providing for the technical needs of each ministry and program. They desired to bring together all of their ministries under one central website, while still creating four clearly defined pathways for the user to get involved.
- Our findings revealed a lot of repeated content from one site to the next as context was established over and over again.
- There was no clear path to get back to the parent site once you moved through a sub-brand.
- It was also difficult to understand the big picture and how a single ministry fit and lived among a suite of offerings.
- They had many blogs that needed to be consolidated into a single management system.
- We noticed that they had a lot of photography, but didn’t have a single system to allow them to manage it effectively.
- There were many sites and redirects that had to be drawn together to support a better brand relationship.
Though we knew Buckner ultimately needed a new website, The A Group employed our strategy-first approach to determine the best way to organize Buckner’s complex programs and map out the best user experience for the ministry. We began with a full-day of discovery with the Buckner team, digging into the state of the union, challenges, opportunities and needs for the new website.
With this in-depth understanding of the brand, its ministries and their needs, we then conducted a full audit of Buckner’s current online presence: their websites’ structure and design, the application of their brand online, their content structure and management, their SEO and their social media. The discovery and audit allowed us to put together a comprehensive recommendations document based in our personalized knowledge of the ministry and our team’s expertise.
Next, we embarked on the process of building a new website for Buckner. The new web build would become the hub of all their ministries, allowing for the highlighting of multiple ministry stories, providing a portal for volunteer opportunities and serving as a donation platform.
Design and User Experience
The very first stride we made was to design a homepage that would give easy access and visibility to their top level ministries, followed by evidence of ministry impact in the form of Stories of Hope and informative blog posts. Through strategic site maps and design, we created clear pathways for users to understand Buckner’s overall mission and then plug into the ministries and locations they were most interested in.
Consolidation of Content
Because Buckner was previously using multiple websites for its various ministries, there was a lot of core content that was redundant when we brought the site together. Consolidating common resources and redundant information allowed us to trim and reduce the amount of content on the site. For example, users can now get basic information about all of Buckner’s retirement services before navigating to an individual community.
Though the Buckner website has a lot of layers, it’s easy for a user who is deep in the site to navigate to different areas. We created a global footer that easily directs users to any service or offering that they may need, regardless of where they are in their exploration of the Buckner.org site. The “Back to Buckner.org” button, above the navigation, is global and allows visitors easy access back to the parent brand while also allowing for the use of sub-brand logos in a primary branding position to orient the visitor as they journey through the site.
Our blog management solution migrated tons of content into a single CMS that now allows the site visitor to see posts that are contextual to where they are on the site (i.e. if the visitor is on the Adoption and Foster Care portion of the site, they will see blog posts that relate to those interests).
Though Buckner wanted to create a more global feel on the site, the organization also understood that each ministry had unique programmatic and technical needs, and that they needed to be empowered to communicate with their constituents without fragmenting the brand experience. The admin (back end of the site) that we built allows for each ministry to customize their areas of the site by applying their specific logos and imagery while using the approved templates that were created to give a consistent user experience. Through highly customizable user permissions, Buckner can give ministry leaders the ability to post content, such as blogs, resources and images, to their areas of the site while maintaining global control.
The new Buckner International website brings more focus and consistency to the way this ministry presents itself. Bringing together the different sites, resources and information built a better audience experience and a greater sense of team within Buckner. The ministry feels more integrated, and it’s easy for new audiences to understand Buckner’s mission, donate and get involved.
Rather than simply trying to create a tactical solution to their website, Buckner invested first in strategy, intentionally and systematically figuring out how to build a tool that would reach their goals. Partnering with organizations that value strategy allows both of our teams to be successful, and we commend Buckner for their stewardship of their digital presence.
We also loved the challenge of streamlining such a large website. It was a huge task for which we were proud to develop a simple and elegant solution, and we were truly honored to partner with such an amazing organization that is changing lives everyday!