Published On: April 29th, 2020
ALS is a horrible disease.
It takes perfectly health individuals, strips them of their viability, and makes them prisoners inside of their own bodies before eventually going on to take their lives. Unfortunately, it is also a disease that has touched multiple people close to me, including a very good friend taken way before his time.
When the opportunity arose to work with Hearts for ALS NY to help promote ALS awareness, raise funds, and support those affected by ALS in the Rochester area, I didn’t hesitate.
The goal was simple: Help to get the word out about the organization and all of the great things that they do. This included promoting events, encouraging (and facilitating) donations, increasing knowledge about the disease, and letting those affected by ALS know that Hearts was available to support them with equipment, assistance, and support whenever they needed it.
Website accessibility was a chief concern during the design and development process. Not only would individuals diagnosed with ALS visit the website, but also their caretakers who may be older and/or less tech savvy. Making the website easy to use for all individuals was very important.
ALS is still a fairly new disease to most people, and therefore, it was important that visitors could easily learn about ALS on the website. This means that information needed to be laid out in a positive way, but also that the information much be factually correct and cited where necessary. For the Hearts website, I was given the opportunity to design the educational section of the website, but also compile and write up the information.
By the time I began working with Hearts, they had established themselves with a faithful community and a handful of annual events. Therefore, it was important to promote these events with an easy-to-use event calendar on the website (with options for ticket purchasing), and once the events were completed, to highlight them with photo galleries.
The life blood of almost every charitable organization is the ability to benefit from volunteers and donations. Prior to our working together, Hearts was only able to gather donations at events (or via mail from loyal supporters), but they did not have a year-round option for people to donate easily. Having this functionality on the website was a primary focus, and it could be argued it was the primary purpose of the website.
Charities don't have large marketing budgets for paid social media marketing, so it is of the utmost importance that the site's SEO is buttoned up completely. This is especially true for smaller, regional charities that have to compete with the larger organizations for eyeballs. Knowing we would have a lot of on-page content to work with, we began by optimizing copy, media, and metadata and continued with link building and social media marketing.
Over half of the web's traffic comes from people using mobile devices, therefore every website needs to optimize user experience across all screen sizes or risk missing a big chunk of people.
To provide a visually appealing and informative introduction to the website, a custom JSSOR powered layer animation was applied to the homepage hero section.
Built from scratch through close collaboration with Hearts for ALS NY board members, this website was powered by a custom WordPress theme. This allowed the flexibility to tailor the website design completely to this specific project.
Just like opening a store in the middle of the desert, a website is no good unless people can find it. Search Engine Optimization this project included on-page optimization, metadata, link building, and responding to sit traffic analytic trends.
As a fundraising measure, a PayPal Business account was established and PayPal buttons were generated to sell Hearts merchandise and accept donations via the website. In addition, a PayPal card reader was ordered and configured for use at events.
For a short time, I was honored to serve as a member of the Hearts for ALS NY board where I assisted with event planning and organization management.
Media relations tasks included maintaining an open line of communication with local media personalities. This communication resulted in multiple appearances by Hearts representatives on local news stations.