Lack of structural clarity menu items not always clear in meaning or ordered in a logical way

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1 Orleans Conservation Trust Website overhaul 7/18 MEMO + OUTLINE (draft for task force) Background: Stephen, Jamie, and Diana (the task force) met to discuss needed updates to the website. We agreed that the basic look and functioning of the current site is OK, but it doesn t serve OCT s needs well in some respects. Issues include: Lack of structural clarity menu items not always clear in meaning or ordered in a logical way Inward- rather than public-facing: too many menu items are organizationally focused Content often outdated and contains editorial errors. Solicitations for membership and giving are confusing, inconsistent, not optimized. Not enough attractive, engaging information/images about our lands, programs and people. And we need to hear the voices of members and supporters: quotes! (See HCT website.) Possible procedure for this project: 1. Task force meets 7/17/18, develops plan for website revise based on DL early proposals. 2. Stephen makes some quick + easy updates per outcome. 3. Diana revises proposed new site structure (map), develops outline, circulates to task force. 4. Stephen and Diana examine WordPress dashboard to determine how much work can be done in house vs. outsourced to web consultant. 5. Determine with consultant if we can input new content to a non-live staging site 6. Present proposal to full board (July or August meeting? Send material in advance?) 7. Assuming buy-in from board, meet with Comms Committee to make assignments for writing new text content, gather other content. (Or meet via .) 8. Revise forms as needed, working with other committees. 9. DL edits/organizes final drafts in Word; transmit to Stephen and/or consultant for input to staging site. 10. After final checks, revised site goes live. General notes: We re looking at other land trust sites to see how they organize material. Ours is very similar to HCT, updates should distinguish it more. Much of our current site content can be revised/updated/repurposed/restructured some will be new. An observation: we have a vast trove of material available from past newsletters (and brochure, blasts, etc.) that can be accessed for web content. The footer area of our webpages (at the very bottom) should be expanded to include a condensed menu, social media icons, etc. The CONTACT link can go here; doesn t need to be a top-level menu item. 1

2 SITE OUTLINE (correlates with site map) HOME Basic layout is OK. Main features include: Animated box at top with featured events/news Left sidebar with important quick links Center area: welcome/mission statement and links to background content. Bottom row of 3 boxes: cycling events linked to blog (NEWS) Recommended changes: Update OCT address in logo area top left Streamline quick links: Make a DonationDonate MembershipBecome a Member Walks / LecturesGuided Walks Speakers Trail Maps Update/sharpen text in center area; links will change. Add button/box on HOME page to capture s? Notes: Let s use guided walk vs. educational walk. ABOUT Compared with current organization/content, this section changes a lot. We need a distinct and prominent page to tell our story (history, vision/mission, strategic planning, etc.) Staff and Trustees can be combined on 1 page. The chronological chart of protected lands should move here. Declaration and Policies/Procedures can be combined on 1 page. Subpages: Our story Merge existing text from other parts of site with new writing (possible source: strategic plan doc). Why land trusts? General explanation, why important, plus difference between OCT and Town (was a separate page). Staff + trustees Current lists with brief bios and photos for all (could use third-level pages if too much for 1 page). Should we add list of committees here with an invite to members who might be interested in serving on one? Link to nomination form here also. Lands protected in Orleans Table of protected lands, reorder to put newest acquisitions at top! Trust documents Brief into and links to DOC and Policies & Procedures docs (PDFs). Also Strategic Planning summary? Contact 2

3 Pretty much OK; update mail address, make capture link more inviting? JOIN OCT Invitation to support us via membership and participation. Volunteer moves here (since we don t yet have a well-developed program, doesn t warrant a top-level header). Subpages: Become a member The title might include or renew or not thoughts? The big difference is that it s no longer under DONATE, aiming to distinguish between member dues and other donations. Clicking takes you to our form on the GreaterGiving site. The form really needs revising; see Supplements below. (Button on home page directs to same form.) Volunteer Currently the site has no compelling invitation to volunteer; just intimidating forms. So we need to develop a few paragraphs describing current volunteer opportunities (land stewardship, workdays, serving on committees, etc). Then provide link to the Volunteer Interest Survey form (simplify?). When we build out program, we can add third-level pages as needed. Be a land steward Structurally this could be a subpage under Volunteer, but let s give it its own page. Make the case for being a steward (hook in with neighborhood focus). Provide a few snapshots of people who have done it (source: newsletters). Link to Monitoring form or omit form? It s very complicated; does anyone ever access it from the site? (Note: On current site, AmeriCorps and Trustee materials are under VOLUNTEER these will move.) DONATE Clicking the top-level menu button goes directly to the Donate form on GreaterGiving. This form also needs revision: should be same design as Membership form but with a distinct message. Donate button on home page also directs here. Subpages: Give to OCT This page should emphasize the importance of financial support over and above dues. We can also talk about why unrestricted gifts are important. This is really directed at potential larger donors. Links to the same Donate form on GreaterGiving. (Note: Task force discussed adding a dedicated page called Financial Information or some such as many nonprofits do; e.g. Where your dollar goes. The problem is that our pie charts make it look like most of it goes to overhead. Needs discussion with Steve and Finance Comm. Meanwhile, we can borrow some language from the Fall 2017 newsletter sidebar Your Gifts Are Key to Our Mission. Special gifts This talks about gifts in memory of or in honor of similar to current brief text. Links to special form but do we need a separate form for this, vs. just an area of the main Donate form? (Also this need not be a separate page, could be a subsection of preceding page; opinions?) Planned giving Page in current site is not fully built (see Supplements). Contains no overview text, just links to deeper pages (that don t appear in menu!). Needs rethinking. Each of the different kinds of gifts 3

4 named should have its own section if all included on this page, it would be very long. So maybe a line or two about each, then read more (goes to a third-level page or a PDF download). Who can develop text for the pages currently under construction? Fundraising? Charlie? (Note: Currently the DONATE section also includes a page called Tax Advantages but this mainly addresses gifts of land (see Supplements). I suggest eliminating this as a separate page and adding language about the tax benefits of cash gifts under Give to OCT and benefits of land gifts under PROTECT LAND. Other opinions?) PROTECT LAND This section provides info on gifting or conveying land in various ways. Currently all these are lumped under Landowner Options, which seems opaque. Seems worth giving each a page. Gifts of land Basically the same text as we currently have. But let s add a few quotes from land donors! Legacies of land Or could be Bequests of land ; personally think Legacies sounds better. More or less same text as now, plus sample form. Again, add a quote or two: e.g., Cullens? Conservation restrictions As on current Options page; check all these for accuracy. There s a subsequent FAQ section; we could title it as such. Tax-advantaged sales Or Below-market sales. Currently we don t have this content. Who can develop? EXPLORE OUR LANDS A new top-level section; we think there should be more inspirational and informational content about our lands, recent acquisitions, etc. Trails can go in this section. And it shouldn t be hard to put up a gallery of pictures. Also maybe the place to convey dog policy, general guidelines on using our lands. Current projects What to call this? Could be Lands protected since [year]. Current sounds more current and could include recent past. Short profiles (with pictures) of projects, similar to what we ve done on the back of appeals letter. Try to add a new one every couple of months? Guided walks The schedule and descriptions of upcoming walks. + Links to reports of previous walks? Trails and maps A more inclusive title than just Trail Maps. Propose we add background on different kinds of OCT properties: some have trails and public invited; others not. What people should know about using our trails; dog policy. Quotes from people who enjoy our lands. People and lands An idea to be developed; emphasize that citizens love for the land is behind everything we do. Maybe excerpt our newsletter heritage profiles about families preserving their land, e.g. Tovrov. Gallery 4

5 Most WordPress sites have templated pages to just display photos and captions. Could organize in sections or just chronological. We could probably include all of Hardie Truesdale s images on OCT lands, if watermarked, with a link to his site. (This relates to our longer-term need for a better picture archive, but that s another discussion.) Note: There s lots of buried content on the site which can be found by searching for places in search box I do this when researching for newsletter. Much of it is gathered in the blog (see below) maybe find a way to direct users on how to look for info about lands? NEWS + EVENTS Current NEWS section contains material that doesn t belong here (Trustee Nomination form, OWQAP info, Strategic Planning). Of note: when you click the top-level NEWS heading, you access the entire blog, which goes way back to 2013! Suggest we keep this function. Latest news Would be a redundant menu button that also goes to the entire blog. People don t always think to click on the top-level. Programs + speakers This is what we now call Talks or Lectures but would include other kinds of one-off programs (like the upcoming Landowners Conservation Workshop). Provides the entire upcoming schedule of lectures (Steve: only the September talk appears there now?) Could we include reports on lectures that have taken place recently? Report on the latest annual meeting (always in newsletter)? Pertinent items would be repeated from the full blog. Newsletters Currently this displays newsletter covers and content lists, with links for downloading PDFs. I d add a short introductory paragraph about the newsletter; contact us with ideas or if you want to contribute, etc. Director s reports Good resource; goes back to OK as is, except delete the unnecessary wording Below is a list of PARTNERS Another new top-level section, showing that we operate in a larger cooperative context. Town of Orleans We work with the Town on many levels: land management (tree warden), trails (the trail guide), water quality (OWQAP, if we still want to include this), schools. Other? Need to develop a format. Basically each of these topics could be a subheading with a bit of info and links. AmeriCorps Current overview of the program and our relationship is fine. But let s add specific projects (within a time period TBD) and a rotating profile of the current Placement (assuming we have one), with quotes. Land trust community 5

6 Brief intro about how we fit into the larger context of land trusts; subsections with links for the Compact, the MLTC (Mass Land Trust Coalition), and the national Land Trust Alliance. Could have links to all the Cape land trusts if we want. Business partnerships This is nascent, but we can speak to our intentions, issue an invite, and mention businesses that have helped us: Addison Gallery, Hardie Truesdale Photography others? Conservation groups How we cooperate with Eastham Conservation Foundation, OPC, Friends of Pleasant Bay, et al. With links. [Native American community] Possible future page though we already have potential content, newsletter pieces by and about NA heritage of OCT lands. For now could go into People and lands. Conclusions: This outline does represent a considerable amount of work in developing, rejiggering, and putting up content maybe not a total revamp but a quite different approach to presenting content. Does BOT agree it s worth undertaking? If so, we could proceed in various ways: 1) revise the existing site section by section, starting with ABOUT and the two fundraising sections: JOIN US and DONATE. While maybe reconfiguring other sections with existing material (EXPLORE, NEWS). Or, 2) Once assignments are made, just track all incoming material and put up on staging site as it comes in. Wait until pretty much complete before going live. Obviously my thinking on implementation isn t clear yet look forward to discussion. 6

7 SUPPLEMENTS: Member form on GreaterGiving reads as follows, not inviting; should focus on why become a member: For the purpose of determining eligibility for voting, OCT s current Membership criteria is the following: Any individual that makes a donation of $25 or more is entitled to cast one vote at any voting meeting of the Members of the Trust, including the 2018 Annual Meeting. All gifts after July 1, 2017 go towards a 2018 Membership. Your tax-deductible donations help fulfill the mission of the Orleans Conservation Trust. You will receive an receipt for your contribution. Thank you for your support! Current page under DONATE, called Tax Advantages good info but use elsewhere: Land trusts, like OCT, are local, regional, or statewide nonprofit conservation organizations directly involved in helping protect natural, scenic, recreational, agricultural, historic, or cultural property. Land trusts work to preserve open land that is important to the communities and regions where they operate. Land trusts respond rapidly to conservation needs and operate in urban, rural, and suburban areas. OCT has many advantages as a vehicle for protecting land. We can hold and manage land and other assets as an organization, rather than through individuals. As a private organization we can be more flexible and creative and can generally act more quickly than government agencies, since we are not as restrained by politics and procedures. We are also able to negotiate with landowners discreetly, confidentially, and quickly. Our nonprofit status brings our donors a variety of tax benefits. Donations of land, conservation easements [also called conservation restrictions], or money to land trusts may qualify donors for income, estate, or gift tax savings. Since OCT is a properly structured land trust, we are exempt from federal and state income taxes. As a community-based organization, OCT is dependent on community resources, including volunteer time and skills. We are familiar with the land in the area and often have worked hard to gain the confidence and trust of local landowners who may not want to work with government agencies or entities from outside the community. For more information click HERE (Source: The Land Trust Alliance. Starting a Land Trust: A Guide to Forming a Land Conservation Organization. Virginia: The Land Trust Alliance, 1990.) 7

8 Planned Giving Opportunities current page, just links and to come needs build-out: 8