A success story: Introducing the NEW washington.org!

Washington.org screenshot

So as I may have alluded to in random postings or on Twitter, I’ve been going through the past 7-8 months racking my brain about how to launch a new site. The company I work for has undergone a complete revamp of things and we’ve rebranded, changed our entire organization name, and even our website. Not a problem…but no one ever said it was going to be easy, right? The stationary, letterhead, photos, ads, web templates, everything needs to be changed so I’ve pretty much gone through hell and back.

But I think it was well worth the effort. Having worked on the opposite side of the aisle in an agency capacity, I’m aware of all the drama and issues that plague a website launch. Not only did I have to worry about the launch of this website, but I was involved in everything. From the initial development of the Request for Proposal (which anyone who saw the thing can attest to its beastly form), presentation round, selection, and discovery phase to the creative, technical development, QA testing, and actual launch of the site, this was an intense round. I’ve learned more things from this about creative, flash, coding, and project management than I did in the past couple of years – specifically with what clients have to deal with on their end with application development. Not to mention I was facilitating the selection of new hosting providers to top it off.

The project is finished (with phase 1, that is)…and I’m pretty stoked about it. The website uses a standard CMS with some modifications based on our needs and I must admit that it’s easier to use than the clunky one we had prior to my arrival. There are obviously some things missing from the site and we’re working on making the copy more SEO friendly. There is a flash piece on the homepage that we incorporate to help attract more visitors to our site – we use flash sparingly to help garner more people to visit. The new site also integrates user-generated content with the “MY DC”/”DC Insider” segment where folks can tell why they love the city. Advertising is also a big thing on this site where we’ve developed a small yet capable ad-serving module – albeit it’s not Mediaplex or DoubleClick…and it’s only for our site.

Videos are now streamed on our site and a lot of things are now linked in through our CRM which wasn’t the case before. So we’re making more integrations as it relates to our partners…including mapping, reservation systems, and again, our CRM which we can manipulate the data with at any time to assist our customers and members. There is a lot more that’ll come to the site, including a calendar of events, image library, directory, and even translation into Spanish so stay tuned for more.

I’m quite proud of this website…especially since our old website received around 500,000 average unique visits per month (according to LiveStats), but with the switch to a new hosting provider, we’ll have to deal with the “drop” in traffic with a new web analytics. Why don’t we go with LiveStats again? It’s a beast…it doesn’t offer us the most competitive reporting that we would need. So my numbers will probably be a little skewed the first few months.

Nevertheless, check out the new site and drop me a comment to let me know what you think.

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