Inside a Website Redesign – Plan Canada | npENGAGE

Inside a Website Redesign – Plan Canada

By on Sep 14, 2009


web design

Plan Canada is a child-centered community development organization. They work with children, their families, communities, organizations and local governments to bring about positive change. As a part of Plan International, their vision is of a world in which all children realize their full potential in societies that respect people’s rights and dignity. Mark Banbury, Vice President and Chief Information Officer of Plan Canada, shared with me some insights into the recent redesign of their website.

Project Background
Plan Canada RedesignPlan Canada just relaunched their website following an extensive redesign. The previous design and architecture of the website was last redesigned about 3 years ago. Plan Canada went live with Blackbaud NetCommunity in September 2007 and decided to migrate their existing site design and content as part of a phased implementation. It is worth noting that most organizations redesign their websites every three to four years, but this rate of change has accelerated recently.

Inside the Redesign
Plan Canada started their website redesign project with several goals including the need to present a new clean design that was easy to update and was donor centric, rather than organization centric. Mark Banbury noted some other design and usability goals of the site including:

  • We wanted a home page that would allow us to put a select number of important items front and center and allow the donors to drill down for more.
  • We wanted to make sure that the site was friendly for social media, and that we were able to showcase many of the great images our photographers around the world capture about the work we do to change the lives of children.
  • We have been working on custom parts that will launch soon to capture donor information right on the site and use the existing BBNC integration to transfer that data into The Raiser’s Edge

As part of the new redesign, Plan Canada spent about three months working intensively on the project. Plan Canada worked with a design originally developed by their international colleagues and adapted it to meet the needs of the Canadian market. This included reviewing and rewriting almost all of the content on their website. It’s also important to note that Plan Canada did all of the implementation work internally using their own team members.

Plan Canada also redesigned their Gifts of Hope microsite. This is the organization’s ethical giving program and is similar to Heifer International’s popular Online Gift Catalog. Plan Canada has made a lot of innovative changes to the site to improve the overall giving experience. This type of online giving option continues to gain popularity across the nonprofit sector.

First Impresssions
I’ve had some time to review the Plan Canada website redesign. Here are some initial thoughts and comments about what they’ve done that other nonprofits can learn from:

  • They didn’t just build a donor centric website — it’s action centric too. You can tell that by the careful word selection across the site. Lots of call to action items and interactive goodness.
  • The design is clean, simple, and still remains modern. It has very good use of negative space that draws your eyes to the photos, text, and links.
  • The navigation, sub-navigation, breadcrumbs, and search placement are solid and follow many best practices. And notice the color contrast of the “Donate now” button on each page. Visitors to the website will too.
  • The use of social media is an elemental part of the website — not just some bolted on afterthought. This is a sign of a nonprofit that “gets it” instead of just playing buzzword bingo.
  • The redesigned Gift of Hope area works well as both a linked section and a microsite — no small feat. The presentation of the giving experience is user friendly and you can tell they did their homework on this one. Having gift categories like “Top 5 gifts” and “Ten great gifts under $45” is very smart.

Plan Canada‘s new website balances form and function to make an engaging online presence. While a lot of the focus in this blog post has been about the design and usability aspects, there are some functional areas worth giving a look too.


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