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Fish where the fish are.

I once had a board member tell me, "If you only have $1 to spend to reach a customer, fish where the fish are." It has since become one of my core mantras. This is a story about that.

During a consultancy for the Wallingford Family YMCA, I reconstructed their entire website. It was a fun project, partly because there was so much opportunity.

The Heart of the Challenge

The Wallingford Y had recently celebrated its 70th anniversary and populated its site with lots of historical photos. Additionally, as often happens with non-profits with limited budgets, the site was old, inaccurate, and bloated — a victim of textbook "add-a-page-itis".

Adding to what was becoming a frustrating user experience was the fact that the

Wallingford Y’s site was not responsive, despite having data that 70% of their customers were accessing their site on a mobile device.

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Further, the site navigation was unintuitive and the amount of content was overwhelming. For example, if you clicked the "Programs & Services" button on the homepage, this is where you would land:

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Holy overwhelming, Batman.

Putting the Strategy to Work

My "fish where the fish are" mantra was ringing in my ears as I went to work reimagining the Wallingford Y's website. The first thing I did was to create a scrolling homepage that featured a range of the kinds of services for which the Y is most valued — fitness, youth services, aquatics — all the while emphasizing the idea of community which is central to their culture. I took photos that were bright, happy and and showed people enjoying a positive experience, replacing the dated and staid photos from their old site.

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When I remapped the site, the second change I made was to create menus that would allow the Y's clients to easily find categories of information by simply scanning the page.

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The Moral of the Story

The YMCA — like so many non-profit organizations — had limited resources with which to overhaul their website. With some customer-centered language, inviting and relatable photos, and navigation that helped customers more easily find what they needed, the YMCA now had a critical communications tool to help them be "more effective fishermen."