NADP (National Association of Disability Practitioners)

The Background

NADP is a professional association for those who work in the tertiary education sector (University level), for those that are involved in the management of or delivering services to disabled students in their institutions.

At the very beginning of this process, I had to prepare a pitch of my best ideas for the NADP website that would meet their requests. This included having an easy-to-manage website that was intuitive and easy to navigate around. It was also important that the website was extremely accessible (due to their own background, offerings + audience) and used best practices across the board.

The website was also to include a member’s area that the NADP management team could keep up-to-date. In my eyes, it was important to provide them with a better experience working with a web design + development team, as well as ensuring that they could manage and grow as much as possible in the future.

The Process

The NADP website project spanned several stages before we launched in October 2016. They were:

  • Pitch + Research
  • Branding design updates
  • Wireframe designs
  • Website design
  • Website front-end build
  • Website integration with WordPress
  • Integration with Membership platform Restrict Content Pro

Pitch + Research

During the pitch stage, I researched heavily into varying solutions that would meet NADP’s needs with their new website. Having had bad experiences in the past with being able to manage their website, I wanted to ensure that this wasn’t the case – and that if another web team stepped in at any point, they would be able to understand what was created for NADP by myself. This way, NADP aren’t restricted to stay with any one person or team once we had worked together – giving them the freedom to grow + evolve that they needed.

Branding Design Updates

The branding updates that we completed were extensive, but the main note here was to ensure that the branding was to stay true to the older branding wherever possible. The reason for this was because NADP was so recognisable + familiar in its industry that to change it drastically wouldn’t make too much sense.

We completed small updates to the logo design, created an extensive new colour palette that added more contrast to the NADP brand as a whole, as well as allowing a more cohesive experience for all. This also gave us many more options when it came to extending the brand design out into branding collateral and the website design.

Wireframe Designs

In responsive design nowadays, it can often be hard to find a way of working that works for everyone involved in a project to understand what the final design will look like. Because I was working with a subcommittee of NADP (not simply one or two people, like I do on many other projects) I felt it was important that everyone was on the same page and so we delved into designing wireframes to ensure everyone understood the flow of the content on each page.

In total, we designed around 17 wireframes for every single page content type. I felt this was important so that we could change + adapt any of the glaring issues we found with layout or the flow of content before we got too far + committed into the design.

Website Design

Due to the extensive work we completed on the wireframe designs, this made the website design stage work smoothly + quickly. In fact, we created less than 5 designs for the whole website. This was because everyone understood the wireframes so clearly that we designed some of the more frequently used designs + helped them create style tiles to help us expand the design out on to all of the other page designs during the build.

Website Front-End Development

The website was then built responsively, in plain HTML + CSS. It was extremely important to the team at NADP that the website worked perfectly without CSS and without JS, so careful attention was paid to the latest accessibility standards. It was chosen to keep the website purposely simple; without many flourishes. This was to ensure the maximum possibility for all to access the website with minimal problems.

Website Integration with WordPress + Restrict Content Pro

We then integrated the website with WordPress. It was chosen at the time to create a theme from scratch. I have extensive experience creating custom themes, and we chose to do this + use plugins such as Advanced Custom Fields to help us add extra functionality and create new page templates.

The member’s area was created using a combination of both Gravity Forms + Restrict Content Pro. Gravity Forms handles the complex registration forms needed for NADP within their organisation and Restrict Content Pro then handles the management of the private content for the Member’s Area.

The Results

The NADP website launched in October 2016 to over 1400 members, the public + the Board of Directors at NADP. There has been a great reception so far to the quality of the website – with notes from members including it being a huge improvement over the previous website, modern + clean, easy to navigate + intuitive to use.

The management team at NADP are using the website heavily to promote their conferences, membership + updating the website with news they share with their members.

The important thing for me to note is how a website is always an evolution – while we have launched the first version of this website, there will be improvements made over time to ensure the website is as accessible as it could be.

A Note on User Testing:

Due to the possibility of a larger amount of people with disabilities, impairments or various difficulties using this website, we chose to test extensively with audience members with these conditions, etc. Members of the subcommittee, the Board of Directors at large, and third-party users were given the job of testing the website.

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