Trying to describe Zealandia is no easy task: daytime nature experience with high-profile night tours; eco-restoration project powered by hundreds of volunteers; education tour provider; living laboratory for tertiary researchers; functions venue; indoor museum; café; shop – and so on. Zealandia’s international market was expanding rapidly at the time. It had thousands of local members and a perceived problem with pricing for locals (since rectified).
With so many faces and objectives it was not surprising Zealandia had found itself with an online identity crisis.
To structure the site I first defined typical personas for each key audience and outlined their online behaviour. How much encouragement would they need to take action? Would they hunt or browse? What comparisons would they make?
For example, a school teacher would usually hunt for specific information whereas a casual visitor might not even know what Zealandia was – they would need to decide at first glance why it was worth a visit.
Credibility & branding
It made sense to make Zealandia’s beautiful and inspiring natural assets the true stars of the show, as they are in real life, and use brand elements gracefully. Similarly, although the café and functions provided important revenue for the trust these could not dominate the home page if Zealandia was to retain credibility.
I also felt the site required depth of content. Offering rich information would support school kids, help with Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and provide fresh, quality material to share via social media channels, encouraging engagement with the organisation.
Having considered audience needs and the organisation’s objectives I was well equipped to build the information architecture (IA) for the site – its navigation and page structure. I supplied detailed wireframes to a freelance designer, who worked within our brand guidelines and delivered excellent design flats.
I also wrote a technical document for freelance web developers, outlining how some of the functionality should work for areas such as the blog, events, news and menus.
Substantive copy-edits were needed to amalgamate and restructure over 100 pages of content from the two existing websites, with attention paid to both the big picture and small details.
New content required smart copywriting, including background research and use of relevant keywords for SEO.
I wrote and copy-edited the site content alone, with the exception of some volunteer help with the wildlife section and assistance from a volunteer proofreader.
I managed the project alone, including my own competing priorities, design and development freelancers, internal feedback and volunteer contributors. I kept within the small budget and made the site a labour of love.
It is near impossible to produce a website quickly, cheaply and to a high standard so we did lose some time when two developers moved overseas unexpectedly, leaving the project unfinished. I stuck at it and found a reliable developer to finish the job.
I feel proud of what was accomplished. The new site is a dramatic improvement; we received excellent feedback, online visitation increased significantly and I was able to harness the new, dynamic content to power-up Zealandia’s social media channels and e-newsletters.