My Role
In-house Creative Lead
The Team
Agency: Palador
In-house Project Manager
+ 8 Admin/Program Staff
IT Director
More than 100 years old and growing rapidly alongside the city, Bethany launched five new neighborhood churches in 5 years. 
Now with thousands of members in 6 locations across the Greater Seattle Area, longtime members and new visitors were all coming to the site looking for different kinds of information.
Further, the site was outdated, content was old, it was unresponsive and difficult to read on mobile devices. 
Those 5 newer church locations were barely present on the site, their pages were buried and cluttered with small tiled graphics and popup windows.
The Old Site: Centered on One Location
The site needed to reflect a mantra of "one church many locations." 
We needed to do some deep work to know how the church's organizational structure needed to be accurately reflected in a user's experience of the site, how it affect overall branding and voice— as well as the language of how we talked about each location of the church.
Further, the site wasn't responsive and included layers of old design systems. Pop-ups often held crucial event information.
Our Users
Initial user research focused on analytics from our own database of members (geography, age, program participation), our website traffic, and a stand-alone app that we maintained separately from the website (not pictured), as well as a survey of the congregation.
With the agency's guidance, we moved forward with three key users in mind—a college student attendee, a young couple/potential visitors, and a longtime member.
Then, based on the use cases we outlined, we mapped out what features needed to be included and how each persona might navigate the site. I worked closely with the team at Palador to fine-tune the hierarchy and nomenclature, ensuring it fit our brand voice and reflected the community I observed.
In reflecting organizational structure and values, I chose to unite some content centrally (like Giving and About Us) while offering a design system and structure for sharing page links to this centralized content on location-based subpages.
Internal Process & Feature Considerations
For ongoing maintenance and content updates on the site, I planned to include administrative coordinators and staff from each location in the site-editor group. This would be a new process for our staff, but it would also greatly increase our overall efficiency and accuracy on the site. What we were stepping into was much more than I could handle as the sole web content producer at the time.

But this brought up a lot of new questions...
• How/when do we include these stakeholders in the design process?
• How might we add features to allow events or content to appear on the pages of multiple locations? How often do different church locations promote the same event? Which location owns all-church events?
• Can we integrate event listings with our database system—for personal records and for room reservations?
• Can we limit permissions for page editing while still sharing content ownership?
A New Style Guide
Because we were dispersing the responsibilities for promoting events, creating designs, and strategic elements of communication—a style guide was more critical than ever. We were able to create a system that maintained consistency, while also allowing for each church location to take on their own voice.
Expanded Logo Use
We maintained the parent logo for use at all church locations, but I created short versions of the logo for each location to allow for differentiation.
More About My Role
As the in-house Creative Lead on a small team, my role was to be the client, but also the brand manager/product owner. Nonprofits and small in-house teams often require designers to wear many hats, and this project was no different.
As an Advocate: I was the key advocate for ensuring the site map reflected both our organizational goals and the features and information our users would need most. I also ensured the design system we created was carried across to all pages of the site—and even into our print materials—as we built out the pages in-house.
Decision-Maker: We chose a content management system that worked well for our needs—it was important to allow the teams at six different locations of the church to exercise some level of autonomy while also limiting some permissions to maintain a consistent, unified appearance. 
On the Fly: We made sure we could incorporate database integration into specific pages of the site. To help facilitate all of this on a tight timeline (just a few weeks from final designs to launch), I set up a team in Slack (a new tool at the time) to coach a team of administrative coordinators to be comfortable updating the site on a regular basis and to support one another as they had questions.
Next Time
Next time, I would take the time to do more user-research through interviews and allow time for testing—with end users, not just our internal team. This would be especially valuable as it relates to accessing upcoming events on the site and allowing flexibility for subpages and groups.
Overall, I think the biggest success here was establishing a new site that was responsive (yay!) and gave each church location its own place as a part of the whole.
This process contributed to establishing a new organizational model for the church—reflecting this in our communication channels continues to reinforce program decisions and the ways members connect with one another.
Unexpected Impact
For the wider staff team (~75 people), the website was one of the first touch points that led the way as we stepped into this new organizational structure. 
Together, we engaged in a series of design thinking exercises to consider staff culture, reforming how and when we met regularly as a whole staff group. We restructured how finances were allocated and categorized between programs and locations. 
We even adjusted reporting structures—creating a new central Operations Team that supported all the church locations, just like the website did.

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