This is the second post in a series chronicling The Honor Foundation’s growth. We’ll check in with founder and CEO Joe Musselman to learn about the strategies that work well for them and set them up for future success.
“What if you chose your designer with the same attention to detail with which you chose your wife or husband?
“Granted, you’re not going to spend the rest of your life with this designer. But you certainly are creating a legacy for the community you serve that could last a lifetime. Would you want to start off your lifetime legacy with a less expensive option—cheaper, easier—or a quick fix? Or do you want to build something that is ready to build on for a lifetime?”
These are the questions that Musselman asks to ensure his organization always maintains a laser focus on quality. When it came time for his organization to consider a website redesign, there was no exception. Their main goal for the project was simple: to ensure their website was extremely clear for all who wish to support their mission.
We sat down with Musselman to learn how The Honor Foundation (THF) launched a website redesign that helps them achieve their goals. Below are a few of their insights and tips for anyone considering this game-changing investment.
Pulse-Check Your System
Created in 2013, THF provides Special Operations Forces (SOF) members with the support and resources they need to successfully transition into civilian life after their service. As such, a central purpose of their website is to inform their beneficiaries about their programs and resources.
To first evaluate the need for a website redesign, THF conducted an internal and external pulse check to see if their site was serving its purpose. They met as a team to consider the questions that their current site neglected to answer for visitors. They also asked for external feedback to understand how their site made people feel. When responses didn’t exactly match their intentions, they decided it was time to complete a redesign to achieve their goals.
To ensure the website would meet its purpose, THF worked backwards. They asked themselves,
“After our visitors land, what do we want them to:
- Act on?”
THF then met with Less + More, a San Diego-based design firm.
“We built out our new experience frame by frame, alongside many members of the Special Operations community acting as advisors along the way. We now have a clean and organized process for our visitors to interact with our mission.”
But in order to even get to this point, they needed to select a partner they could trust. Before they started digging in with Less + More, THF worked to make sure they were in excellent and capable hands.
How to Select a Third-Party Designer for Your Website Redesign
Whenever THF agrees to work with another organization, they take steps to ensure that the fit is right and the relationship will ultimately serve their beneficiaries.
Take Extreme Care
“You are who you hang around with, right? Whoever we chose to work on this redesign was about to be brought into our family. This is a big deal to THF. We arguably serve the most elite military fighting force on the planet. This alone causes our organization to be extremely selective about who we choose to bring around our mission.
Before THF moved forward with any firm, they first clarified their goals for the redesign. With this, and their organizational core values in mind, they started their research.
Do Your Prep Work
Here are some pointers that led THF to their third-party designer and can help you start researching third-party designers for your new website:
- Talk to those you serve first. Find out what they don’t understand about your mission, process, programs, or priorities.
- Get a great reference from a trusted source.
- Remember that you want listeners, not talkers or sellers.
- Pay attention to the questions they ask you about your mission. Are they surface-level or are they thoughtful and deep?
- Be very clear about the design timeline and work expectations on both ends of the table.
Once you’ve found true listeners who are ready to work with you to achieve your mission and serve your beneficiaries, you’re ready to get underway. The entire redesign process for THF took 10 months. Through it all, they maintained their laser focus on quality, knowing it would pay dividends for years to come.
Lastly, when it comes to redesigns, Musselman advises you to remember that:
“Your organization is a constant work in progress and so should your website. If you’re not listening to your users on both the program and technical side of your business, you’ll leave potential impact on the table. If this goes ignored for long periods of time it could potentially end your organization’s mission altogether.
We look forward to continuing our chronicle of the Honor Foundation’s success. Keep an eye out for more to come.