Relaunch of ChallengeAccepted.org

I just finished a quick turnaround project for my friends at Challenge Accepted, an organization that “helps individuals with disabilities to live hopeful and successful lives without barriers.”  This was a relaunch of their existing site to make it easy for the organizers to update.  The old site was pretty, but could not be updated without technical knowledge and tools. The pages were formatted with one of those big-name WYSIWYG webmaster tools that can add a lot of unnecessary code.

Unfortunately, I found some of that code was actually hurting the site.  For example, all of the main navigation was written with some complex javascript to achieve rollover effects.  This has a couple of problems.  First, the navigation is invisible to search engines and the site’s content will never be crawled.  Second, screen reading tools for the visually impaired couldn’t read the navigation. That’s a real problem for any site, but especially when you are an organization reaching out to people with disabilities.

It just took a couple of evenings to turn the site into a WordPress blog. It’s still hosted on their same server at GoDaddy for about $5 a month, so it meets a non-profit’s budget. The site uses the pages function of WordPress since their pages are usually static and just need updates with basic information on upcoming meetings.  Later, we may add social media features including a feed from their Facebook fan page.  After an hour of training, the non-technical group organizers were able to make their own updates to the site.

I was able to re-use the graphic elements from the old site with some manipulation.  The free Aviary tools are worth a look for anyone seeking a Web-based version of a lot of the features offered in tools like Fireworks.  I did all of the work in Aviary’s Phoenix image editor.  The tools could use some improvement to make it easier, but you can’t beat the price and the learning curve is shallow if you have experience with image editing and drawing.  They have good tutorials for newbies, too.

While the hood was up on the site, I also added free Google site analytics and web master tools so the Challenge Accepted team can see for the first time what kind of traffic they’re getting and what people want to read.

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