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Website Redesign

GALZ.ORG  |  UX Web Design  |  SEPT 2016

Squarespace and Out in Tech teamed up to support 10 international organizations fighting to protect LGBTQ+ rights in their home countries, where the community faces legal challenges and/or persecution. During a pro-bono 4-hour hackathon, local NYC web developers, designers, and copywriters helped revamped or created much needed web presence for these organizations.

GALZ (Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe) is an association which was founded in 1990 for purposes of serving the needs and interests of LGBTI people in Zimbabwe and pushing for the repeal of homophobic legislation. It was also one of the first organizations in Zimbabwe to start HIV/AIDS campaign work.

"The problems facing lesbian and gay people are, by and large, the same as those facing Zimbabweans as a whole: oppression, lack of freedom of expression, fear of the state, rampant inflation linked to increasing poverty, scant regard by national leaders for the rule of law and a declining health service in a country with one of the highest prevalence rates of HIV/AIDS in the world.The general lack of tolerance of sexual difference is just one more challenge that lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people have to face in Zimbabwe."


The Challenge

GALZ director Chester Samba had only minimal requirements for our revamp, but expressed his pain points in one simple sentence:

“We have been struggling to get our website visually attractive in terms of design and content and to ensure that we have a stronger presence to be able to share our information.”

With this information, we knew our focus for the 4-hour journey ahead:

  • Update visual design to make website more inviting and discoverable
  • Organize content so that it could be easily accessible and Information Architecture made sense to the first-time visitor
  • Create a call to action to support the organization or join the organization


Background Research

With a quick background research that we conducted for GALZ, we identified that the GALZ organization serves its community in three ways:

  • Serving the LGBTI community and its needs in Zimbabwe by providing a safe haven

  • Pushing the repeal of homophobic legislation
  • Educating and bringing awareness to the issues that LGBTI face in Zimbabwe

These three points alone helped fuel our energy for the road ahead.



 Project Planning

Within a 4-hour time block, our team of 4 knew we had a lot to cover. After brainstorming, and reviewing their current website, we knew we had to divide and conquer, but ensure that we were able to present a finished product after 4 hours.

  • Comparative Analysis of other LGBT non profits to understand experience, flow, and typical IA of information
  • Information architecture redesign of the current website to allow for easy access and location of important information
  • Creating a new style guide and informational guide for the GALZ organization to understand how to use Squarespace and how to update their website

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Comparative Research

Using larger non-profits like Glaad, Human Rights Campaign, and The Trevor Project, were a great guiding light for this 4-hour redesign. We were able to gather useful insight as to how to display the dense information regarding LGBT legislation in Zimbabwe as well as understand that most of the navigation bar micro copy should inspire. These organizations provided great insight to how they used their large hero photos for landing pages as well as supplemental photos for pages to help with digestion as well as page breaks.

From the information that was pre-existing on the GALZ website we decided on one primary call to action and that would be a “Join Us”. Since we didn’t have gift of time we had to make assumptions for the user and business needs. If the existing site didn’t have any information about giving, we wanted to ensure that the potential visitors that were seeking refuge were able to find it. That, for us, seemed like an important priority.



Information Architecture / Wireframing

With such a short time frame, we had to be smart about where we were spending our time. However, executing a website revamp for an organization is no easy task.

  • We had to catalogue and inventory archived information to ensure all documents were transferred.
  • Highlight most recent activity the organization has participated in to excite future members and potential donors.
  • Create new, simplified navigation for where documents and resources could be found.

This layout I created help the team so that we could effectively and efficiently transfer information from one platform to another.

(To give you a little insight, it felt like the final stretch in Project Runway when everyone is rushing to get their designs to the runway.)



Style Guide / Instructional Documentation

The style guide and instructional documentation was a must for this project. The GALZ website was previously built on wordpress. With Squarespace and Out in Tech, GALZ now has a new website hosted by Squarespace for free. However, we needed to ensure that we were handing off our new design with instructions and parameters.

Our style guide and instructional documentation included:

  • Basic Login information
  • Template information
  • Basic How-To using templates
  • Special banner related instructions
  • Color swatch hex codes


Next Steps

Although we only had 4-hours to revamp an existing website, there is so much more to accomplish. I feel very honored to be a part of Out in Tech and Squarespace’s initiative to help these international LGBT organizations. Even if it is just a website redesign, we are helping these organization reach a new group of membership and grow their local awareness.

  • Short term —Create a more detailed and thorough style guide.
  • Long Term — Create a loyalty or donation program page to encourage visitors from around the globe to donate to GALZ.
  • Granular — Looking over the details like micro copy and call to action branding to ensure that the messaging and voice of the organization is felt throughout the website.
  • Conceptual — If I continued with this project I would continue examining the activism page and making the information more digestible for the first time user. There was so much dense information that is important to share, but making that information discoverable and enjoyable is part of the battle of creating a great user experience.
Read the full retrospective on Medium