From January 2012 through May 2014 I served as the Web Content Manager for Rare, an international nonprofit based out of Arlington, Virginia. I worked closely with the Communications Team to manage Rare’s websites and social media channels. I also worked with my colleagues in Rare’s offices in China, Indonesia, the Philippines and Mexico to make sure that web content was accessible in multiple languages and that regional social media was utilized appropriately. My responsibilities included posting new content to our primary website, analyzing the website for ways to improve, setting realistic benchmarks, formatting and sending the email newsletter, and consulting with other teams on any web and internet related issues. Additionally, I was the main point of contact for our third-party vendors including web hosting and web development.
2012 – Rareconservation.org
Www.rareconservation.org was Rare’s primary website for communicating with the public and with donors. The website showcased success stories, blogs, and measurements of campaign success in all of the regions Rare worked. The website content was available in a number of different languages including Chinese.
2012 – Rareplanet.org
RarePlanet was a mostly-internal website for Rare campaigns. Rare also had a staff-only Intranet through this website.
2013 – Vendor Procurement
By the end of 2012 it was clear that our websites were not fully meeting the needs of Rare’s staff, partners or donors. I led a search for a vendor that could analyze Rare’s web properties and needs and provide us with a set of recommendations. After a lengthy vetting process we chose Phase II Technologies to perform this consultancy.
At the end of the consultancy we then had a second vendor search for a firm to carry out the findings of the consultancy. We again went with Phase II, due in part to their expertise with Drupal, their familiarity with Rare and Rare’s needs, and the Rare team’s ability to work well with the Phase II team. Unfortunately, this project was fraught with staff changes on both sides and other unforeseen challenges.
2014 – Rare.org – domain name negotiations
One of Rare’s early challenges was brand confusion stemming, in part, from the domain names rareplanet and rareconservation. During 2013 Rare went through a large scale rebranding effort, including finalizing “Rare” as the corporate identity, changing the tagline from “Inspiring Conservation” to “Rare inspires change so people and nature thrive”, and adding a new logo. The next step was to tackle the domain name. I led a project to research our domain options. We had a number of domains appraised. Rare.org was owned by a subsidiary of Microsoft – a gaming company based out of England – but Rare.com turned out to be owned by a now-closed conservation organization. We were able to purchase the domain name rare.com from it’s owner, then offer the domain name to Microsoft in a trade that made sense for both of us.
I also led research into the new TLDs (top-level domain names, such as .org and .com) to see if one of the newly-released or soon-to-be-released options, such as .eco or .ngo, might work for Rare.
2014 – Rare.org – redesign
In 2014 I led a full-scale rebuild of Rare’s main website, including the merging of Rare’s two websites and the shuttering of RarePlanet. I worked closely with our team at Phase2 every step of the way. This project was chaired by the Vice President of Communications and Marketing, and was a truly collaborative effort between myself, the entire Communications Team at Rare, and the people at Phase2. Phase2 built the architecture on Drupal 7, and the Rare team provided all content and graphics.
Some of the challenges included: building a robust and competitive website with high-resolution imagery, accessible in China, with a reasonable page-load time in low-bandwidth regions, and with content in five languages (English, Spanish, Chinese, Indonesian and Portuguese).
One of the coolest features (I think) is the interactive map, which shows how many campaigns Rare has run in each country, grouped by theme, and including featured campaign stories, blogs and images from the field. This puts a very human face on each of Rare’s campaigns and on the excellent work Rare does.
Rare’s new website launched after I had left Rare’s employment (beginning with my maternity leave). I continue to be extremely proud of what my team accomplished.
The Campaign Tracker
Rare works closely with partner organizations in each region to run local campaigns. We collect data from these campaigns that is used to measure the success of the campaigns, determine which campaigns need resources, and to report back to our donors in the full spirit of transparency. Data had been transmitted through a combination of RarePlanet and extremely elaborate excel spreadsheets. As part of the decision to close the RarePlanet website, we contracted Phase2 to build a custom application for Rare that could fill this need. Together with staff from other teams within Rare and in our international offices, I wrote the requirements for the CampaignTracker. I managed the project from writing the original scope documents to assisting with requirements, testing at each stage, and finally approving roll-out, training staff and encouraging adoption. The team at Phase2 and the team at Rare collaborated using a series of tools including JIRA (requirements and kanban boards), Confluence (longer files/explanations) and Balsamiq (form mockups).
Trainings and Web Ambassadors
One of my favorite responsibilities at Rare was training other staff. I led a general web training for all new staff to explain Rare’s online properties. I taught staff in regional offices to publish content in their local languages. I trained my own team on how to use the new website to publish content. I trained campaign teams on how to correctly report their data via the CampaignTracker. I trained staff on how to admin the website and the CampaignTracker. I LOVED to be answer website questions, and I took pride in my ability to translate technical matters to non-technical people.
For the website redesign and the CampaignTracker we had teams of “Web Ambassadors” consulting on both projects, in order to ensure that regional concerns were considered. These people also helped test the website and tool in different countries and in different languages.
I assisted Rare’s Solution Search team in making changes to their website, procuring a new vendor, and redesigning their website.
I assisted the Fish Forever team in creating and launching their website.
I assisted Rare’s IT team with moving Rare fully onto Office 365, testing SharePoint as a possible Intranet solution, and migrating all of Rare’s emails as part of the change to Rare’s domain name. I also consulted as needed with other teams as they tested different project management software (Central Desktop) and occasionally consulted with the Development team regarding SalesForce and SalesForce/website integrations.