A New Online Face for AFT.org

, Monday, February 1st, 2010

In January, the American Federation of Teachers, AFL-CIO, launched their new website, www.AFT.org. Its more than 1.4 million members represent teachers, paraprofessionals and school-related personnel, higher education faculty and staff, local, state and federal employees, nurses and other healthcare professionals, early childhood educators and retirees.

Among other goals, AFT engaged Beaconfire to redesign their 5-year old site to balance the needs of multiple audiences with a more modern and inviting look and feel. Our redesign process involved stakeholder interviews, a creative visioning exercise, a review of peer organizations, a card sorting exercise to gather user input and developing personas representing AFT’s target audiences, in addition to our typical discovery process of defining goals, audiences and features. All these steps resulted in a new information architecture and visual design for the site. In addition to the design, Beaconfire re-engineered the AFT Voices feature on the web site that asks their members to share their voice on important questions and issues for their professions and their constituencies. The new design was implemented by OmniUpdate, AFT’s CMS software vendor.

aft-voices-questionThe new Voices tool automates what was a very manual and time consuming process for posting questions to and comments by members on the website. The new tool has an administrative console where AFT editors can create and publish questions, receive email notifications, moderate and publish responses, and view statistics on questions and comments. It allows members to post their comments and a photo real time, and to vote and rate others’ responses; Editor’s picks and highly rated comments sort to the top. Previously, AFT manually inputted questions and comments from their print publications onto the website, which only enabled them to post a fraction of the number of actual comments received.

The new look and feel, and the Voices tool in particular, have helped to achieve two other key goals for the site – to engage and interact with members online, and allow more members to see themselves on the site and to understand they are part of a larger movement. It’s been a pleasure working with the nice folks at the AFT to make their goals come true!

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