The Durham Business and Professional Chain is a long-standing organization that offers support to local Black-owned businesses. Small businesses owned by minoritized groups face unique challenges earning customer rapport, being seen as reputable, and withstanding gentrification.
The Durham Chain's website had become outdated and appeared to be an oversight - not something potential members would want from an organization that claims it can help with marketing! Using the same platform that their webmaster would be accustomed to (a website builder called Wix) I provided a free upgrade option, as a way
of supporting those who support local businesses in my home area.
In addition to a brand style overhaul, I addressed these 4 problems:
1. Photos on most pages are thumbnail size, have no alt-text, and are not interactive
2. Mixed page purposes - updates in homepage (rather than blog) and programs in about (rather than programs)
3. Lack of online membership application option
4. Visibly abandoned blog feature
1. Inaccessible and Unengaging Photos
Because The Durham Chain heavily uses its Facebook account as somewhat of a photo blog, I decided to do away with most of the photos on the website. This way, potential members and their potential customers can be led to dedicated Facebook albums with higher quality photos and captions that will provide more context.
One strategy to integrate the photos would be in the blog: each post could be a short description of the event with logos of involved businesses and a sampling of photos with a link to the dedicated Facebook album.
2. Mixed Page Purposes
My answer to this issue was to re-imagine the website as a simple one-page scrolling site.
I've clarified the information hierarchy using header tags that will benefit individuals using screen readers. The Facebook Page link is also more visible in the contact area, which is positioned to encourage visitors to ask questions after learning all that they can on the site.
Additionally, the brand colors have been updated to better align with the City of Durham brand - lending credibility and status by association.
3. Lack of Online Membership Application
The current membership application is a PDF file that must be printed and mailed with a check for membership dues to Durham Chain headquarters. While I understand that this was once the simplest method of receiving inquiries and funds, fewer people have printers in their homes or use checkbooks today.
There is a paypal "subscription" option for paying dues, but it leads to an error page.
To rectify this issue, I created a Typeform survey that will collect member data and allow for integrated payments, should The Durham Chain administrators choose to use it.
I would ideally re-design the PDF form to allow online filling and submission for potential members who are more comfortable with that format.
Both forms are very visible in a strip just below the membership section of the website.
4. Visibly Abandoned Blog
Stock photos, the most recent post being from seven months ago, and a statement that the content creator is working on blog posts does not reflect how active and dynamic this community remains.
I support maintaining a blog for those who don't use Facebook or have a hard time navigating social media (as this organization hosts workshops to help business owners cultivate those skills), but I believe that it should be more of a retrospective that highlights involvement and teases out further interaction.
The two blog posts I've added illustrate looking back on an event and promoting the businesses that co-sponsored it. Including a few photos of participants and a short blurb is enough to build interest. I've also removed the year from dates so that, should the content creator become overwhelmed, there is a bit of leeway.
I also added content types to help viewers navigate in accordance with their interests.
Thanks for reading!