Giving back to the community is in our DNA at LaFleur. It’s one of our core values, and we take pride in our efforts to make Grand Rapids a better place for everyone. That’s why we take time every month to give back to the community through volunteer work, and it’s also why, once per year, we build a website for a local nonprofit organization at no charge.
We understand that many local nonprofits do great work with a bare minimum of resources (and sometimes less). Our annual effort to build a website for a local nonprofit helps make sure that people working to make our community better have the digital tools they need to make great things happen.
About the LaFleur Nonprofit Website Project
In 2018, we built our first website for a West Michigan nonprofit, Tyson’s Place. For this year’s nonprofit website project, we chose HQ, a Grand Rapids drop-in center for youth who are experiencing homelessness.
Our previous office was located one block away from HQ, and throughout our time as neighbors, we got to know the staff and their mission, and we also gained a deeper understanding of the impact youth homelessness has on the Grand Rapids community. When it came time to choose an organization, HQ was an easy “yes.”
HQ: Making Grand Rapids Resources Accessible for Youth Experiencing Homelessness
HQ was founded in 2014 as a resource for youth experiencing unsafe or unstable housing. Young people between the ages of 14 and 24 can visit HQ during specific drop-in times to rest, recuperate, take care of themselves, and build relationships with people in the community. During these drop-in times, visitors receive access to all of HQ’s resources, which include showers, free laundry facilities, hot meals, computer lab time, and help developing the skills needed to find a job or an apartment.
Everything that happens at HQ is youth-led and supported by caring adults. By empowering young people to make the best decisions for themselves, HQ helps disrupt the cycle of homelessness.
A Clunky, Outdated Website Makes Connecting to HQ Challenging
The HQ team uses a community-driven model and relies on community support, so HQ’s website needed to be able to provide clear opportunities to get involved and calls to action for community members. The organization’s website also needed to provide clear information for young people about HQ’s services. While their old website functioned, it was difficult to use for volunteers, donors, and youth alike. HQ needed a reimagined, thoughtful design that met their many needs.
“We were struggling, but not to the point where people were diving in to help,” explains HQ’s development director, Luke Petsch. “At a surface glance, we had a functional website. It was there, you could find all the things, but it wasn’t easy to navigate or beautifully laid out, and for us, it wasn’t really meeting our needs.”
The LaFleur Team Partners With HQ and Gets to Work
After choosing HQ, we began our web build process. That process involved:
- Meeting with HQ for a discovery meeting to learn more about their needs and goals regarding their website
- Designing a sleek, modern site that reflects HQ’s branding and has the functional elements that HQ needs
- Building the site on the user-friendly platform WordPress so HQ can easily manage their site going forward
- Writing and editing new content with search engine optimization (SEO) in mind so volunteers, donors, and youth can all find HQ’s website more easily
- Connecting HQ with a photographer who donated all-new photography for their site — something the HQ team hadn’t been able to update since they opened in 2014
- Covering the cost of web and domain hosting for a year
“We had back-and-forths about the content, and then a final sit-down once there was a draft so we could look through and talk about what we liked, what we didn’t like,” says Luke, describing the process. Luke also notes that he and the LaFleur team discussed even fine details like the functionality of clicking from page to page to see something versus adding scrolling options on pages.
“With the new website, it just makes people want to be there,” Luke continues. “And when you can see that a place is warm and welcoming and easy to navigate, it draws people in, and we know that it’s going to serve us well as we bring in volunteers, donors, and most especially youth who need to access our services.”
A New Website Means New Possibilities for HQ
HQ now has a website that can keep up with their many needs. Youth in the community who are looking for resources and services are more likely to find and connect with HQ, and community organizations who want to partner with HQ understand the nonprofit’s offerings and can get in touch. And potential donors and volunteers can see a clear path that’s not interrupted by digital roadblocks and outdated design.
“From being a convoluted website that was difficult to navigate, that didn’t have good keywords, that was hard to find,” Luke Petsch says, “and being able to get to a place now where we’re so excited to have something simple, clear, and beautiful, that gets people the information they need when they visit the site — that’s something we’re really excited about.”
Let’s Make West Michigan a Better Place, Together
We love where we live, and we love what we do. If you want to learn more about our volunteerism, core values, or what it’s like to work with the team at LaFleur, don’t hesitate to reach out. You can contact us online or call us at 888-222-1512 today.