Creating a brand new digital space for a global initiative project
Think Tank Initiative (TTI) is a part of the Social and Economic Policy Program of International Development Research Centre (IDRC), Ottawa. TTI is a multi-donor program dedicated to strengthening capacity of independent policy research organizations in three global areas – sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia and South America. Currently, the program is funded by five donors, including the Hewlett Foundation, and Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The funding goes to 49 think tanks in 23 countries.
In June 2012, OpenRoad successfully developed a site for their global conference event, the Think Tank Initiative Exchange, held in Cape Town. The success of the event site prompted TTI to develop their own digital space – ThinkTankInitiative.org.
Devising a Strategy
We kicked off the project with a two-day onsite strategy workshop. The goal for these workshops was to collaboratively discover the goals of the program and align these goals with its digital presence and communications. We were fortunate to have the great participation with the TTI and IDRC team involved in the two-day exercise. As usual, our workshops are intense, involved a lot of stickies, and generate a lot of material in a very short period of time.
Very often, clients come to us with a predefined solution or a tool or technology implementation request. We like to step back and ask the client – what is the problem that you are trying to solve? This is particularly important when a client is relatively new in the digital space. They are usually familiar with setting goals and measuring performance in the offline world, but need help translating these objectives into the online realm.
Recommending a Phased Approach
From the intensive 2-day session, OpenRoad created a recommendation report for both near term and longer term activities that was shared with key project sponsors. The Think Tank Initiative involves many parties – donors, think tanks, and regional office staff. With input from multiple stakeholders, the resulting strategy was thorough and ambitious.
The first activity was to carry forward the momentum from the TTI Exchange event and transform the temporary event site into a more permanent digital presence for the TTI.
Designing, Building, and Testing
OpenRoad provided a end-to-end design and development services in the creation of the new site for TTI. We started with content inventory and IA, and moved to collaborative design/development sprints involving our developer, interface designer, and our client team.
The site was designed and developed in Drupal in three languages – English, French and Spanish – to best serve TTI’s global audience.
Guiding Future Directions through Analytics
As a part of the project, we customized key measurements for TTI. We conducted in-depth interviews and discussions with project sponsors to understand what type of data they rely upon to make decisions. We also designed new analytics to provide more data visibility for site usage by various audiences, which will help determine requirements and action plans for the site’s continued evolution.
Launching the Brand New Website
Thinktankinitiative.org was launched in March 2013. Needless to say, we are incredibly proud of the project. We were able to truly partner with our client and transform their ideas and strategies into a beautiful, functional, and measurable online presence.