Here’s what we currently have:
I’m not going to do a full tear-down, but I’ve seen this page a lot and I’ve had some long-standing ideas.
Actually, just for fun I’ll also show you what we’ve had in prior years, using the magic of the Internet Archive:
So here we go…
I took a stab at re-building it from the ground-up—from colors and typography to site architecture and user experience considerations.
Also seriously keep in mind—I did this on my own time over the course of just a couple of hours, so you know, judge accordingly. ; )
Keep reading for the tear-down.
The big picture
OK, so obviously the right way to do this is to really unpack what the agency is trying to get out of having a website—who is the target audience, what are they looking for, what’s the context of their visiting the site, etc.
Then of course, we’d do some awesome user experience research. Interviews, focus groups, surveys, rolling-up-sleeves-and-looking-at-analytics. This ain’t my first rodeo.
But hey–we never got anywhere as Volunteers by doing things in the right order – so if I imagine myself as Judge Dredd of Peace Corps here (judge, jury, etc.), then…
…I’d actually really reduce the focus on brand awareness and recruitment, and much more on real-time activities of Volunteers. Why? Because the mission sells itself. Let’s not be afraid of showing the videos of Volunteers, of their service, of their locales, of their voices. That goes just as true for current staff (many of whom are former Volunteers themselves)
The current options seem disjointed – here I’m going for simplicity: the top navigation all leading to new but recognizable sections that would have to be created.
The ‘myPeaceCorps’ is a nod to current and soon-to-be portals like PCLive, PCUniversity, the Intranet, etc. that have a more targeted audience and would have a more targeted experience.
The second row of buttons takes care of the recruitment angle: Serve, Go, Learn. It also sums up what people are trying to do in these three words. Simple, eh?
Oh come on – you wish you could click on that play button, amiright? Everyone wants that two-minute video to draw them in and talk to potential Volunteers, parents, host country nationals, and members of Congress (even if it’s not narrated by the dulcet tones of Matthew McConaughey).
Fun fact: These were students of mine in Madagascar on diploma day.
The inspirational quote
Peace Corps has an amazing history. This, coupled with the hook video, really bring home the historic weight and moment of the place of Peace Corps in the world.
The connection to the agency
The Director of Peace Corps wears many hats. I was told recently that in surveys over the years, many Volunteers can’t name the current agency director. This prominence allows the Director to have their own voice and appeal to the site audience.
The real-time numbers
I was heavily inspired by Cross-Cultural Solutions on this one—being able to show some real-time statistics (as a staff members, I get a lot of questions asking these things as well, so it does double duty!).
Yes, the “combined hours of service” is a little kitschy, but I actually think something like this prompts you to sit back a little in wonder at how many minutes have been spend “doing Peace Corps” in the world.
Kind of a companion to the real-time numbers, but this could also be a portal to checking out which countries we serve in, and then going into those particular countries for more information and a more finely-tuned focus (madagascar.peacecorps.gov, for example).
The Volunteer Voice
I’m a huge proponent of Volunteer voices out in the wild being channeled and promoted through the agency arm. There’s a lot of ways that this could be done–one of which would be greatly expanding the offerings of the Passport Blog
Chat with a Volunteer – right now!
OK this would be amazing – and I would be really curious on the extent to which this could be rolled out. Something as simple as setting up a web chat, and as interactive as a real-time video chat. I love the idea of Volunteers with connectivity to have office hours where they can help answer questions and guide the next round of Volunteers as well as their parents, school-children, and host country nationals.
Opportunities for Service
An obvious choice – but also obviously putting them on the front page. This can also help to guide applications towards particular jobs that are in-need at the moment, and ones that are closing soon.
Chat with a Recruiter
The companion to chatting with the Volunteer – but this is maybe a little more targeted towards applicants. Also a portal to the actual application process.
Peace Corps Philosophy
This addresses the age-old “I know what Peace Corps is, or at least I’ve heard of it, but I still have no idea what they do…” – well, it’s actually pretty simple, and here are the three goals, unchanged from the 1960s.
Nothing crazy here. I resisted having the laundry list of particular links that you find in the current site. I’d love to see the analytics behind those links anyway. At the end of the day, there’s always a way to add them behind a collapsible button.
Regardless, the focus here is pushing folks to the social media avenues, and/or towards email updates (and possibly subscriptions of various topics within the Peace Corps family?) Lots of options here.
Bringing it home
Phew. That was a lot. Like I said, no one thing here is crazy or insanely original. It just shows a possibility for what one approach could be. In this case, it’s a single-page approach that highlights interactivity and the voice of the folks behind the Peace Corps, rather than it serving as more of a portal for information and services and ultimately on recruitment.
If I have time, I’ll update with some examples of Peace Corps websites from the ghost of Christmas past. I think it would be interesting to do small tear-downs of those, especially in light of this vision.
Food for thought.