It's Never Too Early to Have a Great Website
Unearthed began as an attempt to video the horrors of human trafficking. But when the Unearthed team witnessed the enormity of the issues surrounding sexual exploitation, they felt so overwhelmed they wanted to quit. How can so few people begin to eradicate an industry exploiting women, men and children in servitude and sex slavery?
Like any problem, reacting to the symptoms of the issue provides temporary and localized relief. They realized the best way they can take down the industry is to unearth the root: sexual sin in the heart's of men. They set out to create a ministry to not only make men more aware of sexual exploitation, but seek to change the very landscape surrounding the industry.
They had a talented team of creators, videographers, music architects and passionate men. They had already gained compelling footage of sex trafficking they had achieved through undercover filming. They had a vision. But to make this happen, they would need help.
Unearthed is currently seeking support to complete their feature film, Hearts of Men. Throughout the development process, Unearthed needs to be able to communicate with supporters and the men who will utilize this tool to help unearth sexual sin. Once production is complete, the site will provide a marketing tool for the film.
Unearth could have waited for a finished product before investing in a quality website, but they knew the impact a powerful website could have on gaining both monetary and ministerial support.
Midwestern Interactive has great working relationships with other organizations addressing sexual exploitation as well as some of the Unearthed team. Unearthed has high standards for quality and creativity, and we believe in what they are doing. We were honored when Unearthed approached us about developing a website that would help make their mission a reality.
Unearthed works with churches across the nation, so people need to be able to find them, find answers to their questions, and engage with the ministry.
Effective communication isn't just about the words on the page and the information provided. So in addition to organizing the content, Midwestern Interactive focused on the user experience: navigation, multi-media, responsive design, and social media.
Engaging the Audience
The main element of Unearthed is, of course, the film. The entire site is heavily video-based including a trailer for Hearts of Men, a video regarding the purpose behind the film, and video progress updates.
The initial contact with the user places the film trailer front and center. The large, high-quality film is surrounded by white space, a subtle image of roots, and a dark navigation bar as a frame. Even the buttons on the navigation page are darkened to draw attention to the trailer. The main landing pages--Our Story and Action--feature video in the same manner.
The site is kept relatively simple, but the user is also provided a variety of options for engaging. On the Updates page, users are given options to watch video, navigate to articles or download the Hearts of Men Press Kit.
Multimedia sharing is much more attractive on social media, and responsive design (see below) allows sharing across mobile devices. The site is essentially a social media engine.
Support, Not Just Donations
As Hearts of Men is a work in progress needing regular contribution, Midwestern Interactive created an experience that would encourage giving and giving regularly.
Unlike many organizations who manage donations through a third party site, Unearthed contributors would be better engaged by maintaining an onsite donation process. The issues they address are private in nature, donors can be more confident their contribution is going to the organization, and staying onsite maintains Unearthed brand. Plus, when contributors look at their bank statement, they will be reminded of their contribution to Unearthed, not the third party site.
On the other hand, many are hesitant to give to organizations who are independent of a well-known brand. To assure donors, transparency is key. Midwestern Interactive developed features that would show how contributions are used while reinforcing the relationship with the contributor.
As part of the donation process, contributors literally see their contribution effect Unearthed through a donation thermostat. Through the content management system, Unearthed administrators can update related numbers. This allows transparency and also a sense of urgency as progress, timeline and need is spotlighted.
Unearthed wants to provide a way men can become more involved in the development of the film and ministry. They created The Gentlemen's Club as a way for contributors to solidify a greater monthly commitment and partner with the organization as it grows.
The Gentlemen's Club landing page is part of the Unearthed website, but it is visually distinctive from the Unearthed brand. To maintain its relationship to its parent organization, we maintained similar branding elements--video-based interactivity, clean design and navigation, visual-based progress reporting.
Unearthed targets their audience as men from 16-30 years old, an age group that engages heavily through technical devices and social media. So the site needed to adapt to the variety of devices on which their audience may engage.
Instead of developing multiple sites for multiple devices, Midwestern Interactive creates one site that will adapt to the user's browser. As the site is translated to smaller screens and windows, the most important information will remain spotlighted, while less important information will be shrunk, hidden in links, or eliminated altogether. Responsive technology allows users to view content without laborious resizing, panning and scrolling.
Search Engine Optimization
Unearthed is a national organization with a worldwide reach. They want people to be able to find them whether they were looking specifically for the Hearts of Men film, the vague idea of the film they heard about, or resources on rooting out sexual sin.
Search Engine Optimization is a high priority. SEO is more than just keywords and links. What search engines look for nowadays is streamlined content, consistent activity, infrastructure and the relationship the site has to other websites including social media.
Midwestern Interactive provided Unearthed with tools to update content on a regular basis without compromising the structure of the site. They've seen their site crawl up search engine rankings.
The Future Looks Bright
We can't wait to see the completed project and the impact it has on lives across the world. Once the film is fully funded and complete, the website will transform into a source for theatrical showings time and location, purchase options, and supplemental resources. Midwestern Interactive will be here to help them grow their ministry.