Campaign Legal Center
Fighting for every American to meaningfully participate in the political process.
The Campaign Legal Center (CLC) is a nonpartisan organization that seeks to protect our democracy by fighting for the right of all Americans to participate in our political process. They work to protect voting rights, ensure fair elections, and fight for campaign finance reform. They do this by working with legislators to craft laws, demanding enforcement of election laws and regulations, and by litigating when necessary.
CLC had a current Drupal 7 site that was only attracting a small audience (lawyers and researchers). They wanted something that would appeal more to the general population, and in doing so knew they’d have to remain competitive among similar organizations in their field (the Brennan Center and the ACLU, for example).
They also wanted to find ways to communicate their impact through plaintiff stories with a site that focused on the work they do to help people like you and me. And of course another key goal of the project was to grow their supporter list and collect donations to support their important work. Before we could do any of that though, we had to learn more about them through our discovery process to set the foundation for this work.
Laying the Foundation
CLC has been doing incredibly important work to help ensure that every American has the right to meaningfully participate in the democratic process. For insiders, CLC is already a premier organization for making progress in a way that’s bipartisan and effective.
For this project, CLC recognized that they needed to extend and deepen their influence on how reporters, the public, and lawmakers approach their mission.
Part of the challenge of their insider approach was that their content was framed in parallel to their organizational structure. They needed to connect that professional strength to the kind of stories that win over readers who come across their content for the first time.
We discovered through a content audit of their site that CLC experienced dramatic pageview spikes to articles and press releases that had been shared by influencers, but those spikes didn’t translate into engagement, leading to a missed opportunity to cultivate long-term relationships with visitors.
Our primary strategic goals were to convert that incoming interest into loyalty, and use those relationships to influence lawmakers and shape the narrative around participation in the democratic process.
Once we knew what they wanted, we proposed the following:
- Elevate and distinguish their four main issue areas (Campaign Finance, Ethics, Voting Rights, and Redistricting)
- Create rich, varied media that is responsive to issues and stories of the day
- Design content-specific calls to action (CTAs) to convert traffic spikes into a larger and more diverse supporter community
- And finally, to produce different content for different audiences: press releases, breaking news, legal narratives for reporters/influencers; and personal stories and human interest for the general public
ThinkShout took a content-first approach to the site’s design. There is a lot of dense information to disperse, so right away we knew we needed a flexible, clear typographic system. Additionally, CLC doesn’t have a robust photo library (a common issue facing nonprofits), so we couldn’t rely on images to carry the site.
CLC’s work is very human-centered — take voting rights for example. Voting is so core to the democratic process. It’s an incredibly personal action, and one that strikes an emotional chord with many people no matter what side of the aisle you’re on. The old site was virtually faceless, which just didn’t fit with the on-the-ground work CLC does, and makes it difficult for visitors to truly connect with the work.
We wanted to give them a way to balance that human narrative without sacrificing utilitarian content. The basic content strategy was to balance the facts (such as case details, documents) with expert opinion (op-eds, for instance) and then show impact (the human-centered narrative).
CLC also had some unique internal needs around cases and actions — they needed a flexible, organized way to showcase all of the legal action they take, even when that action doesn’t relate specifically to a case. So we created the Cases and Actions content type to be an academic hub to house both case-specific information (ie: Gill v Whitford) and actions that support their four work areas.
We also were working with a brand new visual identity for CLC — one that highlighted their bipartisanship and emphasized clean typography and bold, angular elements.
The convergence of all these components results in a stronger brand for CLC and guides users towards deeper engagement — on the site and civically.
We migrated CLC’s content from a D7 site to D8; moving images to media entities, placing redirects, url aliases, and entity references. It all sounds rather routine, but one thing the ThinkShout team found in this process is that the D8 Migration is still not ideal.
Admittedly, it took a significant lift to make the file and media migration work for things like images embedded in WYSIWYG, redirects and url aliases. But because of the true collaboration and partnership between CLC and ThinkShout, we ended up in a great place: We built them a CMS that enables them to easily write stories, provides flexibility in their content types, and is structured so the end use can easily find related content.
Site speed was another area of focus as it’s demanding more and more attention from organizations we work with. M+R dedicated an entire section of their 2018 Benchmarks study to site speed, saying that “a one-second delay in page load time can lead to an 11% decrease in traffic, and significantly fewer conversions.” A drop in traffic like that isn’t something to gamble with if you’re a nonprofit seeking supporters and advocates.
So we made tweaks to make pages load faster through asynchronous loading of some items, using every caching option available to us–including Pantheon’s advanced page cache. We also made sure all images were scaled to a reasonable size. We also conducted basic load testing to make doubly sure CLC can handle a large amount of traffic, which is extremely vital for when they’re mentioned in the news or receive any type of national coverage.
In our testing of the live site (using Google’s Lighthouse), the homepage consistently loads within 0.25 seconds (the measure is Consistently Interactive). We do want to note, this load time varies depending on the strength and speed of your internet connection.
The Road Ahead
The recent increase in polarization and extreme partisanship has made CLC’s work more relevant than ever before. Work that as recently as a few years ago might have remained the specialized focus of researchers and legal minds is now must-read content for people on any side of the aisle. The launch of their beautiful, engaging new site has paid immediate dividends with increased time on site and pages per visit, which is a trend we expect to see increase as their newsworthy stories — on everything from Supreme Court gerrymandering cases to government ethics and campaign finance — reach a broader audience across every channel.
Not only is CLC telling the story of their impact in a more compelling way, it’s also easier for them to do so with the new systems and tools at their disposal. Now the CLC team can focus on the mission at large, and that’s something to celebrate.
“Working with ThinkShout has been the most organized, efficient and thoughtful experience I have ever had with a vendor. We are so excited about our new site! Thank you for your help and support. Looking forward to continuing to work together!” - Sandhya Bathija, Director, Strategic Communications
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