Picture it: Coffee shop, 2019. I was being a cliche in a corner chair working on my laptop. A guy I recognized but didn’t know from high school came in, and a little bit later signaled “hey.” His name was Cornelius, and we exchanged pleasantries and got into the “So what are you doing nowadays?” thing that people fall into. I told him I do content management and communication and leadership consulting, and he said something to the tune of “I might need to get you to help me with a website.” I gave him my site address, he emailed me, we met up again to discuss. The project: a website for a free summer youth leadership camp.

We started the project with a list of wants

Once Elevate Leadership Camp got committee approval to launch, Cornelius and I met again to discuss what they wanted/needed for the site, and what we wanted to achieve with it. The initial laundry list (after domain registration and setting up hosting, which I handled) was:

  • Main page
  • About the director page
  • Activities page
  • Registration page

I knew from the start we needed the page to feel warm, summery, and fun. The client and I agreed the visuals had to speak to the kids they wanted to attend and help them see themselves at the camp. The whole site had to make kids and parents say “Yeah, that’s a good thing we can do this summer.”

Cornelius liked the idea of a front page grid of large thumbnails leading to the individual pages, so I picked a theme that would allow that. After that I sourced images to fit the mood we wanted and built all the pages. [This included writing alt text for all the images used on the site.]

homepage grid for camp with camp information pages and fun, youthful pictures as featured images for each page

I had to make digital registration forms that could do everything they needed them to do

Originally, the registration forms – Registration/waiver and Student Commitment to Success – were going to be directly on the site, but I knew the client needed a way to allow for signatures online. We couldn’t get that with the basic Jetpack form in WordPress, so I built the forms from scratch in Jotform instead. After I published the online registration forms, a created a registration page on the site that linked to the online forms as well as downloadable pdfs of the forms. (I reviewed the pdfs for accessibility before uploading them to the site.)

Bottom of online registration form with space for digital signature
Signature area of the digital registration forms

They wanted to know if maybe I could make a logo

elevate leadership camp logo with camp name and mountains

Cornelius mentioned they might want a logo to use on t-shirts, and that someone had an idea about rocks in the logo. I said, I’d see if I could put something together on that for them. I took a graphic of a basic outline of mountains and added the camp name to it. I knew the visual of the word “Elevate” should express the motion of the word, so I rotated it to ascend to match the slope of the mountain range. The white space in the mountains created a great spot to nestle in the words “leadership camp.” To avoid the long LEADERSHIP overpowering the word CAMP, I enlarged CAMP so both words would be the same width. They loved the logo. After I made a few nitpicky adjustments of my own, I sent the files to them to use for screen printing and added the logo to the registration forms and website.

I anticipated questions from parents and helped the clients answer them online

The client didn’t ask for a Questions page, but I thought it would be a great idea to help parents/guardians address concerns like…

Who can attend the camp?

How many kids will be there?

Are you going to feed my kid?

… and to reiterate important points like…

Camp is FREE!

It’s four hours for these five days.

Here’s how to register.

This page would help the site visitors get succinct answers on what they needed to know about camp, AND the camp hosts wouldn’t be bombarded offsite with these questions from parents/guardians left wondering because they didn’t get all the information they needed from the site.

The clients LOVED the site

They were impressed by how quickly I was able to paint their vision on the space. Some of the feedback I got was:

“This looks really good”

“The Website looks great!”

“People [on the team] are already impressed!”

“Love the logo – it looks even better than what [they] had on the brochure”

“The photos are appropriate and eye-catching”

“The headings make it easy to find information”

They offered some feedback and a few more bits of information (like due dates for registration, adding t-shirt sizes to the registration forms, and backlinking to the host church website) to add to the site. I implemented all their feedback – including using a few small html tweaks – with some minor edits of my own. Et voila! The site was ready to invite campers and to be featured on their own homepage.

screenshot of Trinity United Methodist Church website with Elevate Leadership Camp link on front page
Elevate Leadership Camp featured in the Newsflash strip on the Trinity United Methodist Church website.

You can visit the camp’s website at Elevateleadershipcamp.com.

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