Nerd Alert!

HOPE Adoption to get revamped website

OAK PARK HEIGHTS — The HOPE Adoption Service website is about to get revamped during in The Nerdery’s “Overnight Website Challenge” this weekend.
The Nerdery is a developer-driven production shop that partners with creative minds and big thinkers to envision and execute interactive projects, including websites, mobile apps and social media.

The Nerdery’s Overnight Website Challenge sets up teams of website developers and non-profit groups with not-so-good websites chosen for the challenge. HOPE beat 79 applicants for this opportunity. This year, The Nerdery volunteers will serve 18 non-profits in their sixth time doing the challenge in the Twin Cities.

“One of the HOPE board members found out about it on MPR and it just keeps growing in to a huge event, so we immediately applied,” said HOPE spokeswoman Laura Murray said. “I was floored when we got chosen. I’m very excited and very honored and it should be a fun event.”

According to The Nerdery’s Communications Director Mark Malmberg, applicants who wanted to participate in the program submitted their non-profit documentation and application to the group organizing the event. That group selecting the non-profits is separate from the company so there is no bias in which groups are picked to receive The Nerdery’s services.

In addition to the applications, judges look at the non-profits’ websites and ask the groups for testimonials from people they served.

“This allows us to get more than just the executive director’s view and gives us a 360-degree view of all the angles that the group touches and helps us really understand what they need.” Malmberg said.

After they were chosen, HOPE representatives met with the volunteer teams recently for a speed date of sorts and ranked each other on how well they could work together this weekend. HOPE and the volunteers won’t know until Saturday morning which team they will work with.

Among the improvements HOPE wants to accomplish in their 24 hours with The Nerdery include making the agency’s website user friendly.

“We want to improve our overall design and we’re hoping to get something more updated and user-friendly. We want to make it easy for people to find resources on our site for both adoptive and birth parents and with their help we’re hoping to get it to be easily accessed,” Murray said. “We have a lot of hope for it. It’s an opportunity for them to do some volunteer work and to help us figure out what we like.”

The group also wants to improve their site design, include a webinar gallery for trainings and orientations, increase search engine optimization and create online registration and information request forms to make it easier for those they serve.
The Nerdery estimates that an accumulated $3 million in professional services have been donated so far to 96 non-profits between five previous events held in Minnesota and two in Chicago, and they plan to keep going strong.

“(We do it) for the same reason we started it five years ago,” Malmberg said. “It’s what we do and it’s what we’re good at and we want to use our time and talent to impact the community in a positive way.”