Earlier this year, the national website of the Order of the Arrow (OA) experienced a complete redesign. The previous website, which was introduced in 2014, had become increasingly inadequate for fulfilling its purpose in the organization. Issues with navigation and search functionality, the need for a better mobile experience, and the 2015 branding update were all factors in the decision to redesign the website.
The process began in 2015 under Patrick Burtchaell, who at the time served as the production lead for the national communications committee (NCC). During that year, they developed ideas for what the website would look like and brought in key individuals to make it happen. One of those key individuals was Nathan Vick, who was appointed web coordinator in January 2016.
In 2016, Vick and his team conversed with Arrowmen on all levels of the organization to determine how the new website could serve all of the OA’s members. As a result, they made design modifications, approved the ideal web platform and completed necessary background work.
The next year was spent developing the website. Logging thousands of hours of work, the web team finished the website for the 2017 National Planning Meeting. Grant Phifer, the current production lead, stated that this could not have been accomplished without the work of the web team’s development lead, Eric Brown, and the national web adviser, Eric Silva.
Following a successful national planning meeting, the website was launched on January 4, 2018. Three years of efforts had resulted in a website that not only met the goals established, but laid the groundwork for improvement in the future. In the upcoming months, Vick is looking forward to integrating the national OAHA, history, and training websites into the new one so that they can be easier found, while maintaining the high quality of each site.
Right now though, Vick’s pride and joy is how this website will help lodges across the nation. All of the content on the old site still exists on the current one, and with the new navigation and search functions it will be even easier for lodge leadership to find ideas and best practices to improve their local programs.
Another group that will enjoy a better experience navigating the website are non-members of the OA. Whether it is a parent attempting to figure out what a lodge is, a Scoutmaster learning why the OA helps the unit, or a community member trying to understand why these Boy Scouts with fancy sashes keep asking for service projects, the new website is designed to give a better experience to someone who knows almost nothing about the organization.
As everything has settled down, all involved in the project have continued to grow their enthusiasm for the project. Nathan Vick has reflected on his experience, and looks towards the future.
“After two years of hard work, it is exciting to share the new OA website with Arrowmen worldwide. We listened to comments from the OA’s membership and crafted the site to make it easier for both members and non-members to use. Now, I am looking forward to enhancing the site and continuing to improve the OA’s web experience.” he said.
Grant Phifer looks forward to the improvements that will be unveiled in the future. With the groundwork laid, work can be done to enhance features such as the lodge map, a personal favorite of his.
“I am excited about the possibilities the new national website provides to grow our organization's digital presence. The changes that are coming to the site in the future will continue to help inform both our members and non-members alike about the programs and opportunities in the OA.”