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Helping people find a way beyond systemic racism and poverty

By giving people real alternatives to incarceration, and helping to shine a light on the failings of the criminal justice system.

Overview

Wisconsin Community Service (WCS) is one of Wisconsin's oldest non-profits, 100 years and counting. They're dedicated to providing opportunities for people to overcome adversity through innovative programs to keep people out of jail and to help people who have served their time to get a chance to re-integrate back into society. In light of their 100 years, they wanted a website that spoke to their core values and mission.

In the (hopefully concluding) era of one-size-fits-all criminal justice, politicians are tougher on crime than ever. But the solution to most crime isn't to lock up the offender and throw away the key, it's finding better ways. Alternatives and treatment programs that are more effective and about one-tenth of the cost of prison. WCS is about finding and solving the root causes that drive people to crime, and helping people work beyond systemic racism and poverty.

Strategy

When we first started with WCS, we sat in on internal meetings about their messaging and brand, and got to hear from program directors, administrators and other staff about the real problems the world is facing and how WCS is trying to intervene on behalf of the people that need the most help. The meetings were absolutely mind opening to us, and we wanted to find a way to help visitors to the site have the same mind-opening experience.

We created a website that could help communicate WCS' best practices, from trauma informed care to community building. We have sections for news and press releases and media clippings that show the WCS' challenges and successes. We built a site that can help WCS tip the scales on brutal policing strategies that keep people down and find a way to better help people reach beyond the broken world that was given to them.

As a social service nonprofit, the site has a wider variety of audiences than many nonprofits. As such, we needed to create narrative paths for people using stronger "circular navigation" paths, clearer context navigations to show people where they were in the story, and strong calls to action.

Most importantly, we knew the story of WCS is changing a lot, the world is changing. We need to ensure that an organization like WCS can update their content, add programs as new programs come online, and change strategies with a dramatically changing world. For a site that's coming on 10 years, we can see the way the world has changed technologically, but we can see an organization that has kept its website content up to date and relevant.

Long view

WCS has been working on helping people overcome adversity in the criminal justice system for years, and only in the last five years has there been any real talk about changing the criminal justice system and changing the paradigm to help people who need it the most. WCS had helped lead this discussion long before the world had caught on.

The site is way older than it looks, and the communication we helped develop at the time was during the time that the criminal justice system was only seen as good and rehabilitating, where we now see it as a force for bad that needs to be changed. We here at Byte are fully committed to organizations that are doing something about this issue, and WCS has been so far ahead of the curve on this, we applaud their efforts by donating time and hosting whenever we can.

We look forward to the next version of the WCS website where we can really show the efforts and successes of helping thousands of people overcome by the adversity placed on them by systemic racism.

When our nonprofit was looking to completely redesign our website, we met with several local firms. We chose Byte because of their personal approach and expertise with social service agencies and we are so happy that we did! Michael and his team were genuinely committed to creating a website that met our organizational needs and reflected our mission. They worked within our budget and were incredibly creative, accessible and flexible. In the years since developing our website, they have patiently answered every question that we have posed and quickly provided assistance with any tweaks we’ve wanted to make along the way.

We absolutely, positively would recommend Byte to any organization that is looking for a design company that not only produces great-looking and easy to use websites, but also provides extraordinary customer service!

- Krista Templeman

Wisconsin Community Services