Case Study: Room to Read

The FYIN team is always up for a challenge and Room to Read had one for us: could we rebuild their expansive, critically important Umbraco website and make sure the new site is streamlined, provides a stellar visitor experience, and is easy to edit? We could and we did. Learn more about our partnership with this amazing organization.

During challenging times, the world looks to good people doing good work for inspiration. To see good work in action, look no further than Room to Read. Room to Read is a non-profit organization focused on literacy and gender equality all over the globe. Children in low-income communities often struggle to receive an education, and the challenge is even greater for girls.

As stated on the organization’s website:  

We envision a world in which all children can pursue a quality education that enables them to reach their full potential and contribute to their communities and the world.

FYIN’s relationship with Room to Read began in early 2018. They needed a partner with Umbraco expertise, and FYIN (an Umbraco Gold Partner) fit the bill. We were tasked with hosting the English and Japanese versions of the site and providing ongoing support as well. 

Considering how expansive Room to Read’s programs are, it’s no surprise that the website itself is both wide and deep. It contains hundreds of pages, many of which house custom functionality. For example, the site boasts a dynamic map that allows site visitors to explore Room to Read’s reach across multiple nations. 

The website encompasses several critical functions for Room to Read. One of the most visible elements is to serve as a conduit for those all-important donations. Donors from around the globe support Room to Read so that services and programs can live on. 

In late 2019, teams from FYIN and Room to Read embarked on a massive rewrite to move the site from Umbraco CMS v7 to v8. Room to Read’s goals for the new site included:

  • Streamlining and improving the site in general
  • Improving the user experience by reducing the number of clicks to reach critical information
  • Cleaning up the navigation
  • Providing a better experience for mobile users

Some of their team’s pain points with the old site revolved around the convoluted navigation, lack of uniformity in the back-office (“it felt like a hodge-podge”), and limitations with the design. The Room to Read team felt that they sometimes had to sacrifice the mobile experience for the desktop experience and vice versa. They felt restricted in their editing options in the back office. This full rebuild project addressed all of those pain points and more! 

Regarding the version upgrade, the move to v8 was also critical for improved security, a better editing experience, and streamlined code that makes the new site run faster on the front end and in the back office. 

Joe McKinley, FYIN’s Lead Developer for this project, gave a lot of thought to the site and its architecture at the outset. The old site was using a somewhat outdated grid system, which led to the editing woes the Room to Read team was experiencing. Joe noted, “We streamlined the site by building feature containers to make it easier for their editors to select exactly what they need for each page.”

The FYIN team built the entire framework in Umbraco v8, making sure to accommodate all of the needed call-outs, containers, and doctypes. Our speedy data team invested many hours in adding all content pages plus accompanying images and other files. The goal was to leverage Umbraco in a "work smarter, not harder" way in order to set Room to Read up for success. 

In addition to its main website, Room to Read had a standalone site for its audience in Japan. This site needed to be rebuilt and rehomed. We migrated the Japan site into the same Umbraco installation as the primary site. This multi-site configuration allows editors to access and edit both sites with one login. 

The Room to Read team reports that the new site has exceeded their expectations. As Erica Cuellar, Digital Marketing Associate, noted: “The new site gives us a better way to present the work we do.” She noted that editing the site is now fun for her instead of feeling like a chore. “I can flex my creativity in a new way,” she added. 

Erica also expressed appreciation for the partnership with FYIN. She said, “We felt like we were in good hands with this project.” With any large project, the occasional hiccup is unavoidable. The Room to Read team appreciated that any snags were resolved quickly. 

Likewise, all of us at FYIN have a deep appreciation for Room to Read’s mission and the work they are doing all over the world. Literacy is critically important to every nation and culture, and Room to Read’s impact is undeniable. We were happy to deliver a solution that makes it easier for them to tell their vibrant story.

Contact us today to take your web presence to a new level. No coding required. For your projects:

  • Know what’s going on with our weekly progress calls
  • Know what you’ll get, what you’ll pay based on our monthly flat rates
  • Know how to update your site using Umbraco CMS. We’ll train ya.