Blog

A New WIC Website Strategy to Meet Audience Needs

Jenn Johnson

Managing Director of Client Services, West Coast, Forum One

WIC programs across the nation provide essential services to low-income women and children to support them during pregnancy and early childhood years. Ensuring that these families are able to effectively access important information from their state’s WIC program is crucial.

The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) provides federal grants to states for supplemental foods, health care referrals, and nutrition education for low-income pregnant, breastfeeding, and non-breastfeeding postpartum women, and to infants and children who are found to be at nutritional risk.

When it comes to online information, WIC programs are often housed within a larger state-level health department website. While this helps to maintain a centralized platform to access service information, it can create its own set of challenges.

Addressing the challenges

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) recently underwent a project to address challenges and concerns they had about how they were reaching the mothers and families that they aimed to serve through their WIC program. Specifically, they had three major needs:

  • Improve participation and retention so that more families had the healthy start the WIC program provides.  
  • Educate more Colorado residents on the benefits available through the WIC program.
  • Reach populations for whom English is not the primary spoken language.

Analyzing audience needs

A new standalone website, coloradowic.com, was key to answering these needs. With information previously hosted within the larger CDPHE website, both the department and program found that specific needs were not being well met through a myriad of static pages and Google Docs buried deep within. Feedback from users included:

  • Local retailers found it hard to apply to be a WIC Retail Location, or stay informed about allowable foods and pricing.
  • Healthcare providers wanted to educate their patients about the services WIC offers, but didn’t always know how to refer them, or get the most up-to-date educational handouts.
  • Local WIC agencies needed to distribute the most up-to-date guides and manuals to their staff, and their users weren’t always sure where to look for them.

Forum One worked with CDPHE to survey and interview current, prospective, and former participants as well as healthcare providers, retail representatives, and local agency staff statewide. These rich interactions surfaced important gaps in what information the Colorado WIC program was able to provide to these audiences through the overall CDPHE website and clear opportunities for how a new standalone Colorado WIC website could better serve them.

Building the solution

From here, we worked closely with WIC’s communications team to develop a content strategy and site map. As part of the content strategy, we identified each audience, their “jobs to be done” (e.g., what task they came to the site to complete), the messages, resources, and other information that WIC had or needed to create for them, and some organizing principles. This helped us to ensure that each of the audiences’ needs, or the organization’s goals related to those audiences, were going to be met in the new site.

  • In terms of design, the national WIC brand was a fantastic starting point. Using the brand guidelines, we easily found the right look and feel for Colorado’s unique position, while still staying true to the overall brand promise of WIC.
  • In terms of technology, Drupal 8 and PatternLab allowed us to create the right content types, reusable components, multilingual functionality, and content workflow.

The Colorado WIC website launched in September 2018 and the Forum One team continues to host and support it. We’re currently working with Colorado WIC on getting their .gov domain registered as well as diving deep into their Google Analytics data to make sense of how audiences are moving through the site. We’ll be working to produce a data studio dashboard to share relevant data with key stakeholders to help get buy-in for their work and continue to enhance their digital presence for the families they serve.

Is your organization facing similar challenges?

If the above challenges ring true, it may be time to explore how your web presence is meeting your audiences’ needs. Get in touch today for a free consultation.

Written By

Jenn Johnson

Managing Director of Client Services, West Coast, Forum One