Tech Update 3.0 - Improved Navigation & Mountaineers Books Integration

We are excited to announce that we will be launching an integrated Mountaineers Programs and Mountaineers Books website in early February! Learn more about the improved navigation, and methodology, and additional functionality we're adding as part of this big-for-some update we're calling 3.0.
Jeff Bowman Jeff Bowman
IT Manager
February 15, 2018
Tech Update 3.0 - Improved Navigation & Mountaineers Books Integration

We are excited to launch an integrated Mountaineers Programs and Mountaineers Books website in an update we're calling 3.0 in mid-February! This newest set of updates is focused on bringing Mountaineers Books and Mountaineers Programs together under one roof. 

Like any home remodel—adding a new wing to a house for example—we are keeping a lot the same while growing and expanding in other areas. Some "rooms" will be left untouched, others will get a fresh coat of paint, and a few spaces are going to be brand new. Since the original launch in May 2014, we have made regular updates based on feedback from members and leaders. The focus of the last three years has been to improve our platform for our volunteer leaders, for whom 3.0 will be a minor change, and now we're excited to complete the "integration remodel". 

The biggest change you'll notice is to our header, which we're updating to bring in our Publishing division. Mountaineers Books, including our imprints Braided River and Skipstone, publishes 30-35 titles a year and distributes books worldwide. We have a catalog of 700+ titles covering all things outdoors related, including “how-to” and “where-to” books and a wide range of award-winning adventure narratives, sustainable lifestyle guides, and conservation photography books.

In addition to our publishing division, The Mountaineers hosts a wide variety of programs, all available for registration online. We have courses and activities for adults, lodges for weekend getaways, books and merchandise for purchase, youth summer camps, social programs, and events including film festivals, author presentations, and much more. The new 3.0 platform will bring all of these together in one website.

What will be new with 3.0?

integration: Mountaineers Books + The MOuntaineers

The biggest change you will see is coming to the main "universal" header on our website. We are integrating all of the content that currently lives on within this existing website structure. That means we'll have an easy way for you to toggle between our books site and our programs site to find items of interest. From a bigger picture perspective, a lot of people know about The Mountaineers because of our publishing legacy, which spans 58-years, a catalog of 700+ books, and international distribution to more than 20 countries, but do not know about our incredible programs. Likewise, we have members of The Mountaineers who don't know we publish 30-35 books per year on the topics of outdoor exploration, education, conservation, and more. By combining our two superpowers, we will increase the chances that someone new will discover our incredible community and reduce confusion over where to buy our books, not to mention the cost savings from having one website instead of two!

improved navigation

  • We will have a new universal header, combining Programs and Publishing under one roof. You can still login to your account and donate on the universal header, with all other items (Books, Blog, and Events) moving to their relevant new location.
  • We're reducing the number of navigation items from seven to four, and added a "hamburger" menu on the right to contain an expanding list of options. This change is based on advice from experts, page view data from our users, and the desire to further simplify the navigation of our site. The four options will be different depending on if you're visiting Mountaineers Books or The Mountaineers. 
  • We're changing the words "Explore" and "Learn" in our main Mountaineers menu to "Courses" and "Activities". These words make it much easier for new visitors to find what they're looking for, and increases how often The Mountaineers will show up in web searches. We have also swapped the order (Activities, then Courses) to align with expert advice and our brand motto of "Explore - Learn - Conserve". This should reduce questions to volunteer leaders about website navigation.
  • We'll combine "Branches & Committees" and "Locations and Reservations" into "Locations & Lodges" and move it to the top level so it's easier for people new to The Mountaineers to find and engage with the communities at our branches, program centers, and lodges. During testing, it was much easier for people to find and discover the activities at our local branches using the word "Locations", which is why this is changed. Our seven branches and their structure will remain the same. 
  • We'll move events and blogs from the very top of the header, to the top level within the "hamburger menu", so their menus are more easily accessible and to make room in the top level header for Mountaineers Books. 
  • We'll welcome much improved book and merchandise product pages.
  • We're developing a photo gallery view for our book and merchandise product pages that we can also apply to a folder of images, and perhaps more with  a little bit of extra work in the future.

What we already Improved

When it comes to "content changes," we felt it made sense to make small upgrades to existing content now, several small improvements before adding the new wing to our house. You can check out the most recent site of updates in 2.10 - Many More Small Improvements or all updates in our Technology Blog.

How we did it: The Tech Stuff

The updates you will see are based on user feedback from the past three years from members and volunteers. The updates also reflect a comprehensive search engine optimization (SEO) review, and in-depth user testing that happened this summer with our members, volunteers, and the public. 

We also used Google Analytics, user studies, and user feedback to identify what words and sitemap structures are most helpful for navigating our website. With so much going on at The Mountaineers, it's impossible to have a button at the top of the screen for every individual program. In our deep-dive, we also uncovered pathways that weren't working so well. This new 3.0 version is designed to address those usability issues, while making it easy for the public and our members to find what they need.

Version 3.0 also continues improvements for mobile device users. When we launched 2.0 in 2014, roughly 19% of users accessed on mobile devices. At the end of 2017, 40% of people accessed our website from a mobile device. We launched a responsive website theme optimized for mobile devices in October of 2016, but integrating and has been a second opportunity for us to make sure we will meet the growing needs of our mobile users. 

You can read about all our past improvements from 2.1 to 2.10 on our Technology Blog

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SuJ'n Chon
SuJ'n Chon says:
Feb 15, 2018 07:14 AM

Great work! Love that Books snd the rest of the org are more visually integrated now!

Mike Kretzler
Mike Kretzler says:
Feb 15, 2018 07:15 PM

The new look is great! Good work.

Helen Cherullo
Helen Cherullo says:
Feb 15, 2018 09:49 PM

Thanks for all the hard, smart, creative work, Jeff. All your colleagues at Mountaineers Books really appreciate the efforts. It's looking great!