A Mission-Driven Organization 

The McCain Institute for International Leadership is a mission-driven organization that employs a combination of boots-on-the-ground tactics and thought leadership around the world to secure democracy, defend human rights, protect vulnerable populations and develop character-driven leaders at home and worldwide. The McCain Institute came to LaneTerralever with the goal to reimagine their website to be as advanced as the initiatives and programs the Institute offers.

Their vision was to create a site that grew with the programs and empowered visitors to take action by demonstrating the impact of the Institute. Built to embody Senator John McCain’s legacy of action and leadership, the website reimagined the magnitude of the Institute and its brand identity. Behind the curtain, the website simplified the Institute’s content approach and structure so they can scale easily and keep content up to date.

Non-Profit Marketing Services

  • Non-profit Website Design
  • Content Strategy
  • User Experience Design
  • Video Production
  • Website Development
  • Non-profit Video Storytelling
  • Creative Development
  • Annual Report Design
mccain institute homepage on computer

The Main Challenge: Restructuring the Website and Unifying Brand Voice  

The website redesign had two primary goals: creatively represent the Senator and the Institute, while restructuring the back end to simplify operations. Publishing content and making updates to existing pages was previously difficult, and unorganized. We crafted their website into a more organized, beautiful, and usable tool. The goal was to reach a multi-faceted audience. To do this we needed to create an easy donation pathway for donors and grant-givers. We wanted to make browsing blog content easier for those seeking thought leadership, and feature content about Senator McCain for people doing research. Overall, we wanted to build credibility and trust in the McCain Institute as an institution. Through a mindful content and UX strategy, we aimed to unify the voice of the brand while setting it up to scale. 

An Organized Content Strategy for the Website

The McCain Institute is an organization that fights to secure democracy and alliances, defend human rights, protect the vulnerable and advance character-driven leadership, both at home and around the world. This takes many forms and is represented by its diverse programming from combatting human trafficking to working with global leaders to strengthen America's strategic alliances.

The problem? This was not clear to audiences viewing the website because it was difficult to navigate and poorly represented the mission and programs of the Institute. It housed hundreds of pages full of highly valuable content-both to the website and the actual programs of the site. But, the lack of information architecture and intentional navigation made it difficult to discover and comprehend. Reports and content need to be shared to back up the Institute’s claims of change. The website was hurting them more than it was helping, potentially losing out on grants and donations because of the lack of optimal user accessibility  - the website was no longer a tool for the development team to direct people to. 

McCain Institute website on mobile devices

The Website Solution

A New Approach to the Annual Report. The Institute needed a place to summarize the impact of their programs for the year. Annual reports are often costly and not housed on the website. The challenge was to include all the programs while creating a simple user experience. We were able to accomplish this by creating a navigation bar including each program and a scrollable summary. As a result, readers can quickly understand the impact of the McCain Institute. 

Bringing Clarity to the Institutes Initiatives. Because of the diverse nature of the programming at the McCain Institute, it was important for the site to explain each one clearly and how people might donate to the project of their choosing. Previously the site was challenging to navigate and comprehend. This made the user experience overwhelming and confusing. We helped the McCain Institute organize their online content with a clear user path. With a managed content model, users can donate to the Institute at large or to a specific program that they feel called to support.

Two Screen; McCain Website; Who we are page; From our Roots

Capture The Brand Voice. We were tasked to edit a brand video that needed to do a lot of things all in under two minutes: show the international reach of the institute, bring in the wisdom of the late Senator John McCain, and clearly list out the most up to date programs at the institute. All without shooting new footage. We accomplished this by weaving quotes from Senator McCain into footage that represents all of the values and goals of the institute.

Institutionalize The Institute. The Institute is an embodiment of Senator John McCain’s principles. In developing the website content, it is important to position the Institute to be synonymous with the principles it stands for. Successfully done, the McCain name will become akin to names such as Carnegie, Kennedy, and Pulitzer: untethered to its era and encompassing more than a persona. 

Appeal to Broader Audiences. At the core of Senator McCain’s legacy is nonpartisanship. The call to be a “Maverick” is one that is pursuant to the universal principles of human rights and democracy. These universal truths, when well represented, should inspire and engage a wide diversity of Mavericks. The goal is to showcase content stops that fight against preconceived notions and shows the audience that the McCain Institute is a working institute that is internationally involved.

Create a Robust and Dynamic Database of Activity. To better publicize this work, as well as ignite interest, the Institute’s existing and previous work is structured in a way that pays proper credence to the action. Previously, program directors used blog posts as a way to stay dynamic because it was their quickest option. Now, they see the website as a chance to show a database of action/activity rather than a blog or news center. With this in mind, our homepage and initiative pages are structured so new activities and programs can have the webpage they deserve, while current event content has its own stage. By better dividing this content, audiences can better explore content and recognize its importance based on location.

Own the Conversation, and Be a Key Resource for Initiatives. The Institute’s character-driven leaders are already a key resource for governments, nonprofits, and other stakeholding institutions. In its evolution, the website also became a key resource. By gathering existing knowledge in one place, The Institute can now better educate the public on these initiatives in a way that also pursues the high-level principles of the McCain legacy. This would aid in creating cohesion in advocacy for initiatives often splintered in approach.


Website Results - Making an Impact

The website redesign accomplished its goals of creatively representing the Senator and the Institute while restructuring the back end to simplify marketing operations. Through a modular approach, we were able to create a scalable and fully responsive website for tablets, phones and desktops. From this, we saw an increase in site performance and speed.

The redesign also made the website more compliant with Website Accessibility standards, CCPA, and GDPR. Most importantly, this redesign supports the continuous work the McCain institute is doing by keeping the website scalable and evolving with time Incorporated the new branding and look & feel with the redesign that stands out in the crowd.

What Our Clients Say

“I wanted to send over a note to share my sincere thanks to you and the outstanding LT team for all the time and talent that went into the Institute’s recent website launch. I cannot tell you how much we appreciated your team’s flexibility. The creativity, attention to detail, and level of excellence made all the difference in our successful redesign and launch. Our team is so proud of the new website and design. Thank you again!”

Betsy Gehring, Deputy Executive Director, McCain Institute