Contra Costa Midrasha’s Small Investment & Big Payoff

It’s easy to think in extremes with websites. Your website might be looking a little tired, and you might think, “Time for an overhaul!” Often all you need is a little freshening up, and you’ll notice a big payoff. As long as you’re reasonably happy with your content and you don’t have any technical problems, you can execute a few tweaks that are far cheaper than an overhaul, and that pay off big time.

Contra Costa Midrasha just went through what I’d classify as a “refresh” rather than a “relaunch.” CCM is a program for Jewish high school kids in Walnut Creek, Calif., and every year they start a big registration push to recruit more students.They were already planning a “Put Yourself in the Picture” direct mail campaign and had designed a postcard.

It seemed like the perfect time to breathe new life into the website while using it as the hub for registrations, donations and news about events. After a few discussions with Devra Aarons, the program’s executive director, we came up with a plan of attack that would be budget-friendly but still achieve her goals of getting new recruits and collecting information. We decided to also align the site with the “Put Yourself in the Picture” campaign.

Here’s the plan:

  • Design a new header to match the campaign.
  • Add punchy noticeable buttons to encourage donations and registrations.
  • Create motion and interest through an interactive slide show.
  • Use an expanded online registration tool.
  • Promote their new social media campaign.
  • Use analytics accounts to track usage.

New header

The old website header was designed to match a brochure. It was eye-catching, but this was probably the most impactful way to update the look of the site. We used an existing postcard for the upcoming campaign and extended the movie metaphor with CCM’s color palette and some layered textures. Here’s the old banner:

Contra Costa Midrasha Old Banner

And the new banner:

Contra Costa Midrasha New Banner

Donate and Register buttons

For a long time, Devra knew she wanted to add call-to-action buttons to encourage donations and registrations. There was a blank area above the banner that was the perfect spot. We created a couple buttons that matched the new header and that stood out.



The biggest wow factor on the page comes from the slideshow. It cycles through a series of pictures with text, and each image links to a corresponding page. Since Devra wanted to ramp up registrations, we made them all lead – for now – to the registration page.

Contra Costa Midrasha Slideshow

Registration tool

Devra decided to largely scrap the paper registration and put it all online. The form was long, to be sure, but we streamlined as much as possible and used fieldsets to group like information with like. We also used collapsible fields, which open with a click and reveal more information. This is helpful for information that might not be relevant for everyone. The end result for the user is a friendly flow of information that’s a little easier on the eyes.

The payoff here was clear and nearly immediate. Registrations started coming in right away, and the feedback was good: “I got a lovely e-mail from a parent saying how user friendly our registration form was!” Devra said.

Contra Costa Midrasha Form

Promote social media

CCM just started using Twitter, so we added this and a link to their Facebook Group to the homepage, where it’s easy to click through.

Contra Costa Midrasha social media


Finally, Devra set up accounts on Google Analytics and Clicky, both helpful tools to show the who, what, where and when of people visiting the site. After making these kinds of changes, tracking usage becomes a helpful benchmarking tool to know what decisions are resonating and identifying possible issues. The data that comes in over the following weeks and months will help plan for the future, as needs and responses change through the course of the program.

Here’s the whole site, but make sure you visit so you can see it all in action.

Contra Costa Midrasha

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