E-Commerce for Obakki
Obakki is a modern charity working to create global change through work in developing nations. Since its founding in 2005 by Treana Peake, Obakki has been a luxury clothing brand with a not-for-profit counterpart, the Obakki Foundation. The foundation works on social initiatives such as building over 1,000 water wells in South Sudan, Uganda and Cameroon.
Driven by the belief in people
Obakki Foundation is a charity organization in Vancouver that focuses on providing access to water and education for rural communities in South Sudan, Cameroon and Uganda. Rather uniquely, the Obakki Foundation team are able to contribute 100% of all donations and net revenues to their causes by running a separate sustainable Obakki fashion brand to cover administrative expenses.
In addition, the Obakki Foundation itself sells a variety of products, such as t-shirts, scarves, cozy blankets and water bottles to raise money. Not bad for a charity, right?
With all this goodness in place, the critical problem for Obakki has come to be its own website. The foundation has collected a wealth of astounding stories from its travels and projects, but there was no place to put them. Over the years, the Obakki Foundation website has turned into a maze of products, blog posts and project updates hidden under a single dropdown menu and shuffled around with no rhyme or reason.
Mixing charity and commerce
When its digital presence became too much of a burden, Obakki brought in Skyrocket to reimagine what the website for a progressive charity could look like. Obakki’s team knew they didn’t want to rebuild the website again every few years — they needed a modular solution that would be able to adapt to their needs for years to come and with minimal maintenance.
Even though we at Skyrocket thrive on rapid prototyping, we felt that the Obakki vision and website are too delicate to be simply rushed into the redesign. Inevitably a few important intricacies and details would be lost in the process. So we sat down for a discovery process with the team and studied the website inside out first.
We knew that Obakki needed an e-commerce platform to sell their products. Sounds simple? Not too fast. Here, each product had its own story and purpose, so besides including all the standard information such as price, size, colour and material, it also provided inspiring details on which cause would be supported, enriched with maps, progress bars and funding goals.
On top of that, there had to be an option (a crucial option!) for processing donations, with their own settings and integrations. This can be as complex to develop and manage as online sales.
Finally, the content management system also required enough flexibility to incorporate an ever-updating collection of Obakki projects and stories, which is not common for standard e-commerce CMSs.
A website for VUCA times
Starting the project with ready-to-use brand guidelines in hand meant that we could dive directly into the content audit. As the Obakki Foundation website has been around for a while, we took full advantage of the existing Google Analytics data and insights. Analyzing a few key metrics of user behaviour and keeping the client’s objectives in mind, we crafted new information architecture that specified the flow of content throughout the website.
Moving into the wireframes, we closely collaborated with the Obakki team to validate our thinking about their potential donors. For example, we made sure that the donation page was easily accessible from any point of the website. When it came to UI design, we decided to put Obakki’s beautiful photo library front and centre, with minimum flourishes, to let the cause speak for itself.
The web development phase presented a true challenge — none of the off-the-shelf products fit the unique needs of the Obakki team, which meant we had to build a custom-made solution. After lots of research, our choice came back to Craft, our preferred CMS, which had just released Craft Commerce. Talk about luck. As for the ease of use, the Obakki team was swapping images and populating the website even before we scheduled our first CMS training session!
Emotional meets rational
After months of hard work, the website has come to life exactly as envisioned. Simple and down-to-earth at first sight, it provides a wealth of information to explore. Even for us. While presenting our work we realized that the new Obakki Foundation website strikes just the right balance between the emotional (photos, journals, stories) and the rational (progress bars, facts, reports). We wish every project turned out this deep.