The Nerdery - Overnight Website Challenge

Twin Cities 2011, March 26-27

Autism Society of Minnesota (AuSM)

The Autism Society of Minnesota (AuSM) is an organization of families, educators, care givers, and professionals committed to supporting individuals with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). It was established in 1971. AuSM has members throughout the state of Minnesota and the upper Midwest.

What it Autism?

Autism is a complex developmental disability that is present from birth or very early in development. It affects essential human behaviors such as social interaction, the ability to communicate ideas and feelings, imagination, self-regulation, and the ability to establish relationships with others. Although precise neurobiological mechanisms have not yet been established, it is clear that this disability reflects the operation of factors in the developing brain. Autism is estimated to occur in as many as 1 in 110 individuals (Center for Disease Control and Prevention). Autism is four to five times more prevalent in boys than in girls and knows no racial, ethnic, or social boundaries. Family income, life-style, and educational levels do not affect the chance of a child having autism. Autism is currently thought of as a “spectrum disorder.” This means that the severity of symptoms differs in people with ASD.

What new functionality we are looking for

We're looking for a website that will help in many areas; perhaps too many for this project. However, if we attempt to roll them all up into a few primary categories, we need a website that will:

1. Project a current and professional image

2. Help us alleviate some of our administrative burden/workload

3. Provide more value to our membership and the community

Our present website is dated, cumbersome, and limited, to put it politely. It's present look appeals specifically to children. It's new appearance will also welcome adults.

A new website will provide us a platform that will allow us to easily and quickly share (upload) current information, update a calendar, use a variety of media formats, provide downloads, and make it much easier to find exactly what our visitors seek. It will save us time and resources with registrations. It will raise us money via donations and a store. It will speak back to us with a database and information about our visitors.

We are a membership organization. Though our mission is to supply information to the entire community, and to be a resource for all who need our help, it would be wonderful if we could also provide additional value to our members. A members-only section could offer our loyal membership exclusive opportunities and access.

Simple and clean, our new website will be much more rich with information. It will have news, e-learning archives, perhaps online classes, a community forum, access to articles and research, and so much more...and it will be mobile-friendly!

How the new functionality will help

Every strong organization or company begins with a strong image. A strong image lets people know that we are professional, we are organized, we know our audience. It instills confidence and trust. Even if we are the best in our field, without the proper image, we will be (are) at a significant disadvantage.

Websites are the new business card - on steroids. They are typically the first impression to potential members, donors, or information seekers. If our website doesn't give them what they need quickly and cleanly, they will find another organization that can.

Our new website will serve as a resource for our individuals, families, educators, professionals, and the greater community. It will be a place where they can all visit and get critical information at any hour of the day, or in any location. It will help families new to autism find a confidant. It will allow us to better communicate. It will help us raise money - and save money. It will retian and add membership. All of these things will allow us to expand programs and create more materials.

This new website will help us stay open.

How our organization will use the technology

Who will use the technology

Before & After Snapshots

Thumbnail_screen%20shot%202011-03-18%20at%203.11.26%20pm Thumbnail_ausm_homepage

49 Messages from Supporters

2011-02-04 05:45:11 UTC
Board of Directors Member

Wow. What a terrific opportunity for such a great organization to receive an incredible gift. What AuSM lacks in technology, it makes up for with staff and volunteers. I can only imagine what this organization will accomplish with a sharper and more efficient tool.

2011-02-04 15:58:20 UTC

If the Autism Society's website would have been the first impression for my family, I'm not sure I'd be a member right now. I might have sought out another organization. Luckily for us, I was introduced to them through a fundraising event, and our lives haven't been the same since. Please choose AuSM as one of your non-profits! A new website will add so much in terms of resources and information for families like mine and it would be so much easier to be able to access more of the information they have online. Go AuSM!!

2011-02-04 19:29:20 UTC

The AuSM website is outdated in a time where new information is coming out as fast as we can search for it. It is cumbersome and not easily navigated. The staff is shorthanded yet accomplish great things every day, only to have none of that information available on the website. In this day and age of technology, the 1st point of contact for a new parent should be the easiest to navigate and have the most current information. Unfortunately this is not possible with the current website , nor with the shortage of staff available to try. I agree that I can only imagine what can be accomplished with your support. Thank you

2011-02-04 19:29:21 UTC

As part of the staff that directly serves children, parents would find it easier to find information regarding joining the social skills groups we provide. The groups are an important part of the children's social learning. In this way we may reach more families! That would be awesome!

2011-02-05 02:35:46 UTC

The AuSM members would benefit greatly by a new website in such a technology savvy world. This updated website would allow AuSM to concentrate on the duties of reaching out to the community and supporting them, not to be consumed by the pressure and finance of how to update a website. It is an exciting opportunity to be a part of this and I cannot think of another non-profit in MN that would benefit from this more.

2011-02-05 18:31:48 UTC

The Autism Society of MN (AusM) does so many wonderful things for parents, teachers and children and adults with autism. The website does not reflect how AuSM (sounds like awesome) is SO awesome.

Over and over again we hear how outdated the website is and how hard it is to navigate. Unless you know what you are looking for its hard to know exactly who we are and what we can do to help. Parents new to autism go out to our website, already overwhelmed and looking for answers and seeking help. Seeing a website with all the information easily available, would likely give them a positive experience and in turn allow us to help guide them as they begin their autism journey. Its a win for our clients and for us as a small non-profit who seeks to make a difference in this world - one person at a time.

We would greatly appreciate this overhaul on the website. It would make a HUGE difference in reaching out to so many people.

2011-02-06 17:41:47 UTC

The Autism Society of Minnesota (AuSM) is the central organization in Minnesota for families and individuals to access critical information and associated services related to autism. I have personally witnessed the difference AuSM makes in the lives of individuals and families affected by this disorder.

Given their impact, it is important AuSM continues to provide mission-critical assistance and services while remaining efficient and effective with their limited yet dedicated staff. Now more than ever our economic conditions implore us to leverage technology to help us achieve our goals.

AuSM could reach more people and help them with revamped web site. Many times this is the first access point for information and assistance. Help them help others with a higher functioning web site.

Thank you!

2011-02-07 03:07:32 UTC

AuSM is an amazing organization that serves Minnesota from the Twin Cities to families in more rural areas. An updated website can only help to reach more families and continue to improve the services that the dedicated and outstanding staff provides.

2011-02-07 14:17:06 UTC

The AuSM is a wonderful resource to professionals serving children and families in their everday challenges. Updated, current simplified, and organizationally friendly information provided in an easy to access format helps providers to assist families in need of information, guidance and support. Please do not overlook or underestimate the power this agency provides to our communities!

2011-02-07 14:35:50 UTC
Judith Strommen, MA, LP

I would like to support AuSM's need for a professional and comprehensive web-site. As a community professional, I refer many clients and families to the AuSM website to access valuable information on workshops, other community resources, education opportunities,camps for kids, support and advocacy services, etc. AuSM is the best resource I know of for families to get unbiased and helpful information as they work their way along the jouney of autism spectrum disorders.

AuSM is a membership based non-profit organization that operates on a slim budget, with very dedicated and hard-working staff. An efficient website could assist the staff in streamlining work.

Please consider AuSM for this wonderful opportunity!

Thanks for your consideration!

2011-02-07 14:37:51 UTC

AuSM has been such a wonderful resource of information for our family. The workshops, seminars and direct services such as summer camps and social skills groups are great, I don't know what we would do without them.

A website update would only make this better and allow AuSM to reach more people with more information.

2011-02-07 19:18:34 UTC

As a volunteer for AuSM for the past year, I've been extremely inspired by the focus and determination of AuSM's staff and volunteers. They need a website to match those qualities.

Visitors of any website want to be able to navigate easily to find information. Along with ease of use, a great user experience helps to spread the word about Autism in the community.

Statistics show Autism diagnoses are on the rise and it's becoming one of the next major societal issues we have to face. A new, more easily navigable website for AuSM is needed to be able to expand their reach in the entire community and assist those in need.

2011-02-08 23:22:51 UTC
AuSM Mom, former Board Member, and volunteer for life

I am proud to be affiliated with AuSM. AuSM was the first call for support that I made when my child was diagnosed with autism 10+ years ago. In that relatively short period of time, I have watched, and been a part of some incredible growth in this organization.

Our website has so much potential. Here is my (humble) wish list:

I would like our website to appeal to a wider racial/cultural demographic. Language barriers continue to keep many families of non-English speaking backgrounds from finding the resources they need on our website.

I would love to have a website that would be user-driven, or interactive, or so that the mother of a young child coming to our website for the first time could find the critical and most helpful information that she needs/wants, and the adult with Autism/Asperger Syndrome could come to the same website and quickly bypass that same information to determine the time/place of the next Adult Aspie Support Group.

A website that would create a more streamlined process for new members to join the Society, and for current members to renew their memberships, as well as register for our workshops, fund raisers, and the State Autism Conference makes good business sense for us, and is time efficient for members.

While I have other ideas, I will close by thanking all of you for your time and talent, to donate to charity.
Thank you.

2011-02-10 18:43:07 UTC

What a great opportunity for the Nerdery to help an organization that will help so many people. When Parents have a child that is diagnosed, it is crucial they have some where to turn. To have a website that leads them through everything they need and is just a click away will be beneficial. Autism is being diagnosed more and more everyday, so this website needs to be current with the times.

2011-02-10 18:54:08 UTC

Please consider the AuSM Non-Profit group for an upgrade to their website. There are so many families affected by Autism who are need of information. This would enable them to better inform/educate/support families with a user friendly website.

2011-02-10 04:40:29 UTC
Nora, New Board Member

AuSM is a fantastic organization that really helps families dealing with autism. My son is 19 and has Aspergers. He has been in Special Ed classes since he was three and now attends Century College. Attending Camp Discovery while growing up and now working as a mentor has had a very positive impact on his life. Because of his interactions with folks at AuSM he has learned to advocate for himself and educate people about his disability.

I have learned alot more about AuSM since coming on the board recently. It is an impressive organization but their website is not representing the organization well. As a person who is on many different sites I know it needs to be more user friendly and more responsive for new members.

Your consideration of helping AuSM is much appreciated. They are a very worthy organization that makes a difference in the lives of so many dealing with autism.

2011-02-10 16:25:08 UTC
Dr. Barbara Luskin

I often hear that people have found AuSM through our website but need to follow up with phone calls for more information or clarification. I know how hard every one in our small nonprofit office is working to provide desperately needed information about autism as well as our services. An improved website that could provide easier access to information for families and individuals with autism would really help us serve our mission of supporting individuals with autism and their families.

2011-02-10 18:05:56 UTC

This is a fantastic Non-Profit and a wonderful way to have the AuSM website upgraded to be more user friendly for everyone that would view the website, especially someone with Autism. Its hard enough on families to realize they have an Autistic family member and were do I go for help. By upgrading this website to a more user friendly screen would really help all invovled with Austism.

Thanks and please consider AuSM for the upgrade.

2011-02-11 14:51:25 UTC

Our childcare program has had trainers from the autism society lead inservices for us and they were excellent. However, the website definitely needs to be revamped.

2011-02-11 16:49:47 UTC

Please consider AUSM for this website improvement. Thank you!

2011-02-11 19:44:22 UTC
P. Sievers

As an educator, I have observed the direct impact of the Autism Society of Minnesota (AuSM) on the lives of families and their contribution to professional development of educators across the state. This is the premier Minnesota organization that educators, families and individuals utilize to access critical information and associated services related to autism. AuSM and their outreach via the internet provides an outstanding resource for individuals and families affected by Autism Spectrum Disorders. Website upgrades will enhance the fine work they are already doing and help keep the community well informed.

2011-02-12 18:16:17 UTC
Nikki Walters

I have had the privilege of working with the AuSM team for the past few months. Outright, I will tell you that in my 20+ years of work experience I have never worked with a more passionate group of people. They do what they do, simply, to help families and individuals with Autism have a better life. I have a background in ecommerce and understand what a great website can do for an organization. In today's world the web has become not only a face to your customers, it is an important tool that can provide valuable service and organization efficiency. Although, AuSM's website is functional, it is tough to navigate, difficult to update and does not provide the flexibility to make changes quickly. There are many capabilities that it lacks. As an example, AuSM hosts events and classes as one of their main services to their members. Today they rely on external sites to register people. This process is not smooth and does not provide a good customer experience. In addition, the process results in excessive administrative work and additional cost. This is just one example of how improving the capability will make a huge difference to the services they provide. Please consider giving this great organization a new presence on the web, it will allow them to focus their energy on what they do best...helping others.

2011-02-12 21:24:46 UTC

What a wonderful opportunity this would be to update AuSM's website! With technology use and availability growing exponentially, having help being on the 'cutting edge' would be outstanding. Many people find the internet a terrific way to search for information and support, so a user-friendly site would really benefit many people!

The AuSM Society of Minnesota offers so much help to so very many people affected with Autism! The small and dedicated staff deserves help and support!

For those affected by Autism, the world is riddled with challenges. Getting information and support through a website that is user-friendly for all, clean, and organized would be greatly appreciated!


2011-02-15 03:41:20 UTC

AuSM was our first contact after diagnosis. This most caring and compassionate group has done wonders for us with support and education. With the increasing numbers of children being diagnosed family support is essential. A new updated website can be one very useful tool for families with a new diagnosis as well as families that have been around a while. With technology becoming crucial in today's world AuSM needs to be on top for our kids!

2011-02-15 14:19:35 UTC
MN Mom

I utilize the Web site often to check out upcoming courses, or
to help me find a professional my child may benefit from using. I am always up for something being made more user friendly. Best wishes in securing resources for making your web site more efficient for the consumer.

2011-02-15 16:44:49 UTC

I think this is a great opportunity for AuSM, not only to give them an edge in todays ever popular online world but also to provide a comforting/informative place for those affected by Autism to turn to. Think of how many lives they currently touch each and every day, and now just imagine how many more they would be able to with an updated website!
My vote is for AuSM!!

2011-02-15 17:50:21 UTC

When my son was first diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome about 9 years ago, the first place the professionals told me to look and learn was the Ausm site. That is how I found out about the workshops and Camp Discovery. I have since looked to the site for additional and updated information that I could use for my son to gain his independence since he is now 18 Years old. My wish for this website is to have it be more user friendly and perhaps even have a special place for the kids who have Ausm to "chat" with others to help encourage social skills and enhance their computer skills. They have a done a good job so far but I know there is much more that could be accomplished to help the ever growing community of Ausm kids, professionals, etc.

2011-02-15 19:46:26 UTC

We live in a rural area and rely heavily on websites to provide current information and give us solutions for difficulties our son (age 7, autism) faces each day. A new website that is easy to maneuver is needed!

2011-02-15 20:25:37 UTC

We needed to move to MN and needed to find resources for our 6 year old Autistic Son. We needed a good School District, Support Groups, Doctors, etc. My husband through MUCH effort was finally able to find this information on the AuSM Website but it was NOT easy.

It would be such an AWESOME an GIFT for AuSM to to be rewarded with a new website for people like us and anyone who relies heavily on their website to provide crucial information in a timely manner. Thank you for considering AuSM.

2011-02-15 20:33:11 UTC

Dealing with ASD is tough enough the website doesn't need to be. Everyone needs easily accessbile, accurate, timely and accurate information.

2011-02-15 20:34:31 UTC

AUSM is a fantastic resource for my family and I; however I feel as though there website is outdated and could really use some revamping to get it up to speed. Thanks you ausm for all you do for our families.

2011-02-15 22:27:20 UTC

As an adult aspie who uses the internet for information on Aspergers and Autism, I look forward to having an updated website for the Autism Society of Minnesota.

2011-02-15 21:11:31 UTC

Given our society is digitally driven, the website is the first impression for many people seeking information about ASD. The website does not do justice to the organization, it's capabilities, or the people working on behalf of our children. AuSM is SO MUCH MORE!

An upgrade to the website would help people realize the depth and true contribution made to its members and community at large.

Thank you for considering a gift to this fine organization!

2011-02-15 21:52:01 UTC

I am the mother of a boy with autism and trying to sort through the overwhelming about of information to try and find helpful resources applying to our situation is nearly impossible at times. Having an updated website will allow better navigation and links to resources than is currently available.

2011-02-16 01:01:01 UTC

We have received support and information through AUSM since our son was diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome four years ago. Living outside the metro, we had very few resources available to us. This organization reaches out to so many families and individuals affected by autism. A new website would streamline many areas and make the jobs of the staff less burdensome. More importantly, tho, a new site would enable families who are starting the journey a way to be connected to valuable resources in much more efficient ways. We are continually amazed at what AUSM offers its members and cannot think of a more deserving non-profit for this project.

2011-02-16 03:40:48 UTC

Please consider AuSM for the website challenge! The Autism Soceity of Minnesota is such a wonderful organization and they deserve all the special treatment they can get. I would love to see the website have the following: details of events, pictures (visuals are a big deal), dates of events enlarged, testimonials on camps,activities, services provided. A question and answer tab. It would be cool for teh newest event coming up on their calendar to somehow be scrolling across the page when you open the website. AuSM needs to be a fun inviting, lively website with loads of information for those within the spectrum and their families.

2011-02-16 14:49:34 UTC

Please please please, consider AusM as the beneficiary of a new upgraded website. Parents and caregivers of people with Autism are already housebound and overburdened enough on a daily basis. This seems like a win-win situation. Parents and caregivers of people with ASD will have their world of opportunity break wide open with the click of a mouse, AND this AusM ( awesome) non-profit organizion can operate more efficiently and effectively. Thank you for considering AusM for a new website!

2011-02-16 17:00:38 UTC

Please consider AusM for a new website. I am a parent of a 6 year old who is being evaluated for ASD. It is so important that parents can easily find the resource they need to answer questions. The current site really needs a make-over.

2011-02-16 18:18:14 UTC
Mom, AuSM Volunteer

When my son was young he ran constantly, climbed everything, had head banging meltdowns and slept very little. Just keeping him and his younger siblings safe was exhausting. There were very few people able or willing to care for him. There are many families with similar stories. AuSM needs an improved website so families can quickly access the critical information they need to help their child even if it is 3 am.

It was AuSM's workshops, conferences, and network of parents, professionals and individuals with ASD that gave me the skills to help my son. It is because of the very dedicated staff and volunteers that AuSM is able to do great things. With a new and more efficient website they could accomplish so much more.

In 2009 nearly 14,000 students in MN received special education services under the Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) category. This number does not include adults with ASD, or those from surrounding states that reach out to AuSM for help. As the numbers continue to grow there is great need for ASD information. Please help by giving AuSM a website that is easier to use, provides more information to families, professionals and individuals with ASD, provides information in multiply languages and helps lesson the workload on the staff and volunteers at AuSM. Than you for considering AuSM and volunteering your time.

2011-02-16 20:25:17 UTC
Todd Schwartzberg, Current Board Member and Service Provider

The Autism Society of Minnesota is the premier destination for families, care-providers and individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder to come for information and referrals, summer camp programming, workshops, conferences, seminars, support groups, and advocacy in the state of Minnesota. To continue to grow with our community, we need to update our image and where do people tend to go first - an organizations website. We are stewards to our community and want to provide them with the best service that we can.

We want and need to be able to serve our community in the most professional way possible. The information they are looking for needs to be accurate and accessible. We also need to help lesson the workload of our office staff so that they can allocate their expertise and time to other key areas of the organization.

A new, updated, user-friendly, professional and accessible website is a key component to all of this. Please support our organization and help us serve our community to be best that we can.

Thank you for considering the Autism Society of MN to be a recipient of your support.

2011-02-16 23:45:59 UTC

Realizing a child may have autism is a very scary process for a parent, and many parents attempt to find out as much as they can before pursuing a medical diagnosis. Because The Autism Society is the key organization for those affected by autism and are seen as "the one" to contact, an attractive, easily updated and easily navigable website is essential for informing individuals, family members and professionals. As a person who works and volunteers in the field of early intervention and developmental disabilities, I can attest to the worthiness of this organization to receive the website redesign.

2011-02-17 01:12:14 UTC

The AuSM website contains invaluable information benefiting individuals on the Spectrum, their families and many others. It would be a blessing to them to receive the opportunity for a new website that would present information in a more efficient and user-friendly manner. Resources available can be life-changing to those affected by ASD so the AuSM deserves the chance to reach more people with this new website.

2011-02-17 03:19:24 UTC

This organization does a wonderful job assisting people who have family members affected with Autism Spectrum Disorder. They also are a valuable resource to newly diagnosed adults who are searching for insight to their new life altering news. This organization is run by a very dedicated staff and numerous volunteers who donate time, resources and understanding to help people they have never met find comfort and resources to deal with a very difficult situation. Receiving the assistance of a professional web designer to update their web site would give them the ability to better guide people to find the resources more efficiently and make their first steps in the Autism Journey aliitle easier.

2011-02-17 03:46:31 UTC

First of all thank you for the opportunity to let ausm make their case as to why they need a new website. As you have read from the many testimonials here the website ifs badly in need of revamping to better serve the needs of the families that we serve in our community. I also believe that the website needs to be revamped to better reflect our current status as an organization. The pictures on the website are out of date and do not reflect families that we currently serve. I have found that the site can be confusing and difficult to navigate. As with many non-profits we are in desperate need of help to our organization so why choose ausm over any other organization, well because if you choose ausm you can believe that you are choosing an organization that I believe in and you can believe in as well. You will be helping not only the organization but you will be helping the families, school programs, government programs and the ever widening group the ausm is serving in Minnesota. Help us to continue to help those affected by autism. Thank you for your consideration.

2011-02-17 03:54:04 UTC

AuSM has helped and touched so many lives, a new website will give them the tools to reach out to even more of those in need. Please give them that gift. Thank you.

2011-02-17 06:43:57 UTC
Volunteer and Member

I help with some of the fundraising events for AuSM, and I can't begin to tell you how much a new website would help us. First, it could help us better organize our event information, which will help us promote the events. This will also help us add more value to our sponsors, which will hopefully help us get more sponsors. It could also help with event registrations. This not only saves staff time, but makes it much easier for people to participate. All of this could help us raise more money, which would obviously help AuSM provide more of their much needed services and support to a community that desperately needs it.

Thank you so much for this chance! I can't think of a better organization that needs this upgrade as badly as AuSM does!

2011-02-17 12:56:47 UTC
Grace Pierce

The Autism Society of Minnesota is the main resource for my family and friends in Mnnesota. Since the first diagnosis and Discovery Series, they have provided the lifeline we needed to cope, understand, learn and prepare for the journey for our son's life.

The connections are important to an organization like AuSM to be current in the technology by having a website that meets all the different communication needs of its members and community partners.
AuSM is worth of this honor.It is AWESOME and needs it website to reflect it.

2011-02-17 13:04:36 UTC

Pick AuSM They help my family and me alot. They have fun events and classes too. My famly supports and volunteers for AuSM , especially mom. If you pick AuSM you will have lots to change on the website!
Pick Awesome

2011-02-28 16:09:05 UTC

The suspense is killing me! I really hope AuSM makes the cut!!

Our Mission

The Autism Society of Minnesota (AuSM) exists to enhance the lives of individuals with autism spectrum disorders. AuSM seeks to realize this mission through education, support, collaboration, and advocacy.