Five Valleys Land Trust needed to update their image and website so that it accurately mirrored the experience, passion, and proficiency of both their staff and their organization. Given the magnitude of work that this organization does, it's no wonder that their website became a lumbering, hard to digest, maze of content.

We set out to create a website that simplified the user experience and put more emphasis on visuals that define their special place in the world. The biggest priority was to tell the FVLT story to potential advocates, but the challenge we faced was to also speak appropriately to other audiences, including current members, current high-level donors, partners, internal stakeholders, and many others that needed to be well served while still maintaining a streamlined user experience.


Anyone familiar with Missoula knows that the region is teeming with non-profits. We knew that everyone living in the area that knows what FVLT does can easily get behind them, but the competition for donor dollars is an aggressive one.

After our initial research, we categorized and prioritized the target audience of landowners, trail users, donors, and members into two core groups—potential advocates and current advocates. Our primary focus was on potential advocates, since targeting this group would help FVLT meet their objective of increasing membership and donors. This strategy required us to incorporate a layer of education into the content that not only explained who FVLT is and what they do, but also who they are not. Our research showed that there is a perception amongst the locals not familiar with FVLT, that they are a government entity, which tends to be accompanied by negative opinions.

We knew that we had to develop a strong brand identity for FVLT that would help bridge the familiarity gaps that existed, yet still align with the core of FVLT. The first step was to harness their brand platform. We started with a set of brand pillars that spoke the FVLT truths that supported the rejuvenated brand promise. This served as the groundwork for redesigning the look and feel of all messaging, and helped us to concisely present FVLT in a contemporary manner.


With our foundation knowledge of the region, our plan was to not only show, but also prove that FVLT fulfills a vital community need and steps in and fills a gap that no one else can, setting them apart from other non-profits. We want the website to empower people to feel like they can partner with FVLT to give back to their community.

Based on the old site’s analytics, we determined what the major visitor paths on the new website would be, and made sure to include a well thought-out and effective sales funnel for each of those paths. We knew that we had to optimize the user experience by logically organizing the content, making it more consumable and focusing on visual appeal.


With insights, strategy and a refreshed brand look and feel in place, we began a total overhaul on FVLT’s website, focusing firstly on content organization. We included strong brand colors inspired by the region’s natural elements and stunning photography that tells a story on its own, while delivering a strong sense of place. Visually this plays on the emotional connection people feel with their natural surroundings. We gave equal emphasis to the major areas of focus for FVLT, river corridors, wildlife habitat, agricultural lands, and scenic open spaces.

The main objective for all of the major visitor paths was conversion—give time, give money, give your email address. These CTA’s are front and center of the homepage, and weaved in throughout the site.

It was really important that we include map functionality that could visually show locations of ongoing projects in perspective to the overall service area. This is integrated with the NEWS section, which is fluid and consistently updated with new project information and happenings.

We made sure that this responsive site works across multiple platforms and that every small detail was still just as powerful on a mobile device as it was in a computer browser. The integration with FVLT’s CRM platform works easily and quickly for users on any device, making the conversion process simple and quick across all platforms.

Shortly after the new website launched, returning users increased, time on site and pages per visit increased, and the bounce rate decreased. Now those are the types of results you want to see for a new site! Social media referrals also significantly increased, thanks to a new blog feature that posts content directly to multiple social media platforms and a revised social strategy of directing people to the website instead of away of from it with posts. FVLT has really embraced the refreshed brand, and updated collateral and messaging has received positive feedback in the community. They continue to step up their work in the region and now they have a refreshed brand and website that matches their amazing impact.