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September 26, 2013

New Launch: La Verna Lodge

September 26, 2013

La Verna Lodge, a program of Fairbanks, is a specialized residential treatment program with locations for both men and women. They enlisted the help of SmallBox to reimagine their website to connect with their audiences and provide a better understanding about their services.

Getting Started

We began this project with a North Star exercise to help our team better understand the “Why” behind La Verna Lodge and gain clarity around the message they wanted their website to communicate. We talked about their programs and the strengths and passions of their staff, and it was inspiring to hear more about the La Verna Lodge experience. They wanted their North Star to speak to both the healing process that takes place at La Verna, as well as their commitment to helping residents maintain a life of sobriety after leaving. We landed on a North Star of “Inspire Hope and Empower Resilience.”


Armed with our North Star, we set out to create the framework for the new website. Our team wanted to create compelling content for La Verna’s three main audiences: people in recovery, family & friends of people in recovery and referring professionals. It was also important to the La Verna staff to have a website that emphasized the life-changing experience their programs provide, instead of focusing on the negative impact of addiction. Their existing website did not accurately show or communicate the La Verna Lodge experience and also did not include any information about the newly added women’s location. In addition, the old site didn't have strong imagery to represent the serene, healing space they have created for their residents.

The user goals we identified were the following:

  • Provide relevant information to all audiences so they can make an informed decision about La Verna
  • Provide rich and educational (but not overwhelming) content that will engage visitor
  • Give site visitors a clear picture of what they can expect from La Verna on their path to recovery

Our team created a plan that outlined specific content needs to achieve the user goals. Recommendations included adding powerful imagery and video to connect with the audience and inspire them to engage, as well as added pages to the site that were specific to each audience and clearly outlined what their expectations should be.

Design Strategy

The design of La Verna's new website needed to support our content plan and user goals, as well as visually embrace the message of “Inspire Hope and Empower Resilience." Have a peek at the finished design:

La Verna Lodge website

Various design elements included:

  • Adding a form on the home page to make it easy to contact La Verna Lodge
  • Establishing two user paths – one for the men’s location and one for the women’s location – and presenting visual images of each space to invite users into the La Verna Lodge experience
  • Planning a responsive design to future-proof the website for any screen size and create a consistent, positive user experience via any mobile device

See the new site.

The Power of Video

A final key element in speaking to both content goals and powerful imagery was the inclusion of a testimonial video on the La Verna website. Choosing to go to La Verna is an emotional decision – one that impacts the entire life and family of someone in recovery. It was important to the La Verna staff that the messaging of the website address common questions like, “Does this program really work?” and “Can they help someone like me?” We wanted to personalize the La Verna experience and share the story of healing so people can see the lifelong impact of La Verna Lodge and be inspired to take those steps towards recovery. Filming Dennis’ video was a truly powerful experience (there may have been tears shed by SmallBoxers and Fairbanks team alike) and we were honored to take part in telling his story.

Inspire Hope and Empower Resilience

The La Verna Lodge website provides relevant information to individuals on the path to recovery, all while sharing the message of hope. By incorporating engaging content and photography, as well as powerful story-telling through video, this new website truly points to the La Verna North Star.

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