The Nerdery - Overnight Website Challenge

Chicago 2017, March 18-19

Heartland Animal Shelter

Paired with Revenge of the Nerds

Heartland Animal Shelter is a no-kill humane 501 c 3 organization dedicated to finding homeless pets forever homes while educating the public on the importance of spaying and neutering their pets in order to help with the pet overpopulation problem.

Dr. Herbert Preiser, DVM and founder of Heartland Animal Shelter wanted to make a difference by saving the lives of pets who might otherwise be euthanized because of the over-population of unwanted pets. Dr. Preiser opened Heartland Animal Shelter in October of 2002.

Heartland's vision is to eliminate euthanasia to any adoptable animal. Heartland asks for your support by spreading the word about the importance of why pets should be spayed or neutered in order to prevent overpopulation of cats and dogs. Together we can make a difference!

Heartland rescues pets from various situations and each pet arrives with their own unique needs. Some of our pets require medical care, some require emotional support, some require behavioral help, and all require good old TLC (Tender Loving Care). Heartland’s staff and volunteers are committed to giving our pets everything they need to be healthy, to be the best they can be, and most importantly to feel loved.

What new functionality we are looking for

Ideally, we would need a whole new website. The current site is almost as old as the organization itself and is essentially outdated. With a new, modernized website, we would be able to help find more animals homes!

How the new functionality will help

A new website would help to increase visibility for all of our adoptable animals on the website, would help us to remain relevant and competitive with other shelters, and would hopefully help to increase adoptions and donations

How our organization will use the technology

Better promotion of the services, events, fundraisers, adoptable animals, incoming donations

Who will use the technology

The current website is maintained by 1-2 volunteers with updates, changes, etc.

Before & After Snapshots

Thumbnail_chi2017-heartlandanimal-before Thumbnail_chi2017-heartlandafter

25 Messages from Supporters

2017-02-06 00:12:03 UTC
Laurie Tomaszkiewicz

I have been a volunteer at Heartland for over 13 years. I started walking dogs a few days a week, and then became involved with adoption counseling. I recently have retired and now am able to help six days a week with socializing the dogs and helping potential adopters select a dog during the weekend open hours.

I owe many thanks to the Heartland staff and volunteers that inspire and encourage me to continue volunteering and making my time at the shelter so valuable.

A new website would improve awareness and provide needed information on the many services Heartland provides. It would help in representing the dogs and cats that are available for adoption.

Heartland would be HONORED to be selected to promote such a special shelter.

2017-02-10 04:38:14 UTC

I have been volunteering with Heartland Animal Shelter for over five years. I have always been impressed with the level of care and dedication provided by the staff and volunteers to every animal that comes through Heartland's doors. It takes a village to keep an animal shelter running, and there are hundreds of jobs to complete each day that would not be possible without the hard work and time put in by staff and volunteers. Dogs and cats bring so much joy to people's lives. As a society, it is our responsibility to take care of animals, especially those we have chosen to domesticate. Heartland Animal Shelter does so much work to benefit abandoned cats and dogs, and an upgraded website would help us better reach out to the public to share our mission. Please consider choosing Heartland for the website makeover. Thank you!

2017-02-06 15:41:24 UTC
Joanne Rowe

What does a person do after retiring?...VOLUNTEER! I have always loved animals, so it was logical that I selected Heartland Animal Shelter as the place to share my new found freedom. Little did I know at the time that it would become such a labor of love! I started walking large dogs one evening a week. Then, I took on Saturday mornings and Sunday afternoons. I started helping out at outreach events, then became involved in creating a new volunteer program, as well as being a mentor for new volunteers.
Heartland's staff and volunteers are wonderful! The care and love they they provide all the animals waiting for their fur ever home is heartwarming.
Since we live in the age of technology, most of the potential adopters get their first introduction to Heartland Animal Shelter through social media...our old, antiquated website. With your amazing opportunity to get a website makeover, Heartland would stand out among the rest and showcase our dogs and cats longing for a family to call their own!
Since Heartland Animal Shelter has over 100 dogs and cats in its care, there will be 400 paws crossed, hoping Heartland is selected for this incredible opportunity!! THANK YOU!!!

2017-02-23 21:12:48 UTC
Paul L.

With my fiancé we adopted a four-year-old beagle. Nova has been a corner stone of our family and has made us as happy as we have made her.

Heartland has many great features as of now but making the navigation easier and potentially a way to filter pet searches by size, breed or other features.

2017-02-03 20:48:03 UTC
Corinne Connor

I've been a Heartland Volunteer for 6 years now, and have adopted 3 cats from the shelter over the years (2 with special needs who were saved by the amazing staff and volunteers there).
I would love for the shelter to have a web presence that reflects not only our amazing animals, but the amazing mission that the staff and volunteers live out every day.
It would be great to have a web site that could give people a full view of all the different opportunities there are to help our animals in addition to volunteering at the shelter.
I would also like to have easy access to links that could assist our adopters and help with the transition of a new family member.
Thanks for considering Heartland, I hope you will select us and our animals!!!

2017-01-27 21:46:13 UTC
Eryn Sweeney-Demezas

I have been a Heartland volunteer for the last three years, very actively involved in spending one-on-one time giving the dogs much needed enrichment activities and equally as important, donating my time to the fundraising committee.

Heartland is committed to the medical and emotional needs of each and every animal that comes through their doors. Sometimes they stay with us only a few days, sometimes much longer. The shelter needs donations to continue its life-saving mission. A new, polished website will help us be relevant and stay on the same level as other shelters and rescues.

Heartland's current site would benefit TREMENDOUSLY from a new site architecture, a more user-friendly design, and responsive development. Many times, our website is the first impression a new adopter, donor, or volunteer gets—and it needs to make a good one!!

This is such a huge need for us in so many ways, we would be honored to be considered for this opportunity! Thank you for your consideration!

PS: What's better than designing a website for a shelter? So many cute dog and cat photos!

2017-01-27 20:33:23 UTC
Kathleen Boyer

I've volunteered in a number ways for Heartland Animal Shelter over the last 8 years.
One of the ways was a the receptionist. In addition to answering calls about potential adoptions, I saw Heartland step up to save many more animals over and over again as Kittens, and puppies were left abandoned on our doorstep. It was not unusual to arrive at the shelter and find a dog that had been left with a note, in our fenced yard.

The Community knows Heartland cares deeply for animals and does its best to help with the overpopulation issues. Yet, We are looked to as a resource for more than adoptions.

Heartland also got calls about wildlife and exoctics that needed help and they trained us to know just where to send people with these unique concerns. No phonecall was left without some sort of help being given.

Many callers, had a little trouble navigating our current website. "I didn't see that" they would say when I would point out a feature of the current site. A remake would be wonderful. WE would love to reach more and more people so that our adoption numbers keep increasing.
Heartland is committed to finding the RIGHT home for each and every animal in our care.

2017-02-03 22:07:59 UTC
Nadine Rozowsky

I began volunteering at Heartland in 2010. I was always afraid to go to a shelter as I feared that seeing sad homeless pets would be too depressing to handle. I decided to face my fears when a friend asked me to help her out and drive her to the shelter once a week for a short period. Those few weeks turned into several years. Heartland was nothing what I had ever imagined or anything like a shelter that I had visited as a child. It was filled with love from staff and volunteers and I immediately felt that I was meant to be there.

Seeing the transformation in the dogs during their stay at Heartland and the ultimate joy in finding their forever homes just warms my heart. I look forward to each and every visit.

All the Heartland Pets would be overjoyed to have a new website to help them find their forever homes and open up space to save more lives.

2017-02-03 22:09:53 UTC
comfrey plant

Love Heartland! Our family volunteered to foster for Heartland this past summer--two mother cats and four kittens. It was a blessing to open our hearts and homes to the sweeties. Our cat, Jimmy, was a shelter cat from Heartland and we are currently keeping our eyes peeled to adopt a dog.

2017-02-03 22:38:15 UTC
Julie Matos

I started volunteering for Heartland Animal Shelter in 2011. What a wonderful place to spend my free time! They take such amazing care of the animals they rescue. My volunteer hours are spent cleaning the cat rooms, caring for and socializing the cats. I also meet with adopters and introduce them to our wonderful kitties. I so look forward to my volunteer time at Heartland!
A new website design would help educate and promote adoption of all our rescued animals. The Heartland website is typically the first place that people meet our animals, an updated site would help bring in more adopters, which is what we need. Heartland is a wonderful temporary home for abandoned, neglected, sick or old animals who've found themselves homeless. Heartland also transports and rescues animals from other shelters. Remember when you adopt an animal from our no kill shelter you are actually saving 2, the one you're adopting and the next one you made room for by adopting!
Thanks for considering this deserving shelter for your Overnight Website Challenge.

2017-01-27 23:54:41 UTC
Beryl Levine

I have been a volunteer at Heartland Animal Shelter for 4 1/2 years. I started out one morning a week and now volunteer three mornings a week. Heartland is a "no kill" shelter and takes great pride in their care of the dogs and cats that come to our shelter.

I love working with the dogs and when I get to the shelter am greeted by wagging tails, a great hello from the dogs. Heartland is devoted to the care, health and love of its animals. Dogs are transported from shelters around the midwest and south. Some are strays and some are from kill shelters.

We have fabulous volunteers who are committed to the caring of the animals. Whether walking the dogs, washing food and water bowls or doing loads of laundry, everyone is committed to the care of the dogs and cats.

It has been awhile since our website has had a "facelift" and this opportunity couldn't come at a better time.
And what a great introduction to our shelter with a welcoming refreshed website. We would sure be more than grateful if Heartland Shelter is honored with being the recipient of this great offer.

Thank you.

2017-02-03 22:51:23 UTC
Suzanne Storrs

Heartland truly is a special place. I have been volunteering here for 5 years and, like so many of the other volunteers, first discovered Heartland when I was looking to adopt a pet and was so impressed, I not only adopted my furry best friend but also made the decision to donate my time to this worthwhile organization.

People often ask me how I can volunteer at an animal shelter - isn't is too sad to see so many unwanted animals? And the answer is yes, of course it is sad to see so many pets without a home.

But without Heartland, sadly, for most of our furry residents, it truly would be the end of the road. Heartland gives them a second chance until that one special person or family finally arrives - and there is no happier moment than when one of our dogs or cats, particularly a long-term resident, finally finds its forever home and we know he will live out the rest of his days in peace and love.

It would be so wonderful if Heartland was selected for the new website - it would help showcase what an amazing place this is and bring even more potential adopters so it could fulfill its ultimate core mission to help every unwanted animal find a loving, forever home!

2017-01-28 01:24:05 UTC
Judy Levine

A wonderful no-kill shelter with an incredible amount of love and support for their animals with the help of their volunteers.

Heartland is always trying to find ways to engage people, find love for their animals so they find their forever homes, and a new website would be extremely beneficial to the growth of the shelter.

Today, a well developed website and engagement are critical for the shelter. Websites are representative of organizations and help create awareness.

2017-01-28 16:33:07 UTC
John & Jeanette Andrews

We have been volunteers for Heartland going on 11 years. We have committed our energies to this organization because we believe in its mission of being a no-kill option for innocent abandoned animals. While an animal is in residence at Heartland, the staff and volunteers work tirelessly to ensure all of their needs are met with a warm place to stay, plenty of food and water, exercise and medicine if it is required. Although Heartland doesn't have a major benefactor to fund its operations, the organization strives to make the most of what it has and a lot of its funding and supply donations come from the volunteers themselves. That says a lot about how dedicated Heartland people are to the shelter and its animals.

2017-01-28 16:59:14 UTC
Penny Sympson

We adopted Alfie July 3rd, 2015. He was brought up from a Kentucky kill shelter. The volunteers were very helpful and nice. They work very hard to save as many animals as they can with the resources that they have. A new fresh website developed with help would mean they could continue to focus on the animals. Thank you.

2017-01-28 18:23:55 UTC
Terry Williams

I saw this adorable puppy on Heartland's website almost 9 years ago. I decided to go take a look. I had never been to Heartland prior to checking out their website. They were SO friendly. Heartland is an incredible shelter that cares so much for their animals. Using their website was what brought me to my wonderful fur baby. I can't imagine going anywhere else to adopt a pet. The shelter is very clean and kept up. The staff is knowledgeable and friendly. They won't let just anyone adopt any pet. They are discerning and want the best for their animals. An updated website will encourage more people like me that normally browse the web for information. I would LOVE to see them get a new website.

2017-01-29 01:54:21 UTC
Jeanne Salerno

I've been a Heartland volunteer for over 5 years now, walking dogs. What a great organization! All of the people I've met are dedicated to caring for and finding new homes for the dogs and cats that are rescued at Heartland. We all feel that we are their voices. As a small shelter, I know that we rescue as many dogs and cats as our facility will accommodate, and feel that a new website will draw even more potential adopters to Heartland, thus freeing up more space for new needy animals. A new website would be great!

2017-01-29 04:40:26 UTC
Laura Botten

I have no idea how Heartland Animal Shelter got its name, but I’m convinced it’s because everyone who works and volunteers there has a big, loving heart.

For the past few years, I’ve been spreading the word about this wonderful organization at the radio station I work at. Everyone there is always so eager to tell our listeners about their fundraising events and to talk up their adoptable kitties and pooches. Every single employee and volunteer I’ve ever spoken with on the radio is audibly enthusiastic to spread the word about the life-saving work they do, and wholeheartedly compassionate about the animals at the shelter.

In March of 2016, two months after I moved out on my own, the silence and solitude of my condo was getting to me-- it was time to adopt a cat. I knew exactly what shelter I’d turn to: Heartland. I had seen Kitty’s picture in one of Heartland’s recent e-newsletters. She looked just like my mom’s cat, who I was missing very much. So my mom and I visited the shelter one Saturday, and that’s where we met my new kitty.

From the very first step into the shelter, it was clear that we were in a blessed place. We signed in at the front desk where Fern so graciously greeted us and informed us of the process of visiting the animals. We wore our visitor badges, washed our hands, and obeyed the signs asking that we not pet the puppies (boy, that was hard!) so as to keep everyone as healthy as possible. Then, we entered a room that I imagine resembles Heaven: The Cat Room.

We were greeted by more friendly volunteers who gladly introduced us to Kitty. What a big cat! After a few scratches behind the ears, I didn’t need much more time to mull it over. “I want her,” I said to the volunteers, who told us of Kitty’s arrival at the shelter. Turns out she’d been abandoned at the door of the shelter, got scared, ran towards Milwaukee Avenue (not exactly a quiet side road), and was rescued by one of the volunteers inside who saw her. It had been over a year since that happened, and now she’d be coming home with me-- after I filled out the proper paperwork first, of course.

I was handed an adoption application, filled it out, and went on my merry way. After Heartland checked out all my references and looked everything over, I was clear to bring Kitty, now Cinnabon, home with me as early as the next day! I bought all my kitty supplies, and officially adopted my new best friend on March 6th, 2016. I can still see her face looking out at me from her carrier as I drove her to her new home. It was an exciting and happy moment.

What’s amazing about Heartland is not just the fact that they make these exciting and happy moments possible for hundreds and thousands of people in the Chicagoland area, but that they really care for all these animals’ well-being. They don’t stop caring even after they’ve been adopted. If for any reason, I can’t care for Cinnabon anymore, Heartland will welcome her back with open arms, no questions asked. Her vaccinations and medical treatment were all up to date before I took her home, and her first checkup was covered by Heartland. I attended their Golden Paw Gala in November 2016, and all the Heartland volunteers and workers who I ran into all asked me how Kitty/Cinnabon was doing.

These people genuinely love the animals at the shelter. They take every measure possible to ensure these dogs and cats are going to the right home, and a loving home. I was so impressed with the entire adoption process. They wanted to make sure that I was going to take care of this cat. I will, without a doubt, adopt from them again. The employees and volunteers of Heartland Animal Shelter don’t just open their doors to homeless animals and potential adopters; they open up their hearts.

2017-01-30 19:18:21 UTC
Linda Schroeder

I have been a volunteer at Heartland for over 5 years. I came to Heartland after a 40-year career in healthcare. Never in all my experience have I seen a group of staff and volunteers more dedicated and committed than those at Heartland. When you walk in the door, you can just feel the love that each of us feel for each animal who has come under our care. The stories of how animals arrive at Heartland will break your heart, but the healing comes when we are able to find a new forever home for the animal.

Animals come to us who are old, sick, hurt, neglected, and rejected. We take care of all these animals, sometimes at great cost. We go to great efforts to get our animals well and keep them well. The cost associated with the operation of the shelter is very significant and we depend on our many fundraising events and our generous donors to continue our mission. An important function of our website is to let the public know of the many events in which they can participate to both have fun, raise funds, and meet other people who share their love of animals.

Website visitation has become very key in the initial introduction of our shelter animals to potential adopters. We need a venue which will highlight our animals and entice visitors to come to the shelter to see for themselves. Volunteers and staff work diligently to make perfect matches between our animals and their future adoptive parents. The relationship does not stop when the animal goes home. We do follow ups following adoption to ensure that all is going well. We provide resources and assistance for special situations.

An organization like Heartland is heavily dependent upon volunteers to keep the shelter clean and advocate on the part of our animals. Our website should provide a comprehensive, inviting description of what it’s like to volunteer at Heartland including how to get started, pictures of what volunteers do, how each person’s skill set can be best utilized to benefit Heartland and to create a rewarding experience for the volunteer.

I sincerely hope that you will select us to bring our website up to date and showcase our amazing organization. Thank you for considering us!

2017-02-10 20:21:31 UTC
Lucy Sanders

I've been a volunteer at Heartland for nearly 10 years now. Volunteering is hard work, but doing it at a shelter that cares of their animals so well, both physically and emotionally/socially, is what makes it seem easy.

They deserve to have a modern, functional website that promotes the amazing work that the staff and volunteers do to provide a healthy, safe temporary home for cats and dogs who need it. It needs to attract potential volunteers and adopters, as well as people who want to donate money to help support our cause.

2017-02-18 01:21:52 UTC

Heartland is a small shelter with a huge heart. Please choose to help Heartland with a new website. Anything that could help potential adopters, donors, and volunteers would be greatly appreciated!

2017-02-18 16:29:36 UTC
Linda Lipkin

I've been a volunteer at Heartland for a long time and I've never met a group of more caring people working for the good of an abandoned or abused animal. The standards of care at Heartland are very high. This is especially difficult when working with a limited budjet and many different volunteers. I thank Heartland animal shelter every day for introducing me to my 7 year old adopted dog Cooper!!

2017-02-19 15:08:07 UTC
Jane and John Textor

Our appreciation for the Heartland Animal Shelter in renewed each and every day when we kiss and cuddle Lewis and Clark, our intelligent, gorgeous, brother cats. Lewis and Clark had been lovingly fostered by Kathy and Troy Boyer for a month, but they could find no takers willing to keep the brothers together. We adopted them as they were on the verge of being sent back to the shelter and we are glad we did!

The folks at Heartland are dedicated to the finest principles of care for animals in need, and they richly deserve to have the best outreach tools available to get their message to people with love in their hearts. A website makeover would be just the ticket! Good luck, and thanks to all who work so hard to benefit the sweet creatures in your care.

2017-02-20 16:11:24 UTC
Mary P

We adopted kittens from Heartland in 2011 and continue to receive veterinary services from the walk-in clinic. I'm happy to support the mission of the both the shelter and the clinic, knowing that they want to support the community while caring for so many unwanted darlings in their shelter.

I would design a website that promotes the available animals first -- volunteers and donors should be able to easily click through tabs to find the information they are seeking, but I think showing photos of the pets-in-waiting would start everyone off with a warm heart. A clear calendar of events, including volunteer training and shelter visiting hours, would make it easy for people who want to visit your location. Veterinary services and a quick pricing sheet would also be helpful via a tab at the top.

2017-02-24 00:32:00 UTC
Allison B

I adopted my kitty Tank (formerly Tinsel) from Heartland in 2010! They are a wonderful organization and I would love if they could help more animals find forever homes through an improved website. It would help if it were easier to navigate the animals bios!

Our Mission

To find permanent, loving homes for homeless animals and promote responsible pet ownership through education, community outreach and collaboration while maintaining respect and compassion for all creatures. Together we can make a difference!