Designed by PROVOC

We needed a new website, bad. A technology company without a handsome website, is like a jockey without a horse – going nowhere, fast.

The stakes were high, not only did our site have to be chock-full of helpful information, but it had look good — the curent site was definitely not going entice would-be Google, Facebook or Apple employees over to the “public service” side.

Though our hallways are now filled with top-notch designers and superstar developers, at the time we needed a site, our resources were thin and our staff even more meager – meaning the website redesign was not going to be done in-house. We needed help. That’s where our good friend, and advisor Clay Johnson stepped up. Clay introduced us to some folks he thought would not only be a good fit for the organization but willing to the site pro-bono.

PROVOC, formerly Joint Concepts, really stepped up. PROVOC is a dynamic team of graphic designers, web developers, and spirited minds that challenge clients to compel their audience with provocative communication strategies, user experiences, and graphic/interactive design. Importantly, they employ their well-honed set of skills to help others. Needless to say our values aligned, and as it turns out, so did our work styles.

There were three basic challenges to building our website:

  • Challenge One: Look good, really good.
  • Challenge Two: Present valuable information in a coherent manner.
  • Challenge Three: Clear and easy navigation.

As I was not around during this process I was curious. Why would they do this for us pro-bono? How did they decide on the designs they deployed? What was it really like working with Abhi? Recently, I had the opportunity to talk with three members of the PROVOC team, Raj Aggarwal, President; Corey Osburn, Senior Desgner; Sean Mesh, Designer/Developer — they were kind enough to satiate my curiosity.

Q: Why were you willing to do this job pro-bono?
A: Code for America is doing remarkable work. They are empowering designers, programmers and information architects to use their gifts to transform American cities. More efficient cities equals happier citizens. Like us, they dedicate their professional resources to benefit society.

Q: What were some of the goals of the redesign?
A: One of the goals was to convey information more clearly. We felt that the site required a good amount of content restructuring in order to build a more intuitive sense of hierarchy and distinction. This was achieved by employing a more realized typographic scheme and by integrating subtle graphical elements to help divide content.

Another goal was to indicate a more prominent and compelling call to action. The most important thing that this website strives to do is to get users to motivate and participate. We wanted to ensure that the message was clear, so we incorporated prominent social networking buttons, a large and attractive “donate” button, an intuitive subscription module, a clever Twitter module, and many more features.

Q: What were some of the challenges of the project?
A: Normally, when doing web design, we work from soup to nuts (yummy), meaning that we follow the creative process of developing site structure, design, and development. For this project, we were only responsible for renovating the information architecture and design as the Code for America team is of course well-equipped (understatement) to handle all coding aspects. This meant that our designs had to be easily interpreted for programmers to slice and code. Fortunately, we pride ourselves with the experience and attention to detail that lends to comprehensive and highly-intuitive design.

Q: What was it like to work with Code for America/Abhi Nemani?
A: Code for America was a joy to work with. Their aesthetic vision along with their knowledge of web technology worked very well with ours, and a level of understanding developed between Abhi and us allowed our talents to shine! This created fertile ground for dynamic conversations.

Here’s to Raj, Corey, and Sean – we owe you an enormous amount of gratitude. If you’re ever in San Francisco stop by and let me buy you a beer.

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