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In the beginning was the message

Ideally, the project - web or print - should not simply express your message in words. The design and structure of the project should help convey what you want to get across, help visitors and readers make use of what you offer.

To manage this, we can help your organization articulate your message. Sometimes, small organizations have never had the time to do this, even for themselves. But articulating your message and purpose is crucial: it can give focus to your own work, and it guides the construction of your web or print project.

Turning customers into constituents

Community Day Care & Preschool, Inc.
Ann Arbor MI

While working with Community Day Care, a non-profit Ann Arbor preschool, we spent a significant amount of time discussing who the audiences of their site might be. In the end,click to see larger image they decided that one key purpose of their web site was to involve parents more fully in the education of their children and make them feel connected to the school community. As a community-based independent school, parent involvement is crucial to their continued success. CDC also wanted to communicate to parents more effectively why the preschool experience was valuable, and not simply a place where families could park their children for a few hours.

In our work on the site, we approached this in a number of ways. In addition to materials which were primarily aimed at prospective parents, we included a wide range of materials which could be of real use to current parents. Forms and other reference materials are available for download. Events calendars, generated from a back-end database, helped keep parents involved and up-to-date. Photo galleries, restricted to parents, help encourage parents to use the site and see what the children have been doing. Since CDC is governed by a board elected by parents, we built parts of the site where parents could learn about school governance, board activities, and how they can help. By explaining the system and encouraging participation, we hope parents would begin to feel like stakeholders and not simply customers.

Lastly, we worked with CDC to craft descriptions of their programs which effectively communicated the educational value of their programs in a way that non-educators would find accessible and appealing.

Shaping the customer’s experience

Studio Z Architecture
Canton MI

This one-woman architecture firm, specializing in residential remodeling projects, contacted us about a web site which could replace a physical portfolio. But in our discussions about the purpose of the site, the owner decided that she wanted to spend some time and resources explaining to prospective customers what to expect from a remodeling project and how she would work with them.

We helped her develop site pages that describe what clients could expect at different points in the design process; the kinds of questions she encouraged her clients to consider when thinking of their project; and what it was like to work with an architect. Other pages outlined features to consider when imagining a project, and factors to take into account when making design choices. She also chose to include materials that expressed her particular approach to design, and used the descriptions in her portfolio to emphasize how she and her clients found solutions to problems.

click to see larger image

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