At the end of September I was pleased to step into the larger role of Creative Director. Working with all of the different departments that make up Sunlight, instead of just one, was a big and interesting step. It involved a lot more work, but the most challenging part was starting to consider how our products, produced for all of our different departments, worked together. Looking at everything we’ve produced over the last 4+ years was overwhelming, so I set out to evaluate and make changes to at least SunlightFoundation.com by the end of the year.
We didn’t want to change the Foundation site just for the sake of changing it. But we did want to evaluate how it fit into our needs and how it worked for our users. We had many internal discussions between departments to establish what was most important to us and how we wanted to portray ourselves online. To see what our users were interested in and how they navigated our old site we installed a heat map. As you can see from the image, it’s basically a tool that creates a glow on the page wherever a user has clicked. Between the internal discussions and the heat map analysis we came away wanting to focus on who we are, what we we’re about, our projects, our blog and how people can get more involved in some of our government transparency initiatives.
We went about trying to feature these items by adding a little more content to give them more context. Instead of just having a small image with a bit of text on the homepage be the only way to get to our projects, we made “projects” into one of our main navigation items and featured a few of them within the side column. Instead of having small rectangular images for our featured stories, we decided that it would be best to actually show part of the story so that they user can get involved in it and want to click through. Finally, because we were able to establish the most important pieces of our site we were able to build a better hierarchy of information to hopefully make things a bit more understandable and navigable.
My hope is that this refreshed site will be a good place for us to jump off from. Our focus on launching projects has sometimes come at the expense of our overall branding. Down the road I hope you’ll still see the same fun and interesting products you expect from us but with more of a consistent look.