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Engaging audiences through creative web design

The Challenge

AIA|DC, the Washington chapter of the American Institute of Architects, is dedicated to fostering a robust architecture-focused community in Washington, DC. To fulfill their mission, they plan and host programs and events that engage the public, promote DC's creative, diverse, award-winning architectural scene, provide professional development and networking opportunities for local architects, and much more.

The chapter's beautiful office and event space in DC's Chinatown neighborhood embodies their commitment to current and creative design. However, they realized the same could not be said for their organizational website, which functions as the core communication tool for the public and members. The team at AIA|DC was ready to redesign the site to reflect their artistic mission and brand, serve as a marketing tool to engage new people in the community, and provide the control over content and security they lacked with their previous site.

The Solution

We kicked off the project with deep-dive discovery sessions that involved architect members, the AIA|DC marketing team, board members, and affiliated committee members to gain a variety of perspectives on on the organization's background, challenges, and goals. As a group, we narrowed our focus to the following:

  • Increase community interest in DC architecture
  • Increase space rental revenue
  • Increase event attendance and revenue
  • Increase membership by promoting educational opportunities

At these sessions, we also developed ideas around how the website could support those goals, without creating unreasonable administrative overhead. We set out to design and build at site that would:

  • Inspire visitors through a bold aesthetic
  • Dynamically filter important upcoming events front-and-center on the home page
  • Feature a user-friendly calendar with multiple ways to filter events
  • Feature the rental space's beautiful design prominently in multiple locations
  • Devise an intuitive navigation structure to prevent users from getting lost or frustrated

From a developmental perspective, we knew that at a base level, the site needed to offer better security features and more administrative controls. We also wanted to build a solution offering complex event functionality and the ability to feature impressive images of DC architecture. We leveraged the following approaches to ensure top security, fast content load times, and easy-to-use administration tools:

  • Bringing on Pantheon as the server host for great security, support, up-time, and dev collaboration
  • Building an all new GULP base to minify and concatenate assets
  • Use the SVG image file type as much as possible for infinitely scalable icons (great for responsive design)
  • Leverage Drupal's admin tools to automate as much as possible, and keep things lean for the site admin
Pages from the AIA DC site, focused on a home page with a full-screen image of a beautiful office interior.

The Result

The new AIA|DC website is live and inspiring the community to explore DC architecture. Check it out, and sign up for an event if there's anything that piques your interest! We will continue to work with AIA|DC to keep the website evolving along with their organization, and are excited for this continuing partnership.

Visitors have been contacting AIA|DC with insightful comments and questions. They no longer come for a piece of info and leave, but are now finding themselves more engaged: they're exploring, using the site as the interactive tool it is meant to be.

Additional Case Studies