Role: Project definition, architecture & user experience, content strategy, creative direction, design concept & system, digital style guide
The Institute for New Economic Thinking, a nonpartisan research and education nonprofit, was created in response to the global financial crisis of 2007-08 to broaden how we think about, apply, and learn about the field of economics. In the years since its founding, the Institute has funded research, held events, and fostered a place to contribute new thinking in the field. But with a globally focused mission and no proper mobile support, its previous website was not keeping pace.
The Institute needed a responsive website that would showcase its seven years of work, and make that work accessible to audiences across expertise levels. Our goal was to establish the Institute as the go-to source for new perspectives on economic issues.
Following an audit of the Institute’s content and analytics, I developed a content model and site structure that drove the organization of the Institute’s wealth of content. The new site structure made clear what the Institute is, the educational materials it offers, and the topical breadth it covers. From the site structure, I derived a list of templates for us to design and code.
We worked collaboratively with the Institute’s staff and research fellows to derive our taxonomy.
Annotated wireframes spoke to content hierarchy, showed how the content model and 20+ content types would display on the front-end, and documented requirements for the back-end build.
Resetting expectations called for a brand refresh. The design system was a hat tip to the Institute's independent rhythm and scholarly roots. A clean, predominantly warm and neutral palette strayed from beloved blues of think tanks and research nonprofits. Dense levels of text and thick rules kept elements well-structured.
Across the site, we relied on black-and-white photography to keep a unified, editorial look. Color photos were incorporated selectively to highlight features and video content.
By elevating subject-matter experts and closely connecting individuals to their research, the website could become the go-to place for finding a comprehensive selection of a person’s papers and perspectives.
A taxonomy of topics—big-picture, broad economics concepts that described an area of the Institute’s focus—threaded through the site’s content, but were also given spaces to frame work and add context.