When the Hui No’eau Visual Arts Center from Maui, Hawai’i approached me about reenvisioning their website, I couldn’t have been more thrilled.
The Hui is an incredible arts organization serving locals and tourists alike with top-notch arts programs ranging from exhibitions, classes, artists’ residencies, camps for kids and so much more. Their website–based on an old WordPress theme-wasn’t serving them well and really didn’t represent the vibrancy of their organization.
They also had an artistic new local they’d created that represented them well. It had a handmade vibe that really steered the design process. While I typically start with a single concept and the client and I collaborate from that point, I presented the folks at Hui No’eau with two divergent directions, one more traditional for a non-profit organization, another that was much more design-forward, with an edgier, more modern feel. Take a look:
I was thrilled when the direction they elected to work off of was the modern style, since my gut instinct was that this was the right direction. And this is where the collaboration got really fun! I tend to gravitate toward strong white spaces, but the clients suggested that we nix all the white in design and look at using lots of vibrant color blocks. I was a little nervous, but they were right–it took the design in a stronger, more memorable direction. Then, we decided together that the brush script we were using for the main header could probably be incorporated even more deeply into the design (Did you know you can fairly easily install custom fonts in Squarespace? You can!) and voila!, we had a concept we all loved!
This was a tremendously complex website, as the organization plays many different roles, so there were lots of creative uses of Squarespace’s built in blocks and pages (we wanted to minimize any coding the clients would need to deal with in the future). So, we created a virtual course catalog using the products page, a calendar using the events page, and an instructor directory using the blog page. It’s amazing how much you can do with these built in functions if you think creatively and use a bit of coding that the client won’t even need to touch to modify their look.
Like every project, I learned a lot while working on this one, and in particular, this was an important lesson in version control via the sitemap.
I believe that by the time we were all done, we’d hit seven or eight versions on the sitemap (I use Slickplan for this, which is invaluable and worth every penny of its subscription fee) and I was able to have Kath, who helps me with some of my larger projects reference that while she was doing quality control to make sure that content wasn’t dropped, was linked properly, and had proper “flow.” When people ask me why I spend so much time on the sitemapping process, this is the answer.
Visit the site at huinoeau.com
A big thanks to The Hui for the opportunity to work on this project, and an extra thanks to their awesome program manager, Lana, who was incredible throughout the entire process. Like I mentioned, Kath was a huge help as well, as was Josh, whose background in community arts education was invaluable in the planning process for this website.