So my teammate and I especially looked for a side project related to art creation which led me to ArtSeed. ArtSeed is an art education nonprofit at San Francisco over 19 years who connects the young and vulnerable communities with local artists via fine arts studio projects and long-term apprenticeships.
The new website aims to create a conversational browsing experience from introducing, exploring to engaging. By limiting content on one page, we help website visitors navigate through grids to improve the efficiency of identifying their interests via a top-down search.
The first and biggest challenge was getting our client on the same page about project proposal. Under the one-week time constraint, we needed to create a feasible project plan for not only to set proper expectations for deliverables, but also explained why they would need our help.
We first walked through the current website thoroughly to understand what services they provided and who the website visitors were.
At a glance, this website was shouting at me with blocks of text and I had no idea where to start. I literally forced myself to go through each page and digested who the target audiences might be. Still, there was too much at stake. So I suggested to schedule several phone calls with the founder and staffs to clarify the prioritized goals for the organization from their current practice. Over 19 years, the organization grew their connections mostly on word-of-mouth and in-person meetings, which required up to hours of engagement. Although the website was built in 2012, ArtSeed had not included online engagement in their outreaching strategies.
Before landing at SF, I had been thinking about one question -- How should I elaborate the design opportunities without pointing fingers at someone who did not much about UX?
When conducting comparative analysis of other art nonprofits, I identified 3 key attributes as overarching design principles. And instead of presenting our research results, I invited our client to discuss and study the example websites together.
I wanted to design a website that my client could understand and love to continue working on. So I started the prototype process from day 1 right after the first interview until the last hour before presentation. Getting constant feedback from the stakeholders not only helped me justify design decisions, but also prepared them to incorporate the website into their future outreach work.
The founder could not emphasize more about the concept Grassroot. As an organization that would not turn anyone away, they did not want a slake or modern look saying that “you need some prerequisites to get in”. But it was definitely something we were not familiar with. So I walked through the website visiting process to a volunteer artist and explained how it mimicked the process of growing a seed. Eventually, I incorporated his crafted illustrations to our design.
Swiping through a website often happens between couple seconds. Therefore, we had to chop down a chunk of content and picked the most interesting piece as a hint upfront. When walking through the mission statement part as introduction, I got feedback that it was a bit redundant with the value part. Therefore, I further broke down “Learn More” to specific “History” and “People” to disclose more about what the readers will learn about.
It had been a fruitful journey as a brand new experience working with a nonprofit. I was very grateful to facilitate ArtSeed to voice up for the healing power of fine art.
And most importantly, I rediscovered my UX passion from this journey. The 2 key takeaways from this journey were:
1. "Find the resolution of solution for the resolution of problem space”
As a designer, we do spend a lot of time staring at screens for interfaces which is critical as the outcomes of zooming into user behaviors. However, design is definitely not a standalone product. And delivering the sense of unity require us to zoom out and consider how the experience will affect the ecosystem.
2. Every actor plays their own parts
The users do not need to understand the nitty gritty but the only matter is to achieve their own goals. A good design should afford users following their own paths to their destinations.
If you are interested, here is my Medium post about this journey. Thanks for reading!
How I rediscovered my UX passions from a working trip