One of the many reasons that we love what we do is the variety, which as they say, is the spice of life! One day we might be creating a responsive website for a networking club, then it'll be illustrating for a printed brochure for a housing association or creating bespoke Facebook pages for a logistics group.
In the summer of 2011 we were delighted to be commissioned by a church! A whole new sector for us.
Christchurch Newport approached us to redesign their website, a site which by their own admission had become out dated, too dark, no longer reflective of their personality and didn't offer the functionality they needed.
At Toward our approach to design is all about personality, so we accepted this challenge with great enthusiasm and the result has been a brilliant new (and long term) relationship with a client that fully understands the importance of user experience.
As with all projects, we started with a research phase. This included looking at websites for other churches from all over the world and spending time with the client talking about their problems and needs. Perhaps the best time spent of all the research was to actually attend the church on a Sunday to experience in person what they were hoping to communicate via their new website. It just so happened that the day we went along they were having a hog roast!
The original brand and website was dominated by shades of red and black, dark tones that tell a different story to the new version that was refreshed by our own fair hands. We started by refining the logo mark and used that as the basis moving forward. We introduced varying shades of blue as the predominant brand colour and white space which lightened the website, making it welcoming and more user friendly.
As well as standard information such as about us and contact, the site also needed several blogs, one for each of the core groups within the church (teens, students, everyone). To make the different types of users feel a part of the site, we created custom designs for each blog.
One of the main areas of the site was the Media section. The church film each of their Sunday meetings and create films based on the teaching of the bible. Over the last few years this added up to hundreds of hours of video, audio and message information. The whole site is managed using WordPress and we built a custom area that could manage all this different media. We also incorporated a bible API (who would have thought!) which allows the media section to pull text from the books into the media section.
Christchurch is much more than a Sunday service. They have events happening every week throughout the year and these all needed to be represented on an easy to view calendar. We implemented the Event Espresso plugin to manage events. Linking this up with the WordPress membership manager we enabled the Church to create events that could be registered for and some that are reoccurring.
Beyond the information architecture and initial design, Christchurch wanted around 50 bespoke illustrations/graphics to be used throughout the site. We created each of these to ensure a consistent style throughout the website, they also added an extra layer to the Christchurch personality.
We hit it off with the guys at Christchurch immediately and they've very much become friends as well as a client. They trusted our professional opinion and expertise, which helps of course but they also had another string to their bow - a freelance designer at the Church who is an advocate for good user experience! We worked closely with Richard, particularly during the build and testing phases and his contribution was paramount to the final site turning out the way it has, a site we are very proud of.
The guys from Christchurch not only spoilt us with Krispy Kreme doughnuts throughout the project and a voucher for Game at the end, but Dan also had these kind words to say:
"Our site is designed primarily for the people who come to Christchurch week in, week out but we also have to ensure that it’s friendly and easily navigable for new visitors. These may be Christians from other parts of the country or world, or people who have no idea who Jesus is who live nearby. Toward did a great job of creating an easy to use site that incorporated great imagary to get across the different aspects of the church.
"Over the course of the site development different challenges appeared but it was great to work with a bunch of people who stayed level headed, adapted easily, received critique well, offered great suggestions and were most importantly great to get on with and great at what they all did.
"We’re really grateful for our new site and grateful for all of the hard work of the Toward team."
We're equally grateful for having clients that are passionate about their brand, website and personality. It really shows that from a client side, you get out what you put in - client involvement and enthusiasm has had a key impact on the outcome of this project.
You can check out the site at www.christchurchnewport.org and we're planning to add the project to our work area and create a case study for it - make sure you follow us on Twitter, find us on Facebook or join our mailing list to be the first to know when it's added. We'd love to know what you think, so please let us know in the comments below.