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Building a Digital Home for This Week’s MAS Summit

 

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Every year the Municipal Arts Society (MAS) hosts dozens of local leaders, global innovators, and community members during their Summit for New York City, an event that addresses the urban planning issues facing New York City and aims to find positive, sustainable solutions. The Summit is part of MAS’s mission to advocate for intelligent and thoughtful urban design, planning, and the preservation New York City’s resources through education, community dialogues, and activism.

MAS asked Radish to help them build a simple site that would promote the 2015 Summit event and allow users to explore the diverse group of speakers and discussions and to purchase tickets. Design, content management, and implementation had to happen on a relatively tight timeline, with updates and enhancements occurring iteratively right up to the conference. For example, we transformed the ticketing page into a live video page on the first day of the conference.

Due to timeline constraints, we pitched MAS on Squarespace as the readily adaptable, lightweight technology option for the project. Not only does Squarespace allow us to share and revise design and layout ideas in-browser in consultation with the client, the easy-to-use CMS makes it easy for MAS to update content in a pinch if needed.

MAS supplied us with a wealth of imagery from past event and we wanted to make sure that our design approach showcased their superb photographic resources. We worked closely with MAS to figure out how to deploy these photographs throughout the site for maximum impact.

Like many event organizers, MAS uses Sched to organize and share information about the Summit’s program and speakers. MAS wanted to continue using the Sched CMS, rather than Squarespace, to manage the schedule and participants that appeared on the new website. Integrating the Sched platform seamlessly with Squarespace presented an interesting challenge. We worked through it with numerous CSS tweaks and by pestering Sched for some of the trickier customizations requested by MAS. (They were very helpful and accommodating.) In many ways, this configuration worked out well for us, since we didn’t have to figure out how to manage and format that content in the Squarespace CMS. But we did have to find a way to make Sched and Squarespace play nicely with each other.

Our designer Kelsey did a great job sourcing the landing page image, conceiving the layout and feel of the site, and harmonizing the font and palette with the Summit logo. Our developer Chris did a great job of interfacing with Sched to customize its integration, paying close attention to all of the interactive / transactional elements, and bringing the obsessive attention to detail needed for sponsor layouts.
Like a lot of our projects, this one was highly collaborative. Using Squarespace to rapidly prototype design concepts allows us to bypass the typical process of getting multiple rounds of feedback on a set of design PDFs. In many cases, we discussed the choice and placement of individual images, and even the size and orientation of specific sponsor logos, directly with the client. With so many stakeholders involved in the process, the website had to be something we could iterate on extensively, and update on very short notice. With the Summit up and running this week, this collaboration between Radish and MAS will get the attention it deserves.

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