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Project Launch: Global Philanthropy Forum

Last week we launched a new website for the Global Philanthropy Forum, a project of the World Affairs Council. With affiliates in Latin America, Africa, and Asia, GPF is a network of philanthropists and social investors committed to international causes. They host conferences, run programs, and provide matchmaking services, and like WAC, believe the solutions to the world’s most challenging problems are found when individuals across-sectors work together.

In this chat with Radish project manager Adam Ludwig, and designer Kelsey Bryden, we share some of the client’s initial goals, and offer a glimpse into our design and production process.


What were some of the World Affairs Council’s goals for their new Global Philanthropy Forum site?

Adam: They wanted a simplified website to make it easier for users to understand the organization’s mission and the calibre of its events, with an emphasis on their prestigious community of speakers and thought leaders. At the same time, they wanted to simplify the interface that allows users to browse their substantial collection of videos from their conferences and other campaigns, while highlighting the range of issues that their events and media seek to address.

The existing site, while robust, had no overriding organizational principle to enable users to discover content, and no way of connecting speakers and the videos in which they appeared to the issues at the forefront of the organization’s mission.

What changes were made on the front-end to better reflect the culture of the GPF?

Adam: The main change was visual. We created a site that has a distinctive, modern style, highlighting not just bold imagery, but bold color. In addition to lacking mobile responsiveness, the existing site had a fussy, rigid format that didn’t really guide users to the site’s essential pages and content types. We created a simple hierarchy that surfaced issues for users to browse, videos to watch, conferences and campaigns to learn about, speakers to explore, and blog posts to read. We also integrated streaming video functionality right on the home page–an essential for an organization whose central endeavor is live events.

What did you enjoy most about designing for this project?

Kelsey: I enjoyed playing with type a lot. I had to reign in my compulsion to go overboard actually, but I’m really happy about the bold, italic, serif, and sans serif fonts all living under the same roof. We gave the client a couple of initial design approaches, and once they choose the more bold and colorful of the two options, it felt really natural to extend the designs from there.

What was your process for landing on a color palette?

Kelsey: I did a lot of exploration to see how I could integrate brighter colors into the palette. But I still wanted it to be evocative of the cultural aspects of Global Philanthropy Forum with darker and richer colors, like their brand red.

Can you talk a bit about the process of refreshing the logo?

Kelsey: Ideally we would have completely overhauled the logo, but that kind of branding process wasn’t part of the project scope. It made a lot of sense to simply condense the logo into its graphical element, just to change things up. This means that when the user scrolls on the site, the words “Global Philanthropy Forum” disappear while the circular graphic stays.

What did you find the most challenging?

Kelsey: The biggest challenge was definitely finding a balance between staying true to the brand of GPF and adding in the vibrancy they were looking for.

Adam: The most notable and unique challenge was that the 2016 Global Philanthropy Forum conference was scheduled to kick off just a week after the sit launch. So we were working on a tight timeline with some sophisticated functionality. There was some trial and error in making sure that the right videos and speakers appeared on the correct pages in the correct formats. We also introduced some enhanced functionality in the final stages of the project that allowed the client to manually curate the order in which videos appeared in selected collections. All of this was par for the course, but more stressful than usual given the timeline and how busy the client was preparing for their event.

What do you love most about the final product?

Adam: We took a unique approach to cross-referencing content types (speakers, videos, blog posts) with issue associations, which reinforced a holistic organizing principle. It’s cool because it allows users to explore and make connections in an integrated way.

Head over to globalphilanthropyforum.org for key findings from the conference, and to check out their shiny, new site!