There are certain issues that many organizations in the mission-driven and arts and culture world commonly face, but that doesn’t mean the same solutions work for everyone — or even the same set of deliverables. I collaborate with each client to find the right objectives and the right depth of scope and engagement before we start. So, if my case studies don’t mirror the kinds of deliverables you need, pay less attention to the specifics and try extrapolating from the problem-solving processes I describe, if we’d be a good fit to work together.
Project Case Study No. 1
Music & History
Music and History has functioned as a not-for-profit online resource and archive since 2004. The site provides historical context for events in music history and allows researchers to understand the chronology of events in composers’ lives.
In 2016, it was time for a major overhaul for this remarkable site. While the amount of information in the archive was vast, finding it was extremely cumbersome. The search feature no longer worked, load times were off-puttingly slow and finding any fact often involved scrolling through hundreds or thousands of lines of text. There were very few links to show the relationships of dates or events which made it hard for users to benefit from the contextualizing power of site. The site was difficult to update, requiring duplication of data entry and a very manual process. Moreover, it felt out-of-date, with a very static, wordy homepage and decade-old aesthetic design.
Durable totally rethought how the Music and History’s data should be stored, accessed and displayed. Rather than making users find information on scrolling pages of hundreds of chronological or composer-related facts, we envisioned each fact as its own piece of data which could be accessed in a number of ways and could link to other related facts automatically. Budget limitations helped to set parameters for how much the site could do in this iteration, but we knew that even if we could replicate the old site’s functionality in in a way that was fast, extensible and easy-to-manage, we’d have a project worth doing. By rethinking the way data was handled, we were able to do this, plus add quite a bit of new functionality and a compelling new design. Within the new framework, we determined the top ways users (mostly academics) would wish to explore the data, and also ways that they could engage with information based on piqued curiosity — and we prioritized those.
Technically, we scrapped the old Drupal infrastructure and rebuilt the site in Ruby on Rails with a custom database suited to the kind of information in the archive. We created a new, custom CMS (content management system) on the backend that allows content to be entered once and populated to all the appropriated spots, with links being generated automatically. We designed a clean, user-centric architecture and fresh new design that make it easy to interact with the site. The new site is significantly faster to load and handles the prodigious (and growing) number of pieces of content in the archive easily. Finding a given piece of information takes a fraction of the time it used to. The new site, unlike the old one, is also ready to have features added to it, when the time is right and to grow when the Music and History organization does.
Project Case Study No. 2
Project Case Study: Commonwealth Chorale
Commonwealth Chorale is a 40-year-old, semi-professional chorale with over 100 members who perform robust programs three times a year.
Commonwealth Chorale performed under the name Newton Chorale Society for four decades. At a certain point, their level of professionalism and the quality of their work, collaborations and the scope of their programming outgrew their hyper-local, unassuming name. They decided to change their name to Commonwealth Chorale — referencing their home state of Massachusetts and the Chorale’s frequent Massachusetts-composer program selections — and to rebrand to reflect their new name and stature. Until this point, the organization had relied on volunteers to design its promotional materials, and its brand look and feel had grown old-fashioned and misaligned with the group’s craft and gravitas.
Their goal was to create a new visual brand that alluded to both tradition and innovation (both important in the chorale’s programming) and that was different than anything else in the Greater Boston music ecosystem — and then to apply that brand to a suite of promotional materials that could disseminate their concert calendar (as well as their new name and brand message) to their current and fresh audiences.
Durable worked with the organization’s rebranding committee to design a new logo that reflected their objectives. After a very collaborative process, we finalized a design and built a set of files and instructions that volunteers could use on lower-profile communications. We then built a series of templates and visual guidelines for the mailings, posters, programs and mailers that the Chorale produces each year. We decided to use aggressively color-toned vintage imagery — mostly photographs from the 19th and early 20th centuries that have entered the public domain — as the basis for the new look. This serves the dual purpose of providing a source of high-quality, non-clichéd images without the high price of custom photography, and giving the Chorale a unique look of their own in a cluttered cultural scene. Combining these old photos with modern typography and a generally modern aesthetic helps the organization to communicate their dual interest in the traditional and the trailblazing.
Selected logo design work
Selected client list
- BPE (Boston Plan for Excellence)
- Commonwealth Chorale
- Partners in Health
- Harvard Medical School Center for Global Health Delivery
- Lynn Museum
- Music and History
- Boston Faith and Justice Network
- Jewish Women’s Archive
- Tufts University
- Massachusetts Council on Compulsive Gambling
- The Foundation for Island Health
- Brookline Community Foundation
- Brookline Greenspace Alliance
- Commonwealth School
- Boston University Medical Center
- Dana Farber Cancer Institute
- New England Legal Foundation
- The Boston Club
- Women on Boards 20/20
- Brigham and Women’s Hospital
- The Old Meeting House of Francestown
Sound interesting? Have a question? Need help? Get in touch, we’ll grab a (real or virtual) coffee and chat!