Immediately after delivering their new website, the Writers’ Centre Norwich re-commissioned us to design and develop the site for their International Literature Showcase (ILS). Originally planned to be a small part of their own site, it had grown into something much larger, that needed it’s own platform.
The International Literature Showcase is an online resource for international programmers, literature professionals and publishers to learn about selected UK writers and literary organisations. It aimed to create an network of literature leaders looking for collaborators in the UK, thereby increasing the opportunities for the UK literature sector to work both internationally and digitally.
Our work began in early September, with only five weeks in which to design, develop and make the site live ready for it’s online festival week in mid-October.
The site initially showcased just over 40 UK writers from a variety of genres (with another 40 to follow next year) plus 50 of the most innovative and exciting UK literary organisations. Any literature professional, from the UK or abroad could apply to become a delegate, to access events and participate in the private networking forum around the ILS Connections programme (10 guides to global best literature practice, released monthly from October 2016). Integration of the messaging service, Slack, was integral to this experience, enabling the delegates to become involved in the discussions and debates that the Writers’ Centre would run throughout the year.
We designed the site with emphasis on the easy discovery of Writers, Organisations and the Connections program. We designed the Writers and Organisation profile blocks to display in a random order, giving equal prominence to each of them. The Writers' Centre had supplied us with a complex, cross referencing list of categories and tags for each Writer and Organisation, and from this we built a bespoke advanced search facility, creating the desired easy network of contacts.
USER EXPERIENCE (UX) / DESIGN BREAKDOWN
The hero image at the top and the writers blocks below, randomly reorder on page refresh. This gives necessary equal status to all of the writers, creating a dynamic experience for users and increasing the discovery of every featured writer
The ability to search and filter for writers was also important for discovery
A large proportion of development time was spent in making the advanced search functionality as simple as possible. Users could see every available category for writers to help fine tune their search criteria
On the selection of any tag, the search results updated dynamically
Every sixth writer's block is displayed larger, making the layout less uniform, with a magazine style of page design
The use of dynamic rollover states on the writer's blocks, indicate they are clickable
The Events calendar was integral part of the site, helping the users easily find Events & Courses
As this was a companion piece to the Writers’ Centre website, we were instructed to keep the graphic design similar to acknowledge this. We based the design of the individual Connections pages on the International Literature Showcase's brand identity by using abstract shapes and images framed inside components from the ILS logo. This visually linked them together and gave each connection a fresh, exciting presence.
The site went live at nine a.m. ready for it’s online festival week commencing October 17th, attracting many visitors, email subscribers and member delegates who signed up for the Slack Channel. The Writers’ Centre Norwich were extremely happy with the end result and how quickly we turned around the project with such a tight deadline.