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Responses by Dean Sweetnich, designer; and Ariel Rudolph, user experience designer and strategist, Firebelly Design.

Background: Created by the Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA), the microsite introduces the Financial Foundations framework that shares actionable strategies for making the most of public funds while promoting civic cooperation. Though the primary audience is GFOA members—which include city managers and government finance professionals—the goal is to share this knowledge as widely as possible among civic leaders.

As part of a larger initiative to create financially sustainable communities, the site drives awareness of and traffic to supporting materials and resources, such as a one-pager and book, which we also designed. Critically, the site brings to life a visual language that helps break down big, complex ideas to make them memorable and motivating. We used this language across all materials, including a booth at the conference where the framework was first introduced.

Design core: To clarify complexity, we distilled the framework into a linear model that lets visitors learn at their own pace. Understanding how busy and demanding our visitors’ jobs are, we created a subtle scrolling animation that brings a level of artfulness and awareness to the experience so it’s not only educational; it’s fun, even exciting—a departure from what some may think when they hear the words “government finance.”

Favorite details: We worked hard to bring energy to content that might otherwise seem dry; the reality is it’s all quite human-centered and intriguing. We love the collapsable modals that offer rich content without information overload, as well as the side navigation, which shows progress as visitors move through each pillar of the framework. We also created clear visual cues—simple color shifts—to underscore a few climactic calls to action. So satisfying.

Challenges: Creating a simple, streamlined site to house complex information is always a fun challenge. We had to strike the right balance between visuals and copy, making sure graphics complemented the content without distracting from it. The animations required some finesse, but ultimately, they add a ton of value to the overall experience.

gfoa.org/financialfoundations

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