Responses by Gage Hunt, founder, Gage Hunt Creative.
Background: Africanamericanpoetry.org was conceived as the online component of Lift Every Voice, a special project from The Library of America and New York Public Library’s Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. Lift Every Voice is a nationwide celebration of the rich tradition of African American poetry. As the online component to scholar Kevin Young’s anthology African American Poetry: 250 Years of Struggle & Song, this site was created to be the online home for the poems, history and remarkable stories connected to these “250 years of struggle and song.” We were truly thrilled to take on such a meaningful project.
Design core: Our vision for the project, of course, was to create a site that was both visually intriguing and able to present a lot of content in an inviting manner. The site features no less than three different ways to engage with this poetic tradition. Perhaps the two most central elements are the Timeline and the Media Library. We created a very clean, content-friendly, scrollable timeline that dives into the specific events of eight eras of African American poetry—as articulated in Kevin Young’s anthology.
The site also features a growing media library of audio and video content from the Library of America, Schomburg Center, The Poetry Foundation and others. The Timeline and Media Library are the two pages the site journey ultimately takes all visitors. There’s a lot of incredible content that the Library of America curated for this site, and I’m happy with how we were able to package it all together.
Favorite details: I’ve alluded to this already, but I’m happy with the site’s balance of visual intrigue and digestible design. Of course, it was tempting to go flashy with the whole site, but it wouldn’t necessarily celebrate the content as meaningfully. I think we accomplished just the right balance here.
Challenges: The site needed to be visually engaging, but as we were not developing a separate app, it also needed to be fully responsive and equally interesting across all devices. Finally, the site also needed to be easily editable by the Library of America once we finished. This certainly gave us some notable limitations to work with, but I’m very happy with how the site turned out.
Technology: One of the chief objectives of the project was to deliver a beautiful site that would also be user friendly. For specifically this reason, we decided to build the site on Webflow. Webflow provides a great combination of design flexibility and user-friendly CMS.