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Responses by Will Johnson, director and partner, Scholar; and Neal St. Clair, partner and head of development, East of Western.

Background: “We built the site as a museum to hold our collection of work, showing off our skill sets and our processes,” says Will Johnson. “A bit of a who we are and what excites us, visually describing ourselves clearly and concisely to the world. Our target audience is mainly brands, creatives and visual storytellers. We’re always looking to impress our peers as well.”

“We just turned ten and what better way to bring in the next decade than a rebrand and relaunch,” Johnson continues. “The site shines a light on where we are headed, the definition of our live action, and our design and animation prowess, but also celebrates who we’ve been for the past ten years as well.”

Design core: “The way the work is displayed,” says Johnson. “It echoes our clean design aesthetic and visual storytelling, and once inside any specific job we tried to show off as much of the behind-the-scenes case study process work that we can.”

Favorite details: “I love the ease of the navigation,” says Johnson. “I think the team did an exceptional job using their design-brains to enable the user to enjoy the work seamlessly rather than having to hunt down specific things. It’s a nod to our workflow and process as well.”

Challenges: “Separating our animation and live action brains,” says Johnson. “We work so fluidly between the two that when we drew a line in the sand to more concisely describe who we are it was tough, so that intro logo reveal edit on the homepage became a huge focus point for us.”

New lessons: “Keep it clean,” Johnson says. “[This was not] necessarily something new, but definitely something to circle, underline, asterisk, draw arrows to and do it all over again.”

Navigation design: “Do not make people hunt,” says Johnson. “We tried to take out as many steps for people as possible, but also guided people to the places we wanted them to go first. It’s a fine line between three clicks and 300. Also, how do you keep it familiar and unique?”

“We introduced a mix of primary and secondary navigation to guide visitors through the two unique sections of the site: live action and animation,” says Neal St. Clair. “Once they landed in a discipline, we wanted to give them one-click access to filter the work and not get distracted by too many other options. This concept was top of mind from the splash page throughout all sections of the website.”

Technology: “The website was custom built specifically for Scholar by the team at East of Western,” says St. Clair. “There is a bespoke content management system built on a traditional LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP) web stack. The front end of the website employs PHP, JavaScript and CSS, creating a flexible layout engine to present the work.”

Anything else? “Scholar has such a breadth of amazing content to feature and we wanted to make sure they had the flexibility to build out work detail pages specific to each project,” says St. Clair. “The content management system is module based so the team at Scholar can curate each project down to the specific placement, type and colors of each asset.”


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