Re-designing the Explorers Club website required a unique combination of fresh creative vision that could convey the excitement of discovery and exploration, as well as streamlined content, novel visuals while adhering to the tradition and culture of this 106 year old organization. Matt Harris and Pixelwork were able to artfully craft these requirements, creating a website that allows one to discover and explore.”
President of The Explorers Club
Following the work we did for the design and development of the British Chapter of the Explorers Club website we were asked to take a look at the HQ site. The Explorers Club website had existed for years with a whole series of technical issues, from archaic code to major hosting problems causing the site to go down for days at a time. It had also had very little use from members and as such was badly in need of a major overhaul.
The design had to be carefully considered, not just taking a new fresh design approach but considering the important history and role of the club, a club that has been in existence since 1904 and boasts some of the worlds most pre-eminent explorers in its member list.
First and foremost we setup a new hosting account on our low energy server. Secondly we decided that there was nothing of the CMS that we could realistically port across so it gave us the opportunity to start afresh. Of course our first choice of CMS was Expression Engine as we knew the member side of the system would be a perfect for for developing a bespoke members area for the site.
When it came to the design we wanted to really show a visitor to the site what it means to be an explorer in the 21st century so we designed a graphical background that covered exploration from the darkest reaches of space to the very depths of the ocean.
The information architecture also took some considerable time to work out, primarily because the old site had a huge amount of content and pages that had been added and configured in no particular order. We took the traditional card sorting on post-it notes strategy to develop the structure and introduced a “mega drop down” menu to give easy access to the core site.
We also configured the site to dynamically show or hide various levels of sub navigation depending upon membership group and type (there is a hierarchy of member types from fellows to students).
We also introduced social network accounts and icons to the site so that the site not only linked out to these various platforms but also pulled in the latest twitter feeds.
Feedback from the site has been great, various members using Twitter posted comments as soon as it was launched which gave us a great opportunity to not only gauge the reactions in the Twittersphere but also use these to help promote the site. Subsequently we were asked to re-develop our GB chapter website template for the Philadelphia chapter site.