By: Joshua Tijerina
Most of the time, when building a website, you think about design in the most practical sense: how do I make this look good and make it simple to use? If you can meet those two requirements, you’ve probably built a solid product. The Alliance Defending Freedom Digital Communications team is asking a bit more: we want to change the world. Now, I get that this is a pretty lofty goal for a website, but in setting this goal we realized a few things.
First, we couldn’t just build a website and expect people to come. This isn’t Field of Dreams. We recognized that users are passive, and we needed to go to them, not the other way around. The days of people typing a URL into a browser and landing on the homepage are past us now. This led to a strategy that we call content hustling, which meant that web development would no longer be a function of information technology, but an integral part of our digital communication strategy. The website needed to be a dynamic engine that connected the user to the content.
Second, we recognized that users are nonlinear—they don’t take in information from point A to point B. A website is not a book. The problem is, of course, that our issues—religious freedom, marriage and family, and sanctity of life—are really complex, and often require more than just a quick blog, article, or story. So, no matter where a user entered, we needed the site to easily allow them to see the bigger picture or dive deeper into the content.
Third, we couldn’t change the world without getting people to do something. Thus, we needed the site to connect the user to actions where they could make a difference; whether donating to support ADF, downloading information for their churches, learning about their rights as students, or sharing a blog post.
In order to make all of the above worthwhile, our design needed to effectively leverage content to tell the story of ADF, the story of our clients, and a message that would inspire action. To do this we needed to not just design for looks and ease of use, but truly find humanity in our web design, and ask ourselves, “How can we create a transformative experience for the user?”
In response to this question, five principles guided our design philosophy.
We focus on what matters most to create a smooth and effortless experience. We inspire users with a fluid way to navigate through the site by combining desktop and mobile navigation together into one familiar experience. Shapes are as simple as circles, squares, and triangles. Colors are variations of the primary red, blue, and yellow, and accent rather than overwhelm the design.
All elements on the site have meaning. Each color, shape, and font choice serves a function and enhances the user experience. Every element undergoes testing and iteration to drive better results. The purpose of images is to connect with content to help tell the story.
We view our design as a craft and are committed to uncompromising quality. We pursue elegance in our work combined with precise execution. We continually test and refine our work.
Our goal is to create lasting impressions rather than disposable and forgettable digital content. Therefore, we focus on experiences and platforms that empower the brand and encourage the user’s engagement.
While true innovation is scary, we cannot be afraid of the unknown. We defend unique ideas and help each other take steps to transform the web and increase brand recognition.
Ultimately, crafting an online experience is about more than just elegant design and innovative technology. It demands that we create something with the power to change lives. We did not set out to just build a website. Our goal was to transform the world by crafting a website where people connect with the vision of ADF, engage with life-changing content, and return to a timeless experience every time they visit.
While visiting the site, read a story, watch a video, and partner with ADF so that, together, we can change the world.