Building a digital universe for autism research.
Branding • UX & Editorial Experience Design • Content Platform, Migration & CMS Development • Responsive Design
The Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative (SFARI) is the go-to source for autism spectrum disorder information, publishing everything from scientific studies to video op-eds.
But creating constant content is no small task and a user-unfriendly site coupled with laborious processes made it monstrous. SFARI's editorial offerings had outgrown a "News” tab. They needed an identity and digital home of their own. And so Spectrum was born.
While diving into SFARI's content, we imagined what a hub of this magnitude could look like. Spectrum needed to feel unique while complementing their parent brand. But it also needed a rich visual toolkit to keep content fresh and organized.
We devised the Spectrum logo, a prism, as a reference to autism spectrum disorder and a visual shorthand for the wide range of content Spectrum publishes.
Our prism concept allowed us to create a brand palette with a wide variety of colors. As we catalogued existing content, we assigned colors to content type, turning our back end organizational system into a user-friendly experience for Spectrum readers.
While developing their new branding, we worked closely with the Spectrum team to build their new editorial home. Our challenge: organize and elevate existing content while adding new content. Our solution: map the full user experience and build it from scratch.
Because shared content is the heart and soul of Spectrum, we built the site’s information architecture around these twin goals: make content easy to find and easy to read on every device.
All that labor-intensive hand-coding the editorial team used to do? No more. We developed a fully extensible system of modular content design templates and custom-built plugins that auto populate. Now the Spectrum team uploads MS Word documents directly into WordPress and builds attractive articles using simple content blocks.
What about all the valuable content already published? We worked with the Spectrum team to develop and assign topical categories, tags, and related-article links for every pre-existing piece. Then we built custom migration tools to pull them (with comments) into the new site and template design.
We armed Spectrum's editorial team with modular tools—everything from pull quotes to media inserts—to design an endless variety of compelling and branded content. Our modular site build became essential to our continued sorting of existing content, overall information flow, and tying the user experience to Spectrum's dynamic visual system.
We developed a responsive system that supported the information architecture, scaled to the future for Spectrum’s editorial team, and gave viewers the same quality experience on desktop, tablet, and mobile.
To further draw viewers in and invite site exploration, we created custom, handmade article-specific illustrations and category iconography.
By building a unique editorial universe and breathing new life into their content, we helped Spectrum spur deeper engagement, capture new readership, and advance their mission to shed light on autism spectrum disorders worldwide.
Unique visitors since launch in September 2015
Average time spent on page per user
Honoree Webby Award: Best Science Site Design