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Virginia Humanities

Building a new website is daunting to many nonprofits. Like a seasoned guide providing trailmix during a long hike, a concierge with local insider knowledge, and a cruise director leading you to delights around the next corner, the openbox9 team uses our expertise to create an experience of confidence and joy.

Virginia Humanities multi-site

openbox9 has honed a process of progressive iteration driving our website strategy, design, and development services that’s neither quite linear nor circular. The outcome is a reliable, effective, and beautiful website that promotes your mission and forms an engaged connection with your audience.

Our process served Virginia Humanities in their mission as the state’s humanities council to share the stories, and empower stories to be told, of all Virginians. openbox9 was brought in to create a network of connected websites aligned with the visual aesthetics of the VH brand with dramatically upgraded back-end functionality and front-end usability, and smartly integrated features and management.

Community Letterpress Project - Amos Paul Kennedy.
Community Letterpress Project at Virginia Humanities’ Center for the Book. Credit: Pat Jarrett
Flow chart diagram of a Design to Development Process.

Smart Strategy Solutions

Like all good relationships, we start with questions, research, and a dose of humor. By spending time, we make your mission our mission. This knowledge fuels solutions for intuitive navigation systems, effective database organization, clear messaging hierarchy, compelling visual systems, and efficient maintenance workflows.

Our discovery process with Virginia Humanities resulted in a series of documents– sitemaps, wireframes, a style tile, technical requirements, and personas– which were refined in collaboration with the team at VH. Documentation tools define strategy and decisions for all teams to refer to throughout the process. Clients are equipped to know the foundation of their site is solid and scalable for the future.

Communication solutions are designed for humans. We take empathy seriously, seeking to understand the real-world situations in which your audience interacts with your brand and positioning your organization to meet their needs. Equally valuable is designing an efficient admin experience to reduce the time (and frustration) for your team to update and edit your site for years to come, ensuring the website is a successful communication tool on launch day as it is two years later.

Virginia Humanities IA documents.

Dynamic Design & Development Solutions

The strategy is then visually and technically brought to life through design concepts and prototypes. The pattern of design-build-test is repeated to produce elegance, reduce friction, and present an elevated user experience as your brand is digitized.

Multi-Site WordPress Builds

A defined visual identity system was used for Virginia Humanities across a muti-site WordPress development environment. These decisions eased the maintenance load across a network of 8+ websites, strengthened the brand with a shared CSS that expressed unique programming within a recognizable parent brand, and promoted relevant content with a dynamic feed sharing related content across the network.

Virginia Humanities multi-site web design.
Virginia Humanities With Good Reason radio station mobile web design.
Eddie Bond and Andrew Small stand together with their instruments on a hill in Virginia.
Eddie Bond and Andrew Small – Virginia Folklife Apprenticeship Program. Credit: Pat Jarrett

Custom Member Portals

The Federation of State Humanities Councils connects and equips over 55 member organizations. In addition to a public-facing recruitment tool, they needed a space for member-only conversations and capacity building. openbox9 built a member portal seamlessly interfacing with the main website, with personalized profiles for direct messaging, a forum for community dialogue organized by topic, an interactive map for networking with colleagues, and a filterable resource library including upload functions to engage with and share insights between members.

Federation of State Humanities Councils Directory page with interactive map.

Custom Blocks

openbox9 follows best practices for custom development of WordPress content management systems. Building on core components of the default editing system, openbox9 then builds custom blocks to meet the particular needs of a website for function and formatting. Custom development has included media players for a podcast website, bookmarking system for a festival website, custom styling on forums for a membership website, layout formatting for an architect website, dynamic feed of database content for an environmental website, querying of content written by specific team members for an educational website, and pattern blocks to ease the maintenance load when creating new pages for a performing arts website.

Amplifying Your Mission

Our clients need visual upgrades alongside technical solutions to design, build, and manage complex websites in support of their mission. openbox9’s thorough and tested process enables effective solutions and an enjoyable journey along the way. In pursuit of amplifying your mission through a newly designed and developed website, we promise you will enjoy the process.

Thank you so much for all your help, guidance and support as we launched. The feedback we have received from our members is incredibly positive and I am very proud to have worked with the entire openbox9 team on this tool that I believe will grow to be an important resource for our community. I’ve learned so much from this process and am forever grateful for what we were able to accomplish together.

Natalie Pak, Federation of State Humanities Council