As part of an effort to support local commerce and community, Last Call Media partnered with the Downtown Northampton Association, an organization in LCM’s home city that seeks to improve the business and cultural strength of the downtown area through investments in programming, beautification, and advocacy.
How we did it
We joined the effort, bringing our expertise for a more beautiful downtown. In partnership with the DNA’s Executive Director and a board of local luminaries, Last Call Media helped brand the organization with print materials, signage and digital media, creating a universally recognizable identity for the organization, assisting with fundraising efforts, and sparking demand for co-branding materials from downtown businesses.
For the discovery phase, we had some in-depth conversations with the team at Baltimore Drupal Camp about design trends on the web, and which ones we wanted to explore for this project. We decided that the designs should express both the historic and the punk sensibilities of Fells Point, the neighborhood the event was to take place in, while also paying homage to Frederick Douglass, as the venue was the great Frederick Douglass-Isaac Myers Maritime Park.
Drupal Boh logo
Baltimore Drupal Camp had in previous years done a few mash-ups of the Drupal and National Bohemian logos in previous years (the National Bohemian logo being the unofficial logo of Baltimore), and we were excited to try our hand at it. We produced a clean, durable logo that was used in all our subsequent material and that the Baltimore Drupal Camp also adopted for use across their social media platforms. Baltimore’s own Not Mr. Boh even gave it a shout-out on Twitter.
In order to capture the historic and punk aspects of Fells Point that we discussed during discovery, we produced a series of gritty, vibrantly colored illustrations for use as visual assets on the site.
Taking both the direction we established in discovery and the assets we generated, we produced a design deliverable for the Baltimore Drupal Camp website. Because the site would change so much as the event got closer (and “Submit Your Session” became “Schedule”, among other changes) we needed to deliver a wide-ranging design that would account for multiple versions of the site.
We worked with the team at Baltimore Drupal Camp while we created the designs and formatted them for handoff, enjoying a productive information exchange about tools and process while we were at it.
There aren’t enough words of thanks for Colin and Last Call Media. Amazing site design, fabulous t-shirts, awesome stickers! You are Drupal!
Liz Lipinski, Baltimore Drupal Camp
We were thrilled to see the aesthetic and assets we generated for this project in use on event collateral on the day of the camp itself. Congrats to the Baltimore Drupal Camp on a successful 2016!
Last Call Media partnered with the Computational Cardiology Lab at the Institute for Computational Medicine at Johns Hopkins University to establish a unique and approachable identity and website design for their very technical work. This work was completed in only two design sprints.
The Trayanova Lab of Computational Cardiology represented a rare intersection of art and science.
During discovery, which consisted of an extensive on-site meeting, we learned a few important facts about Computational Cardiology that served as guiding lights for the design work we did with them. First, we learned about what they do. In a nutshell, Computational Cardiology creates virtual models of hearts that can be used for diagnosis or study. (Saving everyone the messy business of taking real hearts out of people’s bodies which can be, let’s say, not particularly healthy for the subject.) Here’s an Endgadget article about one of their recent studies.
Computational Cardiology uses design as a tool to set themselves apart from their peers and get attention drawn to their important work.
Our second big takeaway from discovery is that Computational Cardiology places a high value on design, a quality they told us can be rare in the scientific community. As such, Computational Cardiology uses design as a tool to set themselves apart from their peers and get attention drawn to their important work. And beyond just good design, they wanted a distinctive, exciting look. The leadership at Computational Cardiology has a keen eye for art and fashion, and they felt it was important that this sensibility be reflected in their identity. This was music to our ears!
With all this in mind, we developed a few aesthetic directions that we could use to get creative alignment. These directions mostly represented Computational Cardiology’s identity using the bold, artistic direction they expressed to us, along with some more conservative elements to make sure a full range of choices was available for consideration. After quickly responding to some of the bolder directions, we selected the elements we thought worked especially well and went to work developing a unified direction based around them.
Our work has heart
One of those elements was a graphite illustration of Computational Cardiology’s computer models of hearts. That drawing would go through multiple iterations before taking the final form seen on the site, all of which can be seen below.
Designing a logo
Our Creative Director Nolan was able to quickly design a thematically dense logo in a very short amount of time. The heart icon, rendered with angles to reinforce the theme of technology, is surrounded by brackets, indicating that the heart is made of computer code. Those brackets also represent the two “C”s of Computational Cardiology and the negative space between them creates a cross, a symbol commonly used to indicate healthcare.
Building the site
Throughout the design process we remained aware that Computational Cardiology would be building the site themselves, and frequently checked in with their in-house developer to make sure we weren’t designing anything that would be problematic for them. After the designs were complete we provided them with the assets they’d need to build the site, which they did using the service Webflow. That the final, developed version of the site (which can be seen here) is so faithful to our designs is a testament to both their developer’s skill and the robust functionality of Webflow!
Driven by the need to have a compelling presence in place for the year-end graduate student application season, Last Call Media worked within a tight timeline to design a new logo and a distinctive and approachable visual experience that showcases the lab’s groundbreaking work with illustrations that were drawn by hand in-house. The project completed in two agile design sprints.
Clinically speaking, our recent work with Worcester Polytechnic Institute is a testimony to Last Call Media’s approach to the initial project phases of Discovery, Strategy, and Information Architecture. That said, the most important part of this story is how our flexible and adaptable work process embraced by both the WPI and Last Call Media teams resulted in a process and a final outcome that meets WPI’s stakeholder needs. Strong partnership-building was the goal from the outset, and it paid off in strong relationships and expectations satisfied.
Last year, WPI embarked on a Discovery and Strategy phase with Last Call Media in order to:
Reduce technical debt and operating costs
Thanks to WPI’s commitment to collaboration, the redesign of wpi.edu represents one of Last Call Media’s most comprehensive involvements from start to finish of any project to date. We acted as more than designers and developers, but instead as all-encompassing strategic management consultants, working with WPI to organize multiple stakeholders toward the realization of stated and unstated goals.
The project had humble beginnings. WPI had a lot of ideas, which they’d translated into a giant content model spreadsheet. We meticulously ensured that we understood it all, guiding a wireframe process in which we were able to make significant contribution to the decision-making that yielded a highly intuitive structure. We took each step iteratively, building piece-by-piece, soliciting feedback, and then building the next iteration. We facilitated a dialogue between administrators, college communications, their design department, their IT department, and Acquia to map the landscape of business requirements, organizational needs, and their desired design aesthetic.
On the technical side, we reviewed their existing RedDot site, and built a ‘scraper’ to scrape select content out of it and import the data into its new structure in Drupal. We open-sourced the scraper, too. Next, we built a flexible layout system of building blocks that enabled them to build pages however they needed. We dubbed them “widgets,” and WPI called them “elements,” but they were central to satisfying their desire for incredible flexibility that allowed them to build unique layouts on any given page.
As part of the creative partnership, Last Call Media’s creative team worked closely with WPI to improve the look and utility of the Events Pages, the Calendar, and a database of accolades they maintain. The outcome was a set of tools that present information in simple and digestible ways. WPI’s communications team helped LCM fully understand their brand, which enabled us to showcase their identity as we applied it to the work product.
Every step of the way as we constructed functionality, WPI developers, content authors, and staff gave feedback on the project as fidelity increased from a rough, unthemed Drupal site, to a polished release candidate. At the same time, Last Call Media was enabling WPI Developers to be self-sufficient in Drupal so they could help build new functionality. Last Call Media also built a custom ‘faculty importer’ that synced data from their Ellucian Banner system into Drupal, greatly simplifying the construction and accuracy of faculty pages.
Because we were in constant contact, there were never any ‘big reveals’ for WPI leadership to react to that represented hours of work they had to wrestle with approving or sending us back to the drawing board - they’d been part of the process at two week intervals and on board with each decision as it was made.
Today, the ability of the various administrative and academic departments at WPI to use the site is unparalleled in Last Call Media’s experience. The partnership enabled WPI’s content developers, in-house communications staff, designers, and developers to fully leverage the new wpi.edu. As a result, we’re seeing profound stakeholder use of the tools we collectively built.WPI embraces our approach and recognizes the value in the systems our working partnership designed. Such engagement is the dream of every project, and we’re proud it’s being realized at Worcester Polytechnic Institute.
We continue an ongoing relationship with WPI providing support and strategic counsel as necessary. What can Last Call Media do for you?
In response to growing concerns and attention around Sexual Harassment and Assault Nationwide, Amherst College needed a tool to serve students of the Five Colleges with rapid access to Title IX office information and emergency services.
LCM and Amherst College worked together with student advocates, Title IX, LGBTQ, and other campus offices and organizations to design and develop an iOS App that puts valuable information, from a Drupal site Amherst can administer, into the hands of students. The major feature of the app was to direct assault survivors to emergency contact information, help services, and other advocacy groups, anonymously and quickly.
The app was announced to all incoming and returning students during new school year orientation. Information about the app has been circulated through the Five Colleges on promotional materials and “get help” brochures and posters.
The Advancement Department of Amherst College needed an updated brochure to support their efforts of encouraging donations to the Annual Fund’s 25th Anniversary Program campaign. Last Call Media was excited to build upon our technical experience migrating Amherst to Drupal and in building the Title IX iOS App with a project that could showcase our marketing strategy and design talents.
How we did it
The twenty-fifth anniversary year is an important one for advancement activities. Alumni have generally attained career and financial stability by this time, and it is an important moment in which to encourage a lifetime habit of giving to Amherst College. Amherst needed an accessible and compelling visual that would explain a complicated funding program. Working within existing guidelines and style templates, we worked with the Annual Fund to build a tri-fold brochure that plainly communicated the benefits and procedures of giving during the five years leading up to and including an alumnus’ twenty-fifth anniversary reunion year.
Staff reported that the leave-behind brochure was incredibly helpful for both their volunteers and donors, and twenty-fifth anniversary giving broke fundraising targets and records in 2015 and 2016.
Last Call employed a few different site strategies in order to best serve NERDS and their users. First, we boiled their content down to short bursts that either told site users everything they needed to know or linked them to where they need to go to complete an action (like signing up for the email newsletter or submitting a session).
We then decided to present each of these pieces of content in a slide of their own, leveraging this modular strategy to organize content depending on audience. We made sure that each slide was flexible and could be updated as needed as the event draws nearer (as “Submit a Session” turns into “Session Schedule,” for example).
To give NERDS an immediate, personable (and literal) face, we decided to develop a mascot. The feel of the NERD logo evoked the 70’s to us, and we decided to use Mr. Men, one of that era’s most famous cartoons, as inspiration. The result was Lil’ NERDy. Lil’ NERDy is memorable and adaptable, meaning she can be used in a variety of ways at any size to instantly remind people of the friendly and inclusive nature of NERDS.
Using Lil’ NERDy as an asset, the site strategy was then implemented to produce a bold, fresh site design. The design uses strong typography and bright colors to create an impactful and informative experience.
NERDS walked away with a fun, efficient site that keeps users informed and delighted as their event draws closer.
Cooley-Dickinson Hospital offers an incentive-based healthy lifestyle program to their employees. As employees participate in exercise activities, healthier eating habits, and education classes to learn life-enhancing techniques, they gain points— which translate to greater discounts to their benefits contributions. CDH was tracking this participation program on paper and in Excel for over 1000 employees. Last Call was hired to transform the program into an interactive digital experience to increase participation and automate much of the workflow of managing the program.
We provided an easy-to-use interface to minimize the barrier of entry for users. Maximized by a Mobile First approach, we condensed how much information was presented to allow users to quickly access the main features of the program, which included entering exercise activity. While also accessible through desktop and laptop computers, the primary use case for the app was on the go, from a mobile device, for a user to track their progress. LCM went further, implementing QR Code functionality, allowing CDH to post flyers notifying staff of special activities. Scanning the QR Codes on those notices would transition the user’s experience to the relevant area of the app.
Things went really well with the program, it met all of our needs really well and the employees loved it.
Sam Blasiak, Cooley Dickinson Hospital
The program has been met with amazing reception both from administration, and employee participation. The program is being further expanded and developed to be modular and rapidly deployed at partner healthcare facility partners.
Developing a digital media strategy with measurable results.
Challenged to increase enrollment, the College of Biological Sciences at the University of Minnesota looked to Last Call Media for ways to develop a digital media strategy with measurable results. Last Call Media focused on increasing engagement with CBS’ primary audiences— prospective and current students— by implementing fresh designs with improved pathways and navigation. LCM also coordinated the final migration and deployment of the site to the University’s Acquia platform.
Working with CBS, we took the project from initial discovery and goal validation through information architecture, design, and development.
We were able to deliver a compelling, modern, and effective site. With CBS’s target users in mind, Last Call Media improved site navigation and menu structure, re-working the existing navigation system to create a more fluid experience visiting the site.
The site was launched in summer, in time to function as an active recruitment tool for the school year. After receiving consistent positive feedback, CBS and LCM received an award for the design and functionality. The CBS team has continued to add and manage new content on top of the sound foundation built by Last Call Media.
Aligning an aging website with modern organizational goals.
The Center of the Material and Visual Cultures of Religion (MAVCOR) at Yale University sought the expertise of LCM to help bring their aging website in line with their strategic organizational goals. As an online archive of objects of religion, often accompanied by narratives or conversations, the academic source was to behave like an online museum: delivering the user to the content in the most unobstructed way so they can focus on it.
Much like a museum would, it’ll recommend related content for further exploration.
MAVCOR is a unique peer-reviewed publication and community that gathers visual culture and hosts multidisciplinary collaborations of scholars from around the globe. This necessitates a virtual space that is the only one of its kind. Previously confined to the Yale departmental design template, MAVCOR came to us to design and develop a Drupal 7 site to enhance the functionality of their user experience, robust asset management, and spotlight their obvious visual culture.
LCM partnered with the MAVCOR team to develop new and enhanced functionality to their Fellow’s Portal, Asset Management, Material Objects Archive, and Search in a visually-centric design honoring their unique and growing community.
The new MAVCOR is a literal and virtual center of publicly accessible collaborative scholarship.