WebFuzzy + Masquerade

Illustration from 2001 Decorative Cuts and Ornaments, edited by Carol Belanger Grafto
Illustration from 2001 Decorative Cuts and Ornaments, edited by Carol Belanger Grafto

WebFuzzy is a monthly post by 4Culture staff who are interested in sharing the process of our website redesign by explaining our steps, showing our designs and marveling in our messy mistakes.
Illustration from 2001 Decorative Cuts and Ornaments, edited by Carol Belanger Grafto
Post 2

Last month, we revealed that the result of our best intentions at crafting a useable website fell short of expectations. A solution emerged: listen to the people who actually use it.

So what did they say? Our UX designer, Sue Ann Harkey, interviewed people who knew or were familiar with 4Culture. She asked them a lot of questions. We also took the opportunity to create an online survey accessed from our home page from February 25 – March 9, 2014.

The results of both activities pointed toward three major reasons people come to our site: looking for funding, looking for funding and looking for funding. There were nuances, of course, but the take away was that the funding process, from announcing opportunities, completing an application and managing a grant or project were the reasons for most visits.

Also, those who have been funded or selected for a project, whether it was for a grant or public art, were a lot more familiar with our jargon and internal processes than those seeking support for the first time.

When Sue Ann interviewed our Subject Matter Experts (4Culture program managers), similar patterns emerged. They felt most visits were related to funding. This is great right? We’re all thinking the same thing. It is great. But, the message we continued to see in all this research was that we have struggled to communicate effectively because finding these resources online has been a chore.

There is a beautifully illustrated book (published in 1979) by Kit Williams titled Masquerade, where a hidden treasure was to be discovered in real life, if only you were able to decipher the clues. I really wanted to find that rabbit charm when I was a kid. The intent of that book sums up the often herculean effort it can take to locate, secure and manage a 4Culture grant or project online (without the book’s ensuing scandal, of course). 4Culture program managers are available to ensure a successful outcome but we can do better online. Through the use of our smartphones, tablets and computers (watches?), the virtual world is now a part of daily life. It is a key to how we communicate with each other and do business, so it is critical for us to be as easy to work with online as it is in real life.

You are looking for funding and come to our website for the first time. What’s there to guide you?

a slice of 4Culture's exisiting home page
Example A – looks familiar

Dueling navigation at the top (banjos?), a map icon, an application login link and a lot of words that link to pages that may help you figure this all out… if you’re patient. It’s a discovery page. But, is this really the right place for all this endless discovery? Less is more.

Instead, what if we made some simple changes to the home page and added a better guide to navigate you in the right direction?

altered 4Culture home page with guided links to funding
Example B – this looks like a better idea

Looking for funding? Why yes I am. Let’s get me started! Simple. I get it. Details to follow.

This little example serves both the hard working program managers trying to get your attention and those looking for funding answers. A better start to navigating a tricky process.

Of course we’re just showing you an example here of how we are thinking for our redesign and not the finished product. Do you think this demonstrates that we’re on the road to better problem solving?


Illustration from 2001 Decorative Cuts and Ornaments, edited by Carol Belanger Grafton © 1988, Dover Publications