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Attracting The World’s Best Businesses to Chicago
Chaired by Mayor Rahm Emanuel, World Business Chicago is a public-private partnership tasked with not only attracting and retaining businesses to Chicago, it also works with a number of organizations to create jobs, drive regional economic growth, and coordinate a number of business, cultural, and artistic programs to increase the visibility of Chicago around the world.
Palantir worked with World Business Chicago (WBC, for short) on its previous Web site in 2010, so we started this project with a general understanding of WBC’s business goals. Of course, a lot changes in five years, so additional research was necessary to discover new needs.
The client provided us two important requirements at the outset. First and foremost, WBC determined that it had an identity challenge. In asking clients and colleagues to describe what WBC did, the organization found that responses varied greatly and were not always entirely accurate. This provided an opportunity to address messaging on the new site in bold and impactful ways.
There would also be a shift on the site from representing WBC’s services as benefit-based rather than features-based. Our client wanted to ensure that people knew that Chicago had a lot to offer to businesses, and that WBC was there to help facilitate that experience on a number of levels (ultimately showing the benefits of that facilitation).
These and a number of other related needs would be solved with effective content strategy and a fresh and modern redesign of its site (and additional work to refresh of some of its brand elements displayed online).
The client also expressed interest in using WordPress as its platform since they were using it for smaller sub-sites. WordPress is the most widely used open-source content management system on the market today, used by individuals and enterprise-level corporations alike. WordPress’ general ease-of-use, extensibility, and a myriad of proven, community-supported plug-ins, made it an ideal fit for WBC’s needs.
In the end, regardless of the platform, our expertise and strategic thinking needed to show that WBC is here to foster the economic and business climate of Chicago.
We started with our strategy and design expertise, to ensure the redesign would be built around the organization’s mission. This design-focused, user-centric perspective contributed greatly to achieving their strategic goals as an organization. Imagery of the city would be front and center, with compelling hero images showing all of Chicago’s beauty, with powerful statistics on the business environment here. And charts, infographics, hot numbers, and call-outs, all representing the compelling data they have.
These designs would come to life with our work with the theming engine Twig. This approach provides a considerable amount of control over markup, providing efficient development, kept templates dry, helps extend associated templates, is parallel with our prototyping process, and, in general, is a smarter and tidier approach.
We then applied this highly modular design system to a set of page templates, built with broad flexibility in mind. This combination allows WBC to benefit from both the consistency in design elements and the ability to arrange different types of page content according to their need for display.
We were able to extend the native functionality of WordPress and provide additional template flexibility by using tools like Advanced Custom Fields to create a custom CMS backend where site editors at WBC could define the types of sections they wanted on a page and then drag-and-drop those sections to re-order their display on the page. This customization, and others, provided WBC a set of tools with tremendous creative control over the design components within the template parameters.
Finally, in an effort to provide a sustainable environment in which future edits and enhancements to the site would be done within best practices, we also provided a fair amount of GitHub training for them.
You can read all about the project from World Business Chicago's perspective in this article written by its WBC Creative Director Jake Trussell.
Chicago is a leading world business hub, and World Business Chicago not only promotes it as such, they, too, act as a hub for a number of initiatives, programs, and as a resource for the businesses they serve. WBC’s site now gives them an array of powerful, WordPress-based tools to not only showcase everything incredible about the business climate in Chicago, it can also spin up any number of unique areas on its site to ensure the facets of what it does are being represented in an extensible, visually-compelling, and data-rich way.