Cornell Botanic Gardens
In 2018, Cornell Botanic Gardens requested a new website. With over 120 links on their current site, the scope was huge and the possibilities endless. Their main attractions, flowers, provided us with a beautiful visual direction to begin with, but there was still a lot of legwork before the flowery imagery could grow into the new site.
We began as every project should, with a conversation. We asked what the client liked, disliked, definitely wanted to keep unchanged, and their feelings of the site overall. Next we indexed every page they already had on their site, where it linked to, and what the “main goal” of that page was. We researched other websites both in and out of the garden & university realm to get a feel for the best ways to present the information.
Once we had our overwhelming base of information and inspiration, we zeroed in on the Cornell site. A sitemap served as the foundation to discuss how we wanted people to move through the content, how many template pages we needed, and how each page related to each other.
Functional wireframing was the next step. Using Sketch and Invision we produced bare-bone versions of each templatized page with the ability to click on links and essentially move through the basic website. This ensures no one can debate or be distracted by imagery or colors- since the information and the way people move through it should always come first.
I’ve found wireframing, especially with Sketch’s symbol and grouping capabilities, to be the best tool around. Even designers (maybe especially designers) can easily be distracted by how the imagery presents itself. I can never stress enough how important information first design is- the imagery will always pull it’s weight so being patient and working with information first is a must.
Finally, we got to dig into the visuals, colors, and branding. Cornell’s photo library was an incredible aid for this part, not leaving us stuck to the confines of stock imagery.
We all agreed to move ahead with an earthy, alive feel for the site, with large up close images of flowers, enticing the exploration of both the website and the gardens alike.