CENTER Photography 2020 Compendium

The Compendium allows CENTER to reach audiences far beyond its native Santa Fe. Artists, scholars, students, and admirers of film and photography across the nation have already taken advantage of the Compendium to create and explore lens-based art.

- ThoughtMatter Team

Can you describe your project and the concept behind it?

CENTER’s Photography 2020 Compendium functions as a digital museum hosting presentations, essays, projects and interviews. The design for the Compendium is rooted in the rule of thirds, an evergreen guideline for photo composition, reinforcing CENTER’s lens-based focus. The gridded structure supports our organization of the site’s resources and makes the Compendium’s content more readily digestible.

Tell us about your initial moodboard, wireframe, or prototype. How did things change throughout the process?

CENTER had to pivot quickly from in-person programming to a digital experience. Our process was nimble, as we had no time to waste. We went from mood board to build within a few weeks. Our first prototype was a live ‘coming soon’ page, with teaser content and launch announcements. Building a solid framework early on allowed us to continuously add new content and new content areas — keeping both new and returning users engaged.

What influenced your chosen technical approach, and how did it go beyond past methods?

Our UX approach was based on creating balance. Balancing historic context and timely content. Balancing exploration and ease of use. It was important to communicate the history of CENTER’s commitment to 20 years of photographic excellence — showcasing visuals, presenting scholarly articles, engaging in conversations around social context of artwork, and crowdsourcing resources, while also demonstrating the thinking behind the photographic process.

When did you experience a breakthrough or an "a-ha" moment during this project?

Our biggest breakthrough came when we considered how a viewer would want to engage with this work in a physical setting, then we used the digital aspect to enhance that experience. We wanted to craft a site that’s stripped back enough to let the work shine, replicating the focused experience of a gallery, while also being interactive and engaging to encourage the user to spend time exploring the content — or even suggesting resources of their own.

What web technologies, tools, and resources did you use to develop this?

The site was built on WordPress sprinkled with some custom Vue.js components.

How did you balance your own creative ideas and technical capabilities with a fair representation of the client’s brand?

We based the design within the foundation of the CENTER brand and layered the story of looking into a photographer’s lens. Our approach to UX is structured to allow for anyone to engage with the content, be it a photographer, a scholar, or someone generally interested in experiencing photographic arts to navigate the sites, gather insights, and view art.

How did the final product meet or exceed your expectations?

The positive feedback from users exceeded our expectations. The COVID-19 pandemic made access to virtual resources all the more important and the Compendium allows CENTER to reach audiences far beyond its native Santa Fe. Artists, scholars, students, and admirers of film and photography across the nation have already taken advantage of the Compendium to create and explore lens-based art.

Why is this an exciting time to create new digital experiences? How does your team fit into this?

As a branding studio with an artful perspective, we are built on the foundation of ‘questioning it all’. We are not afraid to look from unexpected angles or to challenge the conventions. The world of digital is set up for wide-open creative exploration, playful experiences, and tailored design. With our diversity of perspectives and vast experience, our approach is informed by our unique mindsets, as we look to everything but design, to design.

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