The Black Experience in NYC

We aimed to highlight the vibrancy of NYC’s Black community and its vast contributions to the city’s culture. Through a variety of storytelling modes, the platform lifts the tapestry of Black experiences to represent NYC’s diversity.

- NYC & Company Team

Can you describe your project and the concept behind it?

We aimed to highlight the vibrancy of NYC’s Black community and its vast contributions to the City’s culture. Our flipbook video is a great example of what to expect: it flashes through images that speak to the many different expressions of Blackness here. Through a variety of storytelling modes, including neighborhood guides and love letters to the City, the platform lifts up the tapestry of Black experiences to represent NYC’s diversity.

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

One of the most surprising discoveries was just how few platforms there are that aim to highlight a destination’s Black experience. For this reason, it was difficult to conduct a competitive analysis. Instead, we looked elsewhere for inspiration and went into this trying to establish a first-of-its-kind product for Black content. Once we had our vision, we went through various rounds of wireframes and used prototypes to gain internal alignment.

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

From a technical perspective, we wanted to produce a simply constructed page that would render quickly for all users, keeping consumer focus on the content. On the back end, we used our CMS’ modular block components to allow for easy format alterations and changes to the order of promotions. We also used our listing container component to allow for tailored images and titles to be published quickly and efficiently to the page.

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

The nuanced diversity within NYC’s Black community sets it apart from other destinations. Blackness isn’t monolithic anywhere, but NYC is the only city where people can always feel a sense of belonging, regardless of identity or interests. Africans, Afro-Caribbeans, Afro-Latinos and multigenerational Black Americans call NYC home, giving rise to countless subcultures and affinity groups. We leaned into this throughout our multimedia storytelling.

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

HTML5, Bootstrap, Javascript, CSS, API/JSON, MongoDB, WAI-ARIA, Brightcove, HTML5 Video Audio Tags, ExpressionEngine, Cloudinary, Akamai, CloudFront, CORS, Google Ad Manager, Beanstalk, Git, Adobe Omniture, Adobe Dynamic Tag Management, Evergage, Jira, Basecamp, Slack, and BrowserStack.

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

From the beginning, the Creative/Content and Product teams worked together to ensure our ideas came to life in the way we intended. Our collective goal was to put content at the forefront of the experience. For this reason, we leveraged our CMS for the build. The team’s secondary goal was to create an evergreen platform to highlight the Black experience in NYC year-round, so we set up the CMS to allow for ease of publishing and promotions.

How did the final product meet or exceed your expectations?

It was a true team effort. We worked together to identify contributors, review our archival photography for the most compelling moments and research additional photographers and images when we found gaps in our storytelling. The result is more than the sum of its parts because of the variety of perspectives we enlisted to help. We continue to update the platform with new stories weekly — there’s an endless number to tell.

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

In 2021, it’s our opportunity — and responsibility — to reinvent the ways in which content and product can promote, address and support NYC’s disparate communities. As the City begins to emerge from the pandemic, our goal is to help ensure that all communities benefit from the recovery. Although our channels will play only a small role in this, all ideas are on the table, which has infused our work with a renewed sense of urgency and possibility.

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