Website for a celebrated architectural studio.
To mark Cullinan Studio’s 50th birthday the architectural practice appointed my studio to overhaul their website. Our brief was to deliver a digital experience that celebrated the studio’s achievements and the legacy of their founder Edward Cullinan.
The finished website was an assertion of Cullinan Studio’s enormous impact on world architecture.
Five key goals
We began by holding a series of workshops with the entire practice. We wanted to understand the pain-points regarding the studio’s brand and website, as well as identify the personas we needed to research. The insights gained from this process provided us with five strategic goals to meet.
During our research phase we discovered that architects’ websites often failed to articulate what made each practice unique. Instead of celebrating the why behind the practice, many online portfolios would focus on what the practice had done. We dubbed this insight the portfolio problem.
The Cullinan Ethos
To counter the portfolio problem we defined the Cullinan Ethos — five key themes that could be traced across 50 years of project work. Our strategy was to leverage Cullinan Studio’s experience to show how Cullinan was no longer a name, but a unique approach to architecture.
With a strategy in place we organised a series of interviews with the people Cullinan Studio wanted to reach and the individuals who used their website on a daily basis. The feedback revealed four key personas and several user journeys the new website had to satisfy.
To kick-start the wireframing phase, we took a deep-dive to understand the kind of information we had to organise. Our content audit covered three key verticals: Cullinan Studio’s offline archive, their existing website content and how this information was to be organised.
Beginning with Cullinan Studio’s archive, we assigned 14 data fields, including 5 mandatory tags, to every project. Not only did this provide every project with searchable meta data, but it standardised their archive for a content management system.
Simplifying the site map
Once we indexed Cullinan Studio’s project archive we were able to radically simplify their existing site map.
Armed with a thorough understanding of how the website needed to organise Cullinan Studio’s information, we began work on the granular user experiences our personas would encounter.
One major requirement was to address how the website sorted and filtered project information. With a vast project archive it was crucial users could find the right project with as few clicks as possible. We sketched, prototyped and tested several variants, resulting in a filter that delivered real-time search results using project tags.
To turn Cullinan Studio’s experience into an asset we prototyped an interactive timeline that allowed users to see how every project informed each other. By providing users with a novel way of navigating Cullinan Studio’s archive we increased the time users spent on the site.
We also redesigned Cullinan Studio’s case studies making them easier to read, allowing users to seamlessly move from project meta data to long-form content.
Finally, to celebrate the launch of Cullinan Studio’s website, we created a collection of animated shorts to articulate why each value of the Cullinan Ethos was so important to the practice.