As a company that tries to live into our values each day, when the voices of America spoke up in honor of George Floyd, representing countless others, we reached out to the Durham County Library, offering up our services to uplift their Civil Rights Heritage website that highlights Durham’s role in the Civil Rights Movement.
These early conversations with their team revealed an opportunity to collaborate with the Durham Library team to redesign and rebuild the online exhibit and make it more accessible, interactive, and engaging for the user.
Moved by the highly publicized events of the killings of unarmed Black people in early 2020, our team was passionate about doing something relevant and positive for our community. Contributing our digital expertise to local civil rights started off as a #labs proposal.
Stumbled upon this fascinating old project by @DurhamCountyLib documenting the history of the Civil Rights Movement in #DurhamNC. Stunning to see the pictures and see the parallels to today, more than half a century later. Many photos by @TheHerald_Sun. https://t.co/KhCSJjFK3g— Sean O’Shea (@sposhe) June 2, 2020
One intentional user experience decision was to feature a split-screen of National Civil Rights events and Durham Civil Rights events prominently upon entering the site. Upon scroll, we implemented an animation that highlighted events down the timeline. In addition to acting as a wayfinding guide that improved readability, the responsive animation served to give each event prominence and focus including highlighting opportunities for the user to dive deeper into additional content in subsequent pages.
The Savas Labs and Durham Library teams were both motivated to redesign the site in a timely manner and collaborated extremely well from the very beginning. Our team quickly moved on a set of wireframes and design concepts while the Durham Library team worked in parallel to provide all the necessary content including dates, copy, images, and captions in Airtable. What started as a tool to organize content coming from our client partner transformed into a lightweight and accessible CMS.
The framework was built in React with a build script that fetches data from an Airtable and statically builds the assets. This allowed for optimal flexibility for the Durham Library to host the site without having to worry about the ongoing support of a database. It proved to be an efficient and performant solution for both the site experience as well as our process, saving us time and avoiding any confusion or misinterpretation between the two teams in the taxonomy of the content. Airtable was the perfect organizational tool AND lightweight CMS!