By Guest Writer: Ennis Carter, Director, Social Impact Studios
One of the most rewarding projects of 2021 was also one that pushed us to stretch our creativity and skills the most: the new SippCulture.org website.
Over the years, Social Impact Studios has been honored to work as one of many creative collaborators on projects ranging from Sipp Culture’s visual design, to messaging, and communications strategy, including the website version of their story and community’s work. With the new non-profit status for the Mississippi Center for Cultural Production, it was time to shift from a .com to a .org – that was clear. But this specific moment in time for the organization also presented an opportunity to explore leveraging artistry and technology to create a virtual representation of their deep and meaningful mission, their exciting new growth, and in a format that would be accessible to everyone.
We started with a new visual design that grew from the identity created for the RPPL Artists program developed by Jaamal Benjamin, Sr. Designer and Monna Morton, Creative Director. This visual storytelling family of graphics was inspired by the organic colors and shapes of the Mississippi region, along with references to timeless West African adinkra symbols – and a central font called Martin, designed by Tré Seals of Vocal Type. (Read more about the inspiring story of the Martin font here).
With that strong foundation laid, an interactive interface for a website was easier to develop. One that could showcase people, growth, stories, and imagination all in one place. We leveraged the open-source technology of WordPress and enhanced it with new – but still accessible – plug-ins and structures that made the interactive parts of the site more universal, low-cost, and easy to update for the team at Sipp Culture.
Here are some features that we are excited about:
The entire site is mobile-friendly across all sorts of computers, tablets, and phones. People using different devices can all have a similar experience.
We included new accessibility tools that put the power of the experience in the hands of the viewer - not limited by hardwired backend design. Visitors who click the Accessibility icon can change font sizes, color, contrast, and more. Visitors with sight disabilities who use readers will have an easier time hearing descriptions of graphics and photos.
The whole site leverages the dynamic power of simplified, but interwoven visual storytelling that provides lots of different entry points into longer content. The new dropdown menu makes it easier to find your way around without having to limit navigation.
Stories are aggregated in different ways based on what the reader might find interesting. Visitors can see all stories (including videos) in the Story Central area, but can also explore on their own by clicking authors, categories, tags, and more at the top of every post.
The new SippCulture.org website is built to grow and expand, so we are excited to keep developing engaging ways for content to be created and shared along with the team at Sipp Culture. We’d love to hear about your experience with the website too! Please share any stories of how it works for you and any ideas by sending a message here.
ABOUT SOCIAL IMPACT STUDIOS
Since 1996, the people at Social Impact Studios have combined artistry & activism to engage people in important social issues and culture. We believe positive, proactive messages should get more attention than anything else. Through the lens of art, design, history, and culture, Social Impact Studios is a place where creative activists collaborate, learn, and do the work. From concept to the material, we create action plans, visuals, messages, and moving grassroots experiences to make a better world – together.
The Sipp Culture Team at Social Impact Studios