A new website for a champion of creative industries
- What we did
- UX & UI
The creative state
Creative Victoria is a State Government body dedicated to championing, growing and supporting the creative industries, and making creative opportunities and experiences available and accessible to all Victorians.
Following the development of their Creative State 2025 strategy, Creative Victoria undertook a robust user research project into their website and its users. As the primary digital asset for their community, the website needed to represent the values of the organisation and the community it serves, with a focus on creativity and accessibility. The research insights identified the need for an update, and we were very happy to help.
Our first step was to get a deep understanding of the research and its strategic outcomes. We held a planning workshop with the Creative Victoria team to revisit the materials, including user research, brand and content strategy, an information architecture audit and recommendations around navigation and site structure.
We also confirmed the overarching goals of the website, which included:
- Improved accessibility
- Clear, user-friendly and purposeful navigation
- Responsiveness for desktop, tablet and mobile
- Compliant with Victorian Government digital standards
- Beautiful design and aesthetic appeal
- Filtering capabilities
- Able to be developed using Squiz Matrix CMS
Bigger, bolder, brighter
The Creative Victoria brand identity is characterised by its bright, saturated colours, dynamic photography and hero patterns, and it was important the website looked and felt like Creative Victoria. So, while we made much-needed improvements to navigation, accessibility and functionality, we also had to ensure we retained and championed those key brand elements.
Colour, pattern, photography and video feature heavily throughout the site, including an animated header module and image containers that mimic the rounded shape of the pattern elements. It was a delight working with an unapologetically maximalist brand, where more, bigger, bolder was the order of the day.
Although the brand guidelines boasted a large palette, the intended use of the five colour sets weren’t outlined, so we needed to make some decisions about how to strategically incorporate them into the designs. We decided to use them to categorise content types, adding a powerful visual element to the hierarchy of information.
An improved user journey
With a strategic use of colour, shape and hierarchy, we designed a truly user-centric website with simple, clear navigation and clear calls to action.
The hamburger menu on the existing site was confusing and obscure for a lot of users, so we decided to use a more traditional drop-down mega menu – with a twist. The drop-down has not one, but three levels; creating a clear overview of the site structure for the user, and empowering them to quickly find pages that would traditionally have been buried within the site.
We further validated our designs by creating what we called user stories: a matrix that records the intended use of every module on every page, and how each module will respond to users' interactions. This was a powerful demonstration of how the website meets the needs of both front-end/external users (the public) and back-end/internal users (Creative Victoria).
As the research showed, grants are one of the biggest reasons users visit the site, so the treatment of this content was carefully considered. We designed a visual language to help users distinguish between different types of grants and communicate their current status. We fitted the grant listings and news with sophisticated filters and feature cards to help users to find the right information as quickly as possible, and used icons to differentiate between resources. We also made lengthy text more digestible with section breaks, stylised links, tab devices, and a sidebar to summarise key information at a glance.
Lastly, we created a smoother transition from the Creative Victoria site to the external grants application portal by making links clearer and providing separate links for different streams, ensuring users could click on the correct link first time.
The result is a bold, dynamic, content-rich website, designed with creative practitioners in mind.
We handed the designs over to Creative Victoria’s internal development team, with a suite of flexible templates and a toolkit of components, including:
- Text styles
- Form fields and drop-downs
- Text links
- Document download buttons
- Pagination controls
- Image and video styles
- Interactive states (active, hover, disabled etc.)
- Header modules, and
- Options and guidance around sidebar usage
Not only did this extensive list of components and modules meet Creative Victoria's immediate needs, but it also provided them with the flexibility to build additional pages as their needs change in the future. The Creative Victoria team did an incredible job of building the site with their preferred Squiz Matrix CMS, and we were thrilled to see the site go live in November 2022.
Jim Yencken: Digital Direction
Steve Mitchell: UX/UI Design
Emerald Cowell: Digital Strategy
Molly Edwards: Project Management