An advocacy website that can helps a new book come to life, and gives background on its author's expertise.
David Riemer is the former budget director under Wisconsin Governor Jim Doyle, a former aide to Sen. Ted Kennedy and chief of staff for Milwaukee Mayor John Norquist. He helped design and implement BadgerCare, Wisconsin’s version of Medicaid, which broadened health insurance coverage for the poor.
David wrote a book called Putting Government in Its Place, which offers frameworks to cover some basic questions:
"To get the United States back on track, what exactly should government do?"
"What should localities do? What should states do? What should Washington do?"
He writes: "The question can be answered, and with precision."
We worked with David at Community Advocates, and he commissioned Byte to build the books' accompanying website.
We needed to create a website that can make a book come to life, and while it seems like the book would be a dry read, it's really a radical rethinking of the role of government. We helped identify the audience segments and think through use cases, but it was the contents of David's arguments that were the biggest driver of the content strategy.
First, David has a gift for words, and both in quality and in quantity. This is par for the course of policy folks, it's not possible to have a brief discussion. We love that about David, but it's a design challenge we needed to find solutions.
Second, the subject matter doesn't translate directly to the web. David is arguing the case for a "New Deal 3.0", and as Representative Gwen Moore wrote in the foreword, the book doesn't prescribe "fuzzy solutions," instead it has full "usable, detailed solutions." We had to work hard to keep the website clear and crisp.
Working with David, we opted for a solid readable design with a minimal governmental feel using the outline of a a state capital. Much of the book covers FDR's New Deal, so together we found historic imagery of working people, buildings being built, the America that's changing.
To make the site more readable and parsable to a wider audience, we use secondary color iconography as list items. We also created graphic factoid boxes with clear, memorable numbers or statistics. We created a strong content hierarchy and helped people with context navigations so they can understand the context of any given page and buckets to help keep pique their interests in other parts of the book.
We often add a little extra at the end, and in this case we found the site started to feel a little to word heavy without paint animations. We created an animation system that floated and faded things in but avoided the common side effects of too much animation by making it subtle and only in the right places.
David gave us a little lagniappe of his own, he included Byte in the acknowledgements!
From the moment I began working with Michael, Sam, and Steven at Byte Studios, I knew I made the right choice. They immediately understood my goals. Their design decisions were excellent. Whenever I ran into difficulty, the Byte team helped me solve the problem quickly. Their solutions were often highly creative.
Putting Government In Its Place