OWCS

Click image for full size
Click image for full-size

I had been discussing a new logo and a web design re-haul of Oregon Women’s Campaign School (OWCS) with board member Liz McCann, for some time now, and finally reached a point where we were able to move forward with this project in January. The planned launch date was set for February 1st so they could begin receiving registrations for this years School in March.

First, here is a little about OWCS from their site:

“Originally created as part of the Oregon Women’s Political Caucus over 25 years ago, the school is an independent, non-partisan, non-profit organization run by a board of volunteers and financed entirely through voluntary contributions. The Oregon Women’s Campaign School, while dedicated to getting more women involved in politics and elected to office, isn’t just for women! Any pro-choice person who wants to learn more about running for office or about working on issue and candidate campaigns is eligible to attend.“

OWCS is another perfect example of why I love Portland, right along with Our Oregon and Defend Oregon, and the overall feel of the city itself, which is largely focused on progressive thinking.

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Business Card Presentation

Before beginning the site design, I wanted to focus on the logo first, since that could very well dictate the design. I had been sketching ideas for the logo on and off since October, with a new set that I presented in January. While none of my original designs were picked, a combination of two of them was decided upon, resulting in a nice clean brand, – simple, yet unique, bold but not loud, and what I feel is both modern and relevant for years to come.

The website design came shortly thereafter, having sketched a number of layouts on paper first – a practice that has really freed me up to put down what I think up, immediately, avoiding some of the drawbacks to ‘sketching’ in Illustrator or other graphic programs.

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Conceptual Sketch

I came up with three variations, one of which was toned down quite a bit in case they wanted a more simplified design. The version chosen was the one I had really hoped for, and to make things even easier, they chose a color scheme from one of the other mock-ups.

The header image required the most work. The images they wanted used were of different resolutions and a few of them pretty low quality, so I had to employ the use of some filter effects to get them all working more or less together.

Designed on top of WordPress for ease of content management, I was able to find a couple of plug-ins to help OWCS better manage their registrations, such as the inclusion of a form plug-in to meet their need for a brief questionnaire on the registration page. The site also includes a contact form, something I like to include in most of my WordPress designs. Typically, I don’t like to use too many plug-ins within a CMS, since the more you add, the more chance for code to become invalid and other conflicts to arise.

I had never worked on a politically-oriented site before, so I was a little concerned in the beginning about creating a unique look that still gave that ‘political’ kind of feel. But in the end, I am very pleased how the OWCS website turned out and very happy that the board members of Oregon Women’s Campaign School love the new design!