We were already working with the Manchester Metropolitan Students Union when they came to us with an exciting new brief. Planning was underway for their shiny new building, only a stone’s throw away from Evolutia Towers, and they needed a website to announce the prospect to their members.
All our previous work with The Union had been heavy, functionality-led CMS projects, so we saw this as an opportunity to strip everything away and deliver a visually strong user-experience.
“We were all incredibly excited about this project but it was tricky to envisage how it’d translate to the web. Evolutia just ‘got it’ right from the start.”
More difficult than creating a website for a building that doesn't yet exist, was creating a website for a building where even most of the plans do not yet exist. It would have to work both on a conceptual level, but also on a progressive basis as details become finalised and works are completed.
This would require some serious economy in using the assets we did have, to squeeze every ounce of value out of them in terms of achieving our key objectives...
The primary consideration would be to announce the new location and inform students of the investment made by The Union, as well as the benefits for them.
With such a technically-savvy audience, we knew there was a good opportunity for viral sharing... our task was to create something genuinely worth sharing.
To create a sense of unity and shared history among the student population. The Union asked what students want from a new building, and the website can keep this conversation active.
Luckily, we love a challenge. There was a definite sense of excitement between us and the client, and we all had the common goal of making something truly engaging.
With a handful of renders, provisional floor plans, and the very best of intentions, we would set about how we can bring the concept into a model that the students can understand and relate to.
To make the concept relatable, we wanted to present everything as a narrative: starting from the value proposition (aka. “What’s in it for me?”), through the backstory and finishing with examples of the finished product (image renders and virtual tour); everything would take place in a single page, so as not to interrupt the user experience.
Initial prototypes show the thought process...
The brief was to create something recognisable as an extension of the existing Union brand, but also different in its own right to suggest an evolution.
With so little photography available, the site would rely heavily on graphical elements; the goal for the whole site was to carry a really current, modern feel, and the cosmetic choices we would make play a key role.
We had already developed a range of accent colours for use on the main Union website, which would only need minor tweaks in order to keep consistency across the brand.
This section would prove hugely important considering the absence of a physical building. In order for students to be able to create a 'mental model' of the new layout, we would have to communicate a map of each floor in an understandable, clear way.
Icons would be used heavily throughout the site to create an understandable visual language. These would be used for wayfinding purposes on the floor plans, as well as across other elements for visual consistency.