The Blend of Art & Science
The primary purpose of a website is to (eventually) generate business, right? For Mark Tennis and Mary Landau, founders of MPATHY art, it’s about much more than that. They understand that people who buy art generally want something cool and unique to hang on a wall. So, a website that flaunts their ultra-unique collections made sense. But, they were looking to incorporate their main “cause” into the site as well – fighting cancer. They want their art to be a vehicle for making a difference in human life.
If that sounds really lofty and feel-goodish, you don’t know MPATHY art.
Every one of their pieces is LITERALLY sourced from the cells of human beings, many of whom are fighting life-threatening cancers. The beauty of their art often has a tragic story tied to it, so using pieces to educate people and support cancer research actually makes a ton of sense.
It’s a lot to pack into a website, but it helped that our team was completely bought into Mark and Mary’s vision.
They want their art to be a vehicle for making a difference in human life.
Web Design & Development
Before bringing anything tangible to life, we knew we had to find a way to build an elegant site worthy of MPATHY’s expertise without the typical “agency price tag”. At the time, MPATHY was in a pre-revenue state, so we knew that their budget would be an important factor. We decided to create a WordPress “child” theme based on the pre-built Divi theme for MPATHY’s site.
While this gave us some technical limitations, it didn’t come with the price tag of a fully custom-built site – although we did add some custom functionality to give it additional polish and professionalism. This platform decision during the sales process helped us put reasonable parameters on the site build to accommodate MPATHY’s budget.
We also modified our typical build process to design and develop simultaneously instead of getting approval on the design first and then moving to dev.
It’s always a little risky.
If they hated the design, it would have killed momentum and we would have been doing a lot of re-work. But, you know what they say: No Risk, No Reward.
On Week 1 of the project we held a half-day workshop with Mark and Mary from MPATHY to wireframe the site’s pages. This wireframe workshop was unique for us, because MPATHY sources much of their visual design work (logo, colors, fonts) through a local designer who specializes in print. His work is awesome, but we were unsure if his background in print design would present challenges in a digital context. It was a bast. We got a little more “in the weeds” than we typically do in a wireframe session, but heck, we’re designers too, so we know how tempting it is to start talking “look and feel” before the guts of the site are in place. It was fun to nerd out.
By the end of the half-day together, we had sketched out (yeah, on paper) the structure for each page of the site and noted specific visual elements or effects imagined by MPATHY’s visual designer. We explored how to bring his vision to life and work within the technical limitations of the Divi theme. Ok, enough prep. Time to write.
Our team wrote nearly 100% of the content for MPATHY’s site. Mark and Mary wanted to have input on their bios (naturally), but the rest of the messaging was in our court. The process of unblanking the page was kickstarted by MPATHY’s brand definition project from months before (when we identified their brand values, personality traits, brand story, and built their verbal guidelines).
With the wireframes in hand, our design team started working on visuals while leaving placeholders in the design for Mary’s art per the wireframes. At the same time, our content team used the wireframes and verbal guidelines to write blocks of content suitable for the text callouts shown on each sketch. As content was completed, the design team dropped it into the site (remember, we were designing/dev’ing the pages simultaneously).
This highly-efficient, yet tactically-risky process meant that the client went from seeing an obscure, hand-sketched notebook page to a fully built, designed, and written webpage within a very short period of time. And they saw far more than one page. By the time the client put eyes on the first deliverable version of the site, it was roughly 85% completed. To our delight – they loved it.
They appreciated how we positioned the art as collectible, commemorative, and even educational throughout the site. We infused an element of their mission into the site’s verbiage as well, featuring MPATHY’s desire to support a variety of cancer research foundations.
"Simon Sinek said that people don't buy what you do, they buy why you do it. We had a good handle on what we wanted to do, but Resound helped us discover our "why." That gave us the focus and momentum we needed to get off the ground."
As we approached the launch date for the site, some visual collateral from MPATHY wasn’t ready to go quite yet.
And you can’t sell paintings without...well...the paintings.
Originally, we accomodated the delay. Then, we heard that Mary had an important pitch meeting coming up, and she needed something to show off! We hid the part of the site built for the art itself and launched the site in advance of Mary’s meeting.
We also helped MPATHY trim their 30+ collections to an even 12 for product launch. An informal focus group voted on the top 12 pieces to feature on the website. This allows MPATHY to drip out new collections without having to build anything new on their site. We had all the collection pages ready to go – all they need to do is unhide them to release a new collection.
A week after launch, MPATHY landed some unexpected meetings with physician groups, high-profile clinics, and art gallery owners who truly understand MPATHY’s mission and vision.
Even in the company’s infancy, the future is looking bright pink/purple.