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Mapping the Nation

Case Study Type: Custom website strategy, design, and development
Overview:  How we helped a NY Times Blogger and University professor envision a superior online resource

Web design screenshot for Colorado author and NY Times guest blogger

Susan Schulten, a University of Denver history professor, recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, and NY Times Guest Blogger, released her latest book entitled Mapping the Nation in June 2012.

Susan approached Followbright looking for a companion website that would allow readers to search for and view larger, detailed versions of the many maps featured in her book.

She also wanted to continue the discussion and exploration begun in the book by providing additional insights and commentary on new maps as she came across them over time.

First came structure and functionality

Before we began the design phase of this project, we worked with Susan to understand exactly what her site visitors would want, already know, and be looking for upon arriving at her site.

We determined that different visitors would be searching for different maps in different ways, and thus mapped out a plan that would give visitors 4 unique methods of locating the maps they cared about most: search by date, search by creator, search by chapter, and search by keyword. This functionality created a strong foundation for this well-organized, highly usable site. We also determined a blog would allow Susan to keep her followers up to date on her latest discoveries.

Then came design...

After helping Susan determine the structure, organization, and functionality of her her site, we crafted a beautiful, completely custom design that coordinated with the cover of her new book, ensuring that the association between website and book would be immediately obvious to all site visitors.

After presenting her with the design for the first time, it felt wonderful to receive an email from Susan that read, "I just looked at the site, and nearly started to cry. It is so beautiful..." and "All three of my editors at Chicago found it elegant and exciting."

Soon after launch, we received this note from Susan:

"Your site continues to turn heads! Just yesterday the president of the American Historical Association saw it and asked me to speak on the meaning of maps for historical research at the annual meeting in January.

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How we helped:

  • Custom website design
  • HTML and CSS Coding
  • Blog design and WordPress build
  • Website usability consulting

In the client's own words...

photo of Susan SchultenI write to express my sincere gratitude for your work on Mapping the Nation. What you delivered was so far beyond what I had imagined in every respect: form, design, and functionality. As I've told you, everyone who sees it gushes.

Your ability to see the site in broader terms has actually helped me rethink the meaning of these maps, and by extension my research.

And if I didn't tell you enough already, let me say here—I was amazed by your ability to deliver first-rate ideas and substance well in advance of every deadline you set. You were so extremely organized about every step of the process. 

Now I know why you came so highly recommended.

~ Susan Schulten Ph.D
Author and NY Times Guest Blogger