How did certain objectives shape the design? What were the thoughts behind it's development. We share a look inside.
Client: The Treehouse Reading and Arts Center
Project: Create A Website
When The Treehouse Reading & Arts Center, a literary bookstore and community learning center in New Hartford, New York, first considered creating their Website, the task seemed enormous. As a new business, the content and imagery on the Website needed to communicate the center’s learning programs. These programs were created to inspire, promote, and support literacy. Equally important, the new Website needed to reference the bookstore’s large selection of books, and special event activities in music, art, and literature.
The owner, Dr. Joanna Robertson, carefully thought about the site’s content. She felt capitalizing on the brand’s playful identity was a good marketing approach. Initial thoughts of creating her site lead to questions, and getting answers to her questions led to seeking advice. To address her inquiries she turned to the design firm who initially created her brand identity, IntreXDesign & Associates.
Questions Lead to Answers
For most new or rebranding businesses, questions are very common and IntreXDesign & Associates sat with Dr. Robertson to understanding each concern. Her specific questions included:
• What will the site look like?
• What navigational tabs should be included in the menu?
• How to know when there’s enough content and photos without adding too much?
• Will it be easy to maintain?
IntreXDesign & Associates listened carefully to each question and addressed her inquiries with a clear explanation. Working one-on-one we discussed actionable steps she could take immediately to move forward. As we reviewed her options she felt more confident. We considered different Website templates and platforms, reasonable hosting services, and if needed using a writer or photographer to populate the site’s content.
Setting Specific Goals
After considering her options, Dr. Robertson explained she had two goals: she preferred to write her own content and maintain the site herself.
As a literacy professor, Dr. Robertson felt it was important to write the content and she was comfortable doing this. Her personal writing style communicated a clear and concise message, which personalized her content. IntreXDesign & Associates coached her in identifying specific words that captured her unique voice and exemplified the values she held within her business. This gave her Website a definitive presence that differentiated her services from similar businesses. She then wrote her content using the words, tone, and values we discussed. Likewise, she personified the reasons for starting her business, by writing the story behind why she opened her bookstore.
Maintaining the Website was her second goal. This made choosing the platform easy, and a WordPress template was chosen for the owner’s ease-of-use. Another advantage to a WordPress template, was the periodic updates to support digital formats like mobile, desktop, and tablet sizes. A WordPress template would give her the flexibility to add more options as she grew.
The Website’s Marketing Advantage and Objective
To get started, IntreXDesign & Associates asked Dr. Robertson to do three things.
1) Finalize her written words for all her Web pages
2) Gather all photos to be used on the site (with permission granted from the subjects).
3) Create an outline to map out the site’s navigational pages (with some guidance from IntreXDesign & Associates).
During this time, Dr. Robertson decided on the service provider that would host her Website. She also reviewed different WordPress templates as the framework for her site and chose one. She did a fantastic job outlining the site’s Web pages (pictured below). This provided a navigational map we regularly referenced as we worked to populate the site’s content.
Creating Informative Content While Unifying the Brand
Once IntreXDesign & Associates received all the text, photos, and site’s outline, we got to work. The graphics and content of the site needed to remain true to Dr. Robertson’s request:
• A playful Web presence with vibrant colors and activity-based photos
• Graphics with a simple, user-friendly navigational menu
• Actionable links where viewers could interact with the bookstore
As the design of the Website evolved, IntreXDesign & Associates made decisions on the brand’s visual aesthetics:
• Length of the content and number of images per page
• Choosing specific photos to display ongoing activities and special event programs
• Adding bright colors and whimsical graphics
• Ensure all the pages had a continuous flow in relation to its content
• Retaining a simple and clean design true to the original template
• Crafting each page so it was distinguished, uniform and consistent with existing design
• Communicate a clear and concise message on the homepage to define the Website’s purpose
On the homepage, we used photographic windows taken from the actual Treehouse structure (which resides inside the bookstore) to personalize the site’s experience and invite viewers in to seek out ongoing programs.
We invited viewers to join the book and writing clubs like Loyal Readers Club, My Favorite Book Club, or request a book at Gifts on the Go. On the bookstore’s service page we highlighted the large selection of books for babies, toddlers, teens, parents, and educators.
To capture the bookstore’s educational programs, we chose specific photos tied to learning and art enrichment activities. This section included year-round programs like summer and school break camps, literacy tutoring, writing groups, and music lessons. The bookstore even hosts clubs for adults focused on education and parenting. There’s also seminars for teachers covering various topics to support their role as leaders and educators.
A Treehouse Website Created For All Ages
The Treehouse Reading and Arts Center’s niché is marrying education, literacy, music, and entertainment into a playful environment. Brand distinction is tied to being memorable. Since this business uses a familiar childish structure, like a tree house as their name, capitalizing on their uniqueness remained part of their motif. The bookstore’s identity, and everything associated with the bookstore—from the inside environment to its educational programs—is focused on learning.
Just like building an actual tree house requires a plan, creating a Website with an action plan determines what content is included on the site. That’s where identifying key advantages and benefits emerge. Where design and content work together to add more impact to the business. Intentionally, this site conveys a devotion to learning and education that’s planted firmly into everything Dr. Robertson values and loves. When a Website communicates an integrated message—where balancing key content with visual imagery supports a unified brand—a business stands out.
“It looks so amazing! . . . I LOVE it!”
—Dr. Joanna Robertson