Archtober stands as a year-round celebration of architecture and design, fostering a deep connection between communities and the built environment. Established in 2010 as an annual month-long festival, this platform has evolved into a resource for happenings in NYC. Collaborating with an extensive network of partners, Archtober presents an array of events that include tours, lectures, workshops, panels, and exhibitions.
Our collaboration with Archtober began in 2020 during the 10th annual festival. After the successful festival in the month of October, the site was ready to come down, revealing a critical gap in their digital presence. Archtober lacked a year-round online presence, while a successful newsletter promoted partner events and exhibitions throughout the year, there was no repository for this information on line. A comprehensive digital strategy was needed, and we felt like we could help.
In response, we embarked on building a new website, one that could add to the brand recognition of Archtober and help foster new partner relationships in the future. The site was playful, colorful, and an initial success. This led to expanded programming and increased overall presence.
By 2023, it was time for Archtober's next chapter - a strategic reassessment and the creation of a more sophisticated "canvas brand" that reflected its maturity.
With the dual objectives of maturing the brand personality and an enhancing user experience, we embarked on a full brand and site overhaul.
A deep dive into the brand essence involved reworking the mission and purpose to reflect the changes that Archtober has implemented over the last few years. Less focused on the yearly festival and more focused on the year round community that Archtober has fostered.
We also worked to define the unique audience groups Archtober interacts with and explored how we could tailor content and the user experience to meet their unique needs. We set measurable goals: including unique users, time on site, and total views per year; laying the groundwork for future projects and potential revenue streams.
Our strategy hinged on two verticals that we thought could increase revenue & awareness: content & their store.
Our content strategy aimed at positioning Archtober as a thought leader and content creator. Expanding their monthly newsletter content into long-form, evergreen pieces. We built out a “stories” section of the site where they could feature content on various topics tailored to their audience; ie. spotlights on new partners, interviews with architects / thought leaders, curated event lists by topic or type, and educational content.
We also focused on increasing the visibility and traffic to the store. We upgraded the UX on the shop page to be able to filter by collection, featuring the core collection all year long. As well as encouraged them to offer more unique products at a better price point that considered their margins. During the festival, we even created a virtual storefront at The Center for Architecture where visitors could view a sampling of products and scan the QR code to purchase.
A fresh design system breathed new life into Archtober's digital presence.
The color palette underwent refinement. Taking away the swaths of color backdrops, we introduced a warm off-white backdrop and more negative space, providing a neutral canvas for content to shine.
Keeping the classic Archtober marigold as one of the core colors, we expanded palette with a spectrum of colors that felt sophisticated, inviting, and cheerful. These colors were designed to be used as asset fills or a utility palette in tags or hover effects. All color combinations were tested for ADA compliance ensuring legibility across diverse interactions on the site.
We built out a library of illustrations that could be used across the site, marketing materials, etc. Drawing inspiration from the iconic architecture of NYC, the artwork pays homage to the city's timeless landmarks but also provided a foundation for future creativity and expansion. Designed to be black and white, they played well with the interactive fills of color througout the site.
Updating the typography system was important, carefully designed with clear hierarchy and balance. Dynamic and responsive components emerged as the unifying thread, weaving through the entirety of Archtober's new site. From color choices to illustrations, each element contributed to a cohesive visual language that resonated with the audience and brand story.
User experience of the site received a significant boost as well. We reimagined the home experience, creating a dynamic and ever-changing modular page showcasing the most relevant content from events, exhibitions, and stories.
We also updated experiences like the things to do page, which now grouped content by events, exhibitions, or the partners. To create ease of use, we grouped all these elements on a single experience with tabs that allow the user navigate from one to the other easily. We also increase filtering, search, and sorting through the information a user will actually want to know
A comprehensive navigation and information architecture overhaul was undertaken as well. Converting the existing expanded hamburger menu to offer an intuitive and user-centric journey. Pages were grouped into core topics, with an emphasis on clarity and accessibility. The redesigned information architecture facilitated exploration, aligning content with user expectations.
The new site, launched in the summer of 2023, seamlessly transitioned into the festival period in September. The neutral palette allowed festival branding to shine on specific pages without disrupting the overall site aesthetic. Core pages remained neutral, while festival-related pages received upgrades, ensuring a cohesive yet distinctive user experience for both year-round and festival content.
Archtober's transformation not only strengthened its digital presence but also solidified its position as a year-round resource for design enthusiasts, architects, and partners alike. The strategic approach to branding and user experience has significantly enhanced Archtober's ability to engage, inform, and inspire its diverse audience, making exploration on their site an immersive experience for all.
Working with Greater for the past five years has changed how we think about collaboration. Alex and Jon have repeatedly gone above and beyond to help shape how we think about our own work and what Archtober can achieve, helping us expand and improve not only our outputs but our internal workflows and processes.