Full Case Study
MOST Resources, a subsidiary of UPF based in Los Angeles, conducts advocacy work and engages with film and television screen writers and directors regarding authentic portrayals of minority ethnic and religious groups in entertainment media. MOST was created particularly focused on portrayals of Muslims, and of ethnic groups associated with Muslim majority countries. MOST approaches this challenge by working directly with those who write and direct such productions.
Minority groups, no matter where in the world, face consistent stereotypical portrayals in entertainment, new media, and popular culture. Though this can be caused and driven by malignant intent or social/political agendas, it can also happen simply out of misinformation or lack of reliable information about that group. Or, in the cases that information is available, it is not always accessible to the people that need it. How can MOST be that resource to writers and directors, but also facilitate accessible content to correct misinterpretation and inspire new, multidimensional character profiles?
When I joined UPF, this project for improving the MOST website had recently begun. Through the team's own brainstorming sessions, research phase, and ongoing discussions with their "users" (in this case screen writers and directors in Hollywood), they settled on a redesign of their website including a new feature called the Story Bank. This would be a new function of their website's user experience that served the needs of their users front and center.
A team of external developers implemented and collaborated with us on the redesign, and the core team included MOST's program director (based in LA),UPF's director (based in DC), and myself. Other staff members and interns also participated in the project in story collection and curation.
MOST's discovery process was grounded in their close communication with their users. The director of MOST, in preparation for this new site, went through a full discovery process through interviews and discussions with screenwriters and directors. These insights came to our team in DC through our planning sessions with her.
Story Bank & Content Structure
The Story Bank was the main feature of MOST's site redesign. It's importance heavily influenced the site design. For screen writers and directors looking for inspiration in creating multidimensional minority characters and story lines, the Story Bank would serve as a skimmable and searchable resource for them.
At the outset of the project, I worked with UPF's director on setting project overview and goals, roles of staff members and consultants, a timeline with key project targets, and process details around content discovery, selection criteria, and curation.
Story Bank Selection Criteria
The Story Bank project at its core was one of content strategy. Our goal was "to provide an accessible, timely source that introduced producers and writers to interesting stories about Muslims." Based on this overarching goal, we laid out a brief selection criteria document to align the team's vision, and serve as a reference for future staff members taking a lead or supportive role on the project.
In summary, content we aimed to include met the following criteria:
- Evergreen stories that have a long shelf life, avoiding informative articles about issues
- One-off news stories, as opposed to unfolding issue commentary pieces
- Emphasis on humanizing stories that focus on positive individual/communal character
Story Bank Content Curation
With the project timeline set and content criteria in place, we moved to create a comprehensive database of articles that would serve the goal of the Story Bank. Importantly in this step, we put considerable thought into content classification. Considering the goals of accessibility and searchability, this classification was a key factor for a quality search experience.
The new Story Bank contained more than a list of searchable stories. Through team workshopping we arrived at a new sitemap for the MOST redesign.
- Resources would compliment the humanizing stories of the Story Bank with data and research. Users would be able to download papers, view verified statistics, and view other informative content.
- Perspectives would be an area of the site where specific case studies can be presented in more depth.
Given the site is straightforward in its purpose, we aimed for a clear primary navigation. Below are two versions of the site navigation. The only difference in the two is that the current nav bar includes Perspectives, a section of the site that we added to present a few select stories in depth. Perspectives would included a write up, and MOST created video content.
With our content guidelines laid out, information architecture clear, and navigation set, we began wireframing the new site. Beginning with sketches, and then arriving at the samples below, we finalized a structure of the site. Below you can see the Resources page, Perspectives, and Events wireframes, followed by their corresponding pages on the current site.