Client: Angela Douglas, Cornell University

Project: Website

When Angela Douglas approached AWP to redesign her research lab website, she was unsure how to resolve some of the problems that undermined the effectiveness of her old site. She needed to find a way to address three distinct audiences in a fluid and intuitive way, giving each what they needed, without bogging them down in minutia.

We worked with Angela to develop a clear picture of her objectives, her audience’s needs and the messaging needed to address them effectively.

Thank you so very much for creating a website that is really lovely and will solve many problems that I had previously seen as intractable. Wow!

Angela DouglasDepartments of Entomology / Molecular Biology and Genetics, Cornell University

She wanted to give her peers in the field as well as potential collaborative partners a clear picture of what made her lab more than just “an insect lab.” She and her team work on conceptual problems in insect-microbe research as they relate to models of human health, productive areas for fundamental research, and targets for insect pest management in agriculture.

At the same time, Angela wanted to spark interest in funding organizations in order to promote a  diversification of funding sources – NIH for their work on human health, NSF for their contributions to fundamental science, and AFRI pest management in agribusiness.

And she wanted to more effectively attract the right candidates with relevant expertise and experience for open positions (and, just as importantly, to dissuade others from applying).

Communicating with all of these audiences effectively is accomplished by careful sequencing of messaging on the homepage, with subtle contextual calls to action which provide links to more detailed information.

The homepage is structured like a conceptual pyramid, beginning with a concise mission to help visitors quickly ascertain how the lab’s work fits with their own interests.

Scrolling down, audiences can gravitate to the areas of greatest interest to them: an overview of the lab’s research concentrations, details about the lab’s principal investigator and her contact information, and news digests highlighting the lab’s activities and accomplishments. Funders are acknowledged at the bottom of the page.

The homepage thus introduces the contents of the site in digest form. Visitors can follow links to access more detailed information as they scroll down the page.

The new site provides a means for Angela to showcase grant-funded research, including projects supported by the NSF, NIH, USDA, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. She is able to disseminate key information including conference presentations, publications, and outreach events through a central and easily accessible projects section. This portion of the site strengthens the lab’s relationship with funding organizations and supports the goal of attracting further funding and collaborative partners.

Angela has found her new site to be significantly more valuable than her previous one, noting improvements in the website’s ability to represent her lab to colleagues, funders and prospective applicants. As a bonus, she discovered that she was fielding far fewer frequently asked questions because the answers were now readily available on her new website, freeing her to focus on her research and other key tasks.