The Occidental Arts & Ecology Center (OAEC) is an 80-acre research, demonstration, education, advocacy and community-organizing center in Sonoma County, California that develops strategies for regional-scale community resilience and the restoration of biological and cultural diversity. Founded in 1994, the Center has developed a remarkably diverse yet interrelated suite of projects and partnerships that address the urgent crises of our time through permaculture design, biointensive horticulture, restoration ecology, strategic organizing methods and democratic self-governance.
“Hiring 1stWave for our website overhaul and rebranding was the best decision I’ve made as the organization’s Communications Director. I knew we needed more than a graphic designer for the process – we needed a UX/UI specialist who could help us rethink our former website’s complicated navigation. Working with Josh on information architecture was like solving a fun and engaging puzzle, day after day – it never felt tedious or frustrating, despite the fact that our old website was totally disorganized. Also, Josh was flexible and patient with our organization’s consensus decision-making process, which meant that his designs had to be approved and tweaked by multiple stakeholders. Unlike other creatives I’ve worked with, he was humble and adaptive in taking artistic feedback.”
Janel Healy, Communications Director, OAEC
Every project has a unique back-story. OAEC presented three distinct challenges. First, because of the organization’s consensus decision-making process, 1stWave was called on to facilitate design and branding decision-making amongst multiple stakeholders. Secondly, OAEC’s diverse programs, partners, projects and events had been added to their old site in a piecemeal fashion, so 1stWave spent a great deal of time synthesizing these elements into an easy-to-browse site navigation with calls to action to lead to other content. Third, OAEC wanted their in-house Communications Director to be an integral collaborator in the site development process. Unlike many other design agencies that have a reputation for a “my way or the highway” approach to collaboration, 1stWave seamlessly incorporated OAEC staff into the creative development process.
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