Always Thinking

Creative Alliance

Award-Winning Site for Much Loved Baltimore Arts Organization

  • Balloons in front of Creative Alliance
  • Creative Alliance screenshot
  • Creative Alliance subpage screenshot
  • Creative Alliance screenshot
  • Creative Alliance

TBG & Creative Alliance

It is a longstanding tradition at TBG (The Berndt Group) to develop Maryland arts websites pro bono or partially pro bono, which enables us to contribute to what we think is one of the strongest positive aspects of the region—its rich creative community. Not only do many TBG employees have activities outside of work in the cultural sphere, we are also by and large great consumers of the local vibrant and stimulating culture.

One of the strongest organizations in the region along these lines, and a longstanding TBG client, is the Creative Alliance at The Patterson, located in the renovated Patterson Theatre on Eastern Avenue in Highlandtown. TBG previously designed and hosted the organization's site—a great site, but it had become dated and somewhat out of phase with the organization's evolving needs. The site was also old enough that it no longer fit contemporary screen real estate and as a result, looked rather squashed in the upper left corner of the browser.

The Creative Alliance has, on a limited budget, consistently increased the profile of both performing and gallery arts in Baltimore, and presented a monumental amount of great stuff every year. The Creative Alliance's sensibilities are broad and inclusive, ethnically diverse, participatory, and equally open to fun/kitsch stuff as well as the serious and avant-garde. It's really a model for the world of what an arts organization should be like!

For these reasons and others, we considered them a prime candidate for a serious redesign, with a number of pro bono elements. In fact, it was a great pleasure to be able to design such a fun site not just once—but twice!

Focusing on Key Issues

Focusing on Key Issues

Working with Creative Alliance staff TBG developed an overall roadmap for the project, which included Web strategy, user experience, and template production by TBG and a focus on finding a developer to implement the site in Drupal (a platform TBG thought would be best long-term for the organization, but not one we are currently focused on). Our process, as ever, included substantial best practices research—looking at some of the best performing arts sites in the country for inspiration and ideas and coming up with our own creative solutions.

In the course of the project's discovery phase and strategy development, we focused on a number of key issues that would drive the site design:

  • the ease of use of the site, especially a complexly filterable calendar application;
  • re-launching the organization with a strong new look and more up-to-date positioning;
  • allowing for much better control of featured and topical content, especially on the homepage; and
  • long-term operational considerations, especially in relation to the usability of the system’s back-end.

Since the ultimate process was collaboration between the Creative Alliance, TBG, and the Drupal developer, we were sure to have plenty of extra cross-communication with all parties from early in the process to avoid any misalignments between user experience and the overall implementation of the site.

Effectively Extending the Brand

Effectively Extending the Brand

Aside from resolving a variety of back-end usability considerations and making the site friendlier to contemporary monitors and mobile devices, we feel that this redesign successfully has brought the Creative Alliance into a more successfully Web-centric period. The design of the site has been broadly popular, and ultimately extends the Creative Alliance brand in an effective way, as well as allowing for tremendously improved usability for the organization's visitors. TBG is thrilled to be able to be a part of this great project!