How do you create a sense of “place” online for a hall of fame that has no brick-and-mortar location?
The Pita team recently brought new meaning to the term online experience when they launched CWHF.org for the Connecticut Women’s Hall of Fame. Our Marketing Coordinator Nicole Stavola sat down with the team to learn more about what it took to bring this virtual hall of fame to life:
What was the strategy behind the CWHF website and how did the team come up with this strategy?
The Connecticut Women’s Hall of Fame has been honoring our state’s extraordinary women since 1993 – and yet, it has no hall of fame for people to visit. So creating a virtual experience that truly represented not only the CWHF brand, but also the women inducted, was extremely important. We knew it needed to be more than a web site – it needed to be a real hall of fame experience.
Our strategy was to use virtual 3D elements coupled with online video, straightforward yet compelling content and intuitive navigation to present CWHF’s wealth of knowledge and information in an engaging format. We also wanted the web site to be a source of revenue for the organization, so we devised the Rose Garden concept, which allows site visitors to purchase and “plant” a virtual rose for a special woman in their lives. In addition, the site provides CWHF with sponsorship opportunities – for example, organizations can sponsor the virtual hall’s portrait galleries. All of the site’s features work together to create a pretty impressive educational resource.
– Emily Cretella, Director of Strategy
What were some of the challenges the team faced when programming this site?
This website presented unique challenges not only due to its sheer size, but also due to how many different areas were developed to be as engaging as possible for visitors. A large part of the goal for this project was to make the web site a tremendous educational resource with sections like the Connecticut Woman’s Heritage Trail and a very robust presentation of nearly 100 historically influential women from Connecticut within The Inductees area. Another goal was for the site was to highlight Induction Ceremony events, and also to drive sponsorship opportunities.
Cross-browser compatibility was also a big challenge with this web site. The unique elements and special content management functions required extensive testing in order to ensure as consistent an experience as possible for any visitor, regardless of their platform.
– Naren Kelso, Interactive Manager
How did the Interactive team members conceptualize and execute the 3D experience?
The process involved coming up with a basic floor plan based on the client’s vision of what the virtual hall would be like. We then embellished upon that to add more architectural interest, building in the details inspired by real-world examples. The real challenge was in seamlessly marrying live captured footage with a computer-generated environment by aligning perspective points and scaling appropriately while creating continuity of light and shadow. All this needed to be taken into account prior to filming and, particularly in the home page area, was integral in composing the layout and design.
– Ben Hecht, Director of Interactive
What needed to be considered when creating the database for this particular website?
With nearly 100 inductee women in the hall of fame, much consideration was needed when designing and building the back-end data structures that manage each woman’s profile information. Aside from appearing on their respective pages of the site, the honored women’s data is linked to several other key features of the site including the portrait galleries of the virtual hall, the sortable list of inductees and the time periods on the timeline. With the well-planned database scheme and easy-to-use content management tools, these sections of the site are each automatically updated whenever an inductee’s profile is edited or a new woman is honored.
– Micah Murray, Senior Interactive Developer
What was the most rewarding part of this project for The Pita Group team?
The complex strategy resulted in some big programming and design challenges, which let our team really test the limits. This project, even more so than many other sites, made the creative teams from each of our divisions work together to come up with unique solutions. It was really exciting to see features like the Virtual Hall, the Connecticut Women’s Heritage Trail and the Timeline come to life.
– Emily Cretella, Director of Strategy