I wanted to take a moment this morning to go back through the last project I worked on at my last place, which happened to go live on my last day in Chicago. Not only did it go up on time (Jim Vogel is the world’s best project guy), but it’s probably the piece of work that makes me smile the most in looking back. It was one of those strategy + design + development projects that just went perfectly, with everyone feeling good. Wisconsin Focus on Energy is a non-profit energy initiative that helps people figure out all manner of efficiency & comfort-related issues, and they wanted to do something on the internets that let people ask them questions.
On hearing this, we were pretty psyched; while question-asking is a pretty fertile ground, it’s been worked-over a bit. There are plenty of great sites where you can ask a question and get a pretty good answer. Heck, there are even tools out there that serve to eliminate any bit of digital conversation that might arise (Let Me Google That For You being my favorite example). But we felt there was some space for a more personal type of digital interaction, where people could ask Focus’ experts a question and get a personal, public reply. Thus: AskFocusOnEnergy.com.
I had it in my head that this site had to be simpler, better looking, and more personal than every other Q + A site out there, and with some key features in mind, I whiteboarded something that didn’t change much through to implementation, apart from getting a lot better looking. That’s the benefit of the user-experience/strategy person being in with the design/development folk.
And here’s the final version of that page:
I was lost on what to do with the homepage, design-wise, other than it had to have a bunch of questions (to make it look “full” when people got there), needed to have a high degree of visual cool without using any Flash, but also needed to be simple.
Thankfully, Ashley killed it.
Happily, the system suggests answers for you when you submit something.
And they’re sharing their best tips on Twitter as a second kind of helpful content.
I’m pretty stoked about this, not just because the is cool, but also that they’re updating content frequently, and they’re moving toward making the web a genuinely conversational service medium rather than a messaging channel. And while I don’t know the metrics on this initiative, I’d be willing to guess it’s growing over time, rather than dropping to nothing when the promotional radio/print/outdoor stops.
Nice work, everyone.