A New Website for the Trust!

Although spring is programming season at the Trust (at one point by our count we were juggling plans for 11 different events), there has been a lot going on behind the scenes. Over Mother’s Day weekend, the result of several months of planning and design was unveiled: our new website! We couldn’t be more excited with the results.

Although Matt and Christian like to think they’re quite talented, they’re not programmers nor designers. For those services, we turned to two professionals who have been helping with the Trust’s branding and online presence since before either of us ever had the Trust on our radars. Veronica Miller and Julee Gooding met because of their work for the Trust, and have gone on to become a dream team for digital projects.

A screenshot of the Trust's very first webpage, late 2001. Image courtesy of the Internet Archive
A screenshot of the Trust’s very first webpage, late 2001. Image courtesy of the Internet Archive

Veronica has been working for the Trust and its “look” since 1992. A native of Venezuela, she graduated from RISD, and worked with former Trust director Penny Hunt at the advertising agency Tyson and Partners before Penny left for the Trust. In addition to redesigning the print newsletters and symposia and Study Trip Abroad brochures, Veronica worked on the very first Trust website, an informational page about the Trust’s mission and activities.

Julee, a Winterthur alumna incidentally, came to the Trust through a more circuitous route. After raising her children, she was looking for a new professional direction. The pivotal moment came when her husband, a programmer, showed her an early version of the Vatican museum website. The potential of online exhibits struck her fancy, and she decided to learn how to make them possible. In addition to classes at Drexel University, she taught herself many of the more complicated ins and outs of programming. “I’ve always been sort of nerdy that way,” she likes to say.

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Julee and Veronica turned their chance meeting into a grand collaboration, and have worked on several websites and digital projects together. Veronica particularly admires Julee’s technical skills and savvy, while Julee is always quick to point out Veronica’s impeccable design sense.

The newest iteration of the website features larger graphics, and easy navigation with drop-down menus. The page scrolls down to featured event and scholarship reports.
The newest iteration of the website features larger graphics, and easy navigation with drop-down menus. The page scrolls down to featured event and scholarship reports.

Needless to say, they are quite pleased with their latest effort for the Trust. Rather than an aesthetic overhaul, their new site is a complete reworking from a coding perspective. Matt’s request for a mobile-friendly site was finally a chance for Julee to completely redevelop things “under the hood” as she puts it, for it all to make sense, and Veronica was able to harness the recent advances in digital imaging and bandwidth of the past few years to showcase the Trust’s mission, scholarship, and programming in a graphically engaging way.

For Matt and Christian, who will also assume more of an active role in the website’s maintenance and updating, this was an education in how to leverage the site to better serve the Trust membership. The weekly design meetings throughout the first part of 2016 included new terminology: phrases like back-end editing, breadcrumb trails, pods, and responsive formatting. This technical jargon is part of a language used to describe how to make the site more intuitive for both long-time members and those who stumble across the Trust in cyberspace. Over 50% of those interacting with the website use a mobile device, be it a smartphone or a tablet. Thus, the new site is an essential move that will take the Trust’s web presence to the next level and encourage more engagement, as the site works equally well on both a computer screen and a mobile one.

Matt and Christian are incredibly grateful for the insight and hard work of Veronica and Julee, in addition to their long-time involvement with the Trust. We look forward to digitally reaching out the membership and a wider audience in the coming months, and look forward to exploring the website’s capabilities! If you have any feedback or recommendations for the website, please let us know.

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