Redesign the Torrance Area Chamber of Commerce website to better serve members and give staff full control in-house. Update branding to reinvigorate the organization’s professional image.
The Chamber’s website was bogged down by monthly maintenance fees, even when no work was done by the webmaster. The only access staff had was to add upcoming events. The website wasn’t functional on mobile devices or tablets, so it wasn’t serving its busy, on-the-go business members. Branding was out-of-date and incomplete, which prevented the organization from gaining the full trust it deserved for the great work it was doing.
Web design, branding, copywriting, photography, graphic design, e-commerce
The Evolution of a Website
Originally hired by the Torrance Area Chamber of Commerce to write press releases, I quickly began to realize there were better ways my time and expertise could be put to use. So I pitched a redesign of the website to get a feel for what the CEO and Board of Directors thought about its current state.
It was unanimous: change was welcome.
The primary goal of the new website would be to bring it in-house. This would lead to faster and easier content updates.
While nobody wanted to admit it, the credibility of the Chamber — despite its century-long legacy — was lacking by outward appearances. Content was missing on some pages, and so lengthy on others that it was rendered indigestible to the very people who needed to consume it. The website seemed confused about its purpose.
It was time to rethink what the Chamber’s website could be.
The Board accepted.
This is how the site looked when I first started working at the Chamber in 2013.
This static HTML website wasn’t mobile responsive. Dropdown menus wouldn’t reveal on mobile, so very few pages were accessible. The homepage had no content, and the content on most other pages was essay-length with no accompanying imagery.
The purpose of my first redesign was to bring the site in-house and introduce a mobile responsive approach. I built it on the WordPress CMS, which took the site from static to dynamic overnight. For the first time, the Chamber’s website had a newsfeed thanks to WordPress’s blogging capabilities.
It received great feedback from members as a forward-thinking, clear departure from the past.
My second and final redesign, which launched 1.5 years after the first redesign, was a top-to-bottom effort to improve the organization’s messaging and branding. It was at this time that I honed in on a color palette and fonts for the brand.
I went to great lengths to cut the word count down and provide more engaging storytelling cues. To achieve this, I rewrote the copy on every page from the ground up.
I made tactical user-centric decisions, such as bringing the membership application online. Previously, members had to go through a time consuming paper application process that required a lot of time and back-and-forth from staff. Bringing it online sped up the process, saved members and staff valuable time, and improved legibility (because everything was on paper before) when adding new entries to our CRM.
This redesign remained built on WordPress, but I adopted a new WordPress theme that allowed for better customization and faster turnaround of both edits and new page designs.
I don’t manage or design this website anymore, but as of the publishing of this portfolio piece, the design is still intact.
The Evolution of a Brand
All good brands exist in a constant state of evolution, where they grow and mature, much like a living organism. Some brands, however, err on the side of “refresh when it’s apparent that it’s necessary.”
When I started working at the Torrance Area Chamber, it was evident that it fell on the latter end of the spectrum. It hadn’t evolved in years. From a visual standpoint, the Chamber lacked confidence as a brand. This wasn’t in sync with the high quality of service the organization provided. I wanted to change that.
With the website redesign project underway, it seemed like the perfect time to start updating the brand. So I started making some changes here and there. Then, with the second website redesign highlighted above, I went full force by honing in on a color palette and fonts. I created a style guide to provide a resource and rulebook for myself and my coworkers to adhere to.
Under my design leadership, the Torrance Area Chamber of Commerce brand transitioned into a state of constant evolution.
Members loved it. They would come to my office just to tell me.
Here’s the evolution of the logo during my time at the Chamber.
The logo when I first started working at the Chamber.
My first redesign of the logo separated the text from the symbol to improve readability. I also decided on a blue color that’s easier on the eyes.
My final redesign of the logo was inspired by one found in the Chamber’s archives. Although the shape of this logo symbol was last used in the 70s and 80s, it fits the clean standard set by modern design principles and draws on the Chamber’s long history of service to the Torrance business community.
This dark blue speaks to the professional and approachable nature of the organization.
This medium-dark gray evokes the City of Torrance’s industrial roots.
This light gray is used for subtle accents and backgrounds to accompany both print and web designs.
Inspired by the color of Mirado pencils, this color hints at the educational side of the Chamber.
Making an Impact in Print
While my branding efforts took a digital-first approach, it was imperative not to leave print in the dust. Print offers the ability to connect with customers in a more tactile way.
With our event flyers, annual magazine, new member welcome packet, informational materials, and a push for a quarterly printed newsletter, the branding needed to work seamlessly across all verticals.
Adhering to the design guidelines I’d established helped improve the Chamber’s brand recognition.
With the advent of a new logo, the Chamber’s business cards had to be redesigned to match the new branding. Utilizing the colors and fonts that I’d established in the brand guidelines, I created this template in Illustrator and printed cards for each staff member through VistaPrint.
NEW MEMBER PACKET
The New Member Packet was in a state of constant evolution while I was tasked with maintaining it. Over the years, it went from a thick, somewhat overwhelming stack of materials, to a more streamlined and directed set of resources. Ultimately, I designed a beautiful folder to house the packet and crafted a welcome letter to provide an overview of what they’d find enclosed.
Your Connection is a quarterly printed newsletter that I designed and branded. It showcases how adhering to the brand standards guide I created translates into print. The full size when open is 17″x22″.