Case study

Franciscan Federation website

This member organization needed a sturdy, beautiful online tool to share information and encourage community resources & networking.

Project snapshot


Franciscan Federation, West Chester, PA (and throughout North America)

What we delivered

  • Brand extension for web
  • Website content strategy, development & design

The Franciscan Federation is an organization of Franciscans. With both organizations and individuals in its membership, the Federation exists to foster collaborative relationships among its members. They put on a yearly conference and provide networking opportunities and resources for everyone involved.

The Federation came to us knowing that their website needed some serious rethinking. They were doing some internal restructuring and reimagining of what they could be, and their website needed to represent their new reality better. They knew that a more understandable, visually appealing website would help them both encourage new members to join the Federation and allow current members to share resources and network.

A transformational process

While some website projects are primarily about reorganizing and working with existing content, the Federation’s website needed some broader thinking. We worked with the communications team to dream big and think through all the ways the website could serve the Federation in the future — and then we helped them narrow down to what to tackle first. This versioning mindset helped everyone stay on track. All folks involved could feel confident that we could launch a beautiful, functional site with plenty of future potential.

Content strategy & site architecture

With all of our ideas in mind, we built a site architecture that can hold all types of useful information for the members. This includes basic Federation details and shared resources. In particular, we strategized a site that allows for sharing information contributed by Federation members. For instance, individuals can submit to a resources hub, a job board, and a community calendar of events.

By savvy setup of author functionality, we can distinguish clearly which organization or individual is behind each particular resource. This ensures that proper credit and context is always present.

“Working with Christina and Jessica is like engaging in an independent study into website design. The natural and inviting manner in which they engaged us as a client not only allowed them to build a site that truly embodies the spirit of our organization, but they taught us along the way. I am walking away not only with an entire toolkit of resources to guide me in maintaining the site, but with the confidence to do so as well!”

Sara P. Marks, Executive Director, The Franciscan Federation

Brand extension & features

The new extended color palette evokes the geraniums and sunflowers that Assisi is famous for.

We completed an extensive brand extension for the site, carefully crafting a color and typography palette that spoke to the essence of the Franciscan Federation. We started from the iconic brown tones associated with Franciscans for centuries. Then we added natural colors inspired by the streets and gardens of St. Francis’s hometown of Assisi. Next, we combined all this with a wonderful, organic typeface with a hint of calligraphy in its letterforms. Finally, we added a style treatment that added some “hand-carved” edges to certain images and boxes. All together, the fonts, shapes & colors create a warm, welcoming website that feels quintessentially Franciscan.

The final website showcases the extended palette, friendly typeface, hand-carved design elements, and dynamic feeds full of useful up-to-date information by and for members.

Website navigation

Then, we made sure to craft clear and helpful navigation. Whereas the previous website was confusing for visitors to find what they needed, the new site has a clear main menu, helpful sidebar sectional menus, and breadcrumbs throughout.

The website navigation is clear and helpful (and Franciscan brown).

Spotlight on: Member-sourced content

As we worked on this website with the Federation’s incoming executive director, we realized the immense potential for showcasing member-sourced content. In Franciscan Federation’s case, this includes events, job listings, and resources that other members (or folks on the periphery of Franciscan organizations) may be interested in.

We build into the structure of the site some specific functionality to accommodate this need. For jobs and resources submitted by other individuals & organizations, we made sure to highlight them as the author. This allows the Federation to add some relevant information for each contributor and give context to the content they submit. And for events, we made sure to highlight the various venues and organizations offering these opportunities.

Finally, we built submission forms to give members an on-site, easy way to share their information to be added to the site.

This screenshot shows the events calendar, where a variety of relevant events can be shared. Near the top is a link to the form to submit an event. And each event can show its venue in the calendar listing, plus even more organizer and location information once the site visitor clicks into each event.

Starting strong and looking forward

“Our organization was moving from a pretty outdated website to a beautifully designed site to functionally meet our needs as a growing and transforming organization. As a member organization we were worried that our old site lacked the capability to engage our current membership as well as invite new membership. I believe our new site offers incredible opportunities for the various demographics we engage to become more involved!”

Sara P. Marks, Executive Director, The Franciscan Federation

The Franciscan Federation is now set up with a fantastic tool that will help the organizations meet its membership goals and promote its activities. And there’s plenty of room to grow as new needs and visions evolve.

Top photo by Enrico Tavian on Unsplash

Read more like this

Blustery Day Design bio pic

Leave a Comment