By Stacie Slotnick
After the launch of the Media Lab’s new identity system (created by Pentagram) two years ago—and encouraged by Lab Director Joi Ito—we started to think about ways that our web identity could best represent and support the Lab’s unique culture of exploration, curiosity, and discovery. How could our website help advance the Lab’s “open platform” philosophy? How could it help to expand the Lab community? I asked our directors of communications and network computing systems if they'd be on board with me taking the lead on a website overhaul project. They said yes.
Before even writing a request for proposals, Media Lab webmaster Josh Boughey and I decided that we'd do our own internal site audit. We ended up with a list of more than 30 systems and applications running in the background just to support our top-level Lab site; this didn’t even include any of the satellite sites for our more than 25 research groups. We wrote a (very long) RFP. We interviewed four firms, chose Type/Code in Brooklyn, NY, and got down to work.
Not surprisingly, we have never had any problems finding or generating content, but we wanted to find a more efficient way to manage, curate, and present it.
One of our first goals was to decide on a user-friendly CMS that would help us democratize content creation and management, opening content creation up to the whole Lab, rather than having it all funnel through the Lab’s Communications team. This would allow for a variety of voices and show the dynamic nature of the Lab, and would hopefully mean that the new website would provide all users with a more genuine connection to the Lab.