Evolving Web collaborated with Princeton University’s Industrial Relations Section (IRS) to create a microsite to mark the Section’s 100th anniversary and to promote the Section’s centennial symposium event.
About the Client
The IRS is an applied research center within the Department of Economics at Princeton University. Established in 1922, the Section serves as a research hub for policymakers, companies, researchers, and activists seeking the latest data and research on the labour market and relationships between industry and workers.
Over the course of its history, it has made major contributions to policy discussions ranging from minimum wage and inequality to immigration and technological change. In its century of existence, the IRS has trained more than 175 economists since its founding, including numerous leading policymakers and three Nobel laureates.
The objective of this project was to create a microsite that:
- Celebrates the IRS’ 100th anniversary and historical achievements
- Showcases a relationship map between faculty mentors and their students
- Serves as a hub and a promotional vehicle for the section’s centennial symposium
Design priorities were to make the site welcoming, engaging, informative, enlightening, surprising, and inspiring.
Specific functionalities requested by the client include:
- An engaging and customizable timeline that highlights the historical impact of the IRS on industrial relations and labour economies in the United States
- An interactive “family tree” that maps the relationships between scholars and graduate advisors from the founding of the Section to the present
- A landing page to showcase an IRS podcast series
- A space to promote and share information about the upcoming symposium
Timeline was a major challenge for this project. With less than four months from the start of the project to the microsite’s launch, major steps like designing the sitemap and wireframes had to be completed with quick turnaround.
Of the requested functionalities, the most challenging design-wise was the family tree section. This had to be designed in a way that alumni could submit their information to the section for the webmaster to upload to the site, wherein every individual bio would be linked to either their mentor (advisor) or mentees (graduate students). This family tree also had to be searchable by individuals’ names and filterable by areas of research.
In addition, the back-end data structure had to allow for future changes to the front end data visualization. Users had to have a way to submit entries to the family tree via a webform to facilitate crowdsourcing of the content. As accessibility was of utmost importance to the client, this content had to be designed in a way that was accessible across digital devices.
We began by designing a simple sitemap with four sections dedicated to the main requirements of the site: timeline, family tree, podcast, and symposium. From there we progressed to wireframing and visual design, focusing on the key elements of the family tree and the timeline pages.
Design elements included:
- Using the 100th anniversary logo for the IRS as a central design element
- The strategic use of shapes, such as arrows in a circular pattern, to evoke connection and the passage of time to echo the zeroes in the 100th anniversary logo
- Use of white space throughout most of the site to make typography easier to read
- Black background for the timeline page in order to better showcase the grayscale images in this section and lend an air of sophistication and history
- Blurred background images to add texture
- AI sharpening to render the IRS’ superb collection of archival images in the highest possible quality
From a development standpoint, there were no particularly challenging requirements. We developed a webform that users submit for review and approval by IRS staff for entry into the family tree. This was the most noteworthy feature that required a contributed module; otherwise, most of the modules we used came from Drupal Core. Many of the components we created, such as the arrows and circle designs, were a theme throughout the site.
Elements that required some outside-the-box design included the search form for the family tree section, for which we had to learn how to use a non-standard filtering system. For styling, we opted for Tailwind instead of the usual Bootstrap, which contributed to the speed of the front-end development, a major advantage given the tight timeline of the project.
The result of our work was an attractive, highly functional website that, while centred on the IRS’ centennial celebration, should live on well beyond the anniversary year through its focus on evergreen content.