Engineers Without Borders (EWB) Canada is an organisation of change-makers. They’re experts in transforming and overhauling systems. So it was pretty humbling when they asked us to help them do exactly that, digitally.
Over several months, across thousands of kilometres, and through multiple time zones, we worked with EWB Canada to re-design and develop their website. Or rather, websites. Over 40 of them.
The brief – like EWB themselves – was diverse and exciting.
As an organisation, EWB is involved in a range of initiatives around the world.
They spark innovation and work towards eradicating poverty through impact investment in Africa. They encourage Canada to be a better global citizen through change advocacy and campaigning. They train and foster a widespread network of leaders all around the country, in multiple communities called ‘Chapters’. They are re-engineering the engineering profession itself via the Engineering Change Lab. They recently won Impact Investor of the Year in Canada. They’ve been heard and retweeted by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
In short, they do a lot.
The challenge? Make all of these complex, interconnected elements easy to understand from the outside, and make it easier for them to engage with one another internally.
Design and content.
First up, we began by capturing the vibrancy and energy of EWB’s work through a brighter colour palette and a greater focus on bold photography. This was a two-fold strategy to provide a clearer view into the people behind EWB, and to improve the organisation’s approach to storytelling.
EWB is involved in some seriously impressive work: from fostering sustainable agriculture practices in Kenya to sparking change in global mining practices. Why not tell those stories engagingly and actively promote their positive impact?
To do that, we encouraged the use of facts and figures in prominent places throughout the site: scroll-triggered sidebar animations, header panels, and modules to highlight various key statistics.
The sharp angles play nicely into animations and transitions, and combine with strong typography to subtly hint at change, progression, and impact.
Once we had the look and feel for the site, termed ‘Positive Luminosity’, it became about uniformity and alignment for EWB’s various Chapters. The project involved consolidating EWB’s presence by combining over 40 isolated satellite sites into a singular and consistent design and structure.
With multiple Chapters spread across Canada, and each with their own unique identities, there was some distance to overcome – both geographically and aesthetically.
Using a WordPress Network – a single CMS instance with multiple sites – and a dedicated Chapter site theme, we connected the Chapters and brought them closer together: both in terms of how they operate and appear.
By building templates with flexbox CSS, we kept the development… flexible. The approach allows for variability, and makes the control of site elements easier and more accurate during build. From EWB’s perspective, the templates are also simple and user friendly for content updates – which is key, given their passion for prolific blogging at events and conferences.
There were a few key integrations to consider beyond the Chapters themselves too, with Slack, Salesforce and iATS integration for the all-important donation system all required for different aspects of the site.
Lastly, with over 7.3 million French-speaking Canadians, we couldn’t forget that Canada is officially a bilingual country. So the site had to ‘parler français’ through multilingual translation functionality.
If you’re keen to check out EWB’s work and their shiny new website, drop in and say bonjour now – you can do all kinds of awesome things, including get involved, contribute to sustainable change through a donation, and more.