Fast-tracking cancer research: the AACR story

At Premier Logic, we’re all about supporting the innovators. We’re inspired by inventors, scientists, entrepreneurs—the risk-takers who dedicate their lives to figuring out how things work, then introducing incredible new solutions to our world along the way. Think Edison. Or Elon Musk and the Tesla. Or, of course, The Woz. They go back centuries, too: titans like the Carnegies and the Rockefellers. We’re inspired by the men and the women who hunger for progress and possess visions of how the future could be a brighter place. They have knowledge, perseverance, and—frankly—some serious guts in shaking up the status quo and changing the course of history.

Since we started Premier Logic, we’ve shared in this vision. And while we may not be the ones out there building solar-powered aircrafts or identifying potential cures for cancer, we are making huge strides to support these innovators in their work. Our mission is to provide the tools these visionaries need to do their work, putting them on the fast track to success. We like to think of our products as our own kind of game-changing innovation. (Humbly so, of course.)

One of our recent clients was the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR). As the oldest and largest professional organization dedicated to advancing cancer research, the AACR is a national advocacy group constantly working to increase awareness and educate the public about the fight against cancer.

When the AACR contacted us, their leadership saw problems on the horizon that needed to be addressed as soon as possible. They depended heavily on their website to draw people in with pertinent information about upcoming events and the educational resources they provide to the public. Furthermore, the AACR used the same website to support their internal team and share information within the organization. Basically, it was AACR’s “mothership” for all the crucial communications… and it needed saving.

At the core of the problem, the website was behind the times on multiple fronts. From the public’s view, the AACR website was not designed to view on different devices, desktop or mobile. More importantly, the AACR website was logistically inadequate. Adding new resources to the website was difficult, processing payments and donations had to be handled through an external page, and finding documents was nearly impossible. The website, plain and simple, was hindering the organization’s success and growth.

The AACR asked us to create a site that would meet their needs, be visually appealing, and have a clear, easily maintained site architecture. It needed to relay the crucial work that the organization does and simply be able to deliver their message to any audience, on any device.

Our team at Premier Logic divided the AACR project into three phases: analysis, design, and development. To kick off the analysis phase, we conducted a content and site architecture assessment. This allowed us to dig into their existing system and identify elements that could be saved, along with marking high-value targets for the development effort. We started working out what the new site’s information architecture would be. As the backbone of the new site, the information architecture had to be very well organized. It was critical to the success of the project.

The project’s design phase focused on addressing and updating the AACR’s online image. The AACR needed a website that was visually engaging yet still straightforward and easy to use. To accomplish this goal, we went through what we call our ‘PDX’ process which includes experience design as well as visual design and styling, and is intended to produce a complete design and identity for our clients.

This is something we believe in at Premier Logic: you have to begin with experience design first to make sure the site is usable and in line with best practices before you start diving in and getting distracted by the perfect color choice or typeface on the headlines. Of course, we want it to look engaging and gorgeous, but if it doesn’t have a great user experience? It’s no good. The end result of our experience design process was a clickable prototype that let the user interact with the new website. After (and only after!) we tested the prototype, we moved into the visual design stage.

Bringing visual elements over from the AACR’s previous website, we wanted to give frequent users a sense of familiarity and comfort, tying the 107 year-old brand to its new online home. To help with this, we used colors that were common to the classic AACR brand and kept the brand mark consistent on the new website. To clean it up a bit and modernize, we moved toward a more flat design for the new site and designed the interface to be more mobile-friendly than its predecessor.

Once we got a round of thumbs-up from the client, we dove into the development process, which we knew would be a huge challenge. Due to the AACR website’s dual nature as a marketing tool and as an internal resource, we had to create a site that could be handle a variety of processes. The AACR site needed social media integration, donation and payment processing services, mobile access, media hosting and streaming support, as well as built-in web analytics. Along with all of this, the AACR team needed a content management system that supported a wide range of content types. We chose to use Microsoft SharePoint 2013 as the backbone of the AACR site because of its powerful administrative tools, scalability, and the stability of the overall platform. We customized the AACR share point build to provide easy content updates and an intuitive admin interface.

The AACR site, now with a shiny, new home on the internet, is able to communicate effectively and let the organization focus their time and visionary energy on the difference they are making in the world. And while they fight the good fight against cancer, we’re proud to support alongside. After all, visionaries can’t do it all alone; they can’t change the world without the right tools in their arsenal and some help along the way. And here at Premier Logic, we’re more than happy to play that sidekick role.

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