Jewish Historical Society of Michigan
RFP Response, Interactive Storytelling, Website Design
The Jewish Historical Society of Michigan (JHSM) sent out an RFP for a website redesign and a promotional campaign for their huge library of Jewish stories uploaded to their database. Our proposals consisted of introducing methods of interactive storytelling to fully illustrate amazing accomplishments and hardships
RFP Round 1
The first round was just a basic representation of how we could tell historic Jewish stories in a creative, educational way. For the response, we took a short autobiography about Philip Levine who worked at a Detroit Automobile factory in the early 1900s.
RFP Round 2
The JHSM narrowed down their choices to our agency and one other. For the next round, they asked us to provide interactive stories for three topics: Stained Glass, The Jewish Community in Flint, MI, and the story of an opera singer during World War II.
I decided to pull inspiration from a few different storytelling sources. NPR came to mind in terms of audio, where they use a narrator to tell the story, and add clips from interviews to hear different sides of the story. 99% Invisible also uses this method of narration, however they also include a editorial-styled blog post with imagery, so the user doesn't NEED to listen to the audio file. As a bridge into a more visually-dependent stories, we pulled inspiration from the New York Times. They introduced narration that was told through imagery, and gave the user a unique experience through unique interactions. This is what we kept in mind for our response solution.
We used color palettes taken from stained glass windows from synagogues, along with some award-winning websites. We then played with opacity and overlapped shapes to try to replicate the stained glass glow, and faded imagery into it to increase continuity. I visited several Detroit synagogues to capture high-resolution photos that we could use in our website, created a basic wireframe and started building the skeleton of the site we would present with.
Our copywriters wrote a story from the perspective of an older woman remembering her days at the synagogue, staring into the stained glass windows. Senator Carl Levin played a major role in helping to save a downtown-based synagogue, so we wrote a role from his point of view as one of the excerpts. We then chose a few volunteer voice actors from around our agency and started recording.
I pieced everything together and added scroll-points in the site. This way we could show them a working proof of concept and they could share it amongst their friends with just a copy-and-paste of a link.
You can find the site here. Our response won the business, and we are currently working on five new interactive stories for the Jewish Historical Society of Michigan.