The stories behind the sites we build...

We are proud to present the designs and stories behind some of the website we've designed for our clients ...

Sep '10 Case Study: Website Design for the Green Earth Institute

Case Study:  The Story Behind the Site


The Green Earth Institute is a nonprofit organization established in 2002 to promote nutritional health and environmental sustainability.
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The Green Earth Institute runs an organic farm in south Naperville, which they use as a demonstration and learning center, and where they grow healthful vegetables in an earth-friendly way and educate the community about nature, nutrition, and caring for the earth.

This was a common case ...

As they grew in size over the years, the day-to-day effort involved in running their operation grew. Like many organizations, their website was not kept up to date.  They needed a website that would help them accommodate their growth in members and in programs. One that would make it easier to manage, not harder.

The requirements ...

  1. Simpler, easier-to-use site navigation
  2. Automated program and event registrations (i.e., on their website, instead of on paper forms)
  3. Automated payment collection and processing (i.e., with credit cards instead of just checks)
  4. Better and easier communications with their members (i.e., email instead of snail mail)
  5. Easier website content maintenance, so they would be able to keep the information up to date
  6. Many more photos of the farm, the staff, and the organic vegetables arranged in an interesting but not overwhelming way
  7. Much more member participation, through out the entire year, not just the growing season
  8. Better tie-ins to area events

And here' what we did ...

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First, we created a new graphical theme for their website, based on their name and original logo, but modified and updated for a fresh, new look. We selected descriptive tag lines, a lush, earthy color palette, comfortable fonts, and familiar image details that evoke the name Green Earth. You can see many of these concepts come to life in the masthead shown in the screen grab above.

To showcase their wonderful photos, we created a home page with a streaming Flash slideshow that accommodates any number of photos and starts playing instantly. It has friendly, VCR-like controls, full-screen zoom mode, and pop up thumbnails for quick, easy navigation.
To stream-line their registrations  and class sign-ups, we created a full powered shopping cart system with unlimited products, support for newsletter opt-ins, and can handle single or multiple payments by check or credit cards.  It even supports a credit card surcharge, to help keep costs down for members who are used to paying by check. We used 100% free, open source software to stay within their tight budget, both during and after the initial design phase.

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To show the true scale of the organic farm and how it changes over the years from season to season, we arranged for our of clients, John Hill, of Tigerhill Studio, to donate something really special: aerial photographs of the farm at various times of the year. Because John has been taking photos of the Chicago area for over 30 years, he was able to provide some current shots as well as some fascinating historical ones. These incredible aerial shots are included in the slideshow on the main page.

So, take a look and let us know what you think!

For more information about the Green Earth Institute or their organic vegetable farm shares, visit their website or contact their founder, Steve Tiwald at: 630-664-5681.

To learn what we can do for your company, contact us at:
UNETY Systems, Inc. 630-955-9500