Communicating Empowerment through Digital Collection and Documentation
Mirroring Hope is a platform documenting Dr. Peggy Spitzer Christoff and Dr. Jamie M. Sommer’s study of the Bhungroo irrigation technology and its impact on women’s empowerment in Gujarat, India. The main objective was to make the study, and its corresponding digital collection, accessible and engaging to a general audience. The final product uses explanatory and exploratory components to achieve the accessibility and clarity of a digital approach while retaining the humanity and heart that the study cultivated. View the site here.
In examining content strategy, Schema first identified the intended audience: the students and professors of Stony Brook University (and eventually the general public), and worked to make the site accessible to this demographic. The landing page has a strong headline and a succinct introduction, with a video to help captivate the viewer. Scrolling down the page, the reader is guided by a compelling narrative, augmented with photographs and visualizations to create depth and engagement. The main challenge here was creating a narrative tone that still honored the academic bent of the study, but used language that was more palatable, engaging, and accessible for a non-academic audience.
Schema allowed the content strategy to inform the design of the site, purposefully understating the design elements so that the content could shine. Since the goal was to create complementary pieces of explanation and exploration, the design dedicated the landing page entirely to explanation, and then created a very simple and thoughtful visualization to explore the profiles of the Gujarat farmers, making the facts and figures more personal and tangible.
Prototyping and Development
In the prototyping/development stage, Schema used prototypes to create various iterations of the digital collection, before finally settling on a simple approach that didn’t overshadow the humans it featured. The team wanted the Bhungroo website to utilize an open source data-driven CMS for the build, and for this Schema used its own in-house Schema CMS. This platform makes it easy for researchers to update content and data in the future.