Case Study

Smithsonian African American Film Festival

Extending our work with the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC), Forum One worked with the museum and the Center for African American Media Arts (CAAMA) to design a distinct yet cohesive brand identity and website to draw visitors to the first-ever Smithsonian African American Film Festival (SAAFF), taking place in October 2018 in Washington, DC.

Forum One provided creative vision, user experience strategy, design, front-end development, quality assurance testing, and analytics services to create and launch the SAAFF website. The team also established a strong and unique brand identity for the festival website and additional digital platforms.

Live site

Understanding Key Audiences and Engagement Goals

The Forum One team began by holding brand identity and user experience discovery workshops with stakeholders to prioritize target audiences, understand brand goals, and develop key messages to shape the site’s content and design. Key themes included promoting how the festival presents historical films in context alongside the museum’s collections, as well as new works from emerging artists. Another key goal was engaging the festival’s multiple audiences to drive networking and build community.

Crafting an Inviting Experience for Multiple Audiences

We designed the site’s user experience and features to give SAAFF’s key audiences — from filmmakers and cinephiles, to reporters, academics, casual viewers and museum goers — everything they needed to learn about and engage with the festival’s offerings. Visitors can explore films and directors, browse and search for screenings, register for events, and share their experiences on social media and with their communities.

The themed ticketing pages provide seamless integration with the ETix event ticketing platform, offering secure ticket sales at multiple tiers directly from the website. The site is fully responsive and features engaging, on-brand interactions and scroll animations across mobile and tablet devices.

Crafting Custom Features to Serve Attendees

The Forum One team continues to work with the SAAFF team to release additional audience-driven features and enhancements to serve users’ unique needs before, during, and after the festival. Features designed for use prior to the festival include an interactive schedule of events, and integration with the ETix registration platform that allows users to register for events, create accounts, and manage their profiles. To serve users during and after the festival, additional features include an interactive festival map, social media integration, and a unique networking space for attendees to connect with one another after the shared experience.

Our analytics team also set up the SAAFF site’s Google Analytics and Google Tag Manager implementation to help the team track their key measures of site performance and success to drive ongoing, user- and data-driven optimizations.

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Building a Unique, Exciting Brand Identity

Applying our insights from the branding workshop and starting with two initial concept directions, our creative team worked iteratively with the SAAFF team to craft the designs for the SAAFF logo, visual elements, and website style guide. Our design work gives the festival a distinct identity as a stand-alone event, while remaining cohesive with the NMAAHC brand experience.

Our team also provided art direction and animation storyboarding for a SAAFF teaser trailer video that brings the geometry of the logo and brand elements we designed to life alongside film highlights from the Festival’s upcoming screenings.

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