Chicago Artists Coalition / Chicago Artists Resource
Established in 1974 by artists who sought to create a better environment and future for the local arts community, the Chicago Artists Coalition (CAC) continues to pioneer advocacy and professional development for Chicago artists across disciplines. CAC’s initiatives include artist residencies and exhibitions, digital resources, educational programming, and events that connect collectors with emerging artists.
Our digital programming is housed on Chicago Artists Resource (CAR), an arts service website that connects and educates Chicago’s artistic communities. Serving individual artists and arts organizations in the fields of dance, film, literature, music, theater, and visual arts, CAR provides resources for a wide range of issues related to professional practice. The site functions as a learning platform, an online magazine, and a community board for jobs, calls for artists, events, and space listings.
What new functionality we are looking for
We want to improve the site in two main ways: by implementing a lightweight redesign and to improve the login process and functionality for users.
1. Lightweight redesign
The redesign would place existing content into three main categories: community posts (including jobs, calls for artists, space listings, and events), long-lasting educational resources (including our Survival Guide video series and certain articles), and a blog (including all current homepage content of announcements, artists stories, and most articles).
2. Improve the account sign-up process and functionality for users
Community posts are an active aspect of the site. We have 6,300 users with active logins (based on the last two years). In the past year community contributors added over 5,000 posts to the site. We hope to further encourage site visitors to create accounts in order to contribute content and to receive a more customized user experience. The user login process could be streamlined and provide better direction for site users. In addition, we would like to consider the possibility of a social login feature to further simplify the user sign-up process.
How the new functionality will help
Our site currently receives nearly 85,000 visits each month (approximately 46,000 unique visitors) and over 375,000 page views. Most of this traffic is driven by job postings and calls for artists; this indicates that our audience is comprised largely of artists and arts professionals who are building careers.
Currently, a relatively small percentage of those visitors take advantage of our more in-depth educational and professional development resources. However, those who do report high levels of satisfaction, improvement and quality found within the site. One surveyed user stated, “CAR allows artists and organizations to reach audiences on their own terms. It fosters audience development and cross-pollination. I look forward to watching the site grow.”
With support of our grant funders we have been expanding CAR’s educational offerings, including a video series, “Survival Guide,” that provides artists with foundational skills in the areas of business, finance, social media marketing, and legal topics. Survival Guide provides the base upon which our educational curriculum will be built, which will expand to include continually updated written, video and audio materials on CAR.
A site redesign is essential to better connecting our broad user base with our in-depth resources, thus providing both customized and widely applicable support for artists’ career development. We envision that a redesigned site would present users a clearly laid out homepage that serves to highlight all three areas of content: community posts, educational resources, and blog features. By simplifying our feature content (articles, artists stories, announcements) into a blog, we will be able to use that area to highlight various opportunities and drive traffic to our educational programs by connecting to current discussions and providing additional context. In addition, interior content pages could provide related content and we would replace the filtering by discipline feature with landing pages that used feeds of both community and blog posts. Our CMS is built in Drupal and has been well maintained. The website content is well structured with robust and relevant metadata. With a new website we would be able to leverage this rich back-end data to better serve our artists communities.
In addition to this UX-focused redesign, we hope to encourage more user account registrations by improving the sign-up process and by adding a social login feature.
This will make it easier for users to access content like the newly launched Survival Guide (http://www.chicagoartistsresource.org/survival-guide) that is required to be login-protected for reporting requirements of our funders.
Improving the site design and account features will have a broad and significant impact on our diverse community of users. Our in-depth resources will reach a wider audience of artists and creative professionals, who will be more effectively connected to opportunities, information and networks. Further, by growing our user account base, we will have more insights into our users, which will shape the ways in which we continue to develop website content and offline events and services.
How our organization will use the technology
Who will use the technology
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