Project story

Metropolitan Planning Council

MPC homepage

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Helping connect people and ideas

The 80-year-old Metropolitan Planning Council (MPC) is an independent, nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to shaping a more sustainable and prosperous greater Chicago region. They serve communities and residents by developing, promoting and implementing solutions for sound regional growth.

Our redesign of the site marks the final step in MPC’s strategic communications review with the goal of helping people better understand the organization as a connector of people and ideas. Working closely with MPC Assistant Communications Director and content strategist Mandy Burrell Booth, the first step in our redesign process was to interview MPC’s stakeholders and partners to learn their needs.

Profile page

MPC staff describes their experience and talked about the people with whom they worked on their own profile pages.

A key insight gleaned from partner interviews was that their interaction with MPC was defined by professional relationships with specific MPC staff members. Rather than simply a faceless organization, their perception of MPC was of individual, dedicated experts. Describing their experience, they talked about the people they worked with at MPC. The previous website’s voice was that of an organization rather than the people who comprise it.

Interviewing stakeholders, we learned that MPC staff regularly shared ideas and short posts with one another internally and often felt constrained and discouraged by the previous site’s emphasis on long-form articles and formal reports which required a lot of time to write. We suggested sharing some of this internal communication with a wider audience via the website to provide those outside MPC a window to the organization’s intellectual activity.

MPC blog

MPC’s experts share brief updates about their work and activities via a blog.

Providing MPC’s experts an outlet to share brief updates about their work and activities via a blog (with our easy-to-use web publishing tool) gives partners and site audiences timely insight into the thinking of MPC experts. In addition, expanded staff profile pages offer greater visibility to experts and make it easy for partners to follow the work of the people they’re familiar with.

Site traffic data since the launch appear to validate our research findings with staff profiles and blog posts among the most popular parts of the new site. Perhaps more significantly, the redesign process and new site have started a gradual cultural shift at MPC towards more frequent communications of ongoing activities and work—better connecting people and ideas.

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