A new identity with a family resemblance
As a member-owned cooperative for more than forty years, Seward Community Co-op knew it had to maintain a strong connection to its established store while bringing in new customers with a stand-alone restaurant identity.
A Minneapolis co-op grocery launched a stand-alone restaurant. As a new property, it needed to stand on its own, but also exist within the Seward Co-op family. The final layout brought cohesion between the brands by echoing patterns first employed in Seward Co-op’s primary website. Customers to the cafe site would be greeted with a familiar navigation layout.
Designer and developer.
A history of serving the community
The Seward Co-op Creamery Café is located in “the old creamery building,” a historically important landmark for co-ops, local food, and the food networks they create.
Built in 1920 as a dairy production plant, the building was originally home to the Franklin Co-op Creamery Association, a milk and delivery co-op that would come to produce 80 percent of the Twin Cities’ milk supply in its heyday.
Today, Seward Co-op brings a cooperative restaurant and local food production facility back to the Creamery building.
Threading the needle between novel and familiar
The first set of prototypes pushed the cafe's unique identity and bucked a few trends of web design, for example, eschewing a horizontal logo masthead for a large vertical stripe, and using a grid of images instead of a large hero. There is a reason most of the web uses these conventions; they're easier to develop and they easily accommodate a narrow vertical viewing experience (mobile). The challenges inherit with my design challenges felt justified, both to create a unique experience, but also to capitalize on the iconic smokestack (via the vertical logo) that was retained from the original building. In testing, the experience wasn't compromised on mobile devices, but the shift toward the final and more familiar layout was motivated by an understandable fear that customers would not recognize this property as part of Seward Co-op. Further testing led credence to this concern.
I presented a new design that borrowed elements of the existing Seward Co-op website, and that eventually became the winning design.
I tested numerous mid-fidelity mockups and conducted regular meetings with stakeholders to arrive at the final design. The site was originally intended to be static and lightweight, but late in the development, the decision was made to move to WordPress. I’d been adapting to shifts in scope throughout the project, so my development process could handle the migration to a CMS. Still, creating highly editable content areas that didn’t quite fit the out-of-the-box functionality was a challenge. But through some creative reworking of the built-in post systems and custom coding, I achieved that fine balance between aesthetics and editability.