Aerospace, Inc.'s website was outdated. They were caught in a tough spot of merely publishing content their disparate labs/entities threw at the marketing team. The loudest lab got the publish and often without any editing process to vet the content or language.

Add to this an outdated theme that didn't align with their brand guidelines, voice, or desires and we knew an overhaul to both their digital style and information architecture was required.

We pitched several ideas, from simple and cheap to in-depth and requiring reorganizing their digital marketing workflow (ultimately requiring a copywriter hire). They, thankfully, chose the latter.

We knew a major objective would be to humanize Aerospace. Instead of the previous capabilities-first content bolstering the old site, we knew we had to put Aerospace humans (the researchers, experts, scientists) first.

Aerospace has a trove of brilliant innovations, but no user-friendly content to distribute it to readers. Using RAND as a convincing competitor with an editorialized content strategy, we focused the IA and content strategy on digestible and interesting content first, services last. And within the content, the researchers involved would be highlighted, giving users quick and easy ways to fall down each researcher’s rabbit hole of related innovations, labs, papers, and so on.

To encourage even more exploration beyond the people, we fit all content into a service-objectives taxonomy group initially called Initiatives, and then ending on the now “Topics of Interest”. Every node, bit of content, had to fit into one or more of these tax terms. This ultimately eased the curation process for Aerospace marketing staff and honed way-finding for users.

My personal golden feature for this site is the search functionality. I didn’t want the search to be over bearing, since we wanted users to see the content overhaul, to explore, but I felt that returning users needed a way to quickly access important information. To this end, I worked with the engineers to ensure the smooth implementation of a full featured search module: showing users their past page views, most viewed by all users, and content most relative to you based on a mixture of your past page views and most viewed pages globally.

All of this was done with section 508 and WCAG accessibility compliance in mind, and doing so without contradicting their branding. In fact, we helped get their theme closer to their original brand guides (which their previous site had steered vastly away from), and aesthetically contemporized their branding to make sense in digital and to align with their objectives.


Third & Grove


Design Lead, IA, Content Strategy


Drupal 8



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