Southwest School of Art


Website Redesign, Rearchitecture, Usability

When this historic school embarked on a transformational journey from local community art school to offering an approved Bachelor of Fine Arts program, Firecat Studio was selected to help them create a website that would be friendly to incoming students, allow nontechnical staff to contribute to content updates, and better match the organization’s important new goals, including fundraising, student prospecting and online registration. An appealing, artistic look and feel was of course vital to the brand.

Southwest School of Art - Before


Southwest School of Art - After

ssa homepage prelaunch


We selected the open source content management system WordPress because of its low cost to set up and operate and its relatively easy to use “blog” format that allows different nontechnical staff members to contribute content. WordPress is also friendly to search engines such as Google, Bing and Yahoo, and we enhanced WordPress with plugins that boost search results, and armed the staff with training in optimizing the content for specific target keywords.


It’s typical for an organization to arrange its website offerings the same way the organization is organized internally – that makes sense to the staff, but often forces users to learn the organization’s structure in order to use the site.

Usability studies.

We conducted usability studies using proposed navigation choices, wireframes and design mockups (comps) to validate the revised architecture. The study helped us group classes and subjects into categories and options that made sense to the users.