Crow Canyon Archaeological Center

Crow Canyon Archaeological Center, Cortez, CO

Crown Canyon Archaeological Center located in the southwest corner of Colorado is a bastion of history, research and education surrounding the indigenous people of the Southwest United States. They are a world renowned community of experts who share their passion for archaeology and history with audiences from grade school students, to academicians to adult enthusiasts.

In 2012, Crow Canyon was ready to embark on the development of a new website using an open source tool, Joomla. They felt confident in their ability to build out the site but hit a stumbling block early in the process.

Crow Canyon realized the new site would need a revamped information architecture to clear the clutter and confusion that had grown into their current web presence over the years. The team quickly realized that they very much needed outside perspective. As most organizations, the staff at Crow Canyon become very entrenched in their own ideas and needed to have someone look at them from the outside to represent the perspective of an online audience.

Ellipsis Partners offered that perspective as well as a lot of basic help and guidance. Crow Canyon worked with Ellipsis Partners on a previous project and reached to ask for assistance.

So much had changed in the technology and online landscape since the previous project that Crow Canyon quickly realized there were possibilities in architecture they had not even considered. The team didn’t know the best direction.

Project leader Louise Schmidlap particularly felt overwhelmed by the many options and directions Crow Canyon could go. “Ellipsis Partners really helped narrow down our choices when we were overwhelmed and helped us find direction. Also, Ellipsis Partners helped us see what the consequences would be a few steps down the path. It’s a bit like a game of Chess in that you must see the big picture implications of the choices to be made. “

Not only did the new information architecture guide users through the site more successfully, it also helped the web team more easily manage staff expectations and updates to the site. “Because we structured the site the way we did…when staff bring things to be done, it’s easier to guide them thoughtfully and express why certain choices might not be best,” Louise adds.

The previous site became really big and unwieldy. Crow Canyon desperately really needed the structure of a new, well-developed Information Architecture. Now the web team can continue to build and grow a healthy body of web content in an intuitive, user-friendly way that allows flexibility for growth without confusing the site visitor.