Choose Santa Cruz

Repositioning The Santa Cruz Economic Development Office

    Launched

    July 2015

    Services

    Web, Photo, Video, Copywriting, Development, CMS

    Industry

    Government

Background

The Santa Cruz Economic Development Office (EDO) requested a website that presents them as the go-to agency and information source for the establishment and development of businesses, organizations, and infrastructure projects throughout the city.

They wanted a modern and friendly site that would meet all the requirements of their economic mission.

Choose Santa Cruz Strategy

We decided from the start of the project to collaborate on a site that could draw anyone to Santa Cruz, whether they were considering moving here, starting a new business, expanding an existing business, or considering a branch office. Our target audience encompasses not only the entrepreneur but also his or her family and their needs and desires beyond business and employment.

In order to appeal to our broad target audience, we developed the concept of "Where Work & Culture Converge." This idea informed every aspect of the site and made a clear statement about the two elements that make Santa Cruz an appealing place to live and work.

With our objectives in place, EDO staff began writing the copy for the site and funneling it through our copywriter to produce a unified voice and tone. Our team also organized and reformatted the vast amount of copy, shortening paragraphs and suggesting headlines and section introductions, to improve readability and make it easy for users to quickly scan through the content and find what interests them.

We balanced the large amount of copy with photos, videos, and icons throughout the site. This makes the site engaging and visually appealing to anyone interested in Santa Cruz. It also creates a rich experience that encourages visitors to stay and explore and entices them to return for a variety of new content.

Lastly, we chose to move away from a city-centric URL. By picking Choose Santa Cruz we were able to effectively re-brand the EDO while keeping their existing logo.

Tour The Choose Santa Cruz Site

A preview of the site.

Choose Santa Cruz Homepage

We started with a minimal, clean navigation consisting of site visitors' primary needs.

The hero highlights the two elements emphasized by the EDO - business and culture. Foregoing the traditional slideshow, we created pairings of these two components that express the wide range of opportunities available to Santa Cruz workers, business owners, and residents.

We followed the Hero section with a video of business leaders expressing their passions concerning the business and cultural aspects of the city, along with imagery of a city nestled between the mountains and the sea.

Below the opening panels, the site dives into descriptions of the business environment and provides tools for businesses of all sizes. The page closes with an in-depth look into other aspects of the city, from interviews of business leaders to articles on the latest happenings at the EDO.

The page wraps up with a call to action to get visitors to jump right in and connect with the City. The footer of each page leads deeper into the site without crowding the primary top navigation.

Culture Page

One of the biggest draws of Santa Cruz is its lifestyle. To convey the essence of the culture, we pulled out all the stops, employing the use of video, photography, iconography, copy, and easy-to-digest statistics. This approach delivers information to people who are both right and left-brained.

For those wanting to dig into the data, we created a separate page easily reached from the Culture page. And for people who love photos, the section expands to show a more diverse collection of images.

A city with distinctive neighborhoods, we closed the page with a section that allows visitors to explore these rich environments.

Industries

To keep the page simple, we led with big wins and an in-depth description of the business environment. We then used a grid approach to lead visitors to the industries that most interest them.

By clicking on an industry, people can get an expanded view, including information on the current status of the sector, a visual exploration of the industry, and its history in the area. Simple bottom navigation allows visitors to move quickly to the next or previous industry.

The Journal: Created With Our Content Builder

The site is built on Craft CMS. To allow the EDO staff to create beautiful, varied, and robust blog posts and articles, we created the Content Builder.

They can generate anything from a brief post about an upcoming event to an in-depth article that includes a variety of images, pull quotes, written content blocks, and video - all without the need for a designer or developer. And the Content Builder lets them create stunningly delivered content without fear of 'breaking' the site.

Choose Santa Cruz Videos

We created several videos for the site. It launched with 3 videos: a business profile, a culture exploration, and an overview that spans both. A total of 9 videos are scheduled to go up on the site over the next 18 months. The upcoming videos explore different industries and showcase individual businesses. Each additional video will be accompanied by an in-depth article that delves further into the topic.

All videos were produced in-house here at Cosmic. Each interview video was shot in a single day, including B-roll. We wrote, produced, conducted, and shot the interviews, and handled all of the elements of post-production. Gadgetbox Studios, based here in Santa Cruz, handled the final audio mix. The aerial photography was licensed from our friends down the road at Aerography.net. We licensed the music from local musician Ian Janco, editing his compositions to meet the length of the videos. It perfectly captures that Santa Cruz feeling.


Iconography

We used a simple icon style across the site. They represent everything from the vast number of active lifestyle activities available in Santa Cruz, to weather, education, data, and more. The use of icons minimizes the copy and adds variety to the visuals on the site.

Choose Santa Cruz Photography

From the beginning it was clear that photography would be a key element of the site which meant it would be a 'make-or-break' element. Every photo needed to be of the highest quality, and together, the photos needed to effectively capture the essence of this special place. We spent countless afternoons and evenings traveling across Santa Cruz, photographing the people and places that make the city unique. We strategically planned our photo shoots so that we captured each district, industry, and cultural representation at the time of day that would show them at their best. Our hard work paid off, and the site features 300+ photos that beautifully convey the city we know and love.

We also handled post-production on the photos, allowing us to integrate a handful of photos from other local photographers and keep the look consistent. We leveraged our contacts in town and leaned heavily on the EDO to introduce us to people and businesses we didn't know. We met many inspiring individuals and now feel even more connected to this awesome community.

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