Joan Mitchell List Image

Case Study

Joan Mitchell Foundation

Supporting artists throughout their careers, and celebrating the life and work of Joan Mitchell


The Challenge

To replace a cumbersome publishing experience, restructure and improve content organization, and design a digital experience that better reflects the Foundation’s ethos.


The Approach

A content management system replatform and website redesign informed by an in-depth discovery process, strategic content model, and interconnected design system.


The Outcome

A spacious, informative, and welcoming digital experience that elevates supported artists and celebrates the work and legacy of Joan Mitchell.

Client Introduction

About the Foundation

The Joan Mitchell Foundation cultivates the study and appreciation of artist Joan Mitchell’s life and work, while fulfilling her wish to provide resources and opportunities for visual artists. Through its work, the Foundation affirms and amplifies artists’ essential contributions to society.

Project at a Glance

What Our Team Provided


  • Websites
  • Search & Discovery


How it started

A digital extension of the JMF brand.

When we began working with the Joan Mitchell Foundation, their website failed to match the purpose and intent that they applied to all other facets of their work. A dated and stagnant user interface no longer reflected their audience’s needs and interests, and an inflexible content management system prohibited the staff from making necessary updates to the website. They needed a new strategy, structure, and design that enabled the Foundation’s digital presence to act as a true extension of their work.

Research and Discovery

Putting artists first and foremost.

As we learned more about the Foundation and their goals through conversations and exercises, it was clear that the old website’s organization was a significant pain point. More than just being rigid, structural details like nesting artists underneath programs were ideologically problematic since one of the Foundation's core values is to be artist centered. Moving forward we knew it was important to elevate and emphasize artists and their stories while also reducing visual distractions that detracted from the organization’s mission and purpose.

UX Strategy

Creating structure that supports exploration.

One major goal was to restructure the website to intuitively surface content for key audience members. We conducted navigational studies that revealed how curators, scholars, and Mitchell enthusiasts explore the archives and how to simplify grant eligibility and program details for artists. We also partnered with content strategist, Carrie Hane of Tanzen Consulting, who produced an in-depth, guiding content model. This all led to a boldly reduced navigation, well-organized landing pages, and clean index pages that support information retrieval and encourage deeper exploration.

UI design

Complimenting iconic artwork with modern design.

After determining site structure and page layouts, we established design principles, which are succinct guiding phrases that set a unique and intentional direction for the design process. Our design principles inspired a clean aesthetic that uses white space as a tool to draw attention to meaningful content. Core colors compliment Joan Mitchell’s artwork and soft neutrals add warmth to the page. The design also supports large, expandable images to be able to see artwork in more detail, and photography focuses on people to reflect the Foundation's commitment to supporting and amplifying the artist community.

CMS development

Striking the balance between structure and flexibility.

We delivered a highly-performant website backed by an intuitive publishing experience built on Craft CMS. Expanding on the earlier content modeling exercises, we customized the authoring experience to suit the Foundation’s precise needs. Features like a modularized page-builder system allow staff to create unique pages with reorderable and customizable modules, striking just the right balance between structure and flexibility. The CMS also offers greater capacity for cross-linking content across the site, providing an interconnected and exploratory experience for site visitors while still maintaining an intentional design system.

Search and discovery

Finding content with a click.

To improve content findability and enhance the discovery experience on the website, we built a powerful search system with Algolia. Keyword search supports instant, as-you-type results with filtering and sort options that allow site visitors to explore the archives of Joan Mitchell’s artwork, discover Foundation supported artists, and find resources for artists and other types of content.

The end result

Supporting the Foundation's mission and purpose.

The new Joan Mitchell Foundation website now serves as a true extension of their work and more accurately reflects the organization’s intention and purpose. Built with a clean and manageable structure, the Foundation can now easily update the website and utilize their online presence to better serve their audience and go farther with their mission. With a partnership that has continued beyond the launch of the website, we’re excited to continue to work with the Foundation to improve the website’s user experience and further their digital initiatives.

Client Testimonials

"Foster Made worked with us to create an intuitive, robust, and beautiful website that gives us incredible flexibility and capability to better serve our artist constituency, and support the legacy of Joan Mitchell. We felt we were truly on the same team, and in capable and thoughtful hands."

Melissa DeanJoan Mitchell Foundation, Design & Media Manager

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