• Poetry in America: educational non-profit

Poetry in America: educational non-profit

Poetry in America is a multi-platform digital initiative on a mission to make poetry accessible outside of the classroom. The organization offers free online courses in partnership with HarvardX, the Harvard Graduate School of Education, and Harvard’s Division of Continuing Education. Their public television series, Poetry in America, is being produced in partnership with WGBH in Boston and Emmy-winning documentary filmmaker David Grubin.

The organization needed to update their web presence to fit the high profile of their initiatives and adapt to their future endeavors.

Sasha’s initiative and platform knowledge — whether we were selecting core theme or explaining module possibilities to the client — made the development process smooth and frictionless. The end result came together quickly and got the client into the admin to craft content much more quickly than expected.

Jamie Perez
Partner at Threespot

Project Challenges

  • website that is able to grow and evolve with the organization
  • developing a robust & flexible storytelling tool, placing focus on content
  • design consistent with the client’s branding while using a premium WordPress theme
  • easy-to-use WordPress back-end for content updates

Our Results

  • website that looks and feels like a custom build
  • we built a block-based storytelling system that offers flexibility in the way content is presented from page to page
  • content authors were able to start using the CMS after a single training session

Our Solutions

This project was completed in collaboration with Threespot and is a great example of our capabilities in respect to theme customization and collaboration. Threespot developed Poetry in America’s branding and devised the content strategy to create a number of interstitials modules, ready to be dropped into major content areas, to allow for flexible storytelling and content evolution. They brought in Sasha Endoh Code & Design to take lead on creating a new website that would extend the new branding to the web and make their content vision a reality.

Poetry in America WordPress website screenshot

Technical Strategy

Our first task for this project was in guiding the theme selection process. Using a premium theme as a starting point allowed us to keep the project budget low by, essentially, removing a distinct design phase.

In assessing the best theme options we considered not only the aesthetic aspects and out-of-the-box functionalities but also ramifications such as on-going support and security.

We presented three theme options based on our assessment, along with a recommendation for the best choice and visual indication of what the final product will look like to aid Poetry in America in making the ultimate choice.

You’re welcome to view the demo of the original theme we used for comparison’s sake.


In extending Poetry in America’s branding to the web our goals were to maintain a playful tone with focus on colour. The configuration of the logo is designed to change thereby creating a “living logo”. To start off, we brought fluidity to the brand presentation in the website header where a random logo configuration is presented on each page load and transformed further on mouse hover.

Throughout the website we used brand colours to highlight blocks of content which are set either against a solid background or outlined, creating a connection with the brand’s logo. Furthermore, areas such as the single staff pages load one of a set number of colour combinations to extend the versatile tone set by the “living logo”.

Poetry in America staff bio animated gif


We used industry best practices to extend the base theme into a fully customized website with necessary adjustment made where needed to ensure that it is responsive and a pleasure to use on a wide range of devices.

We also developed a custom drag & drop system using Advanced Custom Fields Pro. This system is much easier to use than traditional page builder plugins and focuses on content rather than design or layout.

Training & Launch

With the final website fully tested to ensure the site performs consistently well across a wide range of representative devices and browsers, we conducted a CMS training session for current site authors.

While Poetry in America is a tech-savvy video production team their familiarity and comfort level using WordPress varied. Along with devising a simplified page-builder system we also placed a lot of focus on optimizing the overall usability throughout their website’s admin back-end. We were pleased to see the team adding and revising the content on their new website following just a 30-minute tutorial, performed remotely with help of screenshare over a conference call.

Finally, we assisted in the hosting provider selection and launched Poetry in America’s new website on their new hosting account while setting up email accounts and integrations with existing technology.

  • Project team
    • Threespot: Project Management, Creative Direction
    • Sasha Endoh: Web Design, Front-end and WordPress Development
  • Work completed
    • Information architecture
    • User Interface Design
    • Front-end web development
    • Wordpress web development