Chicago Literary Alliance

I became involved with the Chicago Literary Alliance (CLA) through my work at Chicago Publishes. The city had been experiencing a kind of renaissance of live-audience literary events, and new publishing ventures were springing up each month. With so many organizations to keep track of and cross-promote, the CLA asked me to design a website that could serve as a hub for the entire Chicago literary community.

I interviewed stakeholders and talked with the directors of different programs and organizations. This was critical to the information architecture of the project. Should a popular storytelling event be classified under “creative nonfiction” or was it something closer to “slam performance”? Should Green Lantern Press be categorized as a publisher, an event space, or by the reading series they sponsored monthly? Through my research, I learned which associations were most commonly used and searched for, and that helped me build a more intuitive and findability-friendly interface.

My final design was tailored to the specific needs of the CLA. Here, you’ll see directory-style groupings on the vertical menu, and organization-specific options in the global nav:

CLA Menu Structure


The CLA home page. Hi-res images in a carousel point to articles of interest and create a dynamic space on the page. CLA blog is easily accessible without detracting from the more-important directory feature.

CLA Home Page

Sample CLA article. Site users anticipated a large amount of text-heavy pages, so my design employed white space and clean typography to keep the content from becoming too dense or overwhelming.

CLA Article