April 25, 2012

Q & A with Mary Crowley, Director of Public Affairs and Communications, The Hasting Center

Corey was a superb listener, which is crucial in understanding the culture of an organization and its stakeholders in order to create a successful product. The creative brief Corey prepared reflected that careful listening and in fact was almost like a branding effort for Hastings and its new consumer effort, Help with Hard Questions.”

1. Why did you decide to hire Corey for Hasting’s Help With Hard Questions very important Web project?

Hastings had the opportunity to work with Corey four years ago on a small project about health reform called the Values Connection. We were so impressed with Corey’s creative approach to design merged with functionality, as well as their very collegial attitude—total professionals with fantastic project management skills, but nonetheless the kind of people you wished worked in your office and you got to hang out together. When we had the opportunity to embark on our fist ever consumer site, Corey was at the top of our list of design and development teams. We did due diligence and got competitive bids, but Corey’s proposal was the clear winner.

2. What are the three things Corey had to do for Hastings/Help with Hard Questions to make our work together successful?

It’s hard to narrow this down to three things, because there were many things Corey did. But I’ll try:

1) Listen. Corey was a superb listener, which is crucial in understanding the culture of an organization and its stakeholders in order to create a successful product. The creative brief Corey prepared reflected that careful listening and in fact was almost like a branding effort for Hastings and its new consumer effort, Help with Hard Questions. This listening persisted through project management and was critical for making the project move efficiently and come in on time.

2) Design. Corey used design as an integration tool that we expect to both draw users to the site and to make it easy for them to navigate. This of course was integrally connected to development, which they embraced holistically as both supporting and driving the design. Help with Hard Questions is a first in kind for bioethics, and the elegant yet accessible design is critical.

3) Partner. We felt like Corey really partnered with Hastings in ways that reflect its dedication to its work. Corey really believed in the concept of Help with Hard Questions, and provided invaluable advice that went far beyond what was required. They really seemed to enjoy the material and work, and that helped all of us on our team to keep our spirits up during a time when the Hastings team was working very hard.

3.  Did our collaboration help you and your team think differently about how to approach building the site?

Absolutely! We presented quite a complicated design challenge where users, who are only able to ask questions, are trying to build a community. Corey managed to make this idea come alive.

4.  What surprised you most about our partnership? What was the biggest challenge?

I think the most surprising thing was the enthusiasm and embrace of the concept by the Corey team–a combination of both the listening and partnering described above. Corey really felt like an in-house team that understood Hastings and believed in it and Help with Hard Questions the way we do. I think the biggest challenge was probably some technical back-end integration of registration and donor data. Fortunately, that isn’t my area!

5.  How is the work moving the needle for your particular efforts and Hastings’ overall?

It’s the very early days for this project, and as I said it is a first in kind effort to bring bioethics directly to those who are living the issues we work on. So a lot needs to be done by our communications team to get the word out. But just having the site up and running and beautiful meets the Hastings mission of sharing knowledge widely. Check back in 3 months for an update!

6.  Outside of work, what are your passions?

Fortunately, bioethics and my work in it is one of my passions! But others are that I’m a serious runner (10 marathons, including 2 Boston for you Corey vicinity folks). I also love to garden and am a poet. And I have to give a shout out to the loves of my life–my enormous nuclear and extended family. I’m the oldest of 9 siblings–we are all very close, though very different—and I also have a great husband and two amazing sons who somehow are grown up, which I can’t figure out because I still think I’m 35.

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