Tyler Fortney

Digital Designer & Director

Schulte Roth & Zabel

Schulte Roth & Zabel is a top 100 law firm based in Manhattan with a distinguished hedge fund practice, but the goal of their redesign was to break from the "NYC hedge fund firm" that had become a label, and feature their dozens of other specialties with global capabilities.
Law firms generally take the approach of featuring news and timely content on their homepage, what I consider a "look busy" approach. However, usually with decades of experience or preconceived notions from their peers, the real benefit lies in telling the story of the firm and creating as many access points into their thinking and people as possible.
Organization became the driving force in the strategy behind the new Schulte website. The wireframing process took up the majority of the project schedule so that we could focus on the changes to content and how it could best be presented. I chose to create and present "medium res" wireframes that structurally were nearly pixel-perfect and contained all content in its most complete form, but stripped of design in order to sell the content strategy before design decisions were ultimately made.
I developed the concept of a "takeover" as a navigation state that exists somewhere between a drop down menu and a landing page. When a user clicks on each navigation item, the best way to engage with the intended content takes over the screen and they can clearly focus on the task they want to perform. In the cases that they choose not to engage with the takeover, they can simply close the menu and continue browsing the site as they were.
A sitewide search became increasingly important to being exposed to as much content as possible and, keeping with the organization theme, clearly displaying each type of content and the amount that exists in each arm of the site became the priority. I created a color coded system that is first introduced in the takeover, but carries on into the card design that is applied to the search results. It became apparent that the easiest way to group the content while making it scannable was to apply color in a vertical bar on the outside edge of the card. While scrolling, the color breaks become more noticeable but do not intrude on the content within the card.
The meat of any law firm site becomes its capabilities and practice areas, but they are typically the least trafficked pages. By using the thousands of resources and publications Schulte produces to frame each practice area, these pages became libraries rather than a list of capabilities.
The mobile experience allows users to follow the same familiar patterns as the desktop experience, especially with tasks like searching for a specific attorney. All of the content is as easily accessible in the mobile layout as it is in the desktop layout.
Credits
Additional Design: Ben Cummings, Michelle Kurz
Editorial: Kim Mickenberg, Elizabeth Amorose, Darrel Frost
Development: Rubenstein Technology
Photography: Matthew Septimus
Created at Thinkso Creative