State Council on Mental Health

Web Design & Development

The Hawaii State Council on Mental Health is an active advocacy group of multi-discipline, volunteer members who provide a voice for people on behavioral health issues. In 2018, my team at HIC completed work on their website. Working on this website project with them was one of my greatest professional honors. We helped them to reach a larger audience by creating an inspired website design.

Wheat Field with Cypresses (1889) by Vincent Van Gogh

Inspired work

When my team and I first sat down with the Hawaii State Council on Mental Health, we listened to them and learned about the important work they did. They worked very hard advocating for people in need and it really hit close to home for me. I didn’t want to build them another ordinary website for a government board. I wanted to give them something special. I got inspired.

Inspiration is a surprising and sometimes finite resource that, once it happens, must be harnessed and exploited until there’s nothing left. As an artist, I crave this feeling because, with inspiration, I can make truly great things with deeper meaning.

I channeled my art history and conceptual art background to make a connection between the work that the SCMH did and an artist who may have been able to benefit from it if it was available to them during their life.

The art of Vincent Van Gogh is where my inspiration brought me. He was a brilliant and talented artist with vision far beyond his time… and he most likely suffered from the effects of undiagnosed mental illness. Yet, he was still able to leave a permanent and undeniable mark in art culture.

Using Van Gogh’s artwork, I was able give more meaning to my own work on the council’s website.

User-centered design

Besides the special and meaningful art bits, the site’s design followed a rather normal process. My team did some user-centered design to find out exactly what kind of information was most important and how best to display it.

We learned that getting the public to engage with the council at the meetings was the main problem we had to solve. In order to get them engaged, first we had to get them there. In Hawaii this is extra difficult because the state is made up of an archipelago of islands so the meetings are held simultaneously in multiple locations. We created a meetings page that listing the basic meeting information in an easy to understand format and included address and maps to all of the meeting locations. This convenience reduced the friction caused by people not knowing what to do and help increase meeting turnout and participation.

This website is still live.

Both my team and the council were super happy and excited about how the website turned out. I feel like we really did something good and meaningful.

“Again thank you to you and your team! This is just so exciting! You all did a fabulous job – truly artistic and million times more than I could have imagined.”

– Marie Vorsino, Board Chair