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Downtown Raleigh, North Carolina, is a lively area full of busy professionals day and night. There’s no shortage of bars and restaurants, providing plenty of opportunities after the workday is done. One of the highlights of the month is First Friday, a self-guided art tour held the first Friday night of the month. The event includes approximately 100 participating art galleries, restaurants, bars, shops and “exhibition venues,” which could be a hair salon, architecture firm or apartment complex showcasing art displays that evening. The shops and restaurants offer specials for customers.

The Challenge

First Friday is managed by the Downtown Raleigh Alliance, which needed a new website that matched the festive and artistic atmosphere of the evening. It also needed to be a site that First Friday visitors could easily use on their smartphone before and during the event.  

The Solution

We designed a mobile-friendly website that put art and photography front and center. We encouraged the Downtown Raleigh Alliance to create a First Friday Instagram account and then we built the site around that. The homepage is filled with a vibrant array of Instagram photos that illustrate the feel of the event. Visitors can hover over a photo to call up the photo captions. We also added a slight movement effect that causes each photo to zoom in slightly when hovered over. Visitors can click the photo to go directly to the Instagram page, where they can comment or browse.

Making Instagram photos the centerpiece offers other benefits, too. “When there are 100 participants, it’s difficult to choose one to highlight,” says Stacey Simeone, marketing director for Downtown Raleigh Alliance. “This allows the content to be fresh all the time.”

It also saves her organization money. They did a professional photo shoot for First Friday a few years ago, but some of those galleries have closed and other photos seem outdated. “This allows us to not have to have a photo shoot once a year,” Simeone says.

Simeone came to us knowing she wanted the site to be interactive but wasn’t sure how to go about it. When we proposed the Instagram idea, she “didn’t even know that was a possibility,” she says. Now, website traffic is highest right before and on the day of First Friday. People are using the interactive map to create their own tour, while experiencing the vibe of downtown Raleigh.