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Published by the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of the U.S., Brilliant Star magazine was founded with a mission of “empowering kids and junior youth as world citizens.” Teaching values such as curiosity, compassion, and open-mindedness, the magazine has won several awards since its debut in 1969.

Until 2008, there was one fundamental problem: Brilliant Star lacked a website offering the kind of design and content its young audience was drawn to. Now in its second iteration, Studio Pax had kept refining the website with a content-centric approach designed to suit the needs of both the audience and the editorial team.

Infinite Stories

To help Brilliant Star resonate with its online readers, we presented a wide array of content as a modular grid stream of highly visual content “morsels”: fun to skim, easily discoverable, and digestible by the intended audience. All the while echoing the needs of the magazine Staff to efficiently produce a diverse amount of content templates such as videos, how-to, interviews, in-depth articles, and learning activities. 

 

Using Storytelling as a Foundation for Design and Development

As part of our creative discovery and research, we identified that children are most receptive to storytelling elements, and have a heightened sense of location when navigating websites. With the Brilliant Star team, we elaborated a spaceship metaphor centered around the various sections of the site and crossing over to the magazine content as well.

The ship, a vessel named the Mystic Explorer, was where young readers take the helm of their knowledge to experience new places, people, and cultures. As ship captains, kids felt empowered to choose what parts of the world they explored, what topics they read about in the ship’s “library,” and what kind of art they created in the site’s highly popular drawing app, the Imagination Station.

Empowering storytellers

The real stars are the artists and writers who make up the Brilliant Star team. Where Pax had previously acted as a web content manager, the staff were now cast as direct content creators through simplified content tools and a more accessible technology.  They could easily add and edit content as they saw fit, making site updates an easier and more agile process. They were now able to bring stories to their audiences much faster.

In 2017, the site won an APEX Award for Publication Excellence, further adding to Brilliant Star’s long list of accolades.

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