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Sustain Chicago Header Riverwalk Buildings

Sustain Chicago

A Digital One-Stop Shop for Going Green


The City of Big Shoulders has long been a leader in a global movement to promote environmental responsibility. After spearheading the internationally endorsed Chicago Climate Charter, city leaders set out to engage residents in the fight for a better future, beginning with a new public resource.


City of Chicago


Public Sector


Press & Recognition

Rooftop greenery with Chicago skyline in the background


The Mayor’s Office tapped us to develop a holistic digital strategy and one-stop shop for all things sustainability. By sharing resources, best practices and local profiles, Sustain Chicago helps residents of all ages understand climate change and cultivate healthy, resilient communities.

Text that asks how might we?
Text that answers a how might we question saying broker a conversation, celebrate community initiatives and empower
Full view of Sustain Chicago home page
Full view of Sustain Chicago project page
Mobile view of home page and energy projects page
mobile view of a drop down and Divvy bikes project page

The site strikes a balance between urgency and inspiration, encouraging immediate action without overwhelming users.

Collaboration and Iteration

Given a profoundly diverse audience of 10.8 million in the greater metro area, encompassing divergent needs and experiences, we prioritized early exploratory research, as well as usability and validation testing throughout the process.

Through meetings with community leaders and concerned citizens, we identified key strengths, assets and pain points around sustainability to shape content priorities. After creating high-fidelity wireframes, we partnered with CUT Group to conduct usability testing and guide refinements to the information architecture, copy and page layouts.

Text that reads target audience millions
Text that reads focus groups: mayor's office, city reps, community leader

Strategic Design + UX

Every design decision was deliberate: bold typography and chromatic hierarchy; clear, consistent interface and interaction patterns; and multiple, objective-oriented user pathways. Taken together, these elements distinguish Sustain Chicago from many public sector websites, while retaining the authority and accessibility of a well-run public service.

Animation of navigation rollover

focused navigation

We kept the navigation lean and mean, testing and finessing all labels to ensure site visitors could intuitively find the information most relevant to them.

Animation of language drop down rollover


We built in key style adjustments for languages like Chinese and Arabic, adjusting line heights for legibility and reversing page layouts for right-to-left reading.

CC Dropdown Animation

Quick Access Menu

An action-oriented dropdown menu greets visitors on the homepage for quick access to their known common needs.

Animation of search bar rollover


Large, noticeable rollovers and touch-friendly hit states make for an accessible — even delightful! — user experience.

Animation of hover state rollover
Sustain Chicago website color palette

A harmonious, high-contrast color palette allows for clear combinations, ideal for presenting infographics and focused content call-outs.

Campaign Roll-Out + Impact

With the site tested, vetted and officially live, City Hall commissioned digital billboards, placed strategically in high-traffic areas, and took to social media to announce its launch. 

Bus stop billboard that says connect with local resources to build a more sustainable chicago.
Series of four downtown bus stop signs that say connect with local resources to build a more sustainable chicago.
high rise buildings along Chicago's riverfront
Speaker at a podium addressing a crowd

While fighting climate change will take a massive, coordinated effort at every level of society, Sustain Chicago is ultimately about supporting people and communities in our day to day lives — reminding us that what we do matters, and with a little guidance and a lot of determination, we can all help care for the planet and our collective future.