Bringing big ideas to the developing world

One of the world’s leading NGOs confronting issues of HIV/AIDS and reproductive health, the Population Council tapped Thinkso to craft a new website and logo that could provide a window into their extensive work in the developing world. By reconciling the needs of their many audiences — donors, researchers, and other nonprofits, to name a few — we were able to create a site that balances the organization’s voluminous research with an engaging and moving narrative about their values and achievements.


In the 60 years since they were founded by John D. Rockefeller III, the Population Council has leveraged incredible resources and cutting-edge research to change the lives of hundreds of millions of people in developing countries. Among other notable achievements, they are credited with creating the first intrauterine contraceptive devices, and they were among the first to posit that changing the lives of girls would have outsized impact on the overall development of a country — a widely held tenet today.

They wanted their new website to celebrate this rich history while also telling a contemporary story of success and worldwide engagement. In addition, they needed to make their vast library of research documents not only accessible, but easily searchable. With hundreds of researchers and dedicated staff doing work in more than 50 countries, a deep portfolio of initiatives and publications, and responsibilities for advising a number of governments, the Population Council produces an enormous amount of content.


Our first step was an exhaustive content strategy process, figuring out how to understand and organize the Council’s immense body of work. In the completed website, the main resources page acts as both a comprehensive overview of the topics and geographic areas that the Council covers and a robust search tool — all presented in a simple and intuitive interface that supports everyone from government employees to internal researchers.

“Thinkso helped us develop a comprehensive website redesign that meets our visitors’ information needs and showcases the Population Council’s leadership and impact. We’re very pleased with the result.” Director of Communications, Population Council

Bold photography of those who’ve benefited from Population Council programs reinforces the NGO’s human focus and surfaces the most interesting or notable stories buried in the site. Full-screen imagery — overlaid with a subtle texture to equalize images of widely varying quality — provides a dramatic entry point to these stories and the focused editorial intrigues visitors without overwhelming them.

While all modern websites should be designed with a variety of screen sizes in mind, the ability to use the Population Council on mobile devices was particularly important, since so many of their constituents live in areas with limited access to traditional desktop computers. The new responsive site scales beautifully for all users.

The humanity we brought to the website narrative is also reflected in the new logo we designed for them. The previous icon felt outdated, but more important, it lacked any evocation of the research in which the Population Council was engaged — vital, personal work. The symbol we developed, in addition to its modern clarity and simplicity, features a human form; the arm outstretched helps convey the engagement and partnership so central to the organization’s success.


The Population Council was thrilled with the outcome: not only did they end up with a far more functional tool for their broad network of researchers and partners, they were able to tell a story that was equal parts historical foundation and exciting future, science and humanity, mind and heart.

Along with the introduction of a new logotype, color and typographic palettes were expanded. The Population Council homepage is welcoming, informative and highly impactful. The Council’s research is easily accessible and a streamlined navigation puts everything within reach.

A powerful search engine was high priority for accessing Population Council’s deep reservoir of research. Users across the globe are able to modify their searches based on location, topic, language, year, and media type. Country pages give a rich insight into the progress, challenges and resources associated with that location.

The site is responsively designed for use on a range of devices. Additionally, because of slow connections, particularly in countries further removed from technology, image loads and other functionality were monitored and optimized to ensure the best possible performance.