Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund

Educational and fundraising website for a well-known gorilla conservation foundation.

The Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund had an outdated website that did not support their fundraising and marketing efforts. With such a rich history and meaningful purpose, it was my job to design a website to match. The foundation was created in honor of the famed Dian Fossey, historic gorilla researcher and author of the novel “Gorillas in the Mist.” Dian Fossey was to gorilla conservation what Jane Goodall was to chimpanzees. Her efforts and the continued efforts of the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund have helped save populations of gorillas in Rwanda and the Congo from complete extinction. Recently the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund was featured on the TV show Ellen, where Ellen Degeneres had a 1 million dollar donation gifted in her name to build a new facility for training and research in Rwanda.

Step One

Project Discovery

This project was a dream for me to work on. As an animal lover, the chance to work with an organization involved in such amazing work was really meaningful for me. Meeting with the team at DFGF it was clear they had big dreams for their new website. Where their original site was dated and inflexible, we needed to ensure the new site was vibrant, interactive, and easy to update by their team.

Some important elements of the new website:

  • Easy to use symbolic Gorilla Adoptions and donations
  • Family tree of past and living Gorillas studied by Dian herself and continued by the foundation today
  • Fun and educational tools for children such as gorilla personality tests and quizzes
  • Interactive timeline of Dian’s history

Step Two


For the wireframes, I wanted to make sure I was thinking about the site as a modular system that could adapt to both their current and future needs. To do this I created a collection of pieces using a grid system: full width, 1/2, 1/3, 1/4, and 1/6. Using these pieces I was able to create pages that fit their content but also added some variety to the page. These horizontal sections could then easily be manipulated and swapped around as different content and promotions needed to change.

An area of the website that their team really wanted to focus on was the biography of Dian Fossey. This page needed to tell Dian’s story and showcase her amazing journey living in the mountains with the gorillas in a way that was exciting, visual, and engaging. To accomplish this I designed a system of sliding screens that took you both vertically (through her timeline) and horizontally (digging deeper into each stage of her story). This system allowed me to feature some of the beautiful historic imagery and break out her story into easily digestible pieces.

Step Three


Step Four

Gorilla Family Tree

One of the really cool and challenging parts of this project was figuring out a way to show the lineage of the gorillas monitored starting from when Dian first made contact to present day. In many situations, they have followed generations of gorillas and their monitoring and protection is what has allowed them to thrive. In order to continue to grow the family tree with time, it was important to create a system that was flexible enough to grow and expand with the gorilla family lines.