Category: Real Jobs

#mygreenstudy

Background

#mygreenstudy is a student-led project, run by three third-year BsC students at the University of Reading, supervised by Associate Professor of Botany, Alastair Culham

As house plants has become a trend recently, the campaign was created to encourage students to have plants in their room, and use social media to promote the cause. The aim of the job was to design a visual identity for the campaign on both printed and digital platforms for the campaign, and had to be something that represented the student and study aspect, as well as the plants.

 

Brief

Deliverables

  • Logo and visual identity on social media
  • Poster for plant swap event, A3/A4, PDF, and needs to be editable by the client
  • Advice on website templates
  • Template design for plant profile posts on social media

 

Role allocation 

Chia-Yi was in charge of the poster, Robin, the logo, and Joanne, the banner and Instagram template. We agreed to separate the roles, rather than take a more collaborative approach and all work on each deliverable, due to the quick turnaround. However, we did still keep in regular contact and had meetings with our clients every week, so had ample opportunity to advise each other.

Before deciding on this, we all drafted some initial logo designs for our first meeting, and then later decided on the delegation based on the feedback from the client.

 

Research and ideation

We decided to use two different personas before starting the design work – one plant ‘expert’ who wants to learn more, and one complete novice, to get the best spread of personalities to cater our ideas towards. We were in the unique position of the target audience being our age group, so this was a much easier task than usual.

The client offered this range of logos they collated for inspiration (see below), but upon viewing them, we felt they looked like council logos, and so decided to take a ‘devil’s advocate’ approach and produce other ideas. We produced a Pinterest board of ideas to base some initial drafts from: https://pin.it/he7424oztudfpa 

Logo

Initial ideas

Design development

After ‘finalising’ the original, busy version of the logo with the client, it was suggested in real jobs that we try a completely different approach, and pitch this to the client. This was suggested with two weeks until the deadline, so originally we were unsure about the idea. However, having made some new drafts and discussed options on Trello, the client ended up liking the new logo and decided to opt for the second version.

It was designed as a rolling logo as it was important to the client that a wide range of plants be used – having just one would not properly encompass the project. The geometric approach was to link to the banner design, and the plant growing from the side is to mimic natural growth and establish a relationship between the elements.

Final stages

The clients decided to use both produced versions – the first ‘logo’ was used as a design to print on merchandise. 

There was some debate as to whether to include the text on the final design, given its use on social media as a smaller icon. The client decided they wanted it and, despite the concern of legibility, is readable even at small scale.

Banner

Initial ideas 

The clients were very clear on what they wanted for their banner and wanted to use their own images as a ‘background’ with the name of their project also included.

Design development

I tried this idea with darker images, and these worked better, but the client knew that they would want to change the pictures from time to time. With the way clipping masks had been used to create the knockout text would mean making a lot of banners to hand over to them, or having to contact us in the future, which would not be viable. Illustration-based banner designs were suggested so that there would be more continuity between the logo and the poster, but the client rejected this idea. Knowing they were set on photography, a stencilled effect was suggested by the client as although they liked the knockout text that had the plant image filling it, they thought that a white box around it would help it to work on a wider range of images with varying background colours.

Final stages 

The simple design gives the banner a lot of versatility as it meant the client can create their own without our guidance. When uploading the banner to Youtube there were a few issues as the banner had to work on different screen sizes. The border of the stencil kept getting cropped out, and took a lot of troubleshooting to get it to work as it should. This meant creating a different banner size template to be used on Youtube to solve the issue.

Instagram template

Initial ideas 

The template given to the client had to be editable as the client wanted to use it as a plant fact file, and would need to be able to input the plant-specific data. This was made in Powerpoint, creating more of a challenge to design something that looked professional due to the software limitations. The client wanted the template to include a large plant image of the plant, and to use icons to show user care information.

Design development 

Developing from information fighting for space and hierarchy, we suggested that the client could make use of the carousel feature on Instagram. This would allow the image of the plant to be eye-catching and give the icons enough space to be clear and easily understood.

For watering, droplets were suggested by the client but at a distance these looked very nondescript, and so a watering can was used instead for a more direct action.

Deciding how to accurately show the temperature was a struggle – the client was very keen to have text on the template to help explain, but we advised that this was not viable given the space available on mobile, and that it means the icon wasn’t clear enough. We managed to work on the slider to show the ideal temperatures that worked well with the other icons and allowed for the client editability.

Final stages

Master slides were created to give the maximum amount of guidance to the client and prevent any long-term commitments for us. A guide was also made to help them use the template. The logo acting as a watermark was included as the client wanted their fact file to be recognisable to them, and acts as a ‘copyright’ at their request.

Poster

Initial ideas

The poster has the same editable requirements as Instagram template.

Design development 

Bringing the concept of a recycling sign with plants and hand gesture further, the clients were looking for an organic and friendly poster. Instead of having a vector illustration of all components, a hand drawn style of illustration was adapted with no colour filled. A beige background and dark brown text is used to match the organic theme. The clients liked the overall style and illustration, and was kept the same on Instagram for consistency. We provided a few versions which have different placement of text and logo styles to let the clients to choose. Our supervisor suggested to have the plants illustration filled to create a focal point for the poster. All different versions of illustration were sent to the clients to select the best option.

Final stages

Final artwork is done in Word document, with the text put in different text boxes to make it editable. There are different positioning of text on the Instagram poster and printed version – the square formatting of Instagram images meant the text needed to be more readable, whereas on A3 printed poster, information was put below the illustration that leave more negative space for the title to stand out.

Reflection

We did face a few problems during the process, some of which have been covered already.

We initially had a lack of cohesion in design caused by our method of role allocation. We got around this problem by revising the logo so that it uses the same styling as the banner – these two are going to be adjacent on all platforms, so this was essential. We also made the illustrations on the poster the same style of colouring as the logo. Despite this issue, we feel we made the right choice to delegate the work in this way.

Ultimately, seeing the finished results in use and knowing that the clients are happy with the results shows that the needs have been met. They were put to use at their first plant swap event, and it was great to see our work in situ.

If you want to see the designs in action, and learn more about the campaign, here are the handles to their social media:

@mygreenstudy (Instagram)

@mygreenstudy (Twitter)

My green study (Facebook)

Robin Smith, Joanne Tunbridge, Chia-Yi Chu

Impact TwentySeven – Brand Visual Identity Development (RJ00338)

Background and briefing

Impact TwentySeven is a new charity start-up which is looking to harness the huge market potential of the beauty industry. The aim of the charity is to raise funds for mental health initiatives. The money will be generated through the sale of self-care products. 100% of the profits from the sales will either go back into the business to grow its market hold or it will be donated to mental health charities and projects.

For this project I worked as part of a 3 person team. The brief we received was to design a logo and brand that had enough impact to grab attention in the beauty industry but also represented the charitable aspects, mental health awareness and the fact that not everyone is perfect. We then had to design the packaging for the first product which is a body wash.

Initial steps

After being appointed to the job and having an initial meeting with the client we worked as a team to create a restated brief for this project. We gathered some specific points from our client about the brand she wanted:

  • 100% of the profits are donated to mental health programmes.
  • Inclusivity, imperfections are what make us better.
  • Inspiring and motivating.
  • 27 different emotions with a focus on mental health blue.

From gathering these points we then checked what the deliverables of the project are and created a schedule for the project. After some feedback from our supervisor and a few amendments we sent the client our restated brief.

We started with some research into the existing leaders of the cosmetic market such as Nivea, Dove, and many more. From this we gained an idea of the trends and we created some mood boards to gain an insight into what our client was really looking for in her new brand.

After this initial research we started on the design of the logo; we all sketched several ideas. We presented these to each other and chose a selection of them to develop. We presented these developed logos to the client over Skype. Using Skype allowed us to interact and communicate with our client in a more personal way than over emails and allowed us to have real time feedback on our work.

Original sketches of logo
My original sketches of logos
Logo developments 1
Logo developments 1
Logo developments 2
Logo developments 2
Logo developments 3
Logo developments 3
Logo developments 4
Logo developments 4

We developed the main logos that the client was interested in and chose to work more with the blue colours and skin tones that our client thought represented her brand vision the best.

A bump in the road

After working on the logo as a team and developing it into a near finished version we faced some bad news. We were emailed by our client saying that she no longer needed us for her project. Our client had won an award as a start-up company which included the free use of a professional design agency. This was a great  opportunity for her new start up but meant that we were left without a client. Here we faced the difficult decision of whether to stop here and lose all the effort and time we had invested or to carry on with the project without a client making it a self-led project. We all decided that we couldn’t let our time go to waste and we carried on with the project.

We then met with our supervisor to get some advice of where to go from this situation and we decided that we would produce digital mock ups for the packaging which used our branding instead of the physical packaging which would have been produced for our client.

Packaging design

Once we had decided on the logo we edited and improved the previously supplied copy from our client. Using the edited copy and our branding which included the logo, colour schemes and patterns we started the design of the packaging.

Chosen logo outcome
Chosen logo outcome

We initially all produced some different designs but as we developed them we decided that it would be better if one of us designed each section of the packaging whilst working within the branding we had created. We started with the front and one of us designed this section using our brand style. I then replicated this style on the back of the packaging and used typographic variation to create a structure for the text-heavy back of the packaging. We worked on an icon for the bottle to show the fact that it is a charity and that all money raised goes to charitable causes. One of us designed the icons and myself, our other group member and some other peers gave feedback until we came to a good outcome for the charity icon.

Development of the charity icon
Development of the charity icon
Chosen charity icon
Chosen charity icon

We then did a test print of the digital mock-ups to check the size and legibility of all the type and information by printing our design at the correct scale. After a few minor adjustments from feedback in a real jobs meeting and a meeting with our supervisor (such as having the logo in blue instead of the black which it was originally and some type size issues on the back) we came to our mock-up outcome for this project.

Front of the packaging mockup
Front of the packaging mockup
Back of the packaging mockup
Back of the packaging mockup

Summary

Overall I think this project was a success. Even though we did lose our client due to an unexpected and uncontrollable circumstance, we did produce a design that was effective and taught us the importance of being self-critical in a team. From this project I learnt how you can seek lots of useful feedback from other places than just the main client. Some of these areas are meeting with peers and tutors, working in areas around your peers so they can look and suggest ideas and regular meetings with the supervisor of the project.

In the future when I am working on design projects I will seek as much feedback and thoughts from those around me and from any meetings in which I attend. I will also work more critically in a team and will be more comfortable in giving and receiving critical feedback to and from my peers.

Typography Timetables

Background

Students on this course often struggle to manage their time in the most effective way so that they can excel in each module.  On this course there is a mixture of design and written work, readings, and Real Jobs, all of which can be hard to balance especially come deadlines.  As well as this, it is important to balance this with other aspects of university life such as societies and nightlife, as well as other things such as part-time work and commuting.

Restated brief

Main points of focus

Our aim for this project was to create a set of timetables which aids students in their time management and organisation through the course, in a fun and engaging way, but still giving across the serious and useful message.  I think that we were successful in achieving this as the timetable highlights to students how best to use their time and therefore helping them with their time management.  By us using the bright colours and note typefaces I think that we have made something that tends to be somewhat boring more visually engaging.

Deliverables

The deliverable for this project was a series of timetables for Part 1, 2 and 3 students that suggest how to fill their time outside of class with independent study to best benefit them on this course while still allowing them to do other activities such as sport societies, going out, part-time work and more.

In our restated brief that we completed at the start of the project, our list of potential deliverables also had listed a webpage with tick boxes to generate a more personalised timetable and a personalised app.  These things were very ambitious, and while we would have loved to have been able to make them more interactive and personal, we were aware that we would’ve needed help from the university to generate the app, but also mainly our client decided that it was a better idea to see if people find the timetables useful before making more variations. If there is a good reaction to them then making a webpage to make them personal or an app with the university would be the next step after this project as we could not do that ourselves.

Schedule

Unfortunately, the original deadline was not met.  Ironically, seeing as the purpose of our project is to help students with time management, we struggled to keep on top of our personal deadlines, especially come summer term when we had a big project due in, as well as the project being difficult in areas to perfect at first.  This was disappointing for myself, however the client was not worried and was very relaxed as to when the next deadline was to be, so we chose to set ourselves one once we were back from summer and this we stuck to.  It was a challenge trying to continue this work over summer without seeing each other or our supervisor/client due to everyone being busy at different times.  However, I think due to circumstance we made good progress and this allowed us to not let the project stretch out too much longer once we were back.  With this being my first real job I think that it is a big learning curve in how to handle these extra deadlines alongside our module work and I think it has definitely improved my time management this year – maybe I should even follow the timetables we made myself!

Process

Initial contact with client

Our project was a bit unique in the sense that our client was also our supervisor, and therefore was a lecturer in the department.  This meant that when we set up client meetings we could also talk to him as a supervisor too, however it was important to specify if we were talking to him as a client or supervisor, which was very useful in getting quick feedback on our work.

Throughout the project we had relatively good client and supervisor communication, although we could’ve made it a bit more consistent and maybe add a set day each fortnight to meet which could’ve helped us stay on top of personal deadlines and get it done a bit sooner.  Over summer of course it was harder, however the meeting were always very helpful.  We exchanged a lot of emails with the client/supervisor though which was useful.

Research

Our users are undergraduate students in each year of the BA Graphic Communication programme which is the same demographics as ourselves so we should be able to have more of an insight into what this timetable needs to include. Our Trello board also shows possible user personas that would benefit from these timetables, with them talking about other commitment they have and different commuting situations and how it is possible and suggestions to balance their time is possible. With the target group being ourselves and our peers, we had easy access to peer reviews and feedback.   I think that we didn’t reflect the benefits of this enough on our Trello board.  We recorded the two main occasions where we got feedback from our peers, however we were able to get casual comments from those around us and each other while working in department.

Trello board

I now have a better understanding of how Trello works and I can now use it more effectively.  However, I think during this project I was successful at uploading development of our work through different stages and explaining why we had decided to do things a certain way.

Design stage

Initial ideas from meeting with client were around what the purpose fo the timetables were and how he wanted them to look.  He said that they should be made to look how we’d like to read them, so making them colourful and engaging was important.  University timetables can be very generic and boring and therefore, although having to include university branding, it was to be kept minimal as the client felt that if it looked too official students may engage less. Overall, he said that it was being designed by students for students, so to design it in a way that us, the designers and students, think is effective. We decided the use of colour coding and some sort of more personal, notes handwriting would be good touches. Similarly, initially our client was interested in having something like geometric shapes feature on the timetable.  we played around with these however it looked too busy and a bit sound for the audience.

The next important stage was gathering the timetables for a part 1, 2 and 3 student to base them off. From this we then mocked up some basic timetables with class time filled out to show the time free around this. A tricky and vital part of this project was them working out independent study time, how much for each module and where to put it on the timetable.  We had assistance from our supervisor on this, getting ideas on the hours that should be spent on what. As a client too he could confirm this as we went and make amendments where necessary when it came to different years.  It was relatively left up to us to allocate time for other things such as societies or paid work as we have close understanding of what students get up to in their spare time. We are aware that not all people will spend their time as we have suggested but it is there to highlight one possibility of what you can do with your time and to show you can fit things around your studies. Throughout this project and our feedback we changed details with timings, for example, the length given for breakfast, after meetings or emails with our client, as well as talking to our peers and getting their feedback. This task, albeit daunting, was useful!

The organisation of the page was decided and signed off on quite early, we tested a few layouts but found the notes on the right was most effective.  Details with this changed as it developed due to table sizing and type size.  The organisation and placement of the key was something we were stuck on for a while, but we decided to keep it simple and clear by having it straight across the bottom. The typefaces used for the table is Poytner Gothic Text as it is simple and clear, especially compared to Marydale which is used for the title and notes, which I think adds a fun feel to the timetable.

Another key part to the design process was choosing the correct colours, in their shade, brightness and the way they correlated with each other and what they were coded as.  For example, contact hours and independent study in the end were made to be similar colours to show their connection, with something like society being in dark blue to show they’re not related and to avoid at-a-glance confusion. We had to play around more with how to fill the more mundane parts of meal time and sleeping as this has no need to steal focus.  We started by simply making them more pale, however there were too many colours on the page and the important events of the week such as lectures and study weren’t differentiated enough. Our supervisor suggested trying greys.  this was a step in the right direction I think as it looked more professional and not so in your face.  However, our client asked us to try to find an alternative for solid colour fills for the cells.  At first we were unsure, however we settled on stripes as they were subtle but help to distinguish optional things from compulsory/university stuff.

Feedback that we frequently received throughout this project was often about the consistency of spacing on the tables. Therefore, in the final stages we had to sort this out by making a lot of small, fiddly changes to the InDesign file.  The main change we had to make was remaking the tables, which initial seemed like a lot of work, but I was taught the align tool which made it speedy and accurate.  Other amendments were things such as the spacing and alignment of the different elements so that they were consistent across all three timetables.

Below are examples of our timetables at the different stages and showing the different things that we tried out before we got our final design. I think that you can see form these images how it looks less busy but still eye-catching and exciting by the end.

 

Final designs

Part 1 timetable
Part 2 timetable
Part 3 timetable

Feedback

The timetable are yet to be put out and therefore we haven’t had any official feedback from that as of yet.  However, the client was happy when signing off the designs as the aims of the timetables had been met.  In terms of feedback from our peers, when we showed the signed off designs in a real jobs meeting there was positive feedback from them and James, highlighting the engaging colours used and the fun space for notes.

Reflection

This was my first real job I took on and have completed so far.  I feel that I have learnt many valuable things during this job as I had to learnt to juggle the tasks from this project alongside my other module work, which goes hand-in-hand with the context of this project as it was showing us and our peers how to use our time properly while studying this course.  It has benefitted me to hear and see it in a visual way, how I should be spending my time to benefit most on this course. The timings for this project were a downfall unfortunately, however the client was still happy with the final deadline and the designs, and it is a good experience and learning curve in how to better deal with deadlines. Another key thing that I have learnt is how to organise and name my files so that I keep them organised more efficiently.  This will be a key skill that I carry through the rest of my time at university and have already found myself benefitting from, as well as into my professional career.

In terms of the final result of the timetables, I am pleased as I think that we met the aims form our brief and the client, as well as benefitting me and my peers in opening our eyes as to how we should be approaching our time and studies.  I think that the colours we used really catch your eye and make it clear and easy to read.  The note-like writing on the timetable I think adds a more personal feel to it, which was something the client was looking for. I enjoyed working on this project with my peers and client/supervisor, in making something rather plain look interesting and fun.

 

Movie: a journal of film criticism. Issue 8

Movie: a journal of film criticism. Issue 8

Background

Professor John Gibbs, head of the School of Arts & Communication Design at the University of Reading was in need of a new design for Movie: A Journal of Film Criticismissue 8. Movie: A Journal of Film Criticism is the successor of Movie the print journal which was published from 1962 to 2000. Currently it has been digitally designed for online reading. The scholarly journal is a rolling publication meaning articles are published throughout the year. The purpose of this journal is to publish work that is concerned with the aesthetics of film and television style, analysis, theory and practice of evaluating film and television. Movieissue 8 not only includes written articles but audio-visual essays and interviews. John Gibbs aspired a new layout for issue 8 that complexly integrated film frames and text more than the previous issue; it was felt that editorial decisions of the previous issue lost the traditional design and feel of Movie.

I have always imagined myself working in editorial, hence why taking on this opportunity dealing with text, images, layout and attention to typographic detail was of interest to me. Being able to explore a detailed relationship between film grabs and the text was just one of my interests within this project.

Restated brief

The restated brief for this job was to complexly integrate the film grabs within the text effectively. This was to provide an experience for the reader with integrating the film grabs in the moments analysed within the text, which is what made the layouts of the traditional issues so great and pleasant to read.

A designer prior to me created the previous issue in 2017, this meant that I had to adapt my design skills into an existing template which I was critical of. Being critical of the existing files was not only important to improve the design but to also gain a sense of control over the work.  Appropriate files and design guidelines were provided on aspects such as page layout, grid, typesetting, images and cover design. This gave me an insight into the justifications from the previous designer as to why certain editorial decisions were followed the way they were. However, it was necessary to analyse and critique the files in order to make improvements on the design and integration of images to fit in consistently with the traditional issues.

The initial meeting with my client gave me the opportunity to clarify things, making sure we were both on the same page of thoughts. At this point in time there wasn’t a confirmed deadline as it was unsure whether or not the journal was going to become a rolling publication. As the process depended on the authors confirming they were happy with the layout design, it was quite a lengthy development of anticipating responses and keeping up to date with emails and communicating regularly.

Research

I began my research by analysing the old Movie print journals for inspiration. My client had advised that they wanted to achieve the integrations of images and text that was accomplished in the print journals. I viewed a range of journals to gain an understanding of the desired style my client wanted. Overall, the print journals had a consistent, memorable style throughout its layouts and typesetting, creating a type of brand identity for the well-known journal.

Features that stood out were:

  • prominent opening articles
  • boarders
  • outlined type
  • varied scales of images depending on their importance
  • insignificant white space
  • columns

 

Inspiration from existing Movie print journals

My client mentioned that a lot of the feedback for issue 7 involved conflicting opinions about the use of white space across the issue. I had suggested to my client that white space isn’t always negative space and it can actually be quite an effective element if used fittingly. Although, from observing existing print journals it was evident that white space wasn’t particularly considered throughout the designs. Nonetheless, I had advised my client about exploring ways in which white space could be used effectively within the forthcoming issue. After suggesting my thoughts, my client clarified the editorial board wanted a different approach to the previous issue in order to meet my client’s needs. It’s important as a designer to suggest your own creative thinking as this develops your flow of thinking.  The purpose of this issue was to achieve a well-integrated relationship between images and text across the spreads, therefore, to meet my client’s needs this had to strongly be thought through with reading each article to appropriately place the images.

Design development

The design aspect to this project was quite straight forward because of the existing template. This project was heavily reliant on the research, communication with the client and organised files in order to be a success. The design development process involved working within InDesign. It was important to appropriately name and group styles together to avoid confusion as publications consist of many different articles and pages.

Maintaining and organising clean files throughout the design development

Along the way there were some broken elements within styles that had to be altered, while ways of working had to be adapted as using someone else’s files was a new skill to develop. Once I had read through the articles, I judged where would be best suited for the provided frame grabs to be integrated. Once I completed my first draft, I sent it to my client for feedback. Considering my client was happy with the layout, this would be sent for further feedback to the authors of the articles who would then get back into contact with my client.

From taking on this project, it most definitely taught me how to use features I wouldn’t have considered to use before. The table of contents (TOC) feature in InDesign can automatically list the contents of publications, magazines and books. For this to be a success it consisted of creating, applying and formatting styles for the TOC. Generating a working TOC creates a chain like system for the next designer to use straightforwardly. Whether or not I would use features as such again, it was beneficial in learning how to use the TOC feature as another client in the future may choose this way of presenting the contents.

Creating, applying and formatting styles for the TOC

Movie issue 8 received loads of positive feedback. This was quite a rewarding feeling as loads of effort was put into this project in order to make my client happy and I am delighted this was achieved.

Feedback from members of theeditorial board said:

‘it looks fabulous’, ‘it all looks very good’, ‘the integration of the images with the text is excellent, and captures something important about Movie’s traditions of close reading’.

Comments from the authors were also positive as they said:

‘Thanks very much for this – looks terrific!’, ‘this looks really good. Please convey my thanks to Martha’.

Communication

A respectful and professional relationship between my client and I was developed. Regular contact via email and face to face meetings were conducted when necessary. My client was easy to reach which made communicating flow easily. My client had always informed me of editorial board meetings and deadlines in order for me to leave plenty of time to have everything prepared and ready for these important meetings. The communication skills developed through this project have made me more confident in approaching my clients and improved my articulation and tone of voice. This will be beneficial in developing professional relationships within industry and with clients.

Reflection

This project had its challenges. One of the main challenges was to produce the TOC as the template files didn’t include a completed plan. On the other hand, this forced me to learn and improve with the feature instead of just dropping it into a template. The other challenge was developing the skill of working within someone else’s files and gaining insights as to why they may have done certain things differently. However, having the skill to adapt will be useful for the future working in industry.

I felt as though I had met my client’s needs in achieving what they were looking for. The overall project took much longer than expected, however this was due to making it a rolling publication which meant more authors were submitting their articles towards the end of the year. Although, I was happy to continue working on this project, solely because I really enjoyed it. From this project I have truly learnt a number of things. From professionally communicating and maintaining contact with clients, to realising how important and useful it is to have organised files, ending with reading interesting film criticism articles as well. To have a read of the full journal click here. 

Front cover of Movie issue 8