Category: Real Jobs (featured)

Will display on the screen in the Department

Harris Garden interpretation boards

Brief

Summary
The Harris Garden is a botanical garden, located on the University of Reading’s Whiteknights campus. It was established in 1972 and has since been enjoyed by students, staff and the public.

The aim of this project was to create a range of deliverables that sit cohesively together within the garden. Our client initially requested a leaflet, map and signage, but after a discussion, we were able to settle on the following deliverables, which we felt would allow us to more successfully achieve both function and aesthetics:

  1. Brand Identity Design
  2. 10 x Signage
  3. Garden Map

Team Roles
As we were working as a fairly large team of four students, we decided that we would share responsibility for each deliverable, working collaboratively and ensuring we each were all held accountable throughout the project process.

Schedule
Our client made it clear that this project was flexible, however we felt it would be better for us to decide on an end-date. Having received this project over the summer holidays, we felt early April was a sensible deadline to keep to. Unfortunately, due to several delays, we had to push our deadline back. As a team, we decided to aim to finalise all the deliverables by the start of the following September, but due to lack of communication with our client, our deadline was once again delayed.

Our Vision
With this project we wanted to provide the Harris Garden with an all-new, refreshed signage system to make the gardens more inviting for a broad, but predominantly family orientated, target audience. We wanted our designs to encapsulate both the life of the garden itself and the history of its friends and regular visitors. A key aim for us was to make the garden more accessible and encourage educational learning in an engaging manner. Staying environmentally friendly was important for us to promote sustainability whilst still being durable. 

 

Research & Ideation

Personas
In our client briefing session multiple types of target users began to emerge. The client made it clear that the aim of the project was to attract more young families with children, but he was keen that the signage and map also be accessible for their existing audience. In response to these conversations, we identified four main user types. We developed these into user personas and confirmed in a subsequent meeting with the client that they align with both current and desired garden audiences. The client was satisfied with our personas and so we were able to refer to them throughout the project when making design decisions and considerations.

Materiality
As the location of the signage and maps is to be in a garden that celebrates nature, we discussed with the client environmentally friendly and sustainable options for materials and production. Concerns about vandalism and ongoing garden updates as well as natural weathering meant we had to be mindful of expense as well as the robustness of the materials.

The client wanted materials that would be easy to clean but that stood up to harsh outdoor conditions. In addition, the materials needed to be sturdy and unlikely to break, but easy to remove and replace should the garden layout change or the damage be too extreme. With this in mind we researched existing signage in a range of environments such as gardens and tourist locations as well as those around campus. We researched more traditional approaches to signage as well as unique sustainable responses.

Having Creative Print Services (CPS) located in the same building as the department enabled us to meet members of the team throughout the project in the department and on site in the garden. These conversations around materiality and function guided our design decisions as we considered colour scheme, layout, scale, and typographic treatment. 

Design Styles
When considering the direction for the unifying style of the deliverables we drew upon findings from our research that we considered to be successful, and continued to keep in mind the target audience. We knew that the design had to be accessible and attractive to children and young families, whilst also respecting the academic and mature audience. The design style also needed to reflect the natural environment of the garden. As such, we developed ideas with natural colour palettes and organic illustrations. We focused on implementing a consistent layout with clear hierarchy for the signage and considered ways in which we could make clear the link between the map and the signs so that the overall design throughout the garden was cohesive.     

 

Design & Process

Branding Design
Branding was not a deliverable our client initially requested, however we felt the creation of an identity would allow us to tie the signage and map together resulting in a cohesive set of designs.


We began by gathering inspiration of existing garden logos which had a focus on icon-like elements. We decided to go down the route of a visual but fairly minimal icon design which we felt could easily be applied to different formats and would scale easily. Using our inspiration as a foundation, we began sketching out some ideas. One of the concepts that immediately stood out to us, was the incorporation of the leaf-like shapes with the initials of the garden. We also were drawn to our sketches of interlocking leaf shapes, and so we started to take these ideas into Adobe Illustrator, exploring typefaces and logo layouts to sit alongside this icon.

 

Unfortunately this logo did not stand out to our client, and so we went back to the drawing board, to explore some new ideas, while still keeping to the leaf-shape theme. As a team, we felt the typography from the initial concept was successful, and so we kept this fairly consistent through the next rounds of designs. We were pleased to hear that our client really liked the 3rd brand identity seen in the image below, and so this is the route that we took for the garden’s brand identity. 


In terms of colour palette, we wanted to take inspiration from the plants seen within the Harris Garden, while avoiding the ‘expected’ route of an all green scheme. We developed four options, before settling on the bottom left palette. We knew this combination of colours would be taken across onto the map illustration and so we decided to keep the branding palette fairly limited while adding in more variety for the map.

 

We were really pleased that our client immediately fell in love with our chosen palette, and so we implemented this into our logo variations, testing the different combinations of colour. We found some worked better than others, but overall felt our palette was successful.

Map Design
Due to the map being at the forefront of the garden and the first thing visitors would see, we undertook extensive research into appropriate styles of maps designed for use in Garden contexts. We decided on an approach which was colourful and appealing to children and families which had a slightly 3D perspective, enhancing the shape, orientation and location of the garden in relation to the surroundings. 

After gathering inspiration for the style of illustration we would use, a colour palette was developed based on the colours selected for the brand identity. We made sure these shades were representative of the four seasons that worked well together as a set. This palette was tweaked and changed slightly as the project went on to create a coherent and appealing appearance with enough contrast to work effectively.

 

To begin the designing process, we developed the base of the map in illustrator, mapping out the different paths and sections of the garden given to us by the client. Next, we designed a variety of different tree icons that could easily be placed around the map in appropriate places in order to represent denser areas of woodland, or more prominent trees and plants. 


We added the icons and illustrations that represented the plants and trees within the Garden to the base of the map and added additional information such as the entrance gate and a key around the map. We tried many different variations and made many changes along the way to perfect the positioning of tree icons and ensuring the paths were visible for navigation purposes. 


  

We felt that the pure-white background would look too prominent and out of place in a Garden setting so opted for an off-white colour which would also prevent dirt showing up as easily. The beige background felt much more subtle and suitable for the context we were designing for, and our client also said he felt that some users would find it more difficult to read black text on a bright white background. 

We created two different versions of the near finished design which both use a more 3D effect at the edge of the map which we agreed on with the client at the beginning of the project. Differences in these versions include how specific areas of the Harris Garden are labelled, either within the illustrations of the map or around the outside. The road was omitted from the design in the end due to the decision that it was too distracting from the garden and somewhat irrelevant. In addition, the client wanted to detract any attention from the walled garden in the right hand corner as this was a section not maintained by the university, hence why we left the design of this alone. 


Although we felt we could develop our map design further, this was the stage that we got to when our client unfortunately decided to remove the map from the project’s deliverables. We decided it would be best for us to move our focus to the signage, and further refine them, rather than working on the map any further. If things had gone differently we would have developed the map further, testing different shades of an off-white background to maximise legibility as well as finding the most appropriate solution to include the garden labels around the map. 

Signage Design
In advance of designing the interpretation panels, we did some visual research and analysis on existing signs used in similar settings and contexts. This research ensured that we were considering the physicality and context of the interpretation panels throughout the entire design process, which has been beneficial for our final outcomes. 

Before taking our ideas to the computer, we sketched out some simple layouts on paper to start thinking about how we could use our format as a canvas and how to present the different kinds of information on the interpretation boards.

Once we had developed some concepts with mock illustrations and copy, we showed these to our supervisor and client to gather feedback. At this stage, the feedback that we received from our supervisor was that the interpretation boards that we had developed were too ‘book’ like, and weren’t visually appealing enough. Our supervisor also critiqued the illustration style we had chosen, and suggested we might want to experiment with a style that was more appropriate for the target audience, and perhaps something that looked a bit more abstract.

At this point  in the project, we focused on how we could transform the signs into something that looked more like information design, or a poster, rather than a page in a book. We categorised the different types of information that was present on the signs and thought about how we could differentiate between the hierarchy of information, and visually represent the content to a reader looking from afar, or only looking for a few seconds. We used colour, type size, icons and shading to achieve this. We also created new versions of the illustrative elements, choosing a style that had less detail than the first, and is more appropriate than the ones we initially presented. 

 

After exploring a more visual approach to the signage, we felt the overall layout had too much white space and did not work successfully. We decided to experiment with alternative sizes to see whether these worked better. We were all drawn to the square format as we felt this worked best for our content and was the most space efficient.

 

After discussing with our client, we decided to change the background colour to a shade of off white, to make the typography more accessible. This change will be particularly beneficial  for people with dyslexia or other needs that make reading more difficult. After a few final copy editing changes, the signs were signed off by our client. 

 

Project Conclusion

Schedule
One of the challenges we faced throughout our project, was sticking to our initial timeline. When designing the signs we had to wait for the content from our client, who struggled to gather the stories from regular visitors.  As the client was struggling to collect enough of these stories in the timeframe of our schedule, we offered him multiple extensions and moved our schedule around to accommodate this. So as not to waste time whilst waiting we decided to pause working on the signage until we had real content to work with and started working on the map. The client was happy with this compromise and it enabled the project to keep moving forward despite the delays. 

Implementation
Throughout the duration of the project, we faced some barriers that we had to overcome. Tackling these challenges as a team have taught us valuable client facing and time management skills that have not only made us better designers, but better communicators and team members. 

Our project deadline of April 2022 was initially extended due to delays in receiving the copy for the interpretation boards from our client, and we struggled to stick to a schedule throughout the project due to delays in client communication. This has taught us that in future, we should set out clearer expectations between ourselves and the client in the initial stages of a project to avoid similar challenges. 

Toward the final weeks of our project, we were informed by our client that he needed to use the University branding and that the branding we designed would not be taken forwards in the deliverables. At this point we were advised by our supervisor to let the client handle this directly with the University branding team, as this is something beyond our remit. In addition to this, the client decided to take an alternative approach in regards to the map as it would continue to develop in the coming months. While these changes to the brief were frustrating at the time, we still see the project as a success and are proud to present a full set of deliverables as outlined in our initial brief. Although they might not be implemented in the Harris Garden itself, we are happy with the solutions we arrived at. 

 

Project Summary
Overall, this was a successful and enjoyable project. We set out as a team to create a brand identity, a set of signage and a map that worked cohesively together, and this we achieved. Each member of the team brought different strengths that we were able to identify early in the project. This enabled us to harness each other’s strengths and support one another in areas where we wanted to grow and learn. As challenges arose, such as client communication, scheduling delays, or software issues we were able to create and implement effective solutions that kept us motivated and the client updated. 

We attended Real Jobs sessions regularly and benefitted from the feedback, allowing us to push the development of our ideas. Having a logical and clear structure to our process (1:branding, 2 signage, 3: map) made it easy for those providing feedback to follow our process and decisions. Towards the end of the project we acknowledged that more supervisor meetings would have been beneficial, but we were able to make the most of the meetings that we did have, especially as our supervisor was changed half-way through our project. 

Lessons on physicality were reinforced as we were reminded of the importance of printing out to-scale drafts of our designs when working on deliverables that will be physical and printed. Each of us developed our communication skills, both with the client and within our design team. Assigning and embracing individual areas of responsibility really helped with this. 

Whilst we were disappointed that the client chose to move forward in a different direction, as a team and as individual designers this was still a very beneficial project that taught us many important lessons about the reality of designing for live projects and we are pleased with what we achieved.

By: Emily Collard, Hannah Smith, Megan Hancox, Rio Ware

Student-Lead Department Instagram 2022

Introduction

After joining the instagram team in our first year of University, we (Emily and Rio) began to co-lead the Instagram at the beginning of 2022. Our experience of being on the team previously gave us a good prior understanding and ideas of what to post and we already had a structure. Once the Instagram was officially handed over to us, we began to make our own decisions about how to lead the team, what content to post and set ourselves goals to improve our online presence. 

Our Goal
As soon as we were handed full control of the instrgram, we felt we should focus all our efforts to making the account feel more like a welcoming community for current students, gradates, lecturers and friends of the department. We also felt it was crucial that we captured the department in a way that was appealing for prospective students, showcasing the vast range of projects, techniques and classes available on our course. To do this, we wanted to share a larger variety of posts, creating a more engaging feed. We also wanted to aim to post much more frequently than the previous years team, and engage more with other accounts.

 

Updating the Account

We immediately noticed that the account had a very unprofessional bio. It did not accurately portray our department as it had a chaotic and haphazard appearance. The first noticeable change to the account was updating this bio, making it feel much more considered and designed. Emily had the idea of adding a link tree to our bio, adding level of functionality as it would provide viewers easy access to the department website, UoR website, open day bookings, baseline shift talks and much more.

 

Planning and posting
In order to achieve our goal of posting more frequently, we implemented a new strategy for planning posts. We used an excel spreadsheet to plan our each month of posts, and allocated each post to a member of the team. The idea behind this was to get more organsied and allow each member to have a clearer idea of what to post, and when to post it. 

Unfortunately, in practise this did not work as well as we had initially intended. Often, team members would forget to post on their allocated day, or other content would come up that wouldnt follow the structure and disturbed the plan. In practice, this strategy was too rigid and. Once we realised this wasn’t successful, we met with the team to discuss their thoughts on how well this was working. We all agreed that a more forgiving and less strict structure would work better for the nature of the content that we post. We also discussed with the team that frequent reminders on our group chat would be helpful to remind team members to post content. 

 

New Content

Typography Posts

Emily had the idea of using our account to better celebrate the typographic side to our departments course. To do this, we contacted Gerry, and requested links to typefaces designed by past MA Typeface Design Programme students. From here, Emily designed a carousel post template and began showcasing these typefaces regularly on the account. We felt having these posts helped us achieve a more considered and balanced feed, providing us with an element of consistency within our posts.

These posts did well in terms of engagement, and we were pleased to see type foundaries sharing us on their stories!

Inside the Department
As we have previously mentioned, we wanted to create a more welcoming and community feel to the account. One of the main ways we strived to achieve this, was by sharing both feed posts and reels, capturing the department itself, as well as classes such as feedback sessions. 

We found these posts did really well, not only with the current students, but also past graduates, providing them with a sense of nostalgia! This was especially the case with the video content and the photography of the outside of the building.

Tips and Advice

Over the summer holidays, Rio thought that it would be a nice idea to welcome the new Part One’s with an advice post to help motivate them and inspire them at the start of this new term. IIn order to achieve this, we implemented carousel posts that shared wisdom from graduates of the department as well as current students. We found this post was welcomed warmly by our followers and would love this concept to be adopted by the new team and continue to share tips and advice!

Introduction of Guides

Guides are a feature on Instagram that allow you to collate posts into one space within your account. We felt this would be the perfect opportunity for us to help current students find the work of previous year groups, to take inspiration from examples of work and to get a better understanding of what will be expected from projects. With this being said, we made a guide for each ‘part’ as well as a guide of Real Job projects, MATD typeface posts, posts within the department, and baseline shift content.

Having implemented this into the departments account, we spoke to a few students who all agree that it was a ‘useful’ addition allowing easy access to content, especially when you are looking for a particular type of post.

Creating these guides have also been useful to help us grasp a better understanding of what we need to post more or less on the Instagram. For example, at one particular point in the year, Emily and I found ourselves posting a lot of Part 2 content, as it was the most accessible to us at the time. Therefore, we decided to recruit new students in the year below to hellpus out with posting, and got in touch with students in the year above to ask permission to post their work. 

 

Engagement & Following

One of the main goals of posting on social media is to promote our department to new students, as well as create an online community of students, staff and alumni. Therefore, engagement and following is important to consider when posting. We have realised that certain posts ie: pictures of the department, or posts that follow trends increase engagement, and often, we have aimed to focus our content based on which

Looking at out insights on our professional dashboard, we can see that in the past 90 days of running the instagram account, we have reached 61% more accounts compared to 1 Jun–29 Aug, engagement has increased by 29% and our follower count has increased by 3.4%. 

Looking back on our posts since we have lead the team, there are certain posts that have stood out to us as being more successful than others, and these are backed up by interactions and reach.  To measure the success of a post, we take into account the number of interactions with the post such as likes, comments and shares, as well as how many accounts the post has reached. Using our professional dashboard insights, we can see what our following found the most engaging, as well as features of posts which drew in non-followers.

 

Little miss post 

With 203 interactions with this post, the little miss post that we illustrated and designed ourselves was our most successful post. This post was designed in response to a popular trend on social media based on the well-known Mr Men book series.

Joby Caters Workshop
With 199 interactions, our post about our recent visit to Joby Carters sign writing workshop has been another hit amongst our followers. Photos of lettering and typography are something that would be enjoyed by the majority of our following, so it is no wonder that this post did well. Posts such as these are important to keep other members of the department up to date on what everyone gets up to.

Photographs and reels of the department
Our posts showing photographs of the outside and inside of the department, frequently received comments such as ‘love that place!’,  ‘missing the yellow doors’ and ‘brings back memories’. We found that sharing these photos have been particularly successful amongst alumni, bringing back memories for former staff and students reminiscing their time at the department. These kind of posts are also useful or prospective students to grasp a vision of what life in our department looks like.

 

Preparing the New Team

During the autumn term, we decided to speak to the years below us, and gather new members to join our team. Having run the instagram as just a pair for several months, we felt it was key that we grew our team both for our benefit, to take the pressure as we were now part three students, but to also set up the new team to take over from us. We planned to take a step back from running the instagram towards the end of the autumn term, and did our best to guide our new team members towards new leadership and help make them comfortable posting and sharing content. We held several meetings throughout the term to share the idea we had for new content, as well as encouraging the new members to share any thoughts they had. We hoped to ease the new team into taking over the account rather than what we experienced, and leaving them to fend for themselves without prior warning!

We are delighted to say that we were able to recruit four new members to our team and we hope we have provided all the support and encouragement they need to allow the instagram to continue to grow not only as a social media account, but also as a community for students, staff and friends of the department.

 

Our Thoughts

As soon as we were handed the account at the start of 2022, we came up with a huge range of ideas. Unfortunately we were unable to design all these posts and implement them into our feed, however we definitely feel we have made a hugely positive impact on the Instagram, improving the content, engagement levels and community feel to the account.

We believe we have successfully maintained a consistent posting schedule, posting throughout the week. Previously, when we were under the leadership of the year above, we found that we lacked content especially at the start of each term, with the majority of posts being shared after from end of term submissions. We also found the content was mainly final mockups of work. We feel we have used our prior experience regarding this, and made a series of changes to improve not only the feed’s variety, but also the engagement with our content.

It was an absolute pleasure running the Instagram and we both feel we have gained valuable experience throughout the process. We feel our success lies with our ability to work collaboratively to run the account, gaining key skills in team leadership and time management. On top of this, we were able to harness our creativity to bring new and engaging content to the account in a variety of ways.

On top of this, we hope we have successfully prepared the next team, helping ready them for the creation of new content as well as maintaining new ideas that we have implemented ourselves.

 

RJ00455: Student-lead Department Instagram 2022
Emily Collard & Rio Ware



Joby Carter Fairground Contest: Redesigning Odeon

Redesigning Odeon

Brief

Joby Carter is a signwriter and fairground artist who owns Carter’s steam fair and he set up a competition whereby as the contestants we had to each present a brand that we had reimagined in a fairground font using signwriting techniques and show the idea as a square PNG file, 2000 x2000px. The format / medium could be whatever we chose. The aim of the project was to move away from typographic uniformity and create our own letterforms in eccentric fairground styles.

 

Schedule

The deadline for this project was 6th December, when Joby would work with our tutors to decide on winners, so this gave me only a few weeks to complete the project from the beginning. I decided to use the first week to research and then to come up with a more developed design each week until the deadline, before which I would create my final design by hand.

 

My idea

I researched into lots of different logos that I thought were uninteresting and boring, and eventually came across the Odeon cinema logo. Cinemas are supposed to be exciting places to go with friends and family for entertainment purposes, much like fairgrounds and circuses, the main purpose is entertainment and fun. Cinema logos should persuade someone to go and watch a film and evoke the kind of fun that fairground typography gives off, however the Odeon logo doesn’t really do this. It uses a sans serif typeface with rigid angles, creating quite a serious look for the brand that doesn’t scream fun for anyone.

I wanted to rebrand Odeon using fairground inspired typography due to its purpose for advertising a sector of the entertainment industry which should theoretically be the most fun and expressive with its logo typography. With this project, my aim was to bring back the fun and excitement into Odeon’s logo.

 

Research

After deciding on Odeon, I did a bit of background research into the logo. Odeon was founded in 1930 by Oscar Deutsch. The first logo they used was designed by Deutsch himself around this time. Cinemas during this time period were given a commonplace art deco red and gold design on the inside, which was designed by architect Harry Weedon.

1930–1997

Wolff Olins created a new look for Odeon in August 1997. Camden Parkway was the first cinema to receive the new look. Instead of a red and gold livery, the cinemas were repainted blue, black and silver. By 2002, all cinemas had been given the new look.

 1997–present

I felt that this new logo didn’t give Odeon the exciting connotations that it deserves as a cinema, and the blue certainly didn’t feel appropriate, I felt like I could make it much more exciting.

I also looked at a lot of examples of fairground art and signwriting so that I could adopt the correct style for my own rebrand. Here are some of the examples I found for inspiration. Some things I noticed were the common colours of red and yellow, the extra swirls and flourishes on letter forms, 3D effects, often heavy weighted letters, and that they used all capital letters.

Visit to Joby Carter’s workshop

As part of the contest, we got the opportunity to go and visit Joby’s workshop and he showed us round while we were able to look at lots of pieces of his work which I found really inspiring.

Joby even did some demonstrations of sketching out letterforms for us, and he also picked out one name to do a quick painted sign for, and he picked mine! He painted my name is swift, smooth motions onto dibond material which I had never seen been used before. I liked how he painted my name on a slight curve and the scroll beneath the letters gave it a lot more personality.

Design process

My design process consisted of weekly sketches and paintings which eventually developed into my final sign lettering.

Week 1:

I sketched out three ways to present Odeon in fairground inspired fonts using different angles and curves to create different effects. I liked having a 3D shadow on the letterforms as it really made the word pop out more.

Week 2:

I did another two sketches and turned one of them into a painting. The first sketch I based off the Tuscan alphabet as I liked the fishtail flourishes. The second sketch I chose to draw on a perspective line with a vanishing point so that the letters appear to be getting further away. I liked the yellow on red as it really contrasted and made the letters stand out quite well. For this one I used the Playbill alphabet as inspiration which I thought was very appropriate due to its historic use in the 19th century for advertising theatrical shows on printed posters. This links very well to the concept of a cinema, so I chose to use this style going forward. I also tested a small painted sketch of an O using blue for the background and a Tuscan O, but this didn’t feel the right vibe for a cinema.

Week 3:

This week I painted a developed version of the previous style, trying to refine the letterforms more, and I tried adding a scroll which was inspired by the scroll that Joby added to his painting of my name, however I concluded that this style of scroll didn’t fit the same energy of the letters. I also painted an E with fancy flourishes and tails, but didn’t feel like the colours and style gave as much impact as my previous style, although I wanted shadows on the letters to be thicker so they overlapped more.

Week 4:

For my developments this week I bought some gold paint to replace the yellow that I had been using, because I noticed that gold featured a lot in fairground art and I thought this could be quite impactful, I loved the shine that it gave to the letters under the light. After having feedback last week, I changed the shadows around so that the letters were sitting flat, and you could see the top and the sides instead of the bottom of the letters. I also added some small circles to each letter after seeing this in lots of sign writing. I tested a different style of scroll that I thought contrasted but fit much better with the letterforms, and a dark purple red that I used for the darkest shadows of the letters. Finally, I tested a black outline on the O but didn’t like this as much.

Final submission

My final submission for the competition was based off my last practice but with more accuracy and refinery. I used more accurate vanishing points to make the letters more coherent in their 3D states, and created my own scroll, which was based off one of Joby’s examples, but with some extra flourishes. I used some dibond which James helped me source from the department because when painting on paper, it often created ripples in the painting. This was a material I had never painted on before, and as I was using acrylic paint I had to do many layers of paint each time but it created a shiny finish and I was really pleased with the finished sign.

Evaluation

Overall, I think I did a good job of rebranding the Odeon logo using fairground typography to make a more impactful and exciting logo that actually represents the company a lot better. I thoroughly enjoyed being able to go back to physical drawing and painting instead of working digitally and found the art of signwriting challenging yet enjoyable. It has made me really appreciate fairground art much more, having previously been unaware that it was all done by hand. I wanted to stay away from doing anything digitally throughout this project so as to stay true to the art of hand-lettering, as I felt like doing anything on my laptop would feel like cheating when people like Joby Carter do absolutely everything by hand themselves. Due to doing everything on physical paper, I realise my design may not be the most crisp and have a perfect finish, but when I visited Joby’s workshop I admired the small mistakes and discrepancies that you could sometimes notice when looking closely because they reveal the work of the artists hand and show just how difficult it really is and I felt like these inconsistencies had a certain beauty to them. I learnt that hand-lettering is not about trying to make every letter the same, what makes it special  is that every letter is different and you don’t have to stick to any rules of typography, it creates a unique opportunity to be experimental and expressive with letters.

Jamal Harewood: Project Freedom

Background

Jamal Harewood is an activist who sets out to share his vision of race and identity through workshops around England. He is currently undergoing a freedom workshop that seeks to redefine the term ‘freedom’ by discussing each individual in the workshop—participants brought in different perspectives and Fresh insight onto specific topics free from any judgement and authenticity.

On the 27th of January, Jamal Harewood led an audience-based workshop, ‘Project Freedom’, in Minghella Studios theatre Reading university. It comprises a diverse number of students that seek to redefine freedom on their terms. The workshop was a playful experience where participants were encouraged to discuss and share their views and opposition to different themes and activities. Each individual created a new definition of freedom and a pledge to follow through. Overall, the workshop brought a collective of ideas together.

The premise of this real job is to document the workshop and create deliverables that would suit Jamal’s brand and idea. He wanted to write about the unique experience of this temporary community and show the discussions and interpretations of each individual.

Restated brief

GOALS

After we document our client’s workshop ‘Project freedom’ and his interactions with the audience, we are tasked to create a booklet and UX blog post that include the wide range of diverse experiences and definitions of freedom from the participants. The audience is the focal point of the workshop, so it is important to make the deliverables as personal as possible, not only showing their ideas but their performances and behaviour.

Our Brief main goal is to offer attendees an opportunity to revisit their experiences in Jamal’s workshop. They would be able to look through the deliverables and find quotes and thought that they said at the workshop. Although we would only be able to document one workshop, Jamal would like to carry out this project in other workshops, thereby using this deliverable as a template for future workshops and making a profit from the booklet independently.

 DELIVERABLES

  1. Booklet.
  2. Booklet template. Amendable Canva template for client’s upcoming workshops
  3. Blog post prototype.

Research and ideation

One of the primary branding guidelines Jamal gave us was to involve the colour black. Initially, he wanted the book page to be black but having an all-black book would not be legible with some research and inspiration, we were able to find what works for Jamals.

For inspiration, Jannah and I started looking at different design idea platforms such as Pinterest and Behance. We looked at different layouts and formats of presenting texts and theme pages. We found some booklets that integrated box shapes into the body text while acting as a filler; This helped because the body text of the booklet isn’t heavy, so it was important to find a way to show the text without the book looking empty.

We understood that for this deliverable to be genuinely successful, we needed to have colours that would resonate with Jamal and his brand. When researching, the colour yellow with black caught our eyes the most. The cheerful and eye-catching hues of yellows are balanced by the more sober and sophisticated shades of black. Black and yellow branding worked well as these two colours were balanced and contrasted.

We set out to not only look for design inspirations but a colour scheme for Jamal to use across the different workshops. The colours you use in your branding and design are more than just a matter of aesthetics. Is your brand exclusive, accessible, friendly, cheerful, or mysterious? Your choice of colours reflects what your brand stands for and what customers associate with it. Understanding Jamal and the type of brand he wants to represent was one of the primary key points noted when choosing inspirations online.

Due to the nature of this project, we had to find a way for Jamal to distinguish his booklets across different workshops. We thought of the idea of using colours to differentiate but keeping the layout and the design of the booklet the same would be helpful for Jamal to design his booklet without the need for designers. So when users see the different branding colours, they would be able to associate the colour with the various workshops.

Design Development

Jamal Harewood gave us complete creative control however, he wanted the primary colour for his deliverables to be black. This was because his brand identity is black with a maze and fist logo showing his connection to the BLM movement. He wanted his brand identity to be applied to his printed booklet and blog post for a consistent brand identity. We explored different colour palettes that will complement the key colours (black and white) the client has requested to be used throughout each deliverable.

Front cover

This was my first draft for the book cover. The layout was nice and exciting, but it had a stern look and did not fit Jamal’s brand. However, the design had a sophisticated look similar to a journal, which contrasted Jamal’sbrand for the booklet is meant to be playful and inviting. The structures are shown in different colours to give Jamal an idea of how we would represent his various workshops. The coloured box represents a door revealing the theme; it helps viewers know what to expect when coming to the workshop.

For the second book cover design, I played around with making the cover as friendly and as inviting as possible. However, it was typographically right. The title of the book, being vertical, was not legible, and there were too many different text formats that did not complement each other. This resulted in a lack of proper hierarchy in the text and could confuse users.

Jannah’sdesigns were interesting as they also played around with the vertical and diagonal layout for the text, but the background felt like something was missing. Jannah’ssecond draft also had the issue of being sophisticated and not fitting Jamal’spersonality or the playfulness of the workshop.

To move further, we decided to combine the best elements of our designs into one to create Jamal’s book cover. However, nothing on the book cover represented Jamal or his brand apart from his name. I suggested using the maze design and adding it to the book cover’s background, which worked well to show Jamal’s brand. I explored different layouts and formats for the maze design.

As we move further into the book cover development, Jamal told us he preferred the white background with the black maze line. we agreed with him because it was neater and more visually appealing when combined with the other book cover element

 

We took out the theme title from the front page because we did not want to give much away to viewers when looking at the cover. The final book page works because there is a clear visual hierarchy. Jamal likes the book cover format because it is clear and playful while complementing his brand.

Inside Pages

Jamal did not want to include photos of the participants, so we had to find a way to represent the theme or show the activities in the workshop. This part of the project was split into two, with Jannah designing the booklet’s illustrations and Theme page and I handling the Book text layout and photomontage. This idea was because we wanted each design element to have a consistent design style.

Book Illustration

 

The illustrations represent the themes; they have a youthful look as the target audience is young adults. They have the same line length as the maze design because we wanted to follow through with consistency. Adding this illustration gives the book more volume and makes the book pages more attractive. The illustration has a symbolic meaning as it represents the different activities in the workshop.

Theme Page

When designing the theme page, we added time and text however, this element did not work because it made the theme page complicated and was not necessary. Separating each piece on the theme page made the book bulky and showed each element on its own.

We used the image above as the final design because of the apparent visual hierarchy. The use of yellow and white shows visual hierarchy and highlights the critical word in the text. The illustration represents the theme and is connected to the next page with a yellow box. We found the connecting shape helpful in linking the two pages together.

Photo Gallery

The photo montage gave the book a personal touch and helped viewers understand what happened in the workshop. Participants can see their writing and help push further the idea that this workshop was audience led.

Body Text

The body text wasn’t heavy, so it was essential not to make each body text page look empty or isolated. With this idea, each booklet element is highlighted, and the text stands out on its own, with the text box adding vibrance and giving the book format a consistent look to the theme and number page.

What is Freedom?

Eric Garner "I Can't Breathe" Tribute Typography Poster - Greg Bunbury Graphic Designer for Social Impact
I cant Breath Poster by Eric Garner

Jamal Harewood is an activist and supports the BLM. This idealogy was implemented in the Freedom posters designed on the last page of the booklet.  The freedom poster is designed similarly to the BLM ‘I can’t breathe’ poster by Eric Garner. This would help viewers identify Jamal’s support and appreciation for design in BLM.

Maze Collage

During our first meeting with Jamal, he stated he wanted to develop a brand mark from the client’s logo and translate this onto the opening and closing pages of the booklet. The maze design is a collage of Jamal logo design; there are two different maze designs, one that is used on the front cover and the other that is used on the inside pages. The front cover maze design lets the viewer know that this booklet is under Jamal’s brand.

The maze collage acts as a filler, for the booklet introduction and ending. it also helps us go further in the branding technique than just the front book cover. it is presented diagonally with five logo designs in a row. Jamal liked this layout because the logo design was not big and the layout was much more dynamic compared to the other maze designs.

 Website

Participants who are not able to visit the workshop would be able to look at the blog post. The blog post is designed in cohesion with a booklet layout for clients to implement onto their website. It was designed on Adobe XD with Jannah overseeing the design. The blog post design has the same design elements as the booklet, so few developments or changes were made. We did look at the consistency of spacing and how viewers would navigate through the blog post.

One of my favourite design elements on the blog is the maze background with the black box. it follows the format and layout of the front cover, which is helpful in consistent branding.

Final stages

The main goal of this project was for Jamal to be able to print and redesign this booklet on his own. We informed him about printing in the department and the process of printing at home. Informing him of the cons and Pros, Jamal decided to print at home after much analysis as it is more cost-effective and personal.

Since we were designing on canvas, we learned how to create and show bleed and crop marks on the canvas. Though it was slightly more straightforward, it was not as customizable as doing it on InDesign.

The printing aspect of this project allowed us to look at flaws that we overlooked while designing on canvas, such as alignment issues, spacing issues, etc. however, such cases were few. The printing of the project was successful because the booklet looked relatively similar on the screen to the print, with the colours complementing each other, the font size being readable, and the illustrations looking presentable.

Reflection

As this project progressed, I understood how vital group work is when both partners play through their strengths. As time went on, it became clear to me that working with a partner who has a different design style yet similar mindset as you is helpful. We explored different styles and illustrations while barely having conflicts because we communicated effectively and ensured that everyone’s opinions were valid as we went through the project.

Overall, the design process of this booklet was enjoyable as we made sure to include Jamal at every step after our supervisor had approved it. Each design element was explained to Jamal and why such detail works with his booklet, and if he wanted any changes, it was noted and implemented immediately. However, such changes were few because he trusted our designs and believed we understood him as a person and knew what kind of designs he wanted.

Mock up of Project Freedom Booklet
Mock Up of Jamal Harewood Project Freedom booklet

PLACEing Objects: Artist’s Publication

Background

This Real Job required us to design a publication for the PLACEing objects exhibition that ran in March 2020. The exhibition was part of Julie Brixey-Williams PhD requirements and showcased a selection of multidisciplinary artists. The client wanted a publication to showcase the both the work displayed at the exhibition and the workshops that occurred on the “Day of Dialogue”.

 

The brief

There was a selection of deliverables for this Real Job that adjusted slightly throughout the timeline. The main deliverable was a 48 page printed publication. The key unique aspect the client was interested in was that all pages in the publication must have equal importance. This meant we had to come up with a way to ensure the binding didn’t force a linear format, and that the users could rearrange each page.

The secondary deliverable was a logo that client would send off to be cast into a concrete block. The block was a structural part of the publication, giving the printed publication a stand.

Alongside these primary deliverables, we also designed an invitation, an acetate ingot – replicating the glass one used in the exhibition –  and a pocket page to hold both of these.

“Invitation”, acetate ingot and the pocket page

 

Research

User personas and interviews

The initial stage of research was looking through the early content and images of the exhibition shown to us by Julie. We wanted to get a thorough understanding of what the meaning of the exhibition was and what it was showcasing before starting any design work.

The next stage was considering the types of users within the audience that would be consuming the publication. We created a set of interview questions to get an insight into what potential audiences may expect to see in an exhibition publication. We set up 3 key user personas and conducted interviews on real life people that fit those categories.

Conducting a interview about initial expectations of an exhibition publication

Mood boards

Initial research required both me and Amina going away and looking at examples of existing  publications. We made 4 mood boards,. We then explore different approaches to this, including an abstract approach to the publication design, a clean cut approach and an approach where text or images commonly overlapped. Finally, we looked into existing editorial design for artists and exhibitions, examples of publications that could be considered a direct competitor. We sent these mood boards to the client to get an overview of the style she liked and allow us to begin some sketching.

Mood boards for different stylistic approaches

 

Design

Deciding on formats

The client had used an iPad mini as part of the exhibition and wanted the publication designed with these dimensions, even down to the rounded edges.

The client also wanted a way to hold the publication together without it being physically bound. While this was initially intended on being a belly band we eventually designed for a screw to be drilled into the top. A screw was used in the exhibition and the client felt this was another way to integrate the physicality of the exhibition into the publication.

Testing layouts

Designing the pages for the publication was the main part of this project. We trialed different layouts and sent them to the client so she had options to choose from and discuss what she liked and what she felt didn’t work. Once we knew what the client wanted we created a grid and paragraph styles that all pages would utilise. This required a lot of testing as the content for each page was vastly different, yet it was important to keep a clear consistency throughout.

Example of a page of sketches testing different layouts

Concrete block and integrating a logo

The client came up with the concept of a sculptural way to hold the publication rather than a band to hold it together. Julie wanted to have the publication sit in between 2 concrete blocks working as bookends that she would get cast by a professional at a later date. We were tasked with the responsibility of finding a way to anchor the title and branding within the design of said concrete block.

At this stage of the project a logo was one of the deliverables. The client did not have a specific use for the logo at this time and therefore we discussed using this on the concrete block make the entire project more cohesive. The logo used on the block would showcase the name of the exhibition while also adding an element of design to the block. We tested various versions to see how different layouts could work but eventually settled on a logo where the title would be split in 2, ensuring the audience would know the block was one of two.

 

Late stage iterations of the logo

While we initially considered applying a vinyl sticker with the logo design on it to the concrete block, we eventually decided that getting the actual logo cast into the block would be a more subtle way to showcase the logo and create the sense of it being ingrained within the whole publication concept.

This was a unique request and required some specific conditions such the files would have to be sent in. However, after close conversations with Jon, the caster, we were able to get the logo cast into the block exactly how the client wished.

Concrete blocks cast with the PLACEing Objects logo

 

Finalising

Iterations

Meeting regularly with the client was key to the success of this publication. We would ensure that we were sending updated iterations of the project and having meetings in order to confer and review decisions about each page. We made a lot of alternations but this lead to a strong design that conveyed each artist honourably, in the way the client wanted.

The clients board in her home with everything that we printed out and posted to her.

 

Paper decisions

A large part of this project was the physical feel of the publication. We had a lot of conversations with the client about the shade and thickness of the paper. We printed out pages on a variety of different paper stocks to allow her to choose the one she felt represented her exhibition best. This was especially important as the main publication was printed on different stock to the invitation and the ingot. It was key to get the stock right so that they all worked together.

Meeting up to test paper stock and how the publication looked when printed

Production

The publication was a short run, but due to the variety of complex printing elements such as the acetate insert and pocket page we decided the Design Print Studio in the department was the most appropriate printer. It made the communication regarding all printing easier as we could talk directly to DPS and had Geoff to advise about complex parts of the publication.

 

Reflection

This Real Job was the first one I picked up. This meant it was a lot of new experiences for me, from working with my first client to sending my first job to print.

This project was incredibly large and intensive with lots of contributors. It took a lot longer than initially intended as we had to wait for different pieces of content alongside working to create a highly physical piece of work over multiple lockdowns. Additionally, much of the content can in different formats so it took a lot of time to work to standardise all copy and images.

Working in a group also had a lot of added complications. We couldn’t meet in person so everything had to be done over zoom which occasionally meant their was communication issues. Additionally, we could not work on a file at the same time and would have to ensure the latest file was uploaded to OneDrive at all times. Reflecting on this project, I think there could have been more appropriate ways to divide up workload to be more efficient, however this experience has helped guide future Real Jobs and other group projects.

Overall this has been an incredibly educational experience, providing me with invaluable opportunities and a printed publication that I am very proud to have collaborated on.

 

Final printed publication

 

   

Infographics for PhD research thesis on aphasia

Background

The client for this project is Willemijn Doedens, a PhD student in the School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences at the University of Reading. With a background in speech and language therapy, the client’s PhD research focuses on aphasia. Aphasia is a language and speech impairment occurring as a result of brain damage. Her research conclusions explore how real-world communications can be defined, how they can be clinically tested and the findings of her research experiments.

 

Restated Brief

The client requested two infographics to summarise the conclusions she has drawn from her research project. The main infographic would be included within the research thesis, acting as a visual break from the written content. The second infographic would be used on social media to summarise the full infographic and promote the publication of her research paper. The crucial aim of the project was to make the infographics “aphasia-friendly”, so the client could share the research results with the participants of her experiments, who have aphasia.  Although the main infographic was due to be submitted as a physical copy, COVID-19 meant that the client’s final thesis submission was digital. As a result, both deliverables for this project became digital files, with the view to being included within a printed thesis at a further date.

 

Design Process

Research

At the core of this project was gaining an understanding of how to design for those with aphasia. With little knowledge of aphasia, myself, collaborating with the client to gain an insight into the subject area became a vital tool for my research. Alongside discussions with the client, turning to the Stroke UK website, I came across resources directed at designing for those with aphasia. From this research, I gained far more perspective on the direction I would need to take the designs to make the infographics “aphasia-friendly”. For example, those with aphasia understand documents best when each part of the text is supported by a diagram.

Although designing for those with aphasia was key to this project, it was important to assess all the different users of the infographics. Creating user personas, it became clear that the design was directed towards those with both scientific knowledge of aphasia and the general public. As a result, the written content for the infographic became key to creating a successful design.

 

One of the four user personas I created for this project

 

One of four user personas I created for this project

 

Content Transformation

Due to the scientific nature of this project, the client provided the copy to be used for the infographic. However, the copy was around 1500 words and needed to be reduced significantly whilst maintaining its academic integrity. Working in collaboration with the client, I worked to break down the content into digestible sentences. This was particularly challenging because in order to break down the content, I had to read it through many times and discuss it with the client to gain a basic understanding of it myself. Once I had gaining some basic understanding, I was able to work on reducing the content down into a more condensed format. However, as I had spent time discussing the content before condensing it, it was hard to gauge whether the content would make sense to someone who hadn’t read the original copy. Therefore, testing became vital at this stage of the process and I carried out many informal reviews of the content with family and friends. Through this testing, it became clear which parts of copy made sense and which didn’t. I also found it very beneficial to ask others to explain what they thought each part of the copy meant so I could compare their understanding to the original copy and see which parts were being misunderstood.

 

Illustrations

Alongside working on the written content, I worked on designing the illustrations to go with the copy. This was key to this project as much of the original copy could be translated into diagrams, saving many words and making the design far more aphasia-friendly. Working on the copy and illustrations simultaneously allowed me to adapt the content efficiently and reach a set of illustrations and copy which reflected the original 1500 words effectivity.

Illustration sketches alongside the corresponding copy for the infographic
Illustration sketches alongside the corresponding copy for the infographic

 

The client expressed an interest in having the experiment setup translated into a diagram but had no other specific requirements for the illustrations or styling. As a result, I researched into different styles of illustrations used for scientific content and examined different approaches that could be taken. With the key focus of the infographic being to make it easily understandable  for those with and without aphasia, I decide that the most appropriate style for the illustrations was flat 2D vectors. However, for the experiment setup I trialled and tested both a 2D and 3D setup which led to the 3D diagram being used for the final design. This was due to the 3D version being more easily understood as users could see that the middle bar was a barrier without the need for a label.

 

2D version of the experiment setup
3D version of the experiment setup

 

Initial Layout Ideas

Having worked on the copy and illustrations to be included within the infographic, I worked to mockup three different layouts for the infographic. The client did suggest she wanted to avoid a design which looks like a scientific poster, so layout 3 was originally not the favourite. However once I had explained the benefits of layout 3 for those with aphasia, this was the design taken forward.

Three initial layout ideas: layout 1 (left), layout 2 (centre), layout 3 (right)

 

Data Interpretation

One of the hardest parts of the design process was creating illustrations for the experiment results. This was because the client didn’t want to use physical data on the infographic as it would be too complex for those with aphasia to understand. She did however really like the idea of using graphs to display the results. As a result, we had some long discussions about the use of graphs, as generally people assume graphs to accurately represent data. For this infographic though, these graphs would simply be a visual representation of a difference in results between the two groups of the experiment. Consequently, I provided the client with some different options for making the graphs as appropriate as possible and also an alternative Venn diagram. With these options the client did decide to use the bar and line graphs, in the knowledge that they are a visual representation not accurate bar graph. As a result, the graphs were changed and refined many times.

 

This was the final iteration for the Experiment A results as a bar graph (this was chosen for the final infographic)

 

This was the final iteration for the Experiment A results as a Venn diagram

 

Use of colour

The client expressed the importance of having a reasonably simple colour scheme for the design to meet the needs of those with aphasia and suggested a plain white background would be most appropriate. I explore a few varying colour schemes, before coming to a scheme which took inspiration from scientific poster whilst also providing enough variation to make it stand out. I also explored the use of colour to benefit those with aphasia, for example, repeating the set of three red icons throughout the infographic to reinforce the main three parts of real-world communication.

Two different colour schemes which were trialled for the infographic

 

Social Media Infographic

Having finished the infographic to be included within the thesis, I worked to design a summary version for use on social media. This was more challenging than I had anticipated, as I had to consider the context in which this social media version would be read. After making many edits to the copy for the summary, I arrived at a concise design which featured enough information to explain the research subject area to someone who would not have read the thesis itself.

 

This was the final outcome of the social media infographic

 

Final Deliverables

The final deliverables were produced as digital files, with the main infographic being placed into the client’s research thesis and the social media version ready to be published on twitter (once the thesis is published next year). Below are the final outcomes of the project.

Infographic to be included within the thesis (page 1)

 

Infographic to be included within the thesis (page 2)

 

Mock up of the social media summary infographic posted as a tweet

 

Reflection

When this project began, I felt quite daunted by the idea of working by myself having not completed one of these projects before. As a result, the working relationship I developed with the client, from the offset, was very important to me. From our first meeting, I felt very comfortable working with Willemijn on this project. As an academic herself, she recognised that my strength laid with the design of the infographic and avoided biasing my ideas with her own. At first this left me feeling very lost with endless ideas and options for the infographics, but by the end of the project I realised that as a result of her open views on the designing process, I felt far more confident in my own ability to design a successful outcome. Additionally, having to work through my ideas without the help of a team, I found that I became more confident in explaining my ideas to others and working through constructive feedback from both the client and my supervisor.

Having always struggled with time management, completing this real client project motivated me to stick to a schedule. Planning became vital for this project, particularly during the content transformation stage. I underestimated the amount of time that I would need to transform the content for the infographic. However, by working in collaboration with the client, I was able to transform the long content into a digestive amount of information which was appropriate for the general public and those with aphasia. Following this slight set back, I was a little rushed at the end of the project. But, thanks to the strong communication I developed with both the client and my supervisor, I was able to successfully finish the project on time.

Overall, I found this project extremely rewarding as it has given me more confidence in my ability to communicate with clients, execute my own ideas and work to a deadline. It was also lovely to know that my views on how the project went were replicated by my client, who provided me with some lovely feedback on submission of the final outcomes:

“You really understood the research from the start, and you were able to capture the key elements of the project right away.  I thought the whole design process and collaboration with you went really well – above and beyond what I could have expected”

Cowrie Scholarship Foundation

Background

The Cowrie Scholarship Foundation was set up to allow economically disadvantaged black students to attend UK universities and with the foundation being very new our client needed a brand that looked youthful and energetic but professional and as a continuation from the branding project the website for the foundation needed to be upgraded to match the brand. The website needed to appeal to students and stakeholders alike therefore we needed to create a striking balance between the two to attract scholars and investors which is our client’s main goal.

Brief

The brief was to develop a website on an easily workable and adaptable platform. The client would be adding more universities and business they would need a website that they can easily add on to whilst still maintaining a good user experience. The secondary deliverable was to design social media posts for his Instagram and LinkedIn. The brief stated that the success of this project would be measured by the ease of use by the client to add on to and edit. This was essential to make sure there was consistency within the quality of the design and making a website that the client can use and work with without affecting the design quality. So far since the launch of the website the client has had no problems with adding unto and editing the website.

Communication

Throughout the design process, we had regular meetings with our client. This allowed us to keep our client up to date making progress by having weekly feedback session to creating a website the client was happy with. On the other hand, our contact with our supervisor was not as frequent as we would have wanted it to be although, in the sessions, we had our supervisor was happy with the progress we were making.

Schedule

The deadline for the website completion was met following the guide of the restated brief. During the second week, there were fears that the website would not be completed on time before the submission deadline due to complications of which programme we would be using to develop the website. During the real jobs meeting, we spoke to Geoff about the possible programmes we could use to develop the website and our choices were narrowed down to Squarespace and WordPress and we, therefore, needed to propose both options to our client. This process delayed the schedule by a week however once the client responded with Squarespace, we were then able to begin the design process and get back on track. After this, we had weekly feedback where we were able to progress weekly to provide the website that the client would be happy with which enabled us to hand over the website on the deadline.

Design process

The problem

  • 5% of British students from black Caribbean families gained places in “high tariff” universities, compared with more than 10% of all students. While many issues are at play in why more Black British students do not enter university – the Cowrie Scholarship Foundation seeks to address one part of the jigsaw – the financial cost of university education.
  • Richard set up the Cowrie Foundation because of the murder of George Floyd in May 2020. Richard was inspired to create this foundation after being influenced to create change following the death of George Floyd. Cowrie is a very fresh organisation therefore there is an opportunity to bring something exciting and distinguishable as a brand. Cowrie Scholarship Foundation was set up to allow economically disadvantaged black students to get a university education at a Russell Group university.

The users

We identified three user groups: The student, the parent, and the shareholder. Each user group would have specific goals within the website. The student’s main aim is to apply to the scholarship through the website. The website needed to make this process as easy to understand as possible as one of the client’s aims is to get scholars into the scholarship. Secondly, the parent main aim is to provide opportunities for their children therefore the parent would be looking to the foundation values but also on past scholars to see if the foundation would be the right fit for their child. Lastly, the shareholder’s main purpose on the website would be to donate to the foundation however the process before that would be important. The shareholders would need to understand what the foundation is and how their money could help change lives.

Fig1 The site map showing how the target audience would navigate throughout the website.

 

Wireframes

Initial sketches

Fig 2 Initial sketches for the website testing user experience and format.

 

Fig 2 Initial sketches for the website testing user experience and format.

Developing the website based on the specific needs of the user was important and the layout for each specific sector was the most important. The hardest part was making the website more concise with a lot of relative information it would be easier to have multiple pages however, this makes the website look unappealing therefore we decided having drop-down menus would make the website look less cramped together and more spacious. We decided on having a scholarship programme, about us, contact us and news.

Lo-fi wireframes

Fig 3 usability testing and the results
Fig 3 usability testing and the results

Now that we had a plan with the initial sketches, we decided to create lo-fi wireframes via XD to test the user experience of our proposed design layout. Following the user testing we able to identify what needs improvement and what was good to create a workable website that the users can use easily. With this information, we decided to start designing the high-fidelity website on Squarespace. The process of testing the prototype was a little bit tedious because we struggled to find a user that was similar to the target audience, but we eventually found someone.

The brand

During the branding project, we produced new logos for the client however the client decided to keep their current logos that we had to use.

The typeface that the client wanted us to use was Arial for the website. We selected a few weigh and size variants to differentiate headings, body and captions. Arial is a very legible sans-serif typeface and allows the users to easily gain and digest the information provided by the website.

The client requested us to make heavy use of the black and yellow colour scheme used for the initial website. After we utilised some of our colour schemes to help differentiate web-page’ sections or to help the overall design being more engaging. As previously mentioned black and yellow were the defining colour of the branding. Other colours such “Blue Magenta” or “Harvest Gold” were used respectively for clickable links or illustrations and elements throughout the website. Squarespace offers the possibility to choose a colour palette as one of its tools made of 5 colours and allowed us to create different colour themes to chose depending on what page or section we were working on.

The process of image selection started with us using license-free pictures mainly depicting black students revising, working or at university. All the images were then shown to the client for feedback and approval. This happened a few times as the images had to be appropriate for the website, not too corporate but the pictures also had to be relevant in the context of education, achieving and hardworking which are some of the core values of the foundation. The illustrations present on the website are the tiles and one illustration designed from the previous version of the website we developed for TY3BP that the client liked and wanted us to keep it. The tiles were made on Illustrator and they are part of a larger group of traditional Ghanian symbols called Adinkra symbols that represent concepts and aphorisms. The tiles are used to divide the first elements of each page from the rest of the content underneath.

Final design

The design of the final website was clear and accessible for the client and the user. The overall design was successful as the client was happy with it. We had an initial plan an idea that we felt could have enhanced the outcome however we were limited by the software and our ability to recreate the XD prototype. The design decisions were moderately made by us however the client had the final say in the majority of the final design decisions. This led to elements of the website that we did not particular felt met the quality that we felt was needed however we found ourselves having to put the client’s needs first which we felt we could have been more critical and outspoken for our own design decisions however, overall, we were mostly happy with the outcome.

Feedback

The feedback we received was mostly positive with the client writing; “It has been a pleasure to work with you both. The level of work, attention to detail and willingness to incorporate requested changes was greatly appreciated.” We have not yet received official feedback from our supervisor yet although from the last feedback session she advised us to take more control of the project as the designers which I believe we did towards the final week of the project.

Conclusion

The feedback shows that the website is effective and easy to use. This implies that we have been able to achieve the aims listed in our brief and seeing the website go live was a proud moment for both of us. We believe our client is happy with the outcome and we have seen that he has comfortably been able to make changes to the website which was his main aim for the brief. Overall creating the website has taught us important skills within UX design and development that we can both use in the future.

The website link: https://www.cowriescholarshipfoundation.org/

– Peter Rosanwo,  Edoardo Sarli