My contribution on this project was as a Design Consultant, Manager and Visual Designer. Working closely with the client during the Design Process. The first stage of the project received quite a positive response from the users. Seeing the project coming to life has been very fulfilling.
The document that will guide the project, and will outline its key aspects:
- The design challenge. Walk the client thought the process of starting a community to help women, using both design thinking tools and visual design principles.
- Main goal. Define the visual elements that are required to develop the brand of the community, such as:colours, typography, logo, image style, and overall feel and personality. Advise the client on entrepreneurship concepts and practices to how best start the community.
- Planner. Create a calendar to visualise and schedule the main goals and the growth stages of the project.
- Limitations. Client is a first time entrepreneur, with no previous experience on managing communities online or onsite, wide scope of the project, limited time to allocate to the project, overseas project.
2. Primary Research
Collect relevant information related to the design challenge, investigate about the context and discover about the users.
This initial research stage will help the researcher to make informed decisions throughout the design process.
A set of questions was used to frame the Primary Research:
- Who is the end user (target audience)?
- What needs to be done?
- When does the solution needs to be finished?
- Where will the design solution be used?
- Why does the client think a solution is required?
- +How will the solution be implemented?
3. USER EXPERIENCE
The researcher had the users at the core of the project. Designing to solve the users needs required a deeper understanding of the users. At the beginning of the project, the client described the users as "women of all ages". With such a broad topic, using frameworks to better analyse and understand the scope of the project was very useful.
Frameworks used to define and understand the users included:
- Character profiles and
- Empathy 360º
The researcher and the client had a closer look at what do the users see, hear, say, and do? Identifying existing obstacles of the users.Including the client during this step help her comprehend that the proposed group of users was too wide. Generating a variety of personas exemplified the diversity in needs and profiles.
4. VISUAL RESEARCH
Creating a mood board from images and objects was a key activity for the overall the process. It prepared the client to turn vague ideas into specific requirements for the project and the logo. The client was invited to actively participate on this step, which had a great impact on the future steps of the project.
Both the designer and the client uploaded a big number of images into an accessible online image service (Pinterest). Then a selection was made to discard all the images that would not fit the purpose and values of the community. The images that best represented the overall concept were selected and a mood board was created.
Having a deeper understanding of the users, and their visual representation, the team used the images to categorise the users on three main age-groups. The team chosen one image to represent each age-group, this image would inspire an icon to be used as the key imagery for each age-group:
- Lipstick mark (ages 13-19)
- Diamonds (ages 20-30)
- Queens (31+)
The client was invited to an online brainstorming session. A simple set of rules was read before the beginning of the session, to encourage wild ideas, focus on the topic, build on the ideas of others, and defer judgment.
The goal of the brainstorming session was to look for new possibilities of creating a community. In addition, the participants were set to generate as many ideas as possible around the concept of the community, its mission, and its values.
The activity helped the team to find keywords, themes, and most importantly to confirm a good fit between the tentative name of Soul Sisters and the overall purpose of the community. By the end of this step, also the core values of the community were also selected.
Sketching is a way of thinking, and this step turned the ideas into a tangible expression.
Elements from the mood-board, key words from the brainstorming and the name Soul Sisters were displayed in different ways to explore different ideas.
Using pencil and paper the designer tried diverse shapes, ligatures, type styles,and textures.
Prototyping generates a variety of potential solution to the design brief. It's about translating ideas into the physical world.
The designer assembled diverse elements into a coherent alternative solution that could be explored and evaluated.
- Experimenting with watercolours for the logo.
- Trying different shapes and compositions.
- Comparing different typefaces. Searching for one that will fit the general concept of the community.
Further exploration of the concepts developed during the first prototype round. Refining the ideas, discarding others and generating typographic elements.
- The watercolours were digitalised, selecting and editing the shape that would be used as part of the logo.
- An original lettering piece was created for the Soul Sisters logotype. Providing the logotype with a unique component.
1. Learning Launch
Also known as pilot, a learning launch is one of the most powerful ways to test the solution in the real world. In this step, the concept was completed, and the team organised an event to present the Soul Sister's project publicly.
The theme of the event was an evening tea. Getting ready for the learning launch included the production of the visual elements and the logistics. A plan of action was outlined including the production of the visual elements, the location, staff, musician, catering services, and materials needed to execute the idea.
Feedback is a methodology designed to stay close to the users, and to learn continuously. Seeking for feedback throughout the process is the way to test what works for the users.
People attending the event were asked for their opinions about the project, the brand, and the logo. Their answers were grouped into four categories:
- Typeface / font selection
- Brand personality
- Suggestions: What would you modify?
The feedback confirmed the users connected with the project, showing the relevance of starting a community.
In addition, the users suggested modifying the colour palette. These suggestions were implemented.
3. Refine: the solution
The designer tested, failed, learnt from it and started again. Getting to the solution proved to be an iterative process. As part of the refining steps, the following decisions were made:
a) Narrowing the focus of the project
The learning launch and the feedback confirmed the scope of the Soul Sisters community was too wide. Helping women of all ages was not be possible at the starting stage of the project. Hence, the team chose to focus on one category, instead of the three that were outlined during the visual research stage.
b) Expanding the colour palette
The colour palette in a brand reflects its personality and feel. For the Soul Sisters brand, the core colour purple represented the community, flowers and femininity. The colour white was selected for a contrast and light feel.
After testing the logo at the learning launch and receiving the feedback, the designer decided to expand the colour palette. Introducing green to the core colours, referred directly to nature, and added freshness to the brand.
A set of neutral colours was selected: pink, warm grey and cool grey. They provide balance and work as a bridge between the dark shades of purple. The cool grey will be used for typography, being balanced and legible.