Over the weekend of January 14th – 16th I volunteered at an event called “GiveCamp”. GiveCamp is a Microsoft sponsored event that was hosted locally by one of my clients, Firefly Logic. The premise of the event was to bring together designers, developers, project manager and database administrators who could donate their skills to aid a non-profit. Most of the projects revolve heavily around technology and included websites and web applications.
The team I was assigned to was for the non-profit, The Nashville Bridge. This non-profit provides mentoring and tutoring over a 6 year period to Metro Nashville students where the drop out rate is exceptionally high. The school has Summer program annually that brings in 30 children from grades 7-12 to do activities and study curriculum as well.
Our team project was to do a full redesign of the company’s site as well as a logo. This was a surprise to me, and I was pretty nervous about pulling off not only a website but a logo as well in the span of a weekend! These were completely abnormal deadlines, but that’s the name of the game at GiveCamp and I had a very talented team to work with.
The Nashville Bridge’s website looked like this when we started:
Some of the problems that were illustrated was the color palette and overall aesthetics. They were dry, dark, corporate and overall not very invigorating or fun. The Information Architecture was not well organized and there were links at the top-level navigation to inconsequential aspects to the company’s livelihood. Other notes were the lack of visual contrast in both size, color and typography to add emphasis to content and aid legibility.
I then worked directly with the clients to do some discovery on their logo and existing brand. I first went right for the name. The Nashville Bridge to me, had a superfluous “the” where there was no competition and they did not intend to branch into other markets with their business plan. I convinced the client to drop it. Then I proceeded to discuss the order of the name. To say, Nashville Bridge, connotates that the bridge is a noun and I thought there was more emotional interest and brand possibility for reversing the name and going with Bridge Nashville. This did 2 things. One, it opened up the possibility to use ‘bridge’ as a verb and two, it implies that verb is affecting Nashville as opposed to just residing there.
Next, we discussed design. The old logo took on various forms, typical with unmanaged brands and didn’t have any organized rhyme or reason. The “Y” was an old reference to a relationship with a sponsor, YMCA that was not longer necessary and added confusion to the mission and name of the company.
Typically speaking I try to avoid figures in logo unless there’s a very good reason because of the saturation in logos with the figure. It’s also a very hard thing to
own. This is one of those cases where people were absolutely a strategy for the logo. The concept was simple and came to me in a flash while working through the site’s IA on the whiteboard. I wanted to depict, quite literally, the bridge and the people of their company as the foundation for the bridge as a path to success. The clients loved the idea and at around 1am Friday night, I headed home. I rose early Saturday morning and after the first cup of coffee was poured, went straight to sketching. I toyed with some alternative concepts including using the interesting architecture of the Korean War Veterans Memorial Bridge, but I wasn’t getting the results I wanted. I then honed in on the concept from the previous night and felt like I had a winner. I quickly dove right into vector artwork and started experimenting with some color combinations which was slightly uncomfortable for me because this is typically a process that can take a week or more depending on the client and scope. I pressed on and delivered the logo which the client loved.
THE NEW LOGO
I worked feverishly for the most of Saturday and was constantly delivering my working files to the development team who was busy building templates of my design for Sitefinity in realtime. One goal of the new IA and UI design was to elevate the content in a fashion that called for action on the part of the visitor. We wanted to provide plenty of information for perusing, but a clear call to action for all their diverse demographics was a must by my estimation. I had spent time Friday night covering the business process with the client and discussing who their customers were. It was made clear to me that Volunteers, Teachers and Donors were the main focal points and most valued traffic. To ensure that these visitors knew where to go and they knew it fast, I created 3 large buttons that are intended to route traffic quickly and avoid site bounces or users just losing interest.
Another issue was clearly communicating the value and positioning of the company. It is not immediately clear from the old site what the company does or why it is of value. So, after some light research I was able to pull together some copy for the home slideshow that showed off the company’s value. I used statistics in the slide describing the Metro Nashville drop out rate to make a factual claim that would resonate while also showing contrast between the situation in the market and what the effects of being involved with their program are.