Case study: South Island Child

South Island Child is an Early Years Centre provincial initiative website which connects child caregivers— parents, grandparents, doctors, social workers, foster parents, and other care providers— to services and events throughout Southern Vancouver Island.

We were led by the proverb, “It takes a village to raise a child.” The unusual animated logo symbolizes a child with parents, teachers, and care providers moving toward and around the child. The logo remains subtly animated throughout the user’s visit, symbolizing the constant shift and movement between roles of care providers and the relentless attention we pay to children within our care.

Discovering our users

Through a discovery process with community stakeholders, we learned that some users of the website might have low literacy skills. They might be elderly, new to the English language, or they might just be young or new parents who aren’t familiar with certain vocabulary. It was extremely important that the language used on the website would be easy to understand.

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If you want to thrive in your life, rethink the design of everything around you

There are ways you could be happier and you don’t know it yet. I’m not talking about obvious unattainable life improvements like having Idris Elba for a partner, or owning a villa in Tuscany.  I’m talking about changes you can make in an hour, or in a few months, or next year that are unclear at first but obvious in retrospect, that simply require asking good questions (okay, and sometimes money).

Our lives can always improve in small ways that can have a huge ripple effect. Sure, we adjust quickly to improved circumstances, and studies show that our happiness level will return to what it was. But using this as a reason to never strive or improve anything is such an unimaginative Eeyore perspective because changes don’t have to be big. I’m not saying you have to get divorced, move to the sea, and become a lesbian— though I can personally vouch for it! I’m saying that when you make a change in your life that delights you, and your happiness quotient returns to what it was, relax— there are 20,000 more changes you can make that can produce delight, relief, or both. It’s exciting! Life can always change!

This is design thinking. It’s making people happier and more productive through changes and iterations, and it applies EV-ER-Y-WHERE. (The term is overused and bloviated, as Natasha Jen explains in this excellent 99u talk, “Design Thinking is Bullshit“, but I’m not using it in this way.)

I’ve got two personal examples of what I mean.

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bloodhound thinking that we should all stop using nexa script typeface

Please stop using Nexa Script typeface before it becomes the next Papyrus. Use these instead.

This is Nexa Script:

nexa script font typeface

It’s a nice typeface. It’s ideal for grabbing attention with a marketing tagline or opt-in offer, seeming friendly and casual without being hand-drawn and folksy. Which is why it’s used by every corporation everywhere to sell anything, especially fast food companies and restaurants—companies who can afford to hire really talented designers who should know better.

It’s so overused that it’s becoming the new Papyrus. I’m sure that at some point we all thought Papyrus was kinda cool. Of all the default-installed Microsoft typefaces, it was the one that stood out as a specialty typeface, as something you might use for a business logo. So, everyone did. Every small business owner not able to or wanting to hire a designer decided they could make their own business logo using Paint on their desktop and Papyrus. I once stood on a street corner in Kalamazoo, Michigan and was able to see from this one vantage point three businesses all using Papyrus as their logo:

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vintage illustration of woman working at computer

How to expect to pay for creative services

“How much do you charge for a logo?”

“What are your rates for a website?”

I sigh when I hear this. It’s like saying to a mechanic, “My car isn’t working. How much would you charge to fix it?” But while that may sound obviously silly, people are less familiar with what goes into design work, so… here goes:

We have a list of about 15 or more considerations we make before we price out a contract. Until our custom calculator is set up, a lot of thought goes into putting together a quote we think is fair, affordable for the client, doesn’t run too much of a risk of scope creep for us, and which is all-around worth it for us to take at this moment in time.

Here are seven of the considerations:

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