Case Study: Design233 helps build design community in Ghana
28/08/13

Case Study by Michael Akuamaoh-Boateng RGD

Design233 - established in 2011 by Korantemaa Larbi during her studies at Syracuse University - is a website documenting the architectural and art history of Ghana in West Africa. The website's reach extends beyond Ghana, featuring creative work from across Africa to help foster relationships among design professionals and students throughout the continent.

 

Project

Frustrated by the lack of information readily available for students studying art and architecture in Ghana, Korantemaa decided to build a web resource where information could be collected and shared.

 


 

Since its inception, Design233 has become an important source of shared historical knowledge for the Ghanaian design industry. Before the resource was created, many students looked to western sources for context and inspiration. The goal of this project has been to inform students of the rich overlays in the design culture of the country, open their eyes to the great works of art and architecture in Ghana and celebrate the talented people who create them.

 

 

Background
Prior to joining the Design233 team in 2013, Michael Akuamoah-Boateng was in search for ways to give back to the Ghanaian community as a designer. It was through conversations with Korantemaa that Michael discovered the vision of the online magazine and the value of his input in moving the website in a positive direction. Since then, Michael has worked closely with Korantemaa as the designer of the new logo identity and the web designer for the design233 website.

 

 

Design Process

Unlike the design communities in Canada and the United States, Africa is not saturated with a variety of online resources. As a result, Design233 is an opportunity to set the stage for art, architecture and design in Ghana.

 

The design process for this project began with an overhaul of the original site through which the project was initially launched. Knowing that the audience for the site is primarily university students and emerging designers in Africa, existing content was organized into six sections: Makers, Works, Art, Design54, Literature and Events.

 

Before:

 

After:

 

The drop-down menu helps avoid clutter on the homepage and maintain a clean, simple layout. Using a blog format for the landing page helps highlight new additions to the site with short excerpts.

 

The colour orange used for hover-links, borders and solid sliders is consistent with the Design233 logo, and is derived from the colour of terracotta or 'baked clay', which is used for building in most African countries.

 

To improve the site's accessibility, the selection of fonts focused on legibility and readability.

 

 

Results

Prior to the redesign, the site did not support regular updates and could not accommodate the large amount of content the creators were looking to include. Following the new site's launch, traffic increased significantly and new staff was hired to support the growing initiative. With a more streamlined and organized approach, the design helps provide users with information that has not been available until now, creating an educational platform for students and emerging designers.

 

Future goals for this project include developing a forum for addressing design issues in Ghana and capturing the ideas of past and future generations of artists and architects to build a stronger design community.

 

To view the site, visit www.design233.com

 

 

Designer Takeaways

 

  1. When working with culturally-focused clients, choose colours, shapes and themes that reflect the unique cultural elements the client is interested in highlighting.
  2. Design for readability. With website design, make sure the site meets accessibility requirements such as lower screen resolutions, the need for larger fonts and reduced screen size.

 

Client Takeaways

  1. Great design occurs when the designer and the client share similar goals.
  2. Communicate your expectations clearly - without a clear vision, it is more difficult to reach the most appropriate design solutions.
  3. Quality work takes time and planning - allow a reasonable amount of time for design work to be completed to avoid being rushed.

 

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