Case Study by Iffat Jokhio RGD, Senior Designer at Pivot Design Group
Canada is one of a few countries that has developed a national cancer control strategy. And the Canadian Partnership Against Cancer plays a crucial role in working with cancer experts, charitable organizations, governments, cancer agencies, national health organizations, patients and survivors to implement and monitor this unique 30-year plan.
The Partnership needed explanatory collateral to generate interest amongst policy makers and partners in the cancer community. Its goal was to have an engaging visual piece that outlined the Partnership's objectives, strategies and outcomes for Canada.
As a long standing vendor with the Partnership, Pivot has built a strong, collaborative relationship with this client through our work on many previous design challenges, making us a natural fit for this project.
The project duration was 6 months from Discovery through Design to Delivery of a printed, bilingual fold-out brochure and powerpoint presentation.
The primary use of this piece is to provide support for the Partnership's senior management when in meetings or delivering presentations at conferences. The content is meant to function as an aid in this presentation process to better present the purpose and goals of the Partnership to healthcare policy makers.
Using Pivot's Informed Design process, we followed the phases of Discover - Design - Deliver to ensure that the project focused on user experience as the driver for both content and design.
At the project onset, there were some preconceived notions about what the infographic should look like. Many stakeholders believed that a simple one-page hand-out would suffice. It was a challenge to move beyond this idea but, through design research and a landscape review, we were able to open up the conversation and ultimately have the content define the format of the visualization.
Sometimes the hardest thing about designing an infographic is determining the right amount of content to include. Regarding the strategic positioning of the organization, their original source material was comprised of flow charts designed in excel by analysts and content managers. There was a lot of important information to sift through. As we worked through the design process, the main goal from the beginning was to understand and prioritize the information that needed to be communicated. This was accomplished through research and interviews with stakeholders.
We collected Design Evidence™ by reviewing the current landscape of healthcare and related infographics, which helped set the baseline for the design and content. We also looked beyond the healthcare sector and spent time reviewing information-heavy visualizations in the sports, science and arts industries to determine a set of best practices for the project.
We collaborated with the client in weekly sessions to share our findings and discuss their needs one-on-one. Interviews and collaborative work sessions with key project stakeholders functioned as our primary research for the project.
Knowing this piece would be used by senior management at the organization, it was important to meet with these individuals, especially the Director of Strategy, Evaluation and Analytics and the Senior Manager of Communications. With these players at the table, we encouraged a highly collaborative process to help ensure that they, as the users of the visualization, would feel comfortable speaking to it in a working situation.
Ultimately, this was more than just a design project; we were heavily involved in determining both the content and the final use of the piece. To help guide the team and better outline what information needed to be included, we used creative storytelling methods and built storyboards that focused on the following four elements:
- The problem: One third of all Canadians will develop cancer
- The setting / characters: Canada; the Partnership and the Canadian cancer community
- The story: the Partnership’s objectives
- The outcome: the Partnership’s process and work
With this content outline and an understanding of the organization's requirements for the piece, we worked iteratively through two formats for the concept design. What began as a tall fold-out brochure design morphed into a hybrid brochure-poster application depicting not only the strategic purpose of the Partnership but also its role within the cancer community and the combined efforts of all players moving into the 30-year future of cancer policy.
The first print run was 6,000 pieces (1,500 printed with the French version given priority). About a year later, the project was reprinted in similar quantities. As an over-arching strategic piece it is meant to last the Partnership through to their next strategic milestone in 2017, at which point there will be an opportunity to update the content and design.
The Partnership team has been so pleased with the outcome of the process that they continue to use this visualization as a benchmark for their materials and design. Our work has helped establish a new brand look and feel for the client and a better appreciation for the user-centred design process.
“Pivot has a thoughtful and strategic approach to the design process that brought a great deal of value-add to this project… For me, this project was an excellent case study of design process at its best. It resulted in a compelling printed piece widely used by all areas of the organization to communicate with stakeholders about our organization, what we do, how we do it and why it’s important.” - Lisa Marchitto, Communications Manager, Canadian Partnership Against Cancer
- Be open minded. Designers need the ability to begin a project without any preconceived notions as to what, how or why a project should look or function a certain way. This allows us to ask critical questions that will help lead to a more successful project application.
- Beyond the form and content of the end result, design is also an opportunity to educate the client. Often, clients are very close to their work and their organizations. Educating them about what it is that we do as designers and treating them as partners in our design process allows them to see how their goals are being translated into something relevant and accessible for the audience they are trying to reach.
- Build relationships. This is perhaps the most critical takeaway for me, as it fits with both of the points above. A project is more than just a job. It is an opportunity to foster relationships with the client and the end-user of the design. When you understand where a client is coming from, you gain insight into what the most effective strategy will be, making you a more successful designer. Building relationships that last is also key for a sustainable business.
- Choose a designer with a process you can trust. A portfolio of work can only go so far. For a successful outcome, make sure you can count on the designer / firm to consider more than just the aesthetics of the project and deliver a well-rounded result.
- Understand your audience. It is important to be able to communicate the goals of your organization, but equally important is the ability to understand the goals, needs and motivations of the audience you are trying to reach. This is integral for successful communication.
- Consider the context / visual landscape of the project. Where will the final piece live? What is your audience used to and how does this project fit into their world? A designer can help you see the big picture and articulate your message in a way that makes sense, without getting list in the sea of communications with which your target audience is already familiar.
Interested in submitting a case study to appear on the RGD website? Download 'Guidelines for Contributing Content' and email .