Case Study by Daniel Tojeira RGD, Owner of Spin Design Solutions Inc.
The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society of Canada’s (LLSC) Light the Night Walk is an annual evening of solidarity and hope in which survivors and supporters come together to raise donations and awareness around blood cancer research and patient services. With the microsite whywewalk.ca, Spin Design Solutions created an online place where participants could share their stories and reinforce and celebrate their connections to one another.
Spin Design Solutions was selected to work on this project based on the firm's past work, our deep commitment to building and maintaining a collaborative relationship with the client and our thorough understanding of the charitable landscape in which the LLSC exists.
Our inspiration for this project was a young patient with Leukemia who posted their story on Facebook. The story received an overwhelming reaction from the patient's social circle online, which made us realize that a platform where people could post their stories would be a great way to build awareness for the cause.
With a tight six-week timeline, we aimed to launch the site one month prior to the annual Light the Night Walks taking place across Canada. The goal was to give survivors and supporters a place to share their stories while spreading the word to the broader public. We accomplished this and more.
The first step was to establish a thorough understanding of the climate surrounding the disease by referencing LLSC patient support materials and working closely with the LLSC staff. The insight gained from these sources provided the foundation for our approach.
To give blood cancer survivors, sufferers and research supporters a place to share these stories, we knew we needed to create a site that would be warm, welcoming, dynamic and easy-to-use. Using this as a starting point, we developed site maps, wireframes and an interface design, all of which incorporated influences from the already established Light the Night Walk aesthetic.
It was important for the microsite to have a visual connection with the main Light the Night website but also let the user know that this was something different. The image of the lanterns is a major element of the microsite, as a truly unique component of the event that distinguishes Light the Night from other charity walks. Using the lantern symbol throughout, we identified the categories of users using colour: red for supporters, white for patients and survivors and gold for remembering loved ones lost.
We designed the site with ease of use and aesthetic cleanliness in mind. Combining campaign artwork and crowd-sourced images with visuals and written stories from survivors and supporters, the site is a place where users can upload their own pictures and videos to add to the growing archive of content from people participating in the walk. Once uploaded, users are provided with printable PDFs of their contributions. By giving the user the opportunity to get directly involved with the content, we created a vibrant online community and a dynamic site that will constantly evolve, while simultaneously raising awareness about blood cancer and the fight to stop it.
Because the site was to be launched and promoted before the date of the Light the Night walks and accessed via mobile devices during the events, it was important that the site be responsive and user-friendly. The site was tested across multiple platforms to confirm its compatibility with mobile, tablet and desktop devices. User-testing was also conducted across a wide range of ages (15 to 65) and technical abilities to ensure that the process of contributing to the site was as simple as possible.The user-testing phase helped us to consolidate information and eliminate unnecessary asks.
We involved our client every step of the way, getting regular feedback, incorporating their suggestions and working with them to meet all of their objectives of the project.
We had to work closely with the development team to ensure that crowd-sourced images – a major component of the site – would be incorporated seamlessly. We set out on a trial-and-error journey, uploading an array of image types and noting how they translated to the context of the site to identify what we might need to change to perfect the process.
Immediately after the launch, the blood cancer community embraced the site and began contributing their own stories, expanding the organization's reach, and strengthening awareness of the disease. Essentially, the model we established allowed users to shape the site around individual stories and express their specific needs and concerns. The cohesive look and feel provided a place for this unique content to live online as part of an established community. We also made sure the content would be shareable on social media, to grow the reach and influence of the stories being told.
The Why We Walk Site was created for the 2013-2014 Light the Night events and continues to receive user contributions today. The plan is to eventually integrate the microsite into the main website for Light The Night.
- For this type of project, it is essential to have a close working relationship with the development team. If you aren't working with strong developers, it is impossible to retain high creative standards without sacrificing strong usability.
- Involve the client. By working directly with their team members throughout, we had the opportunity to draw on their insight, maintain a quick feedback/update cycle and guarantee maximum efficiency through all stages of the project.
- Have an end goal. Especially when working under a tight deadline, clearly defined objectives will help keep the project on track and retain simplicity, when it can be easy to devolve something overly complex.
- Do not be afraid to ask questions. The creative process can seem foreign and feel intimidating, but by asking questions clients can take ownership over it and feel more invested in the outcome.
- Trust your design team. Designers have your best interests in mind and are experts in what they do. Give them enough space to accomplish the task at hand and they will deliver the best possible results.
- Establish realistic timelines. Tight turnarounds are commonplace, but always try to allow enough time to complete a project properly. Communicate with your design team clearly and regularly to establish deadlines at the outset and make adjustments where needed.
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