International Human Dimensions Programme

Branding to show the connection between humans and nature, and social science’s role in understanding environmental change.

 

In academic spheres, the term human dimensions is synonymous with the high-caliber work of the IHDP’s social and environmental scientists. I leveraged the brand recognition this phrase carries, to design the programme’s logo. This, and every other aspect of the identity explores the inseparable relationship between all humanity and the natural world we inhabit.

Showing the human dimensions.

Before I was brought on board, the organization had hired an external firm to design its logo. The ideas that came back, though, were far off the mark. So my boss came to me for ideas.

 
Old and New Logo.png
 

We worked together to visually articulate the organization’s goals and purpose. I kept certain effective elements of the old logo—the globe, dimension lines, a person—and reshaped them for a simpler and more dynamic effect.

Brand strategy and graphic design

2006-2013

International Human Dimensions Programme, at the United Nations University


website

 

An idea-centric digital presence.

Asked to redesign the website, I began by truly understanding what worked and what didn’t with the old website, and what the new site needed to accomplish for the programme.

I identified a number of issues and opportunities, and from there, set out to apply my findings to the website strategy, information architecture, content strategy, navigation and page design of the new site.

One of our big challenges was programming. We had the unique requirement of working with a content management system developed by a partner organization's in-house team. This meant I needed to include even the smallest details of the front- and backend in my planning, and to manage the cross-organizational relationship.

I learned CSS and pulled out my latent HTML skills, to deliver rough plans first, then HTML framework comps, then finalized CSS. Using their language to communicate my vision, and working with their needs and capabilities made a huge difference in the success of the project.

Previous collaborations with the development team had been painful for all parties involved. It was clear that my vision for the product wasn’t being implemented, my boss wasn’t happy with the timeline, and our programmers felt overworked and misunderstood. To make sure this collaboration was a success, I worked with them from the beginning to discuss their capabilities. Then I structured my plans around them. I learned CSS and pulled out my latent HTML skills, and delivered first, rough plans, then HTML framework comps, then finalized CSS. Using their language, and working with their needs and capabilities made a huge difference in the success of the project.

Moving in, out and around the layers of navigation had been problematic in the old website. For the new interface, I added breadcrumbs, nesting menus, and back and forth buttons, dramatically improving usability.

In the old site, our most popular sections—events and opening from the community—were hidden under layers of navigation. And the listings lacked structure making them hard to search. In the new, these listings moved to the homepage. We added tagging, by thematic area, type, location, and date to help users filter out information relevant to them.

 
 
 Rough navigation wireframes

Rough navigation wireframes

 Automatic article list formats

Automatic article list formats

 Modular column layouts

Modular column layouts

In the old site, our most popular sections—events and opening from the community—were hidden under layers of navigation. And the listings lacked structure making them hard to search. In the new, these listings moved to the homepage. We added tagging, by thematic area, type, location, and date to help users filter out information relevant to them.

Although we had standard layouts for common pages in the old site, we had to rebuild them from scratch each time we added a new entry. For the new site, I identified common page types, and built templates to streamline editing and ensure consistency.

 

Wireframes of common pages

 

Our most time-consuming and frequent task had been updating links to industry news. For the new site, I conceptualized an input form that shortened editing from 1 hour daily to 5 minutes. It output the information to RSS, which let us automate a new email newsletter and social media updates from the information.

Before, our site completely lacked any call-to-action. I identified key audiences, their specific needs, and how we wanted to engage them for the new site. We made sure the content they needed was there. And we put tailored calls-to-action front and center in the appropriate sections and in the navigation.

Perhaps most importantly, the content of our old site was not showing off our biggest asset: our thinking. I remedied this with the addition of a blog and corresponding content strategy. We published research and commentary from our community of scholars, and leveraged these original pieces to populate the social media and email feeds.

 

Email Strategy

 

Staying on top of our network’s minds.

Just emerging as significant at the time, we used email marketing to maintain ties with our community. I maintained and coordinated all of our email marketing from the subscriber lists, to the content strategy. I was able to automate a large portion of the mailings, and added special updates from time to time.

 

Annual Report

 

A yearly review.

Our annual report was a critical document for fundraising and had to perfectly and quickly convey the programme’s work.

We dramatically condensed and changed the content to focus on the programme’s key achievements and most pioneering ideas. Juxtaposing human and natural textures visualized the parallels between humans and the environment in an abstract but understandable way.

 

Brochure Pack

 

Fundraising made easy.

I conceptualized the brochure pack to fulfill two needs: promotional material to reinforce person-to-person fundraising activities, and flexibility to change and update time-sensitive information. To this end, the set is compiled of two types of pieces. Sleeves were static, and printed in high quantities. Inner pages contained time-sensitive information and were updated frequently and reprinted on the office printer.