Experiences from Design for Good 2013

By Victor Sirotek on 27 05 2013

At Mutually Human, we all are very interested in using our skills to help the broader community when we can. We regularly volunteer our time at events throughout the year. Recently Ross and I spent a weekend at Design for Good. Design for Good is a weekend long event where teams of designers pair with non-profits to work on projects to benefit them and their constituents. Ross worked on a new website for the Creative Youth Center. I worked on a new website for Fashion has Heart.

Fashion has Heart

Fashion has Heart is a non-profit that believes that there is creativity in everyone and wants to help Armed Forces veterans tell their story. In one of their initiatives, they pair injured veterans with artists & designers to express their experiences in new and engaging ways. The veterans work with their artist to create a unique t-shirt design based on their interests and experiences. Those t-shirts are then put on display for the public to see them and hear their stories. As an added benefit, you can buy these t-shirts and wear their artwork.

Fashion has Heart Site Designs

I was the project lead working with Fashion has Heart. My first order of business was to do an inventory of everything that the client had already created and what they had available for us to work with. We were really lucky because Fashion has Heart came with great photography, artwork, videos, and story. What they were missing was a really great website that would help them tell their story. Their current website has elements of that story but lacks the connective tissue to tell a great narrative and help visitors understand what they do.

My team started by assessing the state of the site's structure by auditing every page and documenting what the content was and why the page existed. We then mapped out what FHH wanted the site to do and compared that to the existing site map and content. By doing this, we could easily identify what was missing and get to work making wireframes of all of the sections. With those wireframes we were able to divide the work across the many disciplines that made up our team.

We had a team of people re-writing all of the site's content. Another team focused on the design of the site and communicated closely with the writers. Finally, another team went to work creating the WordPress install and code of the site. Since we were all working off the same wireframes, it meant we were all moving in the correct direction.

By the end of the weekend we had successfully completed everything but the code. We didn't have enough man-power to pull that across the finish line. Thankfully Ray Brown (@bitmanic) is nearly finished with the site and it will be wrapped up very soon. The site is fully responsive, has very bold visuals and will do a much better job telling the story of the vets.

Creative Youth Center

Ross worked on a project for the Creative Youth Center. The Creative Youth Center is a place for kids to learn about creative writing while learning that their voice is valuable. They needed branding and a public facing website that is as impressive as their space and the organization itself.

Creative Youth Center Site

Over the course of the weekend Ross worked primarily on coding their new site. He had a very cohesive team that managed to collect new photography, design and build the entire site from the ground up. The site that they came to the event with was a standard blog and did not do the organization justice.

Their new site got a dramatic facelift that does an impressive job telling the story of the organization. It also offered Ross a chance step out of his comfort zone to work in WordPress. He used to work in WP a long time ago but has moved on to work in other languages.

The Takeaway

Events like these are a great opportunity to give back and share your talents with people that need them. It is incredibly rewarding to start the weekend with a mostly blank slate and walk away with a complete (or nearly complete) project. They are a lot like running a marathon. It takes everything you have to keep up your pace and test your ability to perform under a very tight deadline. It is good to stretch yourself every once in a while and see how much you can get done in a short timeframe.