World Health Organization (WHO)
Putting disability inclusion in the spotlight
The World Health Organization (WHO) is the United Nations (UN) agency connecting nations, partners and people to champion health and a better future for all, leading global efforts to give everyone, everywhere an equal chance to live a healthy life. The WHO turned to DEPT® to conceptualise and design a series of awareness-raising campaign assets that would help position it as a role model on disability inclusion within the UN.
Leading the charge
The WHO Affinity-Resource Group on Embracing Disability – a voluntary, employee-led team charged with creating a diverse, inclusive and supportive workplace culture – had devised a disability inclusion action plan which they wanted to maximise the impact of. The team recognised that a strong campaign concept, visuals and messaging was needed to raise employees’ awareness of disability inclusion, the WHO’s policy on it, and how it was going to tackle it.
Being such a vast and complex organisation, with 8,000 employees in 150 locations across six regions, the WHO was looking for an expert creative partner to develop a versatile concept that would resonate across the full breadth of the organisation. As a Certified B Corporation that is committed to DE&I, DEPT® leapt at the opportunity to conceptualise a creative campaign that would empower and inspire the WHO’s global workforce to take action.
Evolving the brand
To develop campaign assets that resonate and are memorable, it was essential to establish a strong brand mark that would tie all elements of the campaign together. The WHO came to DEPT® with a starting point: a logo. Our creative experts refined and evolved the logo to ensure it was reflective of the campaign’s aims relating to accessibility and inclusion, and that it was in a format that could be easily augmented and applied across all mediums.
The logo needed to be scalable, so we redrew it before adopting typography best practice to incorporate a new, more accessible font and creating much clearer separation between the logo and the tagline; maximising flexibility by allowing for more characters when translated, with limited space restrictions. As well as providing greater versatility in usage across the campaign assets, it was future-ready for translation and application throughout the worldwide organisation.
Kicking off the design thinking process, DEPT®’s creative team established a series of digital boards where they could deep dive into the brief to pull out key messages, ambitions and language that would be central to the campaign.
The purpose of this discovery stage of design thinking is to stretch as wide as possible to share all research and ideas across the team to aid optimum collaboration and conceptualisation. After interrogating the brief, we recognised the importance of the campaign’s messaging, so we primarily focused on the words that could shape the campaign. After gathering hundreds of words and phrases relating to the theme, we analysed them to develop three narrative ideas to share with the WHO.
Once we had cemented the most impactful narrative options, we started to think about how they could be visually interpreted to enhance and bring focus to the messaging. At this stage, following a thorough review of existing disability campaigns, DEPT® set an internal goal to ensure that our concepts did not go down the stereotypical route, which focused on iconography and graphics. To drive maximum impact and resonate with the vast audience, we opted for a visual direction that leaned heavily on the use of striking, abstract shapes and patterns, complemented by photography of ‘real people’ so that employees could see themselves represented within the campaign. In a bid to reflect the campaign’s aims, at all times we wanted the visual direction to be bold, confident, positive and uplifting.
Following thorough research and exploration of different routes to take, DEPT® developed three campaign concepts that could be used independently or in conjunction with one another. Every route presented challenged the disability inclusion status quo both linguistically and visually. Two of these concepts were combined to form the final campaign concept.
A spotlight for all
Our primary ‘spotlight’ creative concept was based on how disabilities are sometimes overlooked. We wanted to challenge the “out of sight, out of mind” mentality that is so prevalent in the space, drawing attention to disability inclusion in order to make a change. The idea naturally inspired ideas around circular ‘glow’ shapes and gradients that could be used to bring typography in and out of focus, much like a spotlight.
Using the spotlight in this way helped us communicate that after being seen, disabled people deserve to be heard. We avoided the use of stereotypical imagery and, instead, opted for a more abstract and versatile choice, with different sized and positioned ‘glows’ reflecting the diversity of disability, as well as providing the opportunity to highlight individual disability challenges. The approach also provided the flexibility to work both as a purely graphic asset, or complemented by photography.
1 in 7
15% of the world population has a disability. 15% of the WHO’s workforce equates to 1 in 7 people. This was cemented as the secondary message of the campaign for its ‘wake up and pay attention’ impact, highlighting to team members that they will cross paths with people with disabilities more frequently than they may have realised.
We took colour inspiration from the existing logo, adopting magenta as the primary hue for its eye-catching qualities, and incorporating this with a purple shade that has increasingly become associated with disability awareness and has been used in a previous WHO campaign, allowing for recognition as well as an element of continuation.
As an absolute minimum, we ensured all design elements, including font and colour choices, met the requirements of Level AA WCAG (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines). Although true Level AAA requirements are largely based on black and white designs, we incorporated as many of the technical elements as possible, while nodding to this through the use of imagery that was largely black and white in tone, creating a striking contrast against the vibrancy of our chosen colourway.
All too often, campaigns only translate well in certain situations and mediums. So flexibility was paramount to the effectiveness of the concept. Not only did the assets have to resonate digitally as well as above the line, they were to be translated into multiple languages to be communicated across the six world regions the WHO operates in, and meet both immediate and longer term campaign requirements.
The campaign assets DEPT® produced were in English, but with the WHO rolling out this campaign globally, we had to consider how they could be edited by internal team members for translation and circulation within their region. With that in mind, we exclusively featured text outside of any shapes to allow more freedom when translated into languages that tend to use more characters.
Although the initial brief only outlined a small requirement of flyers, GIFs and social media frames, the versatility of DEPT®’s approach enabled the team to expand on this to deliver a toolkit of campaign assets that met both immediate and long term needs for digital and print circulation. This would ensure maximum impact of the campaign across all of the WHO’s internal communication channels.
DEPT® developed a memorable and empowering campaign concept and a toolkit of assets that tick every box. In presenting this concept, the WHO Affinity-Resource Group on Embracing Disability beat off stiff internal competition to secure board funding that will facilitate its delivery across the six world regions it operates in.
The campaign will soon be expanded and rolled out across two key regions, before being communicated across the rest of the world, to drive awareness, increase Affinity Group members, and engage the entire workforce in the important discussions around disability inclusion.
Head of Design
A green strategy to reach more climate-conscious donors
The temperature of the earth keeps rising, and in effect, the earth is drying out. To stop this desertification and climate change we must take action now. Justdiggit, together with farmers and local parties, greens dry soil in Africa to make it fertile again. With their campaigns they spread awareness about nature-based solutions and call to action: Dig in! Justdiggit looked for a way to better streamline their digital marketing channels and expand their community of donors.
A worldwide regreening movement
Together with farmers in Africa, Justdiggit digs crescent-shaped circles (called “bunds”) in dry soil. Rainwater can be collected here and that ensures that the soil becomes fertile and green again within a year. This is not only necessary for the local living conditions, but also for humans and nature worldwide. With climate change at stake, this is an opportunity where DEPT® as a B-Corp organisation, is happy to contribute.
The community of Justdiggit consists partly of local partners and communities that work the soil, and donors & ambassadors that create a worldwide awareness to financially contribute to these solutions. Donors primarily come from European countries (such as the Netherlands, the UK, and Germany), where donations go to environmental projects. To expand this community on a worldwide scale, we first had to determine what our focus was and how donors could be reached. Furthermore, we had to streamline our online marketing channels better.
Since all media budgets are pro bono and therefore limited, choices had to be made on how we could best use our budget. Both per channel, and on a national scale. Where did we see the most opportunities, and how could the community be expanded?
To maximise the impact of the marketing campaign, four phases where set up:
- Analysis of the market attractiveness
- Analysis of donations and media behaviour among the target group
- Optimal media mix based on (grant) media budgets
- Effectively measuring the growth of a community
We combined our power with Justdiggit for this green mission. After rolling out the strategy, we saw the following increases in performance:
- 16% growth in turnover from donations
- 35% growth in sessions
- More hearts were greened? Check!
Strategist, Digital Marketing NL
The American Society for Deaf Children
A pioneering approach to teaching the sign language alphabet
To address language deprivation and help bridge the communication barrier between deaf or hard-of-hearing children and their (hearing) parents and peers, creative studio Hello Monday partnered with the American Society for Deaf Children to create Fingerspelling.xyz – a hand tracking experience using machine learning to help learn the sign language alphabet.
The importance of the sign language alphabet
Every year, 2 – 3 out of every 1,000 children born in the US are deaf or hard-of-hearing. 90% of these children are born to hearing parents and, in many cases, their child is the first deaf person these parents have ever encountered.
Without being introduced to sign language at an early stage, a deaf child may miss out on learning language. This can lead to language delay or deprivation, which has long-term negative impacts on a child’s life. That is why it is so important that parents of deaf children have the opportunity to learn American Sign Language (ASL) as soon as possible. This is where Fingerspelling.xyz comes into play.
A playful learning experience
Fingerspelling.xyz is a browser-based app that uses a webcam and machine learning to analyse your hand shapes so you can learn to sign the ASL alphabet correctly. Fingerspelling is an essential part of ASL, the primary language of the American Deaf community. It is often used for proper nouns or to spell a word you don’t know the sign for.
The app shows the user a series of words and uses a 3D model to demonstrate how your hand should be positioned for each letter. When you sign the word, the camera tracks your hand movements and provides feedback so you can make corrections as needed. This helps you to quickly develop your fingerspelling skills and move to the next level of the program.
The fingerspelling game is a great way to introduce the basics of ASL in a fun and playful way. Instead of having to read or watch videos about fingerspelling, we offer an online teaching tool that guides you step by step in how to master fingerspelling – hands on!
Anders Jessen, Founding Partner, Hello Monday
The design and tech behind it
From a design perspective, the goal was to communicate fingerspelling in the cleanest and most simple way possible. Therefore, the 3D-hand is placed prominently in the centre of the site and paired with a playful typeface. Its angled glyphs have a dynamic movement that mirrors subtle visual nuances in the hand gestures, and the slightly off-kilter appearance feels joyful and engaging.
In regards to colour, the aim was to use a palette that was bold enough to draw people in and, at the same time, energise them to start learning to fingerspell. Capturing attention was key.
The 3D hand was designed to feel friendly, with enough detail for users to be able to easily see how the fingers are positioned and bent. A blend of cartoon style and realism was the perfect solution.
When it comes to the technology used, the main feature of the site is the hand tracking, for which MediaPipe Hands is used. It is extremely performant, and is able to do detection, even when parts of the fingers are hidden behind other fingers.
The most time-consuming task was to define when a Fingerspelling letter should be accepted or not. The team developed a rule-based system for each of the letters which looks at the rotation of the hand; whether it faces up, down, left or right. If the hand orientation is correct, it then looks at how each finger is positioned and how much the finger is bent. Setting up the rules was a manual process for each letter which involved a lot of trial and error. To make sure the signs are all taught the right way, an ASL professor helped test all of the different letters.
A useful learning tool, recognised in the Awards industry
The result, Fingerspelling.xyz, is designed for desktop, primarily to be used by parents of deaf children, but it can help anybody become more familiar with the ASL alphabet by providing an easy and simple way to get started.
Within 10 days of launching the site, 150,000 correct hand signs were made. 10 months later, more than 2.5 million correct hand signs had been registered. The American Society for Deaf Children now also uses Fingerspelling.xyz as part of their own training materials, which shows just how useful the tool is.
We created this fingerspelling tool with Hello Monday to help parents support their child’s mastery of sign language and so parents can share the joy of communicating and connecting with their deaf child.
Cheri Dowling, Director of Outreach and Programs, American Society for Deaf Children
Fingerspelling.xyz has certainly made a positive impact for the Deaf community and its innovation has been recognised with prestigious international awards, including:
- Webby Awards 2022: two Webby Award wins in the Diversity & Inclusion and Best User Interface categories, and People’s Voice awards for Technical Achievement, Diversity & Inclusion, and Best User Interface.
- Eurobest Awards: Innovation Eurobest Award, Gold award for Design, Silver award for Digital Craft
- Awwwards: Site of the Day
- FWA: Site of the Day & Site of the Month
- Cannes Lions: Gold in Design & Silver in Design, Silver in Digital Craft
- New York Design Awards 2021: Silver
- Anthem Awards: Gold – Education, Art & Culture, Gold – Responsible Technology in the Product, Innovation, or Service Categories (For Profit) category.
Founding Partner, Hello Monday (part of DEPT®)
Van Gogh Museum
Step into the extraordinary
More and more individuals are shifting towards digital channels to accomplish any and everything. Seeing this shift, the Van Gogh Museum understood that it needed to elevate its digital presence and ensure it was accessible to everyone. So they asked DEPT® to turn their existing website into a work of art.
Designing a new website worthy of Van Gogh’s art
The iconic Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, dedicated to displaying the works of Vincent van Gogh, is one of the most important museums in the Netherlands. With over 200 paintings, 400 drawings, and 700 letters by the artist, it’s the largest Van Gogh collection in the world. To meet the demands of the digital world, the museum has partnered with DEPT® for the last two years. Together, we have created a new visual identity for the museum and developed the Unravel Van Gogh mobile app. But it was time to take it up a notch and design a new website worthy of Van Gogh’s art.
When you think of Van Gogh, colourful sceneries come to mind. So this was our starting point. We wanted the website to resonate with the user and leave an impression while, at the same time, being modest and simple in appearance. So, to kick off our design process, we started with an analysis which would enable us to make concrete recommendations for the museum’s future website. We researched the user journey and delved into any challenges they may face while browsing the current website, paying special attention to any difficulties those with a disability may encounter.
Behind the brushstrokes
To ensure the content stood out and that the design did not compete with the work of Van Gogh or other work featured on the website but instead complimented it, we kept the design clean and minimalistic, giving it a timeless feel. We embraced the museum’s new identity, which was designed by Studio Dumbar (part of Dept) in 2018, by using similar colours and typography. We assigned each page to a different colour which was adapted to the work of art displayed on it, a feat rarely done amongst the white backgrounds of various museum websites. We also implemented subtle interaction animations and transitions to make the website feel light and engage the user.
The museum website not only aims to inspire and entice visitors but also educate and delight them. However, the old story format didn’t promote users to read the content in its entirety. So we updated the website’s story format by simplifying the layout while making it more snappy and interactive as the user scrolls down. This made the articles more appealing to read, especially for users coming from social channels. It also enabled editors to create and post content in a much quicker fashion.
Revealing the details of Van Gogh’s paintings digitally
The museum’s new website embarks in a voyage of discovery and inspiration, helping guide art lovers to the world of Vincent van Gogh. Ensuring users all around the world are inspired by how Van Gogh influenced art’s history and can connect with the museum in a desirable digital manner.
Experience the website
UX Design & Research Lead
Using the power of technology for a good cause
What do you get when you bring digital and tech together with a good cause? A digital marketplace where donors are linked to African farmers, who shovel life back into the barren soil.
The climate is one of the major concerns of this generation. Realising this, Justdiggit trains people in areas of drought to dig half-moon circles in which rainwater is collected. This process of ‘greening’ ensures that the land will be fertile again within a year, something that is vitally important for the local population and which, on a larger scale, the whole world can benefit from.
Climate change is one of the major concerns of this generation
Spreading the knowledge
Justdiggit focusses on spreading their knowledge all the while empowering locals to organise and carry out the work themselves under the guidance of fundi’s, the local rangers. In order to have a lasting and positive effect on the climate, Justdiggit needs to fertilise as many hectares of land as possible, something it simply cannot do by itself. They believe that empowering the local population is a sustainable solution.
Justdiggit asked DEPT® how technology could help them achieve their goals. As we’re committed to making a change, the agency is a breeding ground for social and sustainable initiatives. So within DEPT®, a team was put together to give a helping hand.
In a strategy and design sprint, the team designed a platform where farmers who want to dig holes in a qualifying area are linked to people who want to sponsor them. Research showed that many of the farmers in African villages are well connected. They completely skipped landlines and ADSL and take care of a lot of business mobile. For example, over 40% of the population of Tanzania does their banking via M-Pesa, which amounts to 95 million mobile money transactions per month.
People in the West can easily donate money through Ideal and in the background, a system automatically connects the donations to all the farmers who are allowed to dig in a qualifying area. Once a hole has been dug, it is captured with a photograph. The donor receives the photo and the transaction overview. It is a fair system and a perfect example of cutting out the middleman, where Justdiggit is purely the facilitator.
The marketplace/app works as follows:
- People in the West can easily donate money through Ideal.
- In the background, a system automatically connects the donations to all the farmers who are allowed to dig in a qualifying area.
- Once a hole has been dug, it is captured with a photograph. This photo is approved by a fundi, who acts as a kind of overseer, and then the transaction is made.
- The donor receives the photo and the transaction overview. Digging a hole costs €3,64, of which €2,02 goes to the farmer (55%). The rest of the money goes to the purchase of seeds (27%) , the salary of the fundi (5%), transaction costs (5%) and the protection of project areas against overgrazing by cattle (8%). It is a fair system and a perfect example of cutting out the middleman, where Justdiggit is purely the facilitator.
The most important quantitative goals of the platform in 2019 were to raise the average donation height. Our prognosis was that the combination of complete transparency of the chain and higher engagement by use of messenger and/or the platform would make this happen.
This worked out: the particular donations via the platform is now €34,35 per benefactor; that’s almost three times than the regular online donation to Justdiggit before the launch of the tool. This was far above expectations, especially when you keep in mind there’s been no paid media involved.
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