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Tag / design for good

Social Shifters of the World Rise Up

[4 minute read]

 

I’m fresh out of the Social Enterprise World Forum, SEWF2018. This annual, three-day-event brings Social Entrepreneurs from all over the globe together in one place to share ideas that are changing the world for good. You’ll struggle to find a more inspiring event…

 

What is a social enterprise?

A Social Enterprise is an organisation, or a person, changing the world for the better. Like most businesses they aim to make a profit, but the key is that they reinvest the majority of their profit to create positive social change. This allows them to tackle social problems, improve people’s life chances, support communities and help the environment.

Government statistics identify around 100,000 social enterprises of all sizes in the UK, contributing £60 billion to the economy and employing nearly two million people.*

Here’s a quick illustration of the range of organisations active in this movement:

  • Cordant Group, the UK’s 2nd largest recruitment and services business with revenues of £840 million and 125,000 employees, reinvests the majority of its profits into social programmes across education, employment, and healthcare, pledging to touch and improve thousands of lives, one community at a time. To demonstrate its intent, Cordant has capped all annual shareholder dividends and all executive salaries, and agreed to be independently audited, using recognised Social Impact measurements.
  • Social Bite is a chain of sandwich shops with a difference – they’re on a mission to end homelessness in Scotland. They created the world’s largest annual sleep out Sleep in the Park which last year alone raised £4million.
  • Students of Broughton High School in Edinburgh have created BROEnterprise which tackles social isolation and loneliness in the community by bringing people together each Friday afternoon in the school to enjoy tea and cake, and to have fun together through craft and reading activities. Everyone is welcome from early years to golden-agers and, as you can imagine, the social enterprise has been a really positive movement in the school.

 

How can we make a difference?

Imagine a world where Social Enterprise is part of the curriculum in every primary school. It’s a main subject choice in every secondary school, and it’s a culture that’s embedded in every workplace. We all know that the best ideas come from people working together, free from prejudice, financial constraints and fear of failure.

With our Society offer at StudioLR we walk the talk about improving people’s everyday – that’s our purpose and the reason we come to work each day. We collaborate on ideas that make a difference to people from all walks of life. We listen and improve until we get it right for the people that need it – they’re the experts. We make sure it’s sustainable and for good. And when it’s embedded we measure the impact.

I urge you to think about what you care about and use that as a starting point to make a difference. There are huge challenges for people all over the world that need our creativity, motivation and determination to solve. Do you care about loneliness, obesity, inequality, or the ageing population?

And if you need inspiration, this is a good place to start.

Lucy Richards

Founder of StudioLR

 

* Social Enterprise UK, State of Social Enterprise Survey 2017

Finding your way around Scotland’s first dementia-friendly park

At StudioLR, We’ve been designing wayfinding signage to help people living with dementia live more independently.

[7 Minute Read]

With features such as dementia-friendly signs, handrails and benches, Kings Park in Stirling recently launched as Scotland’s first dementia-friendly park. Led by National walking charity, Paths for All, we were asked to design signs which would help people living with dementia navigate the park more easily on their own.


“This project was an important step for us in working towards our aim of driving improvements in the quality of life, well-being, empowerment and inclusion of people living with dementia in Scotland.”

– Dr Corinne Greasley Adams, development officer for Paths for All


Paths for All came to us after hearing about our successful initiative to design signs that will help people with dementia find their way around care homes.

Aligning with our company belief that great design improves people’s everyday lives, we wanted to make a difference to people living with dementia through empowering signage design.

Working with our academic partners (Edinburgh University and Stirling University) we challenged the signage typically used in care environments. Using an academic approach gave us confidence that our assessment was accurate. And our recommendations would have the intended level of positive impact.

Easy wayfinding would improve the wellbeing of people with dementia (potentially extending their life) and also reduce the strain and cost on their families and on societal care resources.

We realised our findings could easily be transferred to other public spaces, like Kings Park, providing an even greater opportunity for extended independent living.

Read more about the dementia-friendly Kings Park project in the Scotsman article here.


To find out more about what we’re doing at StudioLR to make the world an easier place to find your way around then read about our latest Inclusive Symbols project.

Inclusive symbols concept design and testing feedback

Following on from the concept workshops, we’ve been busy developing the design for each symbol including a number of options which were tested with groups of people living with dementia.


Concept design phase

Getting into the design we quickly realised there were many different route to explore. After a series of iterations, we developed four options for each symbol to test various factors that could make the symbols more easily understood by people with dementia i.e. showing perspective, including people/figures ‘doing’ the action, shaded flooring.

We considered the styling of the ‘symbol people’ – if they should be ‘morph like’, if they should have necks, or if they should be more human in feature, showing details like clothing and hair. We varied their level of movement, the number of people interacting with each environment, and their activity in each context.

Environments were explored in perspective as well as elevation/straight on, and shading on floors and on objects like toilet seats were visualised to gauge people’s understanding. And we changed the scale on some symbols to see how much information is needed, on close up items like a hand on a door as well as entire rooms and the whole shape of an escalator.

The testing stimulus was prepared as A3 sheets with four options for each symbol alongside the relevant current symbol, and a ‘wash up sheet’ of alternative existing options to help stimulate the discussion. Facilitated by Steve Milton, Director of Innovations in Dementia, these sheets were used to evaluate the legibility and understanding of each of the concepts with groups of people living with dementia across a number of locations. The sessions were recorded and subsequently transcribed.


Testing and feedback

The symbol concepts were tested with 39 people of varying ages and stages of dementia. 33 of these were across five groups and there were six 1-2-1 interviews. Groups were consulted in Shrewsbury, Liverpool, Glasgow, Canterbury and Salisbury. Five interviews took place face-to-face in Stockwell and one via teleconferencing in Salford.

There was an overall enthusiasm from participants to feedback their views on something ‘practical’ rather than policy based that will impact positively on people’s everyday life.

Key learnings:

People

Feedback overview:

‘Morph’ figure (on the left) was generally preferred as people found it clearer/simpler.

Male / Female / Accessible Toilet

Feedback overview:

Everyone recognised this as a toilet.

Symbol ‘B’ in perspective with shaded flooring was unanimously preferred and the white figure on black background was least preferred.

Escalator

Feedback overview:

Although ‘C’ got the highest number of votes, there was a preference for whole shape
of escalator handrail to differentiate it from stairs. The rounded shape also implies movement which is helpful. The two people interacting with the escalator in ‘A’ and ‘C’ was well liked. Maybe we could develop ‘A’ in 3D with perspective. Many liked the idea of adding an arrow going up, or down for a different version of the symbol, to emphasise the indication of movement.

Exit

Feedback overview:

There was a clear preference for ‘C’ showing perspective noting that the person should be clearly stepping from one space to another, rather than walking past the door. The tree and cloud were identified as representing the ‘outside’ and this was liked, as if moving from one environment to another. The floor shading could be understood better if lower down, so less like the person is in water.

Lift

Feedback overview:

There was a clear preference for ‘D’ showing perspective, doors and shading within lift.  There was absolute consensus that the people interacting are important to the understanding of this symbol. There were comments about the button increasing in size!

Stairs

Feedback overview:

Everyone recognized the options as stairs. Although ‘B’ got the highest number of votes, there was a preference for whole shape of the staircase as shown in ‘A’. Everyone agreed that the handrail helped them feel reassured.

Parking

Feedback overview:

Almost everyone recognised this as parking and there was a unanimous preference for  the simplicity of ‘C’. Some of the options i.e. ‘B’ showed too much information and detail which was confusing for people.

Information

Feedback overview:

None of the options shown were popular. Concensus was for the original ‘i’ symbol to be retained.

Tickets

Feedback overview:

Much discussion was had about whether the symbols represent buying or or showing the ticket. In the end ‘A’ was agreed the most popular.

Priority Seating

Feedback overview:

Symbol ‘C’ was preferred and most people identified this as a seat for people who
need it. It was pointed out that, for example on buses, there is a space reserved for wheelchair users so we don’t need to include the wheelchair access symbol. We need careful development of the wording to support understanding of this symbol.

Waiting Area

Feedback overview:

Symbol ‘C’ was the clear preference because of its simplicity and perspective. The doorway through to another room wasn’t necessary. Everyone found the seated people helpful to the meaning, though they should look less rigid and more active. The clock (with no time shown) could be included as it was popular with most participants.

Fire Escape

Feedback overview:

The perspective of symbol ‘C’ was preferred, with the fire from symbols ‘A/B’. It would make sense to include the outside elements from the previous Exit symbol, as well as movement of the person from one space to another.

Wheelchair Access

Feedback overview:

Everyone correctly identified this and ‘A’ gained the majority of votes. Some pointed out that the person was controlling their own chair rather than being pushed as in the existing symbol. Some felt an attachment to the existing symbol and questioned whether we need to update the design of the symbol at all.

Hidden Disability

Feedback overview:

Most weren’t able to identify any of the options shown but for those who recognised some sort of need, symbol ‘D’ was preferred. Adding colour (red) to the cross at the next design phase may be helpful to the understanding around ‘health’. Careful consideration of the words that support this symbol is needed to aid understanding.


Next Steps

Our next step is to look at the user testing feedback in detail to develop and refine the design of each symbol.

We’ll consider the impact for the user of language and colour – which words that accompany symbols are most easily understood i.e. toilet / restroom / ladies /  WC / public convenience.

The trickiest words to consider and resolve will be ‘Priority Seating’ and ‘Hidden Disability’ and we will be working with language strategist Ben Afia https://www.benafia.com to develop some options for testing at the next phase.

We will also consider colour i.e. does a green exit symbol or a blue parking symbol effect its communication?

The design development will lead into the next phase of testing with new groups of people in July.

Inclusive symbols: end of year update

As we move to the end of the year our #InclusiveSymbols project is progressing quickly.

We’ve now completed three concept workshops reviewing around 15 everyday symbols, and we’ve started the exciting (and daunting) challenge of redesigning them to be clear and understood by people with dementia.

In a room of creatives, and members of our wider team, each symbol was discussed in detail for 10-15 mins. This included reviewing our scoping exercise to compare variations on each symbol, comments from the focus groups we held with people with dementia, and generating sketch concept ideas for a new version.

Workshop 1 (16th November) we reviewed:

  • Exit
  • Fire exit
  • Stairs
  • Elevator
  • Escalator

Workshop 2 (30th November) we reviewed:

  • Parking
  • Ticket purchase
  • Waiting room
  • Priority Seating
  • Toilet

Workshop 3 (12th December) we reviewed:

  • Information
  • Wheelchair access
  • ‘No’ symbol (i.e. no parking)
  • Hidden disability
  • Communication difficulty

What did we learn from the workshops?

His head looks like it’s falling off!

The detached head on the current ‘symbol man and woman’ is used consistently across all variations. It’s really odd, and potentially confusing for those with dementia.

 

It’s easy enough to design a toilet symbol as it has a physical form. How could we represent ‘giving information’?

Some symbols are easier to review than others. Symbols such as information or exit are challenging to distil into a simple visual idea. It is also interesting to consider the longevity of our interpretations (particularly for symbols impacted by digital technologies such as tickets).

 

Should we design this in 3D or 2D?

3D symbols are more readily understood but needs some consideration around clarity and simplicity. We need to be careful not to include too much detail in a 3D representation, further complicated by the introduction of a person to reinforce an action.

 

Blobby-humans or human-humans

Our 2D vs 3D conversation sparked some debate around the representation of people in symbology. Understanding that more detail often leads to more questions and literal interpretation from those living with dementia, our initials sketches show a person represented in a solid ‘blobby’ gender-neutral form, enhanced with more realistic body shapes and features.

 

Will using an arrow help make this symbol clearer?

The symbols are used to trigger an action and to help with wayfinding. We discussed including arrows within the symbol (i.e. arrow for exiting a door) but decided this could be confusing for literal interpretations. An arrow within a symbol supported by a directional arrow on the same sign could really confuse people!

 

P is for parking

We’re interested to find that the blue P represents parking internationally, regardless of each country’s alphabet or language. We’re recognising how valuable the review of language and the words we use will be to supporting each of the symbols.

 

Communication difficulty

After lengthy discussion we agreed that this symbol is too challenging to design without the benefit of feedback from the focus group on current versions (this symbol came into play recently and so it wasn’t included in the research project). We decided not to attempt a redesign of this one as part of this project but perhaps in the future, if we were armed with relevant research.


What’s next?

Moving in 2018, we’ll be completing the first concept design options of the new symbols in January. These will then be evaluated by living with dementia people from across the UK, facilitated by our research partner in February.