Blog Category: Visual Advocacy

Rosedale Volunteering

By Erika Goering,

Our volunteer work for Rosedale was to photograph interesting places around the neighborhood so they can be used for the Rosedale newsletter.

Armed with my awesome little point-and-shoot (which has the guts of an SLR, and shoots RAW files), we drove around aimlessly for an hour, stopping at a few cool places to shoot some photos. (My favorite of which being the Boulevard Drive-In, which has a really badass sign out front.)

Since the photos will be used for a grayscale newsletter, we went ahead and converted them from color to black and white, adjusting for better contrast and midtones for printing.

Overall, it was a good opportunity to discover (and re-discover) parts of Rosedale that we hadn’t seen before. I’ve lived in Kansas City my whole life, and there are still parts of it that I didn’t know existed. Rosedale has a rich history and a unique character that became evident in our photo safari.

  Filed under: KCAI, Learning, Visual Advocacy
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Degree Project Question

By Erika Goering,

How can a handheld/portable device assist the Deaf and hard-of-hearing community in better communicating with and understanding hearing people, and thus supplementing or reducing the need for hearing aids or interpreters?

ASL and English are two different languages. How can I bridge that gap visually, through a user experience? That line of thinking alone excites the designer in me. This is gonna be awesome.

Also, a little relevant find & share:

  Filed under: Degree Project, KCAI, Learning, Visual Advocacy
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Designing With the Environmental Impact in Mind

By Erika Goering,

Cradle to Cradle made a good point about the origins and life cycles of materials and how we should take them into consideration when designing.

One thing I took away from the reading—and I’m sure this was intentional—was the fact that our industry is really wasteful by nature. We sketch, we throw paper away, we print off mockups, and throw them away, and we use endless amounts of ink and toner on everything. I feel pretty guilty about the amount of waste I produce as a designer, and the amount of thought I haven’t put into my methods. I’m as guilty as the consumers, if not more so.

Question: Is it possible for a designer to be 100% environmentally neutral? I don’t think it is. But we can try,

  Filed under: KCAI, Learning, Read&Respond, Visual Advocacy
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Tangential Reflection

By Erika Goering,

I seem to have gotten myself into a bit of a tangent. Like, a whole blog post’s worth.

When I saw the line in Human Dignity & Human Rights that said, “I believe we all recognized the significant transformation of the old design theme of ‘form and function’ into the new theme of ‘form and content,'” I had an elusive “a-ha” moment. (Now that I think about it, this also applies to the Are Humanitarian Designers Imperialists? article as well.)

You really need all three. Especially in a multimedia, information architecture-based field. Form, function, and content are all dependent on each other.

Like Maslow’s hierarchy, or the old-school food guide pyramid (not the weird, new one), there’s a foundation, some intermediates, and the nice-to-haves at the top. Content is near the base of design. Function depends on that content to have any reason for existing, and form is driven by that function.

So, the Goering Hierarchy of Design looks something like this (with the least important/urgent aspect on the top):

[ aesthetics ] (elements of art, prettification & polish)
[ form ] (UI comes into play here. This is where sketches and wireframes happen. This is all based on the function, content, and needs, and gives the user a means to come into contact with the function.)
[ function ] (This is where channels come in. This is how and why we communicate. UX also goes here.)
[ content ] (This is the stuff that we gather from researching the needs and wants. This is what we design around.)
[ needs & wants ] (This is the research, which influences the content and provides the whole reason for designing in the first place.)

If your design misses any of these elements, you’ve failed. Probably not on an epic level (depending on your area of discrepancy), but on a level detectable by other worthwhile designers.

As with the obesity epidemic (relating to the food guide pyramid) and our egotistical/ignorant/jackass culture (relating to Maslow’s Hierarchy), our priorities tend to lie on the wrong end of the pyramid. We live at the top and over-indulge as a way to replace the foundations that we lack. The same goes for shitty designers. This is why places like CrappyDesign exist. People are too worried about making things flashy instead of being genuinely concerned with communicating a message, and the results are less than satisfactory, to say the least.

It’s our duty as designers (here’s where the advocacy thing ties in) to enforce that the users/clients/communities have their needs met, first and foremost.

  Filed under: KCAI, Learning, Read&Respond, Visual Advocacy
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Resources for Spatial Psychology

By Erika Goering,

Clever Cafeteria Layout Changes Can Transform Children’s Nutrition

“So-called “smart cafeterias” would feature low or no-cost changes in design, food presentation and layout, in an effort to tap “the natural psychology of choice” as youths consider their mealtime options.”


Is Psychology the Key to Better School Nutrition?

“Many children and teenagers resist well-intentioned lunch line interventions. Will these new strategies help reduce the childhood obesity problems If they are incorporated?”

  Filed under: KCAI, Learning, Visual Advocacy
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Taking Visual Advocacy Into Your Own Hands

By Erika Goering,

Sometimes to make a point, and to make it well, you have to literally make a mark on your environment. When traditional channels don’t fill the needs, you’ve got to take it into your own hands. There’s no doubt that a guerrilla-style campaign can be immensely effective. As an artist and a designer, you can reach your audience on a much more immersive level, and penetrate their lives in a way that will “stick” like other methods can’t.

The issue then becomes whether it’s actually ethical or not to vandalize property for the sake of social awareness or improvement. Is the trade-off worth it? Is the good of humanity heavier on your conscious than a few brick walls or light posts? Is potential property damage truly worth the message you send? Is it worth the risk of jail?

I think, a lot of times, it may not be ethical, but it may very well be necessary. If the issue is important enough, and you’re passionate enough, it’s worth whatever the cost.

  Filed under: KCAI, Learning, Read&Respond, Visual Advocacy
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