Collateral Design for Community Engagement

Capitol Hill Housing (CHH) is a public corporation organized by the City of Seattle. Their mission is to build vibrant and engaged communities through affordable housing and community development. In total, CHH manages approximately 50 properties, each with eligibility requirements ranging from low-income, elderly, disabled, veteran and other eligibility restricted units.

Resident Services Poster

I designed a large format poster to advertise CHH Resident Services. It primarily informs residents of the services available to them. We proposed to mount these posters on community boards in public building spaces, around the building property, and within CHH offices. This poster design acts as the outward, public-facing representation of the CHH Resident Services.

Background

Capitol Hill Housing Resident Service department employs Resident Service Coordinators (RSC) to inform, coordinate and provide resources to its diverse residents. The RSC primarily communicate with residents through information sheets, advertisements on community boards, door-to-door tactics, and building events and direct one-on-one contact. They serve as the central resource for all residents living in CHH properties, providing a range of services including general questions, hosting community events and coordinating need-based services such as rental assistance, live-in health care, and transportation services to name a few.

Project Challenges & Goals

According to CHH resident surveys, less than half the residents were aware that CHH provided individualized support through its Resident Services Program. Additionally, the RSC relied heavily on Microsoft Word, so it became important to create a template system any RSC could use on any type of computer. As such, the project goals were identified as follows:

  • Inform residents about RSC and increase awareness of the many services available
  • Simplify the layout and be consistent with the CHH brand
  • Improve the collateral functionality and usability for RSC
  • Improve and increase the visual accessibility for CHH’s diverse residents
  • Improve and increase the trust between resident and RSC in individual communities

Design Strategy

To achieve these goals, I brainstormed the visual design by assessing technical concerns, researching the methods in which RSC communicate with residents, and reviewing the overall brand image and messaging of CHH. To increase overall brand awareness, I set forth to develop a template system that is unique for individual properties, yet consistent with the larger CHH brand. Additionally, my deliverables were simply formatted and easily customizable for the RSC.

Design Solutions

The client hired me to provide graphic design services for five collateral items most utilized by the RSC. The existing collateral was redesigned to meet the aforementioned goals into five unified, brand consistent templates:

  • Building Welcome Sheets
  • RSC Persona Sheets
  • Monthly Events Calendar
  • Event Flyers
  • Resource One Sheets

Building Welcome and RSC Persona Sheets

Upon move in, residents receive a packet which includes the building welcome and RSC persona sheets. The building welcome sheet informs residents about CHH and resources available through the Resident Services program. The RSC persona sheet introduces the specific RS Coordinator supporting the residents’ property. Both these documents are intended to welcome residents and provide the essential resources, contact information, and other important details about CHH and RSC.

Monthly Events Calendar

Monthly calendars specific to each property highlight upcoming community events. They are available online, by email and posted in community spaces. After creating a 2018-19 monthly calendar template with updated styles, I added additional content to the footer, for each RSC and building property. This allows the RSC to put their contact information and specific building information on the calendars for residents to easily reference.

Event Flyers

Event flyers posted in community spaces advertise a variety of events and workshops. For maximum ease of use and flexibility, I designed a variable sidebar layout for things like recurrent dates and event sign-ups. RSCs can choose between having a single event date or multiple recurring events, both, or neither.

Additionally, there is an option for a sign-up content block with a variable height, allowing for maximum customization. I also created a half-sheet event template that reduces event information to its hook, a primary message and call to action, for use by the RSC as handouts for local, building specific events.

Resource One Sheets

These templates list all relevant contact information for each resource category. I created a typographic system and grid layout that adapts to each collateral template. The system I conceived maintains the appropriate balance between text legibility and readability. This one sheet example is the simplest form of typography and grid layout utilized across every template.

Design Process

The challenges and client’s goals were kept at the forefront of my process while designing the collateral. During each step of the project, the following were considered: consistency; accessibility; and usability.

Consistency

Consistency affects people’s awareness and trust of a brand. If residents aren’t clear what the RSC provide and who they are in relation to CHH, then they are likely to have less faith in the services provided. I directly addressed this issue through a systematically implemented visual design. Through the use of typography, white space, graphic elements and color, I achieved overall visual consistency between all collateral templates.

Accessibility

The visual design complements the content strategy and does not detract from it. We simplified the text and used language understood by a general audience. I also utilized a relatively large font size to improve legibility and tested the color contrast, to ensure residents with visual impairments could view the content.

Usability

To provide maximum ease of use for the RSC, who may not have a background in design or layout programs, I chose Adobe InDesign to make the templates. The Adobe InDesign has an excellent interface with Adobe Acrobat, a program used by the majority of CHH employees. This resulted in great ease of use for the RSC, allowing for editable content while maintaining overall brand consistency.

Project Results

The overall response from the Client, CHH employees, Resident Service Coordinators and residents was overwhelmingly positive. The visual design and functionality of my project deliverables exceeded their expectations. In fact, after using the new templates, several RSC requested more variations for the event flyers, resulting in additional project work.

While redesigning the RSC collateral, I created a visual design inspired by the existing CHH brand. It maintained the familiarity of the old styles, while drastically improving RSC brand accessibility, usability, and consistency. Our focus on content strategy, language, and visual harmony allowed the collateral to accommodate the diverse audiences with propriety and appeal.