Smart Self Reliance

Services Provided: Brand Identity, Web Design, Web Development, Print

Overview

Smart Self Reliance is a nonprofit organization funded by the two largest electric companies in Illinois, Comed and Ameren. Their mission is to empower older adults and people with disabilities to live more comfortably and independently through the use of smart home devices. The organization is a trusted source of information regarding smart home devices and services, and helps people learn how to acquire and use them to live better, more comfortable lives.

Scope of Work

Digital Ammo was hired to strategize, design and develop a new brand identity, informational website and various branded marketing materials.

Challenges

After a number of discovery and strategy sessions with our client, we concluded the logo and brand identity should reflect the following key attributes: independent living, self-reliance, trustworthiness, positivity and empowerment to the target audience, which is older adults and people with disabilities.

For the website, an important, if not the most important functionality was to ensure full ADA (American Disabilities Act) and WCAG (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines) Compliance so people with disabilities (color blindness, cognitive impairments, visual impairments, physical disabilities, etc.) can browse the site with ease, and find information quickly and effectively to help them live better lives. Another overarching goal was to create a site that’s more approachable, welcoming and consumer-facing than its predecessor. Something we aimed to avoid throughout the brand’s image was any notion that suggests technology is more important than the human objectives these mere tools help to achieve. The Smart Self Reliance brand should reflect values of and for the people they represent, and ensure technology is not the main focus.

Approach

Digital Ammo conducted interviews with various members of the target audience to hear their pain points in browsing websites to ensure we addressed these issues in the new site design and information architecture. We ended up creating a simple, easy to navigate, blocked-style layout with large headlines and buttons. We also included the additional functionality of a dark mode toggle, text resizer and relevant images peppered throughout the page design to help illustrate information and make it as engaging and informative as possible. All design decisions were made based on feedback from the audience and our own research on how to design effective ADA compliant websites. Prior to entering the Development Phase, we conducted both remote and in-person user testing through a click-through prototype to validate the design, placement of content and various call-to-actions. While coding the website, we made sure to follow best practices for ADA Compliance, often learning the most up-to-date methods, testing and applying new tools along the way. Before launching the website, we conducted another round of user-testing on the fully developed site to ensure all ADA and WCAG compliance standards were being met.

When collaborating with the client and conceptualizing the logo, we brainstormed a number of different themes but what we ended up coming back to was the idea of a house, or home. A home naturally denotes comfort, safety and independence. After a few iterations, we can up with the final version which has colorful rays emerging outwards, and creates the outlines of a home in the center from which the rays emerge. An abstract representation and combination of a home and sun rays to convey positivity and vibrance emanating outwards, with the various colors to symbolize diversity.

In any logo we create, regardless of the meaning or themes/story involved, we always strive to accomplish the basic requirements of any well-designed logo:

  1. Does it scale well in both large and small sizes?
  2. Is it unique, impactful and relevant?
  3. Is it versatile? Can it be used on various mediums and formats?
  4. Is it simple and memorable?

The new Smart Self Reliance logo checks all the boxes and we are proud to have accomplished a strong, meaningful identity for an organization with such an important mission.

Conclusion

The new brand identity conveys a sense of positivity, optimism, is memorable, unique and is poised to propel the organization successfully into future partnerships and projects to help older adults and people with disabilities.

This project involved multiple people from both parties. Olivia our Senior Project Manager, and Jason, our Strategist had a big role in the success of this project. A big thank you to Executive Director, Doug Newman and President, Linda Simpson for their attentiveness, close collaboration, innate and unwavering trust in our vision, and granting Digital Ammo the creative freedoms to produce a brand identity and website to represent such an incredible organization. Since the launch of the site on December 31st, 2019, we’ve gotten extremely positive feedback from the target audience and others in the SSR organization, and the site analytics prove increased engagement through time spent on the pages, and increased traffic to the site. We look forward to engaging in more projects with Smart Self Reliance.

“Digital AMMO collaborated with us on all aspects of the website, including content, finalization, and launch. The team designed with us a navigation structure that would meet the specific needs and accommodate the limitations of our principal client groups. In addition, there was a special focus on the SEO of the site, from the ground floor design right to the launch, to maximize our ability to reach each client. The content itself has all been derived from several years of very detailed, rigorous, applied research in gerontology, human factors engineering, and computer engineering. One of Digital AMMO’s primary roles was to work with us to translate detailed research into content that was of value and accessible to our clients. Digital AMMO optimized that content to be SEO-friendly as well. They also supported us in the creation of branding material, designing a new logo, tagline, business cards, and letterhead.

We received extensive end-user reviews at three points in the design and development process, as well as on the various prototypes we developed. At each stage, Digital AMMO was able to accommodate concerns in the next iteration, so that we were pleased of the final product when we launched. Now, the website is designed to be entirely compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Rehabilitation Act, and other website accessibility guidelines that enable people with a variety of physical and cognitive limitations to use the site. These features are unique, as not many websites are as accessible as Digital AMMO has enabled ours to be. Along the way, Digital AMMO was extraordinarily collaborative, creative, flexible, and patient with our team. We were impressed with their ability to handle our organization, as each of us are opinionated, though none of us understand web design or development as well as they do. The team was very creative in terms of brand work, deriving concept and tone from our mission statement and producing a series of logos and designs for us to choose from. That ability alone is extraordinary. During each stage of the process, Digital AMMO listened intently to our ideas and vision to create content that clearly reflected what we were trying to communicate. It was impressive to connect with a team that was sincerely interested in developing something valuable for our clients. Digital AMMO went well beyond the minimum of what was expected of them to ensure our total satisfaction.

The scope of this project was very unique, as it wasn’t a typical website aimed at consumers in the general public. Our users often require various accommodations to the way we would typically deliver information. Despite the difficulty of that task, Digital AMMO achieved exactly what we had hoped, often learning and applying along the way. The final product, as determined by end-users, has been extremely effective. I can’t emphasize enough the organization’s ability to hear their client’s need and creatively accommodate that need with innovative approaches for delivering the message graphically, from the standpoint of the design mechanics of the site. Without reservation, I recommend Digital Ammo. The team’s performance will almost certainly exceed your expectations.”

Doug Newman
Executive Director, Smart Self Reliance

Have a project for us?