Design Hacking: A Design-a-thon

By yleOctober 25, 2012

Bhava’s design interns are people who not only design, but also are multi-faceted in visual communications.

We want our design interns to be creatives with an aptitude for merging design and words to tell a story in a visual way. People who enjoy designing on various platforms – for the web, print and multimedia – and candidates who get excited about technology, big data and geeking out over our client’s technologies. Designers who are A+ players and want to work with really smart people who inspire and challenge every day.

All Bhavans wear many hats and we think it’s fun for our interns to do the same, so they can dabble in different areas and get a taste for their passions. Our internships are more like apprenticeships and intended to grow employees in many different areas from honing their design skills to getting more business experience under their belt. Bhava’s apprenticeships are an opportunity where we like to grow our interns into full-time employees, bridging the path from the academic world to the professional one.

The Bhavans are ecstatic about the quality of candidates and interest we’ve received in regards to the design internship. We’re still looking for more. (see here)

To get an idea of what it’s like to work with potential candidates, we hold design-a-thons, where we design together and get to know each other through a day in the life at Bhava. We chat informally, lunch on gourmet pizza and participate in collaborative design projects.

A typical Bhava design-a-thon consists of a print, web and interactive component. The projects center around helping a nonprofit with its marketing needs and presentations of the projects are held at the end of the day.

Bhavans and design intern candidates chatting over gourmet pizza

A past design-a-thon focused on branding the 15th anniversary marketing campaign for a nonprofit literacy foundation. It’s called the 15 by 15 campaign. The campaign’s goal is to create awareness around illiteracy in students, targeting teachers as the primary audience. A secondary goal is to gather $15 donations from each teacher contacted.

Here’s a breakdown of the design-a-thon’s agenda and what we worked on during the day’s sprint.

Design charrette one | print component
• Create a look / feel for the 15 by 15 campaign
• What would the branding of this campaign look like?
• This is a logo exploration, but you’re not expected to created a completely developed logo in this short amount of time

Some ideas for process
• Play off the 15 – 15 (or 15 / 15) numbers
• Look at the website for ideas
• Sketch out some ideas for the shape and form the numbers will take
• Choose your favorite idea
• Translate that idea into Illustrator to create a vector-based image
• Choose typography that supports your idea
• Use the organization’s existing color palette

Design charrette two | web component
• Translate the look / feel from charrette one into a web banner
• Create a web banner in Photoshop with the dimensions provided
• Use the look / feel from design charrette one in the banner
• Tease the 15 – 15 campaign on the web page with the verbiage given
• Call-to-action (CTA): “Donate Now” button
• When done with the web banner, slice it
• Create a DreamWeaver document and code the web banner
• Link the button to the foundation’s contact page

Design charrette three | interactive component
• The third mini charrette is your choice
• Explore whatever you want on any platform!
• This third charrette is intended to get a feel for what you like to do and give you the opportunity to have some creative freedom
• Take the look / feel from previous explorations and turn it into a small exploration of your own
• Keep this simple, so you have enough time

Examples to spark your ideas
• Simple, short intro. animation (maybe turning the 15 – 15 logo exploration into something that could be used for the beginning of a video)
• Basic HTML5 exploration (maybe just using shapes relative to the look/feel exploration that act as an interactive activity for users)
• Short infographic displaying the 15 questions the nonprofit drafted that teachers can ask to target illiteracy (make the visuals play off the 15 – 15 look/feel)
• Add an interactive element to the web banner (make a small part of the banner interactive, i.e. maybe the logo moves a bit on the banner)

Each charrette was completed in two hours and at the end of the day, the candidates presented their work, taking us through their creative process.

Watching the project presentations

Although a lot of the concepts can be built upon, the day’s results were very impressive. The design-a-thon format proves to be a fun day where we get to know each other better and see what it’d be like to work together.

We’re excited that Yvonne Le came on board the Bhava team after this design-a-thon and to hold another design-a-thon in early 2013. If you think you’re a good fit and want to participate in our next design-a-thon, apply now!

Yvonne Le at the design-a-thon

Here are Yvonne’s exercises from the design-a-thon for the nonprofit literacy foundation.

Yvonne’s print exploration

Yvonne’s web banner (in static form)

Yvonne’s animated web banner