I was approached in 2017 to put together a visual identity, a UX strategy, and ultimately a website for a Phoenix-based nonprofit organization called Community Closets.
The goal of the organization was to gather gently used clothing and provide it free of charge to children in need. My wife has volunteered here in Portland at a similar organization, called the Portland Council Clothing Center. My clients were dismayed that no comparable service existed in Phoenix.
Unfortunately, this project never launched due to a lack of funds, so the project never moved past the research and identity phase.
I ended up analyzing only sites with similar missions, organizations that accept clothing donations. I intended to discuss indirect competitors with the client–examples of nonprofit sites they found effective–but this ended up not happening.
The sites I reviewed mostly lacked an informative Contact Us section, something I thought critical for Community Closets, especially while establishing trust and funding. The most useful example among these sites was the Dress For Success contact page.
Besides being an unknown name, Community Closets started without a physical space in which to accept and distribute clothing donations. This meant the content inventory was a limited one:
- Mission statement
- Ways to volunteer
- Ways to donate clothing
Without a central location, Community Closets existed solely to transport clothing donations to those in need. All materials related to the organization needed to focus on establishing legitimacy and attracting a variety of donors.
The strategy needed to be broken into a short-term and a long-term strategy. The latter strategy couldn’t be implemented until Community Closets found a steady location.
Short Term Strategy
- To convince schools, community organizations, and donors that Community Closets is a legitimate organization.
- To clearly communicate mission statement, to introduce the organization and explain the need for it, that there is no similar service in Phoenix.
- To make contact information clear and purposeful, listing specific contacts for offering to volunteer or making donations (clothes, money, physical space).
Long Term Strategy
- To clearly communicate mission statement, to introduce the organization and demonstrate its impact on the Phoenix community.
- To inform potential volunteers and donors when, where, and how they can provide assistance.
- To make locations and hours obvious, either for dropping off or receiving donated clothing.
- To make press information easy to find and share, and keep contact information clear and purposeful.
My clients had meetings set up with potential donors, and were anxious to have business cards printed as soon as possible.
My goals were to communicate three things as quickly as possible:
- Community Closets is a nonprofit.
- Community Closets accepts clothing donations.
- Community Closets is located in Phoenix.
The latter goal I could save for the business card, especially as this organization could be set up in any city that needs the service.
I presented the identity in the form of business cards, as the client needed them immediately:
I intended to complete brand guidelines, including a smaller, icon-friendly version of the logo, but the project ended before I had time.
Besides mobile usability, I approached these sketches with the following thoughts in mind:
- Make the mission statement obvious.
- Make the organization seem legitimate as my clients worked on obtaining a physical space to work from.
- Make sure contact information was clear and purposeful.
Unfortunately my clients were unable to continue the project past this phase.
I’m proud of the visual identity I created, and of course frustrated the project never moved forward, as it would have provided a valuable service.
Looking back over the project, I realize I began sketching and creating a strategy based solely on my interviews with the client, and my own family’s experience working with similar nonprofits.
This is insufficient–no matter the depth of experience I and my client brought, I should have started with user surveys.
I am not my user, after all.