Eurasian Harm Reduction Network
Parsons Fellow Roraback would be the first fellow to visit a site that had already hosted a fellow once before (Eric Nunez, four years prior). Surprisingly, the current staff at EHRN had joined the organization within the past four years and no one was at the organization when the first fellowship took place in 2007. The change in staffing pointed to a bigger challenge within EHRN: it had undergone many developmental and structural changes in the past several years. Their old website and identity branding no longer made sense for the organization’s current context. Website navigation had become a confusing mess—it was difficult to find what one needed, and the EHRN logo had been too easily confused with the newly-created EuroHRN.
Parsons Fellows Roraback was tasked to reorganize the website navigation, revise the EHRN logo, create template documents, create a style guide to help staff as they create documents in the future, assist EHRN with video and the creation of a YouTube account, and advise staff in the development of a new campaign around price reduction of Hepatitis C treatment in cooperation with Ben Norskov — another fellow and the HIV/AIDS Alliance in Ukraine.
EHRN is an organization that spans two continents and encompasses a region of 29 countries. The ‘hugging heart’ logo and the colors that meet across it symbolize that sense of unity and collaboration across national, cultural, and lingual barriers. For this reason, the heart in EHRN’s logo was kept as it had been a part of its identity (in a couple of different variations) for as long as the organization has existed - even years ago, when it went by the name of “Central and Eastern Europe and Central Asia Harm Reduction Network.”
The two languages and color play in the existing logo were crucial symbols that Parsons Fellows Roraback wanted to maintain, thus English was kept on the left and Russian on the right. The languages, spelled in blue and black, mirror the heart and its interlocking arms. The previous logo had a clever trick in which the blue half of the heart had a white hand, since the blue was too dark for a black outline to show up. The heart was slightly modified for better styling and the lighter blue made the logo a bit friendlier, which was valuable, since a classier, more pointed typeface for the logo text was chosen. Lastly, variants for different size, space, and color requirements that EHRN must meet in its own and other organizations’ publications were created.
Program Logo Design
In many documents, both EHRN and Knowledge Hub logos are included, as if the two were separate entities, further fragmenting EHRN's image. The style of the dual language logo was used to create a joint EHRN and Knowledge Hub logo to be used wherever the two were introduced simultaneously. In documents, like the EHRN website, where the dual language logo appears at the header of every page, the Knowledge Hub branding appears separately (either in its own dual language form, or in English or Russian only). As with the main EHRN logos, the heart is central to the program identities— wherever EHRN branding appears, the heart is present in some form.
The main goal of the website was to identify a clear structure that is flexible for the future and one that reflects the organizational structure and initiatives of EHRN. The first stage of the process required Parsons Fellows Roraback to go through the existing site and reorganize the jumbled navigation. From there, the lists were organized into sections by theme. EHRN emphasized they wanted the website structure to make the distinction between organizational structure and harm reduction efforts, so two maps were created for possible website structures.
EHRN Executive Director emphasized the need to develop a two-tiered navigational structure. The first tier of navigation included the headings Priorities, Region, and Actions on the left, with organizational links on the right. Below held a space for news and social media links, and below that, the second tier of navigation, organized by the three groups within EHRN: Research and Information, Policy and Advocacy, and Technical Support. That tier started with sections of the website (such as country profiles, library, Harm Reduction Knowledge Hub, etc.) which auto-populate with links to relevant content whenever the primary navigation is selected. This allowed users a way into the sections of the site and specific pages, based on thematic interests.
In addition, an interactive online map was used in the website as a portal to country and subregional profiles, which would create an intuitive experience that is easy for users to navigate. Each subregion was displayed with a different value of the same blue hue. On mouse hover, the individual countries are highlighted in gray and a label is added, and in orange (complement to the blue) with an informational window on click. Within the informational window, the user gets a brief peak at the country profile, plus a link to the full country profile and full subregional profile. Similarly, buttons were created for each subregion. When the mouse hovers over a button, the associated subregion is highlighted in gray, and on click it is highlighted in orange. Google maps was used as the platform for the map.
A variety of templates were created for EHRN documents that had a unified visual identity and were simple and flexible enough to be used for a range of situations. All documents used Open Sans, a free Google Web font, which is available for free download, and for free embedding in the EHRN website. Therefore all EHRN publications on and offline would have the same look. Open Sans has twelve different variants, so there are plenty of options to create visual variety.
- In most documents, the dual language logo appears in the upper left corner of the page. This makes it the first thing that a person sees when reading a document produced by EHRN, be it a letter, a press release, report, or newsletter. Placing the logo on one side (rather than centered) gives the page (and by extension, the organization) a dynamic sense to their identity.
- EHRN business cards also feature the dual language logo on both the Russian and English sides, emphasizing the meeting of cultures, countries, and languages.
- Powerpoint: The template is based on the design originally produced for the EHRN website, which matched a specific request by EHRN. More website options and the PowerPoint template will change to match the look/feel of the new design.
The goal was to create guidelines for future designs so that everything produced by EHRN fits within a single corporate identity and that the guidelines were clear and simple enough to be followed by EHRN staff members. Parsons Fellows Roraback was inspired by The New School style guide and with modifications informed EHRN's guides. EHRN initially agreed that grammar (covered in one sample guide) would not be part of the style guide that was create. As existing documents were persuade, however it was discovered that certain rules must be included if EHRN is to present a consistent professional image in its publications. Once the logo was settled, Roraback began to create guidelines for its use. Likewise, as template documents have been produced, they have been added to the guide.
The Real Cost of HCV Website
Parsons Fellows Roraback was tasked to brainstorm a campaign branding that would be flexible enough to encompass a range of efforts around price reduction of Hepatitis C treatment, develop a concept for a website that would be the public face to the campaign and spread awareness of the challenges with HCV pricing. The original plan had been for the price reduction campaign to be a joint effort between EHRN and the HIV/ AIDS Alliance in Kiev, Ukraine, but it was impossible as the Alliance was focused on basic awareness of HCV as a health concern, while EHRN was focused on price reduction, something that the Alliance was not addressing in their work.
DIscussions with another Parsons Fellows Ben Norskov ignited a clever “Do you C” campaign around awareness. Yet the idea lacked a price component as part of the identity. Suggestions to call the campaign “The Cost of HCV” or “The Real Cost of HCV” were recommended and the idea to structure the campaign based on stories of individuals, of society or the larger problem, and of the urgent need for action was further developed. The idea to base the HCV awareness campaign on a website which explores what President Obama's administration has accomplished was suggested by Parsons Fellows Norskov. The site is essentially a slide show with one fact, randomly displayed, and a button to continue to the another slide. The same kind of interface would be used with personal stories, facts, and statistics to build a story around “The Real Cost of HCV.”
The Eurasian Harm Reduction Network (EHRN)
The mission of EHRN is to support, develop, and advocate for harm reduction approaches in the field of drugs, HIV /AIDS, public health, and social acceptance by following the principles of humanism, tolerance, partnership, and respect for human rights and freedoms. Its strategic goal is to reduce drug-related harm, including the transmission of HIV/ AIDS and other blood-borne diseases, through facilitating the use of less repressive and non-discriminative policies with respect to drug users and other vulnerable groups and populations, including prisoners, people living with HIV, and sex workers.
Kenneth Roraback is an interaction designer and developer in New York City. With a background in physics and theater—and many topics in between—he enjoys balancing creative and analytical challenges in projects in web, video, and mobile design. He holds an MFA in Design and Technology from Parsons, the New School for Design.