Case study: Forest Compass
The Forest Compass website and logo
About the client
The Global Canopy Programme (GCP) is an Oxford-based tropical forest think tank who aims to safeguard tropical forests and promote a carbon neutral economy.
The Forest Compass project was initiated by GCP in order to develop an open knowledge platform on community-based forest monitoring around the world, to facilitate dialogues on best-practice, and to curate and develop tools for communities, practitioners and policymakers.
Our task was to design and develop a website to showcase the project and engage with the key stakeholders which are forest communities involved, decision-makers in government and those in the field. Also, the site needed to work well specifically on mobile devices, and in countries where low-bandwidth is an issue.
The first step was to work closely with the Forest Compass team to develop user stories which identify the needs of the key audiences for the site. Going through this process brings to light any existing preconceptions which may exist about the potential users of the site, and ensures that all future decisions regarding the site design are speaking to the right people.
Next, we went through extensive sketching and wireframing sessions with the team in order to reveal, clarify and prioritise key site content areas. These exercises help to bring together the various strands of information which then go on to inform the information architecture and structure of the site.
The next step was to think about the information architecture within the context of the project messaging. To achieve this, we facilitated card-sorting exercises with the team and other potential users which resulted in a simple navigation system based around three core questions – Why, How? and Who?
The Forest Compass team felt that the visual design needed to speak most strongly to the communities on the ground collecting the data. With this in mind, we began the process by developing a project logo which reflected the idea of location. It was also important to keep the site lean and functional in low-bandwidth areas so we kept the use of images down to a minimum and went for a clean, typographic approach to the content, using a simple colour palette and small splashes of texture.