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Redesign Ask Izzy for the needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

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Ask Izzy - Designed for Infoxchange, funded by Google

Brief
Improve the current Ask Izzy experience for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island people while not excluding the broader community.

Outcome
A new inclusive visual identity and user experience that caters to the cultural sensitives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and families are extremely close so it's often difficult to talk to other people about personal health matters fearing others may find out. Younger generations turn to the elders for advice and when they're not available they often turn to the internet for help.

After the successful launch of the Ask Izzy app in 2015, user data collected from a pilot program uncovered that the current look and feel wasn’t appealing to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, who made up 1/4 of the users. The Ask Izzy app needed to feel more inclusive to address some of these problems.

Creating a culturally sensitive design

Before our user research we attended cultural competency training to learn about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. There are specific issues, beliefs and conversational etiquette we needed to be aware of before engaging in conversation. 

This training helped us when visited Aboriginal community centres and events across the state. Speaking to the local elders, employees and visitors about what's important to them when it comes to finding health resources online. 

We discovered certain services offered on Ask Izzy are much more important to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. These included services with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander liaison officers but also less common services such as spiritual healing or just a place to hangout and have a yarn. It was important to highlight these services in the Ask Izzy redesign.

 Rainbow serpent represents bringing everyone together. Foyer of the Victorian Aboriginal Health Service Centre in Fitzroy.

Rainbow serpent represents bringing everyone together. Foyer of the Victorian Aboriginal Health Service Centre in Fitzroy.

Collaborating with an Aboriginal artist and designer

To create the new brand identity which also needed to speak to an indigenous audience we worked alongside one of Australia's most recognised Aboriginal graphic designers and artists Marcus Lee. Marcus has worked with Australia Post and Reconcilication Australia to develop brands with a modern twist. His experience meant we could confidently make changes to the Ask Izzy design while being culturally sensitive. 

 Marc from Navy exploring different design directions

Marc from Navy exploring different design directions

Testing design concepts early

Coming up with a new visual brand for Ask Izzy proved to be tricky, so it was important to validate our design concepts early. We held small focus groups to test patterns, colours and symbols. Interestingly people were instantly drawn to more traditional patterns and motifs but were also mindful that other users may feel left out. Most people preferred a non-traditional look and feel.

I think it’s more appealing, friendlier, not just for a specialist group. We try to reach out to other communities. Stands out to everyone, not just a certain culture – Aunty Jo

 4 design directions we tested in focus groups and the feedback collected from each group.

4 design directions we tested in focus groups and the feedback collected from each group.

An app that makes everyone feel included

After the initial research it was clear that the brand needed to be friendlier and more inviting. People preferred the design concepts containing symbols they could relate to much more than traditional patterns and motifs. Wording also needed to be simplified and icons were made clearer and more colourful to cater for low literacy users. We also used flags to highlight Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander specific services in the search results. 

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It was important that the final brand told a story users could relate to and help build trust. The new colour palette draws heavily from Australian rural and urban landscapes. Certain shapes are inspired by traditional Aboriginal artworks but not in an obvious manner. The illustrations are inspired by the personal life stories of Ask Izzy users such as hands held out offering help. The final concepts were also designed in a way that they could be tiled together to tell an entirely new story. 

The Ask Izzy redesign was received with an overwhelming positive community response. 

“The brown hand – that’s really good, really cool. It’s an honest recognition that not everyone’s white. It’s real inclusion without going overboard. I think ‘Oh, cool – blackfellas’. The designer did that with respect”

More importantly Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander people were able to find the specific services and resources they required much faster, while feeling like Ask Izzy was an app that welcomed everybody.

Navy Design acknowledges the traditional custodians of the land and pays respect to Elders both past and present.


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