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ROBERT WOOD JOHNSON FOUNDATION

Forging a Data-Driven Path Towards Childhood Health

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PROJECT

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation is the largest philanthropic organization in the US dedicated to health and healthcare. In 2019, the Foundation sought to pivot one of it's pillar initiatives, The State of Obesity, to the State of Childhood Obesity, to focus specifically on public policy, community environments, and industry practices related to healthier choices for kids and families.

Along with the new brand direction, the redesigned site prioritizes best-available data, synthesizes expert insights and the Foundation's recommendations regarding key policies and programs, and highlights stories of action from across the country.

The Robert Wood Johnshon Foundation is the largest philanthropic organization in the US dedicated to health and health care. In 2019, the Foundation sought to pivot one of it's pillar initiatives, The State of Obesity, to the State of Childhood Obesity, to focus specifically on public policy, community environments, and industry practices related to healthier choices for kids and families.

Along with the new brand direction, the redesigned site prioritizes best-available data, synthesizes expert insights and the Foundation's recommendations regarding key policies and programs, and highlights stories of action from across the country.

ROLE

Design Director

AGENCY

Blenderbox

SEE IT LIVE

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A New Brand Direction

The rebranding portion of the project was a rapid design exercise lead by the directive to create a text-only logo, in the same vein as the previous initiative, and to soften the overall style to make the content feel welcoming to audiences beyond data experts and policy makers.

A more refined and balanced sans serif typeface was chosen and set in all uppercase to emphasize the seriousness of the obesity epidemic. As well, a circular element that sometimes accompanied the previous logo was repurposed as a period added to the end of the mark, both to reflect the authority of the Foundation as a thought-leader in the field, and to reinforce the irrefutable effectiveness of evidence-based policy making. This shape was also extrapolated as a supporting design element.

The new logo is additionally supported by: a serif font, lending credence to tone; a more tempered, less clinical palette and; subtle drop shadows and rounded edges, to imply shape and depth.

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Compelling Content Strategy

To address the goal of appealing to wider audiences, along with the visual brand redesign we also needed to establish a new, more colloquial overall tone for the site and its content. One way we did this was to make additional space for compelling narratives that demonstrate the positive effects that data-based policy changes have in communities. We work closely with our content partner Burness—who are integral in producing these original assets—and elevate these images, videos, and stories alongside relevant data, across the site.

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You can listen to Max and Catherine's story here.

Data Stories

Data is the bread-and-butter of this initiative and so it is on the website as well. The site compiles the latest and best-available data from sources like the CDC, USDA, and the National Institute of Health (among many others) into robust visualizations built using D3.js and injected into our Wordpress templates. By synthesizing these dispersed data points, the site is able to provide a fuller, more comprehensive story of childhood health and the factors affecting it, across the nation.

These key data stories are leveraged by policy makers, Hill staff, advocacy groups, and the media, to influence and support policy changes at the state and national level.

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Accessibility and SEO

For a project dedicated to promoting health equity, we would be remiss to exclude accessibility from the list of priorities, so from the beginning of the project it was top-of-mind. We partnered with accessibility testing consultants Ultranauts to identify areas of the site that needed improvement and roadmapped that work alongside the new fully WCAG 2.0 AA compliant elements we introduced as part of our redesign. This remains ongoing work as we continue to update legacy pages of the site.

One benefit (among many) of a compliant site is that accessible design standards like page hierarchy, metadata, and image alt-tags also improve SEO. So, to leverage this opportunity, our UX team also organized an SEO strategy informed by a competitive analysis of industry-vertical keyword usage across comparable sites and digital resources.

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Design System

As the original site was built on Wordpress, part of our redesign work focused on taking advantage of the flexibility of Gutenberg to provide our client with the tools they need to build out the pages surrounding the data. A suite of 6 plugins were created and we also efficiently leveraged the Wordpress developer community for a few additionally functional plugins like lightbox slideshows, a before/after slider, and in-page jump menus. All are built (as necessary) and styled according to a master guide and component library that is maintained in Sketch.

Having a solid design system that is applied consistently allowed us to build extra flexibility into these plugins—like optional fields, editable background and text colors, and left/right alignment options—without sacrificing design integrity. This provides a wide range of control to content admins, for populating the site as needed.

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Impact and Ongoing Partnership

In just the first three weeks of the new initiative launch in the Fall of 2019, the site garnered 130k+ views, and since launch numbers like bounce rate (down 23%) and page session time (up 25%) have been improving steadily as we continue to build onto the site.

We've also introduced a steady stream of additions to the site since launch, including: A special School Meals advocacy campaign with targeted social media ad rollout, urging constituents to take action and oppose the USDA's proposal to reverse existing healthy standards for school breakfasts and lunches; targeted redesigns of key data interactives including the introduction of a comprehensive nation-wide data interactive for childhood nutrition, and; a unique template and navigation system for quarterly whitepaper-like special reports dedicated to deep-dive explorations of specific topic areas like Sugary Drinks and Clean Drinking Water.

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