Designing for a kinder world with Animals Australia.
A system to inspire global advocacy for real and lasting change.
Every day, all around the world, newborn dairy calves are taken from their protective mothers and sent to slaughterhouses; bewildered and only days old. Factory-farmed chickens rise to a false dawn of harsh, halogen lighting. Thousands of sheep—wide-eyed, scared and disoriented—file onto torrid live export ships, crammed together in dangerous conditions to await a horrific fate.
The systems that treat animals as objects are inherently cruel. But there is always hope. By building a new series of systems—a robust and flexible design system, a best-in-breed content management system, a brand management system, a donor self-service system, and more—Animals Australia is equipped to shine a light on these atrocious, outdated practices, and advocate for a kinder world for all living beings.
- Non Profit
As Australia’s foremost animal protection agency, Animals Australia has a huge global following. However, over the course of two decades creating high-profile campaigns, microsites and investigations, their brand and digital ecosystem had become diluted. Their publishing systems were reliant on just a few people with unique skillsets; if those people were engaged in other high priority work, it was difficult to create new awareness campaigns for important advocacy actions.
Consolidate their many existing assets, while creating a set of versatile, scalable publishing tools to facilitate impactful stories, compelling campaigns, and rapid international advocacy efforts. These systems ensure the Animals Australia team can respond to global issues in real-time with powerful narratives. They can consolidate their strong rapport with existing supporters while connecting with new ones. And—ultimately—spread kindness throughout the world for all living beings.
Mass awareness of the awful realities that billions of animals are forced to endure every day. Education, enlightenment, and a fundamental shift in the inherited idea that animals only exist for food. And tangible, widespread reform across global sectors like live export, factory farming, sport, fashion, and many more.
BUILDING ON A PROUD AND MUCH-LOVED HISTORY
Animals Australia has cultivated a huge global following through high profile campaigns and international investigations.
While many of these ground-breaking activities are well known around the world—for example, world-first investigations into Australia’s live export industry, campaigns resulting in major food corporations rejecting cage eggs, or an exposé which sparked widespread reform in the greyhound industry—early research suggested few people recognised Animals Australia as the overarching force behind all of these initiatives.
This may be due to the prolific nature of past advocacy. Over time, the team had produced more than 2000+ different campaigns and content pieces. Many of these were created with distinctive sub-brands and unique visual styles. And many still delivered large amounts of traffic to the existing Animals Australia website.
For their next chapter, the team needed a new visual language and cohesive design system. This new aesthetic had to provide consistency, convey the maturity of Animals Australia as a leading force of advocacy, and flexibly accommodate the wide variety of critical stories they tell.
Working in close collaboration, our teams built a shared and thorough understanding of the best way forward. This involved connecting with different people from Animals Australia—from supporters to senior leadership—despite the challenges of the COVID pandemic.
Animals Australia’s goal is constant and singular:
create a kinder world for all living beings.
That said, Animals Australia represent millions of members and engage hundreds of millions of people around the world. Each with different perspectives and understandings of animal protection issues. To create something that resonates with everyone, we had to cater to a wide emotional spectrum.
‘Optimism sits at the heart of Animals Australia’s mission. At the same time though, you can’t convey the importance of their activity without acknowledging some confronting realities.’
As an organisation, they represent so many different things to so many people. Aesthetically, the design system has to flex and reflect that variability. Sometimes it’s celebratory; sometimes it needs a sombre tone. Sometimes it’s playful; sometimes it’s lobbying powerful entities for crucial legislative change. That adaptability was factored into every design decision.
— Bridget Noonan, Senior Digital Art Director
By creating a design system, we empower Animals Australia with flexible ‘building blocks’: scalable modular website components and guidelines for the implementation of those building blocks. Learn more about the value and role of design systems.
For Animals Australia, these building blocks had to exist at two different ends of a broad emotional spectrum…
THE DESIGN EMBODIES HOPE
Optimism, warmth, and kindness. Here's how:
Natural imagery Showing animals comfortable in their natural environment, with natural lighting and respectful interactions with people.
Spacious layouts Dynamic compositions offer plenty of ‘room to breathe’, while also ensuring we celebrate these beautiful animals.
Clean, conceptual icons Designed to visually reiterate the values of integrity, compassion, courage, innovation, inclusivity, and commitment.
A flexible colour palette A restrained and earthy set of tones allows us to shift between a ‘light’ style and a ‘dark’ style for more somber content.
THE DESIGN CAN ALSO BE MORE SOMBRE WHEN REQUIRED
Powerful, honest, and calling for change.
Gritty imagery In certain instances, there’s a need for photography that’s gritty, raw, and real. We cannot hide the difficult reality of what some animals endure.
Clear purpose and intent Prominent buttons and clear pathways allow people to get involved and ignite change.
Impactful storytelling Important stories are told through bold imagery and mixed media, including videos and long-form immersive editorial content.
Bold emphasis Clear hierarchy provides appropriate weighting on crucial issues, helping people find the content or cause that’s most important to them.
A HOME FOR ALL CREATIONS, GREAT AND SMALL
There are so many issues that impact animals: from horse racing and animal testing to deforestation and factory farming.
Animals Australia is active and prominent in advocating against all of these issues and many more. In addition to this breadth of focus, they’re also engaged in a wide variety of activity themselves: from television and mainstream media to lobbying and pure-play digital campaigns.
As a result, they need a versatile suite of publishing tools that accommodate these different tactics and content types, while still feeling part of a cohesive singular ecosystem. This includes the publishing of long-form editorial content, campaign pages with a singular focus to drive action, short-form ‘listicles’, impactful and emotive investigations, petitions for government MPs, pledges to encourage change at a personal/individual level, and more.
‘By approaching content through a modular framework—rather than with rigid templates—we give Animals Australia far more power and flexibility from a storytelling perspective.’
‘As a series of modular components and flexible ‘building blocks’—which can be applied in combination as necessary—the site is perfectly poised to scale, grow and evolve alongside Animal’s Australia’s trajectory as an organisation.
It’s all really intuitive too, which removes any reliance on developers or third-parties to build campaigns or content. In other words, the team is now able to respond faster, more compellingly, and with less resource requirement. In turn, this contributes to the incredible impact and awareness they create for animals on-the-ground, all around the world.’
— Elliott Grigg, Senior Content Strategist
Learn how it works:
A powerful voice, responding in real-time
Many animal issues warrant immediate attention. The system supports quick-fire publishing of news updates, so that Animals Australia can be active when events unfold.
Editorial conventions create a sense of urgency
As a publishing tool, the platform borrows aesthetic cues from the interface design of news media platforms. This contributes to a sense of both urgency and credibility.
But long-form stories are equally crucial
At the same time, deep-seated issues warrant detailed explanation. Through powerful storytelling, Animals Australia can highlight world-first investigations with appropriate weight and gravitas. The more we can engage people, the more we can incite a movement for kindness.
Flexibility and consistency
While each content ‘type’ is different in scope and objectives, they all draw from a pool of shared elements to tell stories in the most impactful way. This ensures we have flexibility for endless styles of content presentation, while maintaining a cohesive system where every story feels part of the same family.
While flexibility is important, too much can be stifling. In addition to building a powerful ecosystem for advocacy, we co-designed a series of guiding principles and practices for how the system is best used and maintained.
SYSTEM GOVERNANCE THROUGH GUIDANCE AND INSPIRATION
The Animals Australia brand—and the design system that helps to enact it—is a living thing.
It lives in the hearts of Animals Australia’s supporters. It helps to change minds and perceptions, and it spreads kindness throughout the world. Every day, the brand is brought to life by the Animals Australia team in the form of videos, website content, social media posts, eDMs, campaign materials, and more.
Like any living thing, the brand itself needs a habitat. We created a one-stop repository that explains the rationale behind the design aesthetic, offers practical examples to help people apply the brand in their daily roles, and acts as a source of inspiration.
CENSOR AND SENSITIVITY
While the mission is to spread kindness for all living beings, part of Animals Australia’s work involves some harrowing imagery the world needs to witness in order to move forward.
Animals Australia has a long and proud tradition of courageous kindness; we can’t create change without first acknowledging the horrific treatment of animals in many systems and industries. Inevitably, this acknowledgement involves exposure to some confronting concepts.
Throughout the site, we implement an ‘opt-in’ approach to this type of imagery and content. There are two methods for censoring confronting material: one appears as a top-of-page warning before people scroll deeper into the content (used for long-form material), and one where imagery is censored in full until a person clicks to reveal the content. It’s all about prioritising the emotional well-being of supporters and people using the site. Although it’s important to shine a light on horrible activities, we must be cautious of exposing people to the white-hot glare of animal cruelty by default.
Accessibility is key to the Animals Australia mission: both philosophically and technically. No one should feel alienated or judged, regardless of their understanding of animal issues. And everyone should have the same high-quality experience while exploring the site to improve that understanding.
AN EXPERIENCE FOR EVERYONE
To facilitate change, Animals Australia need to reach and connect with as many people as possible. People with all kinds of abilities and preferences for using digital products.
As a result, accessibility is paramount. For example, many of Animals Australia’s long-term supporters are slightly older, so building for people with different levels of vision is crucial.
Using a series of tools to thoroughly test for accessibility, we provisioned testing at the page level, as well as each individual module—or flexible building block—that constitutes the DNA of the entire site. Everything hits the AA level of accessibility in relation to the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG).
BUILDING HIGH PERFORMANCE FOR REAL-TIME ADVOCACY
Imagine a crisis impacting animals; a natural disaster. Animals Australia sends a message to ask for support, thousands of passionate supporters heed the call immediately—ready to spread kindness—and they rush to a website that… times out repeatedly.
When it comes to effective advocacy, it’s absolutely critical that Animals Australia can respond to events as they unfold in real-time. In certain situations, it’s all about capitalising on a moment: there’s little benefit in joining the conversation hours, days or weeks after the fact. Equally, when people are inspired and ready to act, the website needs to facilitate that action rapidly and reliably. Performance is everything.
‘Building a high-performance product is about using multiple accumulative techniques and technologies in a cohesive way.’
‘For example, some of the techniques we used throughout this project include HTTP/2’s multiplexing, which basically involves splitting page elements into smaller increments and only loading them as necessary.
— Maikel Daloo, Senior Interaction Engineer
Playing a role to support Animals Australia’s incredible global advocacy is reward enough.
That said, some kind people around the world have taken the time to acknowledge this work. We’re thankful for the positive feedback and enormously proud to be recognised as part of Animals Australia’s movement towards kindness. This project has been awarded by:
Head over to the new Animals Australia site now to understand the issues facing animals and find out what ‘creating a kinder world’ means to you.
Highly rewarding in more ways than one.
Playing a role to support Animals Australia’s incredible global advocacy is a huge reward in and of itself.
That said, some kind people around the world have taken the time to acknowledge this project. We’re thankful for the positive feedback and enormously proud to be recognised as part of Animal’s Australia’s movement towards kindness.
This work has been awarded by: