Swedwatch is an organisation reporting on Swedish business relations in low wage countries. SthlmConnection has redesigned their website and added a brand new educational section with exercises based on research conducted by the organisation.
The redesign of the website was done in close collaboration to our dear friend and renowned art director, Anders Birgersson. Swedwatch contacted Anders last year asking him to help out with a rebranding of the organisation.
The rebranding was a strategic move due to the fact that Swedwatch has gone from being almost completely funded by SIDA (Swedish International Development Agency) to being more reliant on financing through commissions from clients. Hence, they asked for a more modern and attractive website which better promotes the outcomes of their research and more clearly explains what kind of work they do for prospective clients.
Redesigning for a new market
Swedwatch wants to stand out as a serious organisation with an edge, something that we had in mind when redesigning and restructuring the website. The aim was for the website to come forward as the obvious source of information for Swedish CSR research and for the front page to be frequently updated with high quality information.
The resulting design is rather strict with blocks of blue and images that draw the attention of the eye. The front page is dominated by a feed of reports – the backbone of the organisation – which is accompanied by notices of current events, an external RSS feed of CSR news, a teaser for Swedwatch's video productions and a newsletter signup form. The final look and feel is one of a modern organisation with expertise knowledge and the guts to highlight the rights and wrongs of Swedish business in low wage countries.
Reaching out to schools
The educational section, Skolan i världen (The School in the World), is a collection of exercises based on three of Swedwatch's reports. The target audience is teachers teaching students aged 16 to 19 within the areas of human rights, environmental issues and corporate responsibility.
We wanted this section to differ from the strict design of the main site. Here, we wanted the design to stimulate creativity and for it to feel inviting for teachers to explore deeper into each report topic. In achieving this, we collaborated with another dear friend, talented illustrator Eva Thimgren. She illustrated each report and also made a main illustration on how consumption in the richer parts of the world relates to the working conditions in low wage countries.
The result is an educational section sparkling with energy which instantly provokes a lot of questions and encourages the visitor to learn more.
Clever Drupal solutions
On a more technical note, we'll take this opportunity to mention a couple of the methods we used in implementing the site in Drupal. Although using a rather straightforward structure, the website offered a few technical challenges.
Using views in node displays
Something we made heavy use of was the use of views in node displays. Being the standard tool for making lists of Drupal objects, such as nodes, Views can also be used in lots of other, not-so-obvious, ways. For example, each page node on swedwatch.org has a field group with "related content". This content was to be displayed in the right sidebar, and we were able to solve this quite easily by hiding this content in the node field display settings and instead showing it as a view block, taking the node id as an argument. See, for example, the related content in the right sidebar on the makeITfair campaign page. We also practiced this method in the exercises. See, for example, Toys: A witness account where the two columns in the content area are displayed as a view. This gave us the possibility of adjusting labels and classes in a more flexible way than the standard node display could offer.
This method works as a kind of "poor man's Panels", being very flexible while sticking to standard Drupal building blocks, and avoiding adding the extra overhead of additional modules.
Exportables and version control
Each time we come back to update a site where we have used so called exportables we draw a sigh of relief. On www.swedwatch.org we are making use of exportable contexts, views and imagecache settings. If anything needs changing, we just make adjustments to the settings and test it locally until it looks good, commit the exported settings to our repository and update the production site. Version control gives us the security of being able to go back to previous settings if needed and exportables gives us the control of only updating settings variables in the database without touching the content.