The final day of Webinale kicked off this morning with an inspiring keynote speech by Sarah Drummond, co-founder of Scottish design agency Snook. With clients that include the Scottish Government, the NHS and the British Council, her consulting business is changing public policy through clear, concise and effective ideas driven by good design.
Sarah’s opening lines described the first task she was presented with at University – the redesign of the standard coat hanger. She admits it was not quite the adventurous, exciting project she had anticipated, however, the assignment taught Sarah that she could transform something mundane and functional into a unique product.
„It is our responsibility to support the next generation.“
After learning that one in ten scottish teenagers suffer from mental illness and one in twelve have reported self harm, Sarah was inspired to design tools to support young people with mental health issues. Sarah worked closely with young adults in Scotland and reported back to policy makers and government officials to create projects such as Badge Maker, wegot99.com and Button Wall.
Project 99 is for young adults between the ages of 15-21 and explores the potential of the internet and social media in promoting mental health. Snook also created a platform for users with mental health issues called Button Wall, which allowed users to track their highs and lows through colour and pictures.
Making the internet a positive place
Drummond also described working on a social app called Cat Butler, which was crafted to provide a filter for users who are prone to angry updates, which might have lasting, critical effects on their friendships and online interactions. The extremely polite cat butler asks users if they want to go ahead with an angry post and if so, it offers a polite alternative.
Sarah explained that she is simply listening to the the needs and wants of the young people in Scotland and helping them to express themselves in the most constructive possible way.
This is what happens when I go out for a pint and say ‚Wouldn’t it be good if…‘
Snook’s success is due the drive and speed at which its co-founders respond to real-life situations with intelligent, clear solutions. An incident in which a friend’s house was burgled sparked an idea which resulted in MyPolice, an online feedback tool enabling the public to converse with the police in the UK. Following a trial period in Tayside in Scotland, it has already collected attention from the BBC and Channel 4.
‚Make it beautiful and we will come‘
In the words of a 17 year-old speaking to the NHS about their plans for online health campaign, Drummond also told her audience where public sector still needs to improve its online presence. Badly designed government websites create a distance between the public and the authorities. Snook strives to combat this by designing accessible, informative, easy-to-use websites, while also campaigning for ‚plain English‘.
Sarah’s message was underlined by a fresh and bright slide show presentation with nice fonts, highlighting the power and effectiveness of clutter-free, simple design that does not complicate our lives, but makes them easier. Her closing remarks summarised her approach to innovation.
„Technology is only the enabler. This is about the people.“