Just Powers is a research group, based at the University of Alberta, that runs various energy-centred social justice initiatives focusing on feminist, decolonial, and anticapitalist perspectives. Recently, Just Powers needed an update to their website so that it could function as a more effective tool for users to both conduct and explore research in their field.
When Just Powers approached Kobot, they had a website that was out of date and made the subject matter almost impenetrable for audiences. As much as those working with Just Powers are subject matter experts, they needed a website to represent them as well in the digital sphere as they represent themselves in the academic sphere.
- The Challenge Simplifying the site: Both the subject matter and the website itself had many layers that made navigation overly complicated. This resulted in no one, either the administrators or the audience, being able to get what they needed from the website.
- The Solution We dedicated significant focus to being strategic about every aspect of the website. We wanted to be as transparent and succinct as possible, without losing any of the nuance that Just Powers carefully puts into all of their research.
- The Results A website that is accessible in multiple ways. The navigation and design are clear—guiding audiences through the website, and helping make high-level academic concepts feel less intimidating. The information architecture and content serve to welcome the uninitiated, without glossing over the more in-depth work.
We created an information gradient
As an academic project, Just Powers presents many concepts which might be difficult for the laypeople to understand. One of our goals was to find a way to make the content of the website more accessible for everyone, without losing value for the intended (academic) audience. We proposed an approach that we called an information gradient, wherein each page began with a clear and simple question and introductory paragraph and became progressively more academic as you read along. This way, non-academics gain a high-level understanding of the concepts, but Just Powers is also able to dive deep into presenting their work.
Their expert programmer, content strategist, and designers worked diligently to transform our project website and made it both more accessible to diverse audiences and more user-friendly for our own team to update and modify as our projects change and grow.
Jessie Beier Just Powers
We used the softer side of illustration
Just Powers is a project examining energy transition through feminist and de-colonial lenses. Using this style that is less representational means that it looks less like they’re highlighting a specific group (or not highlighting a particular group), and leans more towards the inclusivity that is the goal. As well, the softer style grounded the text with visual elements, and made the feel of the website less clinical and intimidating.
We took the technical side in stride
On a technical level, this project is inextricably linked with the University of Alberta’s French campus—Campus St. Jean. This meant that most, if not all, of the website needed to be bilingual. We had to ensure a tight content creation schedule in order to schedule the build of other parts of the website while translations were completed. But most importantly, this element was about building the best possible bilingual functionality. We built a website where administrators could easily create pages that mirrored each other in both languages, and website users could toggle cleanly between languages.
The Kobot team really listened to us to determine our needs and how best to support our multi-faceted project; they went above and beyond to learn about the key themes and issues underlying our project, while drawing on their own expertise to bring our project site to life!
Jessie Beier Just Powers
Our work on the Just Powers website proves our commitment to letting the strategy guide the work. At the start of the project, we set out to create a site that would communicate Just Powers’ work and mission clearly, and function as a tool to engage their audiences. We let these goals inform each decision we made in the design, the content, and the build of the site, and it shows in the quality of the final product.
Visit Just Powers