Who are the clients? What do they want?

After meeting Vicky Hiscocks, the Head of Active Ageing at Derwen, I now feel that I understand a lot more about who I am designing for and what they want.

Our client is a dedicated older persons housing association called Derwen. Overall, they provide affordable homes to older people on low incomes. They currently already provide over 158,000 homes in Wales, which is about 10% of the Welsh population. They provide over 800 apartments, bungalows and houses, across Newport, Monmouthshire and Caerphilly.

Derwen logo

Derwen are currently in the middle of developing a brand new development at the Gaer, in Newport – it’s situated right inside the existing bungalow development at the Gaer. Due to be finished at the end of Autumn this year, the Gaer will include 39 apartments, a communal hub, an outside terrace and landscaped gardens.

Derwen’s key ethos is Active Ageing.

What is Active Ageing?

No, it’s not older people doing zumba classes and yoga.

The most simple definition that Vicky used during her presentation is that:

Active Ageing is extending healthy life expectancy and quality of life.”

It can also be described as being:

  • the process of optimising opportunities for health, participation and security, in order to enhance quality of life as people age; or
  • continuing participation in social, economic, cultural, spiritual and civic affair, not just the ability to be physically active.

Vicky also gave us an idea on who are client group is so that we can better understand who our target audience is. Some points on the resident living at Derwen, include:

  • Age range: 55-98 years old (32% are aged 80+)
  • Span 2-3 generations
  • Generally on low incomes
  • Some are still working
  • Both couples and single people (75% of residents live alone)
  • 68% have mobility problems or a long term illness
  • A range of different interests, life experiences and skills

The last bullet point in the list above stands out to me most. I think it’s important to keep in mind that these older people are just like the rest of us, in the way that they are all different and individual, each with their own unique personality and traits. I intend to keep this in mind when it comes to the next few stages of this project.

What the target audience want:

  • To be seen as a resource
  • To have meaningful activities, where skills can be shared
  • To get out and about to see their friends and family (25% of the residents say they only see family, friends or carers, once a week or less)
  • To have companions and happy relationships
  • To have good health, both physical and mental
  • To feel secure and safe
  • To have warm, friendly and well-suited living arrangements
  • Not to be patronised or treated as passive recipients

Active Ageing priorities:

  • Understanding residents (as individuals)
  • Increasing health and wellbeing, reducing loneliness and isolation
  • Embedding active ageing principles across all of their services
  • Evidencing our impact on quality of life
  • Learning, testing, innovating, leading

Derwen’s vision for the new development:

  • A place which maximises independence for the residents.
  • Real opportunities to engage with other residents and the wider community.
  • A development which enhances the existing community at the Gaer.
  • Lots of good quality outdoor space to help avoid isolation and promote good health.
  • A flexible and high standard communal space which will provide a welcoming, central, vibrant focal point for residents and the wider Gaer community.

Things to Consider

Amanda Protheroe from the Cardiff School of Health Sciences, who we will be working with us alongside Derwen during this project, visited us in the studio this week to talk to us.

Her talk really made me think more from the older peoples’ point of view and encouraged me to go away and carry out some further research of my own into how older people might perceive or interpret things.

Two key pieces of data have really stuck in my mind from Amanda’s presentation. The first of which is: 64% of older people have a visual impairment; and the other is: 20% (and rising) of 75+ year-olds have some form of dementia. Because these two stuck out to me so much, I have looked further into what it is like to have an eyesight condition or dementia.

Common eyesight difficulties and problems:

  • Steady decline in vision, particularly for those who are 50+ years old.
  • Glare sensitivity.
  • Dim light or too much light can make it difficult to see/read.
  • Slower adaption to changes in light levels.
  • Colour and depth perception is not as good.
  • Way finding is harder.
  • Sight loss is a major factor contributing to falls and accidents.

Cataract visionmacular degeneration visionGlaucoma visionDiabetic retinopathy vision

Common dementia difficulties and problems:

  • Interpreting shadows or dark areas as holes in the ground.
  • Interpreting shiny surfaces as being wet.
  • Interpreting bold or busy patterns as being moving objects.
  • Struggling to find their way to somewhere (e.g. toilet).

Thinking about these issues that older people may have, I can use different techniques to avoid the potential problems when doing my own ideation and designing. I need to put myself in their (the older peoples’) shoes and experience it as if I am them, and not a young adult.

Things to think about:

  • Using good colour contrast will definitely be effective as it will make things more easy and clear to see.
  • Any print should be large enough to read – nothing below 16 pt for body text.
  • Use effective lighting to reduce shadows, glare and reflections – natural light is the best.
  • Good signage will enable independence, confidence and better wellbeing among the older people – iconography/imagery could work well alongside print.
  • Artworks can encourage engagement and also help older people find their war around – they can use them like landmarks.
  • Avoid distractions.

Today’s Take-Aways

Yes, I’m writing about take-aways, but no not the food kind of take-aways… unfortunately.


Today, the key take-away that has stuck in my head is the idea of point of view.

Neil did a workshop with us in which we were split into small groups to discuss the question:

“Is it better to kill a cat or a dog?”

In our group, it was obvious that the majority of the group were on the dogs’ side which was unsurprising as dogs are generally the preferred pet by most. According to a poll carried out by The Telegraph, 56% of people said that they were a dog person rather than a cat person – surprise, surprise. Of course, I was on the cats’ side.

Personally I feel that the answer to the question completely depends on a load of different circumstances. I would say that it depends on:

  • the individual cat’s/dog’s temperament or nature – for example, if the dog was aggressive, vicious or dangerous, then it would be to better to kill the dog.
  • the individual cat’s/dog’s wellness – for example, if the cat was very ill and close to death already, then maybe it’s better to put the cat out of it’s misery.
  • the ‘killer’s’ personal opinion – whether they are a cat lover or a dog lover.

Of course, the other way of looking at the question is finding another option entirely, like, killing neither the cat or the dog.

This workshop has made me realise that I can use this cats vs. dogs question when doing my designing. When I am designing, rather than thinking about only my own point of view, I need to think about the audience’s point of view and how they would perceive the design.

For example, for this Design for Real project, our audience will be older people, so rather than seeing my design work from my own point of view, a younger person’s, I need to try and look at it from the older persons’ point of view instead. I can ask myself: how would it make them feel? what will they understand from it? etc.

Work Like You’re Sunshine

“Brands start on the inside with humans, and are ultimately delivered on the outside to humans.” (Interbrand)

In Neil’s workshop, he told us the story of The North Wind and the Sun.

Both the North Wind and the Sun were arguing over who was the stronger. When a traveller came along wearing a warm coat, they agreed that whoever was the first to make the traveller take his coat off, was the strongest.

First the North Wind blew as hard as he could, but the more he blew, the tighter the traveller held his coat around him, so the North Wind gave up. Next it was the Sun’s turn. The Sun shined out warmly and the traveller immediately took off his coat. The North Wind had to admit that the Sun was the stronger of the two of them.

After hearing the story, we were asked to think about what the meaning of this story was to us. We wrote down words which described the attitude of both the North Wind and the Sun in the story.

North Wind:

  • confident, arrogent?
  • pushy
  • threat, fear, force
  • command, coercion, control


  • calm, gentle, relaxing
  • positive
  • persuasive
  • care, compassion, considerate, kind

The North Wind sees the traveller as a challenge, whereas the Sun sees the traveller as a person. In the story, the North Wind and the Sun represent designers, and the traveller represents the audience. Currently, in the design industry, design thinking seems to follow the North Wind’s attitude, but future-facing design is to use the Sun’s attitude. The Sun has a much more empathetic approach.

For this project, I think that understanding empathy and how it relates to the clients and my response to client needs, is really important. I will definitely be taking the Sun approach in my design work from now on.

Trip to Zenith Media

Today I spent the morning on trip with some of my peers and Ian at Zenith Media’s, Print and Packaging plant in Pontypridd.

We were showed around the plant by Alun Phillips, the Business Development Manager there, who knew Zenith Media inside and out. We started the day with a short introductory presentation given by Alun and we were then taken and shown around the whole plant, before being spoilt to lunch. After taking lots of photographs and some films from our trip to Zenith Media, I put together a short montage of the clips.

One of my favourite parts of the trip was that there was just printed paper absolutely everywhere. Wherever you looked there were stacks and stacks of paper, some almost as high as the roof, in every direction. It was great to see the companies that they worked alongside: everybody from small independent book publishers, to big car companies – they even print the prospectus for Cardiff Metropolitan University and we even spotted a sneak peak stack of the prospectus’ for this year, ready for dispatch. The cover of the Cardiff Met prospectus was navy blue with a maze-like pattern printed in a pink holographic foil effect for extra detail and a quality feeling (image below).

It was great to see the huge variety of printing processes that they could carry out in one place all at Zenith Print and Packaging. They had several rotogravure printing machines which are commonly used for high-volume printing due to their ability to produce high quality results rapidly and are great for long runs. It was great to see the machines in work and producing prints – it was incredible to see how rapidly everything moved. There was machines of all different kinds in the plant – some of my particular favourites were the ones that added special effects to prints, such as spot UV coating which creates a shiny, varnish effect which looks brilliant on practically any print (image above). Alun’s enthusiasm for the printing industry was contagious. He proved to us that you can print onto any material at all of any thickness, from paper, to wood, to metal. At Zenith, he says that they often even print onto fabrics to create cotton banners, etc.

Overall, it was great to visit Zenith Print and Packaging – it has helped me realise that it is not only digital design that I cold go into in the future, I can also take the more hands on route of printing. It reminded me just how great of a degree that I am taking because their are so many potential pathways that I could take after graduating. Alun even added that if we were ever interested in carrying out some work experience with them in Zenith, that we were very welcome. I feel that we have all made a great contact with Zenith Media by visiting them.

Digital Me – Finishing Touches

Our final deadline for the Digital Me project is on Tuesday so I am just adding the final finishing touches to all of my submissions before then.

I am feeling confident with the way I am heading and I have not got a lot to do before handing in my finished work for the deadline on Tuesday. I have completed my Research and Development PDF for Persuasion and am currently finishing off the one for Penguin. I have already got a Research and Development PDF for branding that I created last year after completing the Brandworld project, so I have just got to add and change this one accordingly to my further development since then and my newer final outcomes.

For the finishing touches of my CV, online portfolio, PDF portfolio, I have edited some details to add to the overall final look of the finished pieces. After a tutorial with Neil, we spoke about how underlining titles, historically, was not considered needed after ‘bold‘ was invented. Although I have decided against using the bold version of Playfair Display as I think it ruins the beauty of the contrast between the thick and thin lines in the lettering of the typeface, I have removed the underlines of the titles and the overall look of the CV is much cleaner without them. I have done the same thing on my PDF portfolio by removing the underlines of the titles. Removing these underlines have actually added to the consistency of my overall project, because I noticed that the website does not have underlined titles. There is enough definition between the title and the body text because they are different typefaces – the title is serif and the body text is sans serif, the title is in orange and the body text is black, and there is also a big size difference between the two.

To match the removal of all my title underlines, I have edited my ‘I’m Amber‘ logo slightly as well. I have removed the underline below the text, but kept the line above as the image of me is sat, resting on it. I have adjusted the weight of the upper line to make up for it’s staying though.

Digital Me – Further Development

Since last week, I have made small developments to all three of my main pieces: the CV, the online portfolio and the PDF portfolio.

In the PDF portfolio, I have added in the text and the images to each of the project pages, although one or two are still missing that I want to add in. I have made sure that they are the same images used in my online portfolio and that the brief and solution are the same too. I have added in navigation buttons on every project so that you can flick through the projects using arrow buttons and also return back to the home page. After a tutorial, I have increased the text size by 1 or 2 points because it was suggested that it was perhaps just a little too small. At the the end of my portfolio, I have added an extra page which is a ‘Contact’ page and also has an ‘About Me’ paragraph, similar to the CV.

For the CV, I have added in work experience and also written the ‘About Me’ section. Like the PDF portfolio, I have developed my CV so that it is now interactive too. It has icons which link to my social media profiles: Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn. I decided to exclude Facebook because my account is a personal one and I think it is important to keep my CV purely professional and not mix up my personal life with work. I have also added a link to my online portfolio so that employers looking at my CV can get to my work with one easy click.

On my online portfolio, I have gone ahead and removed the ‘Home’ page as I decided that it was not needed – my online portfolio now opens simply with the text saying, “Hello and Welcome!…“. After originally arranging the images on each of the project pages one after each other in a straight line as individual images down the page. I have now arranged them in a more designed layout (image below: I have taken a screenshot from one of the project pages as an example). I have also spread ‘The Solution’ paragraph between these images because I felt that there was too much text to begin with at the top of each project.

screenshot - project layout.png

My next steps are to move on to beginning the Research and Development PDFs for my Subject projects: Persuasion, Penguin and Branding.