VisCom Project: Client and Goals

This post is part of the blog series that documents my design process of a Visual Communication class project.

To kick off this series, I am going to explain a little bit about the context: the “client” I am working on, a preliminary evaluation of the current visual system, as well as the communication & design goals.

The word client is wrapped in quotes because, well, they are not really our clients. These organizations do exist, but we’re not directly working with them. So yes—this will be one of those infamous “unsolicited redesign”. But hey, student project! We can focus on learning instead of stakeholder management. Such a bless, no?

The Client: Mission and Audience

That said, the “client” I am working on is The Alliance of Pioneer Square, a non-profit organization that works on Pioneer Square’s preservation and development. Pioneer Square is a richly historic place in Seattle that is claimed to be the city's “first neighborhood”.

Here’s the organization’s mission statement from the website:

The Alliance for Pioneer Square is a 501(c)(3) that works to help preserve what makes Pioneer Square the most authentic, engaging and dynamic neighborhood in Seattle. We do this by effectively implementing programs in the following areas: business development, communications and marketing, advocacy, public realm, and leadership.

The client’s target audience ranges wide in various types of neighborhood stakeholders.

The first type is those who directly work with or within the organization such as staff, board members, and current or prospective volunteers. The second type is those who live and breath Pioneer Square: business owners and the residents. The third type is those who have influences on the development of Pioneer Square in the public realm, such as elected officials and state/city staff.

The Alliance for Pioneer Square is active on multiple communication channels including websites, newsletter, and social media. For websites, the client maintains both and, with the former outward-facing and latter stakeholder-facing.

The Now: Present Visual System Evaluation

Given that there’s no consistent use of visual language across communication channels, I analyze the client’s current visual system primarily based on its website.


Typography: though not without its problem, the present choice of typefaces—Roboto Slab and Optima, is a good attempt to manifest Pioneer Square’s historical identity.

Logo: by repeating the bracket element, the current brand mark consciously fosters a connection between the organization and the Pioneer Square “master brand”.

Design language: the website is installed with a clean visual language without any excessive use of colors or types.

Imagery: the use of imagery is appropriate and effective. The photographs of Pioneer Square presented on the homepage and subpage are both of good quality.


Design language: there’s a lack of consistent and recognizable visual language that unites different communication channels. The downside of being too minimal is bland and flat.

Typography: Optima doesn’t work so well on running text. The high contrast in stroke weight undermines readability in long reading (especially with smaller type size of the body text).

Color: the current choice of accent color palette (violet) is too pop, running against the historic identity that the typography tries to convey.

Information Architecture: the home page doesn’t make clear client’s main services and offering, hiding important information in the aside column and relying too much on a complex navigation menu.

The Future: Communication & Design Goals

To make the visual system more effective, I propose three primary communication and design goals:

  • The visual system should have a distinctive voice that aligns with the positioning of the organization and the cultural identity of the neighborhood.
  • The visual system should prioritize clarity and accessibility in its information presentation, charting clear paths for a diverse set of stakeholders.
  • The visual system should cultivate a sense of trust, communicating the organization’s role as a credible and professional “neighborhood steward”.

That’s a wrap for now!