Exploring inclusive design in digital publishing

This spring term, our Graphic Communication finalists collaborated with Oxford University Press (OUP) on a digital brief for their Oxford Reading Buddies platform. Students taking our new Advanced Typography optional module were asked to redesign OUP’s Invasive Species title for young readers. OUP’s brief emphasised accessibility requirements and our students were able to really engage with a range of inclusive design considerations.

The contents section of Laura's ebook. Illustrated leaves are encroaching on the title 'Invasive Species' to give a sense of the theme of the book. At the bottom of the screen is a menu with thumbnails of the different sections of the book to help readers choose what they would like to read.

An extract from Laura Marshall’s response to the brief Oxford University Press gave our students to redesign their Invasive Species print title as an interactive ebook. 

Students were expected to develop visual solutions that would meet web accessibility guidelines (especially in terms of legibility and colour combinations) and come up with a typographic system that would correspond with OUP’s font progression guidelines. In addition to working towards compliance with accessibility requirements, students also considered ways in which their designs could really engaging with supporting different learning styles and other user needs.

Part 3 student, Laura Marshall says:

“This project allowed me to explore the challenges of the evolving publishing industry, and apply this in the ideation and design of an interactive eBook, in a way that actively supported my approach. As someone who feels more comfortable designing printed documents, entering the world of digital has allowed me to explore new ways to engage with readers and support design for reading. These included supporting a range of different learning styles to make the learning experience more accessible, as well as gamification experiences such as quizzes which test the reader’s retention. Working closely with Oxford University Press has cemented my passion for the world of publishing, in particular, children’s book design, and I feel that this project has provided me with a relevant and unique portfolio piece.”

OUP’s Head of Design, Primary Product and Schools Marketing, Michelle Campbell and Head of UX/UI Design, Seb Burgess joined us for the project briefing and the very impressive student presentations at the end of the project. Students on this module also enjoyed a mid-project field trip to OUP, which gave them an opportunity for one-to-one feedback from the OUP team and insight into what a career in a publishing life might entail.

Michelle said: “It was a pleasure to work with such talented young people… It was great to see that everyone now has something they can be proud of in their portfolios.”

Seb added: “We were completely bowled over by the standard of the presentations. Really sense that the class have embraced the multi-faceted design thinking that goes into digital service design.”

Working on a digital brief for young readers gave our students an opportunity to apply what they learnt in their inclusive design workshops last year. It was incredibly valuable for them to realise that accessibility is a key consideration for publishers like OUP. The brief enabled students to bring together their typographic, visualisation and interactive skills in a way that really embraced the user-centred design for reading thinking that underpins our programmes.

The Department of Typography & Graphic Communication has run an undergraduate project with OUP every year for the past six years and we were delighted to be able to extend this to a second, digital project this year. This collaboration is beneficial for both the Department and OUP and it’s fantastic to see it evolving in new directions.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *