Smart Campus – Identity


type: UX & Interaction design
tools: Fireworks, Axure, Focus Group, Heuristic Evaluation
year: 2012

Smart Campus is a project promoted and realized by the research institute Trento Rise at the campus of University of Trento. Its goal was the establishment of a platform and of a community in order to enable the creation of innovative services which would support the everyday life of all the people involved in the campus.

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In smart campus the problem of identity had been presented already in the early stages of project development. The first attempt to give a recognizable image was motivated by the need of curating its presence on social networks. The purpose of this logo was to suggest – in a quite an informal way – the idea of an open initiative that had to be done in co-design sessions with students. The smartness of the campus was emphasized by a sketched smartphone or by a gesture reminiscent of a touch screen interaction.

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As the project have become broader in scope the need of visual identity became gradually more and more articulated. First of all now there was the necessity of a more suitable graphic concept that would point to a broader audience than the students. It had to be presentable on conferences and fairs as well as being applicable on a variety of supports, such as letters, booklets etc. Together with this there was also the demand of maintaining a certain visual coherence across the various smart campus applications. This sort of graphics had to be very flexible and work in different interfaces of different applications and on different devices.

Consequently the further development of the smart campus visual identity proceeded on two quite separate frontlines: The first focused on the overall image of the project and on means of its promotion. The second dealing with the platform and the look and feel of the apps.

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“University” and “campus” are two words that are often used interchangeably. However, if by saying university the emphasis is mostly made on the institution, with the word campus what is usually intended is a space. Furthermore this latter means not simply some particular environment or building but it implies also people and activities. Indeed it is a space that is defined by humans, by their interactions and their social relations. It is in the end a territory. A territory that in our case is also smart, or rather open, participatory, sensible and responsive. Such insight guided the elaboration of SC visual identity illustrated in the previous two pictures. The map of the university campus in Povo had been taken as inspiration, it had been later elaborated in order to obtain the logo and the applications’ icons.

The concept of “campus as territory” have been a valuable prompt for the graphic design work especially in relation to the overall image of the project but it worked less well for the platform and single SC applications. In fact the icons in the figure 3 were abandoned in favor of a more intuitive and less abstract narrative. The crucial aspect here was to present every single SC app as a part of a big whole. This way it have been made easier for a user to realize the function of the applications and to grasp their meaning in relation to each other.
In the view of the above every SC application have been associated to a real world tool that had some affinities with its functionalities. This in combination with the app name forms a syntagm , that would be meaningful to a user. An example could be the “Experience Buster” app, which is about catching experiences with your mobile phone. For this reason the name was combined with a “Swat” which is a tool normally used to catch flies.

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The above logo of the Smart Campus platform puts together the single apps’ icons and the logo of the Smart Campus project

In order to reinforce the identity of the project and make it recognizable across different media and supports which can assume also pretty large formats, I elaborated a Smart Campus texture. It is composed of the colors and shapes derived from the Smart Campus applications.

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All of the previously mentioned elements were inflected to better fit the specif display necessities and maintain a coherent narrative across different situations :

Illustration

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Poster

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Etc.

Brand
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Since Smart Campus is an open platform that is constantly growing and enriched with new services, in order to achieve a minimum level of visual consistency across different apps I elaborated a document with specifications for visual design. The document is particularly intended for people who don’t have any specific training in visual design and it comprises a protocol for the creation of the launcher icon and color selection. Furthermore it offers also a checklist for the adjustment of the most crucial visual elements of the Graphical User Interface.

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In conclusion I would like to remember, the work done for the design of the badges. This had been imagined as a reward for various kind of achievements and social activities performed with the Smart Campus applications. Although such a gamification program wasn’t never fully implemented, I spent a considerable amount of work on the design and the disposition of the badges inside the apps.

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Photos source : www.facebook.com/smartcampuslab

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