ORCAA — case study

Tell me about the client

Cathy O’Neil was on book tour celebrating the success of Weapons of Math Destruction: How Big Data Increases Inequality and Threatens Democracy and had recently started a new business venture called O’Neil Risk Consulting & Algorithmic Auditing, or ORCAA. In an age when companies are increasingly using mathematical models to streamline important decisions, ORCAA aims to measure those algorithms for fairness, legal discrimination, and meaning.

What was the problem?

ORCAA needed a basic website and branding to capitalize on Cathy’s book tour. The timeline was short and the budget was tight…really tight. This is a common problem: a passionate, hard-working person or group is scrambling to get some startup help with limited pocket change. Instead of turning the work down, we took it as an opportunity to create an offering for all of these inspiring people. Thus The Starter Pack was born.

What did we do?

Cathy was offered three logo designs based on her prompt, “fat fierce and intelligent”. From this logo mark we created three color palettes and set to work making Cathy some business cards. With that done (in a record time) Cathy had something to hand people she was meeting on her book tour and we then set out to create a website. We wound up suggesting Squarespace because of it’s ease of setup and maintenance. Cathy had written most of the content already and knew what she wanted, which always makes the process go smoothly. Given a few days and free reign to choose a theme and customize it, we were able to create a nice little one pager for oneilrisk.com. With a three week turn around this was a very smooth and joyful project. Mad respect to Cathy for being an awesome professional!

ZBC Designer — case study

Tell me about the client

Aker Wade is on a mission to convert every forklift in the world to batteries and eliminate the need for fossil fuel driven operations. They’ve developed a tool that allows forklift battery salespeople to model their customer’s energy usage and select a set of batteries that will work for their needs. The software does the math to present the case for a sustainable energy future in warehouse management. Numbers don’t lie.

What was the problem?

The tool — ZBC Designer — was made several years ago and needed a full user experience and information architecture overhaul. There were a lot of people who could have been using this software to help convert more forklifts to batteries, but the interface was too dated, clunky, and complicated for users to understand. They needed us to rethink the entire way the software worked — from start to finish — with a user-centered perspective.

What did we do?

For ZBC we knew we needed to start from square one. Our approach was simple and thorough: interview stakeholders, research the industry and competitors, restructure the way information flowed from one section of the software to another, workshop the interface, refine the design, and work directly with developers to get to a working prototype.

BernieSandersish — case study

Tell me about the client

Progressive Kick is an organization of pragmatic progressives, dedicated to construction of a society that values the needs/rights/responsibilities of all of its members-from the most powerful to the least. They engage in illuminating the murky and often completely opaque behavior of members of the US Congress on a national and state level.

What was the problem?

There’s not a whole lot of information about down-ballot candidates for elected offices. At their worst your choices on election day include Person A who is the ineffective incumbent and Person B who’s an industry insider coming through the revolving door. At their best, your choices are often Person A from Establishment Party 1 and Person B from Establishment Party 2. Progressive Kick wanted to build a website that would allow Bernie Sanders supporters to find like-minded people running for local offices.

Engage in true electoral reform, get people excited to vote and engaged in the process.

What did we do?

We had pretty intense technology limitations, plus budget and time restrictions. We implemented a customized WordPress theme, used a Google Drive spreadsheet and API to pull content directly from a private spreadsheet. Free software and an easy-to-edit database. Win.

CSG Politics — case study

Tell me about the client

CSG Politics uses data, digital engagement, and targeted integrated communications to build comprehensive strategies for progressive political campaigns. They teach people how to mobilize their community to create meaningful change.

What was the problem?

These folks have a lot of clients. And most of their clients are running local campaigns that don’t have tens of millions of dollars of funding or years to plan. They needed to be able to set up simple WordPress sites for their clients, spend minimal time customizing the look and feel, and then hand over the control of the site to the people managing the day-to-day operations. However, they didn’t want to have to recreate the wheel every time they had a new client.

What did we do?

We created a reusable WordPress theme for them. We customized it. We wrote documentation. We handed it over. Now they can build sites for their own clients and pass on the knowledge. More local folks empowered to run for local offices is a good thing. We’re putting technology in the hands of citizens in service of transforming our broken political system.

Backbone Campaign — case study

Tell me about the client

The Backbone Campaign uses art to shed light on injustice. In making public art — and teaching others how to make public art — they are systematically building alliances between grassroots groups and promoting the rights of frontline communities and the environment in the wake of corporate corruption and toxic industrial practices. AKA stickin’ it to The Man.

What was the problem?

By early 2015 The Backbone Campaign had reached a breaking point with their technology. They were using one service for email, another for their website, yet another for donations, and another for donor management. Talk about a headache. Not only that, but this small, agile team was spending a lot of time cross-checking information across different platforms that didn’t “talk” to one another and flushing extra cash down the drain by paying each service separately. A classic case of nonprofit admin overload.

What did we do?

Our first step was to check out their systems, a complete audit of their technology and admin budget plus a map of what data lived on what system. The second step was to dig deep into their current needs and future goals. We spent a few days doing some intense facilitated team sessions to dig into the “why” of their work. The third step was to look at potential solutions by doing several days of research. Then we made some hard choices (rock paper scissors) and went with Nationbuilder. Before we wrapped up, we got all of their data plugged into the new system and did a day of training to be sure they could maintain the system themselves.

Since that time, the Backbone Campaign team has set up their public facing website with Nationbuilder. They’re sending consistent emails and managing their volunteers with a more organized system. Recently, they’ve made strides in their Solutionary Rail project — building solidarity with labor and grassroots groups to push for a safe, sustainable, modern rail system that prioritizes the needs of our environment over oil & gas.