Hawaii Advocacy Reports Policy reports can be beautiful, too! Design features enhance accessibility and readability.

Background

Stone Soup was brought on board by our colleagues at JLI Consulting – writers and social sector consultants – to design two Hawaii-focused policy reports.

  1. Touchpoints of Homelessness: Institutional Discharge as a Window of Opportunity for Hawai’i’s Homeless (2017) presents findings and recommendations on the widespread problem of homelessness in Hawai’i. (It is also posted here on the State of Hawaii’s Department of Human Services site). This study investigates several conduits into homelessness such as: 1) People aging out of foster care; 2) Getting out of jail; and 3) Being discharged from hospital. Readership target is an audience of legislators and community stakeholders such as service providers, police departments, social workers, and judicial system workers. 
  2. Island of Possibility: A Landscape Study of the Performing Arts Sector of Hawaii Island (2018) is a study of the economic and cultural vitality of performing arts on Hawaii Island. Hawaii Community Foundation has posted the report online, under the Arts & Culture subheading of their Research and Reports page, and they also shared it for inclusion in IssueLab, which is a research & report repository sponsored by the Foundation Center.

Challenges

Because the content for both reports was dense, we initially had some fear that they wouldn’t be read. To help people translate the density of the information, several choices directed our design approach:

  • We wanted the overall feeling of the report to be inviting to the reader, yet solemn – serious and professional, yet not overly-academic
  • Finding appropriate ‘homelessness’ imagery was a challenge. The client described “homelessness porn” – sensationalized images used frequently in the media as something we wanted to stay away from. We chose use black and white photos of mostly native Hawaiians to communicate a sense of un-sensationalized reality of the issue. Specific shots was chosen to convey respect and recognition, especially since street interviews were conducted with the subjects
  • Stark black and gray paired with yellow further tells a story of urgency
  • Data points such as statistics and other research findings were pulled out and highlighted on most pages as eye-catching graphics  

Results

Having worked with Julia on 3 projects now, I’d say the graphic design element is a game changer. It completely changes how people engage with the information, and frankly, whether they even decide to crack the report open. I’ve made a commitment to myself going forward that any reports intended for public release will be professionally designed.”


I am over-the-moon excited [with the] report! …You were able to accomplish what you and I talked about in the early stages – keeping the serious and professional tone fitting the topic, and at the same time making it visually engaging, approachable, and inviting readers to dive in to learn more. Beautiful!”

See the entire Homelessness report  and Performing Arts Sector report on Issuu.