Unpacked | A Girls Inc. Design Analysis
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Organizations today communicate their missions and values primarily through the Internet and promotional materials. They are able to reach wider audiences, however they are also faced with the challenge of anchoring the abstract “audience” to concrete individuals with stories, thoughts, and experiences. Communicating with younger audiences adds a layer of complexity to this issue. How does an organization of adults create materials that connect with younger audiences? This is precisely the position of Girls Inc., a national nonprofit that works to inspire girls between the ages of six and eighteen to be strong, smart, and bold. This question is not only complex, but also broad. I therefore chose to analyze Girls Inc. messaging and materials in a holistic way by examining the materials from several angles. I applied two different visual rhetoric frameworks. Anne Wysocki’s The Multiple Media of Texts focuses primarily on the visual elements of texts including color, proportions, typeface, and the relationships between elements on a page. Roland Barthes’s Rhetoric of the Image focuses on the symbolic nature of linguistic and iconic messaging including cultural and societal contexts. In order to better understand what resonated with and empowered the actual young women who are the audience for these materials, and to give them a voice in the designs that address them, I conducted an IRB-approved focus group with high school women in Girls Inc.'s Teen Impact Initiative. Based on the feedback from the focus group with high school women, I identified strategies for ways visuals and texts may work together to resonate and create a sense of empowerment with these young women. Lastly, I created a mockup of a Girls Inc. website homepage based on the strategies identified in the focus group and design principles from Wysocki and Barthes.