FurDU is a small science fiction, fantasy and pop culture convention held on the Gold Coast with a focus on cartoons and animals. I illustrated and developed a persistent brand for the group and aided in the development a large bank of assets and visual elements for the 2015 convention. I took the opportunity to experiment a little by modernising some old concepts, reworking the user experience and trialling some new ideas and approaches to increase engagement and add to the enjoyment of attendees.
FurDU has been running since 2010 on a year-to-year basis with a very small team. A lot of design aspects, such as branding, had never been addressed, meaning I was able to develop an aesthetic for an event which had already established itself and gained some popularity.
I produced a number of digital illustrations and vector and photography based patterns as assets for later integration into web, digital and traditional executions.
As a principle, the convention runs at-cost every year, pumping whatever money is generated through registrations back into bettering the event. I set up an early teaser website, to provide myself time for development of a fully functional website, while also allowing attendees to register early at a discount.
This meant the convention was granted access to much needed provisions to fund the early stages of the event's organisation for the year. The project involved a combination of graphic design, web design, UX design, front end development and illustration. I was lucky enough to be paired with an extremely talented developer, who set up the schema and backend functionality to allow users to register though a paypal payment gateway, with access to the full site being granted to all users upon release.VIEW THE SITE
I employed Google Analytics to study the behaviour of the teaser site's users, finding that 75% of users accessed the site via desktop, with 25% accessing via mobile platforms. The full website's purpose during the months leading up to the convention was to serve as a promotional platform, showing off features and encouraging registrations. In the weeks before the convention, the function of the site switched from promotional platform to information hub. As a first port of call for information, the site was able to reduce the load on organisers and volunteers by stemming the influx of queries and last-minute issues from attending artists, exhibitors, performers and general attendees. During the weekend of the convention, the user split was much more mobile-centric, with 65% mobile users and 35% on desktop.
Having predicted this need for an effectively responsive design, I developed both the early teaser site and full website using Zurb's responsive Foundation front end framework, minimising time spent in front end development so I could focus on web and UX design. SASS was employed to collate CSS, and a number of plugins and tools, including jquery and Font Awesome were employed for minor aesthetic details.VIEW THE SITE
FurDU likes to surprise attendees with goodies, but with so many items to give away, and so many being customisable (like the below noted "Park ID Badge"), backend reporting tools were needed to allow organisers to keep track for ordering and to ensure attendees received the correct items when entering the convention space on event day. The project’s back end developer created a database component and set of GUI supported admin tools to maintain and track user accounts and associated purchases and rewards. These tools also tracked paypal activity, allowing for exact budgeting.
Twitter and Facebook are the primary social platforms for the convention’s promotion. I designed images to accompany major announcements to ensure they were noticed in the ever more cluttered feeds of attendees. The twitter API was integrated into the website, to encourage users to follow and utilise the platform for minor updates and to socialise with each other while at the convention.
Conbooks, as mentioned earlier, have become something of a peripheral novelty for a lot of conventions, with many no longer setting aside the relatively high budget to print one, or setting aside a smaller budget to print a few for those who want to seek one out. Swapping advertisement space in conbooks used to be a standard practice, but with so many now going without one altogether, the platform of promotion has changed to fliers, cards and freebies. With these factors in mind, I designed a DL flyer for distribution at conventions in Singapore and the US.
Two tiers of registration exist for attendees, regular and sponsor. A sponsor registration costs twice that of a regular registration, however it is accompanied by perks which have become something of notoriety with the convention. The purpose of sponsorship is to allow those who wish to support the convention to do so in a way that can be properly recorded. I aided in production of a few of the sponsor rewards, which were unlocked in tiers to an upper limit of 150 spots.
Custom badge designs were a perk introduced in the previous year, and a similar set of tools was integrated to allow sponsors to create their own novelty “Park ID Badge” to carry in addition to their mandated convention badge. These were created using a tool in the user’s control panel and custom printed for presentation at the convention, along with a sponsor shirt, exclusive art print and beach towel co-ordinated by other artists. I created a suite of colour coded design options for attendees to select from and fill in.
I also designed a custom lanyard, to be presented to all attendees in their conbag. The colourful and silly pattern was designed to sit well with the rear design of the sponsor badge, and also to accommodate the playful and party-focused mindset of attendees. Demand for conbooks and lanyards was so high that they ran out on the first day of the convention.