YouMedia is a non-profit community center for teens, operating inside of participating city libraries. Here, under-privileged teens have access to production-level equipment, mentorship & guidance. Teens quickly obtain real-world experience in an exploratory manner that’s free of charge. Helping them to understand their potential, as they realize newfound aspirations. Forever changing the future of each individual in a dramatic way.
The team at YouMedia wanted to show what impact the program had on the community, in hopes of expanding to serve even more teens. In just a short time, they had several young members working on creative projects with significant results. Mostly in the form of apprenticeships, entry level positions, and social media growth. The problem came during the fall school year when teen attendance would dip heavily and projects would stop. As students rightfully focused on school work, they'd hangout & play video games, occasionally making use of the programs offered.
The Non-Profit was grant funded and was required to deliver compelling results, greater than the previous year to continue operating into the next. For this to happen, they would need to increase memberships, turnouts to events & positive outcomes for the teens. They realized if they couldn't show serious developments, the program would have to shutdown, leaving behind the profound bonds they've established with so many neighborhood youth.
Under staffed, the team was constantly pressed for time engaging with teenagers and scrambling for grants to keep the doors open. Speaking with the YouMedia team as a group, we held a short facilitated session to narrow down the specific dynamics and issues preventing their message from getting out.
Initially, they thought a redesigned website, aimed at their target audience would do the trick. After meeting with them we saw the barriers informing their opinions. There was a strict policy to maintain the library's branding in the physical space in addition to the website and all materials. They weren't allow to use their own branding, but could use novel images or illustrations.
Next, we sat down with the teens to understand their concerns & troubles. With these new insights in mind, we collected our findings and discovered the main obstacle facing them; the teens could not keep track of when the program's classes and events were being held. The teens admittedly tended to be forgetful, constantly misplacing the printed schedules provided for them.
They also wanted to have something that represented them, instead of a "cookie cutter" organization run in multiple cities. They wanted It to feel more accessible, in a way that’s familiar to them.
Although they came to us for a web solution, everyone agreed the key was something that made use of the spaces the teens felt connected to, starting with their phones. The modern day equivalent to a diary, private and personal, but even more so. We learned these teens shared images from their phones like Post-it notes. Preferring to take a photo of something important in place of papers or notes. Used as a memory enhancement tool, a photo gallery becomes a river of thoughts & ideas.
Now understanding how teens were orienting themselves, we decided to create a signage system designed to be photographed with your phone. The image could be shared digitally, by taking a photo of a computer screen or another phone. Embedded in these images would be elements that transfer useful information while being easy to update, edit or publish.
We listened. The final design made use of every teen members input and concerns. From initial sketch to 3D model, all the way through the final illustration. We paid special attention to the little details that were specific to those the design represented. Details like the boys school uniform that hides a retro batman shirt underneath.
The illustration, an image of a young boy standing at the head of a giant robot of his own design & piloting it from behind a futuristic dashboard. This vision is a blend of the favorite topics, focuses and ambitions of the teen members. Rolling out the new digital signage demanded a lot of coordination from the team as they converted all existing displays.
Suddenly, every screen in the room became a convenient self-scan method to broadcast the program's announcements. The teens reaction to the new signage & system was amazing. Standing in a place fully designed to help youth succeed, they began snapping photos almost immediately. Soon, workshops were filling up and projects covered the entire room.
Moving around the room now, these young adults are working on what looks like a pro-Youtubers production. People mixing audio on one side of the room, on the other someone films a music video in front of a green screen, while a budding digital artist Photoshops a logo in between games of Minecraft.
That alone would've been mission-accomplished for us, but things got even better. We were able to increase membership by 80%, compared to the previous two years. Turnouts to programs increased by 67% over the previous year & positive outcomes for teens gained by 46% overall.
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