High Value Manufacturing Catapult - Maximising a limited brand identity in the digital realm

  • Steven Chen

Insight: High Value Manufacturing Catapult (HVM Catapult) is an organisation established by Innovate UK to promote research and development. It is the go-to place for advanced manufacturing technologies in the UK. The organisation’s website needed to be updated in a number of aspects, including functionality, visual impact and user experience. Users were quickly losing interest and leaving the site due to difficulties with navigation and finding the right content. We were tasked to help bring more clarity, making the website simple to use while ensuring people understand what HVM Catapult is about - something the organisation had found difficult to get across. I worked with Senior User Experience Designer Rin Dam and Creative Director Victor Woode.

Challenge: HVM Catapult wanted to challenge the stereotypical image of a factory as a greasy, dark and dirty environment and portray it as a clean workspace with advanced technology. Being part of the Catapult programme meant there were simple yet restrictive brand guidelines that had to be followed, prohibiting the addition of new elements, such as colour or a change in typography, that could have potentially brightened up their existing colour pallet. We were also restricted by an old 960px grid structure, which is rare in contemporary digital design. All of these limitations contributed to the difficulties the organisation experienced when trying to stand out from their sibling Catapult sites.
Idea: For brands that weren’t designed with their digital presence in mind, or that couldn’t hold their own in the contemporary digital environment, I’ve always believed in following the brand guideline in spirit. Our client was a strong believer in this. With the complete redesign of UX, we were able to take advantage of that and we focused on reconstructing the existing visual assets and bringing the elements to life using motion. By embracing the whitespace of the background to go edge to edge, the 960px grid worked in our favour, allowing the site to look clean and spacious when viewed on a larger display.
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