How might we design the visual language of an HR company that has embraced technology?
What is PeopleStrong?
PeopleStrong provides outsourced HR administration services to large corporations whose swelling workforces can make HR departments unwieldy and inefficient. It manages the entire suite of everyday HR functions across the employee life cycle.
What is PeopleStrong alt?
Alt is PeopleStrong’s cloud based HR management suite (HRMS) for HR departments to manage recruiting, employee life cycle operations, and allow analysis of HR data. This suite offers the same services that PeopleStrong offers it’s galaxy of A-list clients.
What was the challenge?
PeopleStrong had a very concise brief: Present Alt as an easy-to-use tool. The challenge, as we described it, was to present the product as a simple and convenient tool while capitalizing on its strength as comprehensive data analytic software.
I was the lead designer on this project. I drove the design process and planned the entire project. I was the point of contact for the client and conducted all the discovery sessions. Kshitij Tembe was the other designer on the project and Richa Bhargava was the Creative Director. We were assisted by Nikhil Ranganathan who was the intern.
The project marked PeopleStrong's entry into tech and was welcomed by HR professionals in India. The most marked difference was with which HR professionals adopted the product. 82% of HR professionals viewed the product as helpful. On-boarding was simple and the brand was viewed favorably across the industry. The number of helpline calls went down to 7% in 3 months from 34% when the product was launched.
Image on Cover:
The visualized website using the new visual language
TEAM Richa Bhargava, Kshitij Tembe, Nikhil Ranganathan, Shantanu Salgaonkar
As with every project, my first step was to understand the user. I solicited help from my friends and acquaintances and set up interviews with HR managers outside of PeopleStrong. A common sentiment that stood out from these interviews with HR managers was discontent with the HR tech category.
HR managers consider software as an accessory, rather than a source of insight and efficiency.
The products were judged to be fussy to install. Worse, they need HR processes to "work around the software" instead of the reverse.
PeopleStrong already provides shared HR admin services, allowing us to position the product as made "for HR, by HR". Thus, we encouraged the client to tweak their processes to ensure that HR professionals directly interacted with the customer's HR heads in the sales phase and with the actual users during installation, customizing the software with understanding and insight. The learning was organized into a brand prism to visualize the brand positioning. Once we had locked down the brand strategy, it was time to start with the visual design process.
Right: The prism that organized our learning from the discovery sessions helped in positing the brand.
The Final Logo
Once the brand positioning was in place, it gave me a clear path the visualize the brand. I started by sketching ideas that portrayed the idea of a suite with multiple products.
The final identity suggests an application stack. Its contours and colors conjure the relaxed personality that distances it from IT service companies who provide similar products. The PeopleStrong asterisk appears for visual endorsement of the product, and is re-purposed for the slogan "Life's better with a pinch of *Alt".
The logo however needed to be supported with a strong and flexible visual system that carry the brands memorability forward. Since all of it’s analysis results in robust charts, I thought of creating a visual language around a very salient characteristic of the product: Infographics.
Further explorations into the infographic style helped me create a new unit, which we internally called ‘Mohawk’. With a form that’s derived from a doughnut graph, the 'Mohawk' gives character to the graphs and acts like a second identifiable element. It's a versatile element that compliments the analytical and rational nature of PeopleStrong.
This visual idea ensured that Alt is always instantly recognizable, even without the presence of its logo. The content is always either quantitative or descriptive, bracketed within the 'Mohawk'.
I took the language forward by developing a style for the iconography. The icons derived their form from the shape of the alt logo, hence mirroring the identity and being unique identifiers by themselves.
The visual language being quite flexible, I found it easy to create some basic style guides for usage of the identity on the software product.
I also designed a few screens visualizing how the Alt apps would look like to lead the thinking of the UI design team.
The branding and the visual language was thoroughly recorded in the form of guidelines making it consistent, readable, deployable and ultimately effective.
The style guides detailed the visual design for Alt’s website UI as well.
The mohawk element was flexible enough to be re-purposed into different graphic elements for outdoor advertising, amongst other marketing applications.
This project was a great learning experience in product design. This was before tools like sketch were mainstream, so our screens were designed in Indesign and specs were communicated in a document delivered to the programmers. I learned the basic principles of product design and how to adapt research techniques to inform my design decisions.
+ INTERACTION DESIGN
Agency Itu Chaudhuri Design