Fitzroy Legal Service operates one of Victoria`s largest municipal legal services. Even during the COVID-19 pandemic, they continued to meet the legal needs of the community with in-person and telephone appointments. For them, the pandemic has only further demonstrated the importance of easily accessible legal information online. As the vulnerability, risks and isolation of the community increased, so did the need for legal information and support. Our challenge was to help Fitzroy Legal Service continue to support its community in the face of the increased complexity of the pandemic. The Law Handbook is your practical guide to law in Victoria. Updated annually by more than 80 legal experts, it provides comprehensive information on laws that affect Victorians in everyday life, including tenancy law, consumer protection, bankruptcy, anti-discrimination, education, family, internet, environment, employment and much more. “I loved that we could take such a great resource as the Law Handbook and give it a new look. It`s such an important source of free legal information for Victorians and it was really special to be able to do our part to improve access to it. Since 2012, we have been working in the justice sector to build and design better systems that improve the way people access and experience justice. Therefore, we naturally took the opportunity to work with Fitzroy Legal Service. As neighbours, who share our vision of promoting and improving access to justice and legal services, this seemed self-evident.
As well as providing free legal advice, legal representation and advocacy, Fitzroy Legal Service also publishes the Law Handbook, a comprehensive and simple guide in English to general aspects of law for Victorians. The Legal Handbook has been updated annually since its first publication in 1977. It is available in print and online for lawyers and non-lawyers looking for practical information on legal issues such as consumer protection, anti-discrimination, family and career. Fitzroy Legal Service is a legal centre based in Fitzroy, Melbourne. They opened their doors in 1972 and offered free legal advice and assistance, with the intention of working towards a more just and equitable community for Victorians. In 2019, Fitzroy Legal Service merged with another like-minded organization, the Darebin Community Legal Centre. This allowed them to unite the two organisations and provide better legal services to Victorians in both catchment areas. Before creating a single unified website, Fitzroy Legal Service realized it needed a branding strategy. After the merger with the Darebin Community Legal Centre, the two organizations continued to work together as separate entities, causing confusion among employees and clients.
We had to work with the newly amalgamated organizations to create a brand that recognizes the independence of two municipal law centres, while creating a sense of unity that represents who they are as a whole – a distinctive and cohesive organization that contributes to meaningful change in their communities. First, we conducted market research on other brands, both in the justice sector and in similar sectors. Subsequently, we held two branding workshops with different stakeholders to help shape the strategy and direction. The workshops revealed a gap between the grassroots, community activists, and the professional legal departments of the Fitzroy Legal Department that the strategy aimed to address. Using the ideas from the workshops, we developed an overall branding strategy and digital brand alignment that would influence the design of the website. As part of this phase, we were able to visit Fitzroy Legal Service in person during the easing of COVID-19 restrictions to meet with their clients, share our website concepts and gather their feedback. This process has allowed our designers to better understand the context and weaknesses clients face when seeking legal advice. This allowed us to create a unique brand value proposition that could be integrated into the visual direction: community-driven equity. Fitzroy Legal Service asked us for help in merging the Law Manual website with the main Fitzroy Legal Service website to create a single, unified website with coordinated user interactions (UIs) and user experience (UXs), which would also minimize employee workload by reducing the number of websites to manage.
We began with a structural review of the two standalone sites (Fitzroy Legal Service and Law Handbook) to find ways to improve the browsing experience for site visitors and how these two sites could be merged. As part of the audit, we created the website based on the URL structure and on-screen navigation to help us define the new information architecture. This was supported by an analysis of their website data to understand and identify website visitors` browsing habits, potential barriers to finding information, and common drop-off points. Fitzroy Legal Service`s original website was built on NationBuilder, a platform with a variety of tools for managing memberships and subscriptions, which meant we had to rebuild them in WordPress. Our developers chose to integrate membership payments into WordPress with a WooCommerce plugin, MailChimp, and a custom middleware/API layer to handle some of Fitzroy Legal Service`s membership-specific business rules. All of this has been configured so that the primary site administrators who manage memberships and subscriptions provide a seamless experience. The brand`s visual direction we developed was inspired by activism, with the logo representing the organization`s bold and unique role as the community`s leading voice. The off-centre poster form is active but remains symmetrical to the space around it, suggesting the idea of balance – a key theme in the representation of justice – while the text inside is inspired by the original lettering of the window and preserves the long history of the Fitzroy Legal Service. We needed to make the design as flexible as possible so that the editors of Fitzroy Legal Service could create websites in different ways.
We used a combination of the Gutenberg editor and advanced custom fields in WordPress to create flexible modules that could be assembled in different ways to create a page while still being in line with the design and branding. It is a valuable resource for many people: community members, community workers, students, teachers and lawyers. Former host of Mornings with Jon Faine, 774 ABC Melbourne We`ve found that everything at Fitzroy Legal Service is driven by a sense of community that aligns with the organization`s new strategic direction to increase the role of community voice. During each phase, we kept Fitzroy Legal Service informed of our progress through weekly meetings and WIP playbacks and made sure they were with us every step of the way. The final phase of this project was the construction of the only unified website. While WordPress can provide a solid and familiar editing experience for content publishers and a rich ecosystem of plugins, it hasn`t offered a great development experience in the past. The team leveraged the roots stack, specifically Bedrock and Trellis, to manage automated deployments and build a solid foundation for development. We conducted several Zoom 1:1 interviews with different groups of website users to inform the redesign process, correlate the results of our audit, measure the parameters of the two websites, and learn more about their needs. We also implemented a site engagement survey and online tree tests to get more information about users of both sites and assess the discoverability (or not) of the content in our new sitemap table proposed for the single unified site. We worked with Fitzroy Legal Service to create a new brand and unified web presence to help them make community justice more accessible and accessible. As part of visual alignment, we also developed styling tiles to help us present the Fitzroy Legal Service project team with a variety of visual options for the new brand`s appearance and any related marketing or publication materials. “Portable, a local company with a shared vision, seemed like a logical choice to help us redesign our brand and website.
From the beginning, they were enthusiastic, worked closely with us and our key stakeholders, and showed a deep commitment to helping us create a new brand, and what they came up with, incorporating our past into the new design, is much better than we imagined. We have also partnered with VALID, an organization that has been at the forefront of Victoria`s disability efforts for over 30 years.