While living in Malaysia from 2010–2012, I designed a replacement website for the Malaysian Australian New Zealand Association. MANZA is a volunteer-run association whose main purpose is to help newly arrives expats ease into Malaysian life.
The MANZA website was my first practical application of Information Architecture and content auditing. As a volunteer-run organisation, the then-current website was a mess of handed-over files, message, and content, not to mention design. The site was built and maintained by inexperienced volunteer expats wanting to led a hand, and as such was desperate for a redesign. I offered my services for free simply because I was unable to use the site for any useful purpose when researching the move to Malaysia.
I challenged myself to run the whole project from start to finish, sourcing/selecting a core team of four to work on the project as opposed to the whole MANZA committee, sourcing a local developer for the build, and a MANZA member to take on the digital manager position to strive for as much consistency as possible. One example was the consistent spelling of the word “MANZA” — capitalised (it’s an acronym) or “Manza” (a name for a single group).
Digital vs print
Another interesting challenge was how (or if) to incorporate the news and articles in a bi-monthly print magazine for members. I saw an opportunity to bring all member submitted print articles onto the website which would benefit MANZA in three important ways:
- It would archive all content and make it searchable. A magazine is discarded after a short period, and all information is essentially lost, whereas an online archivable is searchable and online for anyone to read at any time.
- Members will be inspired to submit articles and photos for inclusion on the website because they feel they are improving a collective knowledge of life in Malaysia, and are able to email/send their published article to friends and family.
- The ad revenue needed to fund the printing of the magazine would effectively become extra money for the organisation to put towards something else.
In the end it was agreed content would be published to the website one month after each magazine release to effectively attain points 1 and 2, and keep the print magazine.
I audited all content, and recommended a simple and logical structure for all information. This was the basis for the improvement of the website. The colours were an evolution of the previous site which used a bold red (appearing in the MANZA logo), and pushed in a more sophisticated direction of magenta-burgundy. Accents of bright orange and charcoal added liveliness and pop, and solidity respectively.
Some icon work was involved in transitioning the logo into a 65x50px icon, and ensuring the important elements — kangaroo, kiwi, shield, star, and crescent moon — we all recognisable at such a small size.