Changing Visual Language with Changing Times at Elucidata

As I joined Elucidata I was tasked with changing, or at least, revamping Elucidata’s visual language. A huge task and I’ve barely begun to scratch the surface in the one month I’ve been here.

Introduction

The phrase visual language refers to the idea that communication occurs through visual symbols. Different design elements, colors, fonts etc. form the alphabets of a visual language. It is the language through which a website, app or design would speak to its audience.

Like any other language, it has certain rules and guidelines to help communicate and using these let’s review Elucidata’s Visual Language.

Gary Larson from The Complete Far Side
By Gary Larson from The Complete Far Side

Guidelines

There were already visual guidelines set in place when I started at Elucidata. These were immensely helpful in understanding the basic idea of the Elucidata visual language, how to shape a new (or existing) design, and which course to guide it through.

Now, as with any other language, there are syntaxes and grammar to a visual language as well for example color, typography, depth, etc.

 Buttons, drop-downs and fields
Buttons, drop-downs and fields
Color Palette
Color Palette

Grammar

Having been asked to design a company emailer recently gave me the opportunity to have a more in-depth and detailed look at the company’s visual language.

At first glance, you instantly notice the color purple, Elucidata’s primary color throughout the designs. The color appears in the logo, the website, and other prominent elements. Elucidata deals in data interpretation working with some complex omics datasets, but the company’s environment is calm and composed. The color purple represents calm, creativity, value and quality, thus doing justice to the company’s goals and ideas.

Another color that keeps re-occurring is orange, very well complementing the purple and mostly used for highlighting elements in the design. The color orange promotes a sense of general wellness, passion, warmth, and energy.

Current Elucidata webpage banner
Current Elucidata webpage banner

So far Elucidata’s typography was defined by the Heebo typeface. Heebo is a Hebrew language sans-serif font. The English script of the font is clean and objective, aligning it with the company’s roots in scientific analysis.

The use of different variations of the font, such as font size or font weight or font colors lays down a clear hierarchy of actions on a page.

 Typography guide
Typography guide

“A unified design language shouldn’t be just a set of static rules and individual atoms; it should be an evolving ecosystem.”

-Karri Saarinen, Designer

Example

But while the design components seem to fit well, they could use a change as the company evolves. Let me explain this through the Emailer example.

Below is the design of the previous mailer sent out to the users.

Previous mailer
Previous mailer

While this conveyed the necessary information it didn’t quite clearly define the flow of the design. It seemed crowded and the dark color, while providing contrast, seemed harsh for an emailer going by today’s minimalistic and modern design trends and design thinking. And that could use a change.

Elucidata is uniquely positioned to appeal to the drug discovery domain where expectations of the users are professional and clinical. To cater to such users a design needs to convey freshness and invoke professionalism. It should be infused with new design thinking and components. Keeping this in mind, and a few iterations later, a new emailer design was drafted.

Revamped mailer
Revamped mailer

Incorporating the company’s purple and orange, simple line-based logos were used. The minimal design seemed to tackle the somewhat overwhelming text-heavy previous designs while keeping the content to-the-point.

As Elucidata moves onto bigger ventures, cultivating new ideas and creating new tools along the way, the company’s design and design thinking should be a reflection of that. This approach came with the change of the previous typography. Heebo gave way to a sleeker, crisper, and seemingly more modern – Nunito.

Typography changes
Typography changes

‘A rigid tree can’t withstand a storm but a flexible one can.’

The above is true for design as well. Rolling with the times, keeping design simple and minimalistic seems to be the call of the hour. A trend to learn from but, yet, not a hard rule to be followed. Designs change with apps and the users it caters to. With new, simpler, better ways of design emerging, we need to keep ourselves updated to even play in the competitive market.

This is only the beginning of my understanding of a language set in a company with specific and niche goals. As is true with any language, it takes time to fully understand and be fluent in it and it is a gradual process.

Hopefully, I’ll be back with another article soon, wherein I talk about new learnings and experiences at Elucidata. Meanwhile, check out this case study by my teammate on UI/UX design – UX Case Study


Also published on Medium

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