McKinley Tretler is communications manager at Malala Fund. She works to develop and execute Malala Fund’s messaging and media strategies.
Assembly, Malala Fund’s digital publication and newsletter for girls, has a new look, one our readers helped to design.
Since launching in 2018, Assembly has published content by young women from more than 100 countries and in over 20 languages. Girls come to the platform to write about their lives, the issues they care about and to learn from their peers around the world. With the help of design firm Language Dept and some of Assembly’s most dedicated contributors, Malala Fund redesigned Assembly’s website this year to better reflect our readership.
“It was important for us to design the website keeping our audience in mind because, at the end, they are the ones we are building this platform for and they will be the ones who will be using it the most,” says Ayesha Shakya, digital content producer at Malala Fund. “We wanted to hear directly from our readers what Assembly looks like and feels like to them, and not assume what their response would be. This was critical in ensuring that we were building a platform that represented our community.”
Nine previous Assembly contributors from Algeria, Brazil, India, Iraq, Japan, Nigeria, Mexico and the U.S. participated in the design review and user testing process. Each girl joined an hour-long Zoom call with staff to review mock-ups of both the desktop and mobile versions of the website. The girls provided feedback on the colours, layouts, navigation, language choices and overall user experience. They also suggested ideas for what more they hoped to see on the new Assembly site.
The most prominent design change is to Assembly’s brand palette. Yellow will now feature as the publication’s primary colour as it was the top pick among the majority of girls. The original teal will remain as an accent colour alongside lavender, navy and orange. Assembly also switched to the typeface Skolar, a serif font designed for academic publications that supports 70 languages.
To showcase the fun, journal-esque quality of Assembly, the design team sprinkled small animations and doodles like shooting stars, squiggles and handwritten text throughout the site, courtesy of illustrators Tyla Mason and Astrid Caballeros.
“There is so much great content on the site. Our goal with the design was to reflect the diversity of voices and the energy of this generation while exposing more of the content in more places. We activated subscribing and sharing wherever we could to help build and amplify this dynamic community of future leaders,” says Tanya Quick, co-founder of Language Dept. The company also designed Malala Fund’s new Education Champion Network and COVID-19 Response pages.
Assembly’s current design also offers a cleaner layout and expanded navigation. Through the page header and footer readers can browse by section or theme. There is a drop-down menu on the Stories page enabling readers to filter their search by language. Post pages allow for highlighted pull quotes, improved social embeds and a vertical side bar of suggested articles that makes it easier for readers to find other girls’ stories.
When the new Assembly website went live last week, the readers who participated in the redesign process were among the first to find out. We asked them to share their thoughts about the user testing experience and the final design.
Here’s what they had to say:
Gaby, 18, Mexico
“My favorite part of the new website is the layout, since that way you can have a better view of everything and I absolutely love the colors, the doodles and the combination of colors. It was awesome because they [Malala Fund staff] considered everything I said and it was amazing to be part of the improvement of the page. I think the improvements have made the page more dynamic and fun so that more girls can read it and get closer to the work of Assembly and the stories about other girls that are changing the world.”
Hauwa, 18, Nigeria
“I really like the bold colours and the doodles. Also, the fact that the website manages to look both formal and fun at the same time. It was a nice experience being able to contribute to making the Assembly website much easier to navigate, plus being able to virtually meet some of the people who have helped make Assembly what it is.”
Luiza, 18, Brazil
“What I like the most about reading Assembly is discovering stories about young girls who, somehow, are making a lot of difference in the world. Their stories inspire me to keep fighting for what I believe and it is amazing to see how powerful young women are and how they make a difference in their communities. My favourite part of the new Assembly design is definitely the colors. I think that their vibrant tones and the different shades and colors truly reflect the essence of what Assembly is supposed to be.”
Anya, 12, U.S.
"It was nice to be able to convey my opinions about the redesigning of the website and I think the joint opinions of everyone combined to make a really nice website! My favorite part about reading the Assembly stories is the fact that they are so diverse. The stories feature so many different girls from all across the world, with many different backgrounds. It’s very exciting to read stories on a platform where basically anyone can share their voice.”
Shiori, 23, Japan
“My favorite part is the illustrations, text and layout of each page. This website features many women all over the world. However, this renewed illustrations, text and design can cast light on every person on the website and encourage us to take action for global matters. I like reading the Stories section most. It features the activities or thinking of women worldwide. With the website design and photos layout, I almost feel as if I am discussing the theme with them when I read it. I've never made a website by myself before so this testing made me realize each part of the website has a message from the website creator.”
Sarah, 21, Algeria
“What I like the most about reading Assembly is the girls’ stories. It feels like a heart-to-heart talk to be part of these girls' fights. My favorite parts of the new redesigned website are the new color block and the writing in some of the pictures. I really liked it because it was one of the ideas I suggested when I had the meeting with the redesign team.”
Angie, 15, U.S.
“What I like most about reading Assembly is that it gives a great space for female voices to be heard on different issues, and I think it's inspiring to hear from people of different backgrounds. I really enjoyed being a part of the user testing, and I loved meeting the Malala Fund staff. My favorite part of the website would be the layout, which showcases individual articles, while also fitting a single theme. I think this website layout is very well organized, and the doodles make it look more fun!”
To subscribe to Assembly and hear from the next generation of female leaders, visit assembly.malala.org.