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Designing an accessible website and archive for a feminist journal

CLIENT Subversions Journal
(
Concordia University's Women’s Studies and Interdisciplinary Studies in Sexuality undergraduate student representatives)

Challenge Create an online platform and archive that conveys the values of inclusion, collaboration, and community that a University-based feminist journal needs to transition from print to digital.

Outcome A digital platform and experience that offers information in an accessible fashion, and that communicates feminist practices and values through it’s design features.

Services Web design, Co-design

Subversions is a university-based undergraduate journal that showcases visual and literary arts that broadly explore topics of feminism. The journal acknowledges the contested and intersectional nature of the term, and is committed to be an inclusive outlet for publishing content from diverse voices within and outside academia.

The Subversions journal has been published in print, since 2005, by Concordia University's Women’s Studies and Interdisciplinary Studies in Sexuality student representatives. In addition to the print journal, cultural events and parties focused on building community are put on by the journal’s team.

 

Mutual Design was tasked to design the journal’s first-ever website. The needs of the client were to be able to showcase past print issues (archive), current issues (exhibition portal), and to be able to make call-outs and receive submissions for upcoming issues (submission form). 
 

In addition to the information architecture challenges, we wanted to approach the design process through a participatory feminist lens. In other words, what do feminist practices have to say about technology, archival practices, and human-computer interaction design?
 

After initial research and a remote co-design session with the Subversions team, we were able to translate feminist principles and practices into the design elements and features of the website. For example, we communicated collaboration, inclusion, and transformation through horizontal scrolling, a digital-territorial acknowledgement, animated telescopic text, and a submission form centred on privacy and ethical identity representation.
 

Recommended readings
[1] Bardzell, Shaowen. "Feminist HCI: taking stock and outlining an agenda for design." Proceedings of the SIGCHI conference on human factors in computing systems. 2010.
[2] Pujol, Joan, and Marisela Montenegro. "Technology and feminism: A strange couple." Revista de Estudios Sociales 51 (2015): 173-185.
[3] Ward, Matt. 2019. Critical about Critical and Speculative Design. Access the article at: https://speculativeedu.eu/critical-about-critical-and-speculative-design/

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