Designing for Social Good

As CS+Social Good has been growing rapidly in our first year, I’ve been looking forward to sharing some of our design process, as well as a few of the insights we’ve gained along the way.

Design as a principle

Leading the design and marketing team for Stanford’s first technology and social impact organization has been quite the journey, and I didn’t quite know what to expect when I joined CS+Social Good. But over the last few months, as our community growth has accelerated and our programs are starting to launch, it’s proving to be an exhilarating ride, as well as a rich learning ground for understanding the impact of design.

Design is one of our core principles — we believe that good design can support understanding and help nurture a community. Every program in CS+Social Good works directly with the design and marketing team, and while our efforts are most visible in our outreach materials and branding, we make a huge effort to ensure that every member of our team understands the value of design. My team has created a strong visual identity to ensure that consistent branding runs through every piece of work we produce as an organization, and we have put in place a system for constant design feedback.

Some of the work created by the design & marketing team for CS+Social Good partnerships and events

Case study: the CS+Social Good logo

When brainstorming for a complete brand redesign for CS+Social Good, my aim was to create a logo that ties together some of the central principles of our group. After experimenting with some more concrete interpretations of our mission, I decided to go with a look and feel that was a little more abstract to achieve an overall character and spirit rather than confining CS+Social Good to a symbol that might not represent the range of our mission as an organization.

Some early, more concrete explorations

Throughout later iterations, I wanted to keep in mind that CS+Social Good is based in the idea that technology can be used to bring about positive change. In the icon, I decided to use more angular shapes and patterns to add a technical perspective to the logo, and a range of blues and greens to reflect the colors of our globe — a symbol our team really wanted to represent in our earlier explorations and hoped to keep in our new logo iterations.

Playing around with different typefaces

In order to accommodate different layouts and formats our marketing materials would take, I knew that our identity would have to incorporate both a recognizable symbol as well as text. After several rounds of assessing different typeface choices, our team decided on Lato as a neutral and less visually obtrusive option.

A few of the newer iterations in search of a new logo

I added in gradients and transparency to construct a sense of depth and openness; meanwhile, the overall shape of the logo resembles the infinity sign — a subtle reference to infinite potential of computer science to create technology in the service of social good.

The final result

What’s next?

Our CS+Social Good mascot, created with many rounds of iteration and love

CS+Social Good has a lot in store. From the many different programs we’re running on Stanford campus to our efforts to create a greater CS+Social Good community, I have no doubt that our team will keep learning and building, pushing forward our mission of building for good.

Join our Facebook group to be part of the discussion around using tech for social impact! Have a great idea for our mascot’s name? Send us a line at cs4good@cs.stanford.edu.