Delightful Ethical Digital
A man works a night by a SolarAid light

SolarAid

Fighting poverty and climate change through entrepreneurship, storytelling and innovative design

How we helped

The challenge

Almost six hundred million people in Africa live without electricity, which has a dramatic impact on their health, children’s education and opportunities for economic development. SolarAid has been working to combat this issue at its source for 14 years, stimulating local markets in portable solar lights, and transforming families and communities in the process.

Driven by fundraising in the UK and beyond, the organisation develops ‘trade, not aid’ models, partnering with local entrepreneurs through its SunnyMoney social enterprise. This creates sustainable markets for solar lights, primarily in Malawi and Zambia, all of which fights poverty and climate change. 

Audiences, user personas and journeys for SolarAid
Desktop menu design for SolarAid website
The new SolarAid homepage design by Fat Beehive
The discovery process led to a bold new design direction, including full-screen black menu

The brief

SolarAid has got a genuinely innovative marketing, fundraising and entrepreneurship model, but their old site’s outdated look and feel just didn’t reflect this. 

The team needed a website that showcased this incredible work and the positive values that underpin it, with key priorities being to increase donations, demonstrate data-driven impact and encourage more supporters to join the movement.

The process

Our discovery process began by narrowing target audiences and defining their needs from the site. We developed rich user personas and journeys which served as our ‘north stars’ during the design and build, ensuring we kept users’ needs front of mind. 

We then cast our creative net wide, investigating options for marketing campaigns, microsites, film scripts, interactive website devices and more. 

Animated gif of a campaign template design for the new SolarAid website
Newsletter sign up design for SolarAid website
New website designs for SolarAid
A flexible campaign template enables SolarAid to use their assets to their full potential

The solution

Our research revealed a real wow moment: when a beneficiary first switches on a SolarAid light, it transforms their future as well as their immediate surroundings.  To bring this sense of wonder and possibility to site users, we designed a dramatic hover device that highlights images. Check out how we deployed it in the footer as an extra moment of delight!

The rich yellow, pink and orange colour palette vitalises the brand, while the high-quality typography suits SolarAid’s professional, data-driven methodology. Increased use of black adds drama and creates a visual link to the wider SolarAid narrative of ‘from dark to light’, especially in the full-screen menu at desktop view. 

Impact calculator design for the new SolarAid website
Black, pink, orange and yellow give the site a memorable personality

As storytelling is key to SolarAid’s new communications strategy, we built an immersive and flexible template for the website editors. Full-screen image and text components can be adapted in multiple ways for each new campaign, with one including a digital ‘on switch’ to launch a video player – another subtle feature to bring home the charity’s transformational message.

To contextualise the incredible data SolarAid has available, we updated their innovative ‘impact calculator’ into a short story that users can play a part in. This softens the donation ask and helps immediately show the measurable effect of a donation.

Screen designs from the new Solar Aid website

Results

With space for large imagery, impact stats and rich related content, users have clear pathways to engage with SolarAid in the way that’s right for them. Post-launch we’re testing and tweaking pages to iteratively improve user journeys, refine the donation flow and ultimately increase this incredible charity’s impact.

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