Designing for the client’s client

We share an office with one of our clients, Arrowhead Community Employment (ACE). They help people with disabilities actively participate in their community through employment. This work doesn’t stop at finding them a job, but also extends to offering mentorship and encouragement to their client every step of the way. They are a genuine and fun group of people, who care deeply about their vision which is “to see people with disabilities experience the joy, freedom and fulfillment of contributing to society.”

We helped them write this vision, but they help us live it.

Because every day we see their service recipients come in for one reason or another—sometimes it’s counseling, sometimes it’s to help clean our shared space, and sometimes it’s just to hang out. But regularly seeing them interacting in front of us has taught us a vital lesson, and that is to design with the recipient of our client in mind.

It’s easy to get hyper focused into a world of fonts, Pantone colors, and Photoshop hotkeys. It’s natural that our attention and craft will surround these aspects of design. But if we ever get too focused on our screens, we only have to look up to be reminded of the bigger picture. Working alongside ACE gives us the opportunity to see an immediate representation of the day to day living out of vision. The tone of images, the movement of text, the clarity of a design, all allow the day to day work, to be shared with others in a moment. Design then becomes a means through which a person can see their vision for the future state of the world come into view.

A website brings together both crucial information and a feeling about a company. The intentionality in a website can demonstrate to case workers and job coaches alike what the service recipient will experience. It expands the tone, that ACE sets internally, to everyone who interacts with their brand, website, or videos.

In essence, we view it as not just designing websites and logos, but designing the world as we wish to see it—thriving. And when we shift our mindset there, we become designers, salespeople, and project managers who care not just about the client, but the client’s client. We cultivate our client’s success by making their recipient the most successful.

This even removes opportunities for ego to sneak in. We’re here as the helpers to build up and support others. It’s not about us. And there’s a freedom in that. A freedom to find the design that best empowers the individual that this is all about.

While ACE is growing, and The Cultural North is growing, things are getting a little cramped in this office—but working next to our client has been incredible. We know that all clients we interact with go to work every day to accomplish their vision. But seeing it every day has made tangible the hard and fulfilling work of doing a mission for the sake of others. Seeing that happening is infectious. It makes us want to see their vision accomplished as well. Whether through design or encouragement, we want to see people with disabilities experience fulfillment.