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Celebrating cultural resurgence through a new website experience

The challenge 

The Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS) is Australia’s only national institution focused exclusively on the diverse history, cultures and heritage of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australia.

This unique institution works at the intersection between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, the government, the cultural sector, and the public in Australia and around the world.

Analytics highlighted significant increases in website traffic, as the site has become a more popular, reliable source of information for many people.

Working together 

33 Creative – a First Nations media, communications and events company, was engaged by AIATSIS to develop their new visual identity and communications strategy. The brand refresh was developed through consultation with AIATSIS stakeholders including First Nation Australians, and features stunning artwork by Yuwaalaraay woman Lucy Simpson of Gaawaa Miyay. Recognising Folk’s strengths in human-centred design, 33 Creative then reached out to partner with us for the website phase of the project.

Working closely with 33 Creative and AIATSIS, Folk was able to reimagine the website and design an engaging, accessible, and vibrant experience that enables AIATSIS to better showcase and celebrate the cultural resurgence of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.


Digital transformation

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What we did 

Using a human-centred approach, we conducted research with users to understand their needs, expectations and behaviours. Our insights informed the design of prototypes which we took into testing sessions to get the users perspective on what worked and what could be improved. 

User testing helped us to simplify navigation pathways and user experience. Each distinct section of the website now has a clear purpose and takes users on a journey of exploration and discovery with clear signposts along the way. 

Using the newly created visual identity developed by 33 Creative, Folk designed an engaging and vibrant user interface highlighting key content and functionality, focusing on Indigenous content and voices throughout.  

Our key activities included:

- Site analytics
- Stakeholder consultations
- IA, wireframe and prototype development
- User sessions to test IA, prototypes, flows and language
- Product identity and visual design

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Elevating the importance of heritage and family history 

For Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, connecting with their heritage and family history is important, and AIATSIS provides unique services to support this connection. 

The Family History team at AIATSIS were experiencing high numbers of inbound calls. They needed the website to better support users to self-service and guide users to important information. 

In response, the new website makes it easier for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to find out how to connect with their family history and heritage. A dedicated ‘family history’ section, where important content about ‘finding your family’ is centralised and easily accessible in one place. 

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Showcasing culture, celebrating heritage

AIATSIS preserves a growing collection of over 1 million items encompassing films, photographs, audio recordings, art and artefacts, printed and other resource materials.  

To help guide decision making, a series of design principles and brand personality traits were co-created by Folk, 33 Creative and AIATSIS. These principles focused on highlighting the content, simplifying the user experience and ensuring the distinct brand aesthetic was communicated too. 

Folk’s approach to the user interface design showcases AIATSIS’ rich collection of content in a simple, accessible way. As a result, the design elevates the written and visual content whilst making it much easier for people to use and explore. 

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Building genuine partnerships to deliver better outcomes

The partnership between Folk, 33 Creative and AIATSIS on this project was central to its success, with a real sense of purpose and team spirit amongst the project team members.

33 Creative and AIATSIS staff and stakeholders with Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander heritage who worked on the project offered their invaluable knowledge and life experiences to the project. By improving their website experience, AIATSIS provides a humanistic, cultural, and educational destination for people to access the vital information and stories that help shape the national narrative. 

“In the year since its launch, the AIATSIS website has seen an 8.5% increase in users, with the ‘Explore’ section noting a 44% increase in unique visits. In addition, the Australian Good Design Awards recognised our collective effort with AIATSIS and 33 Creative with a gold award in the digital design category in the 2021 Australian Good Design Awards".

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Explore the website here