Tubik Studio/Zealous


Fairer world is within reach
Government & Associations / Webby and People's Voice Winner
Tubik Studio/Zealous

Government & Associations

The project challenges the narrative around crime & poverty, and offers a path to a safer community. Vladyslav Taran, Art Director


Q: Can you briefly describe your project and the concept behind it?

A: Decriminalize Poverty in Tennessee emerged from a report on the criminalization of poverty in Tennessee by the Vera Institute of Justice and Free Hearts, a local organization led by formerly incarcerated women. So Zealous and Tubik translated it into an engaging, interactive storytelling experience, featuring a digital archive of 500+ impacted voices and a campaign hub for the fight against criminalization.

Q: Once you settled on your idea, what influenced your decision on the chosen technical approach? How did it differ or go beyond approaches you’ve taken in the past?

A: Vera and Free Hearts knew their major on-the-ground efforts would shine best as an accessible, wide-reaching digital experience, so they tapped Zealous to translate these complex legal and policy issues into a unique, interactive, story-driven web experience, utilizing a dynamic, “scrollytelling” format that pairs the central narrative with an easily-searchable and filterable database for users to learn from individual stories, themes, or issues.

Q: What were some of your biggest learning and takeaways from this project?

A: Design-forward and story-driven digital experiences are often able to better communicate complex issues than traditional approaches. For many of us, first-person narratives are the main frame through which we see and understand the world, and so we shouldn’t shy away from creative narrative approaches to explain serious topics. They might open up new opportunities for policy discussions and changes that can make a real impact in people’s lives.

Q: What web technologies, approaches, tools, or resources did you use to develop this experience (WordPress, headless, AI, Sublime Text, HTML5, Adobe XD, etc)?

A: We used Figma, Adobe After Effects and WYSIWYG editor as well as Adobe Photoshop, Procreate for illustrations and collages.

Q: How did the final product meet or exceed your expectations? What results did you see?

A: The final product exceeded our expectations. The vibrant, color-forward, and optimistic treatment of the topic, and the centrality of first-person storytelling paired with reaction animation has opened up new possibilities to breathe life into these issues—and equipped Free Hearts and other grassroots advocates with a powerful new tool to shift the public narrative around punishment, poverty, and safety in Tennessee.

Q: Why is this an exciting time to create new digital experiences? How does your team fit into this?

A: The past decade has shown us the power of digital tools in building, popularizing, and sustaining movements for social change. The partners behind this project recognize that through engaging digital storytelling, we have an unique opportunity to achieve transformative change in the criminal legal system—especially since the individual and collective consequences of tough-on-crime politics and policies are often hidden from public view.

Q: How did you reach a good balance of your own creative ideas and technical capabilities with a fair representation of the client’s brand?

A: We had the freedom and flexibility in exploring style without being tied to the client's visual brand identity. Our objective was to take a very informative and detailed report and transform it into an interactive and engaging experience. Through collaboration and communication with the client, we were able to incorporate their feedback and vision while also using our ideas and technical skills to achieve the goal.

Q: What did your initial moodboard, wireframe, or prototype look like? How did those ideas change throughout the design process?

A: We caught a good sense of the project's future look and feel from the very beginning and agreed on the general vision with the client at the design approach stage, using mood boards for efficient communication. The initial design concept was implemented without major changes to the graphics or fonts, with only slight adjustments for the color palette, and throughout the design process, the main idea and concept remained consistent.
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