Bringing non-digital experience into the digital team. It’s an advantage

I’m Gail. I’ve been a graphic designer for over 20 years and up to now I’ve worked predominantly in pedestrian signage systems, exhibition and information design projects.

These projects have mostly involved the ordering and arrangement of words (typography) and mapping systems on physical products to help orientate and direct people around cities and spaces.

A picture of Gail Mellows
Gail Mellows

But at the Co-op in the digital team I’m developing typographic guidance for designers and helping them create clear typographic hierarchies without using lots of different sizes and weights (which creates visual noise and makes things harder to read and understand).

In past projects this is what I’ve done in the context of displaying information on physical products in physical environments. Now I’m applying it to information on-screen.

Why am I now working in digital?

Just over 2 years ago I moved from London to Manchester with my partner and daughter. After looking at the design industry in Manchester, I wondered where I fitted into this young, predominantly male, techie and advertising-led industry in which I had few established professional relationships.

I decided to explore other ways of applying what I’d spent years doing

I came across the Ladies that UX group. The first meet-up I went to happened to be at the Co-op in Angel Square. A number of women from the digital team at the Co-op were speaking about their roles and how they had come to be there.

The panel were really encouraging about trying new things career-wise and taking a chance. Ben Terrett was also there and described the principles behind the development of Co-op digital products and services.

There were lots of parallels with my approach and ethos. At the end of the event, feeling pretty nervous, I approached Andrew Travers to talk to him about what I’d been doing.

I’ve now been at Co-op Digital for 2 months

I started by looking at how typography is being used across various products and services and using this information to develop specific typographic guidance for the use of Co-op’s new typeface, Avenir Next. The size, position, colour, juxtaposition, vertical and horizontal spacing of type has a very practical job to do as well as fundamentally conveying the character of Co-op.

For the team that work on our brand I’ve been developing ways of sharing information and best practice for using type, imagery and colour across digital and non-digital applications.

I’ve also had the opportunity to work on the Wills digital service.

It’s a steep learning curve for me

I spend a lot of my time moving bits of type up and down so that they look good as well as make sense as content (familiar ground) and wrestling with things like ‘the fold’, ‘screen real estate’ and CSS modules (unfamiliar ground).

I like the fact that the Digital team at the Co-op is actively encouraging women to work with them and offers flexibility around work and family commitments.

There’s been an open and positive reaction to me bringing my non-digital experience into the digital team. It’s seen as being an advantage.

Gail Mellows
Designer

Service Design workshops in Co-op Food

Last week we began a series of Service Design workshops with our Food business.
We’re working on a two week discovery phase by the end of which we’ll pick three projects to take in Alpha.

The project is being led by myself and Jo Whitfield the Finance Director in Food. We’re working with UsTwo as our service design partner. Importantly, as the unit of delivery is the team, our team is made up of CoopDigital, Food and UsTwo.

The team have visited stores, spoken to our colleagues, spent some time in a depot and with our call centre. We’ve been out talking to customers and members.

Picture of food service design discovery work
Food Service Design discovery

There’s lots to cover so we’ve been sketching user journeys with colleagues from every part of the business. We’re looking for clear user needs that will make things easier for members, customers or colleagues.

Picture of sketches from food service design discovery work
Outputs from a sketching workshop

As we believe in working in the open, we’ll blog about our progress on this blog.

Ben Terrett
Group Design Director

Changes to Co-op Membership

At our AGM on Saturday, Richard shared with members the changes to Co-op Membership that will happen from Autumn this year.

As a member, everytime you buy Co-op branded products and services and use your card, you’ll get 5% back on what you’ve spent – from a loaf of bread to a funeral plan. You can then use that 5% anytime that you want to – against your next purchase or save it up for as long as you like.

As well as the 5% for you, 1% of the value of the Co-op branded products will also go to local causes that you help to choose.

Co-op Membership graphic 5% for you. 1% for your community
Richard Pennycook explaining the changes to Co-op Membership at our AGM 2016

As Ben said yesterday the simplicity of our new logo design is really going to make Co-op products and services stand out, so as a member you can see the items where you’ll get something for you and something for your community.

It’s important that our colleagues and Members’ Council can easily explain membership (we know we’ve made it hard for them in the past) and we also want them to be able to feedback on the experience. This is why over the summer they’ll have access to new Co-op membership first, followed in the Autumn by the rest of our members.

But we aren’t going to stop there. We’ll keep looking at ways to make being a Co-op member even better. And, like Mike said on Saturday we’re committed to radical transparency so we’ll be sharing our progress here on the blog. As a start, in the next few weeks we’ll share the work we’ve done so far looking at how we can create new ways to give members a voice in their Co-op.

Alyson Chadwick
Director of Strategy