UI, Brand & Social Media Creatives for Katha Utsav
Katha Utsav is Katha's annual Search for Excellence in Creative Writing, which is designed to draw out the storyteller in every child and cultivate a culture of writing among young people. A series of regional workshops in Delhi, Bangalore, Vadodra and Guwahati culminates into the annual Katha Utsav, that strives to demonstrate the fact that using digital and printed books can go hand in hand and each segment has its unique and justified place in our ecosystem.
The Objective: UI/UX design for Katha Utsav Microsite
During the course of my work at Katha under the Founder & President Geeta Dharmarajan, I had designed multiple 'microsites' for www.katha.org. One such was the Utsav microsite:
I along with my team at Katha Digital Lab brought together various design elements around Katha Utsav- which was a to a lot with children writing stories, and their writing mentors engaging in inspiring conversations with them.
Why did we go for a microsite and not another website?
Smaller organisations, nonprofits, startups and individuals many a times fall prey to the rather seductive idea of launching a new website along with a new programme (new funder, new website!). What could be more thrilling than starting and ideating something from scratch right?
This might not be a good idea always, because with every digital asset you own, create and invest in- there is a constant nurturing to do- both brand as well as its management wise. Smaller teams will struggle to deal with multiple backends, passwords, roles, updating of their domain and renewal in payments. Therefore, micro-sites works best for both web management and SEO perspective.
So, what's a microsite? A microsite is a 'small auxiliary website designed to function as a supplement to a primary website' and they work beautifully well when you have a separate programme under a larger umbrella organisation.
The Katha Utsav website was initially a separate website called ilovereading.in as it was a part of another pan India education campaign by Katha. We soon realised that there were a lot of problems with that:
- Missing engagements & hits on the main site: The Katha Utsav outreach team had been working very hard over the years to make as many students and teachers register for the Utsav and ilovereading.in site as they could. But this activity was limited to just Utsav, and after the gala event was over, there was little or no engagement until next year when Utsav was again rolling out applications.
Therefore, a microsite ensured that the main domain name and the main menu header will remain constant through out the site, so that the audience's engagement is not just limited to one particular programme (here the Utsav) but goes beyond it. They will also end up clicking on the main header menu to go and look up other programmes that they might want to join or contribute to. In Katha's case we really made it a point to have a UX that encourages users to click on menus like volunteer, donate etc which helped immensely! Users then, felt a part of a large whole and felt like contributing as change agents even after the event was over.
- A game of backends: While managing the microsite's content and consistency was not an issue, we needed to create a separate backend for students to upload their stories. We created the utsav.katha.org via Wordpress and was linked via a button on Katha.org/kathautsav site, so that the utsav team could directly handle the content without making the main katha.org site heavy.
Social Media Strategy for #KathaUtsav
Katha Utsav had been on since 2012, and its key visual narrative included a separate Katha Utsav Logo and colourful buntings. In 2017, we continued to use that and created creatives that:
- Were focussed on encouraging teachers & parents to enlist their children for the utsav. We did this because our analytics clearly told us that in the end, the actual users were school teachers & parents themselves of the site etc and children were just the end beneficiary, as very few of them enlisted themselves unless pushed by schools! So our user experience had to be centred around teachers.
This was an important insights to help design the campaign and then our posts were focussed on introducing writing mentors and benefits of helping children build their creative skills, rather than making posts that talked to kids themselves.
- We used Twitter, Instagram and Facebook to engage creative practitioners (writing mentors at the Utsav) actively digitally. Our creatives were widely shared across India by parents and students as well as schools.
After the event on December 2017, we also sent a newsletter with a few winning stories, written by children themselves during the 3 day long festival!
Over the 6 months where we had north, east, west, south and national writing festivals, we managed to send about 4 newsletters pre & post Katha Utsav (dec 2017) in order to keep the engagements going. After all social media is 'social' for a reason!
Therefore, Utsav's microsite taught me to understand the importance of designing microsites well, and integrating the same into social media. This meant constant enagement even after the programme/event was over.