8 months ago



FORM AND FFUNCTION AGENCY BREAKDOWN 1 Founder/CEO/ Technical Lead 1 Creative Director 1 Project Manager 1 Marketing Director 1 Art Director 1 UX Designer 3 Developers 1 Dog (100 per cent certifiedGoodBoy) FREELANCE: 1 Data Journalist 1 Studio Administrator 2 Graphic Designers 1 Translator but we managed to get, which gets rid of those pesky superfluous vowels. Who needs them anyway?” FFunction was doing information design before it was really a clearly understood component of communication. As such, locating clients was difficult at first. “In the early days of the studio we created a bunch of self-generated projects for our portfolio, and presented at every conference that would have us,” says Audrée. “Once we had won a couple of awards and landed our first big clients — the Gates Foundation, National Geographic, Heifer International and Edelman all came to us quite early in FFunction’s journey — it was easier to maintain our momentum and attract new clients. I suppose the work began to speak for itself, and we carved out a serious niche in creating interactive data visualisations for UN agencies, major non-profits and corporations. “Because of the nature of our clients’ work and the layers of compliance that Above Some of the FFunction team (L-R): Wim Bruyninckx (Art Director), Chloé-Ève Levasseur (Graphic Designer & UX Specialist), Rebecca Galloway (Marketing Director), Audrée Lapierre (Creative Director) with Byron the dog, Sébastien Pierre (Director, Technical Lead), Jackie Smoak (Project Manager), Sam Dupras (Web Developer) they need to adhere to, we tend to respond to RFPs (Request for Proposal) asourmainbusinessdevelopment method.Iknowalotofstudiosdislike RFPs, but they have their advantages. One major plus is this: if the client has issued an RFP it means they have data, findingsandabudget,andthey’reready towork.Weare,however,verymuch againstspecwork,andhaverefused andlobbiedagainstitonseveral occasionswithinthecontextofa procurement process. “Occasionally we do cold-call organisationsthatwewouldliketowork with, but in general our approach is more aboutcommunicatingFFunction’swork effectively than creating a sales funnel. We don’t do the conference circuit so much these days, but we’re active on social media, and both Sébastien and I occasionally write opinion pieces for design publications, like DesignEdge, AppliedArtsandO’Reilly.Ithelpstostay relevant,Ithink.” “I think that good information design demands a certain level of customisation, which is why the notionofcustomtoolsisvery strong on the dev side of FFunction. Internally, we mostly use custom languages that transpile to JavaScript/HTML/CSSandacustom setoflibrariesforcomponentbasedUIandanimated,interactive data visualisation” SÉBASTIEN PIERRE Co-founder and director 36___________________________________________________profile

FORM AND FFUNCTION MAKING THE CONNECTION one.or /makin -the-connection/index-en.html Shortlisted for the Kantar Information is Beautiful Award 2017 Right now, more than half the world is not connected to the internet, and almost 75 per cent of Africa is offline. Why does this matter? For people living in the poorest parts of the world, access to the internet isn’t a luxury — it’s life-changing. ONE, a campaigning and advocacy organisation, is currently rolling out several programs to address this digital gap. It asked FFunction to create an interactive data visualisation that would highlight some key findings and contextualise them in an engaging, shareable way. As part of ONE’s larger Poverty is Sexist campaign that calls on communities, governments and private sectors around the world to help impoverished women within their countries, this site illustrates how access to the internet and digital media can empower people in developing countries, especially women. Displayed on a single scrolling page, the site presents two main visualisations: one shows the current rate of internet usage in African countries, and another further breaks down the first viz by gender to show the disparity between women and men who use the internet in Africa and around the world. A form at the bottom of the page directs visitors to sign the Poverty is Sexist petition. FFunction’s design team decided the best way to contextualise the data would be to contrast how the internet improves the quality of life in the wealthiest parts of the world, compared with the most poverty-stricken. For example, every month, over 560 billion text messages are sent worldwide. Of course, these can be useful for chatting with friends or receiving appointment reminders. But in sub-Saharan Africa, text messages can enable women who live far from a doctor to receive advice on how to have a safe and healthy pregnancy. Poverty is sexist — in so many ways, girls and women are hit harder and have fewer opportunities, and access to the internet is no different. Women in the poorest countries are almost a third less likely to have access to the Internet than men, and the gap is increasing. Visualising this data and putting some context around it helps engaged citizens, journalists and policymakers to understand the problem in both broad strokes and granular detail, and, hopefully, take action. Above Digging deeper into the data, reveals personal stories that place a human face on this data-based project The business case for working with a client can have many components. As FFunction doesn’t generally do spec work, but how does it decide which clients to work with? Audrée explains the studio’s approach: “We have turned down projects because the timeline is too tight, or doesn’t fit with the other projects already in our pipeline. We’re a boutique agency and intend to remain that way. The upside of working at this scale is that one of the directors is always personally involved in any given project. Crucially, we stay connected to the workflow. The downside is that project planning can be kind of like a game of Tetris because our human resources are limited. “Historically we have also refused projects where our added value is minimal, like branding or website design or PowerPoint design. There are so many extremely competent branding agencies out there that should win those contracts instead. Why choose dataviz specialists for that?” We’re a boutique agency and intend to remain that way. The upside of working at this scale is that one of the directors is always personally involved in any given project Audrée concludes: “And this is somewhat delicate, but we’ve also turned down projects from clients whose businesspracticeswedisagreewithin somefundamentalway.Lastyear,for example, we were approached to do a project by a cigarette company. The budget was good, but the idea of having acigarettemanufactureronourclient roster alongside the Canadian Cancer Society?Itdoesn’tlookright,andit certainly doesn’t feel right.” Oftenanagencyorstudiowillbecome knownforacertaintypeofwork.For FFunction, its approach means its clients are looking to use their data to communicate their messages. Sébastien outlines one project that spoke to FFunction’s design sensibilities: “One of my favourite projects is still HP Earth Insights. It applied a Hewlett-Packard analytics platform to research provided by Conservation International, an NGO dedicated to the protection of the planet and its resources. FFunction’s role was to package data that charted fluctuating biodiversityinkeynationalparksnear the equator. HP Earth Insights contains everything I like about dataviz. There’s an interesting scientific dataset, a data-driven narrative, free exploration that lets users make their own findings and gorgeous photos overlaid with simple, but rich charts.” With specialist design needs and client data that can be presented in many forms, the tools that FFunction uses are varied. “We tend to be early adopters of new tools and plugins,” says Audrée. “There are new ones coming out all the time, and we like to give them a try. We draw user flows in OmniGraffle. Also, we use the Adobe suite a lot (naturally), and Sketch for user interfaces. We prototype using Invision and Craft, and the designers send their files to the devs via Zeplin. We also sketch on old-fashioned paper a lot.” Sébastien also comments: “I think that good information design demands a certain level of customisation, which is profile___________________________________________________ 37