New work

Koala centred design
Folk helps create a new website with state government to support the protection of koalas in NSW

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2022 delivered some sad news for Australia’s internationally famous furry friends. Koalas are now on the endangered species list. Despite this being relatively recent news, koala conservation efforts have been underway for decades in NSW, since they were first declared vulnerable in NSW and QLD.

Koala conservation in NSW

The NSW Government has committed $193.3 million over 5 years to help double the number of koalas by 2050. This includes the delivery of the NSW Koala Strategy which is the biggest commitment by any government to secure koalas in the wild.

The strategy supports a range of conservation actions that will:

  • provide more habitat for koalas,
  • support local community action,
  • improve koala safety and health, and
  • build our knowledge to improve koala conservation.

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The NSW Koala Country website plays a key role in communicating and delivering on these actions. The original site was developed in 2018 as a key commitment of the then strategy. While the site was developed in consultation with key koala stakeholders, little was known about how communities were engaging with it since its launch, or how it provided value to end users. With a new strategy being released in 2022, the opportunity presented itself to redesign the website to make sure it was effectively meeting the needs of key audiences.

We felt that we were well koala-fied for the task to redesign the existing Koala Country website with the vision to create a hero destination for koala conservation information to support the strategy.

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Meeting the needs and expectations of koala communities

We better understood user content needs and attitudes by speaking with people ranging from conservationists, local council workers (generally those who are actively engaged in koala conservation efforts) and the public, focussing on those who live in Areas of Regional Koala Significance (ARKS).

By speaking to users we learnt:

  • People couldn’t identify what the site was for, or what information they might be able to get from it. Users couldn’t see any clear call to actions across the site.
  • While information was available on the site, people couldn’t navigate the complicated menu or the long scroll pages to find useful content.
  • Peoples’ need for detailed content correlated with their level of expertise or experience in koala conservation. The site needed to start with light content that would introduce general public to key information, and then allow for further depth to be uncovered through intuitive navigation, if the user is seeking it.

Putting koala conservation front and centre

We gave the website a clear proposition and purpose, structuring the homepage and content so that no matter how users enter the site, they can clearly identify what it is and who it is for, and navigate the available information simply and easily.

Using the NSW Digital Design System (DDS), we created a modern and refreshed design that put koalas front and centre and allowed for the creation of engaging content in every section. The DDS clearly connected the Koala Strategy and conservation efforts to government, yet we were able to create a distinct and bold identity by utilising an alternative colour palette that reflects the Australian identity koalas so often represent.

Through content design we created a clear hierarchy of information, creating distinct areas for different audiences. Clear call to actions now exist across all pages, ensuring the site drives people to useful, actionable information to support their koala conservation efforts.

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The new website will provide a platform for the koala conservation community to share their stories, successes, and challenges. It supports NSW Government efforts to increase the awareness around Koala conservation and share what the government is doing to support this by creating a high koala-ty website that is simple to use.

Check out the new koala country website here:

Written by:
Laurence Publico,
Product Designer