New Seas in Design

Our experience connecting cultural heritage and technology for the Drupal Dev Days 2018

At Marzee Labs we have in our ranks top developers and great designers, who are able to help fill the gaps between backend development and user experience and interface. Recently our team of designers was challenged to design the visual identity to the Drupal Dev Days - international Drupal developers conference to take place in one of our home country - Portugal. It was an amazing experience for our team, we were proud of what we delivered, thus we decided to share how we got there and which were the learning moments along the way.

We are Drupal experts and a significant part of our work is developed using Drupal. We are happy to be part of the Drupal Community. As one of the largest open source communities in the world, the Drupal Community provides important support by creating key documentation, fostering Drupal evolvement and promoting a wide range of networking and learning opportunities to all of the developers, designers, and others that work with Drupal.

We believe in community-driven web development and we pursue to give back to the community by sharing our knowledge and contributing to its growth. Besides writing about our experiences and sharing them, we also help - for a few years now - in the organisation of larger and smaller events, such as the Drupal Dev Days, DrupalCon and Drupal Day Aveiro.

We see in the organisation of those events an opportunity to make Drupal a better CMS and to flourish around the world. It is also a great opportunity to learn and improve as a team, to develop new skills, to meet new people/companies, to share our knowledge and insights with old and newcomers and most importantly to be with friends.

With that in mind, Marzee Labs was honored to be part of the organisation team and thus to contribute to the organisation of the main Drupal developer-oriented international event in Europe - Drupal Dev Days Lisbon 2018 - that took place in Lisbon last month from the 2nd to the 7th of July. Organized by the Drupal Community, the event aimed to gather developers from all over the world who constantly contribute to Drupal progress.

Since most part of our team is Portuguese, it was nice to contribute to a Drupal event in our home, to welcome developers from all over the world to Portugal and show our hospitality. The whole process - from organising to attending the event - was an enriching and learning experience.

Marzee Labs was responsible for the design of the whole Drupal Dev Days Lisbon identity. This was no ordinary project, as it comprised more than just a logo for an event. We understood that the visual identity had to reflect somehow both the culture of a country, as well the culture of a specific technological community. It was a daunting task to come up with an identity that could depict both cultures in a harmonious and credible way.

Portugal is quite rich in terms of culture and history, holding in its heritage lots of symbols and cultural references to pick up from. With this in mind, we opted to choose the Portuguese Tiles as a basis not only for the logo but for the whole visual identity - including it in all materials we would produce. The Portuguese Tiles, aka Azulejos, has a matrix quality, which beside being a strong icon from Portuguese culture, reminded us of the notion of ‘building blocks’ and pixel-like displaying. We’ve found an awesome match with the technological part.

Now instead of only Portuguese motifs, we introduced Drupal and general tech elements into it, modernising it, quickly escalating from just a logo in a square to a whole visual system with coherent iconography and other visual elements.

Keeping in mind that this whole project was 360º, we had to plan and execute specifically for each context, which made us step out of our comfort zone and challenge ourselves. This wasn’t only web based, we were stepping into the ‘printing world’ now.

On top of the new technical aspects we needed to learn, we had to make sure our choices would make sense across all supports, meaning coherence between the website, social media platforms, and printed material like wayfinding, t-shirts, badges, cups, etc.

Overall, and in spite of the time frame, we were working the event like a brand. All our decisions were in conformity with the event organisation, so all progress was done with the agreement of the community and the host venue.

Our ‘client' was different this time. We were working with a considerable number of people spanned across (mainly) the Drupal community and ISCTE (Instituto Universitário de Lisboa), the host venue. Therefore we had to adapt our project management to this reality. We delivered something we were proud of. We learned to work as a community (with its ups and downs) and, most importantly, to filter the really valuable opinions, those with substance and know-how.

In the end, Drupal Dev Days Lisbon stood as a project that elevated us both as a team and as a company. We were part of something bigger, and we got to give it a ‘face’. We contributed to its greatness with a definitive (visual) mark.

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