Sal! Awards 2011

Sal!, the leading restaurant and gastronomy related hub in Puerto Rico, held their first awards last year. Sal! Awards meant to recognize the local food establishments for their type of food, special features and/or experience. Thirty categories were presented. Both the nomination and voting phases were open to and decided by the public.

The prize given to the winning restaurants. Photo by Claudia Robiou.
My work in this project not only limited itself to information architecture, design and art direction of several applications; I was also in charge of managing it in a specific period and was responsible for the overall outcome in terms of website QA for both web and mobile versions, social media implementation, managing the data of the nomination and voting phases, among other tasks.

Process of information architecture processes for Sal! Awards.
Information Architecture
In terms of IA, I developed several iterations of wireframes for the three phases of the website: nomination, voting and winners’ presentation. Notions of gamification and reward systems were implemented to the voting phase of the website, such as badges that the user would earn depending on the amount of categories he or she would vote for. Social media integration was a pivotal aspect of the website, as you could share each category you voted for and the badges you earned in Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Flow charts and site maps were created in order to organize the information translated onto the wireframes.

Selection of pages of the print edition.
Art Direction & Design
I was responsible for the conceptualization and production of several applications, such as the awards’ logo, an icon system for the thirty categories, advertorial campaign for the three phases (nomination, voting and winners/finalists announcement period),  landing pages for web and social media, the physical prize given to the winning restaurant of each category at the awards’ ceremony and the special print edition with all the information about the awards.

Design process for the icon system.
I was also responsible of directing the supplier on the front-end design of the website on all the phases previously mentioned. 

Nominating and voting phases of the website (not the final iteration)

Proyecto Puerto Rico

Print cover and introductory letter
Proyecto Puerto Rico is an editorial and photographic effort between El Nuevo Día and Cervecera de Puerto Rico, which portrays key characters who have helped shape Puerto Rican history with their work in a myriad of arenas (political, social, educational, humanistic, among others).

Center spread for the print application
I worked on the 2011 edition of the project, on its third year. The theme for this edition was wisdom. The profile of the characters chosen for this edition displayed legacy on their respective fields, and a sense of compromise with the Island.

Spread for the profile of Alberto Parachini, economist.
My role as Art Director and Designer was to oversee that the concept of the project was correctly implemented unto the photography and the audiovisual components of the project; plus conceptualize and produce it’s print and web applications. Information architecture was implemented in various phases of the project.

In terms of the photography concept, the subjects were to be deprived of every element that could attribute a specific context. Since some of the subjects are public figures, some of them involved in politics, we wanted to have a ‘pure’ photograph, on a neutral background, with a highly realistic treatment of the subject’s features. This meant that wrinkles were to be emphasized, not retouched. The result was partially achieved. There are some learnings on this aspect of the project. One of them was a lack of supervision of the audiovisual (photographers and videographer) team. A kickoff meeting was held with the graphic and the photographic directors of the newspaper, but the production team wasn’t present on any of the photo shootings to make sure the conceptual vision was successfully taken upon.

This affected the design of the print edition, as some of the photographs did not portray the pureness to be achieved. Therefore, the design had to be more aggressive in order to compensate for the discrepancies between the photography of all the subjects. It already was thought to have a strong typographic direction, with contrast between serif and sans serif font faces. We had a learning in terms of colors and press processes with regular newsprint paper. In various brainstorming sessions, we wanted the publication to be printed in white newsprint, or even matte paper, in order to emphasize white as a symbol of pureness within a non-contextual layout.

Index page for the website, elproyecto.pr.
The website itself was presented as a particular challenge within, as it had to show the previous versions of the project. For the first year of the project, 2009, a flash-based website was developed. There was no website update or implementation on 2010. For this edition, the archival element was pivotal. Various tools and methods were implemented, such as sitemaps and affinity diagrams (shown below). The website was developed with WordPress, a CMS with permitted to integrate all the content from previous editions.

Affinity diagram for Proyecto Puerto Rico’s website
Various sitemaps of the project were worked to organize and prioritize the information that would be shown in the website. At first, a social aspect was to be implemented, but using design thinking techniques, we discovered that it was not going to be useful for this website to work as a social hub, as there were not going to be human resources to maintain it. The website then evolved to function as a historical and archival resource. It also worked as a showcase of the growth of the project in its three years of life.

One of the sitemaps of the project.