DM7903 Design Practice - Boost Your Good App design

Project outline

To create an application with impact. I wanted to investigate the bringing together of community when the whole country was in lock down. People seemed to care a bit more about their neighbours, their family and their health (insert NHS stats here), it would not have been the same experience for everyone, but the pandemic was a life changing moment in our recent history. The idea of BIG society (coined by David Cameron 2009 [ONLINE]) “as communities we can all do small deed to help one another.”

 

For this idea I felt that I would need to understand key principals of the psychology of human motivation, persuasion marketing and aligning design strategy with human behaviour, also a futurist approach to cultural change.

 

The areas I wanted to develop myself was user experience design, the design of the entire process of acquiring and integrating the product, including aspects of branding, design, usability and function. Don Norman, Cognitive Scientist & User Experience Architect (NNGroup) coined the phrase in the late 1990s User Experience (Emil Lamprecht 2021 [ONLINE]) “User experience encompasses all aspects of the end-user’s interaction with the company, its services, and its products.” Don Norman.

 

I also wanted to consider a user interface approach the joy of the product itself and how it makes the audience feel while using it.

 

Technologies I will use:

Adobe XD for wireframing, Adobe InDesign for layouts and ideas, Adobe Illustrator for logo design and branding.

 

New processes:

Empathy Mapping, user journey, gamification, comic book genre theory and design.

How to review my project idea…

I decided that a SWOT analysis approach would not be applicable to this project, so after some research I decided upon a SOAR approach: Strengths  Opportunities, Aspirations and Results.

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Positive connections

In this section:

  • Psychology of human motivation

  • Persuasion marketing and aligning design strategy with human behaviour

  • Futurist approach to cultural change.

 

The app poses the question How are people positively connecting today in 2021, after post lockdown measures?

 

The pandemic has seen a sharp rise in the building of online communities. Online ordering for supermarket food, the rise of Amazon/ebay/online shops for goods, also essential services online for example blood test appointments, opticians’ appointments and doctors telephone calls. YouTube access/recording and uploading content by organisations in the UK that would not necessarily use online involvement methods all the time saw a rise ie the church.

 

A surge in trends at this time of pandemic are predictable to a certain extent as the societal, economic, environmental and political landscape allowed for a change to occur. The definition of a trend is that it has an “impact particularly on a group of people”. (Dragt, Els 2017), “it is not a fad or hype”.

 

“I see trends as a change in consumer mind-sets. These are often shifts that take a few years to drip down into the mainstream. So, while the change mind-set is a slow shift, keeping up with the manifestations is where we have to go fast.”  Pernille Kok-Jensen, Connectivity Director at MARE (Dragt, Els, Pg42, 2017)

The UK pandemic forced the hand of the digitisation trend across generations and socio-economic groups, the moment was right for reflection and change, of action towards enabling our lives to continue in the lockdown state. Our ‘Instrumental Values’ as Kjær describes as ‘preferable modes of behaviour’… Instrumental values listed as: Cheerfulness, ambition, love, cleanliness, self-control, capability, courage, politeness, honesty, imagination, independence, intellect, broad - mindedness, logic, obedience, helpfulness, responsibility, forgiveness. The instrumental values help by people led to the trend changing the landscape we normally function. Dragt explains that “A value is a belief or practice about what is desirable, worthwhile or important to an individual or society. Values can be held collectively; they lie at the core of all cultures. At the same time every individual can experience and ‘colour’ a value in their own personal way. Your values become part of your personality over time add they affect your behaviour.” (Dragt, Els, Pg46, 2017)

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Dragt’s quote above led me to research how we persuade a culture or society when it has had its values re-assessed by the individuals in it, in order to follow a more positive path, to not give in to fear but to stand strong together. 

 

The answer to this would be to gain the influence and trust of the ’early adopters’ (Rogers 2003), something which marks the success of social media platforms; Instagram and TikTok for example. The Early adopters make up ‘13.5% of the system’ (Dragt, Els, Pg50, 2017), they are the spokespeople and a go to source for the ‘early majority’ (34% of the system) (Rogers 2003), these are the targets for a cultural shift and change, early adopters can help this process when they are on board.

 

Trend research requires the analysis to verify the trend by cross referencing the findings.

Working on the boost your good app design, I needed to work within acceptable contexts to enable adoption of the app itself. I was required to think about the look and feel of the design and make references to know methods of other app’s so the users can blend their interactions seamlessly from one social media app to another. I will discuss hepatics and design later in this paper.

Marketing to persuaders

Through this module I have researched how we can make change happen, an app on its own doesn’t necessarily bring change (although we can say that Facebook changed the social media landscape). Albert Bandura cited four necessary steps for behavioural change: Attention – the learner/audience needs to pay attention – cut through the other voices. Retention - Techniques to aid retention of information. Reproduction - performing the observable behaviour and Motivation - motivated enough to imitate the behaviour that was modelled. (Dr. Serhat Kurt 2020 [Accessed online]) 

 

Boost your good could really have a chance at assisting change on a much bigger level, if it sought to embrace this model. If we (as a society) attempt to push the bad news to one side and allow good news to prevail – it poses the question; what difference would this make to our society and world?

 

Vance Packard in his book ‘the hidden persuaders’ (2007) used the idea of storytelling and persuasion required by the words and design to enable a product to succeed or fail. Packard documents how the social climate changed in the late 1950s and how advertising adopted a new wave of ‘mind control’ over consumers.

 

The power of persuasion has proven that consumers can be manipulated to purchase, then can we apply this to good thoughts deeds and actions? 

 

Good news doesn’t travel as fast as bad news does, the power of storytelling has been ever present and the consumer can digest these messages at almost anytime and anywhere. It begs the question; does this make the media the most powerful organisation of all? It can change our mood (government daily briefings), we can panic buy (toilet rolls in the pandemic), we can donate to disaster funds (fundraising for the NHS), or we can hate others in the world for wanting what we have (the plight of the refugee).

 

When thinking of the phrase’s good news and bad news, who will benefit from bad news? Bad news is usually concerned with the wants and needs of our society; petrol, xmas dinner, toilet rolls for example. The basic needs we rely on being covered Abraham Maslow and his ‘Hierarchy of Needs’ theory has influenced business strategy and in turn society. 

Maslow in a later paper ‘Toward a psychology of being’ referred to a ‘developmental order’ (Kenrick et al 2010), where with age we prioritise the needs we find most important, helping others it could be argued comes after the presumed selfishness of the teenage brain (Jensen, 2015), a person may look outside of themselves, to the world and to wider society.

 

The benefits of good news for business can win financial gain if the consumer feels better about decisions or the product they sell because by associating themselves with the brand they are also aligning their values provides businesses with a very powerful tool, and to harness this within an app could be the vehicle to spread the goodness into society. Good news makes people’s minds feel lighter, we look up and not down. 

Kindness and your heart

A piece of research by Stephen Post (2005) asks the question; ‘What happens to the health and longevity of people who are (a) emotionally kind, (b) charitable in their actions toward others without being overwhelmed, or both?’ He cites B Frederickson (The value of positive emotions: 2003) who discovered that “when people feel good, their thinking becomes more creative, integrative, flexible and open to information” furthering the premise that the app boost your good would make a difference within the social media platforms of today’s society.

 

Social media organisations “should take note that visitor/patrons or customers of their organisation enjoy being co-creators of content. This allows for connection, creation and collaboration…. it allows for storytelling to evolve”. (Klob, 2013 p129)

 

In an online world where “the people formally known as the audience” (Rosen, 2006) “consumers expect an equal voice in the organisation…” The Boost Your Good app would provide a space within which to create a cultural life and reinforce the community that the audience care about. Giving voice to others brings to life the discussions surrounding the positive aspects of the app’s ethos. The converse voices on platforms such as Twitter have so often been criticised as the ‘last staw’ for vulnerable famous personas, and those ‘voices’ have caused damage and been found to contribute to the ending of life. Such negativity is not a discussion, it is a framing for hate and that negativity seems to spread through the anonymity of a social network.

 

Posting a positive story or meme cannot encourage such negativity – the worst could be being called a ‘do gooder’ and that would reflect badly on the person writing that more so than the post itself, it would not, I believe, perpetuate negativity.

 

The claim that Improving your mood by helping others can ‘add up to seven years to your life’ (source; https://doit.life/wellbeingmatters) seemed alarming but I have found several scholarly articles where “engaging in helping and self-forgetful activities, and a serene spirituality may thus contribute to good health and longevity by preventing the acceleration of aging at the cellular level.” Stephen Post cites (Sapolsky, 2004) for this and much more research is required, but the statistics can be seen.

 

All these things happened in a sharp upward curve when we all became isolated in our homes at the beginning of the pandemic in the UK in March 2020. The collective consciousness became a level playing field while panic and observation of rules in the first lockdown did make us all feel in the same boat… this point was illustrated perfectly by Barbara Kelley and a quote by Damian Barr in May 2020:

“We are not all in the same boat. We are all in the same storm. Some are on super-yachts. Some have just the one oar.”

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Realising that some people were not coping made us look at our other fellow humans in a different light, communities came together to clap for the NHS, an idea launched by Annemarie Plas : “Knowing it was happening across the country created a rare feeling of unity, as well as introducing many of us to our neighbours for the first time.” (Guardian.com [ONLINE]). This example of collective good moves towards proving the point that the app is needed and could make a difference/

Empathy

 

The Boost your good app also requires the audience/community interaction to keep the momentum of the good news/post going. The table in Appendix 1 (Kolb, B.M. 2013). provided me with excellent research questions to pose to inform the user experience design of the application itself.  

 

Klob refers to one of the strategies for attracting new consumers to your website/app is to make competitor research, analyse audience perception and conduct motivation research. Klob advocates the Projective techniques evoke an emotional response to a question from the consumer. This is done by adding a speech bubble to the question and allowing the answer to be written by the consumer. The use of the ‘Comic strip’ speech bubble is interesting to my project as I am investigating the right tone to set for the app itself and comic book genre seems to allow for good audience connection.

 

Empathy vs sympathy are terms often confused…. sympathy is how you might expect the user to have difficulties. Empathy is walking in their shoes and understanding a mirroring their experience.

 

In the book ‘Aligning design strategy with human behaviour’ Indi Young demonstrates the use of practical empathy circles to influence the design process.

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The linking of these two aspects are important to the success of app, the design process needs to fulfil the areas I have already spoken about in order to create change.

The three principles provide some broad context for how marketers can find their way back to an empathetic core of marketing (Pedersen, C., 2021, pg475). Working within these two frameworks would allow my design and process to align within the app creation.

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Futurist approach to changing culture

Through my research and seeking the values towards the Boost your Good app could attain, a futurist approach to the longevity of the app’s motives seemed to be a logical place to find insight. Social media moves fast, the wants and needs are determined by society, economic and global issues, a futurist approach works with foresight and mapping change, and influencing those towards preferable outcomes.

 

If we want a more positive and happier society the app itself is the vehicle for change and those who engage in it must believe that they can promote that change. The app promotes Outbound Change – which is the change people produce themselves through planning and action. Inbound change – is the change that happens to people. These two points cited in the book ‘teaching about the future’ (Bishop, 2012) leads to the concept that “people are not pure victims of the world; they always have some discretion… people cannot have any future they want; the world limits their influence by what is does or does not allow.” (Bishop 2012, pg20). A tide therefore of conscious extension can change the world and make it bend to our will, the voice of the ‘people formally known as the audience’ (Rosen, 2006).

Design research

My initial idea for the app design was about social inclusion and safety, through my research I came across the million hands project as I was concerned with doing good deeds. The Deeds wording made me associate with the scouting movement and the discovery of their project.

From the Scouting project A Million Hands, I was inspired to develop my project to reach beyond the scouting community and fulfil a gap I could see with promoting the United Nations 17 Sustainable Development Goals.

 

The United Nations 17 Sustainable Development Goals (Appendix 2 - Aligned to my six app themes) are for all UN Member States to work towards the 169 targets within the global goals, so we all improve each others lives no matter where we come from. The Conference of the Parties (the 26th meeting happened in Glasgow 2021 - COP26) also has at its core these principals and goals. The World Health organisation take up three of the UN SDGs as the core of their targets so the impact of these global ideas start with far reaching organisations. 

My question for the Boost Your Good app was how could I promote the SDGs? How do we have these 17 goals impact our lives and we can then contribute up the system instead of it being a top down approach…. realistically do the people ever get to hear or implement these goals at the ground level?

 

I feel disconnected from the UN’s goals, I had not even heard of them until I research a project in my first semester studying my MA. My aim is to bring these goals closer to people, to feel connected by them and influence change, through positive actions.

17 SDG group to BYG themes.png

Communication with the scouting organisation

I contacted the Scouts organisation directly. It took a while to get a response (10 weeks) but they did answer the questions posed to them see Appendix 4. 

 

The Million Hands project began in 2013 bringing 10 young people together from research conducted about themes that mattered to them the most. Its inception was to marry up the enthusiasm form the young people to charity partners to have a huge impact. “By linking to the SDG’s we are able to highlight how the work our young people is doing contributes to the global goals” Answer to Questions 3.

 

I gained good insight into how joined up nature of these global organisations are, the Scouts told me that they work with other organisations on a variety of projects and share data/insights to allow for greater information.

 

The Scouts are measuring their campaign, “By 2023, our target is to have 50% of our young people taking part in habitual social action” Answer to Questions 5. They are also as an organisation that look outside themselves, they are setting up groups with young children in socially deprived areas to try and grow provision to assist in positively helping others.

Ideation and Prototyping

I found that journalling ideas, sketches and notes was a good place to try and figure out a design and content for the app itself. I have been working on an idea to illustrate my app, by means of collage – re-purposing images to fit my cause. https://www.scahilldesign.co.uk/post/boost-your-good-sketchbook

 

Group feedback from the week 7 presentation, highlighted my collage approach as a really unique proposition. An example was given to me about the Tyrrell’s crisps adverts due to their re-purposing of old photography into something new. We also spoke of the environmental friendliness of this by reusing images and not wasting carbon making new ones.

 

Good deeds could be narrative for the themes of right and wrong -  or good vs evil. Appendix 5.

“Empathy is, ironically, often used for persuasion. In marketing, in politics, in media – the purpose of understanding someone else is often to induce a change is their beliefs or behaviour.” (Young, I 2015, pg38) 

 

From the notion of good vs evil the target audiences and potential look for the app to have looked to comic book style and that of pop art. Comic book graphics were born out of a style of pictorial narratives in newspapers in 1919… they fitted the desire for social commentary, need for political change these topics were easier to consume in this art form as they take the bite out of the cause and delay the sting! https://www.scahilldesign.co.uk/post/comics-and-heroes

 

Two comic example of user experience testing within the Marvel Universe illustrates this metaphor:

 

1.  Tony stark made prototype suits, #34 #52 etc each one slightly different tested and then amended.

some with terrible design flaws. Access the clip here: https://youtu.be/WNu6fRo_7fg

 

2. Tony stark made suit #17A it comes to rescue Spider-Man from the alien spaceship with a built in parachute … ux in practice. Access the clip here: https://youtu.be/gZlW4CGcwRc

 

These two examples illustrate UX thinking, put the thought in before the need arises for the user - a pleasant experience when everything is in place.

Iteration

To start with the app was called ‘Helping Others’ it was a working title until the ideas came together. Through my journal I worked up some iterations of how the logo should look and feel and the name.
See below:

Boost logo initial designs
Boost logo initial designs

sketch book examples of design thinking

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Click to expand the images below of my sketchbook pages:

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From these initial designs I worked up in Illustrator some of the logo ideas:

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Fig. 10 :   Mid fidelity logo designs

I then selected the best ones and place the logos next to the comic book theme, so I had a mock up to reference:

Logo mock ups in context
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Fig. 11 :   High fidelity logo designs

I presented my logos for critique review in Week 12 … I have been through several iterations to settle on the green Boost your Good design. 

After the critique and feedback I worked out some variations to the original file and took on board the feedback to make it more dynamic, like you would see in comic books.

 

I created six variation versions and asked my cohort to review them. From this feedback and discussion and alterations to the design, I am happy to go with logo choice 6 as my final design.

 

There is merit in the two black and white versions as they could be used when required in a small size and when colour is not appropriate.

 

The ideate and prototype feedback loop allowed me to find a design that had impact and I felt I was agile in my approach to allow for alterations that improved the design.

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Fig. 13 :   Final logo

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Fig. 12 :   Stage 2 Chosen logo

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From the selected brand logo the colours  were influenced from the UN’s SDGs, and the 1950s comic book styles.

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Fig. 14 :   Brand Doc

I wanted to group the app under six themes, 17
SDG goals seems too many for the user to choose from. I began my design using the colour pallet I had chosen and then settled on the more graphic approach with comic book styling in version 2.

Process design flow chart puts empathy at the start of a journey  using the comic style would place people’s expectations in a good Vs evil frame of mind form the outset. 

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Fig. 16 : process flow chart

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Fig. 15 : Six theme design iterations

Competitor App’s offering similar content:
Do it life,  Action for Happiness and Samsung Global Goals.  Appendix 6 for comparison table.  

Examples 

Margaret De Heer illustrated a comic book for the UN SDG’s she illustrated the 17 points and summed it up with asking young people to; think, talk, dream, write, make art and act on it.  Unicef also used comic /super hero characters for their worlds largest lesson India.

Marvel produced a Hero Project set of comics aimed at children, each character had a different super power: empathy, limb difference, lost his eyesight, power of puzzles, hearing aids, community service, love of reading, amplify the voices of other indigenous children, loves proving people wrong, give back to those who serve, build more homes, protecting national monuments, care and safekeeping of all kinds of creatures, distribute solar-powered lamps, science for good, seeds of hope growing food, provide community outreach and support for families.

 

There are twenty episodes overall and are a streaming cartoon over Disney+.

https://www.marvel.com/articles/tv-shows/read-all-20-free-marvel-s-hero-project-comics-on-marvel-unlimited 

The mass market use of the comic book allows me to reference art history and popular culture, it is a useful metaphor for doing good and battling the demons. It also will allow an element of fun to be had with the design and the content.

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Fig. 17 : Margaret De Heer

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Fig. 18 : Marvel hero project

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Fig. 19 : Unicef example

Why will people stay engaged UX – the answer is gamification

Even organisations that deal with finance have taken their queues from games – this one by moneysupermarket has been styled similar to that of Fortnight characters, those characters are all battling for a good price on insurance. The look of gaming infiltrates into other genres and becomes commonplace. 

 

Gamification of the app, is necessary in order to produce continued interaction and responses. The hearts idea by Boosting your hearts total in the app design will allow for a leader board scenario, and those in the uppermost boosted areas to get actual badges/ rewards from the UN and thanks from other organisations, all could be listed on the profile page in the app itself – held forever to be seen.

 

The user journey in the app below illustrating integration into other causes:

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Fig. 21 : App User Journey linking to other organisations

Useability and accessibility for the app, comfort and not getting in the way of the action.

New systems of hand hold and hepatics being introduced so we all use the hand held device in the same way. See Appendix 7.

 

Anatomy of a comic page

The best thing about utilising the comic genre is that iteration, storytelling and sketching is at the heart of the planning a comic. The article here: https://www.clipstudio.net/how-to-draw/archives/160963 by Steve Ellis, perfectly describes his process, the flow of a comic page should be top down, left to right,emphasis is given by close up details of characters, long shots of landscape, or a double frame with the long to a close up in the same panel. Ellis talks of the importance of the gutter spacing between images as it acts as a breath for the comic reader. If you play with these element you can create more dynamism. 

 

With the rise of our consumption of websites and reading material on a smartphone, the rise of Webtoon comics add another dimension literally: 690px x 7000px downward scrolling action to tell a narrative. This approach I see more with my app, 

 

After some research in the field of comics, I felt really inspired by Frank Miller’s his style is derived from a classic, black and white crime noir to construct his near abstract compositions. I enjoyed making a homage to them and finding new techniques to produce similar results.

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Fig. 22: https://frankmillerink.com

Fig. 23 ; My own play on crime noir

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Conclusion

The main objectives for this project were: 

1.    Find a way to engage consumers into a new platform.

2.    Prototype and creation of my own digital assets. 

 

My goals regarding the project became more about seeking the answers to how social media can affect the follower/audience and how to utilised this to elevate an app into a new positive arena, and provide a positive social profile for people to reflect on and share.

 

My Aims for Engagement were:

  • A working prototype of the app 

  • Design a brand to drive engagement for the app

  • Find organisations that are using the UN 17 SDGs in the mobile space

  • Utilise theories to make the design robust

  • How will people use the screen of my app design UI

  • Why will people stay engaged UX – gamification

  • Follow a journey of how this app could integrate into other causes

  • Work on the content of the app using the comic book style

  • Creation of Characters good vs evil

 

Why is my app different? 

  • It allows you to build a positive profile on social media

  • You can promote good deeds, thoughts, and encouragement to your community and beyond – on other social media apps.

  • It has a reward system to allow you to see progress over a period of time. The hearts reward system is a known icon that people will either take as a love/like or in a gamer sense - improving your life score.

  • So the app provides a community and a resource for you to Boost Your Good. There is not need to reinvent the wheel, just to make more of the user interaction with others and be an active voice to the causes that matter most to the person.

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Animation of the intro page

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I found my journey through this project was assisted by keeping a journal the supporting evidence of my project allowed me to explore and play with the words and textures.
View journal here: https://www.scahilldesign.co.uk/post/boost-your-good-sketchbook

 

I revisited the SOAR analysis (pg4) – key points I have addressed in my project:

  • Providing support to the UN SDGs from the ground up.

  • Enabling the messages for good from world and local levels. 

  • The App could be central point for other accounts to link to: fundraising, volunteering, internship’s.

  • Change culture through positive social media with online ambassadors.

  • To provide more positivity online.

 

How would I have measure the app’s success:

  • Success to be measured in participation - Posting frequency from members. 

  • The gamification of the app to move people through the levels – get a badge.

  • Fundraising totals from all members.

  • Good causes helped - statistic.

  • Greater awareness of UN goals.

 

My app can be used by groups, promoted by social media, promotion by companies who enjoy helping those with a community policy for example Simply Health - https://www.simplyhealth.co.uk/about-us/community-impact

 

On reflection it would have been good to work with a copywriter to get the tone of my example post right, to feel more lead by the SDG goals. Also to reflect on the importance of user testing, I felt that I had to understand motivation and theory before I could do this, so if this project were to continue the next stage would be user testing and experience feedback. Time is always a pressure when your project involves so many aspects, If I was to progress this idea further I would gather a team to assist in implementation, user testing, programming and launching the app to market. Appendix 8 Ghant chart. Ultimately I believe that Boost Your Good would drive positive content into other people’s hands and enable positivity in doing their own good deeds

The content of this webpage is for my MA course in Digital Media Practice. All references can be found in the buttons at the top of the page. All design work is my own unless otherwise stated.

Characters are from istockphoto. January 2022. Please do not copy any part of this work.

If you have any questions please contact my scahilldesigner@gmail.com