Fresh From The Field – Engine for Empathy by Optimal Workshop

11 months ago by

Optimal Workshop’s 2021 Strategy document needed to be easily digestible, clean, and professional, yet withstand their core values of being approachable, curious, and bold. Using illustrations to visualise complex ideas and concepts in the most simplest of ways, they pulled it all together to create something uniquely playful.

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The Brief:

Optimal Workshop provides usability testing tools and research methods to help researchers, designers and information architects improve the user experience of their products. OW inspires people to put people at the heart of their decision making, so we put people at the heart of ours too.


The 2021 Strategy document was intended for OW’s board members, their own people, shareholders, and potential investors, and so the document needed to be easily digestible, clean, and professional, yet withstand Optimal’s core values of being approachable, curious, and bold. From a design point of view, we needed to stay within their recent brand refresh whilst creating something uniquely playful.

 The Design Response:

We agreed on the theme of ‘Engine for Empathy’, a term that is familiar to the UX industry and so decided upon “some sort of deconstruction diagram, showing what goes into and out of such an engine”. We took this and ran with it.

We use an ‘Engine for Empathy’ as the central narrative / graphic piece to navigate the document. The engine is shown in its entirety on the front cover. It is then ‘deconstructed’ throughout the document showing how each piece of the engine fits into the overall Strategic vision for Optimal workshop.

The Illustration is an expression and extension of OW’s tone of voice and brand. The illustration has a hand-drawn linear look and feels abstract and sketchy but always intentional and polished. Illustrations are the main communicator in this document to visualise complex ideas and concepts in the most simplest of ways. Abstract characters are used to represent concepts, objects and people, switching up the colours, shapes, expressions, and limb length to make each one feel unique and quirky.

The Results:

The result? A 38-page, A4, printed booklet that helps inspire and engage readers whilst familiarising their quirky, fun brand culture and business ethos.

This project is a finalist at the 2021 Best Awards for Design Craft/Illustration.

The Collaborators (creative team): 
Studio: Strategy
website: strategycreative.com
Instagram: @strategycreative @strategychristchurch
Illustrator: @lorynengelsman

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