Create a list of feelings and visual descriptors to influence construction of the WKDU online design system & style guide.

Specifically I am looking for preferences on


  • typography
  • brand colour
  • line quality
  • line weight
  • line curvature

Cognitive & Cultural

  • conventionality
  • imagery

Things which are a function of UX and not this study

  • content density
  • UI color
  • functionality
  • usability
  • accessibility

Scope of Input

  • The aesthetics question from initial usability surveys
  • Surveys on aesthetic preferences for execs and dj's
  • Contextual inquiry notes from execs (Ben's interviews) and dj's (Natalie's interviews)

The initial usability survey had the question "In your opinion, which clothing/design brand most closely embodies the aesthetic of WKDU?" I'm pulling responses from there.

The aesthetics surveys were built specifically for this topic. This is where a majority of data for this discussion comes from. I matched up two opposing aesthetic descriptors and provided a 4 point likert scale. I realize this isn't the most foolproof of survey designs, but it gets the job done. There were also free response questions at the end.

Contextual inquiry was done on usability of the existing WKDU website. Participants discussed what they liked, what could be improved, and what should be added. I went to look for some quotes about aesthetics in these notes, but discussion was kept almost entirely focused on usability. The good news here is I did my job as UX researcher properly ☺️. Expect more analysis of this data later, during UX discussion.


Aesthetics Survey

Data for the quantitative section was averaged and normalized to a standard deviation in a positive or negative direction, favoring either the first or second option in a given matchup. e.g. for question "Analog vs. Digital", a normalized result of -2 would translate to "Skews Analog" in plain english, whereas a result of 0.9 would translate to "Leans Digital". n=18 total respondents; 6 execs and 12 dj's. Plain English results descending in order of respondent's preference:

where x > 1

  • Skews Artistic
  • Skews Playful
  • Skews Organic

where x > 0.5

  • Leans Social
  • Leans Economical
  • Leans Experimental
  • Leans Crisp
  • Leans Craftsmanlike

There was a slight lean towards Stimulating (vs. cozy), and Weathered (vs. mint condition), but none of these were statistically significant, so I've marked them as Neutral. Digital vs. Analog was split evenly among the group, but exec respondents leaned analog.

The most common words from the question "From the above choices, which descriptors do you think are most important to consider while styling wkdu.org 2.0?" were "Social" (5 appearances) and "Playful" (4 appearances).

Responses ran the gamut for the question "Are there any other words you would use to describe how the project should feel?", so i'll talk more about it in the analysis.

Six respondents emphasized the importance of usability and accessibility.

Full Spreadsheet of aesthetics survey results (request to access)

Aesthetics questions on initial survey

The most common sentiments found in the clothing brand responses

  • lofi/patchy/thrifty/hand drawn 4x
  • plain solid t-shirt and jeans 3x
  • skateboarding 3x
  • indie/independent 2x
  • combo of old and new WKDU shirt designs 2x

Aesthetically, how do you feel about wkdu.org currently?

22% (4) == Yikes! Needs a complete overhaul
66% (12) == It's passable, but needs work
11% (2) == Pretty good, wouldn't change too much
0% (0) == Near perfection :chef's-kiss:

Cherry Picked Quotes from Contextual Inquiry

I want to preface all of these quotes by saying that all participants were adamant that usability is the top priority over aesthetics.

"...punk, skater, a dash of Electronic..." — Bart

"Homemade, cute, bum-y, less serious, DIY, minimalist site with focus on brightly colored content, retro/early 2000’s aesthetic?" — Brooklyn

"Everyone who walks into WKDU wears thrift shop clothes. It should feel down to earth, used/recycled, not sleek and shiny." — Derek

"Skate and punk...but inclusive of all WKDU genres" — Dominick

"I love the Matt Marello t-shirt...idk get weird. Zombies or something. The current site definitely feels old. Could be flashier" — Kirby


Here are my summarized thoughts about the data at hand. Keep in mind I am a human with my own set of biases.


For the question, "Are there any other words you would use to describe how the project should feel?", what I felt from the responses was a desire to feel some sense of emotional security from the WKDU website. This is a safe haven where people can escape to and experience something they're really passionate about, with a group of like-minded people. One respondent wanted to feel like they were at a concert. Another wanted to feel like they were hanging out a friend's house. A few dj's wanted to feel a convergence between the chill, seasoned veterans and bubbly freshman energy.

Many WKDU members recognize this hub-like atmosphere where we all come together in the station to enjoy each other’s company and recommendations. Listeners tune in because they want to tap into that energy. In addition to notes about bugs and workflow improvements, there was an overwhelming request from most participants in the contextual inquiry, for more social features. WKDU members want to feel more connected to each other, and DJ's want to feel more connected to listeners. I'm interpreting this to mean that our visual aesthetic must feel authentic to the WKDU collective voice, or else there will be a congitive disconnect when users interact through the platform.


Data from the initial survey suggests that we are definitely looking for a better visual reflection of our collective energy, but we’re a bit skittish about a complete redesign which feels like a departure from who we are. This could take many forms, but what I understand this to mean for the aesthetic design is that we are looking for a union of new experimental styles and familiar styles. This sentiment is backed up by the aesthetics free response prompt where the emergent camps were “simple and unpretentious, to fit the variety of styles we house” and “young, cool, and divergent”. Something to reflect our rebellious spirit, and something to make everyone feel at home.

A final aside: Despite participants asking for more bright colors, the UI designs actually won't be the best place for this, since our imagery varies so widely. A zero tone approach will be the easiest way to make our diverse content shine.


With confidence, I can say we want the design to...

  • Feel hand drawn, free and organic style. This seems to come from our partiality to the punk/skater aesthetic.
  • Focus more on imagery. Fair enough.
  • Feel playful and different. Our voice is certainly unique in the community.
  • Reject convention. Material design and design ecosystems will only stifle us.
  • Reject modernity for modernity's sake. The emergent trends on the web right now are: perfectly rounded components and fonts, with massive drop shadows aka Neuomorphism. Also big fat Grotesque fonts. None of these will work for us.

Aesthetic design experiments will come in the next post.