Visual conventions are deeply imbedded in the media we communicate with, but as they are conventions, we often don’t notice them until they have been modified or replaced in some way (or when they are simply missing altogether). This project asked us to examine the visual conventions of a chosen community, and then to work within these conventions to communicate something new to that community.

I chose an online forum,, and decided to initiate them into RDA nutrition information. I was very interested in the notion of parts to a whole: it is just as important to see the entirety of Calcium you should ingest daily as the amount within one recipe. My design plays with the visual language of food packaging, cookbooks, and recipe cards to create a colorful tongue-in-cheek filter for the existing website.

This exploration exposed many assumptions I have as a designer—regarding both visual “rules” and speaking to a particular audience. How can you engage a group you’re not a part of without talking down to them or alienating them? How can design bridge the gaps between message makers and message receivers? How do you know when it’s working?


A Community Initiation… from Liese Zahabi on Vimeo.