Case Studies

AHRC Websites & the University of Sheffield

Prof. Stephen Laurence of the University of Sheffield’s Department of Philosophy has received grants from the AHRC (formerly the AHRB) to set up an international, multi-discipline body to investigate both questions of innateness & the impact of culture on the human mind. In order to co-ordinate among many different disciplines, countries & themes, Prof. Laurence needed a series of websites, to be maintained by his busy staff.

ardes created a family look of pleasing colours & clear layouts for the AHRC-related websites. Each website employs appropriate photography to “brand” them. For the Innateness Project website, ardes used an engaging photo of a baby, since this is perhaps the best way visually to get across the project’s focus. For the Culture & the Mind Project website, we employed a photograph of a child playing with a boat in the ocean—which is culturally learned behaviour.

The sites are assembled on-the-fly, so Prof. Laurence’s staff can update the sites without having to update the same information on several pages (such as the navigation).

ardes are currently working on Prof. Laurence’s associated Hang Seng Centre website.

Conference & Visitors’ Day Material

Academic conferences require not just posters, but websites, often of an ephemeral nature—they’re intended for view for only a few months. ardes have created many posters over the years, primarily to academic clients. These often take the form of promotional items for conferences. One such example is the AHRC’s Innateness Project Conferences at the University of Sheffield—see the 2001 advertising poster, their 2002, 2003 & their 2004 conference posters. The participants at these conferences discuss which capabilities are innate & which are learned—babies are an especially relevant for them (plus, people are inherently drawn to photos of babies).

We always connect the look of a website to the other graphical work we do. The Hang Seng Centre’s Altruism & Moral Psychology conference’s website & poster play upon its subject: the various paths that altruism can take. We used Poussin’s painting of the “Rape of the Sabine Women” to illustrate an event which provoked a decidedly unusual altruistic response. The rich colours & action of Poussin’s painting draw the viewer in.

A further example of conference material is the website & poster Gender, Body & Objectification Conference. Since objectification is all about treating people as things, ardes took the curse off the subject by playing with imagery of mannequins & make the entire poster look like a playbill for a Noel Coward play. In addition, we also designed amusing nametags with the photo of the mannequins & a “My Name Is…” space!

Academics also use posters to advertise Visitors’ Days, which assist them in gaining new students & thereby revenue for individual departments. Attractive posters advertising the landscape around Sheffield emphasise life beyond the classroom while still suggesting images such as Rodin’s “Thinker”. Other posters use the University of Sheffield’s buildings as abstract shapes & emphasise modernity.


These different projects had different measures. The AHRC websites are designed to give the Projects the prominence they deserve. The Altruism & Moral Psychology conference was very successful & well-publicised, due to the website & posters ardes created. The Gender, Body & Objectification conference’s success was due in no small part to the website & posters created by ardes.

The Philosophy Department’s website & the Visitors’ Day posters had their intended effect: the undergraduate & postgraduate numbers are higher than they’ve ever been.

See more examples of our website & poster design.