Core systems

Core – Transforming lives together

Core Systems (NI) Ltd – North Belfast


  • Roisin – Product delivery manager
  • Ellie (Placement student)

About Core systems 

  • Focus on the criminal justice sector
  • 200 thousand users using their products across Australia, USA
  • Challenging
  • How can they help the prisoner while they are incarserated.


To utilize technology to make life better for individuals in the criminal justice system.

For the victim, the workers and the imprisoned.

The problem:

  • Reoffending – within 3 months after release about 50% of them go back.
  • Nothing is being fixed so they try to give them tools while in prison to make sure they do not re-offend.
  • Some come from disadvantaged backgrounds and their needs are not meet before or after prison
  • The average reading age of prisoners is of a  8 – 10 year old.

The solution:

  • Communication with friends and family while in prison to prevent reoffending.
  • Self-service modules (doing things for yourself and not relying on other people) teaches them tools they need for when they are released.
  • E-learning.
  • Shop ordering (Helps them to budget)
  • Meals selection (makes them responsible to make sure they get the food they like).

By allowing them access to these key skills the aim is to help them improve upon themselves and keep up with technology so when they leave they are not alienated.

  • Avoid causing frustration or anger when creating the software to avoid fights or irritating a prisoner.

Working at Core systems

What they need from their people:

  • Curiosity and imagination
  • Creative problem solving
  • Teamwork and collaboration
  • Analytic and critical thinking
  • Initiative and entrepreneurialism

Come forward with your ideas, they appreciate it all.

How they work:

Agile practices – this allows them to develop products very quickly.

What does the flow look like? Is it technically feasible?

Meet every other Thursday to agree on what they will be working on and then spend 2 weeks developing.

  • Product development level
  • Marketing and graphic design
  • Opportunities to work in UI and UX
  • Working on a live product being delivered to customers.

Skype and teams – working remotely atm. Then they will have a hybrid working model by early next year.

Things you get to do:

  • Loads of prototypes to take to people to ensure it is correct. Great way to get feedback
  • Get to work with product rebranding team – Varied role
  • Get to work on UI and UX

Ellie – placement student

  • Been there 4 months
  • Working to create designs for product pathways
  • Working towards a set of existing UI standards
  • Considering the user when doing UX
  • THE USER!!!!!! they have a low level of education so the language, text size and visual element has to be very carefully considered.
  • Working as part of a bigger team
  • Creating prototypes
  • Consistency for better user experience
  • Saves documents with quick description for developers
  • Worked with the business team creating designs for them for marketing
  • Variation in work
  • Her first project was creating a core banner


  • Colour
  • Logo
  • Imagery
  • Get brief and look at previous designs then get some feedback, make some changes and other options then get the final outcome

Creating an e-Book

Web design

The design team is relatively small so you get a lot of design freedom and your input is appreciated.


1- Working from home

  • Was in the office for a few weeks to be introduced.
  • People who were not in the office even messaged her to introduced themselves.
  • She slowly transitioned to working from home.
  • Loads of support to remote working transition.

2- Consider their audience. When they went into prison was even something as old as Facebook a thing?

3- Cortney is working there atm (final year student)

4- What impresses them:

Empathy, understanding the user, creativity, feedback, user research

4- How many placement students can you take on?

Only 1.


02890 722044


  • Interview to get a feel for you
  • December – January

Usability testing

Good reads

  • Don’t make me think revisited by Steve Krug
  • Nielson Norman group articles.

Basic usability rule. Don’t make your users think. Make it easy for your user to use your products. It should be obvious and self explanatory. Don’t overcomplicated.

When it comes to digital products consistency is your friend. Make the aspects of your website easy to process and understand. Th elements in it should resemble their real life counterparts, like for example buttons/call to actions.

Fixation: we only use fixation when the eye is still. This is used when using a digital product or website. Your eye is fixating on words, places and content but the things you fixate on are the only things you will remember. This tells me that the layout of my content needs to be very carefully considerate to make sure my user fixates on what I want them to.

******* Use an eye tracker to see how users use your website. **********

This is why information architecture must be implemented as well as possible to make the process of reading the content much easier.

Try to make use of sensory imagery to trigger the users memory. You can trigger these with words. When you read you don’t actually read every letter but you rely on memory, like for example

You also have to be mindful of the user and their abilities. How old are they? How big is their vocabulary? This is something I need to keep in mind when creating my elements app for kids as using big technical words would result in it being too complicated for kids. Not only does the layout of the information matter but also the selection of the words that are appropriate for the user and demographic.

The idea is not to make users work your way but for you as the designer to create solutions that work best for them.

User testing

If you want a great product you must test. The point of testing is to inform your judgement and decisions. Testing should be an interactive process. It should also be a constant process and not a one off. The more users you get to test your product the more issues you will be able to find to then improve upon.

Before testing your own product it is always a good idea to run a usability test on competitor products – consider it free usability testing with no pressure. Doing this will help you improve your own design.

Types of test:

  1. Think aloud protocol: Get someone to test you product by giving them prompts and asking them to talk through their actions and thoughts as they go; this gives a mind-eye hypothesis.
  2. Standard usability test: In this type of test you are looking for 3 metrics: efficiency, effectiveness and satisfaction. All you need to do is record your screen and audio and you have your test.
  3. Key task testing: Get a participant to do something they would normally do with a product. In this type of test you write your tasks like scenarios and get the user to carry them out.

It’s important to identify 3 or more tasks – it does not have to be the whole product. Have prepared pre-tests and post-test interview questions. Give the participant user written instructions for their first task. Record the start and end time and observations. Then analyze the data.

It can be useful to use a test script highlighting everything you are planning on doing that day.

A good type of post-test surveys is the SUS method (this method provides the most reliable answers) In this type of survey you ask questions about the usability of sections of your site and ask the user to give a number between 1 and 5 with 5 being the best. It gives you numbers to back up your decisions. This then lets you interpret the score.

Users will remember a bad experience. Avoid giving them a bad experience. The more bad experiences the user experiences the more their goodwill for your product will be reduced. This could happen because of information that they want being hidden, Asking for information from the user you don’t actually need, require them to behave in a certain way for the product to work, putting things in their way (Pop-ups). When in doubt apologize to the user when something does not go right for them with your product, this will create a sense of goodwill and trust in a way.

Online usability testing

  1. Usabilityhub
  2. hotjar
  3. usertesting
  4. maze – free
  5. Screenflow or quicktime are great software to record your screen time  – it also helps as then you can watch things back.


Users will remember a bad experience and so when designing it should always be for the user, to champion them in a sense.

Beyond the brand – Week 10

Personal brand, Portfolio website and research blog – These deliverables should demonstrate your understanding of the subject matter covered each week.


This should all be reflected in my work!!!!!!

  • Week 1: Language – values, tone of voice, bios, stories and strategies. This should always be the starting point when creating a brand.
  • Week 2: Monograms – Examples, case studies, requirements, Axes ( how to balance the letters) and sketching.
  • Week 3: Typography – Choosing and using type, Kerning, Anatomy.
  • Week 4: Visual identity – design programme, pictorial and abstract drawing.
  • Week 5: Colour – Colour systems, phycology, culture and meanings.
  • Week 6: Application – Business card, touchpoints, animation.
  • Week 7: Brand guidelines – Guideline documents, considerations and rules.
  • Week 8: Style guides – style guides, pattern libraries, element collage.
  • Week 9: Portfolio website – planning, inspiration, standards, wireframes, Osborne checklist.

Research blogs:

Needs to be updated more often, loads of content missing. Put the time in! Maintain it. if you don’t it will slip. Take an hour a day and post !!!!

  1. Lecture summaries – Class notes.
  2. Independent research (literature reviews, blogs and articles) be critical of your sources. Make sure articles are from a reputable website. Lean more towards book – they are credible.
  3. Backup and development work – paper sketching, you need to draw as much as you digitalise!!! Include all developmental work.
  4. Self-reflection – weekly summaries of what you have learned.
  5. Assigned tasks – progress and final outcome and reflection.


  • Designing brand identity by Alina Wheeler
  • The future beyond brands lovemarks by Kevin Roberts

“The word ‘brand’ is overused, sterile and unimaginative” – Michael Eisner, Disney

To me this maybe suggests that branding needs a bit of a shake up, we are over saturated in them. We are bombarded with branding – it’s everywhere, even in our homes. Has it just become a way to compete instead of creating a meaningful interaction? Does brand now equal boring?


Brands are all about values. You need to believe in something and you need to explain why you believe in it ( they might get on board because of this, if you don’t believe in it, why should the audience?) This enables you to form an emotional connection with your audience.

What are the functional benefits? without this you have nothing. Emotional benefits – what makes it better than the competitors?. Is it self expressive? If done correctly the customer will not only believe in the brand but they will feel like the brand expresses them as well. It allows the audience a way to be self expressive with the brands products.

“Consumers who make decisions based purely on facts represent a very small minority, yet, even for these people, there is always some product or service they buy based on impulse or emotion.” – Maurice Levy, Publicis.

We tend to make decisions based on emotions not facts, a good designer plays on this. They will create a brand that inspires loyalty beyond reason.

You need to make your brand desirable. How do you make your bio captivating? statement or story? A captivating tale. Frame your thinking process as see in the image bellow.

I need to become an idea person as this is what will make me valuable to customers and employers. Designers are here to sell ideas.  Professional and passionately creative. Passionately creative makes you think that the person thinks, eats and breathes creativity; they cant help but be creative.

A brand that not only creates a great emotional connection and sense of respect will create real, impactful value and that in turn will cause the customer to pay you back with loyalty and love. Don’t just dress the brand up nicely, make it something that will last. If you make an emotional connection with your client, they will not only keep coming back but they will also refer you.

What I stand for matters and this should be reflected in not only my brand but my work.

The Nespresso not only feels stylish but it also states good – its a lifestyle choice in a way. Kenco taskes good but its appearance doe not convey any sort of enthuthiasium

BxP Value proposition map

This is another way of looking at it – values are at the core.

  1. The brand: This is the number one indicator of value for a customer. Users develop emotional connections to brands that far supersede any …
  2. The experience: The experience of the users is key to reinforcing brand perception as it connects your products before it did. It might solve a problem that has not been solved yet or it might address an untapped need in the market. Just be better than everyone else basically. For me this will be the look and functionality of my website.
  3. The product: Ironically this is the last thing a customer will interact with.


“A brand is the set of expectations, memories, stories and relationships that, taken together, account for a consumer’s decision to choose one product…..”

“If you don’t give the market the story to talk about, they’ll define your brand’s story for you.” – David Brier.

Is my bio captivating? or is there room for improvement? Is there a way to make it more exiting? Have my values evolved?


  1. Post examples of 3 businesses you respect and study how they form an emotional relationship with their customers. Instantly I want to use Disney
  2. One step beyond (for 3pm) Design one additional touchpoint for your personal brand. This can be anything at all and the purpose is to promote an emotional response to your brand. Design something that will attract attention. Don’t just slap your logo on a t-shirt.


Animated loge, Animated gif show reel of work for website/social media. A wearable item but make it desirable. Branded merchandise (Look up and Supporting app idea or micro interaction. Desktop/phone/table/Wetransfer background.

IT must be relevant to the brand/service with customers and people in mind.

Look at

Twitter and Brand New (blog) for example. Selling a tweet (NFTs)

My outcome

I started by mind mapping some ideas and exploring my options – I really liked the idea of a tote bag as it will not only help the environment but also give advertisement to my personal brand whilst also not being too in your face.


I think this could be a very cute idea as its very useful, I can never refuse a free bag for life so I think this would be a great marketing scheme for my personal brand. I would do many different colours, it doesn’t have to be the same background colour or even consistent line colour.

I would also like to make a few more with the phrase ”be kind” I think it is a strong and recognisable phrase with a lot of weight to it.

I really liked this, it’s something I would be happy to use..

I want them to be as unisex as possible – something for everyone to be able to enjoy.

I wanted to have something simple and useful; I love shopping and for me a bag for life or a tote bag is a must. I personally can not resist when one is being offered, so I decided to play on this. I used the handle to extent and also represent part of my logo to create a pattern that is interesting and a bit abstract. Ideally they would all be lovely, happy and varied colours. I added the phrase “Be kind” to my last one as it is a message that resonates with me and many other people.

I would like to experiment with notebooks, pens/pencils, Hair clips, “Thank you” cards for customers, water bottles (safe the turtles and stay hydrated), Antibacterial (To avoid Rona)


Great, simple idea, the logo in the bottom is not needed, take it out – other than that, its great.

Here is a link to my Pinterest moodboard

New Ideas:

  • Loading screen animation of my logo
  • Phone case
  • Try animation for portfolio site
  • Wall paper
  • Thank you cards/stickers
  • QR code that takes you to my portfolio website/app?

******** Try to animate your logo so the lines and dots fall and become the logo.


I decided to attempt to animate my name as a way of practicing – I used procreate to animate my name; I could not figure out how to put the animations onto my blog so I put them in a separate Miro board.

Click here to see them.

I was quite pleased with my outcome, my favourite one was the one I created of my name being typed out. I would love to use it in the future.