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Reinforcing the Value of a Union

OPSEU Local 110 is the union organization that represents one of Ontario’s largest public colleges, Fanshawe College. OPSEU Local 110 is made up of approximately 800 faculty members.

Like any organization, OPSEU Local 110 must continually add value to its member base to stay relevant to its constituents. With many younger members (who are digital natives), the organization’s online presence had really fallen behind, and wasn’t effectively representing its brand and providing members with necessary information in an easily attainable way.

The organization’s website was challenged by:


Old design – The website was approximately 10 years old and had a very simplistic, cluttered, out-dated design.

Old OPSEU 110 Main page screenshot

Above is a screenshot of the old OPSEU 110 website.


No CMS – The old website did not have a content management system (it was hard coded). Each time the organization wanted to make changes to the website, they required a web programmer to update the content. This meant delays in getting timely information to their members and higher maintenance costs.


Interface not mobile responsive – With mobile and tablet access going up each year, the old website left users with a difficult browsing experience. For instance, to navigate the website on a mobile device, users would have to zoom in or browse left-to-right to read all the information.


Poor navigation – The old website layout was layered with too much content, making navigation difficult. Below is a screenshot:

Old OPSEU 110 Subpage Screenshot

Working Together To Create Something Great

Non-profits who, when compared to larger private sector companies, may be limited in budget often feel like they’re “settling for [the] status quo.” Although budgets were limited for this project, OPSEU Local 110 and tbk Creative had the spirit and determination to create something great. The bar was set high and the two teams gelled extremely well together.

Four months later, the new brand identity was formed and the new website went live. In more detail, here’s what we accomplished:


A new brand identity and logo – While most organizations would have to separate their branding project from their website, tbk Creative used its resources and expertise to merge the two projects into one: tbk Creative created a brand identity and new logo in the website’s discovery stage. We focused on creating a new, compelling ethos for the organization: “Our job is your job,” which rightly summarized OPSEU’s commitment and mission. Other parts of the website were peppered with strong core messaging that communicated the organization’s value propositions and brand promises.

For the logo, we refreshed elements to effectively communicate that OPSEU Local 110 was part of Fanshawe College. To do this, we used the traditional OPSEU shape (governed by their corporate branding guidelines) and modified the colour so it closely resembled the iconic Fanshawe College red (however, we slightly deepened the red to distinguish the OPSEU Local 110 brand from the main college campus). Furthermore, we found that the previous logo was non-descriptive since there are several different OPSEU chapters across Ontario—we added “Fanshawe Faculty” to better communicate who the union serves.

OPSEU Old Logo

Old Logo

OPSEU 110 New Logo

Modernized Logo


A WordPress content management system – We introduced the client to WordPress, the world’s most popular content management system. Because OPSEU Local 110 is mostly made up of non-technical faculty members, we felt that WordPress’ user-friendly interface would allow staff and faculty to keep the website up-to-date with relevant and important content for their members.


A mobile-responsive experience – Using Bootstrap, the world’s most popular mobile framework, we developed the website to be mobile- and tablet-responsive on all major devices. The website now seamlessly collapses to fit the size of each user’s device.


High-fidelity artwork files – Due to budgetary constraints and limitations, many web design firms use pre-designed themes (licensed from third party websites) for their projects. In the end, however, it isn’t always best for the client as pre-designed themes often lead to code quality inconsistencies and limitations in design files. For this project, tbk Creative built several custom photoshop files, and combined them with high-quality brand core messaging and imagery. When well-crafted photoshop files meet thoughtful, brand-oriented imagery and core messaging, we call these files high-fidelity artwork files. In total, the website received five (5) high-fidelity artwork files.


Accessible web design – People who are blind or partially-sighted often access websites using a screen reader, which converts text to audio for the user. Unfortunately, the old OPSEU website wasn’t setup to effectively communicate with common screen reading software and didn’t follow W3C’s Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.0). If adhered to, the WCAG 2.0 guidelines ensure that a website communicates with screen readers and other assistive technologies, allowing a broader range of users equalized access to important information. In our opinion, access to information is a human rights issue; for example, as in OPSEU Local 110’s case, you often deal with content that affects people’s livelihoods. Throughout the project, we used a combination of manual investigation and the AODA Online software to make the website meet WCAG 2.0 Level A standards. Although meeting Level A standards is not a legal requirement for OPSEU Local 110 (as they don’t employ over 50 people in Ontario), we support OPSEU Local 110’s contribution to creating an accessible workplace for their members.


More manageable navigation – The previous website had a navigational hierarchy that contained dozens of links on each page. We created a more manageable drop-down navigational menu to better organize content for users, improving user experience by making navigation throughout the site easier.

Above is an example of the new user interface and simplified navigation for OPSEU Local 110’s website.

The Results:

  • a brand identity that crystallizes OPSEU Local 110’s commitment to its members
  • a new, modernized logo
  • custom high-fidelity artwork files
  • mobile and tablet-responsive interface
  • accessible web design for people with physical disabilities (WCAG 2.0 adherence)
  • a CMS (WordPress) to easily keep content up to date
  • a more intuitive navigation system (smart categorization of content)
  • website statistics that include:
    • new users – increased by 63.2%
    • organic search – increased by 94.7%
    • bounce rate – decreased by 9.8%*

Best Website Design

2016 CALM Awards

In summary, the effort was worth it because at the 2016 Canadian Association of Labour Media Awards, the judges awarded website top honours with “Best Website Design”.

  • Darryl Bedford, President, OPSEU Local 110

    Our union local was looking for a more professional and unique presence that better conveyed the important work that we do on behalf of our members (Professors, Librarians, and Counsellors of Fanshawe College). tbk Creative developed a modern website incorporating mobile-responsive design, clear navigation, contact forms, and accessibility features. Our members have let us know that they are impressed with our new image and easy access to the resources they need to support their working life.

What we learned

  • Serj Kozlov, tbk Creative

    Working on the OPSEU Local 110 website highlighted the importance of setting common HTML element styles for the developers. Having access to the implicit (or explicit) style guide drastically reduces development time and minimizes unnecessary designer involvement.

  • Andre LeFort, tbk Creative

    Prior to our makeover, the OPSEU Local 110 website possessed a simple archive of arbitration awards that was used extensively by other local OPSEU organizations. We had the pleasure of improving the archive by leveraging new technology that scans and indexes PDF files for the arbitration awards; not only did this increase the archive's value, but it also provided even greater benefits to its users.