Book Design


Project Title

Ukufunda Ngundoqo

Brief Overview or Introduction

Summary: Various South African and international organisations are collaborating to fund and promote the new CALT centre that opened at UCT which aims to help with the preservation, development and dissemination of indigenous languages. They approached RWA&D for help with the book design of their first book which is the first isiXhosa book that teaches educators in isiXhosa how to teach the isiXhosa language.

Project goals/milestones: 

  • Client to complete Questionnaires
  • Book genre and target market research
  • Cover design concepts in pencil
  • Cover design draft concepts in digital 
  • Cover design changes and sign-off
  • Cover design final print-ready file
  • Manuscript conversion to English for reference
  • Interior draft typesetting
  • Interior typesetting
  • Typescript draft changes and sign-off
  • Typescript print-ready file

Client: The Centre for African Language Teaching (CALT) at the University of Cape Town (UCT).

Problem: One of the main problems for myself as an English speaking designer was that the manuscript is in isiXhosa. Another problem was that the Client was already convinced about using a cover design that was created in Word which was not up to scratch becuase it made use of decorative Word vectors and Comic Sans for the headings which is a expressive round sans serif typeface that would be suited for a childrens book and thus not appropratiate for researchers and educators.


Responsibilities: Cover Design, Typesetting.

Process & Development:

Research: The initial phase involved researching the book’s niche position in its genre as well as the book’s target market by researching similar titles online and in the Merensky library at the University of Pretoria.

Conceptualisation: The concepts drew inspiration from the genre as a whole while retaining a distinctive identity.

Iterations: The first iterations featured the original provided cover design (with the blue chevron) as well as designs that makes use of various themes; isiXhosa culture, the coding and decoding of language, and semitiocs. The recommended title was highlighted in the presentation.

Final Solution/Design: The recommended cover design was chosen as the final design concept which features distinctive isiXhosa patters.

Tools & Technologies Used: An array of tools from physical to digital, including paper notebooks, pencils, UP Merensky Library online catalogue, ChatGPT, DALL-E, Procreate on iPad, Photoshop, Illustrator, and Indesign.

Results & Impact: 

Testimonials or Client Feedback: 

Challenges & Learnings: The language barrier challenge was overcome with Google Translate which can translate whole books at once using a PDF file. The provided cover design with its infamous Comic Sans was relegated to the bin by providing alternative designs that suits the content better, as Cal Newport writes: Be So Good They Can’t Ignore You

Call to Action:
Request a book design cost estimate: info@riaanwilmans.co.za