If I’m being honest, Capstone hasn’t been getting much love lately. Twin Stripe took up a lot of time during the first part of the semester and that’s a good thing because the new issue turned out great. I am so proud of what Katie and I created, but now it’s time to buckle down. There’s only five weeks left before graduation and it’s time to put my nose to the grind stone.
So here’s what’s got to happen in the next five weeks: finishing up my portfolio (only a couple of tweaks left), creating my motion typography pieces and creating a website to contain them. Yesterday I began by researching and re-watching some awesome motion typography pieces to get inspired. Afterwards, I listened to some of the great audio I recorded at the performances with the Zoom. Then it was time to start sketching my first piece, you can see the progress below. With the addition of a new Lynda After Effects tutorial to refresh my memory, I have all the tools I need. Now I’ve got to get working.
We did it! Our spring issue of Twin Stripe is live. Katie and I worked hard this spring to release our second issue. Back when we first started the Elon iMedia program, we knew that we had some common interests, but once we started talking and hanging out more we realized we had a shared passion for home decor, styling and design. We tossed around the idea that we should create our own online magazine because we were inspired by Rue, Matchbook, Lonny, etc. With that, Twin Stripe was born.
We released a Holiday issue in December and a mini-issue in February for Valentine’s day. We were all prepared to start the spring issue when our independent study professor, Brad Berkner surprised us by suggesting that we think about a different format for our magazine. All the other online magazines we loved and tried to emulate were using digital publishing programs like Issu, so we did too. Brad really felt like putting our magazine in the container was stifling potential interactivity and engagement with our readers. So from there, we focused our independent study on finding the best format for the magazine. We did research and usability testing before deciding to build the magazine entirely in HTML and CSS.
It was definitely a challenge building it, but I think it turned out great. The format provides the opportunity for much more interactivity and our features and layouts are much bigger and bolder. Have a look the spring issue for yourself and send us feedback.
I have to thank Katie. She was a real whiz at building the site in HTML and CSS. My role was to write a majority of the copy, design most of the layouts and get the images and text ready for her to use in the coding. We have learned so much and are really thankful for the opportunity to work on Twin Stripe and the great response we’ve received. In addition to creating the issue, we have a strong social media plan and have recently started a blog to connect with readers on a more regular basis. It has been really fun and rewarding.
Last night some of my classmates and I attended a networking event organized by the Raleigh chapter of AIGA. The studio tour included 18 of the Raleigh area’s best graphic, web design and advertising agencies. Unfortunately it was impossible to visit all 18, so we focused on visiting three of the agencies recommended by friends and iMedia alum.
We made the long trek from Burlington to Raleigh and visited New Kind, Hesketh, and Signal. It was really interesting to see each agency’s different work environments. I loved seeing that most of them had an open space with interesting design features. The photo above of the typography decal was at Signal. Everyone on the tour was really helpful and gave us great insight. We got the warmest welcome and most information from Hesketh. It was great to visit after hearing Alice speak just a couple weeks ago on writing for the web.
It was a great event and I only wish I could have visited more agencies in the short time period. The night in Raleigh wouldn’t have been complete without stopping for burgers at one of my favorite local places, Chuck’s.
I was able to attend another one of AIGA of Raleigh’s Lunch and Learn events. Writing for the Web is part of their Homegrown series. I find these workshops to be really helpful and the delicious Mediterranean food from Sitti probably doesn’t hurt. Our speaker for the day was Alice Williams of Hesketh – a firm in Raleigh specializing in web design and strategy.
We started the workshop with a six word personal statement, much like the one we did on the iMedia Professional Development Day with Ross Wade. The goal is to be concise, which is exactly what text on a website needs to be. Much of the discussion was based on the harsh reality that people don’t read text on websites. “The web is showing, not telling. If you don’t know who you are authentically, then you have nothing to show,” a quote from Alice’s presentation.
We also learned about establishing PET – persuasion, emotion and trust. A large part of employing these techniques in writing is tone. I learned a lot about tone that I hadn’t even thought about before. Tone can be mirroring mental models, content choice, word choice, connotation, sentence structure, information chunking and the list goes on.
We also talked about some user experience elements like F-patterns and the way that people look at websites. It’s important to make the text scannable – bullets are good for this, front load key information and integrate text and visuals.
My biggest take-away was a reminder to remember the call to action for the website. Sometimes I get so caught up in designing and making it look good that I forget to think about the most important part – what I want people to take away from the site. I enjoyed Alice’s presentation and definitely have some homework to do. She mentioned two books that I think will be worth checking out – The Ad Free Brand by Chris Grams and Don’t Make Me Think by Steve Krug.
Professor Xu had us do an exercise in class today that has really given me focus to the execution of my Capstone project. So far, I ‘ve done a lot of recording audio and motion typography brainstorming. I hadn’t really though about the structure to my site at all. We first came up with a content inventory – listing all the pages that would exist in our website. Then we put those items into a flow chart and made a site map. This is really going to help me stay organized and give also help my users to have a better experience with the site. One of the things I found in researching already existing local poetry websites was that most of the sites were hard to read, disorganized and confusing. User experience is so important to a great website and is often overlooked. Adding this skill to my tool box will definitely help me become a better designer.
I had the opportunity to meet with some local Greensboro poets on Tuesday night. I traveled to UNCG to meet the poet group Well Versed Xpressions. I recorded a couple of poems at their practice/meeting. They are a great bunch and really lively. I am so impressed by how spoken word poets can use words to invoke such emotion. As someone who trips over their tongue a lot, I definitely admire them.
I have recorded so much audio, that I think it’s now time to start sketching out what I’d like these motion typography pieces to express.
Also, just a side note. UNCG is SO pretty. I really felt at home there. I went to UNC Chapel Hill for undergraduate – so attending a super small school like Elon is a BIG change. I felt so at home on UNCG’s campus. It was nice.
I participated in Iconathon an event sponsored by The Noun Project and Cree – a local LED lighting manufacturer. The goal was to brainstorm icons that could represent LED lights and other energy efficient symbols. It was a great event put together by Ginny Skalski – someone I started following on Twitter when I first moved to Raleigh two years ago. It was great to meet her and find out more about her role as a social media specialist. I could see definitely seemyself doing a job like Ginny’s after I graduate.
The day’s events were really informative and I learned a lot about energy efficient lighting as well as more effective ways to create icons. We were paired at a table with someone who works as an engineer at Cree, so we got a lot of good insight about how LEDs work and how we could best represent them. Earlier last semester I struggled with a project where I needed to create a symbol/logo for a PSA on energy efficiency – so this event was really perfect for reframing the way I create icons.
I found the Noun Project’s presentation to be really interesting. They gave helpful tips about how to develop icons that I honestly never thought about before. The way past participants used of negative space was really creative and effective. I love this icon for lungs and the respiratory system.
The icons we created during Cree Iconathon probably won’t be on the website for a while, but check out the icons from past Iconathon’s here. The cool thing is all the icons on the Noun Project’s site are public domain. They have so many awesome icons that anyone can use.