As part of my hunt for a job in Detroit I worked with my class on nonprofits at Michigan State University to create a map of Detroit connections I had and ones I wanted to make. Through personal connections, emails, social media, and introductions with my professors I was able to meet or interview 10 different individuals involved in different avenues of Detroit communications. I interviewed Richard Feldman with the Boggs Center and Adriel Thornton with Allied Media Projects during the 2012 Detroit Design Festival. I interviewed via email Joel Heeres, Deborah Schumack, and Catherine Jun. I personally knew Issac Miller, Sam Molnar, Ben Alfaro, and Carlos Garcia from previous work and friendships. I was introduced to Joshua Breitbart through my interview with Adriel Thornton and was able to speak with him while he worked in Washington D.C. on behalf of digital initiatives here in Detroit.
Detroit Thought Leader Map
Each interview and meeting created a new branch on my connection tree in the city. I knew I had leads with many different organizations but it took an assignment for me to design the map. Each placement is intentional as are the color ways. For example Carlos Garcia is a secondary connection I was able to make, reaching out to my former friend, who at the time was living Downtown.
I was able to use my newly developed skills in Photoshop and Illustrator to create this map based off of an old transit map. This project wonderfully put together my interests in music, nonprofits, Detroit, communications, and design.
I have been extremely fortunate to have worked for The State News web team, SN Works, for the past year. From the earlier post on The Cavalier Daily redesign I have worked on two major site redesigns, the main and most impressive being this past summer when we redesigned The State News. The site gets about 200,000 views a month and is one of the top rated collegiate websites and newspapers in the nation. When we began the site was a well designed site from 2008 that had gotten a few updates and been fairly well maintained, but when you redesign a site of such stature, it has to be on a huge scale. The main challenge was getting a responsive design that would work all the way from wide computer screens down to smart phone browsing windows. I was made project manager at the beginning of the summer and between myself, Matt Bush, Rod Dennis, and our manager Mike Joseph we entirely rebuilt the site from the ground up using Bootstrap as our responsive framework.
We worked together as a team but the pieces that I worked specifically on were the navigation, footer, sidebar, and multimedia. The “C” of the navigation, sidebar, and footer needed to be fully responsive and at the same time able to let the main content of the specific page take precedence over the pieces that are in the “C.” This was a momentous task for me because it involved working with Twig PHP languages as well as the Bootstrap responsive pieces. I feel very proud though every time I visit the site and know that the first things people see and how they navigate through the site depended on the consistent pieces I created. Secondly, and as you can see in the gallery below, the multimedia page took a full revamp. We went with a darkened background to enhance the media that State News is known for and made it easier to navigate through more pieces. Lastly, on the homepage we utilized another open source program, Isotope, which allowed us to make a very dynamic photo area that was still responsive. Between myself and Mike Joseph coding away we were able to make a very cool piece that our editor in chief gushes about at trade shows right on the homepage. This was by far the largest and most impressive web design project I’ve undertaken and has had such a rewarding feeling once it was all finished that I will continuously work on web design from here on out.
I’ve included below a full gallery of the process from beginning to end, how the site used to look followed by the wireframes and design documents and finally the finished product which is still live.
During my internship for Michigan Energy Options the communications team was tasked in creating the quarterly newsletter. The organization had previously sent out one other E-Newsletter and had created an account with MailChimp. Being unfamiliar with the program I immersed myself in the forums and learned just how tough it can be to work with newsletter clients. In the previous newsletter they had had issues with delivery and content. That is to say they had written articles and delivered it exculsively in email format and for my opinion I do not read full articles in my email, let alone 5-6 articles.
Therefore I came up with a plan proposal for Executive Director John Kinch and the rest of the communications team to reinvent how we send the newsletter. I offered up to create a new template in MailChimp which would give snippets of information and then link over to a PDF full text document. Initially it was rejected but after convincing them that users don’t read past the first two articles with some impromptu user testing I was allowed to continue. With that I did just what the plan prescribed. I took the content we had after it was finally edited down and built out a full PDF with relevant images, formatting, and newsletter look and feel in adobe Acrobat. I then took those articles and edited them down for the email version that would be sent out to people on our list serve. You can click the image for a full sized version. I redesigned how layout of the article by putting the “call-to-action” buttons along the top of content and then used images and a slightly altered color scheme to have a “Read More” button that would then direct users to that article’s page in the PDF hosted on the Michigan Energy Options site.
View Full PDF
During my internship with Michigan Environmental Council (MEC) I was asked to write and coordinate articles for the quarterly newsletter that is sent out both electronically and in print form. The article I was asked to write specifically was based on the study done by MEC towards the feelings of the new taxes for infrastructure. Overall the survey found favorable results of people who wanted to pay more in taxes for improvements to roads, public transit, and most importantly light rail systems.
This article shows how I was able to take dense data and findings and put that into a detailed yet easily digestible piece for our readers. I also learned how to craft articles in the proper tone to match the overall narrative of MEC and was able to receive some accolades from my superiors when the final version was printed. I also created the infographic on the side of this article and our communications director chose the stock photo for the highways.
Michigan State is very privileged to have one of the most recognizable mascots in the nation, Sparty. What most people may or may not know is that there is always a student buried under that muscly Grecian warrior costume and each year there is a call out for students to apply for the position. Generally, student affairs sends a pretty poor looking application so for a project in my visual design course I redesigned the application. There are numerous important factors when it comes to who should become Sparty, specifically that they are within a specific weight and height range and have excellent grades. When I designed the document I used Adobe Acrobat so that this PDF could be sent out, filled out digitally in a web browser and returned to allow for data collection for the application process. With proper back-end database coding it would be able to filter those people that would not match the requirements and then allow for only appropriate applicants to end up in the proper mailbox. The PDF is available below.
One of the most rewarding and research projects I have worked on was a comprehensive communications strategy for The Ave community project. The Ave is the brain child of professors John Monberg, Vincent Delgado, and designers at Red Head Design Studio. Meant to do many things this project had three main audiences and purposes.
- Create a vibrant community between students at Michigan State and the corridor of Michigan Avenue
- Connect the artists of the greater Lansing area
- Be a major linchpin for the businesses of Michigan Avenue and build viral marketing
This project was worked on by a fantastic and talented team consisting of Rebecca Zantjer, Jamison Sheppard, Emily Dixon,Laura Allen, and myself. Using multiple methods of research we worked for two months straight on developing out this communications strategy. Starting with ethnographic research and stakeholder interviews we were able to get a feel for the organization and where the stakeholders mentioned above wanted the project to move towards. Taking this into consideration we developed a strategy that used the already existing goals but focused on creating personas, place-making, and network building. The entire project culminated in the document you can view below and is one of the most comprehensive projects I have had the privilege of working with.
During my communications internship for Michigan Environmental Council (MEC) during the summer of 2011 I was tasked to creating a standard Powerpoint for the organization and in doing such realized there was a vast array of levels of comprehension with Powerpoint. I firmly believe in the use of presentations and visual and design rhetoric but when you see some very unprofessional presentations it only makes sense to create a standards document. As such I did just that for MEC for all the people who needed help with creating effective powerpoint presentations.
During the fall of 2011 I was enrolled in a course on visual rhetoric. For this class we were taksed to create a poster related to something we felt we could claim expertise. For this my group decided upon making a beer poster detailing our favorite types of brews.
Click image for full size poster