Words from the pros

Recently, in my interactive media strategies class, a professional user experience researcher Skyped in with the class. She had many helpful insights on user experience, and as a designer, I need to constantly think about UX. The speaker was a researcher who conducted usability testing in the healthcare field. She said that based on our experience we could all be usability researchers if we so chose.

While I am still interested in design, I feel that user experience is extremely important to producing interfaces. She discussed the difference between and interaction designer and a visual designer. An interaction designer works with information architecture. They examine how a user interacts with a system.

While this interests me, I am more drawn towards being a visual designer. A visual designer conveys the information in a visually pleasing way. She mentioned that one of the biggest challenges in the healthcare field is figuring out a way to display a lot of data in an understandable way and not to overload the user.

The speaker reassured us that when looking for a job, to remember that it was okay if we don’t know everything. We should let potential employers know we are open to learning.



Industry Musings

A few weeks ago I visited Newfangled Web Design in Carrboro, NC. I met with Mark and Chris, both are very active in the interactive world, who shared their insights on the interactive world with me. They told me to make sure I have a strong understand of SEO, social media and lead generation. Those skills will be valuable when job searching. Mark and Chris provided me with a few books on web design that I am looking forward to reading.

Last week Josh Janick from McKinney visited iMedia students. He spoke about the different jobs available for our skill sets. The job that stood out to me is an interactive designer. As an interactive designer, I would design websites, app interfaces, etc. and add basic coding. It is important that I understand code and know the limitations of different technology. Josh also invited us to visit the McKinney offices, I am looking forward to that in the near future.

Another gem of wisdom Josh shared was that Flash is still very much in use at McKinney. Designers use it often to create banner ads for clients. Mark and Chris were not as big on Flash, so I suppose the usage lies somewhere in the middle. I am glad to have knowledge of Flash and see what the program will evolve into.


Operation: Covert Font

In my production class, we have been working on Flash games. I am not a huge game person, so this is proving challenging to me. I first decided what subject my game would be a typeface game. I love fonts, so it seemed an obvious choice.

I examined other games for inspiration. Some of my favorite are: Kern Type, Cheese or Font?, and Kern in Space. The last game is a Flash game. I have spent many hours trying to beat Kern in Space, but it is rather hard. Check them all out.

My game is different than the other games though, there is a word, which spells a font name, you must figure out what typeface the word is written in. It is a bit tricky when it reads Arial but is really Garamond.

I need to finish writing my ActionScript and then the game will be ready to play. Good luck!


The world has lost a visionary

 Steve Jobs passed at October 5, 2011. I found out in the evening. I felt very strange and sad. Steve has made such an impact on myself and so many others, despite the fact most of us have never even laid eyes on him.

The next day at school, you could feel it in the air, people were upset up Steve’s passing. During our audience analysis class, we watched a tribute to Steve, with highlights of his career. There were a few tears in the room.

Some may think it sounds silly to say things such as this about a man who had a company worth billions, but I would not be in the iMedia Program if it was not for this man. I am sure many of my classmates would agree.

Without Apple’s innovation, the media landscape may not be changing so dramatically. The iPod started it all. You could carry your music in your pocket! The iPhone has been a major game changer. It has changed the way we get our information. I do not use a phonebook any more, I just look it up on my phone. The iPad is changing the landscape even more. Goodbye print magazines? All of the gadgets Apple has introduced have changed the iMedia landscape. For that I am greatful.

Many tributes to Steve have poped up all over the place. One that I really like is by the New York Times. They had readers submit photos and memories of Steve. It has come together really nicely in a Flash gallery. You can click on images to enlarge them and read the tribute. It is nice to see a media outlet as large as the NY Times let their users contribute.

The New York Times uses Flash a lot in very sophisticated ways, but this simple reader tribute hit home. Here is another tributes to checkout, Steve Jobs’ timeline,

And so, I leave you with this:

“[Y]ou can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.”
— Stanford University commencement address, June 2005.

SXSW competition

While I have been busy researching and creating infographics, last week I had the chance to do something completely different. My friend, Alison Harshbarger, and I competed in Elon’s South by Southwest Interactive Competition.

SXSW is a large conference held yearly in Austin. It is a chance for iMedia minds to come together to share information, learn about new innovations  and network. Elon is providing six student the chance to go to SXSW.

Alison and I worked together to present our strategy, which we would use before, during and after SXSW to market ourselves and the iMedia program. We came up with a variety of ideas, including workshops and a meet-and-greet. We also created a brand for ourselves, including a logo, business cards and Twitter feed.

We hope to find out the results of the competition soon. It was a great experience. I hope I can take the experience further with a trip to Austin!

Week four & overwhelmed

Week four of the iMedia program is coming to a close. How have I already been in school for a month? Life has been extremely busy the past four weeks and I have a feeling it’s not going to slow down anytime soon. I keeping thinking I will get used to the flow and I won’t feel so overwhelmed, but by the time that happens, I will be wearing a cap and gown.

I am always hesitant to use the word overwhelmed, but I have decided that it isn’t so bad. Merriam-Webster defines it as “to over come completely, submerge.” That is exactly what is happening, my life has been completely overcome with iMedia. And that is not a bad thing, since I enjoy it. If this was easy for me, there would be no point in me being here.

In the last four weeks I have created self-portraits, Flash timelines and slider bars, written numerous blog posts and a research proposal. I have even read a whole book. It feels great to see how much I have accomplished in such a short period of time!

This weekend I am heading to St. Louis to celebrate my Dad’s 60th birthday! (Check out the Flash card I made him.) My goal is to make sure my parents truly understand what I am doing in the iMedia program. Wish me luck!

10-month all-nighter

As I begin my journey in the Elon iMedia Program, it seems only appropriate to blog about it. While I love blogs, I have never kept my own since Xanga was popular (that was a long time ago!).

The iMedia Program is an intense 10-month exploration of all things interactive, such as websites and smartphone and tablet applications. In August we immersed ourselves in  three-week boot camp to learn Flash, Photoshop, Illustrator, HTML/CSS, FinalCut Pro and much more.

I love every second of the program, even though I often feel like I am working on the edge of my abilities, experiencing “flow.” I have been reading Reality Is Broken by Jane McGognial in a theory class and she often references flow.

Questions and suggestions are welcome as I proceed in my journey!