IMS 411/511 Final Reflection

Final Course Reflection

With the end of the semester here, I offer this final reflection of my performance and takeaways from this course.  I’ve organized this reflection according to the activities – individual and group – performed including the initial readings and Tumblr activities, the class ACE project, and the web/e-portfolio project.  I thought this progression of activities worked well and allowed me to build a new skill set based on both design theory and practical application.

Readings and Design Assignments

The reading and design assignments helped to set the stage for the later client based design projects.  I absolutely did all of the reading and posting assignments.  I found Williams’ The Non-Designers Design Book and White Space is Not Your Enemy (no disrespect to Document Design) to be very accessible and both provided basic guidelines for good design.  These I will definitely keep as references.

I will admit with very little to no knowledge of InDesign or Photoshop initially, I found the early design projects intimidating.  However, with increased use of them through assignments and in-class projects, I grew much more comfortable using this software.  While I won’t call myself an expert by any means, I appreciate this knowledge and actually now wish I had access to both InDesign and Photoshop.

ACE Print Design and Video Projects

We discussed and provided some feedback on this project during class as well. In some ways, I think this project demonstrated the challenges of working with a client; figuring out their goals and objectives, and managing their expectations.

Once Allie and I received the project and knew what we needed to execute: 4 flyers/4 postcards, a pre- and post-admission letter and an invitation the project came together more easily.  The color palette was chosen, but we chose fonts, and a basic layout design to be repeated with each of the documents for consistency.

If this type of class project were to be done again, I almost think it would be easier to work in even smaller teams of just two or three people rather than larger groups of 4 or 5.  I found it much easier to coordinate schedules as well as define and execute project ideas.  Perhaps there could be a way to make a few high-level decisions as a class, and then divide tasks into smaller two or three people teams.

Grad presentation

I really enjoyed this assignment and the opportunity to present my topic to the class.  Once I settled on a topic, I found the research interesting, and I appreciated the freedom to create a presentation and class activity that reinforced the major concepts.  I would recommend this continue to be an assignment for future grad students taking this course.

Since I completed my research and presentation on street art, I’ve been unable to NOT notice it.  For example, my company recently ran a video scholarship contest.  One of the finalists happens to be somewhat of a street artist herself:  http://www.cengagesites.com/CL/1270/slice/#vid-3.

Web project/e-portfolio Project

I started by choosing a theme for my webpage: Confit.  I think this theme is actually intended for food websites/blogs, but I like the clean look including the combination of a sans serif and serif fonts.  I customized some of the settings to better fit my site by adding a new title, changing the navigation fields to the left side of the page (which I prefer), adding a photo, links to recent posts, a search field, and my Twitter feed.

I tweaked the background by changing the default photo to a photo of Cincinnati that I took myself.  I think is great because it highlights one of my hobbies/skills.  However, I am a little afraid the photo may make the site appear too busy so I may change it eventually.

The home page is an About Me page that provides viewers with some basic personal and professional information about me. I added a page for a blog I kept for another writing course that I built using WordPress.  I used this blog vs. the Tumblr page for IMS 511 because many of the posts are more relevant to my professional industry.

In addition to my blog page, I also added a page for my Professional Portfolio.  I broke this parent page down into two categories: white paper, which I complete for another course, and design projects which house some of the work I’ve done this semester including a couple of the ACE documents – flyers/cards as well as a couple of flyers I designed for work using the design principles from this course.

The final page is for my resume.  I actually found this page to be the most difficult.  I first tried to install a WP resume plug-in, but learned I don’t have the right type of access.  I also tried to add in a LinkedIn button to direct viewers to my Linked In page.  I obtained the code from LinkedIn but when I tried to enter it as text into the WordPress page, the plug-in did not appear.  I was able to add a plug-in to my Visual CV page.  However, I’m not a huge fan of Visual CV.  I think the site it’s relatively clunky and slow to navigate through, but definitely the easiest plug-in to install here.  Visual CV also provides a pdf resume which I also provide a link to on this page.

Overall, I am happy with the result of my website/portfolio.  I’ll probably continue to make tweaks and changes, but visually it’s a huge improvement over the Weebly site I previously used.  By comparison this site looks more polished and professional (in my opinion!).

You can view my final website/e-portfolio at: https://hkramerica.wordpress.com/

In closing, I gained a lot from this course including a better understanding of basic design principles from page layout, to choosing font and color combinations to better communicate my message and voice to my audience.  In addition, I’ve improved my appreciation for design and understanding the amount of skill and consideration that goes into creating a flyer, a movie poster, a video, or a webpage to make sure it communicates a clean message.

While I do wish there was a stronger grad student presence, I did appreciate the diversity in experience and personality that an undergrad/grad student mix provided.  I feel more confident in my design knowledge and satisfied knowing that I built a new skill set for myself that I can use in my professional and personal life.

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