Admit it—every now and then you have one of those days when Barbara Streisand’s The Way We Were is playing on repeat in your head. You grow nostalgic, and your mind flips through past moments like a timeline of events, and really, what better song is there to accompany you then a ballad by Babs?
One beauty of the internet is that we no longer need to rely on our memory to recall images or even a physical album; we can upload and retrieve photos in an instant. We can share pictures with our friends or with the public, and we can even use those photos to tell a story.
We recently launched a website redesign for ANERA, an organization that advances the well-being of people in the West Bank, Gaza, Lebanon and Jordan. As part of the launch, OmniStudio implemented an interactive timeline that visually and chronologically shares ANERA’s story.
ANERA was looking for a solution that staff could easily update, and one that would give their visitors a moving visual user experience. After researching multiple solutions, Omni found a plugin that utilizes a Google Spreadsheet to populate the timeline. Ever the fans of Google products, we were excited to use a plugin that not only seamlessly integrated the tool into the website, but also supported both photos and video, thus ensuring a dynamic user experience.
What is the end result? ANERA now has a visual representation of their history dating back to their inception in 1968, from the creation of the Polytechnic University in 1978, to the launch of the Creative Health Campaign in 2006 and much, much more. ANERA has successfully included users in their 45-year history through the use of supporting photos and videos.
What about your organization? Perhaps you want to highlight educational agendas and are seeking a meaningful visual expression of interactive content from the past. Perhaps your organization just finished a year-long project and you want to show visually how your staff made the project a success. Or, maybe you hold an annual giving gala (though I’d question where my invitation was) and showing the event throughout the years will serve as a fun, visual representation of your success. You may not be able to come up with a simple (and customized though cost effective) solution to these challenges.
This is where OmniStudio comes in.
Simple yet elegant solutions that allow organizations to visually share their mission is a goal OmniStudio strives for with each client—and figuring out new and creative ways to do it is the challenge that happily keeps us coming in everyday.
Check out ANERA’s timeline
OmniStudio was honored to host the Life Skills Center’s Paint + Paper Art Show and Sale this week. The Life Skills Center, Omni’s 2013 ReachOut Partner, offers an amazing and unique service to an underserved community, providing a warm and friendly homelike atmosphere where people with severe disabilities learn job skills, create art, and enjoy supportive daytime activities.
At Wednesday’s art show, dozens of pieces crafted by the Center’s participants were on display and for sale. Converting the Studio into a gallery and event space included the presentation of the artists’ works and photography shot at the Center displayed on monitors throughout the studio.
Omni worked across all levels of event planning to ensure success. From the redesign of the Center’s visual identity to event promotion strategy, to donation collection using digital solutions like PayPal Here and Square apps, Omni’s staff developed a strong partnership with the Center’s leadership.
“Omni’s work has remade us,” said Carlye Christianson, Interim Executive Director at the Center. “Omni truly took us under their wing. In all my experience working with non-profits, I have never encountered an entire organization that has had such a positive response to clients on all matters,” she said.
The event even sparked an idea for a simple e-commerce platform for selling artwork on their new website under development at Omni now. “I wish I could continue to shop, or browse new pieces from these artists as they are completed,” one guest said.
In addition to the sale of art pieces, which raised funds for the Center, the art show rallied community support for the Center’s programs, a core goal of Omni’s partnership with Life Skills. “By every measure the evening was a tremendous success and served as a fitting and robust re-launch of our art program, as well as our first foray into the world of special events fundraising,” said Joan Caivano, President of the Board of the Life Skills Center. “We expanded our community of friends and supporters. The proceeds and expanded community will provide crucial funding for Life Skills’ programs and activities well into the future.”
The art program has served as a core offering for over 20 years, providing participants with opportunities for creative expression in a variety of media. Artistic expression enables participants to share intellectual and emotional concepts, and the artwork that emerges is simply beautiful.
Drawing on the history and significance of the art program, founder and long-time supporter Virginia Schofield remembered an artist’s quote about Life Skills in the Washington Post several years ago. Schofield recalled, “the exhibition allowed others to see what individuals who had no preconceived notions of what art could actually do were capable of presenting. That idea still holds true, and the show at OmniStudio confirmed once again the truth of that insight.”
Omni is thrilled to offer solutions for fundraising challenges like this one. It’s a part of what makes us passionate to communicate the missions of our clients every day.
I attend and present at conferences, workshops, and informal events often enough to know that while we all have the speech pattern, PowerPoint visual supplement, and branded schwag routines down, none of us are doing enough on social media to elevate the message of our content. Here I will briefly outline some simple tools and tips for integrating these plans into your conference presence.
Twitter. The single best thing you can do to engage while attending/presenting at a conference is to live-tweet your experience on Twitter. Use the conference hashtag (or make one if there isn’t one promoted) to collect your thoughts and track the ideas of others. Not only will you be able to virtually meet other session speakers and attendees, but you can use this tool to track and capture information and summaries from other sessions you missed.
If you are hosting a conference, make sure to pick a short hashtag (something that can fit in a tweet along with as much of someone’s thought as possible in 140 characters). If you’re organizing the NEA 2013 Convention, for example, your hashtag should not be NEA2013CONVO or anything longer – try NEA13. Ask presenters to post this or session-specific hashtags in their presentations and list them in the conference program along with the Twitter handles for as many presenters as possible.
Facebook. Friends and page fans love images of people doing things. Showing action, especially conference participation and social gatherings, brings a human face to your brand or cause. When posting photos, be sure to get other attendees to tag themselves or friend them and then tag them to expand your reach. Use Facebook Event Pages to collect photos from all attendees, and make sure you’re consolidating photos into properly labeled albums. Don’t forget to share textual content, too, so that your followers can learn along with you or read about what you’re doing. Re-posting blogs and articles is always useful here.
If you’re running the conference, encourage attendees to use Facebook to check in and post updates on schedule changes or “Happening Now” information to help guide folks to the proper room or space.
Finally, when a keynote session or a major presentation is about to begin, you probably have someone walk up on stage and ask everyone to turn off his or her mobile device. BEFORE you have them turn off their devices, take an extra 30 seconds and ask them to sign into Facebook and check into the event. Your conference will now show up in the news feeds of all those attendees, and no marketing budget was involved!
Instagram. Not only can Instagram save you money on hiring a photographer, but by crowdsourcing images you could get a ton of shots from a broader variety of perspectives. These photos may even show you something about the event you need to fix or realize was a good choice. Attendees will love sharing photos via a promoted hashtag (and good news—you can make it the same as the event Twitter hashtag) and they will get to see shots as well as take them.
Blog: Tumblr. Not everyone has the capacity to live blog events, but sometimes your followers or folks who couldn’t attend want a chance to catch up and read more about the topics than can fit into a single tweet. Tumblr actually works relatively well as a live blogging tool, and is incredible for sharing. Blogs can be short and tagged with the same hashtag as Twitter and Instagram (simple). They can also be shared, so your content or that of your attendees can easily be spread to others on Tumblr. Tumblr can hold links, videos, and photos too, making it an excellent outlet for all kinds of content.
QR Codes. Major corporate brands think QR Codes are no longer in vogue, but I believe QR codes are great! There is one simple rule for QR codes: you MUST send visitors to a mobile friendly web page. But with your responsive design site flexible enough to be viewed across a variety of devices, you’re all set. Now the paper products you hand out at the event can focus on design and engagement, and put more content behind the QR code.
The next time you attend an event, take stock in how the organizers successfully utilize some of these key social media tools. And if you’re hosting an event soon, please create and promote a hashtag at the very least.
Name: Emily Rauch
What is your title? Senior Interactive Producer
In 140 characters, what does your job entail? Project management, focusing on interactive web design & development, & fostering strong relationships with clients. #sayingitsuccinctly
How do you commute to work in the morning? It depends on whether it’s a school day or not. On days I go to school after work, I drive to GW University, park my car and walk the few blocks to work. On non-school days, I take the bus in, and focus on listening to my latest podcasts rather than focusing on traffic.
What’s your favorite device and how often do you use it? Definitely my iPhone. I use it countless times every day. I not only check email, text my contacts and use the phone, I am addicted to the following apps: Spotify for music, This American Life for podcasts, Twitter, Slate, Daily Beast and Huffington Post for News and of course Facebook to keep updated on friends and family.
Which social platform do you use most often? I use Twitter every day to see what’s happening out in the world. The platform amazes me in how it’s been used to break news and increase engagement. Who knew that a Pakistani’s tweet about choppers flying low over Abbotabad unknowingly broke the news about Bin Laden’s death; or that my frustrated tweet about my cancelled flight on American Airlines would get the company responding and tweeting with me to help resolve the problem. It is a type of engagement that is so powerful and I love it because of that.
What do you like best about your job? I really enjoy working with people. Every day I get to interact with designers, developers and clients, each bringing a different perspective to a project. These different perspectives make every day different and unknown—I love that.
What do you hope to accomplish in the first year? I would like to work on a website that, through the use of new technology and functionality, strengthens our client’s mission and challenges our skills and knowledge. I would then like to submit that site for a Webbie Award, to be considered in the Non-Profit category.
What cause are you passionate about? I am equally passionate about two causes. First, civil rights for all citizens, which I believe right now translates to marriage equality. You see certain states truly fighting for the rights of their citizens and I believe that we as a country can’t preach freedom to other nations when we do not afford the same rights to all of our citizens. I am hopeful that in my lifetime I will see these rights be afforded to all.
Second, access to affordable mental health. Many of our citizens suffer from mental health issues ranging from PTSD, to depression to bipolar disorder and more. So many of these issues can be debilitating, and we all could benefit greatly by making treatment options more available and affordable.
March is Women’s History Month, and I often like to use this time to take the temperature of women’s progress toward equality in society. The results are so often a mixed bag. Women earn more bachelor’s and master’s degrees than men, but still make up less than 20% of Congress and C-Suite positions in Fortune 500 companies. We’ve come a long way but we still have progress to make. While I think we will continue to move forward in some of the less gender-segregated fields, a report by a client recently reminded me of some of the areas we still have much ground to make up.
The National Science Foundation (NSF) released a report on women in STEM programs and fields, presenting a broad collection of data from a long period of time that tracks women’s progress or backtracking in key areas. Sadly, while women in school and beyond are slowly making gains in some fields of science, we’re actually moving backwards in computer science fields—one of the areas of the economy with the most media attention because of future potential job opportunities.
This back tracking is disturbing, and could in some ways be linked to the ongoing problem of sexism in this field, as recently made evident through Adria Richards and her experience with sexism at a tech conference. This may be one of the cultural influences subverting progress, but I think there may be others too.
Because it’s Women’s History Month, I started to think through the women in science I could name. Marie Curie came to mind, and then I was a bit stumped. Until today. Fortunately for all of us, we lack names of past women in science, not because they aren’t there, but because we don’t know about them—yet. Today I came across a Slate article about a project with a GREAT title: “Grandma Got STEM.” Looking to fight the stereotype that women aren’t in science fields and grandma doesn’t understand science, Rachel Levy has embarked on an internet mission to collect the stories of “grandmas” in science. This beautiful project is both oral history and educational, and it captures those stories you may never have heard to show the many women who are and have been in STEM fields. Please consider sharing your story this Women’s History Month.
We’re thrilled to share some exciting news about one of our design pieces for OPIC, the Overseas Private Investment Corporation. Their 2011 annual report, designed by OmniStudio and printed by Westland Enterprises, Inc., won several awards at last night’s Excellence in Print Awards competition (hosted by the Printing and Graphics Association Mid-Atlantic), including Best of Annual Reports–Process. Anne Redmiles from Westland Enterprises, Inc., comments on this recognition:
“The competition was indeed tough. We were up against six other contenders in this category, but the judges were wowed by the complex characteristics of the piece and the outstanding design from the team at OmniStudio.”
Omni is excited for Westland and pleased that OPIC’s piece received such great recognition. We are proud to be part of a creative, skillful, impactful team. Like Westland, we take great pride in our work. Let us know if we can help you with your next inspiring print or design project.
Name: Patricia Wheelock
What is your title? Senior Account Manager
In 140 characters, what does your job entail? Helping our clients maximize their message impact. I’ve been fortunate to work with a number of the same people for many years and it’s a privilege to show them new and exciting ways to communicate.
What’s your favorite device and how often do you use it? Call me old school, but the second the new Blackberry is out I’m getting one!
What’s your favorite design tool? What I see with my eyes and touch with my hands, going old school again.
Which social platform do you use most often? Big texter, love it.
What do you like best about your job? The opportunity to learn so much about so many different organizations. Omni has always worked with social causes that inspire me and it gives me pleasure to help in any way that I can to spread their message.
What recent project challenged and inspired you? The Community Foundation for Montgomery County Annual Gala in 2012. The staff are so very committed and show such class that even when they had to cancel due to unbelievable weather conditions no one was offended.
What do you hope to accomplish this year? My goal for this year is to see several works in process actually published and available digitally.
What cause are you passionate about? Cancer research and support. Having been directly affected by this disease too many times, it is important that I turn my skills to supporting this most important cause.
Name: Dillon Powell
What is your title? Interactive Designer/Developer
In 140 characters, what does your job entail? Conceptualizing, designing and developing of website and digital interactive platforms
What’s your favorite device and how often do you use it? I have a Galaxy S3, and I use it hourly. I cannot leave home without it.
What’s your favorite design tool? Google! I research everything before I even get into the design phase. Every project starts and ends with Google!
What do you like best about your job? I learn something new everyday. I love the flexibility and understanding of the staff too.
What recent project challenged and inspired you? I recently developed China Investment Maps for IAD. I have to learn Mapbox, Tilemill, mapbox.js and a couple new things from scratch. The objective for this project is to create an interactive map showing different loans from China to various Latin American countries. Tilemill and Mapbox are programs that are used in conjunction with one another to develop the visuals and functionality of the maps. Mapbox.js is a script that enables and disables certain functionality within the maps. It was exciting to figure out these tools and to use them successfully.
What do you hope to accomplish in the first year? My goal is to have worked with the entire staff in some capacity by the end of my first year. I want to uncover different approaches and workflow styles to various project types. I am trained in print media design so it would be neat to compare and contrast what I was taught with what my coworkers are doing.
What cause are you passionate about? I am very passionate about immigration reform. From my personal experience dealing with the immigration process, I strive to make whatever impact I can on people who do not support it. I think it is fantastic that more and more Americans support clearer pathways to citizenship. I keep hearing how immigrants built this country, yet it is so hard for us to share the dream of this land.
We have come a long was from the first pages built and shared on the internet. Remember when you had to type in “Click Here” to guide users to clicking on a link if they wanted to open and read a report? Now everyone knows what underlined text means on a website.
Design for the web continues to evolve, which means that eventually in the cycle of every organization there comes a time when the website needs to be revisited. Don’t worry! We can help you with that!
You should first figure out what is and is not working on your current website, and not from the perspective of a dedicated Board Member, who, for example, has an affinity for a terrible shade of green, or navigation ideas that are not in sync with your audience.
Here’s what you need to do. First draft some questions like the user experience exercise below. You’ll want to run a few tests to make sure that the tasks you want site visitors to accomplish can be completed quickly and intuitively.
1. Look around this page and tell me what you make of it? Just think out loud a little.
2. Who do you think owns this site?
3. Who is the target audience for this site?
4. What do you think you can do on this site?
5. What do you think is the purpose of this website?
6. How would you donate to this organization? (go through the steps on the site to see how long it takes; mark down the time)
7. Where would you go to read this organization’s latest content?
8. How would you find information about a particular staff member?
9. Where would you go to take action on a campaign or read a recent report?
10. How would you RSVP to an upcoming event?
11. What social media channels is this organization operating on? How do you know?
Then, invite three to six volunteers to be your testers. Lure them with cookies, gift cards, gratitude, or donuts—all of the above work. These volunteers, either non-website staff members or entirely external volunteers (your mom, your best friend, your uncle) will take the brief test of your site while you observe them.
As you run through the questions with your volunteers, you’ll begin to see what may not be working for current site users. On top of that you have data to show your Board Member, helping her to see that people think the color green means you’re an environmental group, and that they didn’t know you had a Facebook page so they couldn’t RSVP for your annual fundraiser. Tons of potential donors missed teachers singing karaoke to help purchase new books for students (they didn’t even know you had events or lobbied Congress on education reform).
Armed with this information, you are ready to take the first step in redesigning your website, or you have learned that your website works really well for visitors and you have succeeded in your quest to communicate your mission online. Either way congrats, and let us know how you did!
All that remains of this extinct multi-tusked boar is a mounted trophy. His unusual mug is intriguing enough to make you stop and take notice. But, if you could actually touch this beast, feel the roughness of his wiry coat, and
the slickness of his tusks, wouldn’t he come to life even more?
You can do this with Sappi Fine Paper company’s The Standard, #5, a beautifully printed guide for achieving remarkable products that connect on many levels.
The wild boar is one among 50+ pages of incredible illustrations and techniques that are feasts for your eyes, hands and mind. Sappi reminds us why print is still a valuable tool for bringing stories to life.
From the wild boar, to a spy’s trench coat with embossed gadgets, to a gravelly footprint in the sand, Sappi provides educational and inspirational ideas for creative people who design for our visual and tactile senses. The Sappi book is also a wonderful idea generator for everyone. The illustrations and special effects are spectacular, and with each there are technical notes that explain every detail of production. For example, the wild boar comes to life because of a sandpaper coating on his bristles, a soft-touch varnish on his snout, and a raised UV coating on his tusks and eyes.
Would you like to meet this savage pig in person? Sappi has given us some extra books to share. So, if you are among the first 10 people to comment on our blog or share this with a friend, we will send you a guide. You’ll see why we’re still wild about print.