Capstone Progress 2/3

This week in Capstone, I feel like I have made a few big strides in my work.  I’ve drafted my client analysis and my old webmap. My meeting with Monica I think really helped me find the right direction that I was going on with this website. Also, in my 447 class, we are starting to delve more and more into WordPress, which is helping me with my research for the Shepherd Career Services site.
In my client analysis, I tried to stay organized and streamlined with 3 main points/ goals of the new site:
-to be fun, entertaining, but informative
– to have connections to social networking and other databases
-to make the information easily accessible and user friendly to navigate
I’ve also been looking at other career services websites for even more research, and I’ve been looking at websites who have been acclaimed for their design and trying to pick out pieces of content and style that will make a seamless integration into the site. Social media such as LinkdIn really make a difference in how effective a career services site is. 
Victoria Buchbauer, head of Career Services, also gave me some content to start looking through that she had collected over the years. I found many creative and fun videos about career choices, creating a resume, interviews, and most importantly networking that I think will make excellent additions to the media on the website.
I am also starting to really try and get the hang of WordPress and I’m ready to begin my intensive training with Lynda.com and any other tutorials that I can find. We also decided in 447 whereabouts we are going to host the site, and since I plan on using my time in 447 to work on my capstone project, I think it has been such important research in helping me determine what steps I need to take to make this successful.
Goals for this next week:
Try and absorb as much information about wordpress from tutorial sites and lynda.
Edit and do another draft of the client analysis
Fix and edit the old site’s webmap

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Capstone Progress 1/27

As my Capstone project start progressing deep into the production process, I am beginning to feel a little more optimistic about getting every thing done and completed to the best of my ability. This week, I began to familiarize myself with WordPress and participated in a few tutorials to guide me around the site. I also began looking at themes that I thought would best suit the new Shepherd Career Services site.
Not only have I worked with WordPress, but I thought it would also be important to look at other college’s career development sites to not only gain inspiration, but also know what I did not want in my site. Many of the college career sites are already set up close to the current Shepherd website with room for improvement. But then I saw one Career Services site that I believe was done through WordPress and the difference was absolutely noticeable. The WordPress site was fresh and clean cut, and also easy to navigate, which are keystone themes for WordPress anyway. Some of the themes that I am considering are:

Of these, I am leaning towards Splendio, but it is still too early to make a final decision, I want to explore putting some of the content into each of the demos before I make a final say on what theme I want to use.
On Thursday, I met with Victoria Buchbauer, head of the department of Career Services at Shepherd. We hit it off right right away and from the moment I met her, I could  tell how passionate she is about her department. Her commitment and enthusiasm was immediately inspiring. She explained that she wanted a website that was not only functional, but fun. She wanted something that was going to interest all audiences, be easily accesible, and display all their information is a visually interesting and intuitive manner. At the minute, Victoria informed me that they don’t have a very active social media area of their department, something that I thought that I might work on as well. I think that I can integrate the social media into the website. It was also important for Victoria and her office assistant Jamie to understand and know how to use the WordPress system, so I want to make a big part of my project user testing and making sure that they know how to edit and update the content. Another issue that I found with the current website was the lack of intuitive navigation and content distribution and layout.  
This weekend I am working on writing up an official client analysis of a more detailed assessment of the changes and needs of the current Shepherd website, as well as mapping out the old Shepherd website, so I can see what is the depth of the navigation and why it isn’t working as is, and how I can change it in the new site.

Cultural Event 1, "Motherless": A Legacy of Loss

For my first required cultural activity for my capstone class, I attended a film and discussion at the Byrd Legislative Center. The film was called “Motherless” and it was sponsored by WVFree a reproductive justice organization in West Virginia that provides services such as reproductive options and reproduction education for all women and families. 
The film “Motherless” explored the untold stories of people whose mothers had died from illegal abortions. When I first came to the Center, I had no idea what the film was going to be about and wa a little worried when I realized that abortion was the subject matter. Abortion is such a heavy topic, usually comes under rapid political fire, and so I was worried just how intense the discussion was going to be. But as the film played, I realized that the issues of the film went outside the political platform side of abortion. That there were real people with real issues with abortion that we neither black nor white. In fact, it showed just how unprepared out political system is to handle these grey area situations.
“Motherless” put faces to the countless names and issues of abortion, and added an emotional and thought provoking level to a such a topic. And regardless of which side of the abortion debate that is lesser shown and more personal than some people had ever realized, and even though I am not completely decided on this issue myself, I can say that these women did not deserve to die.  The women in the film were not irresponsible teenagers looking for a way out, neither were they women who did not want kids. They were all mothers, who had children, and loved them but felt desperate and unaware of their reproductive options. It was heart breaking to see that these women who had felt desperate enough to undergo these illegal abortions because they felt that they had no other options. Though the movie was geared toward pro-choice, I think that the underlying issue of reproductive options and education was far more significant whether or not to have an abortion.
From the movie, I did not judge the women on their actions, I only hoped that there could have been an alternative solution for these mothers that did not result in complications or death. I think that society has taken the issue of abortion and made it too political and and has taken away the intimacy from an intimate situation. There are many misconceptions that people think about when they think about women having abortions, there is so much judgment and not enough understanding.
After the film, there was a discussion in which we were asked to share our thoughts on the film, and many people felt the same way that I had, that this was bigger than an abortion issue, it was a reproductive issue. I know that now, I won’t quite look at the issue in the same light. I though about it myself in a WWYD setting and I ask myself, what could have prevented this tragedy? What are the bigger issues in the abortion debate? As a woman, what options do I have for my own reproductive choices? The answer is not always clear and easy, but it is getting better and stronger for women.  
Visit WVFree for more information on their services and mission.

Capstone Progress 1/20

So I finally decided that to choose the Shepherd University Career Services website as my Capstone project. I think my decision stemmed from the prospect of a very professional outcome and a nice addition to my repertoire. I admit, that I am a been overwhelmed and anxious to begin, I love web design, but I am not very experienced in it. So I already feel that I am starting at a disadvantage, but I also think that this challenge is going to spark some personal growth. This is my shot to prove what I can do and I want to blow it out of the water. I can feel the pressure growing, I mean it’s only the culmination of my academic experience.

As I start my research into my Capstone, I realize that this was going to be a much bigger project than I anticipated. One of the first things I learned was to keep my cool, it’s difficult when I’m working with a third party, and sometimes it gets a bit frustrating trying to coordinate schedules. However, things eventually worked out and I’m hoping that every thing will sail smoothly from now on. I think it’s just the nerves beginning to set in, but I am excited to finally and officially sign on to this project. I have as of right now found a sample client inquiry that I plan on taking to my meeting on Thursday, to go ahead and get some feedback and ideas for the website, directly from the source! 
This week, it already seems that I’m taking a crash course in web design theory. I’m not familiar with all of the aspects and elements of web design, so I definitely needed to learn as much as possible, as professionally as possible in a short period of time. I did not realize how essential the theory of web design is to its overall functionality and effectiveness. One source that I have found particularly helpful and informative is Graphic Design Solutions by by Robert Landa that laid out a specific plan of action for web site development.
The top three things that I noticed that were important in a functional website:
1) Usability
2) Visual interest
3) Information Distribution
Using these three things along with some of the other design principles, I hope to start gaining some credibility and be able to present some designs on my meeting. 
Though I also know that designing is only 50% of my journey and that my next step is learning how to successfully execute my design. 

Senior Capstone, the beginning

The time has now come, as it does for all Communications students at Shepherd University for my senior capstone. I must admit that throughout my student career here at Shepherd, the idea of capstone has seemed very daunting, but also very far away.
However, now capstone is upon me and though I know it will be challenging, I look forward to it being excellence self-reflective learning experience.  In capstone, I hope to accomplish a professional grade project that can leave a lasting impression to an audience. Capstone is our moment to show and use everything we have learned from our major, and I think it should have significance and an effect that is not easily forgotten. I hope to show my audience that I am an employable subject and but also that I am still malleable enough to change and grow and meet the needs of what employment awaits me after graduation. I think that it is important to “pull out all the big guns” and really create something spectacular. For me, I want my Capstone to be something that is an esteemed representation of the Communications department, and to show that we do awesome things!
My novel,
A Veil of Shattered Dreams
I have been playing around with a few ideas for my own capstone, even though I found the task almost impossible because it was so difficult to choose my area of specialization in the Communications field. I really love all aspects of the major and wish I could be proficient in all areas, but time and real constraints make it rather impossible.  Though my love of web design and the possibilities and the future of the web have always interested me.  This made me want to choose a web project for my Capstone. It just so happened that my capstone director had an opportunity to work with the Career Services at Shepherd, to help them re-work and redo their web content and management. This was an idea that appealed very greatly to me because there would be a certain prestige and professionalism that would come with working with the Shepherd community and would have a lasting effect and result. 
My second idea, if the first should cease to work, would be the idea to do a public relations campaign for my new novel, A Veil of Shattered Dreams. As this is something that I have to do any ways for my own purposes, I thought that it would be very relevant and effective to use it as my capstone. Therefore, the plan that I would make PR wise/ and capstone I could then actually use to further my novel’s endeavors. I am a huge fan of public relations and have often hoped to find a career niche that marries both public relations and web design. Whatever these projects that I choose, I am excited for the work and the outcome.