A logo for the Portland Shiraz Friendship Community — May 8, 2017

A logo for the Portland Shiraz Friendship Community

To: Portland Shiraz Friendship Community

From: Claire Hoobler-Curtis

Date: May 9, 2017

Subject: Portland Shiraz Logo

Logos are crucial to any organization. Logos should identify, reflect the mission, and communicate something about an organization (French, 2016). If a logo fails to do this then the organization runs the risk of losing business and clients for not looking professional or capable enough.

There are many principles to follow when designing a logo. For starters, the should be simple (French), look good at different sizes and in different colors (French, 2016), memorability is also important (Cass, 2009), simplicity is vital (Cass, 2009) and finally the logo should be timeless (Cass, 2009). Some common mistakes of bad logos include not having a professional enough logo, making it too trendy and running the risk of it becoming out dated, making it too complex, having too much color and/or having poor font choices (Hardy, 2009).  To sum it up, logos must be something that show the heart of an organization in a unique and timeless way that is easy to understand upon first glance.

One organization that needed a logo was the Portland Shiraz Friendship Community. The organization is a sister city program that builds a bridge between the cities of Portland, Oregon and Shiraz, Iran. As of May 2017, the organization is still relatively new and did not have any previous logo. The design challenge was to create a logo that successful represented this organization in a beautiful and timeless way.

Some of the first things to consider when making a logo are the needs of the client (French, 2016). The Portland Shiraz group had a few needs that needed to be fulfilled. While the organization is officially known as the Portland Shiraz Friendship Community, the name most members use is just the Portland Shiraz group. Another consideration is that both cities are called the “City of Roses.” That is a defining connection in the organization. The final main consideration of the organization when creating the logo was that the group is mainly made of older members with poor eyesight, so font readability was especially important.

From there the logo was created. The original logo uses Womby font only. Womby is a bold, sans-serif, all capital font. It is easy to read and has clean, timeless lines. It gives off a very professional, yet approachable vibe.  The only text in the logo are the words Portland and Shiraz to keep it simple and to the point. Also that is what the organization is mainly known as and having a logo that read “Portland Shiraz Friendship Community” would be a lot of text. To highlight the roses as one of the most important connections between the cities, there is a small, basic graphic rose between the two words. It offers some small visual appeal while still keeping the logo simple and timeless. In the original logo black and white are the only colors used, but in the secondary logo the rose is red for a little more added visual appeal. Both versions work though with either color and they also both work at any size.

The logo ended up being a simple, clean, minimalist, professional creation that the group can use for years and years to come without any changes needed.

Below are the two examples of the logo in Figure 1 and Figure 2.

Thank you so much for working on this project with me. It was my pleasure.

Best,

Claire Hoobler-Curtis

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Figure 1. Portland Shiraz Friendship Community Logo in Black and White.
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Figure 2. Portland Shiraz Friendship Community Logo in Color.

Jacob Cass (2009) “Vital tips for effective logo design,” Smashing Magazine, August 26.

Gareth Hardy (2009) “10 common mistakes in logo design,” Smashing Magazine, June 25.

Nigel French (2016) “Logo Design: Techniques”, Lynda.com, December 16.

Minimalist Design Exploration and Execution —

Minimalist Design Exploration and Execution

Minimalist design is incredibly popular and for good reason. Its clean, crisp, simple style is pleasing to look at and enjoyable to create. Whether it is for a restaurant menu, sports logo or book cover, minimalist design has a multitude of uses across all areas of life. To highlight some of the design elements and potential uses of minimalist design there are two examples attached below. The first example is a movie poster for the book A Wild Sheep Chase by Haruki Murakami. The second example is a winter-themed computer desktop background.

Before the execution for either of these designs even began, a lot of thought went into the planning. When considering design, there were a few key elements to keep in mind. A few of them are to remember that less is more when it comes to minimalist design, having white space in the design is vital (Chapman, 2010), simplicity is good (Chapman, 2010), paying attention to the small details is very important (Chapman, 2010), focusing on the main element is essential (Karol, 2012) and last but not least, standing behind your design and having confidence is key (Karol, 2012).

The first design comes from inspiration found in A Wild Sheep Chase. In the novel there is talk about a sheep with a red star on its side. In other graphics depicting this, the full body of sheep is shown, or at minimum half of its body. To turn this idea into a minimalist design, zooming in seemed like the right path to follow. By zooming in, background noise is removed and less does become more. In this minimalist design the whole background of the movie poster is the sheep’s fur. It is an off-white shade and fit the principle of white, or in this case off-white, space is vital. The only other image on the movie poster is the red star. The red star is very simple and really stands out against the off-white, showing the details do matter. The text is also minimal and kept just to the movie name and a simple release date of the month and year. The font face keeps in line with the minimalist design since it is simple and easy to read. To add some visual interest, attention to detail and information, the sizes of the words vary slightly to highlight sheep as the most important word and wild and chase to come next in size and importance.

The second design is a winter-themed computer desktop background. Initial inspiration for this design came from the photo that is the main element of the background. The photo was taken in Portland, OR over the past winter. Placing the photo in a round shape seemed like a good idea for a number of reasons. By having the photo in a circular shape instead of a standard rectangular one, it stands out from other would-be similar back grounds. Also the circular shape, in addition with the white cross, gives the appearance one is looking through a window. The circular window also gives off a sort of whimsical, winter wonderland feeling. The design also follows minimalist design principles. There is a lot of white space in this photo too, both around, in and through the picture. The overall design is simple as well, with the window being the only focal point. Also the window as the only element is very focused on and emphasized strongly.

Finally, both of these examples were confidently created and truly do reflect the main principles of minimalist design in a successful way.

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Winter-themed computer desktop background created with Adobe Indesign (2017).
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Movie poster for the novel A Wild Sheep Chase by Haruki Murakami, designed using Adobe Indesign (2017).

 

Cameron Chapman (2010) “Principles of minimalist web design, with examples,” Smashing Magazine, May 13.

K. Karol (2012) “Creating minimalist designs makes you a better designer,” Webdesigner Ledger, February 9.

Version Control IS for everyone —

Version Control IS for everyone

Version control is a fantastic tool. Unknown to many, including myself until a short time period ago, version control offers a way to boldly make mistakes. It allows you to be able to track changes on various projects like Photoshop documents, Word documents and many other types of documents, so days or weeks later the variations of the document are all still there to view.

Although version control is fantastic it is not without some flaws as well. One of the main issues with version control is that it is not super intuitive. Version control can be very complex to figure out how to use and without a tutorial it could seem virtually impossible to many people with average computer knowledge. Luckily, there are courses like “Version Control for Everyone” on lynda.com, which is incredibly useful and easy to follow. However there are some downsides to the Lynda course. For one, the computer in the demonstration is a Mac, so it might be hard for Windows users to follow along at points. Second, the app SourceTree has been updated since the video was filmed and looks different now so some buttons are gone. Third, unless you have premium access you cannot download the files to work along with the video. These issues are not the end-all though and the course is still a very good starting block.

No matter what your profession is version control seems as though it could come in handy in any work environment. In the future I plan to be working in the nonprofit field and version control would definitely be useful there. From word documents to Indesign files to excel sheets, it seems version control could be used in every aspect of a nonprofit job. Especially since many projects related to nonprofits are team based it would be excellent to have copies of all the changes made along the way to show people and collaborate together.

Even though version control was initially designed for computer programmers, it already has lots of uses outside of text only documents. As it gains popularity among non-programmers it would seem its usability with other types of files will grow even more. So while one can use version control for other types of activities now, rather easily even, it would appear in the future the use will only get easier. It is very easy to imagine using version control outside of programming and easy to imagine how its use for those types of activities will grow in the near future.

Version control is a incredible tool to be able to use. Everyone, no matter their level of computer ability should try to learn the basics of version control. Being able to look at past revisions and go back to them is indispensable and could help anyone with any type of work.

Below are images from the lynda.com tutorial for Version Control for Everyone.

Designing a Responsive Website for WaterWatch of Oregon — May 6, 2017

Designing a Responsive Website for WaterWatch of Oregon

In today’s world responsive design is a very important and hot topic. Websites need to be useable on multiple types of devices and across a wide range screen sizes. Making sure a website is useable and works on these platforms is called responsive design.

One organization that is lagging behind with a responsive website is WaterWatch of Oregon. WaterWatch is environmental nonprofit dedicated to cleaning and protecting streams, lakes and rivers in Oregon. It is an amazing organization with a fantastic team. The only part of the organization that is not great was the website. It was an old and outdated basic WordPress site that rarely got updates, see Figure 7. in the appendix. Its design is reminiscent of the early 2000s and when opened on a tablet or phone a lot of resizing had to be done so everything fit. Once zoomed out to fit, it still looks exactly the same as the desktop. Nothing morphed to become easier to read or use on a smaller screen. With a few tweaks though, WaterWatch can move confidently into 2017 with a responsive website.

 

To read the full document please go here.

Learning jQuery Basics — March 17, 2017

Learning jQuery Basics

jQuery on Code Academy was the language that appealed most to me. The description of jQuery is, “learn how to make your websites interactive and create animations by using jQuery.” Within the the program you learn to make various moving parts such as disappearing buttons or items you can drag. It seemed like this would be a great skill to have and a fun and interesting way to make your website standout and be more engaging. The experience went well for me. Freshmen year I used Code Academy in the Essentially Learning Technology (EIT) Class for the HTML course and liked it, so I have had some experience with the website before. The jQuery course went smoothly as well and there were no problems. Code Academy is very user friendly and the Q&A section where people can ask and answer questions is beyond helpful. It is a great site with great tools that would be helpful for anyone interested in beginning coding who might be nervous about getting started.

jQuery is a very amazing and helpful programming language. Like Cascading Style Sheets (CSS), which is the language used for changing the appearance of a webpage in terms of layout, color and fonts, jQuery can be added as another page to a Hypertext Markup Language (HTML) document to modify it. The HTML page is basically the basics of a webpage where you can add text, categories, links and images. jQuery can make your website much more interactive. From highlighting form entries, to creating items that fade in and out, to making simple animations, jQuery has the ability to really make your website pop and standout from others.

After doing some online digging it is clear jQuery is used by countless of websites in a variety of ways. According to w3schools in an article, jQuery is used by giants such as Google, Netflix, IBM and Microsoft. To be more specific, Creative Bloq notes in a post jQuery can be used to make images look clear no matter what browser, have face detection on pictures and to place two images on top of each other with a slider to compare them just to name a few examples. They are all very practical and helpful uses. Many sites use jQuery with SitePoint saying in an article that over half of websites worldwide utilize this language.

jQuery was the fourth programming language I had experience with. My first experience was with HTML freshmen year, my second was with Python senior year and my third was CSS also senior year. Overall I do like coding, however, it can be very frustrating but once you have finished something it is amazing to see your work. CSS and HTML were both easier than Python and jQuery in my opinion. Python was by far the hardest for me. Nothing about Python was intuitive or made sense. jQuery was not super intuitive for me either but once I got the handle of the basics it started to make more sense. My questions related to coding would be are CSS and HTML similar in a way Python and jQuery aren’t? Also what is it about a person that makes coding come naturally to them or not? If it doesn’t come naturally to you does that mean you will not have as much success if you try to make it your job?There is nothing specific I would like to do right now, because I would still like practice more and make sure I have the basics completely understood. In the future though, creating something like background images that changed on their own would be very cool to have.

As noted before this was my second time using Code Academy. Both times it was enjoyable as a tool for learning to code. Code Academy has many strengths. It is user-friendly for beginners, offers a variety of languages to explore for free and has a great and helpful Q&A section where there are a ton of questions already answered and you can ask your own as well. However, Code Academy is not without its faults too. To upgrade to Pro you have to pay and not everyone might have the money to pay. Also if you are a more advanced student Code Academy might be too basic for you. Overall though I would recommend anyone who wants to jump into the world of coding to check Code Academy out and try a few lessons. For what you can get for free, it is a good deal!

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A screenshot of the completed jQuery course on Code Academy.

Craig Buckler (2012) “jQuery is Used on Half of All Websites,” SitePoint, August 17. 
“jQuery Introduction,” w3schools.com.
Pele Grosvenor (2017) “17 Brilliant jQuery Plugins,” Creative Bloq, February 8.

Building clairehooblercurtis.com — March 15, 2017

Building clairehooblercurtis.com

To start I read through the different basic articles about web hosting, including topics that covered exactly what it is and how it works. From those articles I also found other articles on the websites they were posted and did some digging of my own. I used the PC Magazine articles to make my final decision for a hosting service. Their matrix was easy to understand and helpful. The overall editor rating was also very helpful. Originally, I went with HostGator since it had a 4.5 rating and seemed to be well-liked in general.

When I first signed up for HostGator everything ran smoothly. The price was also only around $4 a month. Creating the domain name and email accounts were pretty easy. There were some negatives with the site though. The tutorial videos were old and out dated, and the website overall seemed slightly more complex than it needed to be. Maybe it wasn’t designed with completely new web designers in mind. The real issue happened when I tried to connect to the server to drop my HTML and CSS pages. I tried to reach out to customer service and they did not respond. Lastly, the most annoying part was they would not let me cancel my account easily and kept sending me random junk email even after I had unsubscribed.

When I went back to the PC Magazine article again I decided I needed to change hosts, so I switched to 1&1 Hosting. 1&1 Hosting was incredibly cheap, it was only $11.98 for the whole year! Making a domain name and setting things up was so easy. I ended up naming my site clairehooblercurtis.com, since I had used hooblercurtis.com at HostGator and couldn’t get it back/transferred. Creating email accounts was also very easy and forwarding them to my Trinity account was a piece of cake. By far the best part was how simple it was to connect to the server. I just had to go to one page with one click and it gave me all the information I needed to enter into FileZilla. Then I connected to FileZilla and dropped all my files for the website.

For my site itself, I built it off a 3 column Flexbox design similar to a webpage I had designed for the Portland Shiraz Sister Cities program.The goal was to keep it really simple and clean so the information about me would be the main thing that was highlighted. It turned out well and I am please.It looks clean, with a nice color palette, and I like how there links to my resume and work samples instead of making them separate pages. Click here to visit clairehooblercurtis.com! View a screenshot of the site below.

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A screenshot of clairehooblercurtis.com
The Conversion of a Skeptic — February 27, 2017

The Conversion of a Skeptic

I was skeptical. Of course Julia Cameron would assure me an artist date will get my creative juices flowing, after all she could not just promote something she did not believe. I have always thought inspiration of the truest form came when you were not forcing it. To set up a specific activity for creativity seemed too structured to work. However, my one of my resolutions for 2017 was to be more accepting. After my initial distrust I decided to dive in to this assignment with an open mind.

For my artist date I went to see A Midsummer Night’s Dream written by William Shakespeare and directed by Stieren Guest Artist Nona Shepphard at Trinity University’s Stieren Theatre. Trinity had purchased 500 free tickets for students, so I was able to see the play at no cost. I thought this was a fantastic idea way to let frugal students attend the show.

simmons-hermia_and_lysander-_a_midsummer_nights_dream

This version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream was the fourth I have seen. The other ones had all been very traditional in nature. They ranged from my middle school performance, to a local show in Portland, to the version I saw at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland, Ore. Trinity’s version by far was the most different in terms of costume, staging, casting and songs. The cast all wore black with minimal color, the only props were moving stairs, there were multiple actors for some roles and some of the songs were of African and Celtic origin.

As I walked into the theatre I had no idea about these differences in the show. Upon seeing the stage though, I could tell the show was not going to be similar to what I had experienced before. I thought the differences were executed wonderfully. The show still had the fun wit and language of a traditional version, but the addition of multicultural music and minimal costumes gave it a modern and fun twist. The lack of staging, props and actors gave it a quicker tempo and there was no space for a dull movement.

During the performance I found myself in an odd place. I was completely immersed in the show at hand and remember all of it, however, at the same time another part of my mind was wandering back to all the previous versions A Midsummer Night’s Dream I had seen before. It was like I was sitting in the theatre listening to Oberon sing, and at the same time I was transported to Ashland, Ore. on a warm summer night watching actors preform under the stars. Then in the next second I was watching Bottom bray, and I was also watching middle school Claire and her friends preform an outdoor version.

I was amazed by these flashbacks I experienced. I got to enjoy a great performance from the Trinity theatre department, and I was also able to delve back into memories I did not know I still had. I gained insight on the beauty and value of those past experiences I had was not fully aware of during the time they happened. It was an incredibly refreshing and eye-opening experience. I would definitely be interested in doing more artist date type activities for myself in the future. I think they are a good way to gain inspiration and taking a break from my normal schedule of school, work and my daily routine is always nice.

The NonProfit Times and Nonprofit Quarterly: Article Summaries — February 2, 2017

The NonProfit Times and Nonprofit Quarterly: Article Summaries

What Does It Take to Grow A Nonprofit? Teamwork and Capital

The first article, What Does It Take to Grow a Nonprofit? Teamwork and Capital by Gayle Nelson, identifies, three things nonprofit organizations need to reach the next level. The study was conducted by Kathleen Kelly Janus from the Stanford Program on Social Entrepreneurship. Nonprofits with budgets from 500k to over 2 million were studied with backgrounds from education, youth services, community development and various others. The study found it took an average of 10 months for the organizations to raise 500k, 16 more months to get to 1 million and then an additional 16 months to reach 2 million.

Many thought the personality and activities of head leader, such as CEO/Executive Director, were connected to organization growth. While it was true the CEO/Executive Director did impact growth, and nonprofits with bigger budgets have their CEOs/Executive Director spend more time on fundraising and program development, this was not the most important factor. Instead, the three most important factors are strong teamwork, effective outcome evaluation system, and access to capital.

The first factor is strong teamwork, this means having a robust team support of employees and board members behind the CEO/Executive Director so he/she can work on capital instead of programs. Also by having robust team there were no bad members to drag them down and were able to cut members who hurt the team. The second factor is outcome evaluation, this means having a powerful outcome tracking system. The study found by having a good outcome tracking system nonprofits could cut five months off the time to reach 2 million and it helped get large catalyzing grants faster. The third factor was access to capital, this means having board members with ties to foundations or big individual donors. In addition, good outcome evaluation could help access to capital because with it organizations had more success talking to funders.

The conclusion was fundraising is still hard for everyone and the number one difficulty all nonprofits faced. The article offered three possible places of help to grow nonprofits. These were fund leadership coach, aids in building evaluation programs and referring grantees to other funders in the same network.


 

Digital Donors Changing Charitable Communications

The second article, Digital Donors Changing Charitable Communications by Andy Segedin, explores how digital donors have impacted involvement online of nonprofit organizations. The statistics cited come from a study by the Public Interest Registry’s (PIR) 2016 Global NGO Online Technology report. The report included 2,780 organizations in 133 countries and 355 donors in 27 countries.

PIR found among millennials that 43% think social media and 21% think email are the best way to communicate. Older generations liked digital communication too, although less than millennials. Among Baby boomers 21% like social media and 30% like email the most. Gen X individuals reported similar numbers with 24% preferring social media and 26% preferring email. Nonprofits took notice and reacted. The report found 75% of nonprofits around the world have online donation systems, 95% have a Facebook page, 92% have a website and 83% use Twitter.

The report then discusses nonprofits perceived effectiveness of social media fundraising. It discovered North American and European nonprofits, the ones who know and use the most social media, only thought social media fundraising was 76% effective. Asian nonprofits see it as 86% effective and African nonprofits see it as 81% effective. The report believes the difference is due to Asia and Africa being behind North America and European in terms of technology.

The article concludes with noting how important these preferences are when a nonprofit is deciding how to reach out to potential donors.