This portfolio section is dedicated to some of my reflections and lessons I have learned from a variety of challenging projects.
Mistakes that worked
That time when I failed at a seamless handoff upon completion of a design internship due to a family emergency
By volunteering to redesign the website of a makerspace, I was able to take a huge burden off of the stakeholders for a fabrication facility dedicated to providing community access to rapid prototyping tools. They were transitioning their organization into a 501c3 non-profit model while simultaneously establishing their presence after moving to a new location.
I set up a self-lead internship, where I garnered hands-on experience in website design and brand strategy for the local Makerspace.
I orchestrated a strategic website design to improve the user experience of their website by redesign their front-end to be complementary to their makerspace’s refreshed brand.
I conducted research on other makerspace’s websites, created low and high-fidelity wireframes, and implemented the changes to the site using WordPress.
Additionally, I helped reduce the website’s monthly expenses by switching Web hosts.
Originally, the community and stakeholders appreciated the updated website. The website helped facilitate bringing people to the new facility location, who excitingly praised the many changes.
However, a few months after handing over the website to the new website administrators, they struggled to make the changes they wanted. The theme I chose had too steep a learning curve, so they switched to an easier-to-manage front-end design.
During the last weeks of the internship and my undergraduate studies, I had a family emergency, so I was severely distracted when handing off the website. Due to my failure to document instructions on upkeeping the new WordPress website, the stakeholders had to iterate away from my original design to an easier administrate theme. As a result of this personal misstep, I prioritize thinking about the exit strategy and sustainability of projects I am handing off so that they are easy to manage for the stakeholder.
That time when I managed a team of 11 resourceful students to put on an event
For an entrepreneurship class, students were suddenly assigned to host a vague event without a timeline and an absent budget that must be on-par with a TED talk.
My entrepreneurship cohorts responded resourcefully with our shoestring budget and limited time to host a Design sprint event to make board games.
A teammate and I managed the event’s sub-teams consisting of sales, marketing, event content, and hospitality.
During the event, some students ran the variety of interactive booths outside to engage passer-by’s while myself and a few other peers facilitated the board-game hackathon for the one team of six-game makers.
Six participants paid to make a board game at the main event while a lot of walk-through traffic played with board games at booths and danced to the live DJ.
While this event successfully raised awareness and recruited the participants into the entrepreneurship program, it was only a success due to students’ collaborative and resourceful cohort. This event was a failure in that it was poorly researched, and the timing clashed with a variety of other well-marketed events that had been getting planned for months.
I personally failed at re-engaging the students who were upfront about being dis-engaged with planning and hosting this event, as they were upset about this scattered assignment. I spoke with them about their grievances, delegated barebones tasked, and communicated with our professors about our difficulties. Then I focused on the remaining students who were interested in helping. Next time I would work closely with the upset teammates to solve their grievances with the professor’s assignment so that they are more likely to re-engage with the project.
That time when I learned about stakeholder management while developing a restaurant’s brand and web presence
I was hired to spearhead a solo design project with a gourmet organic restaurant to improve its web presence and strengthen its brand on this venture.
I was tasked by the owner of a local restaurant to design a new food and drink menu, and re-design their website.
I researched this restaurant by eating five meals at different times of the day and interviewed regular customers to hear about this restaurant’s culture. These visits helped shape my understanding of how the original website was outdated and inspired me to take the brand in a rustic direction with a color palette that reflected the interior and exterior sculpture garden near the entrance.
After designing and developing its landing page to feature their unique food dishes prominently, the stakeholder replaced the prominently displayed food portion with a self-portrait and written content about the chef’s history. So I developed a compromise that the chef’s background can be featured on the About page while the images of food must be prominently displayed on the landing page.
Once I established their online presence their website’s traffic increased dramatically has seen a steady increase in traffic overall; breaking many previous records.
Additionally, customers have begun to interact with the restaurant in new ways.
People are calling ahead of time to reserve tables and are using the redesigned website to book the restaurant for private dining.
The increased traffic was achieved through a website re-design with updated visual content and improved search engine optimization.
One of my takeaways from this project was the importance of communicating with stakeholders about my design decisions. For example, I created a new adaptable menu format for their seasonal food items that communicated dietary options. However, it was not implemented in the restaurant for some time until after I had completed my work.