When we craft brands and design assets for clients, we are always thinking about strategy and communication as well as aesthetics. Form and function work together to create the best experience for users, no matter the medium or industry.
Audio Scripture Ministries (ASM) is one such client that we had the pleasure of working with. Among the assets we built for them was a new website. Not only did we build the site with user experience and interface in mind, we looked further to meet industry-related requirements—namely, Charity Navigator.
Charity Navigator is an organization that rates nonprofit organizations based on their financial health and accountability and transparency, with a maximum rating of four stars after averaging the scores of the two categories. Many people check Charity Navigator scores and reports to determine if their donation is going to a good organization and being used properly. If they like what they see, they’re more likely to continue giving; if they don’t, they may well take their donation elsewhere.
We noticed this lack and brought it to ASM’s attention. We then added all of this information in the spring during our rebrand and redesign of the website. As a result, we have helped ASM bring their three-star rating up to a four-star rating. They now have a 100.00 rating in the accountability and transparency category. Paired with their already excellent financial health score, this pushed them up to a four-star overall rating.
Whatever type of client we have, including nonprofits, we are always looking to meet and exceed industry standards so they can put their best foot forward. Our collaborative workflow and strategic process allows us to create solutions that help capture our client’s vision and apply it in an intentional, business-minded way.
See ASM’s Charity Navigator Report: www.charitynavigator.org
Visit ASM’s website: www.asmtoday.org
Last Thursday, the Black Lake staff attended Holland Rescue Mission’s Annual Event, a community banquet they held at their campus on US 31. The night was billed as a historic occasion for the mission, and the announcement they gave was kept under tight wraps in the lead-up to the banquet.
But we here at Black Lake were privileged to know what was going on ahead of time, because we worked closely with HRM’s leaders to develop the new campaign theme. Our team collaborated with the mission to write the campaign message, and our designers created beautiful graphics to communicate that message. We were proud to see the banners, slides, and print materials we designed put to good use, and we were excited to help the HRM team reveal their campaign to the community. Thankfully, everything went off without a hitch!
So, what is HRM’s big announcement? Holland Rescue Mission has always innovated to meet the changing needs of the homeless and less fortunate with excellent, Christ-centered programs, and now they’re taking the next step in this direction. Darryl Bartlett, HRM’s executive director, revealed a new campaign to transform the campus on US31 into the Gateway Center, an on-the-job training and business campus that will serve as an attractive gateway into Holland.
HRM’s Gateway Center will give students the opportunity to move from the margins of society to fully participating citizenship, and it will allow the community to interact with the mission in a variety of new and exciting ways. Darryl was able to point around the banquet space and show the audience where the retail floor, cafe, production floor, and more will be located. This campus with a cause will also include administrative offices, a modern worship center, classrooms, and other business enterprises that will serve as a connecting point for citizens and companies, compassion and commerce.
Darryl had one more exciting announcement to share that night: thanks to several generous donors, HRM has already raised $3.1 million of its $7.5 million goal for the Gateway Center campaign. Even better, there is a 2:1 matching fund that multiplies the effectiveness of every donation the campaign receives.
Want to know more about HRM’s Gateway Center? Go to hrmgatewaycenter.org and pledge your support if you’d like to help build a more excellent community for everyone on the Lakeshore.
Things around here have been pretty hectic lately. Having a big deadline rapidly approaching, we at Black Lake have been kicking it into overdrive to create some pretty fantastic work!
With that, it can sometimes be a daunting task to work at such a high speed with little margin for error. What I find inspiring (or at least a good way to stay pumped up) is music. Though incredibly diverse, here are some tracks that frequent my playlists and help keep me on my game!
1. Bohemian Rhapsody – Queen
2. Don’t Stop Me Now – Queen
3. The Final Countdown – Europe
4. Pumped Up Kicks – Foster the People
5. Off To The Races – Lana Del Rey
6. The Run And Go – Twenty-One Pilots
7. This Is How We Do It – Montell Jordan
8. Lose Yourself – Eminem
9. The Middle – Jimmy Eat World
10. Stronger – Kanye West
What songs inspire you to get the job done?
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A few short months ago, you could find me locked in my room with my laptop in tow, floating among cans of Monster energy drink and Starbucks cups, dreaming of when my senior year would come to an end. Since then, I have successfully landed a position here at Black Lake Studio, where my caffeine addiction, as well as my use of under-eye concealer and dry shampoo, has greatly decreased. It turns out that hard work really does pay off.
I am very proud of the time and energy I put into my college career and how it has panned out for me. With that, I especially feel very fortunate to have gotten a position at Black Lake, where I can apply and expand upon my education while growing as a designer. So far, I’ve been diving into the world of WordPress and also learning the ways of Black Lake’s process, which has been very valuable to me. One thing I found especially useful was participating in a mind mapping session, where I could better grasp our process and how we interface with clients at the discovery stage.
Making the transition from a design student to a professional has been many things for me: wonderful, slightly intimidating, relieving, and mostly, bittersweet. There are many aspects of school that I will miss, but I’m very thankful to have found that it is possible to have a bedtime earlier than 2:00 a.m., that work doesn’t always come home with you, and that a healthy diet is actually possible! I look forward to my future as a designer and could not be happier to have started my first “big girl job” at such a great studio.
You don’t stop learning about your chosen field when you graduate from college. If you do, you’ll fall far behind and will quickly cease to be an asset to the company that hired you when you were “full of potential.” Part of being a designer is being able to keep up with trends and technology, and expanding your knowledge beyond what you learned in school.
Of course, much of this is done on the fly when there are clients to satisfy and deadlines to meet. Since I started here at Black Lake Studio, I have greatly increased my knowledge of WordPress, brand strategy, and many other aspects of design.
Most recently, I learned how to do a manual multisite WordPress install… in less than eight hours. I had to work with a third party to get multiple sites live for a client, and the guy on the phone said, “You should really do a multisite install, it will be faster and take up much less server space.” I thought to myself, “Alright, I’ll give it a go.”
After much frustration, and learning that I should have waited until after the DNS records were updated, I successfully completed a multisite install and brought both sites live. Upon learning this new skill, I saw how I could apply it to the development of sites under our own server for the future.
I also had to battle with Microsoft Excel for Mac recently. It’s laughable how designers can navigate many Adobe products with ease, but when you present them with a Microsoft product that they haven’t touched since several versions ago, they get completely lost. For this particular project, we had to make sure the client would be able to make their own on-brand pie charts in the future without needing us to make one in Illustrator every time. After once again mastering the creation of a pie chart (which took longer than I would like to admit), I went on to learn how to create a custom theme (which had to be done in Powerpoint for some reason) and apply it to the charts. Not bad for a day’s work, if I do say so myself.
While learning new things can be difficult (especially outside the safety of college and professors that always seem to have the answer), it can be very rewarding. Ultimately, it will help you stay current as a designer and not fall behind. I look forward to learning more things in the future as I move forward in my career. Bring it on, Adobe Digital Publishing Solution!
Today, Black Lake Studio & Press welcomes a new designer: Caraline Visuri. A small-town, “meat and potatoes” girl at heart, Caraline is eager to jump on board at Black Lake. Coming from the rural, southwest corner of Michigan, Caraline is thrilled to begin a new chapter in the beautiful town of Holland, and is eager to explore the lakeshore and bike trails.
Welcome aboard, Caraline!
Internships. One word with so much stigma attached. Here, shred these papers, get the coffee, staple this, etc. I am fortunate enough to not have one of those internships. Here at Black Lake, I’ve been given actual projects to work on. My first day, I wished they had just asked me for coffee. Instead, I was thrown into the deep end and told to swim. It was scary (which is weird, because I’m a great swimmer). Through a flurry of varying emotions and learning the beginner’s ropes, I have compiled a list of nonexclusive qualities to look for inside as well as outside of an internship. I am no expert (even though I should be, since this is my third internship and I still don’t have college credit for any of them), but here is what I have found throughout all of them:
1. Choose Well.
Find an internship that will challenge you. I could have chosen an easier internship or no internship at all. Instead, I opted for one that would push me outside my comfort zone as a designer and as a person. See it as an opportunity to grow and learn more than you could by just getting the coffee.
2. Be Willing to Look Stupid.
I know its been said a thousand times before, but this is key in an internship setting. Be humble. It’s better to look stupid first and get the task done right than to look smart for a moment until the task is done wrong.
Often, I’m scared to try my hand at designing a piece because there are much more qualified people here. Nine times out of ten, my design won’t be chosen. Internships aren’t about getting your piece published. They’re about learning, and you can’t learn if you don’t try.
4. Ask Questions.
Those you are interning under are experts in their field. Take advantage of the opportunity of being constantly surrounded by them. Conversely, ask questions that aren’t work related at all. You will learn interesting fun facts and get to know your coworkers better.
5. Have a Go-To Person.
Chances are you won’t be able to interact with your boss over every small problem that arises. Find someone who isn’t annoyed by or too busy for your questions, or even your small talk, and utilize that. They will be a great asset, and you’ll make a friend!
6. Negotiate Hours.
A part-time internship ranges from ten to twenty hours a week. Instead of working three full days a week, I work every morning Monday through Friday, freeing up my afternoons and evenings to work my other job. Figure out what fits your schedule and simply ask for that.
Internships should be more flexible than a job, especially if it’s unpaid. Just the other day, I asked my boss if I could come in late on Tuesdays so I could go to yoga on the beach with my mom. He said yes. If an opportunity arises, talk to your boss about it. Don’t just assume the answer is no.
8. Have Supportive Friends.
Most of my friends from school all check in and ask how my internship is going. Some days, I tell them it’s over my head. They tell me it’s not and to keep persevering. A good support system is of inestimable worth.
9. Have a Routine Outside of the Office.
Get on a particular sleep schedule. It’s much easier to get up early every morning if you go to bed at the same time every night. I don’t do this because I work late at my other job some nights, but its a goal of mine. Figure out an exercise schedule so that sitting at a desk for hours isn’t so bad. Schedule in time for just yourself so you don’t get burnt out by constantly working. Whatever it is you need to do to be your best self, do that.
10. Have Goals.
Figure out what you want to accomplish in your internship and then accomplish it. Make goals outside of the office. You don’t want your entire summer revolving around work.
So, there you have it. As much as I have learned hands-on designing skills here, I have also learned practical life skills that will carry me much further than a career in graphic design.
We’re excited to welcome Black Lake’s new design intern, Kay Foster. We’re thrilled to have her, and hope she isn’t too confused on her first day.