A student browses the Kent State Student Media website.

Kent State Student Media Partners with IdeaBase Web Class to Launch Responsive Website

During the spring 2017 semester, IdeaBase’s own User Experience Designer, Chris Hallahan, created and taught a class that was new to Kent State University’s College of Communication and Information. The Advanced Responsive Web Design class, held at IdeaBase, was created to challenge and expand the skill sets of students who took the basic Responsive Web Design class in previous semesters, as well as students who wanted to gain real-world web design experience prior to graduation.

During this sixteen week project-based course, students not only were exposed to new skills, but also worked on a real client project for Kent State Student Media. The project encompassed the design and development of a website in a content management system (CMS). Teams were assigned responsibility to complete project requirements throughout the semester using advanced web design tools and techniques.

"Employers want students who can work well together with various disciplines.  The Advanced Responsive Web Design allowed us to create a truly relevant and collaborative classroom experience while also building a high-impact final product for our client," said Hallahan, professor for the class.

Employers want students who can work well together with various disciplines.

Kent State Student Media represents the broadcast, film, print, and online content created by Kent State students. Their media partners are independent, nationally recognized, and award-winning. Students from across the university are invited to join Student Media and gain professional, practical, and fun experience. Student Media’s Director, Kevin Dilley, first approached IdeaBase for the creation of a new website, and worked with IdeaBase's Director, Kristin Dowling, to fit the project into the Advanced Responsive Web Design class. Since Student Media didn’t have an existing website, the website was able to be built completely from scratch.

Dilley noted, "deciding to work with IdeaBase and the advanced web design class was an easy choice. IdeaBase is a talented group of professionals and working with the class fit our own mission of empowering students through practical and collaborative efforts. Plus, they are a fun group and you know you’ll get excellent results."

Students Touring Student Media facilities
Students from the class have an initial meeting with Student Media's director, who gives a tour of the various production facilities in Franklin Hall.

The Advanced Responsive Web Design class consisted of just nine students from multiple concentrations. These nine students were broken up into three different teams that focused on different parts of the website. 

Kelsey Williams (Visual Communication Design), Tyler Cronie (Computer Information Systems), and Lexi Fodor (Visual Communication Design) made up the design/front-end team of the project. Kelsey said that she enjoyed learning how to work in a functioning team with everyone doing different jobs. 

Samantha Hudak (Visual Communication Design), Lauren Friedman (Visual Communication Design), and Kierstynn Lund (Applied Communications) worked as the UX/Content team for the project. “I had never done user experience work before; it was all new to me,” said Lauren. 

Finally, the content management system/back-end team was comprised of Dorothy Ly (Visual Communication Design), Grant Wang (Visual Communication Design), and Megan Wilburn (Digital Sciences). Dorothy said, “I really liked how each individual team worked to come together for the final product.”

Early design concepts, style tiles and user experience deliverables helped guide the design direction early on.
Reviewing wireframes
The design and UX teams work together to review early wireframes and design concepts as they prepare to be prototyped in code.

Along with these nine students, members of the IdeaBase team aided in the class’s project. Mikey Bechtel (Advertising) worked as the account manager and Reilly Hawkins (Computer Information Systems) and Nick Pappas (Computer Science) worked as additional developers for the website. Nick said that he enjoyed being challenged while working on the website, as this was his very first project at IdeaBase.

The interaction with an actual client was an experience that helped me gain a more real world experience.

This entire group worked hard in and out of the classroom. Hundreds of hours were put into the project that resulted in an amazing finished website for Student Media. The Student Media website launched in August 2017 at kentstatestudentmedia.com.

The new Student Media website includes advertising rates for media partners, listings of ways students can get involved, staff bios and contact information, media partner overviews and upcoming events and resources for board members. The website is built using a custom design built in a content management system (Craft CMS) so that the site can be easily updated by Student Media students and staff members in the future.

After the project was finished, Dilley said, “this website development and launch was a success because Chris and his team listened to us, they developed solutions that we never would have thought of and they communicated constantly with us. We felt very much part of the process from start to finish. And they over-delivered on what they said they would be able to do. This new website will help us recruit new students and connect with our community partners in a much deeper way.”

Reviewing Website
The design, UX and CMS teams participate in a 15-minute "Scrum" meeting where they each share and show their weekly progress.
This new website will help us recruit new students and connect with our community partners in a much deeper way.

Due to a positive response from students, the advanced Responsive Web Design class will be offered again in the 2018 spring semester and the basic Responsive Web Design class will continue to be offered in fall 2017. Kristin added, "the ARWD class is so important because it allows students the opportunity to learn from a professional user experience designer and apply the theories that they are learning in the classroom to build a working website that will be used by many throughout the university and community."

Group Photo of Class
The aRWD class celebrates a successful end of the semester together at Ray's Place in Kent.
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The final website (displayed here) launched in August 2017 and adjusts to fit the screen of any device, large to small.
This is something we all can be proud of creating.

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