NOTE: This is a full archive for the Project Community: You & The World (2014) please see the main site for the most up to date information.

All Posts Published at: Noran ProjCom.'14

Sleepless but happy

What an adventure! Can’t believe that 2 months already passed. It just seemed like yesterday that we were all wondering “how on earth are we going to help Shorty and her tiny house community?” but after some confuisiasms, some hangouts, some more Skype meetings and group meetings everything sort of resolved itself and we came up with the awesome idea to create a great website. 

Now all that was left was making the video presentation. And we set high goals to ourselves wanting to make a big part of the video in stop motion. So the hard work started with taking pictures over pictures moving the mouse cursor bit by bit without losing track and sticking to the storyboard. what a job! We also chose to interview people at university and asking them about what they knew of tiny houses and it’s movement and how they would picture a tiny house community.

After gathering as much footage as we could the only thing left to do was editing the video. This took so much more time than i would have imagined. specially getting used to the editing program(s). Learning what can be found where and how can we edit parts in the way we wanted, took the biggest amount of time. But it also has its benefits: I know now a lot more about editing software than last week and this will come in handy pretty soon again I suppose. So after sleepless nights we finally put together our video in the way we wanted and in the way we hope makes the most sense for the viewer. The only drawback is that after watching and re-watching  the video a 1000 times it starts to lose its sense and then you have to be able to have faith in the initial plan and to stick to it.(I guess that lesson will come in handy a few times more in my life).

So in the end I am very happy. Very happy with the work my team did and how everything played out. I really couldn’t have wished for a better people to work with! And also very happy we actually came up with a cool solution to our NGO’s solution. I just hope Shorty feels the same way.

Thank you for reading my blogs, I guess this is it for Project community 2014. But this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t check back regularly. Who knows.. maybe there is a point in this whole blogging thing after all!

Posted in Community, Group 2, Students
This post was originally published at the Project Community blog: Noran ProjCom.'14

Showdown

Here we are, the end of our first module is getting closer and closer and with that also the end of our project community. We have now a clear goal in mind and already a concept as well as a storyboard for our video on paper, now everything we have left to do is putting it all together…(how amazing would it be if it was as easy as it sounds!)

This week in class though we were asked how we would promote our work as a designer and how we would approach the whole marketing part of it. This ended up being harder than I thought because when someone speaks about marketing the first thing that comes to my mind is advertisement,  which is rather difficult to do if what you are trying to promote is not an actual product but more of a service (in our case a website). After a good group brainstorm we figured that using online communities and online tools is the best method to market an online platform. For example the simple act of including share buttons on articles and pictures to give the opportunity to people to share on social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr or even Stumble is already a very powerful way to advertise the sites existence. Another very important tool, that I wouldn’t have thought of without some prior research, is something called Search Engine Optimization

"SEO is the process of increasing your website’s visibility in search engine results through optimizing your pages with the keyword phrases people are likely to search for. Think about it: when you search for something in Google, do you typically go beyond the first couple pages of results? Probably not, and neither will your potential customers.”

Source: Forbes online magazine

Those are all methods to create awareness and to promote your website’s existence but once it is up and running there are still countless ways not only to expand but also to keep existing users on board. For example there are tools to track the traffic on websites and thanks to IP-addresses you have access to basic information from where people are accessing it.
In our case this could be helpful if a lot of people are visiting the Tiny House Enthusiast website from let’s say an other state than Florida then it would be smart to set up a similar service for this state or offering broader information and adding content on the existing site.
Also getting more specific information on users like their gender and age and finding out on how they got to this website is useful to sharpen already existing marketing strategies.
Finally to keep users informed and to assure that they come back to the website you can issue newsletters and let people know about the latest on the topic. Although this should be used with great caution because newsletter can become very irritating very fast (speaking of experience).

In the end I think there is still a lot to be learned about how to use networks and online communities as a designer for your own benefit but I must say, even though I wasn’t completely oblivious to it, doing research and having to work with online communities, networks and social platforms made me recognize their huge potential even more and I will surley invest time learning more about it. Maybe even through personal projects. 

So be sure to check back on a next blog post. 

Posted in Community, Group 2, Students
This post was originally published at the Project Community blog: Noran ProjCom.'14

Shut up and take my money!

Being a child I always thought to myself “how easy would it be to ask one million people for just 1 euro each…that will hardly ruin anyone but it’ll make me a millionaire over night!!!” unknowingly back then I uncovered the basic concept of Crowdfunding.

image

(Image source: walkingdead.wikia.com)

Crowdfunding is becoming a more and more famous way of financing a project. Instead of relying on a bank or an wealthy and risk taking investor to back your project you depend on small donation from a multitude of people who take real interest in you and your quest, and choose to support you with any amount of money. It sounds easy as pie… but sadly it is not quite that easy. Crowdfunding is something one should consider only when everything else is already thoroughly thought through and prepared and it should be the last step of your project! I think it should be seen more as a marketing tool for your project rather than a funding tool. There is also a risk in it too because if in the end you can’t realize your project for which you asked for money and you have nothing to show for, you have to give the money back.

"The crowd giveth, the crowd taketh!"- Richard Bliss.

This is one of the main reasons why we chose to put the crowdfunding part of our Project on ice for now (at least the campaign part of it), having already a lot to do with setting up a ‘Guide to tiny houses’ website for our NGO I think this is a wise decision. Nonetheless I think it is something we shouldn’t forget and also mention as a solution for Shorty for the future.

On the other hand I am very pleased with the progress we are doing in our team! everyone seems to have settled in their position and the pace is piking up! We already have an awesome website design going which we have only to fill with various information on tiny houses. We also got so lucky to be able to laser cut one Teeny Tiny House which Luiza and I designed as a prospective gift for crowdfunding backers. And choosing not to go in depth with crowdfunding doesn’t mean we can’t still present this idea to our NGO who can use it once the crowdfunding campaign is up and running. 

The  crowdsourcing part of our project though is still very much alive since the website we are designing will feature the possibility to add content from people who have more knowledge and ideas than we have on this topic and I think this is the way to go for our NGO because in the end if you have enough people participating and most importantly more knowledge about tiny house communities the part where you have to find money to buy land in order to set up a community will be not so much of a problem anymore.

I think this is all I have for this week but stay put for an update coming your way soon!

Posted in Community, Group 2, Students
This post was originally published at the Project Community blog: Noran ProjCom.'14

Half way there but twice as much to do!

Finally our project is taking shape. In the first meeting with Shorty last week all of our Ideas and insecurity boiled down to a concrete task: Create an online platform for people who want to get information on Tiny House Communities. And after a couple of days of every one thinking about how such an online platform would look like we all met and threw  all of our individual ideas together and decided to make a website in the shape of a guide so people can get information on everything related to tiny houses, we also wanted to integrate a crowdfunding part as well as an online petition so that people all around the world could give support. It all went as far as already having Ideas of what we could provide as gifts for people who decided to make donations (Teeny Tiny Cardboard Houses). We presented all of that on our second meeting with Shorty who of course loved every single aspect of it but Instead of feeling relieved that we finally have something to work on I felt anguish realizing that we have SO MUCH still to do and I didn’t know what to do or where to start.

But in all of this there are lessons to be learned and that fit quite well with what we discussed in our project communities class: Work Teams.

First of all one person can come up with a lot of great ideas it just becomes problematic when you are back in your team and everyone has so may good ideas to be able to say ‘No’ to one and ‘Yes’ to another. That is already our first lesson: Prioritizing! (thank you Nancy). I also realized that when the whole team is working together things don’t seem to go forward a lot because there is always one person who can object to your idea and it feels like running in a Hamster wheel and that leads to Lesson two: divide tasks and responsibilities. The combination that worked the best for now was groups of two because you can alway build up on the other one’s idea and its easy to say ‘no’ to a bad one. Lesson three: make smaller groups

Already those three lessons are making it easier for me, I don’t have to do everything alone and we don’t have to do so much but rather Focus on doing one thing good.

This means for us that we are putting our efforts now in creating a model of a website that focuses on the “Guide” part for now and maybe adding features like petitions and alike if we can afford it. And we split up the tasks so that everyone is responsible for only one part of the whole thing making it easier when we put everything together.

I can’t wait to continue now and I feel a fresh wind rising and pushing us one step closer to our goal.

See you next week!

Posted in Community, Group 2, Students
This post was originally published at the Project Community blog: Noran ProjCom.'14

Catching up.

So last week was pretty hectic.. My Grandfather sadly passed away and I traveled to Paris to attend his funeral and to be close to my family. So I had a lot on my mind and not a lot of thoughts for my teammates and our ongoing challenge plus missing the first meeting with our NGO (which I was really looking forward to) made me fear that I would be staying behind my team and because of that not being able to actively participate next time we would meet. But rather than this happening I got pleasantly surprised and this made me realize the value of todays online networks.

On the day of the meeting my teammates went through the effort of audio recording the Skype call with Shorty so that I could listen to it once I had time again. Also all the notes taken during the meeting were uploaded right after to Facebook. So in the end it felt like I’ve always been close to my team not missing a single peace of information even though I was in an other country and my mind focused on something completely different.

I think today a lot of people are taking online networks for granted. Being able to video call over the Internet with your family across the world for free was something exclusive to science fiction not even that long ago. But it is worth so much more making collaboration between individuals sitting in different countries even different continents as easy as one mouse click.

Also social networks like Facebook offer possibilities of just sharing thoughts and events to sharing ideas or getting together to plan a Birthday party and as far as getting together to fight abusive governments. And because of all this it has become an indispensable tool of our modern society.

I personally use Facebook very passively. Just checking in to see what is happening with my friends around the world and messaging back and forth with friends and family but keeping my thoughts or private life rather to myself. My main link to our interconnected society is mostly WhatsApp it is a very handy tool to chat with friends family or even with work related groups.

In the end though I’d rather have a live interaction with people, meeting them , talking to them face to face is I think a much more honest way of interacting. This doesn’t mean that I am not wiling to use social networks in fact I am very glad to have them. I just keep them for occasions where they are needed and not to present my life the way I want others to see me.

I hope I make sense and stay tuned for a next blog post.

Posted in Community, Group 2, Students
This post was originally published at the Project Community blog: Noran ProjCom.'14

Spiders and Confusion

So a week passed and I am still somewhat confused… or confusiastic if you prefer. We sadly didn’t get an opportunity yet to have a meeting with our NGO which is kind of frustrating because we don’t have a clear “goal” towards which we can work and it already feels like time is slipping through our fingers. On the other hand that will change soon since we got a reply this afternoon and we were able to set up a weekly meeting with Shorty. I can’t wait to hear her story and to finally start working on how we can help her.

Last lesson we learned a lot about tools on how to communicate with each other like Google Hangouts for example. It seems like a good way to have meetings when your sitting on the other side of the world. specially the fact that you can record the hangout in order to review it later or even to share it with other people if some interesting points are made. 

We also learned about spidergramms. And even if i was skeptical at first I quickly recognized the advantages of having a spidergramm because it gave us a clear picture of where we stand and on what we have to work on to achieve our goal. 

So lets hope that we can live up to the standard of our spidergramm and I’ll talk to you next week with (let’s hope) some actual info on what we are going to achieve this module.

Posted in Community, Group 2, Students
This post was originally published at the Project Community blog: Noran ProjCom.'14