By Dennis Frohlich, Department of Mass Communications
In the spring semester, mass communication students put their web design skills to the test, developing websites for local organizations and non-profits. The project was part of MASSCOMM 220: Multimedia in Mass Communications I, and students worked in groups to create or update nine websites.
The goal of the project was to help community organizations either establish an online presence or update an existing website. All of these agencies have small staffs, and some are only staffed by one person! As such, it can be difficult for organizations to devote time to creating a website.
I worked with the Berwick Area United Way to identify suitable clients. Students worked in groups of 4-5, and met their clients in mid-March. They worked with clients to identify their needs and strategized the best way to meet those needs with a website. The groups then had five weeks to deliver the project outcomes.
Most of the clients did not have experience with web design, so it was imperative that students create a website that would be easy to update. In some cases, students also made social media accounts for the clients on platforms such as Facebook. Many of the clients wanted an easy way to accept online donations, so most groups also helped clients set up donation accounts with Paypal.
The following is a sampling of the work students completed.
The Berwick Area United Way’s website was drastically in need of updating, as it looked like it hadn’t been touched in ten years. Students not only gave the website an aesthetic update, but reorganized the content so that it was easier to navigation, and optimized the site for mobile devices.
The Berwick Area Swimming Pool Association has been preparing for years to reopen the Ber-Vaughn Swimming Pool. The pool fell into disrepair and was closed in 2012. Since then, the Pool Association has been working hard to reopen the pool. The pool previously had a single page website that was more of a placeholder than anything. Students created a whole new website for the pool. The pool is reopening this summer, so the website came just in time!
One group even developed a website for the Salem Township Police Department. At first they thought it would be intimidating working with the police, but they ended up having a great time and had a good working relationship with the department.
I could go on with stories like these. The students stepped up to meet their clients’ needs, and all of the clients were pleased when the students presented their work at the end of the semester.
One client sent me an email, saying in part:
“The students were pleasant, responsive and very professional to work with. The clinic director and I are happy with the design, colors and format of the website they created. … They even offered to help me out via email if I get stuck! … Thank you for encouraging your class to perform this community service!”
The assignment partially fulfilled students’ Citizenship MyCore requirements, but the assignment was more than just a General Education Point (GEP). Students got real-world experience working with clients, and each group faced unique challenges as they tried to meet their client’s needs. The students got to give back to their community, and through this project they gained a newfound confidence in their design abilities.
Students will do this assignment again in the Fall semester, so we are in need of new clients! If anybody knows of a local organization, agency, non-profit, church, club, or other group that needs a website, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
List of Community Websites, along with the students who worked on them
Laura Campbell, Matthew Delviscio, Erik Falcone, Cathy Quinones, Rebecca Ward
Berwick Area United Way
Ethan Baker, Nicole Keiser, Frank Kucharski, Angela Marchese, Hannah Young
Columbia County Volunteers in Medicine
Keely Cahill, Chelsea Kennedy, Carrie Mann, Audra Ortiz
Danville United Way
Francesca Fortunato, Jayne Gac, Dashiyah Green, Victoria Notte, Anna Wegrzyn
The Dental Health Clinic of Berwick
Monica Grater, Anastasia Scott, Andrijana Stamenkovic, Erin Winkler
The Gate House
Amanda Blasco, Malik Sneed, Eddie Weldon, Daneisha Williams
Mission Mall Alternative Gift Fair
William Breinich, Rachel Moogan, Alexandra Offor, Luke Rimmer
Salem Township Police Department
Devon Downes, Kyle Klosinksi, Lauren Messam, Alexandria Soller
Young's Funny Farm
Evan Brown, Seulgi Shin, Corey Shirk, Taylor Yandle