Blog Assignments

Blog No. 10: Final Thoughts

My opinion of this class is a very positive one. I really did learn a lot! Some things were more of a refresher and some things were completely new, but I enjoyed being able to do hands-on assignments as opposed to just reading or talking about them, like making our own audio tracks and making our own videos. As much as I hate public speaking, I’m surprisingly glad that presentations were a big part of this class. I think because it had been so long since I gave one, and because my jobs have zero face-to-face contact involved, I was extra terrified. I am extremely critical of myself, so it’s easy to get caught up in that. But I think these feelings also meant that I needed to have to give a presentation. Or three.

I really appreciated the humor and the doses of reality you’ve injected into the lessons within the class, especially since it’s an evening class. It’s so easy for professors to essentially pass out rose-colored glasses, and I wish I had heard some cold truths much earlier.

I would have liked to learn more about careers in advertising. I also would have liked to learn more about careers in marketing and animation. I would like to learn more about marketing related to design in general, though I know that isn’t exactly the purpose of this class. I think it would have been helpful to learn more about what makes good design good, and what makes bad design bad. We talked about it in relation to web design, and we touched on it a little early on I think. And it’s probably a subject that makes up the bulk of a class that I haven’t taken yet, so if so, my bad.

I would have enjoyed more opportunities to make things that could go into my portfolio. I also really liked the more hypothetical assignments, like the website redesign and the ad campaign, so more of those would have been fun.

Overall I think my greatest take away from this class is that we have to keep learning and updating our skills and ourselves in order to stay marketable. No one had really taught me that before, and, even though it seems like common sense now, I left UT thinking that I could find great jobs and work for the next 50 years on that knowledge alone. Seeing how comical that idea is reaffirmed my decision to come back to school and definitely showed me my instincts were correct despite people telling me the opposite just a few months ago.

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Blog Assignments

Blog No. 9: Examining Current Design Trends

Trends in digital media change almost overnight, and the way we as consumers interact with certain trends across different mediums can shape the way companies try to grow customer loyalty or increase sales within markets or demographics that may have previously been out of reach. It’s a cycle.

One of the most notable changes I’ve seen recently is Instagram introducing a way to shop online retailers within the app. As a result, companies — large and small — are implementing the feature. It gives them the ability to advertise, sell, gain information on their customer base, and grow loyalty all in one step. It even sort of creates an online equivalent of the at-the-register impulse purchase.

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But it’s also convenient for the consumer; the feature saves you time and it allows you to better find what you’re looking for. For example, let’s say Target posts a picture of an item on Instagram, but doesn’t add the name or other pertinent information about the item within the caption. Traditionally, you’d either have to comb through thousands of items and hundreds of pages on their online store or you’d have to physically search the (massive) store for the item. This takes time, and potentially gas money. A lot of people aren’t going to bother or put forth that much effort on something they can likely find elsewhere — and much easier. But if Target allowed the consumer to purchase the item directly through the social media app, all of that hassle is eliminated.

Another trend within social media: Media outlets are relying on video to attract consumers instead of text or photos. Both my employers are doing this. Mic has tons of videos and series, and Romper has started a few web series structured like documentaries and talk shows.

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When it comes to actual design, one trend I am a fan of is websites using a texture or a photo (obviously one that is minimal and doesn’t take away from the content) as a background withoutthe use of solid white or black text boxes. It’s usually accompanied by very little text, which may or may not be perfectly aligned on the page. These sites make great use of balance and color. In my opinion, it makes the site feel so much more immersive. In comparison, it’s very pleasing to the eye next to sites that are just made up of words, straight lines, and solid, opaque colors. People love visual elements, and this trend is made even better when it involves anything interactive. My favorite example of this trend is JK Rowling’s website, as well as her site Pottermore.

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Photos

Texas lavender blooms during severe drought

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Features, Podcasts

Engineer pursues passion with authentic French bakery

Nagree meets with a fellow chef to offer her advice.

Nagree meets with a fellow chef to offer her advice.

View more photos here and listen to the audio interview here.

A small, white house in the Bouldin Creek area is home to La Patisserie, a traditional French bakery. Instead of cakes and cupcakes, La Patisserie churns out delicate macarons and financiers. The rooms are bright and the entire house smells of sugar and coffee. At least a dozen press clips line the wall to the left of the front door.

The mastermind behind La Patisserie is Soraiya Nagree, 31. La Patisserie is one of three businesses that Nagree owns, the other two being The Kitchen Space, a large industrial kitchen for rent in East Austin, and Luxe Sweets, her wholesaling brand. But Nagree’s story is an unusual one because, before becoming a pastry chef, she was an engineer.

Nagree left Trinity University with a chemical engineering degree and soon started working as a urethane engineer for a bowling ball company, according to La Patisserie’s website. She worked there for about three years.

“I knew I didn’t want to be an engineer forever because I just knew that in an engineering environment I was going to work for someone, unless I did consulting, and I wasn’t good enough to do consulting, and so that was kind of the driving factor,” Nagree said.

After getting married and relocating to Austin, Nagree decided to go to culinary school at Le Cordon Bleu-Texas Culinary Academy. Halfway through, she began baking out of her home and wholesaling to a handful of people.

“It started going well, so we built a kitchen …and continued the wholesaling end of things. Then, three years ago, we found this house and knew that this was where La Patisserie needed to be. This is my little dream, I like the wholesale end, it’s good, it pays the bills… but this, I could be here every day. I love this place,” Nagree said.

The three businesses are all interconnected. Luxe Sweets sells pastries to shops all around Austin and La Patisserie is basically the retail space for that brand. All the pastries are baked in a kitchen they have reserved at The Kitchen Space.

Nagree believes the hardest part of running a business is knowing that it is not going to be an overnight success.

“You see all these people get successful…people are fascinated with the overnight success, that’s not how it happens for hardly anyone. You have to be your own accountant, janitor, marketing person, sales person, everything. You are everything, until you get to a point where you can finally hire people,” Nagree said.

Nagree currently has 15 employees including delivery drivers. One of them is Jacqueline Ha. She is a manager at La Patisserie.

“I’ve worked here about a year and a half, almost two years. I love it,” Ha said.

Nagree has two sons, ages 4 and nine months. She compares owning a business to having a child and says that the analogy is accurate because “they keep you up at night, you worry about it 24/7, you want to be with it 24/7.”

“I have poured everything into my businesses. I have slept in my car from being so exhausted but knowing that I need to continue baking, but I don’t have the energy to bake anymore… But at the end of the day, it’s mine. It’s my baby. And I couldn’t be prouder of it,” Nagree said.

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A participant takes a selfie before the race begins.

A participant takes a selfie before the race begins.

Runner make their way across the Ann W. Richards Congress Avenue Bridge.

Runners make their way across the Ann W. Richards Congress Avenue Bridge.

Winner Scott MacPherson barrels toward the finish line.

Winner Scott MacPherson barrels toward the finish line.

Scott MacPherson finishes the 10k in 29 minutes and 36 seconds.

Scott MacPherson finishes the 10k in 29 minutes and 36 seconds.

Scott MacPherson high-fives spectators while carrying the U.S. flag.

Scott MacPherson high-fives spectators while carrying the U.S. flag.

Scott MacPherson encourages second place winner Devin Monson.

Scott MacPherson encourages second place winner Devin Monson.

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PHOTO GALLERY: Austin American-Statesman Capitol 10K 2014

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