Select each icon to go to that section.
Instructional Design Document for Video Course:
Taxes for Entrepreneurs & Creatives
Instructional Design Document: Google Docs, Canva
Storyboard: Google Slides
Videos: Camtasia, Snagit, Envato Elements
Squires Tax Preparation is a woman-owned small business that Ilene Squires established over fifteen years ago. Since then, it has grown by word-of-mouth, and now with its online presence it is highly in demand by both returning clients and new ones. Every year during tax season, Ilene spends much of her time handling discovery calls where young entrepreneurs and creatives ask many of the same questions. While that time is billable, Ilene wants to increase her efficiency by turning the calls into passive income.
This project will generate passive income for Squires Tax Preparation by creating a video-based course that covers the topics Ilene consistently discusses with those entrepreneurs and creatives who are establishing themselves professionally. Specifically, the purpose of the course is to help entrepreneurs and creatives file their taxes in a way that protects their personal assets while allowing them to grow their business. The course will inform them of the different options for filing taxes and help them select the one that makes sense for their current situation as well as their future business plans. It will be offered for sale on various platforms.
Pending, course will be tested and reviewed by IDOLs, client, and entrepreneurs
Virtual Scavenger Hunt: IDOL courses Academy's 10th Cohort Celebration
Project Management: Notion
Communication: Mighty Networks, Slack
Storyboard: Google Slides
Scavenger Hunt: Gather API, PowerPoint, remove.bg, BeFunky resizer
Playthrough: Camtasia, Zapsplat (music)
Participant Feedback: Jamboard
My client, Dr. Robin Sargent of IDOL courses, wanted to commemorate the 10th cohort of IDOL courses Academy. She knew that I had been the first person to use Gather within the Academy, and she wanted to explore ways to formally incorporate it as part of the social learning that is integral to IDOL. Specifically, she had seen how I'd used Gather to host virtual meetings for my accountability group and had subsequently created the "IDOL Cafe" using Gather as a way for members to talk in real time, outside of the live workshops and mentor sessions that take place during every cohort. We discussed how to take Gather a step further and create something unique to celebrate IDOL's 10th cohort milestone.
What sets Gather apart from other videoconferencing platforms is how it borrows from the gaming world. Users create their own avatars and explore virtual spaces that have interactive elements. The navigation is 2D side-scrolling, like in early video games.
During IDOL's 10th cohort, Gather rolled out brand new features, including a mapmaker API (application programming interface) and a virtual escape room experience. Since the escape room could not be customized, Dr. Robin and I decided on a virtual scavenger hunt for Academy members. I built five rooms of various sizes, based on the size of each cohort. (Some rooms were for multiple cohorts.) I kept IDOL's brand colors and logo at the forefront as I customized the rooms, playing off their themes as well. Every prize was hidden as a different interactive element, for which I made pop-up images with links for members to redeem the prizes. I used a combination of PowerPoint, remove.bg, and BeFunky to create the pop-up images and the pixel art. The prize links were set by Dr. Robin to have a set number of redemption opportunities so that when the limit was reached, members would know to look for other prizes.
Another crucial aspect of the design process was figuring out how to connect each new room to the IDOL Cafe, while still keeping it a secret. In Gather's API, I added "doors" using tile effects that went between the cafe and each room. To make them inaccessible until the day that the scavenger hunt went live, I made them password-protected doors. This required some trouble-shooting, as that feature was still in beta. Because I was one of Gather's "early adopters," I was granted access to their Slack community, and through that, I communicated with Gather's help team and other "power users" who were keen to beta-test new features. My willingness to experiment with the platform's capabilities paid off, as the rooms were successfully hidden until the scavenger hunt began. Dr. Robin released the passwords on the Academy's social network (hosted on Mighty Network) when the event went live.
To keep track of all essential project information and the prize links as I built the scavenger hunt, I made the Google Slide deck above. It also served as a way to centrally house all of the pop-up images that I embedded in the interactive objects on Gather. I shared this with Dr. Robin to keep us on the same page and get my design ideas approved throughout the process. Think of it as a cross between an outline and a storyboard.
The video above is a play-through of the final product, recorded and edited in Camtasia. I added royalty-free, instrumental electronic music from Zapsplat to match the fun feeling of going on a scavenger hunt and the virtual environment.
Because this project was time-sensitive, interactive, and highly experimental, I wanted to make sure that Academy members could leave immediate feedback, including being able to report any problems. To that end, I made a Jamboard, and it was indeed utilized! The majority of feedback was effusive and enthusiastic, though there were a few kinks that had to be worked out. Some users had trouble with the passwords due to not typing them exactly as shown; this was easily resolved. Other members struggled with the prize links, since I had included them in the images but intended for users to click on them in the captions that were also available. I had tried to anticipate this problem by adding instructions that told them to click on the link in the captions, but in a live environment, that ended up being a lot for people to follow. In retrospect, I should have put QR codes on the pop-up images so users could easily scan them with their phone. Aside from that, the results were positive. Members expressed their appreciation to Dr. Robin and me for the prizes they won and the fun they had. Since the scavenger hunt, there has also been an increase in usage of the IDOL cafe for impromptu IT support sessions, casual meet-ups, and co-working sessions.
Remote Team-Building Activity
Google Slides, Free Clipart, Photoshop
Cohorts for IDOL courses Academy run for 8 weeks. As an accountability group leader and Academy coach, I have observed that attendance for synchronous events and overall participation decreases midway through every cohort. This is when the content gets denser and more technical and the tasks become more complex. It's also when the novelty wears off and members realize how much work goes into transitioning into a new career. It can be easy for them to lose momentum and get discouraged.
Just prior to the start of cohort 13, Academy coaches and mentors met to discuss recent changes, procedures, ideas, and trends we've observed. I thought about how mid-week is commonly called "Hump Day" and joked that the fourth week of every cohort is "Hump Week." This got my creative gears turning. I decided to make it the theme of my West Coast Accountability Group's virtual meeting for week four. I designed a "Desert Oasis" space in Gather instead of hosting it on Google Meet or Zoom as usual, along with "Camelid Bingo." To further tie in the "Hump Week" theme, I gave this prompt as the icebreaker: "Pick your favorite camelid and share why you chose it." In keeping with the purpose of our weekly meetings (staying on track with our professional development), I set our discussion topic as "What’s the hump you’re struggling to get over?"
Due to unforeseen glitches with the Gather platform, several members who initially showed up for the meeting did not re-join when I switched to Google Meet. Therefore, there weren't enough participants to test out Camelid Bingo. However, some peers did review the Bingo game on their own and found it to be both visually appealing and well-designed for digital use. They also thought the theme was clever. I hope to facilitate live game-play in the near future.
From this experience, I learned to pivot more quickly when technical difficulties arise to keep participants engaged and online. I also learned the importance of promoting special events frequently to increase the likelihood of a strong turnout.
Style Guide and Logo for Legal Services Provider
On the left are the style guide and logo that existed before I came onto the project.
On the right are the rebranded style guide and logo that I created for the client.
The client, GB&C, had existing branding but needed to update it to better reflect their mission and values and the work that they do. The original logo had more of a traditional business feel than the client wanted, since they focus on providing legal services to underrepresented populations, particularly members of the LGBTQIA+ community, immigrants, and refugees. This necessitated a refreshed style guide, as well.
I began with the style guide, incorporating extensive feedback and stakeholders' ideas about what they had in mind. The brand colors remained the same, but everything else was updated. I turned the globe into rainbow hues specifically to evoke the Pride flag and make that advocacy prominent. I also changed the fonts to be bolder, more stately, and more accessible in terms of their contrast and readability. The stakeholders wanted the font names clearly identified according to their purpose, along with comparable fonts that could be used natively in Word. (The founder requested this to make her process of writing legal documents in Word as easy as possible.) Another design option that the stakeholders wanted for legal documents was a submark, which can be thought of as a simplified version of the logo. With the main logo featuring many colors and gradients, the submark could be used to keep printing costs down. Finally, I provided four options for textures that could be used as subtle, decorative flourishes across their training materials, website, and more.
The design team and the stakeholders agreed that the new versions of the logo and style guide were vast improvements compared to when I joined the project. They felt there was much clearer alignment with the work done by the legal services provider, since a major part of their outreach is to the LGBTQIA+ community. Some of their clients are refugees who also identify as LGBTQIA+, so it was important that the branding reflect that to be welcoming, supportive, and inclusive. At the time I left the project, they planned to use the new assets on other learning materials, including onboarding documents and eLearning modules for clients, in addition to their website.