Customization

img_0391-e1548553095741.jpg

Starting to customize my blog to bring some personality into it with just a few minor changes. I changed the template, color palette, bolded the headings and adjusted the background color. I also added a border in black around the image and a line to break the image and content.

Before:

Screen Shot 2019-01-25 at 11.40.34 AM.png

After:

screen shot 2019-01-25 at 10.31.46 pm

Site comparisons

img_0364-e1548437953384.jpg

Shopping online has become the convenient way to find the best deals, ship items to your home and locate the perfect gift. You can research products and look up inspirations before purchasing from your favorite sites. All of this can be done from the comfort of your home. But sometimes navigating shopping sites can be frustrating; and if not designed well, will cause you to leave the site before purchasing.

I did a search for worst designed sites in 2018. The search results included many sites that were hard to view and/or navigate. The one that gave me the biggest headache was Gates N Fences. There was way too much content on the page; the layout of the images against the content over powered the page. The fonts were hard to read on the navigation panel, and the use of many colors was distracting. There were several sub navigations throughout, as well as, links within the content. No overall structure was evident, and just a ton of content placed on the site.

Screen Shot 2019-01-25 at 12.06.02 PM.png

One site that I often go to for home shopping and inspiration is Pottery Barn. I find the site to have an open clean design, with easy navigation, and it is constantly updated
with inspirations according to the season. The colors are neutral, which keeps my attention on the products I am looking at; and the photography is beautifully done to provide easy-to-do design inspiration for the clueless home designers like myself.

Screen Shot 2019-01-25 at 12.09.09 PM.png

Sites that are designed well lead to a better user experience. With clear easy to navigate
shopping, the user will spend more time and ultimately purchase a product. Inspirations
sprinkled throughout a site will increase purchasing volume; and lead the user to return for more ideas whether it’s for design, clothes or home electronics. You want to have a site that will encourage return use and keep the interest of the shopper. The longer they remain on the site, the more likely they are to purchase.

About me

img_9848


My name is Holly and I live in Connecticut with my husband and two children. We have a King Charles Spaniel and an adorable Chinchilla. In my free time I enjoy photography, nature and exploring. We lead very busy lives between school, jobs, sports and keeping track of all the activities the kids have going on. I wouldn’t trade the craziness for a minute! Sometimes I wonder what I will do with all my free time when the kids have grown up and are running their own crazy lives.

I have been in the creative industry for over 20 years with experience in digital, print, mobile and email communications. I started as a print designer and moved into the digital world of emails and websites as a Creative Director.  I also owned my own graphic design company for many years. In my recent role as Senior Communication Manager, I provide design direction and strategy within healthcare communications for both print and digital. A large part of my role is client facing to provide solutions and strategy while maintaining the brand across several products.

I enjoy the fast-paced ever-changing atmosphere of the creative world. I am currently attending Quinnipiac University as a graduate student to gain more knowledge in user experience to take my career to the next level. The digital world fascinates me. The understanding of what user experience means for the user is essential. It is all aspects of the end-user’s interaction with the site, services and products. I hope to use my education, passion and creative talent to achieve my next career chapter.


http://www.hollychecchia.com

Frozen in Time

IMG_0527

I am famous for my conversations that take several different turns off subject before getting to the point. Kind of like a dog waiting for you to throw his favorite toy, only to see a squirrel run by and out the window goes his attention with the toy. My attention span is just about the same when it comes to social media. Whatever is the hot topic of that day is all I focus on and see while scrolling. It’s as if time stands still each day for a topic that is usually split one of two ways. We somehow forget what happened that angered us last week, and divert our attention to a new topic.

“Some of society’s biggest problems, such as global warming, require careful long-term planning; we can’t tackle them if we’re being dragged in 20 directions every hour by shiny objects and oven-fresh hot takes.” Social media is keeping us stuck in the moment

Reverse Chron

Social media uses a technique called “reverse chronological or reverse chron” design. They refresh your feed to show the latest and greatest topic, whether it be political or a cute cat video. What happened five minutes ago is now history and the drama of the minute has now hijacked your feed. Social media outlets use this design because it’s so addictive. It makes it hard to read the recent past; you become stuck in the present.

Palihapitiya, a venture capitalist and part owner of the Golden State Warriors, spoke to students at Stanford Graduate School of Business. “Everybody else has to soul-search a little bit more about what you’re willing to do,” he said. “Because your behaviors, you don’t realize it, but you are being programmed. It was unintentional, but now you gotta decide how much you’re willing to give up, how much of your intellectual independence.”  Former Facebook VP says social media is destroying society

Social influences

As a society we are unable to come up with solutions if we are only focused on the present. We have become a “What’s now” culture and have forgotten about what had us fired up last week. I myself am a victim to reverse chron. The topics that lit a fire under my butt a few weeks ago have been replaced with the current hashtag flooding my feed. I don’t want to forget, I want to continue my argument for what I feel is right. But I have become so sucked into the endless effects of social media that I have lost my own fire to continue a fight, only to replace it with the current fight.

More and more people are getting their news from social media. We saw how much social media played a part in the elections and quickly divided our nation into two groups. According to a Pew Research Center survey, 35 percent of voters between ages 18 and 29 said that social media was the “most helpful” source of information about politics. This shows that social media plays a large part in influencing peoples’ opinions whether it be political, environmental, or local news.

Obsession for the now

Social media is changing our relationship with time. It has given us an obsession with the right now and not a craving for the past up to now. We have stopped paying attention to the past, even to what happened yesterday. It makes us frozen in time with a window to what was the drama of the day–creating a one-day world of the right now. Which brings me back to my reference of a dog waiting for his toy only to be sucked into the squirrel running by; we have become a culture of “What’s now and What’s shiny”.

The overuse of social media is affecting all generations. We are no longer having discussions on our research, history or beliefs through the years. Now, it’s conversations or arguments by people hidden behind their screens talking about the events of the day. In order to see someone’s posts from weeks or months before, you have to scroll for an internet eternity, which is what social media companies do not want you to do. And this is why they use the reverse Chron design to keep everything you see current to the minute.  Social media has taught me to critically think about the news and information I am fed by anyone. I find I must do research on my own, using conventional and non-conventional methods. Follow people with different opinions that I trust, and read on my own to come up with my own educated conclusions.

Read history, keep true to your beliefs and keep current through research and different media outlets.

Technology and the loss of simplicity

img_0530.jpg

Sometimes while driving with the GPS in control of my every turn, I think, how did I possibly find anyone’s house before having a GPS? I remember road trips as a kid with the endless struggle of folding the map back up again. I remember printing out directions as a teenager and losing the paper out the window half way through the trip. And I remember the joking with boyfriends about them never wanting to stop and ask for directions.

Today, I can’t imagine ever leaving on a road trip without the GPS, it’s almost terrifying to think about! Whether it’s my GPS, my phone or on my laptop, I am always connected.

“Smartphones have altered the texture of everyday life, digesting many longstanding spaces and rituals, and transforming others beyond recognition.” – A Sociology of the Smartphone

Today you can store and display: purchased tickets, insurance cards, medical information, and your credit cards. You’re hungry?

Then search for restaurants near you, peruse their menu, order online, pay with your stored credit card, lookup their address so you can GPS to the restaurant, and the most basic of tools on the phone…. make a PHONE CALL.

We no longer have to carry pictures in our wallets or worry if we remembered to bring our plane tickets; it’s all with you in your phone. It’s hard to say whether our constant digital connection is better or worse for us. All the memories I have that are tied to the inconvenience of the non-digital past, are precious to me. Somehow not being able to hold a picture from my wallet brings me sadness; yet at the same time, I have instant access to hundreds in my phone. So, is this better or worse for us?

My kids will never know a world without having everything at arm’s length in their cell phones. It amazes me how my 5-year-old can navigate through a phone or iPad without any hesitation. He will even see something cute and say take a picture, now post it to Daddy. He doesn’t quite understand the difference between texting a picture to Daddy and posting to social media. But he does know that that picture can be sent to anyone instantly. If I find myself at the grocery store without the grocery list I thoughtfully put together, I can call my daughter or husband to send a picture of the list which is laying on the kitchen counter. (Of course, had I put the list on my phone, I would not have forgotten the list.)

My teenage daughter can instantly look up statistics for any friendly debate – whether it be what the capital of Arkansas is or what is the best ice cream place in NYC. Can you imagine a teenager today having to use dial up to post a picture on Instagram? (I giggled a little at the thought)

Today we live in a very scary world. I can’t imagine not being able to keep in touch with my daughter, my mom and husband. I don’t know how my parents survived not knowing where I was for hours at a time. My parents had no idea who I was with or what I was up to. My daughter has had a cell phone since she was 8. Is Your Child Ready for a Cell Phone? We bought her one because she was carpooling for practice and it was a way to make sure she had arrived safely. It also helped us feel more secure when she slept over at friends’ houses. She didn’t have to ask permission to call us, she could just pick up her phone and let us know if she needed us. For safety, I can’t imagine not having a cell phone so that I am able to connect with my loved ones at a moment’s notice. It’s a convenience without which we would struggle.

One thing that I have noticed with cell phones today, is that we have forgotten how to strike up a conversation with strangers. When you look around you, everyone has a cell phone up to their face and an apple watch that they are consistently checking. Years ago, when waiting in line or sitting on a train, you would start talking to the person next to you. You don’t see that now! In fact, if you ask a person a question, you will feel as though you are disturbing them. As a society, we have begun to lose the personal connection with each other. Our phones keep us connected to our loved ones and close friends… even connected through social media with people from the past; but we have forgotten how to make new friends with a simple conversation.

We have to remember that despite the convenience of technology in our very busy day to day activities; we have to learn to “disconnect” from our phones and “reconnect” with the world around us. It moves fast, look up and take it in.

Creatives stop stressing, get organized

img_0534-e1537754657517.jpg

As a designer, I can wear many hats for each project. I have to manage timelines, approvals, vendors, billing and keeping the client happy all while being a creative rock star. Keeping track of all of the pieces of the puzzle can get confusing through emails and phone calls. I am notorious for having sticky notes everywhere. They are on my laptop, my desk, my counter, my car dashboard…. I am desperate to get all my to do’s and thoughts in one place. I already have so many tools to manage a project from start to finish, I was hesitant to add another tool to my arsenal but I knew it was time to get organized.

I decided to put to use project management for my graduate courses to start. While researching online Project management tools, I quickly realized how this can keep me organized in all aspects of my life. As a working mom and a student, I juggle several things daily that at any moment can come crashing down if one thing is missed. My research brought me to Trello which is a free online Project Management tool. With Trello you can set due dates, add members to the project, upload files and most important to me was create checklist. The checklist can be marked as completed as you go through them to stay on task and meet timelines.

Screen Shot 2018-09-22 at 10.13.06 PM

Impress your clients

Document each step of the approval process in an easy to follow check list that outlines where you are in the project. Your clients will be able to see exactly where the project is and have access to files along the way. For example, if they want to review the first draft of a logo that was sent, instead of searching through emails they can download the file straight from the tool. They can make comments as well as give approvals to proceed to the next step. All communications and files are in one easy place to refer back to. 5 reasons why all freelancers should use a project management tool

You can easily include other members of your creative team such as writers, photographers or even legal. This platform gives everyone involved access to the communications and files so it’s easy to refer back to each stage and comments can be added where needed instead of within 20 email deep chain. As you hit a milestone you can check it off and the client is aware of what is next. This will come across as very professional and will keep you organized eliminating a lot of the stress of back and forth.

Stay on target

Since I am using this for my graduate course this term, I have set it up to hold all the assignments I have completed as well as the readings for each week. This way I can refer back to a previous week quickly and can easily see what is coming up. This helps me manage not only my time but lets me think ahead to the next step. I can see when each assignment is due as well as refer back to the readings and research for each week. 10 Reasons why Project Management matters

Screen Shot 2018-09-22 at 10.13.18 PM

When using this tool for client work, the to do list will keep myself and the client informed on what has been completed and when the next milestone is due. Each to do will have a checklist to keep everyone involved on target to hit the next deadline. This can include logo design approvals, printer proofs and once completed, invoices can be uploaded. I find as a designer; a lot of time can be spent in back and forth in email communications. This type of tool will give the client access to see where we are in the project as well as keep me on task. I tend to fall into a design and lose track of time so this will keep me honest.

Doodles and sticky notes have been my project management tool for years and I am ready to admit defeat. Project management tools will not only keep me organized in my graduate work but help me bring my professional life to the next level. I intend to use this tool for personal, student and professional organization to help keep me on task and relieve the stress on my shoulders. Knowing where a project is and what’s next will ease the anxiety of feeling overwhelmed. After researching and setting up my own project management for my graduate studies this term, I feel ready to take on the world more organized and less stressed!

Surviving without Facebook

IMG_0443

Many of us are connected to technology and its magical pull into the endless hallways of social media. It’s not unusual to hear people say they went to check something only to find themselves hours later still scrolling through their feed. Although there is a love/hate relationship with social media, there have been very few studies done on the actual effects social media has on us.

One area of social media that terrifies me is the use among teenagers. Being a teenager today is very different than it was 20 years ago. Teenagers used to exploit their freedom by staying out past curfew or running around the local mall with a group of friends. Today, their freedom is at arm’s length wrapped in social media. Whether it is posting photos, taking polls or snap chatting, social to them means online. Yet when they do get together, you find a room full of kids with their phones in hand.

I consider myself a passive Facebook user. I click like on pictures, I post pictures of my family but I will rarely post my opinion on anything. Despite considering myself a passive user, I find myself constantly checking Facebook for alerts on pictures I have posted or a new item posted in one of the pages that I follow. As silly as I feel saying this, if I don’t check the feed I feel anxiety of what I might have missed. I thought this might be a good time to step away and reassess my Facebook use.

5 Day Detox Off of Facebook

To start I have made a few adjustments to my phone:

  • Turned off all notifications on Facebook
  • Turned entire phone to grey scale
  • Increase practice of Mindfulness techniques to occupy my mind

Reasons for detox:

  • Spending too much time on Facebook
  • Takes focus off of more important things in my life
  • Why am I so concerned about what’s on Facebook?

Day 1

As soon as I woke up I immediately wanted to check Facebook. It has become such a habit when I turn off the alarm to check that I didn’t even realize I was doing it. I felt a feeling of frustration when I stopped myself. Have I really become this obsessed with Facebook or is it simply a routine that I follow? I directed myself to checking the weather and work emails before taking some deep breaths and stretching for the day. Once I got up and ready, I was waiting for the dog to finish his breakfast before taking a walk and without thinking went to click on Facebook. (This is ridiculous) I put my phone in my bag to make sure I didn’t touch it again before leaving for work. Throughout the day, I had to consciously remind myself not to try to look at Facebook. Every time I got an alert, my first reaction was to check to see if something new had come up. Even though I knew I had turned off all notifications on Facebook.

Day 2

This hasn’t gotten any easier and I am embarrassed at how many times I have found myself wanting to check Facebook. Not even aware I am doing it until I reach my social media folder on my phone. (Yes, I have a folder) I am still feeling frustrated and a little bit anxious that I have forbidden myself from checking. What do I really think I am missing?

Day 3

A very busy day today between work, shuttling to practices and laundry that I have had less of a chance to want to check in on Facebook. But once things settled down and I was in bed, I wanted so badly to get on Facebook. Instead of reading or actually going to sleep, I found myself in the rabbit hole of Pinterest. Another of my love-hate apps that I will fall into for hours. Looking up things I never have any intention of actually doing. Starting to think I need to have a full phone detox!

Day 4

This feels like a full-on withdrawal of an addiction. I was standing in line for my lunch at work, and I didn’t know what to do with myself. I just kept looking around my apps on my phone aimlessly while I waited. I couldn’t just stand there with my thoughts, I had to do something with my hands. It’s bizarre how I feel almost awkward without something to do with my hands as if I look out of place not on my phone to others. I started to look around and everyone waiting in line was on their phones. No one was talking to one another or smiling at people passing by. They were all nose to phone with the glare of their screens on their complexion.

Day 5

Ok I did it! Just get through today and I did it! But why am I so excited to finish and get back on Facebook. This doesn’t feel like a success but rather a realization that this is a problem. It will be interesting to see how I feel once I do login and turn back on my notifications. Will I have missed anything?

IMG_0444

What did I learn from my 5-day detox from Facebook? I learned that I don’t really need it. I learned that I am much more attached to the need to be on Facebook that I should be. Did I miss anything? Not really. I enjoy seeing my friends’ kids, pets and adventures it isn’t something that I need to be constantly checking throughout the day. I also realized that even though we are all tied to our phones every day, we all are itching for more real time interaction with each other. When I reached out to someone directly, they loved it. It led to let’s get together and feelings of happiness. We need to all reach out to each other and check in. Disconnect, its good for the soul.

Tied to Technology

shutterstock_599713526-e1535858876543.jpg

We have become so dependent on our cell phones for everyday living that it has interrupted the connection we have with living. We use our phones for emails, photography, texts, navigation, booking trips… the list goes on. We can take a picture and have it instantly uploaded to multiple social networks in seconds. While we struggle with sharing our memories, we also struggling with being connected in the moment. For example, if we put our phones away during a family time, we might forget to capture the moment in picture to reflect on at a later date.

When we have our phones on us, we hear the ding of a new email or text and even through we may choose not to attend to it at that moment, we are distracted. We end up multitasking without being aware of it, saying we have to look at that message when we get to the car. Or start thinking was that work which could lead to making lists of to do’s when you get back home. When we have our phones on us or around us, even though we may not be actively on them, we are not fully disconnected. Its a daily struggle to manage being in the moment and being connected.

In research it is shown that our cell phones effect our cognitive abilities when the phone is near us. If put away from us, it is better, if put in another room it is best. Just the presence of our phones can effect our ability to think and problem solve even when not in use. The ringing of the phone can boost anxiety when you are not able to reach it but hear it. To truly disconnect, we need to leave our phones at home but the separation can also cause anxiety. Having Your Smartphone Nearby Takes a Toll on Your Thinking

The constant connection with technology has led us to forget how to truly absorb information we receive. We skim articles, forgetting what we read minutes earlier because we hear an alert for a message or start to thinking about the next thing to do. In order to fully understand, learn and absorb information or taking in moments we have to be able to concentrate without distracts such as our phones. Without the distractions we can fully take in the knowledge we need to complete one task and give it our full attention with less time and higher productivity. This can be with work, school or personal life. I have forgotten how to read

QUINNIPIAC UNIVERSITY GRADUATE BLOG