American Studies Newsletter
In CUPID Studio, which I took for the second time this past fall, my team members and I were assigned to work with the American Studies Department to help them create a program newsletter. Our client had some specifications for what he wanted the newsletter to include, but he left all of the design decisions up to my team. We struggled with some communication challenges along the way, and when our client sent us the content he wanted us to include, we realized we had a very different idea of what should be in a newsletter. We created an issue for this semester, including the content he sent us, and then made a template, suggesting content we believed better address the audience and serve the intended purpose of highlight faculty, student, and departmental accomplishments.
Our flexibility as visual rhetors was put to the test immediately when we decided to create our own newsletter-design template, rather than using a pre-made template using design software, in fear that our client would not have access to it and would therefore not be able to make adjustments to the document in the future. After consulting several departmental newsletters, we developed an idea of how we wanted the newsletter to look and worked from there. We included colored boxes, text boxes, and graphics to make the document both visually appealing and informative. To reflect the message the document was sending, coming from the American Studies department, we incorporated a patriotic color scheme. We kept it as subtle as possible, inserting an American flag as a watermark, rather than a prominent image, and choosing to use maroon rather than a bright red. We used line rules, in addition to text and colored boxes, to break up the text.
Choosing the content to include was most difficult. Keeping the audience in mind, which consists of faculty and students within and outside of the program and academic advisors who could potentially recommend the program to their advisees, we recognized the content needed to be broad but still interesting. We recommended including faculty and student accomplishment highlights, both in the present and from the past, as well as any current events relevant to the program. This was difficult to outline because it was speculative in nature; we weren’t quite sure what information would be included, but had to structure the newsletter to be able to accommodate it.
This assignment presented my team members and I with a unique situation of having to make a lot of assumptions. While this was stressful to take into consideration during the process of creating the document, it presented us with a very real-life situation that has promising learning value for experiences we may encounter in the future.
The line rules, upon reflection, were too heavy handed; they became more of a distraction than a helpful guide to separate the content. Our other design choices seemed successful, though.
Regarding the information design, I am still questioning the choices we made considering we didn’t do much to verify that our assumptions were valid. We could have delved more deeply into the program to validate the information we were assuming could populate the newsletter actually comes up throughout the semester.
Though I wish this project would have gone differently, and I could have influenced how the situation turned out but neglected to do so, I believe the challenges we faced were helpful learning tools that support the existence of practical learning I’ve gained through PWR coursework.