Blog Entry V – Topic of Your Choice

Spring break has been on my mind since Winter Break. For the past three years of college I have been going on break with my mom and stepdad. And although it’s always fun, it’s just not the same as going on a trip with your friends. Since this is our senior year at Michigan and our final spring break as undergraduates, we started talking about making plans and doing a group trip together. The consensus that we reached was that we wanted to stay in the U.S., but it needed to be warm, fun and a trip we’ll never forget. Enter: Miami.

Puerto Rico 2012

Puerto Rico 2012

I’ve been to Florida plenty of times but never to Miami. And considering I’m the most organized and the chosen “mom” of the group, I did all the research and the planning for all of us. Instead of staying in a hotel, we’ll be staying in a house. We’re saving a ton of money this way and it’ll just be nice to have that much more space since we’ll be there for a week. (I found the house through a vacation home rental site that you can find here. I highly recommend everyone at least consider renting a home instead of getting a hotel when planning a vacation. So many options!)

We haven’t really decided what exactly we want to do when we get there, but considering we have a great time sitting around and doing nothing, I’m not worried about that at all. I know we are going to have the time of our lives. I plan on spending most of my time tanning during the day because I’m tired of being pale.

I have a lot of work to get done before we leave (in 11 days!) but as soon as I get to Miami I will be able to completely relax and have a great time. I could not be more excited!

Blog Entry IV – Analysis of a Nonprofit Web Page

One of the most important goals that I have in this course is to be able to analyze a website/web pages and then accurately evaluate the choices that the creators did (or did not) make in their designs. In an effort to further my understanding of the design choices the i9 Sports web designers have made, I chose to evaluate a page from their website. Specifically, I will be critiquing their page entitled “Charitable,” which can be found here. This is also the page that I have chosen to recreate for my first mini assignment in the class.

The importance of a “Donate Now” page cannot be overlooked by any nonprofit as donations are often integral to the survival of many organizations. According to Heather Mansfield in her book Social Media for Social Good, Donate Now technology is transforming fundraising and giving completely. Unfortunately, i9’s current “Charitable” page requires that anyone interested in donating contact them at their national headquarters by way of either mail or telephone. There is no option to donate online using a credit card, PayPal or any other service, nor is there any email address that is listed.

How to Donate to i9

How to Donate to i9

To many, this lack of an online option to give is a complete turnoff and can keep potential contributors from donating. Furthermore, sending an actual letter through the mail is becoming an outdated form of communication, one that many would consider to be a hassle. Even providing a simple email address such as “info@i9sports.com” would provide viewers with an option to send out questions or concerns that they can expect will be addressed in a timely manner.

i9 does include information in sections titled “What is i9 Sports Association?” and “Why should kids play sports?” While this is great information and vital to the overall website, it is not something that should be included on the donation page. Presumably, a person visiting the donate page is already interested enough in the organization that they have made themselves knowledgeable about all of this already, therefore turning this information into unnecessary clutter and a waste of space.

These are all issues that I will address and plan to solve in my creation of a new donate page for i9 Sports. The new page will be up soon on this blog so be sure to check back in soon to see what I’ve done!

Blog Entry III – Introduction to i9 Sports

As I have said before, the organization that I will be working with this semester is i9 Sports. i9 Sports is a national organization that offers sports leagues, camps and programs to over 600,000 members in the United States.

According to their website, the name i9 Sports is based off of the nine principles that best symbolize their core ideology.

  • Imaginative
  • Innovative
  • Interactive
  • Integrity-drive
  • Impassioned
  • Inspirational
  • Instructional
  • Insightful
  • Inclusive

Though they are nationally based in the Tampa Bay, Florida area, they now have 275 locations in 30 states. Each location is able to operate under the i9 Sports brand, but has the ability to make their respective branch unique to the community they reside in. Flag football, basketball, soccer, t-ball, baseball and softball are offered across America, but sports vary depending on upon popularity in the regions. I will be working with the Washtenaw County chapter of i9 Sports, which services the Ann Arbor, Saline and Dexter areas.

i9 Sports Logo

i9 Sports Logo

i9 Sports has established themselves across the nation and though they have a directory on their website to each of the individual i9 locations with basic information, the Washtenaw County chapter does not have a very personal feel on their page, especially since each of the pages for every chapter looks the same. During my time with i9 this semester, I will be focusing on appealing more to the local demographic. As of now, the Twitter and Facebook icons lead to the nationally run i9 Sports pages. I would like to create both a Twitter page and Facebook page that is specifically for the Washtenaw chapter. In doing so, I hope to create a more personal feeling for residents and parents. Instead of only being able to display national, broad stories about youth sport in general, these pages will be able to relay information that people in Washtenaw County will find important (i.e. registration dates, game cancellations, clinics). Both of these pages will serve as a means of communication for i9 Sports and the people of Washtenaw where questions and concerns can be answered and addressed, respectively.

Blog Entry II – A Response to a Course Reading

One of the readings for class that I found to be particularly interesting and useful was from Janice Redish’s book Letting Go of the

Letting Go of the Words

Letting Go of the Words

Words. In her book, Redish writes about issues that arise when writing and designing for websites. In her chapter entitled “Designing Your Webpages for Easy Use,” she discusses practices that successful web writers abide by to in their efforts to create user friendly sites. She focuses on the use of layouts, space, typography and color as the aspects that can make or break a website. In doing so, Redish suggests helpful tips for anyone interested in web design.

 

Fourteen Guidelines for Helpful Design:

  1. Make the page elements obvious, using patterns and alignment.
  2. Consider the entire site when planning the design.
  3. Work with templates.
  4. Use space effectively. Keep active space in your content.
  5. Beware of false bottoms.
  6. Don’t let headings float.
  7. Don’t center text.
  8. Set a sans serif font as the default.
  9. Use a relative type size with a default large enough to read easily.
  10. Use a fluid layout with a medium line length as default.
  11. Don’t write in all capitals.
  12. Don’t underline anything but links. Use italics sparingly.
  13. Provide good contrast between text and background
  14. Think about all your site visitors when you choose colors.

Of course this may seem to be quite a bit of information, but each of these points are key to making a fluid and understandable web page. While I was reading this chapter I kept thinking to myself “of course,” or “well that’s obvious.” But then I realized that I see people and organizations making the mistakes that she warns against on their websites all the time. It is absolutely imperative that web designers are knowledgeable about  these guidelines. This is not to say that her suggestions are the only way to design a webpage. They are just that: suggestions. But I think to stray from her suggestions would be foolish unless a designer had legitimate reasons to do so.

Overall, I think the most important thing to take from this chapter of Redish’s book is that to make sure that every choice you make when designing a webpage is intentional. Be sure that each aspect of your site is planned for and has a purpose. Ultimately a designer needs to design with the audience in mind.

I have really been enjoying reading Letting Go of the Words and have found Redish’s insights to be extremely helpful in thinking about how I can assist i9 Sports this semester.

 

Blog Entry I – Self-Introduction

Enjoying a Michigan win from the field!

Enjoying a Michigan win from the field!

Hello! My name is Karlee Pilarski. I am a senior at the University of Michigan in the sport management program. In searching for classes to take to supplement my required courses within my program as I finish my degree here, I came across Christine Modey’s Writing 200: New Media for Non-Profits class. The course description quickly struck me as something I would be very interested in and I knew I would enjoy the class.

One really awesome thing about my life is that I have a marketing and promotions internship with the University of Michigan Athletic Department. Though it can be a lot of hard work at times, it has easily been one of the most rewarding andexciting experiences of my life. From passing out 100,000 pom poms at Michigan Stadium to making sure the dance team is suited up in LED light suits for a half time show, the experiences I have had with my internship are unforgettable.

Passing Out Pom Poms at Michigan Stadium

Passing Out Pom Poms at Michigan Stadium

 

As I am preparing myself to enter the workforce it has become quite clear what I would ultimately like to do with my degree. Usually when I tell people that I am studying sport management, their first response is “Oh, so you want to be an agent?” I usually laugh (just for a moment) as I have grown accustomed to that response, and then, while containing my excitement, go on to explain what I would love to do with my degree.  If you are unfamiliar with the SM program, it essentially provides students with a business degree that focuses on sport and the associated industries. What I would like to do with my degree upon graduation is to work with one of the professional league’s youth and community outreach initiatives. These programs vary but include NFL Play 60, NBA Cares and the MLB RBI program. The majority of these efforts assist children and their families in underprivileged and crime-stricken areas by using sport as a platform to make a difference in a community.

While I understand that these sport franchises are for-profit businesses, their efforts in creating these initiatives are typically congruent with the efforts of many non-profit organizations in that they are searching for ways to create better communities and assist the people in them.

This semester will hopefully be full of challenging and useful assignments that will assist in preparing me for my future goals. I will be working with i9 Sports of Washtenaw County, an organization that offers youth a chance to participate in sports leagues, camps and clinics. Follow my journey!