Karen.E.Buck

What’s on my mind

Scaling back site

March 26, 2015

As you can probably surmise by the lack of posts, I’ve found over the last two and a half years that keeping my website updated was not as critical as I thought it might be when I first went independent.

I just did a quick round of edits today to remove some very dated project examples and to simplify the site to provide basic information.

My work has evolved to primarily focus on longer-term contracts with agencies or companies. For each, I serve as a partner to help a longer-term brand or marketing initiative come to life. Most of my collaborations involve so many other people that it would be inaccurate to post the result as a case study of “my work.” And for some, I’m bound by confidentiality not to share.

So that’s why I haven’t posted.

Hanging in there, having fun. Making mistakes. Learning. Check back in six months to see if anything’s different.

What’s new?

July 7, 2014

Busy with great collaborative projects with my friends at Beyond Nines, Mission Minded and Zehno. Hope to have some time to share new work/ideas later this summer!

Foundation for Science and Mathematics Education goes digital

March 15, 2014

Sci High is a New Orleans charter school with a heavy emphasis on science, technology, engineering and math (buzzword=STEM). As a public school, a significant gap exists between public funding and the budget to create a high-impact environment for New Orleans high-school students.

Enter the Foundation for Science and Mathematics education, which seeks to cover that gap and uplift the efforts of Sci High’s amazing students, faculty and administration.

I started working with the Foundation last year after my longtime colleague Diana Pinckley passed away. Diana served on the Foundation board and generously donated her time to assisting them with communications. I stepped in for last year’s annual report, and then took the Foundation on as one of two pro-bono clients starting in the fall of 2013.

This year, we revamped our communications approach, and have been layering email and social outreach in addition to traditional letters and mailed brochures. The centerpiece of this effort is the 2012-2013 Report to Our Community, which launched in February. You can browse the flip-page version online by clicking on the graphic below.

Chain Reaction promo

A note of thanks to Paulette Hurdlik, whose work I’ve continued to base the Foundation’s identity on, as well as Christine Quebedeaux, who saved me from my dangerous level of InDesign skill by prepping the file for the printer.

3… 2… 1… App launch

February 26, 2014

I have single handedly stopped the madness when it comes to ugly, obnoxious iPad games for toddlers.

OK, it wasn’t single handedly. My brother, the father of two small children and a serial entrepreneur, approached me in 2012 to pitch his idea of a counting game for toddlers. I worked with designer Erin Allen to produce storyboards and concepts for a stylish, fun app that both kids and parents could agree on. We then turned to New Orleans app developers Susco to program the game using the Unity platform.

Screen shot from count down

The recently released Count Down iPad app teaches toddlers basic counting skills with encouragement from their space-alien friends Amelia and Vladimir. Players can learn numbers from 1-1,000!

You can find out more about Count Down and download…

  1. through the App Store
  2. on the Redux Software website
  3. via the Facebook page

Bonus points if you can identify the voiceover artists!

Lehmann Norman & Marcus LC website relaunches

November 13, 2013

The New Orleans estate planning and tax law firm Lehmann Norman & Marcus LC had an attractive brochureware website they couldn’t update. Complete with a Flash animation intro, the old site was right at home in the early 21st Century.

I worked in partnership with designer Maria Etkind and developer Marie McConnell to re-imagine LNM’s online home. Photographer Jackson Hill shot new photography under Maria’s art direction. We then implemented the site into WordPress for easy updates and maintenance by the lead attorneys.

www.lnmlaw.com home page

#BlackbaudProblems

October 3, 2013

bb-problems
#BlackbaudProblems is a social media campaign launched at the 2013 Blackbaud Conference for Nonprofits. Beyond Nines, an independent hosting and consulting provider for Blackbaud products, wanted to make sure that everyone who attended BBCon would remember the campaign. Components included:

  • A meme-driven Tumblr
  • Supporting presences on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and Google+
  • A roving Segway team to spread the word
  • Promotional stickers and cards for attendees
  • Branded prizes including “therapy packs” and t-shirts

 

Jackson Academy refreshes website for start of new academic year

August 22, 2013

Congratulations to the team at Jackson Academy, who recently re-launched their website.

JA had already developed a design system and completed preliminary WordPress integration, but knew they needed to address content to make the site more inviting and usable. To identify storytelling possibilities and highlights, I completed on-campus and phone interviews with divisional deans, administrators, faculty and students. I then worked with the communications group at JA to develop lead content for the site, focusing on the top 20 pages of overview information on what makes JA different, academics, campus life and more.

Screenshot for JA website and video

Once we had our written content finalized, we distilled key JA messages into a script that was used for a short introduction video featuring a JA student.

Let’s head to the beach! Chicago Park District launches first phase of responsive website

June 26, 2013

While I was away in Peru this May (that’s another story), the fine folks at the Chicago Park District relaunched their Beaches microsite.

The project, funded in part by a grant from Great Lakes Restoration focused on improving education on Lake Michigan Water quality, features all the info beach patrons need on-the-go.

Mobile view screenshot

  • Swim status that can be updated by life guards at each beach location
  • Current weather fed into the site via buoy stations
  • Beach events and facilities
  • Social media feeds
  • Maps
  • And more

All of this info is packaged in a beautiful, responsive design that leverages Twitter Bootstrap to provide desktop, tablet and mobile views.

Phase two of the relaunch will include an interactive Google map, historical data about water quality and other data.

I’ll share more about the site when all the bells and whistles are a go. For now, thanks to the talented designer/producer Erin Allen and the core CPD Beaches team of Brendan Daley, Cathy Breitenbach, Ed Rynearson and Zvez Kubat.

Latina Bloggers Connect website relaunches

April 25, 2013

Latina Bloggers Connect offers both bloggers and brands ways to partner with the Latina blogging community.  The site launched in 2010 using basic WordPress template functionality. The visual and content focus of the first site was the blog itself, which communicated best practices, info about upcoming campaigns and more to the bloggers themselves.

With success, content and connections grew, and LBC needed to re-imagine its website. The linear nature of the blog had made it difficult to find “overview” information, and brand-manager audiences had to hunt around for more information on working with the LBC team. The new site needed to be easier to navigate and provide clear information about the services and opportunities available.

Together with designer Maria Etkind and producer Erin Allen, I re-approached the site so that first-time brand and blogger visitors could intuitively find in-depth information about working with or joining LBC.

Latina Bloggers Connect home page

The home page now provides three slices for visitors to explore:

LBC’s social media assets are interwoven with the new template designs — recent blog headlines, tweets and Instagram photos automatically populate the footer — which instantly communicates the diversity of platforms and assets available.

We developed content that provided more context and education about LBC’s efforts, including clear calls to actions so that bloggers and brands would sign up to connect. Using fun, welcoming graphics and a tone that adds Spanish phrases into the mix, the site highlights case studies, bloggers and brand partnerships — the true success stories at the heart of the LBC brand.

We continue to use WordPress as the content management system for the site, but developed custom template options to allow for greater sophistication in selecting the most strategic content for features, presenting “static” content, and weaving blog headlines in appropriate venues using “tickers” and related posts dynamic functionality.

Over the course of four months, a three-person team took the new site from idea to launch.

More about the Cajun Spirits Website launch

February 25, 2013

A few more deets on a recent project launch…

CSD home page

Cajun Spirits Distillery — the first distillery in New Orleans planning to produce a comprehensive selection of spirits using sugarcane — needed to launch their brand and products via the web. Bottles have yet to hit shelves, and CSD wanted a place for people to learn about their rum, vodka and gin.

I worked in partnership with Maria Etkind from EtkinDesignStudio to develop a brand creative concept and copy for the website that juxtaposed archetypal New Orleans music, history and culture of New Orleans with a modern, cosmopolitan aesthetic — a match for the “New New Orleans” entrepreneurial culture that the distillery is a part of.

Erin Allen implemented the website using WordPress to allow for flexibility as the distillery grew and added new products and promotions. Custom programming added interactive features such as a home-page product slider, a location map and “ambiance quotes” featuring comments on New Orleans and spirits from notable and notorious personalities alike.

We expect to extend the brand campaign to other tools as CSD grows.