For my last blog post of the year I have enlisted the help of the mStoner team to bring you mStoner’s top picks for 2011. In this post you will find the sites, tools, and designs we fell in love with this year. Picks include everything from iPad apps to our favorite uses of social media in higher education.
Without further ado…
We think this site is cool because of the way it uses horizontal and vertical scrolling to fill the landcape of the screen. It layers several carousels of different types of content including profiles, video, products, and slideshow based photography. The design uses texture and a muted color scheme to give it a mountainy-vintage feel. This is future forward design that’s breaking the boundaries of link by link categorized navigation and molds well to any mobile device. Now, where are my Rossignols?
– Anne Glista and Kevin Rieg, Interactive Designers
My favorite project of 2011 was the “Ampersandbox” undergraduate enrollment project we did for the College of William & Mary. They wanted a new viewbook with a dedicated web component that together would capture the personality of William & Mary and set it apart from its peers and competitors. We gave them a box of postcards that superimposed funky, evocative word pairs over photos we pulled from their Flickr feed. I liked it because it was a former client coming back to us for more work, which is always validating. I liked it because the William & Mary client trusted us and was bold enough to consider ideas that were designed to appeal to the right prospective students rather than the most prospective students. I liked it because the creative process was fun and very collaborative. And I liked it because it was successful. William & Mary’s admission counselors tell us the cards have been a hit at college fairs, and the web component, a site that allows visitors to create their own word pairs, photos and stories, has had lots of traffic.
-Mark Sheehy, Creative Director
Blogs and other online tools
The Project Management Hut
As a project manager, this site is very useful to me. I like that articles are contributed by many people, so you aren’t stuck with only one person’s point of view. In addition, the articles are based off of experience and not just what the “tech books” say.
– Beth Lee, Project Manager
The slickest snippet for enhancing the social media aspects of your website for 2011 is not up for discussion. It is, in fact, Disqus. Disqus is a unique tool allowing a developer to place a small snippet in any page or template. This quick inclusion immediately allows for inline commenting. It has support for nested responses, a sweet “ajaxy” style, as well as a back end administration site which includes: reporting, user management, moderation, ranking, and much more.
– Kevin Zink and Jim Johnson, Senior Technology Consultants
Seth Godin’s Blog
This year I discovered the writings of Seth Godin. I am currently working through his books and his blog is one of my favorites. Godin’s posts might vary in topic and length but these daily updates never lack inspiration. His stories are relevant, his ideas are thought-provoking, and his encouragement to become a linchpin is motivating. I’m better at what I do because this blog challenges me to think in new ways, work harder, and take risks.
– Mallory Wood, Marketing Manager
Social media in higher education
University of Nottingham’s Election 2010 blog
My hands-down favorite is the University of Nottingham’s Election 2010 blog and social media initiative, which won a CASE Gold in 2011. This is an incredibly smart blend of social (using a blog, Twitter and YouTube) and traditional PR outreach to bloggers and traditional reporters and newscasters with the goal of sharing insights from the University of Nottingham’s political scientists about the 2010 election in the UK. The results are impressive: those experts were quoted in every item of national election coverage on Election Day 2010 and the effort resulted in exceeding all the objectives created for the campaign.
– Michael Stoner, Co-Founder and President
UT Austin’s Know
The best content hub that I’ve seen in 2011 is UT Austin’s Know. This site offers a substantial stream of content, including a way to submit your own. The site navigation is exceptional, the structure is driven by both topics and mediums, and the design supports the comfortable consumption of a wealth of information. The Know social media directory is extensive and likely represents the future for higher ed social media.
– Susan T. Evans, Senior Strategist
Apps for the iPad and iPhone
Is this the most original choice on this list? Not by a long shot! Is Dropbox the one app that has changed the way I work most? Absolutely. This year I had an onsite client visit where I was able to use the iPad to read my usability testing script, revise the site IA, review the project timeline, and make minor edits to a change order. Because of Dropbox I could easily access, edit, and change those documents. My iPad has turned into the swiss army knife of productivity toolsets. And that is largely thanks to Dropbox.
– Jeremiah Worth, Project Manager
The app I used on my iPad more than any other in the last year is Flipboard, the pocket-sized social magazine. It’s a place to discover new, curated content and it connects to many of the social networks I use every day. Flipboard connects with my Facebook account to keep me up to date on my friends and family. I use Twitter as a way to keep up with industry thought leaders, and I can view their tweets from the app. I can share content, save it to Instapaper for later, and keep up with my Google Reader. Even better? A new iPhone version was released this week!
– Rob Cima, Co-Founder and CFO
Steve Jobs defined innovation for our generation. This book is fascinating.
A terrific case for inverting the traditional approach to designing websites as more people use their smartphones and tablets as alternatives to laptops and desktops.
– Voltaire Miran Santos, Co-Founder and CEO
Do you have a top pick for 2011 that you would like to share? Leave a comment.
On behalf of the entire team at mStoner, there is no time more fitting to say “thank you” for everything you do for the education community and to wish you a happy holiday season. See you in 2012!