Helping an annual report pack a punch

Sometimes as a designer you get a nebulous design challenge, like "celebrate a year of accomplishments with a mobile app." And fun ensues.

  • Summer 2015
  • Design & Strategy, Branding
  • CCIM, Ball State
  • View on iTunes

The Challenge: Celebrate a year with a mobile app

In 2015 the dean of the College of Communication, Information and Media approached me about about creating an annual report for the College. Each year, every college at BSU is required to put together an annual report with endless bulleted lists of the college's accomplishments, specifically around:

  • Immersive Learning programs

  • Campus life
  • Awards
  • Industry Partners
  • Facilities Upgrades
Because the College of Communication, Information and Media is *clearly* the best college on campus, he wanted to really blow the report out and cause a splash. Because he knew I could create mobile apps, he tasked me with morphing a typically boring bullet-pointed report into a digital, interactive mobile experience.

How might we report on a year of accomplishments with a splashy mobile app?

Strategy: A digital slideshow with an edge

Because the college administration photographs activities throughout the year, it had plenty of images to work into the app. From past digital reports I had helped create as part of Ball State's Digital Publishing Studio I suspected text would likely not be read. I opted to let the photos speak for themselves, with each accomplishment of the college represented by a full-screen image with a hidden caption and a descriptive title.

My hope was that non-readers would swipe through all the photos and still take in the key messages of the app while readers would still be able to dig in for more information and even click links to full articles on many of the accomplishments.

Oh yeah, I also had access to a PixelStick light painting tool, so you know that's a go.

Based on conversations with the dean's office and a team they assembled to make the app, the app needed to hit some major themes and key messages, even for non-readers:

  • CCIM students and faculty are world-class
  • CCIM puts the student experience at the center of everything
  • A CCIM education is second-to-none, with a fun edge
  • A CCIM education is a life experience, not just an academic program
  • CCIM is part of a larger, vibrant community grounded in the 'real' world



Did the app experience blow the other colleges' annual reports out of the water? It sure did. The President's office partnered with the Digital Publishing studio after the release of this app to have its own app conceptualized and designed.

Do the red arrows in the descriptive titles still bother me? They sure do. I can't remember why they are as bad as they are. I still winge looking at them. Lesson learned. Never again.