Web design class writes new chapter for local bookstore

Thanks to the efforts of a PCC instructor and his Web Design I class, a popular local bookstore has a modernized website and some PCC students already have real-world experience on their resumes.

“Work-based learning experiences are what we are all about at PCC,” said Shawna Shoaf, department chair of Fine Arts, Humanities and Media Communications. “Giving students the hands-on experience to advance their craft is invaluable. Our programs offer opportunities in the classroom and student interns are available to partner with media organizations in our local community.”

Jayson Peters, a part-time instructor in web design and content management systems, was looking for a new way to engage his students in his fall 2021 class. The pandemic obviously made it more challenging to do group projects – something that is a typical component of Peters’ design course. He thought a class assignment that would benefit a real business might spark his students’ interest and still allow them to participate virtually, if necessary.

“I just thought how real and exciting that would be,” he said. “This is kind of a tough time. You need something to be excited about.”

Peters focused on Books Again, a bookstore operated by Friends of the Library. The volunteer organization supports the Pueblo City-County Library District. All proceeds from Books Again sales benefit the library district (of which PCC’s library is a mini-branch).

Peters met with the Friends of the Library board to discuss the advantages of updating the site and adding mobile design so people can easily access the store’s information on their phones, which is the top consideration in today’s design world.

With the approval of the board and the site’s original designer and manager, Don Pfost, the students – a broad range of ages and design experience – got to work. Peters was able to teach basic concepts while applying them to a real-world project. He divided the pages among the students, assigned different tasks as the semester progressed, and students shared their updates each week.

“I enjoyed that we were doing something for the community and I found that I really liked the coding aspect of the project,” said Golda Darling, a graphic design major.

“My role was to take everything and smooth out any inconsistencies because everyone works differently. Everyone needs an editor,” said Peters.

The updates to the site include the mobile elements, a modernized look, a new events page and links that help with search engine optimization. Peters presented the final product to the Friends of the Library board members in January. They were happy with the results and even used the site’s updated Volunteer Recognition page to honor everyone who worked on the redesign: Kailey Arrigo, Erin Bingham, Josiah Blickhahn, Jason Boardman, Nathan Brandt, Rita Carroll, Darling, Kirk Palmer, Peters, Marisol Quinonez and Lily Skjold.

Darling said the experience was a valuable addition to her education and personally fulfilling.

“This project helped me learn by using real-life clients and a real brief that we had to adhere to,” she said. “When I saw the finished project, I was really happy with how it came out. I was proud of our class for updating the pages cohesively and proud of how nice it looked.”