Thinking about design & delivery

At the end of this school year, like many of you, I compiled a summer reading list for my Lower School students and an annual report for their families. Though this is something that I have been doing for the past six years, I’m always reinventing how it’s done so that it’s most effective for my current community. To that end, I believe design matters.

For my summer reading lists, I have previously used Goodreads, in-text blog posts, and shared Google Docs – nothing too fancy or elaborate but what was simply needed to deliver the message. For the annual reports, I’ve exclusively used Pages, either modifying templates or creating my own design. Last year, I designed my summer reading list in Pages to look more like a magazine, something like the BookPage or the The Horn Book‘s publications, something more visually appealing. For this year’s summer reading list, I knew that I could essentially use last year’s template and just change the books. Nothing about the design really needed to be updated. But I challenged myself, used a new-to-me tool, and changed the look of it because I want to grow in the same way I teach my students – as a creator and designer and someone who thinks intentionally about audience and purpose.

I think that we, collectively, look for and appreciate well-designed media. Free tools like Canva help amateurs like me design something beautiful and professional. Honestly, I wish I had known about it sooner. Though it’s been around a few years, I hadn’t heard of it until recently – but I had seen many examples of banners and flyers created with it. Before this turns into too much of a Canva commercial (no, they’re not paying me), I will say that there are probably many other similar design tools out there. This is just the one that I decided to try out! Because I wanted my products to look like a magazine, I also tried out FlipHTML5 to create the flipping pages.

Lower School Summer Reading 2016

(Click the image for the FlipHTML5 version. Here’s the doc version.)


LS Library Annual Report 2016

(Click the image for the FlipHTML5 version. Here’s the doc version.)


Though I’m particularly happy with these two promotional products, I know that next year, I will be trying something new yet again. I have yet to brand myself like some libraries and librarians, and I don’t know if that will be my next step. I enjoy the freedom to be creative in whatever way inspires me and connects with my audience at the time.

As a side-note, I appreciate that this is also a way for me to grow as a technology leader in my school, to try out new tools and be able to knowledgeably recommend them to students and teachers.  For these two products, I learned how to use Canva for the design and FlipHTML5 for the delivery.

Is anyone else out there thinking design? Share your work! I’d love to have something new to try out over the summer. 🙂

4 thoughts on “Thinking about design & delivery

  1. Natalie,
    Well done! Both of these are beautiful, eye-catching and visually stunning. Your Summer Reading program is so colorful and cheerful. I used to be a K-9 librarian and know my students and parents would have loved something like this. Thanks for taking the time to share your process and product, as well as the software and platforms you used. I am definitely going to try out both for my newsletters this coming year.

    In answer to your question on design, I do definitely think about design all the time. I believe clunky or unappealing resources definitely hinder user engagement. This is my first year at my current school (my 19th in Independent Schools) and for our summer reading I created a LibGuide that lists the various required reading and included resources for students to select their own books once they meet their required books, including an All-School Read. My students are accustomed to using LibGuides and our All-School Read involves our alums, parents, Board members and others in our community so I thought using LibGuides would give them an idea of how we are using technology to make information accessible.


    Here are the links to our guides:
    Summer Reading 2016:
    All-School Read:

    • Nancy,

      Thank you for sharing! I love how you were able to integrate required reading and reading for fun all in one place. I also like the clean look of LibGuides. Might have to keep it in mind as I try to make our library’s website more user-friendly!


  2. Natalie,
    Thanks for this share! Your two samples are amazing! Curious, what was learning curve for the layout/formatting/upload was like. Was there significantly more time required for you to get this annual report up and running relative to what you had previously done in Pages?
    PS-Love that your publications seem to look and read fine on both laptop and iPad (Better on the iPad, actually, which is good for me as we are 1:1 iPad…).

    • Thanks, Dave! The learning curve wasn’t that steep for me. There are several templates and layouts to choose from in Canva, and they’re all editable, so I could tweak them almost any way I wanted. I appreciated having an extensive image gallery to pull from (I only used free elements, but there also photos and images to purchase) as well as a decent array of fonts. The downside, for me, was not having the same kind of editing tools I’m used to in Pages – no rulers to check my margins or the ability to align objects, no custom fonts, not being able to link to specific text (only to text boxes or images), and having to upload all of my custom images to the site after I had just downloaded them to my computer. The summer reading list took me about a week to create, working on it for an hour or two at a time, so maybe something like 10-12 hours? More time than I would have spent in Pages but not more than I would expect from a new tool. The annual report came next and was much quicker to put together because of my experience with the app – maybe 5 hours or so. My ideal design app would be a mash-up of Canva and Pages. 🙂

      Glad to hear that they look good on different devices!


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