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USM Graphic Design Students Collaborating with Habitat for Humanity

Tue, 11/17/2020 - 15:03pm | By: Van Arnold

A group of students at The University of Southern Mississippi (USM) are putting their graphic design skills to the test as part of a class project created to benefit the local Habitat for Humanity.

Linh Nguyen, Assistant Professor of Design in the Art and Design Department within the School of Performing & Visual Arts at USM, points out that 22 students in her class have been working since the fall semester begin in August to help redesign a Habitat for Humanity website.

“The redesign website project is a service-learning activity designed to teach the students how to implement design for social good and how it could be used to give back to their community,” said Nguyen. “The project also provides the students an opportunity to do an outreach project with one of their community non-profit organizations – Habitat for Humanity. By working and collaborating with Habitat, the students learn how to provide a design service to the non-profit group and gain real-world experience.”

Nguyen says that the project contains multiple learning objectives, but a primary one is for the students to implement the web design skills they have learned at the beginning of the semester and develop a working site by the end of the term later this month. Before the semester ends, a select number of students will deliver an oral client presentation to showcase their redesign site.

Habitat will judge the designs and provide the students with feedback about their site design development. At the end of the presentations, Habitat will select one to become its new website design. The winning student will then give Habitat the codes to run the new site.

“The winning student will also provide Habitat with a presentation kit containing both the low resolution and high resolution of all the design elements and images used to create the site,” said Nguyen. “Once the redesign website project is complete, Habitat will continue to benefit from the project because they will have ownership of all the designed elements.”

Prior to joining the USM faculty, Nguyen spent more than 16 years working as a graphic design professional in commercial and social settings. She found that creating products for social good offered greater rewards, and her goal was to bring those experiences to the classroom.

But why have her students build a website?

“In today’s technological environment, a well-designed website can be seen as the company’s first impression, and it serves as a window into the company’s world,” said Nguyen. However, having a well-designed site can be costly and most non-profit groups do not have the resources or budget to have one designed. As a result, their web presence lacks the visual impact that could help them share and connect to the community. By collaborating with these non-profit organizations, design students can provide a design service, practice their learned web design skills, and foster a lifelong commitment to their community responsibility.”

To learn more about USM’s School of Performing & Visual Arts, call 601.266.4161 or visit: