Thursday, October 16, 2014

"Meet the Staff" Series – Karole Schroeder, Web Designer/Developer

Name: Karole Schroeder

Titles: Web Designer/Developer and Accessibility Coordinator

Length of time in Web Services at Tarleton: 7 years

Length of time in web occupations: 15 years

Top three areas of expertise: electronic and information resource accessibility, designing web information architecture, content strategy

Topic interests: Same as above, along with technology trends and photography

Favorite thing about my job: Fundamentally, I think we’d all like to have a job that makes us feel like kids having fun all the time. Change is a constant in this field, so we learn about new technology, new programming languagesnew everything. It’s like being given new toys to play with. I like being able to study and play with those toys, and implement them in ways that strategically enhance our web presence.

A "Day in the Life":

  1. I check email before I start the day. I want to make sure everyone has been responded to that needs assistance. I hate procrastination with a fervor. After checking the previous day's email, the day varies depending on the jobs needed, since I wear so many hats in the office.
  2. I’ve been through so much accessibility training, I have a kind of “accessibility radar” no one else has in the office even after all the accessibility testing I’ve taught this office. There's so much changing and so much to cover! When my co-workers pass by my cubicle and see me tense up, they know I found something inaccessible, and they remind me there are only so many hours in the day. I have to prioritize levels of accessibility issues in order to juggle all my other duties. We get hundreds of emails every day, and we have thousands upon thousands of web pages. We definitely cannot correct it all at one time.
  3. When I get in the programming mode, my brain just starts going in multiple directions. I keep my projects organized in Asana to help me out and give my co-workers updates on the cool new stuff (back into excited child mode here) coming along – some of it inspired by their ideas. When I can’t figure something out, explaining it in Asana (even if not everyone is going to understand the technical aspects) helps me realize a piece of logic I was missing and fix the code.
  4. I test our website on multiple browsers and devices. My friends may be Android lovers or Apple lovers and so forth, but I play the unbiased role, learning and playing with multiple devices, because we aim to make our website accessible to as large an audience as possible, no matter your brand preference. I also test and review vendor software, widgets, and apps to make sure they comply with our web and accessibility standards. We want everything to work for everyone.
  5. I don’t have as much time to do it these days, but I love graphic design, and I love doing photography. When a project needs a higher level of design knowledge than we have trained our student interns on, I will assist in that portion of the project.
  6. Technology can be confusing, since it is constantly changing and the rules keep changing for making things work correctly, if not seamlessly. Standards are confusing on the surface and sometimes require extensive training to understand and interpret correctly. I try very hard to make it as human as possible, to connect people to the technical information with as much ease as I can write, draw, or say. Sometimes, it is an email informing someone of inaccessible content. Sometimes, it is a Cascade Server tip of the day. Sometimes I help people over the phone. Sometimes I remote into their computer and help them directly.
  7. If I haven’t seen it on the web, it’s likely something on one of the many higher education/vendor/web/accessibility email subscriptions where I will learn something new. And when I’m not going to conferences, there are plenty of free or cheap webinars available. In this occupation, we must keep up to respond to the demand as well as keep our university educated, determining if something new is a cure or someone is merely selling snake oil.
  8. Besides educating others, we need to understand where everyone else is at in order to create the right web page, application, or product to meet their needs. It’s hard to do that over email, so when we need to get to the heart of the matter – when everyone needs it to be crystal clear we meet face-to-face.
  9. This office tries to keep everyone on the same page. We have our strengths, and we typically work on projects that utilize those strengths, but sometimes we need to exchange work as well as make sure we aren’t stepping on anyone's toes trying to do different tasks on the same projects. And with each of us having varying strengths, we also need a lot of advice in the areas of our weaknesses.