For a field experience, the GCE Catalysts went to Orbit Media Studios. We went to direct questions to professionals on what web design and development entails. We met the CEO, Todd Gettelfinger, whose responsibilities include ensuring customer satisfaction and financial management. He wants clients to find value in every dollar they spend with Orbit. Our class wanted to get his outlook on the web design and development industry. It is a field that changes as technology changes. Orbit Media’s history reflects their ability to keep up with the innovation. The group started with comic design, flash (a multimedia platform), and games. The next phase was when they started to work with a variety of media: print, video, and web development.

Orbit Media now works to provide web services to start-up or existing businesses. They have been active for 11 years now. With 30 people working in the studio, they have completed 700 projects. They work with a diversity of clients from General Aviation Mobile to the Independent Publishers Group. To satisfy their clients, they maintain direct contact to understand their mission. Knowing what the business wants to do informs the look and feel of the website Orbit Media will create. They work in higher-end web design, meaning that they can provide services such as e-commerce and custom applications. Todd Gettelfinger explained that Orbit Media focuses on serving Chicago-based businesses because they want to be known as Chicago’s number one website creators. Orbit is currently in a “manage growth” phase, meaning that they have to plan a way to grow at a pace they can handle. Our class benefited from learning about the experience of being involved with web design and development.

We also met other members of the Orbit Media team. Amanda Gant, the marketing and relationships manager, provided insight on the importance of getting information from clients. Meeting and constant communication has to happen to ensure that clients feel their message being expressed on a website. Mary Fran Wiley, a web designer, introduced us to her process of creating a unique look for clients. “Discover, design, develop, and deploy” are the steps she takes to make sure the design is attractive to clients and users. We learned that the most important thing for a designer to do is ask about the client’s brand book. The answers they provide inform the images and styles designers set for the website. The design isn’t the only thing clients ask Orbit to individualize. Function is another feature that needs special attention. For this job, Sam Ward, a web developer, uses coding to make the function of the website match the client’s need. An important phrase mentioned in the meeting was that in website creation there must be mutual respect for each other’s jobs. Then, the function and design will synchronize to make an enjoyable web experience.

Meeting with Orbit Media had a positive impact on our learning as beginning designers and developers. Recently, we have been discussing how our website should look and function. Learning from the expertise of Orbit gave us guidance to focus our vision. As our website aims to raise awareness for environmental sustainability, we see that there many opportunities to create a unique look. We definitely look forward to incorporating what we learned into our website.