The real magic of the digital medium is that it can form connections between people in an instant despite all other odds working against them — distance, timing and so on. More than a year ago, I had the pleasure of virtually meeting the Holmes family for a very special project. Austin Holmes was finishing the final semester of his junior year at the Maret School in Washington, D.C., and preparations had begun for football camps and potential recruiting leading into his senior season. Holmes and his family recognized the role web design would play in presenting his talents to possible scouts online and, even with half of the United States between us, trusted in me to help them tackle the project.
Countless emails flew between us as we discussed, built and fine tuned the perfect pages to showcase Austin’s academic and athletic achievements. Opting for a simple UX and more modern styling — we created a one-page layout complete with sweeping images, parallax movements, interactive elements, video previews, image galleries and more. Supporting pages provided more in-depth detail to Austin’s experiences and, as a whole, the site highlighted his incredibly impressive story.
By mid-Spring, we’d wrapped up the project and Austin’s site was ready to share. With a quick guide to making updates and adjustments, the Holmes family would be able to post new photos and add new information throughout his senior season — offering all eyes the most up-to-date details about his achievements. Throughout his final year at the Maret School, his father Ira kept in touch with regular updates. Upon receiving many offers including several Ivy League schools, Ira sent the following:
Austin has had a GREAT summer and recruiting season. As I told you this is the critical summer, between junior and senior year, when coaches express interest and make offers. … I wanted to update you because I truly feel his athletic and academic abilities displayed on the website you created were a BIG part of his success. Coaches saw the website before seeing him at camp and therefore focused on him at the camps. They had the critical information they needed before they saw him perform at camp so all he needed to do was perform as they expected and the offers came.
The year passed — no doubt with plenty of excitement on both their end and mine. Just when it seemed like about time to check in on how things were going, my inbox pinged me with another message from Ira: “Please click the link below.” I clicked.
Decked in bold red under the Big Red Bear is Austin. After earning all-state honors in his senior year of high school, he joins the Class of 2019 at Cornell and the Big Red defense this season — an undeniable success.
In the same way that building a website and chatting over email was able to form an awesome friendship between a D.C. family and Kansas City designer, that website was also able to inspire coaches, recruiters and more to take a closer look at Austin’s talents. The digital medium, used well, is incredibly powerful in making those connections — and knowing how to leverage it is the challenge. I provided the Holmes family the tool they needed — and am so proud of the success they found in running with it.
My excitement for Austin and his new team could more than span the distance between us — and I feel so truly fortunate to have been a part of kicking off this unbelievable journey he’s now on. Congratulations Austin! You have at least one huge fan right here in the Midwest.
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