USD Students Gain Real-World Experience Building Websites for Local Businesses

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Software company Variable Action launches a new business initiative for students and small businesses.

Zesty Engineer Jason Spangler works with USD junior Patrick Frank.

Zesty Engineer Jason Spangler works with USD junior Patrick Frank.

Joining Variable Action to create websites for Zesty clients was a great way to learn web development," says USD junior Ana Sanchez. "This is where the future's at, so it's important to be aware of digital marketing.

This spring, groups of University of San Diego students built websites for local businesses in a competition benefiting the students and businesses. Three teams of students were assigned to each of the six businesses. Each team had four and a half weeks to build a website and develop a marketing strategy for the business. Ultimately, the students pitched their work before the business owners, and the public could vote online for their favorites.

The students received this opportunity as participants in the Zesty Incubator, a new business initiative, which seeks to give students real-world training and experience building websites while also helping small businesses in need of professional websites. The initiative was created and launched this spring by San Diego-based software company Variable Action, makers of the Zesty content management system.

The sixty-two participating students were enrolled in Dr. Justine Rapp’s Digital Marketing and Social Media class at the University of San Diego’s School of Business Administration.

The six San Diego-based businesses participating in the program are Donut Bar, Inspired Travel Journeys, Café Paris, Lovey Designs and Cherries Swimwear, author Sandra Millers Younger, and Aire Urban Fitness.

The websites were all built on Zesty, a dynamic, new content management system that gives small business owners uniquely designed professional websites tailored to their businesses. The USD students received training on how to build a website and then created their web designs using Zesty recipes, highly customizable templates on which a web professional can build. The students could visit the Variable Action office every Friday during the program, where they worked directly with professional designers to customize their sites. Most of the students had never built a website before and did not know how to code, but they were able to use their marketing skills and the intuitive tools and features within Zesty to create sites that met the unique branding, functionality needs, and marketing goals of the businesses, in cooperation with Variable Action web professionals through the Zesty Incubator.

"Joining Variable Action to create websites for Zesty clients was a great way to learn web development," says USD junior Ana Sanchez. "This is where the future's at, so it's important to be aware of digital marketing."

From May 15 to May 21, the public could vote on which of the completed student websites they liked best. While the online vote may carry some weight, the businesses ultimately get to decide which websites they want to use. Once the businesses choose the winning websites, the in-house designers at Variable Action will work with the business owners to add some final professional touches. The six winning websites will be announced on May 22, 2013 on the Zesty Facebook page.

About Variable Action

Variable Action is a software company located in San Diego, California.  In 2012, Variable Action launched to the public Zesty, an all-in-one content management system. For more information on Zesty, please visit http://gozesty.com.

For more information, please contact pr(at)gozesty(dot)com.

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Sarah-Eva Marchese
Zesty Incubator
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