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We are on FPO!

By Diana

Stop the presses! (or should I say, letterpresses?) Our holiday poster was featured on FPO.

We are honored to be featured on this blog, because c’mon, WHO WOULDN’T!!

A bit of background, FPO (For Print Only) is a division of Under Consideration, a network dedicated to the advancement of the graphic design profession. FPO is a blog in which brilliant designers Bryony Gomez-Palacio and Armin Vit feature print work that shows print is not dead or on its way to extinction, and in fact can surprise us when designers really understand it and take it to new heights.

Want your own poster? Click here.

 

FieldTrip – Our First App

By Phil

I’m excited to announce that FieldTrip, my first mobile app offering, is complete.

It started with a simple idea, “Make a teacher’s field trip preparation and event day coordination as easy as possible.” The result is an app that manages unlimited field trips, students and more. Each field trip include a full schedule complete with mapping and calling features, student attendance, and email delivery of the full schedule and attendance list. Each student can have their guardian information so that a student or parent can be called or emailed from the app.

Later on in the week I’ll post about the app creation process and the lessons learned.

Screen Shots:

 

Target Homepage redesign…hmmm

By Andrew

I don’t frequent Target’s website a lot, but I’ve been there enough times to expect a clean, well ordered Homepage. Like this…

So you can imagine my surprise when I went on there to do some research and saw this update…

Now I know they’ve got a butt-load* of inventory to represent and who am I to critique the might HUGE. Plus it in no way looks as bad as some of the other ecommerce sites out there. But, to me it just seems a bit cluttered and not Target-like. Especially when you consider that a simple delineation of space could help. Like this, for e.g.

Nothing drastic, just some simple borders to reduce the clutter by visually grouping content areas and minimizing the amount of shapes the viewer’s eyes have to deal with.

I’m curious to know how you guys feel about it.

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*for exact conversion of butt load see our measurement chart

Filed under: Design

 

UX Design Your Client Relations: The Client is Never Always Not Right

By Andrew

There’s a tendency for some designers to view clients as sort of a necessary evil of doing business – clients bring you the project, then they just get in the way as you try to create “brilliance,” hopefully showing up at the end to pay for said brilliance. A designer might get upset when clients don’t recognize their artistry immediately and thus ensues a difficult back and forth that’s usually laden with hurt feelings and miscommunication.
<gripe>Why can’t they realize that I’m the expert and they’re not….and just trust me?</gripe>

I’d love to say this mindset is primarily a recent-grads thing, but while on a panel with Cheryl Heller last year at the Design Ethos conference it struck me that this seemed to be prevalent in professionals as well.

With that in mind I thought I’d share some of our insight that might be helpful if you find yourself feeling frustrated by your clients’ input.

What we’ve learned over the last 9 years is that getting to the Holy Grail of “Final approval” can have more to do with emotions than your skill with the pen tool.

I think a large part of the frustration that designers may feel has to do with cognitive dissonance. What that means is that we homo sapiens find it hard to hold on to two conflicting ideas in our minds. The competing ideas cause us some serious headaches until we justify or rationalize our way to some sort of internal agreement and resonance is restored. This phenomenon is particularly pronounced when one of those ideas duking it out is tightly linked to our sense of self-worth or identity.

What’s this got to do with designers? Well, I dunno if you’ve noticed, but designers take their role as creators of beautiful artifacts VERY seriously, (maybe too much sometimes). So when a client provides critical feedback it smacks in the face of all they’ve learned in design school and the heart and soul poured into the project, and they take offense. It’s as if they’re forced to reconcile two ideas…

Either:

1) “the client’s right – and I’m not as good a designer as I thought”,

or

2) “I’m right – and the client isn’t smart enough to realize how bad they’re decision is”

Both ideas can’t coexist peacefully in a designer’s head so the outcome is exactly the knee-jerk response you’d expect.

But can you spot the logical flaw? By setting up the scenario where only of one them can be “right” they’re forced to choose. The ideas are in conflict because designers see themselves as the experts who should know better, which leaves only one option.

Of course we’re designers too, so over the years we’ve made a point to intentionally cultivate a different attitude towards clients and their involvement in the design process. From our perspective our clients actually HAVE to be involved in the process. And I don’t mean just showing-up-and-giving-feedback-at-the-end kind of involvement. But input throughout the entire journey.

Our role as Designers is not as mere makers of things but more facilitators of progress. So our commitment is not to a specific outcome, but to a successful journey, which (if we do things right) will lead to a successful outcome anyway. With this attitude, we’re free to objectively hear what the client’s saying without being clouded by any emotional knee-jerk responses.

A final word of encouragement for any designer or student struggling with this – If you’re not attaching your self-worth (or self-esteem) to the “things” you create, there’s no dissonance when a client critiques those “things” as it doesn’t conflict with your view of your role in the arrangement. You’ll find the experience much less frustrating and might even enjoy the input you get! Maybe.

 

Our Favorite Holiday Card: 2010 Edition

By Andrew

As we’re slowly getting the Paragon machine back up and running, I wanted to give some props to the folks over at the Webbys for sending what has to be the most retro-tastic* holiday mailer we’ve ever received.

Of course we have no way of finding out if they slipped some digital awesomeness onto the floppy disk, but we prefer to think they did and just dream about what it could be.

*copyright Paragon 2011

Filed under: Just for fun

 

A Paragon Wedding

By Susan

As is our custom, we married off a Paragon-ian to ring in the new year.

That’s right ladies, the adorable, sweet and extremely goofy James Donaldson is officially off the market, having married his long-time love, Danielle Word on 1/1/11.

Read More

Filed under: Just for fun

 

We’ve Spruced Things Up A Bit For The Holidays

By Susan

It’s only been a year+ in the works, but we finally made it! The new Paragon website is live…at last.

Finding the time to do our own internal projects is next to impossible, so right now we’re just enjoying this sweet victory over, um….well over ourselves really.

In about 2 days we’ll probably start cataloging ideas for our next redesign, but for now we feel pretty happy to finally have gotten it done. There’s not much else to say other than we hope you like it. Feel free to give us your feedback!

 

A Creative Community at Work

By Susan

When we first started our company Savannah was a town that seemed to lack a young creative business community.

Nine and a half years later this city truly has a growing community of designers, geeks and entrepreneurs. Slowly but surely, Savannah is rediscovering her roots as the first designed city in the United States. And while it’s encouraging to see the effect this new energy is having on the built environment and activity in the city, I am more excited about the community of inspiring, brilliant people who have made this place their home.

And I credit The Creative Coast (TCC) for playing a significant role in making this happen. Founded about 7 years ago this organization has been the connector between previously isolated entrepreneurs and talent, and a bridge to valuable resources for many. It too has evolved over the years, but what has never changed is the unwavering focus on the growing community of world-class creatives in Savannah.

As a part of its own evolution TCC has spent the last year doing the hard work of transitioning into a organization that better reflects the needs and requests of the creative community. One of the most requested changes was that the organization move its headquarters into the heart of downtown, and in September this is exactly what TCC did. It was a relatively quiet move and the first few months were spent establishing some important basics.

Then last week TCC threw open the doors and asked the creative community to come to the new digs to help design it…charette style. The plan was to invite everyone to an evening of brainstorming followed by a full day of curating/designing, and finally culminating in the presentation of one concept made up of the strongest ideas from the brainstorming session.

You can read more about it on TCC’s blog but suffice it to say the event was a great success. Over 50 people showed up for the first night (all 3 hours of it!). After splitting up into 5 teams everyone rolled up their sleeves and got to work, debating the virtues of various potential uses of the space, how the organization would best serve the community and a whole host of creative ways to engage and communicate with the wider community. What impressed me the most was the fact that everyone cared enough to come, stay and contribute. Some remarkable ideas came out of the brainstorming session. And a lot of common themes appeared as well. When the final boards were installed in the brightly light storefront for the night, it was obvious that there was a lot of great raw material to work with.

Read More

Filed under: Community, Design

 

On the White Board Today: Extra units of Measurement

By Andrew

Just wanted to share what we discovered in our discussions about measurements today. These commonly used but often misunderstood units of measurements are now, for your edification, completely demystified. In one single swoop, we’ve made it so that all your future superlative conversations can now be quantitatively accurate….

You’re welcome.

Filed under: Just for fun

 

Epic Evil Laugh

By Susan

Every evil genius mastermind needs to have one. It’s in the world domination handbook.

Help us support some talented young filmmakers by CLICKING HERE to vote for their 30 second EPIC Movie.

The top 10 entries will be judged by none other than director Michael Bay (Tranformers, Bad Boys, Armageddon, Pearl Harbor…etc, etc)

Our friend Justin Lutsky (Action Hero’s Guide to Saving Lives, and Night of the Living Trekkies) directed this fun mini movie as a part of Sprint’s EPIC CONTEST along with producer Keegan Wilcox (Porcelain Unicorn).

You can vote once a day and voting ends on November 15th.

Filed under: Just for fun