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Damn You Wheat Thins

By Susan

There appears to be a growing problem here at the office! I’ve been watching this downward spiral for months and the levee finally broke today.

When a man has to clear out entire drawers to make space for his Wheat Thins I think it might be time to either start charging Nabisco rent or stage an intervention.

Now you know why our recycling bin is always full.

Filed under: Just for fun

 

Tweeting for Your Own Good

By Diana

I came across an article on Chief Marketer about a business owner who started eavesdropping on her target market’s conversations on Twitter, until she had something relevant to share with them. But this is not your usual “OMG!!! you guys like pizza?!!! I make the best pizza in town”. She actually shared other aspects of her life with potential customers, and participated in their conversations with helpful tips and links, and when they dug deeper for more information on her, they found out that she was an entrepreneur who baked gourmet cupcakes. Genius!

I thought this was an example worth sharing, because it answers at least one of the questions regarding how to reach your customers on the huge ocean of social media. It’s not about pushing your products or services 24/7, it’s about communicating with your customers and being the voice for your business. Showing that you do have a business, but at the same time enjoy shopping for shoes, is a way for you to assure your customers that there is a real person behind your company. It’s okay to prove that you an expert in your particular field, but also try to let others know that you have other interesting things to say.

These efforts will vary depending on the nature of your business, but to me, it helps to think about social media as a big party in which you are expected to share compelling stories in order to engage others. If all you talk about is your business or your professional accomplishments, people will politely (or impolitely!) turn around and look for someone else to chat with.

 

Monday Report | 01·31·11

By James

Gentlemen, Valentines Day is fast approaching.  These might help:

Our first FREE FONT FRIDAY of the new year featured Pompadour, by Andy Mangold

Great work from Jeffrey Bucholtz – Captain’s Journal – simple and sweet

House of Buttons looks like a great resource for designers. I also think the idea of Trade School is awesome – Barter for Instruction

I am loving the simplicity of Kyle Tezak’s Four Icon Challenge.

Need some print inspiration, get some Instant Poster Power.

By now everybody has these, but I can’t tell you how useful these are – Vector Icons For Every Social Network provided by the generous and talented IconDock

Bad fonts = Learn more gooder http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2011/01/the-benefit-of-ugly-fonts/

ThinkGeek has released The Molecular Cuisine Starter Kit, and it looks tasty

All you need to know about the Oscar nominations is that Christopher Nolan didn’t get a directing nomination for ‘Inception’. That’s ridiculous. Where is my totem (Pantone Book)?  I thought I heard someone say BWAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!

Filed under: Monday Report

 

Free Font Friday: Pompadour

By James

For the first FREE FONT FRIDAY of the new year, I thought it would be great start with a new numberset – for all your calenders.  Pompadour is a beautiful little number set created by the wonderful Andy Mangold.  He has recently updated it with full stop, semi-colon, colon, comma, hyphens and much more – all designed to go with those “chunky-ass numbers.

Download the font now:
Pompadour (OpenType)
Pompadour (TrueType)

Pompadour Numerals Font by Andy Mangold is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Based on a work at www.andymangold.com.

It’s also worth noting that a man named Tom generously made a differentset of font files for Pompadour, with a square full stop. Head on over to his blog if you get your jollies from that sort of thing.

Filed under: Free Font Friday

 

Qwiki: Taking Information presentation to a whole-notha-level

By Andrew

I could stay on this site for hours. Not just because of the great information, but because of the slick way the information is presented. Now, pages of text-based search results just seem so unsatisfying.

 

Monday Report

By James

Our Limited Edition Holiday Poster was featured in FPO: For Print Only – Special thanks to Bryony Gomez-Palacio and Armin Vit and Under Consideration.  Buy Your Poster Here.

Miles of yarn put Double Rainbows to shame

Everyones favorite one-man internet comic strip creator has finally gotten off his lazy behind and put together a collection of his work – 5 Very Good Reasons to Punch a Dolphin in the Mouth

Our Web Genius, Phil, has launched his first app – Field Trip – perfect for holiday travels or day trips to the zoo.

Make your own ice­breaker tags!

Aside from being fun to scroll through, FONTS IN USE has a great article showcasing the various mastheads in the Egotist Network as well as a breakdown of the new branding for Comedy Central

LemonAid: Drinking Helps.

Speaking of Lemon, new 7-Up Brand … Discuss

If you are confused by THIS, you need to READ MORE COMICS

Frank Chimero breaks down his new digital arsenal to just 6lbs of power

How about this brilliant restora­tion of a 240-year-old map of New York? Check it out here.

I am loving the graphic experiments of Dan Mountford

From DEVOUR: Try not to listen to this cello cover of SMOOTH CRIMINAL.  Just try.  Rinse, Wash, Repeat.

From UPPERCASE: Call for Cereal Box Submissions – I have been loving the throwback designs, now you can take part.

Awesome packaging by Tyler Riewer – The Two Roads to Courage

Finally, how awesome are these money clips by JACK SPADE? (thanks @sarajaneroe )

 

How I made my first iPhone app… or, how not to make your first iPhone app

By Phil

FieldTrip, my first mobile app offering, is complete and, boy, the learning curve was sharper than Steve Job’s acid washed jeans. Here is a brief look into my development process, what I’ll never do again, and what I will do for the next one. Hopefully it will help new app developers get started.

Nerd up!

As this was my first app, I did not hit the ground running. It was more of a slow crawl with frequent, whiny breaks. About a year ago I purchased a book titled “Beginning iPhone 3 Development: Exploring the iPhone SDK“. After reading and working through the first few chapters, I realized that the book required a basic knowledge of Objective-C which I did not have. Learning a language is much different than learning a platform so the book was shelved in hopes that I’d soon have time to come back to it after figuring out Objective-C. Much like John Travolta’s 3rd wind acting career, I never happened. It was my Battlefield Earth.

A few months later I began to experiment with web based iPhone app development. With this method, an app is essentially a web view and the code is similar to a website. This lead me to PhoneGap and jQTouch. Both worked pretty well, especially in combination, but could not create a truly native application as they were webkit based. Webkit also meant that apps couldn’t take advantage of the phone’s hardware. No camera, push notifications, accelerometer, GPS, etc. All smoke but no fire. A point driven home by Apple when they began cracking down on non-native apps.

Courtesy appcelerator.com

Another few months more and I found Appcelerator. With Appcelerator, applications are created with javascript (a familiar language to us web devers) and compiled into native applications using their magic application and xcode. The brain of the app remains javascript but the application UI and database is fully native and you get access to all the phone’s hardware. Booyah! With this new toy, I set off to work.

New to Appcelerator, and forgetting all 10 years of real world practice, I started out in code to create my app. I knew more or less what I wanted. What could go wrong. Bad, bad move buttercup. I knew better but was drunk with Javascript power.

This type-happy start led to 7 complete rewrites as I delved deeper into Appcelerator and its best practices. It was yet another reminded that planning trumps passion. Rockstar.

Here’s how it went down:

  • 3 rewrites before realizing, maybe I should wireframe this mother.. like all other projects I work on.
  • 2 rewrites after actual testing a fully functional wireframe prototype, on a few users. Again, stupid move on doing this so late as holes in functionality and usability were uncovered which made rewrites necessary.
  • 1 rewrite after deciding to design based on the wireframes and mash it into my code. I plead temporary insanity.
  • 1 final rewrite to consolidate my code, properly create my views and elements to account for all functionality, and incorporate design systematically instead of the french press method. Side note, French Press sounds like a really badass wrestling move.

The end result is an app that works great and I’m very proud of. The lesson is this. Figure out what you’re doing before you start doing anything. With that little tidbit I could have cut development time by a month.

For the next app, my process will be as follows:

  • Define the feature list up front. Figure out what the app does before starting. If not, the app will take on a life of its own in development and I’ll find myself adding sound effects, hardware vibration and unicorns.
  • Sketch wireframes in pencil to sort out how a user will navigate and interact with the app. This will also define how many templates are needed. Remember to use pencil as it will allow for continual refinement of the experience and, as the ideas keep coming, keep me from worrying about alignment, fonts, and how large a certain field may be.
  • Take the refrigerator worthy sketches and create refined wireframes. Check them to make sure all necessary views are accounted for then test them. Either create a quick clickable website, use MockFlow, or open Photoshop and let someone pretend to touch.
    While someone is reviewing the wireframes, I’ll keep my mouth shut and will not explain to them what they should be doing. A user should be able to use the app without being told what to do.
  • Take the feedback, make adjustments and repeat the wireframing step. Expect to change how the views look and connect to one another at least once. If there are no updates, either I’m a user experience god or didn’t really listen to feedback.
    Don’t design until the wireframes are completely locked down. Developers tend to see things in ways that real users do not so I need to build for a users and not for myself.
  • Make those wireframes into the best damned designs I can muster. If I suck at design, get help. While it does matters how fast a table loads or how streamlined database queries are, if a potential customer looks at the screenshots on the App Store and throws up a little, they’ll never see the results of all that coding awesomeness.

This is what I’ll do next and I hope it helps you get out there, make that first app, and lose less hair in the process. Leave a comment with your thoughts or experience. I’d love to hear them.

 

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