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Sometimes great UX is all in how you say it.

By Andrew

You’re probably already familiar with the practice of building a creative 404 page (no? well check some of these out, and if you’re adventurous try finding ours). That same philosophy of caring about every detail should transfer to other aspects of your business as well. We get so busy refining the big things about our core service offerings that we forget the little overlooked interactions. These seemingly insignificant encounters often get taken for granted, but provide great opportunities to surprise and delight your clients.

Through one of our partners CommerceV3, we get the chance to help store owners with the more obvious parts of the UX equation; Product pages, checkout sequences, etc. But I’ve recently noticed some savvy e-tailers making use of those less obvious communication points; the confirmation email, shipping status message etc.

I’ve already noted how NewEgg used their packaging to slip in some smiles. Zappos ,for example, does it in their Order Confirmation email…

 

Bargain site 6pm.com also gets personable with their confirmation email

even their shipping status emails are written as if by humans…

 

But maybe cheeky isn’t necessarily in line with your brand, there’s always the informative route. Here New Egg again, shows us how it’s done with a little infographic to help explain their shipping process.

Just something to think about the next time you’re about to use the default setting on anything your client will see. Every interaction counts and sometimes all it takes is a little unexpected humor to leave a smile on your client’s face.

 

 

 

Elemental Deck of Cards

By James

For Paragon’s annual holiday mailer we opted to design a collectible, entirely custom deck of playing cards as a “Thank You” to our clients. The four suits were designed to represent the 4 elements (earth, air, water, fire), and included traditional icons incorporated into the face cards as well as new embellishments like latin text and intricate symbols of the four elements. The backs of the cards featured a graphic pattern created using our logo mark. Both the deck and custom box were printed on Shine paper appropriate for the holiday season.

The goal of this deck was to incorporate the symbolism and philosophies surrounding the Classical Greek Elements of Earth, Air, Fire and Water. Once we began digging into the historical significance of each element we decided the only way to do it right was to allow each traditional kingdom (Hearts, Spades, Diamonds and Clubs) to represent the elements.

 

Starting Out

I began with sketches to update each of the traditional suits (Spades, Hearts, Clubs and Diamonds) so that they can represent the Classical Greek Elements (Water, Fire, Air/Wind and Earth). After establishing each of the kingdoms, I began working on how to create the royals.

 

 

Fire (Hearts)

Ignis Aurum Probat (Fire Tests Gold)

I love this latin quote, and thought it would be fitting to represent both fire and hearts. It is from Roman Stoic philosopher and statesman, Seneca, and reads in full “ignis aurum probat, miseria fortes homines”, in English translation,”as gold is tempered by fire, so strong men are tempered by suffering”. The meaning is that in order to become pure gold, the original gold-bearing ore must go through the tempering process of fire; the analogy being that for a man strong in spirit, adversity and suffering are the tempering agents necessary to refine his character and bring out his true potential.

King
The king of Fire bears a Phoenix on his shield. This enduring symbol of fire represents both death and rebirth. While fire is commonly associated with passion, the philosophy represented here is that of peace and order. The wrist of the king bears PAX (peace) and he is holding two fingers upright. His shield also features the phrase “Ordo ab chao” (Order from Chaos) and the powerful and mystical number 33. The king is holding the weapon of fire, which is the dagger.

Queen
The queen is clasping the offering for fire, which is a single candle. I tried to keep the heart as a central focus, which symbolizes passion and understanding.

Jack
The jack is holding the tool of fire, which is the bow. The traditional bow represented in literature is the staff or wand – but I loved the visual of the recurve bow and arrow. His arrow is on fire, and he is carrying a guitar, another traditional symbol of the fire.

Other Symbols

  • Cardinal direction: South
  • Season: Summer
  • Time of life: Youth
  • Time of day: Midday
  • Correspondences: blood, the guitar, thunder, drum beat rubies and in writing fire is sometimes represented by a red upwards triangle. Other mythic and legendary creatures of fire include phoenix, dragon and occasionally the hawk.

 

 

 

 

Air (Clubs)

Generose puer sic atur ad astra (This is the way to the skies)

The ace of clubs has been transformed into a cloud to represent the air and sky. The symbolism of this kingdom focuses on the rational, scientific and observable. This is the kingdom of science, medicine and exploration.

 

King
I may have gone a bit overboard with the king. There is just so much to pull from history that I wanted to include. His shield features a snake, the traditional animal associated with wind, and the latin motto “Cogito ergo sum” (I Think, therefore I am). The philosophy of this kingdom is truth, which is why the king’s hand is pointing down at the earth (what we know and can observe) and his wrist features the latin word “Veritas” (Truth). The inspiration for this (and the placement of the left hand for all kings) came from Raphael’s painting “The School of Athens.” One of my favorite features of this painting is the conversation between Plato (pointing up to the heavens) and Aristotle (pointing down to the earth). Read more about the meaning of the painting here.

The king is holding the weapon of wind, which is a sword. Over his shoulder is a telescope, observing the movement of the stars and sky.

Queen
The queen is holding the traditional offering of wind, which is incense. I really tried to incorporate movement into the designs of this suit, which you can see in the central ornament of the queen.

Jack
And here is Harry Potter, the magical Jack. While magic may seem to conflict with the philosophy of this suit, the traditional tool of wind is the wand. I love the simplicity of this card, but because the Jack is focused on magic and arcane knowledge, instead of science and modern knowledge, I removed some of the ornate patterns that his parents feature.

Other Symbols

  • Cardinal direction: East
  • Season: Spring
  • Time of life: Infancy
  • Time of day: Sunrise
  • Correspondences: mind, intellect, study, consciousness and communications.

 

Earth (Diamonds)

Terras irradient (let them illuminate the lands)

Full disclosure, the actual meaning of the representative quote for this suit is actually talking about the word of God, an allusion to Isaiah 6.3: plena est omnis terra gloria eius (“the whole earth is full of his glory”). But, I loved combining the idea of “illumination” and “earth” to represent diamonds.

King
This is the rich kingdom. The Lannisters, for those of you who watch Game of Thrones. They represent power and might at all costs. I think I actually like this suit the best, and had a great time designing each of the figures. The king features a symbolic animal of power and earth, the Stag, and the quote on his shield is “Audaces fortuna iuvat” (Fortune favors the bold). He is holding the traditional weapon of earth, the staff, and his sleeve features the latin word “Potentia” (Power). There are also 3 hidden symbols in this suit, which I will not discuss (I need to keep some secrets).

Queen
The queen is holding the traditional offering of earth, which is the Pentacle (an amulet used in magical evocation). She also has a tree growing over her shoulder, since harvest and nature are supporting symbols for earth (reference the king’s shield again).

Jack
The Rich Jack, he is holding the traditional tool of earth, which are coins.

Other Symbols

  • Cardinal direction: North
  • Season: Winter
  • Time of life: Aged
  • Time of day: Twilight
  • Correspondences: strength, stability and abundance. In rituals earth is represented by burying objects in the ground, carving images out of wood or stone, herbalism or using animal fur and bones. The manifestations of the earth element are found in plants, trees, mountains, forests, caves and gardens. The bear, boar, bull, sow and stag are also thought to personify the element as are all burrowing animals, such as the mole or rabbit.

 

 

 

Water (Spades)

Aqua Vitae (Water of Life)

This is the kingdom of believers. They are healers and have faith in higher powers. I had some trouble with this suit, because the weapon, offering and tool are all the same (a cup), so I had to try and find ways of showing the same object in different styles.

The King
The king features the weapon of water, which is the cup. His wrist shows the philosophy of this kingdom with the latin work “Fides” (Faith), and his hand is pointing up to reinforce this. His shield has a fish, an obvious symbolic animal for water, and the latin phrase “Deum fons et origo” (Source and Origin, or God). Over his shoulder is the symbolic Rod of Asclepius, a serpent-entwined rod wielded by the Greek god Asclepius, a deity associated with healing and medicine.

Queen
The queen of water is holding the offering of the element, a cup. Her cup is overflowing, which symbolizes not wealth of power or money, but abounding faith.

Jack
The Prodigal Jack, he is pouring his cup out, which represents a rebuke of the symbolic water. The tool of water is, again, the cup.

Other Symbols

  • Cardinal direction: West
  • Season: Autumn
  • Time of life: Youth
  • Time of day: Midnight
  • Correspondences: emotion, compassion, divination, intuition, healing, dreams and psychical abilities. The manifestations of the element of water are rivers, oceans, lakes, wells, rain, fog, ice, snow, streams and all drinks. Animals, especially the seal, dolphin, crab, turtle, frog and all types of fish are also thought to personify the element of water. Other mythic and legendary creatures of water include the Mermaid, Oread, Naiad and Sea Serpent.

 

 

 

The Joker

Mundus vult Decipi (The World Wants to be Deceived)

This is a common phrase in magic, but its origins and original meaning are what make it important to me. The philosophy of the Joker is that of self preservation, deception and self gain. The full quote is Mundus vult decipi, ergo decipiatur (the world wants to be deceived, so let it be deceived) is talking about religion as a tool to control others. According to the pontifex maximus: people should be deceived in religion, there are many truths which it is useless for the vulgar to know; and many falsities which it is fit the people should not suppose are falsities.

Probably my favorite single card, the joker has a few fun adornments. His face is both smiling and frowning – to illustrate the duality of mischief (deception). He also has an ace up each sleeve. He is adorned in the symbols of all suits, because his nature is apparent in every philosophy.

 

The Back


The back of the card features a an unfinished pyramid, a personal symbol that we must always be building and reaching upward to perfection.

 

The Box

Along with a unique King and Queen, the box features the hidden alchemical symbols for each element on the closing flap. The queen is holding a flower, a symbol for peace, and the king is holding a sword, symbolizing war.

So that’s it, I hopefully covered most of the symbols and meanings for this deck.  To get a better look at each card you can view the entire deck here:

And for all of you asking if this deck is available for purchase you’re in luck!  There are still some available for sale HERE.

Filed under: Design

 

Get your words good and your definitions right

By Andrew

Even though our industry is a visual one, we still need to communicate with words sometimes. But those times can get a bit tricky if you’re trying to explain what it is you do and your service offerings can’t easily be categorized based on medium. You’re torn between trying to be accurate (and boring the poor person who has to hear the description) , yet succint (without it devolving into  ”I draw pretty pictures”).  We recently found a few sites that shed light on this epic struggle in what is probably the most suitable fashion… complete ridicule.

First up is the one that’s been getting the most attention these days, Design Jargon Bulls**t  using real examples of egregious use of Design-ese (even including links to the perps’ websites)

 

Then across the pond (we assume since we don’t use the word “wank” that way in the States) there’s Agency Wank which as it’s name suggests, highlights the sometimes bombastic way firms and agencies talk to prospects on their websites.

Designer Kirk Roberts feels your pain as well as he humbly shared a few of the  rejects he went through on the way to  his perfect tagline:

But if you’re stuck staring at a blank screen trying to find your own high-falutin designerific way of telling the world how awesome you are, then you might want to try out the marketing bulls**t generator. Just click and enjoy.

 

Of course brand wizards shouldn’t feel left out. Proving that there’s always room for one more way to insert “brand” into an unsuspecting word, I present to you a brand glossary by compass360.

 

 

In all seriousness, it’s hard coming up with a unobnoxious way of encapsulating the value you feel you bring to your clients while trying to avoid seeming like “just another” firm. I sympathize, really I do. Even one of my favorite value propositions, from design agency Form, can sound a lil’ pretentious if you say it wrong.

Maybe this list from feedgrid could serve as some inspiration as well.

So hopefully the above examples will inspire you to take another look at how you say what it is you do, and not take it too seriously. Unless of course you like using phrases like “cross-platform infomediaries” and “strategolutions”. Then there’s no helping you my friend.

 

 

Filed under: Just for fun, Marketing

 

Another year in the books!

By Susan

Hey, hey, hey…. it’s our birthday!!

Look what I found:

We’re a little embarrassed to say that we didn’t remember until most of the day was gone…which is what you’d expect from an ELEVEN year old. 11 in business years is at least 17.39 in human years.

Hugs to all the people who’ve made this possible, especially our families, our amazing team and our clients.
Oh, and Joss Whedon.

 

 

It’s an honor just to be mentioned, really

By Andrew

We just got wind of a little shout-out we got from Steve Weathers, CEO of the Savannah Economic Development Authority, in this Fast Company article about doing business in Savannah. Other notable companies mentioned were our friends  CommerceV3, an e-commerce platform, and Rails Machine, the gurus of Rails.

Thanks Steve.

 

Free Font Friday: Airship 27

By James

 

Airship-27 was inspired by Airships of the late 19th century. It has a very distinctive look and feel that can strike attention anywhere.

- Lost Type co-op

 

Designed by James George Dunn
James is an English designer who has just recently graduated. He has a love of everything typography and also layout and corporate identity design.

This font is available on a pay-what-you-want basis, though I recommend making a donation to the designer.

 


Filed under: Free Font Friday

 

Using the Whole Buffalo, I mean Box

By Andrew

Quick design challenge: How would you reinforce your geek cred AND encourage user engagement all without annoying anyone? Oh, and all you get to use is your shipping boxes.. go!
(clue: it involves paying attention to the details, and a sense of humor)

While you’re thinking, here’s how NewEgg did it.

Even to the last flap…

We haven’t ordered from NewEgg.com in a while so forgive us if this isn’t exactly news, and we’ve seen companies put messages on their boxes before, but for some reason this use of cheekiness hit the right spot.

Filed under: Just for fun, Marketing

 

2012 Telly Awards

By Alison

The 33rd Annual Telly Awards were announced, and we received five Bronze awards this year!

Judged by a council made up of previous award winners, entries are scored on creative work. Winning entries are awarded Silver, for a first place, or Bronze, for a second place, based on the combined scoring of the judges who evaluate each entry.

As always – we’re thrilled to have been chosen, and thankful for amazing clients who choose to do it with us.

Hasbro Easy4You Portal Promo
Client: Buck Consultants, a Xerox company
Designer: Andrew Davies
Animator: Philip Joyner

GSU General Branding TV Spot
Client: GA Southern University
Script: Heather T. Grant
Motion Graphics: Andrew Davies
Editing: Philip Joyner
Shooting: Spyhop Productions

GSU Graduate Studies TV Spot
Client: GA Southern University
Script: Heather T. Grant
Motion Graphics: Andrew Davies
Editing: Philip Joyner
Shooting: Spyhop Productions

GSU Undergraduate Studies TV Spot
Client: GA Southern University
Script: Heather T. Grant
Motion Graphics: Andrew Davies
Editing: Philip Joyner
Shooting: Spyhop Productions

SUAF 2011 TV Spot 
Client: Savannah Urban Arts Festival
Motion Graphics: Andrew Davies
Sound Design: AWOL Inc.

Filed under: Shameless promotion

 

Free Font Friday: Bemio

By James

 

BEMIO
AN ULTRABOLD SANS

Bemio is an ultrabold sans with an extensive character set. It bridges the gap between old signage and craftsmanship with modern forms and simplicity. With more than 1000 glyphs, and full Language Support, Bemio is versatile and robust.

DESIGNED BY JOE PRINCE
www.admixdesigns.com

Joe Prince is a graphic designer that specializes in logo and typography design. He crafts hand-made typefaces that are heavily influenced by modern geometry and simple forms. His work can be seen in use all over the web, mainly as webfonts, and continues his passion for design each day.

 

Filed under: Free Font Friday

 

THE Bestest “Thank You” cards of all time, of our generation… in the history of Ever

By Andrew

So remember a couple of weeks back I went to visit the over-achieving class of 3rd and 4th graders at Gould Elementary?

Well guess what I got in the mail this week. Go ahead… I’ll wait.

Nevermind, it was a packet of the most creative thank you cards I’ve ever gotten, (and I went to art School so that’s saying something).

They ranged from the minimal to the creative, all based around a laptop motif, but I’m a bit torn as to how to feel. On one hand I’m deeply touched that they even remember my name, on the other I’m proud that they seemed to enjoy the lesson (some of them even expressing the desire to become web designers themselves) and on yet another I’m immensely jealous of them having such an awesome teacher. Needless to say I want to be like Mr. McGrath when I grow up, or at least send my kid to his class…whichever comes first.

Check out just a few of the gems below:

This was from Mr. McGrath, see what I mean? Awesome.

 

Minimal, straight to the point, I like it.

 

This one was brought to you by Dell. It had a mouse and everything.

 

The IBM Toughbook approach, plus this proves that Super Mario is timeless.

 

And of course, there’s the iCard (this is probably how thin the next iBook will be anyway).

 

 

 

Filed under: Community, Just for fun