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posted by Ryon Edwards Apr 30,2012 @ 03:24AM

Converge SE 2012: web designers paradise

Friday and Saturday, I attended Converge SE 2012, a web design conference in Columbia, SC. The conference examined the intersection between design, development and marketing and is the brainchild of Gene Crawford and friends from unmatched style.com and Period Three, a local web design firm. This year, the event coincided with Indie Grits, another wildly successful event that started in Columbia just a few years ago. This year, Converge SE sold out in just two days!

Converge SE attracts the design-conscious and the technically-savvy crowd from all over the country from a wide range of industries: education, government, small business, corporate, solo designers, and more. Experts and industry thought leaders conducted workshops and presentations that focused on topics ranging from the practical to the philosophical. Creativity, emerging technology discussions and the encouragement to push the boundaries of web design were common themes this year.

For the workshops, there were four different tracts attendees could participate in: Design; Development; Front-End Development; Marketing and Mobile. I participated in most of the Design workshops which covered everything from typography to design process to prototyping. I also participated in a lecture by J Cornelius who talked about the benefits of using HTML 5 markup language and why it's so awesome.

And speaking of awesome, Leslie Jensen-Inman from UT-Chatanooga kicked us off Friday morning with an inspirational talk and encouraged everyone to follow their passion and to simply “make awesomeness.” Last year, Leslie spoke at Converge SE and discussed her involvement in CreateAthon On Campus at UT-C and how powerful the experience was for her and her students. Pretty cool to hear about the impact CreateAthon is making in other parts of the country. Yeah, shout out to CreateAthon!

A few notes and sidebars from some of the other speakers that I found interesting:

• From J Cornelius, a software/web developer:

- "IE7 is the new IE6" (IE6 is a developers’ worst nightmare)

- 4.8 billion people have never seen the web

- HTML5 gives us the ability to do amazing things. Check out www.thisshell.com to see what's possible.

- In the end, it's our job {as web designers} to create an "experience" online.

- And lastly, J suggested that we "Go build some cool stuff."

• Chandler Van De Water discussed typography and how he uses software to create original typeface designs. SIDEBAR: I won a typeface creation app for drawing a lowercase R! I'll be using it to experiment with a new type family soon!

• Giovanno DiFeterici talked about historical and contemporary art and the psychology behind it. He discussed the importance of collaboration and talked about the process of creating the artwork for this year's ConvergeSE marketing materials (which is amazing).

• Bermon Painter showed how he successfully eliminates wireframes and excessive documentation and jumps right into rapid prototyping by using sketches and actual content (as opposed to greek copy).

On Saturday, we heard from nine or ten more speakers who discussed topics ranging from mobile testing, building online communities and the importance of customer service, simplicity in design, coding for CSS, importance of social groupings and identity, design process and much more.

Overall, a great conference and a great venue to meet new people and to learn more about web design and development. Way to go Converge SE — I'll be back next year!

 

posted by Cathy Monetti Apr 25,2012 @ 03:00AM

See It Differently.

I will admit it. I have a bit of an obsession with Instagram. It's a photo sharing app that allows you to snap a shot with your iPhone, add a cool filter, then share your image with the world via Facebook or Twitter, or via Instagram's own publishing feed. The filters are cool, the square format is interesting, and the publishing is easy.

So much to love.

Still my commitment to Instagram goes deeper. This free little download has changed everything about the way I look at the world around me. Partly because it's just fun to keep an eye out for an interesting something that might make a swell photo. But also because I am wildly inspired by the images that are delivered to me, right there in my Instagram feed. There is something fascinating about seeing ordinary, daily life transformed into magical crops, viewed through someone else's life lens.

For example:

What a gift it is to see the world differently; to be more aware simply because you are looking.

Today is a great day to look around. Look for light and shapes and texture and color. Snap a shot or two and see if your view of the world doesn't open up just a bit.

Beauty is all around us, every moment.

Just look.

posted by Kevin Smith Apr 23,2012 @ 03:00AM

3 Steps: Using Effective Candor in Marketing

The 1960’s changed everything. As Mad Men chronicles so entertainingly, the legendary advertising environment of the 1960’s stopped selling products and started selling a products’ benefits. This shift was so profound that 40 years later, marketers remain focused on selling a consumer benefit. There’s a problem though.

Benefits are great, but selling is not OK.

People don’t like salesmen. That’s because people believe that good salesmen pitch and charm people into buying. While actually untrue of the best salespeople, “an Eskimo buying ice” is perception.

One technique taught by the consultants at Sandler Training is disarming honesty. Disarming honesty throws prospects off balance, and makes them feel in control. The same technique can work in marketing. Esurance uses the technique beautifully in their recent commercial about savings.

Our business is all about closing the gap between perception and reality. Here are three steps to accomplish this effectively:

  1. Most importantly, don’t lead with the “sell.”
  2. Empathize with your audience’s insight by using disarming honesty to create a problem.
  3. Demonstrate how your product or service solves the problem.

The worst mistake many marketers make is trying to sell by confronting a perceived negative consumer perception up front. Oldsmobile’s famous failure: “We’re not your father Oldsmobile” comes to mind. With a more informed and demanding consumer than ever, it’s time to let candor take the lead.

posted by Apprentices Apr 20,2012 @ 03:30AM

On Kickstarter.

If you could "back" a project on Kickstarter, which one would it be and why?


Julie Turner

I am going to help fund this one about a group of volunteers who are "trespassing" to take care of the old Detroit Tigers Stadium. The field is all that's left of the once-hallowed stadium and they refuse to let it get wild and abandoned. Go Navin Fields Grounds Crew!

Kevin Archie
I recently backed Snapstagram, which takes your Instagram photos and turns them into high-quality 4" by 4" prints, delivered right to your (or a friend's) door. I love this project because I completely agree that "it's time we start getting back to seeing how special a photograph is. A place, a moment, frozen in time."

Kevin Smith
Quench Artspace — Quench combines contemporary art, a cool gallery space and the need to revitalize an historic New England village. Outstanding fun, and a cool logo.

Teresa Coles
It will be CreateAthon, the newly formed nonprofit that will be building capacity to help CreateAthon grow across the US!

Ryon Edwards
过去的四年里,我们跟随两名中国公民记者——27岁的佐拉和57岁的老虎庙——穿梭于中国大陆等地区,探访了这个飞速发展的国家里那些被遗忘的村庄和城市里被边缘化的群体。本片已从最初的一个小项目发展到如今这个超过600小时原始影音材料的庞大制作。 访问到的地区包括北京、广州、重庆、西安、武汉、台北,布加勒斯特(罗马尼亚),以及无数中国农村偏远城市。


Kickstarter
is a website that helps turn dreams into realities by connecting people with new ideas to those willing to support them financially. Check out their site to see which project you would back — and then do it!


posted by Kevin Archie Apr 18,2012 @ 03:00AM

Design Finds: Best Made Co.

A series devoted to beautifully designed things found in unexpected places.

bestmadeaxe

Last week I bought an axe.

I am no woodsman — though I'd like to be — and I have never cut down a tree. I can't grow a beard and I only own one flannel shirt (it was on sale at Urban Outfitters). So when I found myself on the Best Made website drooling over hand-painted, individually numbered, luxury axes, I couldn't help but wonder why. I'm not one to pine over petty lumberjack paraphernalia so I'm not exactly sure how this came to be. Perhaps it was the annual camping trip I've taken with friends for the past several years that got my, pardon the expression, fires burning. But that can't be the reason because despite my boy scout efforts to always be prepared, I never go looking for camping materials more than a day in advance. So I'm left with one conclusion: beautiful design.

Not only is the Best Made website simple and easy to navigate — with sparse typography and all products placed against a stark white background — but the products themselves, aside from being handmade works of art, are utilitarian in nature. Axes that actually cut down trees. Scissors that could last a lifetime. They even sell tweezers designed by an industrial machinist. There are brilliantly curated books, maps turned into art, and even custom-made maple syrup. From the elegant tags that speak to the history of the company to the Best Made packaging tape used on the box, every detail is meticulously considered.


When I delved further into the Best Made brand, I was not surprised to find that their founder, Peter Buchanan-Smith, was a graphic designer. Best Made, through simple design and an awareness of its core values (courage, compassion, grace, fortitude) has successfully made a tool once exclusive to woodsmen and loggers into a work of art coveted by nerdy designers like me, who will use it once, maybe twice, for fear of scuffing the logo. In this way, we see that design can be used as a tool to reveal new interests to an audience formerly uninterested.

 

posted by Teresa Coles Apr 17,2012 @ 04:00AM

B Corporation is Good Business

It’s not often I get overly excited about an op-ed. But this one on the B-Corp, in yesterday’s edition of The State, made my little do-gooder capitalist heart leap. Penned by South Carolina state senator Vincent Sheheen, the article makes the case for bipartisan support of a bill that would allow qualifying South Carolina companies to do business under a new model known as the B Corporation.

A company designated as a B-Corp operates in a legal structure that acknowledges and rewards an organization’s impact on societal issues as well as bottom-line performance. So a company doesn’t have to be all about making money. Nor does it have to be all about doing good, and never making any money. It can do both, peacefully coexisting in a way that gives companies, their stockholders and their employees the opportunity to do business in a way that upholds a set of shared values. All of which makes for a more productive and meaningful work experience.

Some folks believe this new corporate structure has the potential to create an entirely new sector on the economy that can use the power of business to solve critical issues in the world. Count me among them.

So it was with much delight that I read about South Carolina lawmakers coming together in a bipartisan manner to bring this new business model to our state. If passed, South Carolina would be recognized as an early adopter of B-Corp legislation (only seven states in the US have enacted B-Corp laws thus far), another great demonstration of the Palmetto State’s advanced, pro-business climate.

If you’re not familiar with the B-Corp movement, take a moment and watch this TED video from B-Corp founder Jay Coen Gilbert. It may just change the way you think about business, for good.

Jay Coen Gilbert on B-Corp and the Evolution of Capitalism

posted by Apprentices Apr 13,2012 @ 03:00AM

On spring break.

It's spring break for some students this week — what would you do if you had the week off?


Jody Piland

I would be relaxing on a cruise in the Caribbean.

Cathy Monetti
lie on a beach. any beach.

Julie Turner
I would plan to do nothing at all and then within two hours have a long list of projects to do.

Kevin Archie
I would go out into some woods with some friends and watch the sun rise and swim in a river and cook food over a fire and percolate hot black coffee and not check email or Facebook or Twitter but read a book and follow a trail and stare at the sky until the sun turned into the moon.

Teresa Coles
I would be parked at Edisto with everyone else in Lexington County who's there, including my daughter!

Will Weatherly
Sleep late (9am), then go play outside (rollerblade, mountain bike, tennis, soccer).

What would you do?

posted by Julie Turner Apr 11,2012 @ 03:00AM

Adapting is elementary.

It’s been an interesting era to work in marketing. I started when Apple was a seed and typesetting was freshly outmoded. In my ignorant youth, I thought the production revolution would probably be the biggest change I’d witness in my career. Then, we all met the Internet.

We’ve undergone an interesting change at our house recently, one made possible by the Internet. We gave up hundreds of channels of cable and the very large painful payments that came with them. While we were subtracting, we tossed our land-based telephone line overboard as well. What did we keep? High-speed Internet. It now brings us about 80 percent of the same TV programming for which we just months ago paid very dearly.

This technological sea change makes me think of so many devices our children will never know. They think all pictures can be seen instantly on a camera LCD panel or smart phone. No cassettes, no VHS tapes, no practicing math skills with the Little Professor.

While we used to perch by the stereo speaker trying to capture the perfect stop and start of that power ballad on our cassette recorder, their “mix-tapes” will be all virtual experiences. No abrupt starts or stops. No accidental walk-ins from your mom or sister wondering why you’re down there on the floor with your face in a stereo speaker.

So the choice we all face today is really very simple. We can either adapt and grow, or we can resist and stagnate.

As for me, I’m choosing to see the bright side of this household revolution. Yes, I am going to miss some key televised games and live events, but next election cycle we will have zero robocalls at our house.

That’s change worth believing in.

posted by Ryon Edwards Apr 09,2012 @ 03:00AM

The Golden Ratio: where design and mathematics coincide

The golden ratio (also known as the golden mean, golden section or divine proportion) is a height to width ratio that measures 0.618 and manifests itself in nature, art and architecture. The Parthenon in Greece incorporates the ratio, but it’s unknown whether or not the designers actually used the principle. The human form has this same basic geometric relationship — DaVinci studied this and created drawings that illustrated the proportion in his Vitruvian Man (below). Piet Mondrian used the golden ratio in much of his work in the 1920's. Even Twitter uses the golden ratio principle for it's screen design.

The Golden Ratio looks like this:

And is defined as the ratio between two segments such that the smaller (bc) segment is to the larger segment (ab) is to the sum of the two segments (ac), or bc/ab = ab/ac = 0.618.

 

And can be calculated like this (adding 1 to the ratio is phi, yielding the same basic geometric relationship):

 

 

More examples of the Golden Ratio:

 

 

 


Fascinating! Is it an inherent aesthetic preference or is it a design technique turned tradition? How do you explain the proportion found in nature? However you decide to answer those questions, it's hard to argue that it has had an enormous impact on art and design over the years and continues to influence design today. Next time you see something that just “feels” right, or that you just can't take your eyes off of, take a look at the proportions and remember - Ahh, it must be the 0.618!

posted by Apprentices Apr 06,2012 @ 03:00AM

On breakfast.

What do you usually have for breakfast
before work?


Teresa Coles

Coffee, black.

Julie Turner
English muffin or half an everything bagel and a small glass of milk. Then, over the next few hours, about a gallon of coffee.

Maria Fabrizio
A cinnamon raisin english muffin with butter and giant cup of coffee at 5:00am.

Kevin Smith
I've been on a breakfast burrito kick of late. Skim milk is also key.

Will Weatherly
In order of consumption:

  • Half-glass of Orange Gatorade
  • Half of a pecan pastry
  • Raisin-Bran w/ skim milk
  • Full glass of water

Kevin Archie
Lately it's been a toaster strudel and a glass of orange juice . I guess I'm still stuck in Middle School.

Cathy Monetti
Whatever I can find to eat in the car on the way to work.

Jody Piland
Usually it's something simple like a piece of toast, one poached egg and some Greek yogurt.

 

posted by Cathy Monetti Apr 04,2012 @ 03:00AM

New Work: Goodwill Outdoor

I love this outdoor campaign we produced for our friends at Goodwill.


I am happy they love it, too.

 

 

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