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design & marketing blog

Marketing, design, and technical resources for making your digital and print communications more effective.

A Great Lesson in Communication

March 13th, 2012

This presentation from Colin Robertson at TED is one of the best demonstrations of concise and effective communication that I’ve ever seen.   It has great object lessons that can be applied to Web design and marketing communication in general.

Here are the main takeaways I got from the presentation:

  • He uses very few words, but the words he does use are the key messages of his presentation. So much of Web and print design would be much more effective with fewer but better chosen words.
  • It’s out of the ordinary (way out of the ordinary) and creates a unique memorable experience. How long will you remember this presentation?  How long would you have remembered it if he would of taken up the three minutes talking?
  • The nonverbal communication which comprised 99% of the message is “quality” in the sense that it’s professionally orchestrated. The effect would not of been nearly as powerful or long lasting if that level of effort wasn’t put into the production.  It’s the cumulative effect of many small details being done correctly. Same applies to Web design, overall quality is achieved by paying attention to many details which result in the cumulative effect of providing credibility to the message.
  • I think this is a very important point–a significant portion of the content was provided with collaboration from the audience.

Boeing 787 Microsite

September 26th, 2011

Boeing 787I ran across the website for Boeing’s new plane releases, aptly named newairplane.com, and was impressed. It’s one of the best examples I’ve seen in both design and function of the microsite.  What is a microsite you might ask? It’s a small website, separate from a the main website of a company, that provides a dedicate platform for highlighting a product, product line, service or campaign. Microsites can be on a subdomain but are most often on a domain of their own which includes descriptive keywords or keywords consistent with branding.

Being such a mammoth corporation even launches of new products as big as the Boeing 787 would lose focus if placed within Boeing’s massive corporate site. Their microsite isolates and focuses attention on one aspect of their business, their new product launches. While Boeing doesn’t have to worry about this, microsites can often times serve as successful components to bolster search engine marketing. The key is though they have to be legitimate sites with unique and valuable content. There’s no better way to get an understanding for what a successful microsite looks like than to visit Boeing’s at newairplane.com.

While we’ve not developed any microsites of Boeing scale, we have help clients successfully develop numerous microsites to better focus and market their products and services. Contact us if you have questions about the feasibility of a microsite for your company or brand.

 

 

Using Conformity to Communicate The Uniquness of Your Company

August 8th, 2011
Baker Tilly Email Design

A great example of the the principles of consistency and conformity is the email template we designed for Baker Tilly. Compare the email design with the graphic identity of their existing Website.

Seth Godin’s blog posts are always profound, but his most recent post Bypassing the Leap is especially relevant to the services we provide. The gist of his post is that most of the time creativity is the act of reinterpreting and reassembling elements that are already well accepted and proven to work.

Effective branding and design services are based from this same perspective. While it may sound contradictory, quality creative products are almost always intentionally designed to conform within well established boundaries.

No matter how unique of graphic identity a corporation has, you’ll find the logo almost always in the upper left and the main site navigation in one of two locations. This is staying within the proven boundaries of usability. When Fortune 500 corporations spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to develop their branding and identity all marketing publications will almost always have identical colors, layout and typeface. This is adhering to the core principle of graphic design—consistency. Corporations conform to the principles of usability and consistency because they know they’re the most effective way to communicate a credible message and the most effective way to persuade their customers to action.

Embracing conformity to communicate uniqueness is really the secret of success when it comes to marketing communication and application design. 

Many small and mid-sized companies don’t get this. Have you ever found a Website through Google that you thought might be a good solution for a need only to have second thoughts when their Website design looked dated, amateur or unclear?  No matter how unique and appealing their solution may be, if their graphic design and usability do not establish unwavering credibility you’re likely to just head back to Google to search for an alternative.

Small and mid-sized companies have a great opportunity to level the playing field against even massive competitors by communicating their unique value message by conforming to already accepted and proven principles.

Does your marketing communication produce credibility or doubt? Ask ten people outside your organization that you can trust to give you honest opinions about their impressions of your Website, emails or other marketing material. If you need an objective professional opinion let us know. The one thing you’ll get is honesty and there’s no obligation. If you do decide for yourself that your identity needs a makeover we provide consulting as well as in-house development and design services. You can call us at 866.770.7967 or through our online form.

Essential Tips for Styling Text Content

January 22nd, 2010

Hints and tips for the styling and layout of your text content

With the vast amount of text being posted online and via social media these days I thought it would be beneficial to share this very brief tutorial for how (and how not) to style all that great stuff you’re sharing online. These tips apply anywhere you might post text—whether it be in one of our content management systems, WordPress, Facebook, Blogger or even old fashioned MS Word, these simple design principles will help insure your message gets the credibility that it deserves.

  1. Learn to use <shift><enter> (Windows) or <shift><return> (Mac) to insert line breaks with no vertical spacing. This practice helps insure you maintain close proximity of related content and greatly aides in readability.
    People often just hit <enter> between lines of text which adds awkward and undesirable vertical space.

    Example using <shift><enter> Example using <enter> only
    My mailing address:

    RisingLine
    111 S. Broadway St
    STE 101
    Boise, ID 83702

    My mailing address:

    RisingLine

    111 S. Broadway St

    STE 101

    Boise, ID 83702

  2. Don’t change typefaces (fonts). In fact you cannot change fonts/typefaces in our CMS text editor but many other text editors allow you to do so. The typefaces for your Website are specified in a single Style Sheet that was developed specifically for your site and insures consistency across all pages of your Website. Consistency in the presentation of your content is a cornerstone of good design.
  3. Don’t change typeface colors. For a professional consistent presentation of your content the colors are controlled through the Style Sheet. Emphasis colors (such as the color of your hyperlinks) have been selected by your professional designer specifically to harmonize with the color palette of your Website.
  4. Use the "font size" selector very very sparingly. Avoid at all costs using the "font size" selector to increase text size. This practice will invariably create inconsistent and amateur rendering of your content which cannot be controlled from the central style sheet. The only reason we retain the font size selector is for those rare occasions where a line of text needs to be reduced in size.
  5. Avoid using "U" Underline to emphasize inline text. People will think the underlined text is a hyperlink. Rather use the "B" (Bold) or "I" (Italic) icons to emphasize a word or sentence.
    For professional and consistent presentation of your content…
    Do Do Not

    News and Announcements

    We are extremely pleased to announce the opening of our second storefront in the beautiful city of San Jose, California. Please join us for our grand opening on April 3rd.

    News and Announcements

    We are extremely pleased to announce the opening of our second storefront in the beautiful city of San Jose, California. Please join us for our grand opening on April 3rd.

  6. Use the "Format" selector to change heading text size and create a logical hierarchy of content. Using this method allows consistent presentation for your site which is controlled by the Style Sheet.

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