This blog is dedicated to Sean and Joe. The two great guys who make up our design team here at REM. I am going to spend the next few minutes bragging about them, and at the end of my blog, I will show you a few pictures of these boys that I always carry with me in my purse. Here we go!
They Have Great Personalities
Sean and Joe are super nice guys. They are funny, easy to talk to and patient.
They Are Skilled
Joe and Sean are talented. They are creative and have the ability to think outside of the box. Perhaps some of our clients' ideas are (dare I say) tacky, boring or dated? Well, these two guys have the ability to come up with more flattering, current ideas and designs that still compliment our clients' style.
They Follow a Great Design Process
Part of their process includes a Creative Brief. The Creative Brief is a great starting point for Sean and Joe and for our customers since it begins the conversation about design in an open minded and thoughtful way.
This approach allows Joe and Sean to understand what our customers are drawn to and what our customers wish to avoid in regards to the design and functionality of their websites. Since this is the first step in the design process, Joe and Sean's brainstorming is more focused and therefore saves everyone time.
They Work as a Team
Since they work as a team they can bounce ideas off of each other. If they are stumped or unsure of their ideas, they can talk about them, give each other feedback and provide a completely different perspective.
Ohhh, look how cute our boys are!
So, there you have it. Now that my bragging is done, here are a few fun pictures of our great design team. Click on the picture to enlarge it :)
Why We Do Things the Way We Do Them – The Simplified Psychology Behind Web Design
I will preface this post by first stating that I am not a psychologist nor do I understand exactly how the brain works. I am a designer and as a designer I feel it is important to at least understand how people view a design and best practices for a good user experience.
So, what I will do is break this down into a few models or ideas that we at REM keep in mind when coming up with designs.
Building trust with visitors
Probably the most important aspect of any website is ensuring your visitors “trust” you/your company. How else are you going to get them to contact you, buy something off of your site, or generally just consider you when comparing you to your competition?
So, how do you build trust with a design:
Your brand should carry through to all of your marketing initiatives. Logo, colors and imagery type are all important factors that should be consistent. Creative use is important but again, consistency is key.
Placement of items
Similar to the concept of keeping things consistent, there is a reason why items are placed in certain positions on a web page. Typically, people will scan a page using either a clockwise or Z pattern. So, they start at the top left then scan across the top and work their way around and typically end up back at the top left.
This is why logos are usually placed at the top left or center, navigation then important imagery and tag-line below that, and other calls to action or relevant information just below that. This ensures the important items are recognized even on the initial quick scan that takes place by a visitor.
Room to breathe / Buffer
I know, I get it, you want to make sure that everything important is on the homepage of your site and you want visitors to do as little scrolling as possible in order to see it all. This does make sense; however, if you bombard people with too much you will confuse them, disorient their attention, and lose the trust - which is the whole point of all of this.
So, buffer space is very important. It is amazing how adding some whitespace to areas of a design can make a lot of information a lot easier to digest. It is also more pleasing to the eye which will result in a visitor spending as much time as possible on your site.
Obviously, there is a lot more to the psychology of Web Design (color, imagery, emotional triggers, testing with focus groups) but I just wanted to keep it simple and offer some reasoning behind a lot of what we do.
It’s not quite Christmas yet but I have been lucky enough to receive a new display for my office. The monitor is a Dell 29” Ultrasharp and so far it has been phenomenal. The panoramic 2560 x 1080 Full HD resolution screen allows multitasking on another level while the IPS colour accuracy is extremely precise.
Only a couple of days in and already I have started getting used to having more things open instead of minimized. The amount of real estate I have to crop pictures in Photoshop, play with tiling website backgrounds and logo revisions is great. I would fully recommend this monitor for anyone doing graphic and photo work.
I've Created A Completionist Daughter - Mom Doesn't Understand
On a recent Sunday morning my daughter Kylie called out from the living room "Daddy, I've done it! I got 100%! I'm finally done! I've got everything!"
She was talking about her recent fixation on a reasonably old (by technology standards) game called Kirby's Epic Yarn by Nintendo, and more accurately, she was talking about the act of "completing" a game.
When I was her age, game developers often made games excruciatingly difficult to "beat" and "completing" a game meant defeating the final boss, try after agonizing try. The worst games rarely gave enough lives/continues to make it to the end, let alone beat it... so completing a game felt like an accomplishment.
In today's games, I find myself getting resentful of the constant reward systems, auto-regenerating health systems, never die systems, auto-save systems and all of the other bells and whistles that make todays games far easier to "complete" by my old standards.
What I never realized was that for the next generation, the generation that hasn't any notion of "the good old days," they experience harder challenges than I ever faced - if they truly want to "complete" something.
The game file at the top of the images shows my joint effort with Kylie - 47 or so hours to defeat the final boss with some time spent along the way replaying our favorite levels. We completed 87% of the game's total content and subsequent rewards. By my old school standards, we had done everything required. It was time to move on. The game was done - and it was too easy.
To Kylie's new school standards though, she wasn't done. She wasn't happy with 87%, she needed 100%. She was a new age "Completionist". She started a new game file, and went on a 26 hour quest to find everything herself.
It was when she was explaining her accomplishments to her mom that I realized how much more difficult that type of endeavor was. (This is especially true when you factor in that Kylie isn't allowed on the Internet for anything... and doesn't have the first clue about walkthroughs) I always knew what needed to be done to "complete" a game - hammer away to get to the final boss - defeat the final boss - watch the cut scene. She had know idea what things were still "hidden" or how to collect them all. She had to factor out every possible combination to make sure that every possible outcome was covered. That's 26 hours of "what about here", "what about this", "what does this do now".
I'm not sure if "Mom" will ever really know that feeling of "completing" a video game, but I finally know what that feeling looks like through the eyes of a 7 year old with new school games. I promise I won't complain about how new games are "too easy" on players. I'm off to play cow clicker.
Ryan's Module Thoughts From The Developer Perspective - News Flash
One of the first modules redeveloped for WebWiz@rd 3.0 has now been revamped and reimagined for the changing landscape of news flashes.
My favourite thing about this module:
Over the past few weeks, Jamie and I have been iterating over some design and functionality changes for our News Flash module, and I'm quite happy with what we came up with. The News Flash module can now be targeted across specific content delivery groups, such as "English only" or "French only" news flashes. This will definitely make it easy for our customers to produce targetted messages to their visitors.
Nearly all industries can benefit from messaging delivered to their website visitors in bite-sized chunks. It's a quick way to disseminate important, up to the minute information about changes to the company's offerings.
Last week, I had the pleasure of doing Tech Talk at the Cambridge Chamber of Commerce with Greg Durocher. We talked about the new website we developed for the Cambridge Chamber. You can view the new website at cambridgechamber.com.
Music has always been a constant part of my life. I was in school and church choirs growing up, I was in both the symphonic band and jazz band in high school, and my post secondary education was in Applied Music where my instrument of choice was the trumpet. I am very open minded with music and I truly appreciate many different genres.
Here at REM I am allowed to listen to music and I love that. There are certain types of music that I can't listen to at work as they are too distracting but there is some music that I can listen to and it doesn't interfere with my work. One of my favourite artists is Loreena McKennitt. Her music is incredible. It is thoughtful, intelligent, complex and layered. It is beautiful and interesting. I listen to her music quite regularly at work as I am completing different tasks.
I was first introduced to her music when I was working at a retail store in downtown Stratford, Ontario during high school. At that time I only 'kind of' liked her music. It wasn't until I hit college and I began to listen to her music while I was studying that I learned to appreciate it and love it.
If you ever walk past my office and see me with my headphones on, there is a very good chance that I am listening to Loreena McKennitt. If not her, then maybe Jann Arden or Eric Clapton or Pink or Harry Connick Jr (his Christmas music) or Great Big Sea or Conway Twitty or Led Zeppelin or Staind or Classified or Sarah Harmer ...
Domain names (like logos) are a very important part of your corporate branding and overall website presence. So what happens when a competitor or just some independent business/individual decides to purchase a domain name using your corporate/business name?
Without getting into the legalities of it (I am by NO means a lawyer!) I can tell you in regards to .coms, .nets, etc. it is very difficult to do anything about it especially if the domain name is somewhat generic or describes a business/service (I.E. – ultimatelawnsevice.com). However, if it is an obvious that it is an attempt to deflect business away from you, you can make a claim through a mediation service like WIPO. It will take time, energy and money to do so with no guarantees so it is up to you to decide if it is worth it.
If you own a Canadian business and the domain name you want is a .ca, you’re in luck. CIRA (The Canadian Internet Registry Authority) actively helps business with such resolutions. As stated on their website:
CIRA's dispute resolution process is a mechanism through which individuals and businesses that meet CIRA's Canadian Presence Requirements can obtain quick, out-of-court arbitrations at relatively low cost for clear-cut cases of bad faith registration of .CA domain names.
CIRA established this process to provide an alternative mechanism to that of the court system for those seeking to obtain the transfer or cancellation of .CA domain names they believe were registered in bad faith by other parties.