Friday, August 20, 2010

Wanna know how those cool super bowl ads are made?

How to use a short commercial to promote your business on the web

I was recently asked by a client to develop a 1 minute video to get people excited about the start of football season. Now, that's quite a stretch for me if you know anything about my background and the fact that football in my native homeland is played with feet and only one person (the goalkeeper) is allowed to use their hands.

Needless to say what I found interesting during my research was that those fancy super bowl half time commercials can be created without the mega budgets doled out to such projects by big companies. Especially if all you want is the ability to show such commercials when visitors find their way to your website.

Here's the recipe we followed for the football project:

Prep Time
1-hour meeting to discuss goals and objectives

Cook Time
1 week of video composition and editing

Ready In
10 days after review and sign-off

A storyboard to describe main video theme
A few pictures taken during home games
A video clip showing some football highlights
A song preference to synchronize with video
Logo and color preferences

Using iterative design, client reviews progress each day and comments on or recommends appropriate changes.
Once composition and editing are complete, the video is made available to a larger audience for review and feedback.
Video is then incorporated into website as the first thing a user sees when they navigate to the site. Always remember to give users a choice to skip video and go directly to site.

Okay, we went a little over. The actual video length is 1 minute 14 seconds long, but well worth the extra time! Click on the cat image above to check it out.

If your website could use a little sprucing up with some intro animation, just drop a note or call for a free consultation.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Is your business prepared for the mobile revolution?

The newest mobile computing device (a.k.a Apple Tablet or iPad) lays claim to revolutionize how we consume web content. To further support this claim, Apple announced last week that it had reached a company milestone by selling more than two million iPads in less than 60 days. This averages out to 35,000 units a day. The iPhone during its debut took 74 days to reach 1 million units in sales.

Regardless of what owners of the iPad use the unit for, it is quite clear that the trend in computing is moving more towards the mobile platform. Most people now look for information while on the go using a mobile phone or other similar device.

As a business owner, this means the traditional way of prospects looking up your business (and I don't mean the phone book) is changing. You should reflect on what type of experience prospects have if they were to inquire about your services on a mobile device.

You may have a strong online presence and a killer website when people search for you using a notebook or desktop computer. But how does this come across on a mobile device? The iPad's 9.7 inch screen for example can be displayed in portrait or landscape mode. Notebook and desktop monitors are designed with a landscape orientation and thus all websites are viewed in landscape mode. What happens when visitors view your website using the default iPad portrait orientation? You guessed it... the page is shrunk to fit the screen view which almost makes it unreadable. With shrinking user attention spans, you quickly loose the opportunity to present the most valuable information to a prospect who then ends up skipping over to your competitor.

It is thus crucial to ensure that your business presence on the mobile platform is as strong or better than your business presence on the traditional notebook/desktop platform.

As the New York Times reported last week, the most important technology product no longer sits on your desk, but rather fits in your hand.

Is your business prepared for the mobile revolution?

Monday, May 3, 2010

Battle of Industry Titans

This battle of titans between Apple and Adobe Systems, once considered to be bedfellows has definitely put a strain on the mobile software design/development community.

Steve Jobs has chosen not to include Adobe's popular Flash technology into any of its product lineup for a number of reasons despite Flash being used in about 67% of current internet video.

The buzz around the design/development community is whether this marks the begining of the end for Flash or not. I personally think Flash will continue to remain very popular and have its place in the vast sea of technology innovations that continue to enrichen our life experiences.

You can find out more here...

How to reduce or eliminate website maintenance payments

Many small to medium sized business are taking advantage of a technology platform referred to as a Content Management System (CMS) to build their company websites. A CMS lets you update your own website with little or no technical knowledge.

There are many CMS systems to choose from starting with open source projects such as Joomla, Drupal, WordPress, DotNetNuke, to proprietary systems which may give you limited flexibility in terms of vendor choices. You can also find high-end systems such as Microsoft's SharePoint for enterprise customers.

Here's a quick one-liner on the various platforms:

* Joomla - Platform is easy to learn, has lot's of templates includinge free or inexpensive extensions. Has a large following and considered to be a fairly robust platform.

* Drupal - Similar to Joomla and offers greater flexibility in terms of customization at the expense of a slightly steeper learning curve.

* WordPress - The darling of blog sites, WordPress has now expanded to become a platform for hosting CMS solutions.

* DotNetNuke - This platform has roots in the Microsoft platform being built from Visual Basic and ASP.NET. It has a rich set of templates and modules, albeit quite expensive.

If you're building a new website or thinking of redesigning an existing one, then make sure you ask your vendor about CMS choices. At the moment, our favourites include Joomla, DotNetNuke, and WordPress.

With a CMS, you'll update your website more frequently, without the hassle of calling up your vendor or signing up for additional maintenance services.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

What Search Engine do you use?

    • It only took one question from my 8 year old daughter to wake me up to the reality of how pervasive internet technologies have become in our society today. Sitting at the dinner table the other night, she asked me whether I preferred Google or Bing for search. Besides being taken aback by this question from an 8-year old, I was more curious to understand why she asked the question. "Oh well, Dad… you know Bing does a better job of presenting information with images and I learn better with images." Okay. I can appreciate the validity of her response, but was it really true? I didn't set out to prove the truth in her statement, but wanted to find out user-habits when it came to searching on the web. I thus gathered information on which search engine people use on the web and thought to share the information with you.
    • From a business perspective, this should alert you to which search engines require your attention when it comes to reaching your target audience. That is, you may choose to optimize your website to reach audiences across all search engines, or target one or two based on their share of internet traffic.

The Beauty of Colors - Part II

In last month's article, we discussed the importance of color in defining mood, taste, and style. This month, we dig a bit deeper to explore how colors can be combined to produce an endless array of visually appealing colors.

I find it fascinating that you can get about all the colors in the world with just different combinations of the 3 primary colors (Red, Blue, Yellow). Remember Crayola's Law of Colors which states the number of colors doubles every 28 years? Well, this is only achieved with different combinations of colors on the color wheel below.

* Source from

The color combination possibilities are endless. In fact, I was intrigued by an article in the January/February 2010 Design New England magazine that had listed and shown vibrant colors with names such as Daredevil, Torch, Babouche, Carnival, and Tangerine.

There is a fairly robust body of work on the internet about colors with my favorite starting point being

Just remember you sometimes don't even need color combinations to have a visually striking composition. You can choose just one color and use a monochromatic theme similar to the example picture below to achieve the desired outcome.

Monday, January 25, 2010

The Beauty of Colors

A client recently asked me the following:

We have an application and need to make the User Interface (UI) more visually appealing. The UI must be user friendly (functionally) and reader friendly (aesthetically) - the former was achieved. So, in terms of the look and feel, will you be able to show us a few design options? We are looking for simple enhancements such as appealing font, colors, tab borders, etc.

My first reaction was "wow... wait a minute... this stuff is very subjective!". After thinking about it some more, I decided that the best way to tackle this problem was to educate the customer with how color combinations work in general, then elicit feedback on color preferences including a review of any corporate assets such as logos, and finally present recommendations or options on how to skin the UI.

What I thought you might enjoy reading about is the intriguing world of colors.

I am reminded of Van Day Truex, the man who is credited for defining 20th century taste and style, who said "Remember, color is not just color, but mood, temperature, and structure." There are 3 main bands of colors: Warm (red, pink, orange, yellow), Cool(green, blue, purple), and Neutral(brown, white, gray, black) colors.
True to Van Day Truex's words, each of these colors have actually been documented to portray specific moods. So have fun with drawing similarities between the definitions below and colors that you pick in your personal life.

Warm Colors
Red: aggressiveness, passion, strength, vitality
Pink: femininity, innocence, softness, health
Orange: fun, cheeriness, warm exuberance
Yellow: positive thinking, sunshine, cowardice

Cool Colors
Green: tranquility, health, freshness
Blue: authority, dignity, security, faithfulness
Purple: sophistication, spirituality, costliness, royalty, mystery

Neutral Colors
Brown: utility, earthiness, woodiness, subtle richness
White: purity, truthfulness, being contemporary and refined
Gray: somberness, authority, practicality, corporate mentality
Black: seriousness, distinctiveness, boldness, being classic

*Source from

The next blog post will cover one of the key tools in a designer's toolbox; the color wheel.