Using design for good.

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I was reading an article today “What can designers do to help tackle the climate change crisis?” in This is a topic that I hadn’t fully considered before. As a designer, I didn’t necessarily see myself as someone who could dramatically affect climate change. However, I think I can do more than I may have realized. First, let me say that I’ve always done what I consider to be everything possible to decrease my family, my business and my own impact on the world’s ecosystem. Some examples: We own two Priuses for all our major transportation needs. We walk … Continued

Focus, simplicity and viewpoint. The foundation of good design.

I was reading an article this morning about what London’s Underground map can teach us about design. It tells the story of Henry Beck, an engineering draftsman, who transformed an accurate visual representation of the Underground’s map into a simple depiction that focused solely on users’ needs: ‘Where do I get on and off’. When you eliminate all the extra details that do not communicate this, it becomes more effective. Take a look at the before and after images: As you see in the above examples, the new map uses the existing geography as a reference only. All the lines … Continued

Our Coastal VA businesses will drown without strategic design

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The Coastal Virginia area (Hampton Roads) is ground zero with regard to sea level rise and climate change. Businesses, individuals and our government need to act now in developing a plan that will help mitigate the tremendous risk we face. Without proper planning and action, our area faces an uncertain future. Soon, businesses will fail to invest in the area and will choose to find higher ground elsewhere. Residents will also flee the rising tide. Purchasing a home in an area that will experience frequent flooding is too risky for most people. We have two options to deal with this … Continued

Beautifully Ugly

I was flipping through our morning newspaper and came across a common advertiser that I’m sure many of you are familiar with: Ollie’s Bargain Outlet. It’s a cringe-worthy abomination in the eyes of most designers. Crass typography. Cheesy illustrations of Ollie sprinkled throughout the flyer. Each page packed with hyperbolic descriptions of all kinds of “buyout!” specials that won’t last long. It’s beautifully ugly. Why beautifully ugly? Because it’s perfectly-suited to the message and the messenger. The imagery, typography and writing style is crafted to fit in a way that’s memorable and impactful—and appropriate. This makes it a great example … Continued

Local SEO: 10 ways to boost your site’s visibility locally

I just completed a course at UCDavis on Optimizing a Website for (Organic) Search. There was a ton of valuable information conveyed in the course, but an area that I found particularly helpful was the section on Local Search. This is valuable for many of my clients that are local businesses that target almost exclusively to local clientele: Top 10 Localized Organic Factors Domain Authority of Website Quality/Authority of Inbound Links to Domain City,State in GMB Landing Page Title Click-Through Rate from Search Results Topical (Product/Service) Keyword Relevance of Domain Content Diversity of Inbound Links to Domain Geographic (City/Neighborhood) Keyword … Continued

SEO: What is it and why is it important?

First, I’ll start with a definition: SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is the process of affecting the visibility of a website or web page in organic search results. The organic results are all the unpaid links that show up when you type in a request in a search engine like Google. Why is it important? If your website or web page does not show up in search results, or shows up on page 15 of the results, your website will be basically invisible to anyone searching for your product, service or organization. And growing your business or organization will be significantly … Continued

Data visualization: The powerful influence of designers and data

I was reading a very engaging story on infographics in the current issue of Smithsonian and thought it might be relevant to share my perspective on this subject. The story begins with a summary of how infographics and data visualization have influenced events throughout history. Incredibly, it’s a very old, dating back 8,000 years. However, the early uses were used primarily as maps. After all, a map is a visual representation of our world based on current data available. Today, the available data is much more vast and the need to make it understandable is a struggle for almost all … Continued

Eight design principles for nonprofits

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I was reading a post on this morning and saw a list of design rules for nonprofits that I thought would be appropriate to share in this post. These tips were gathered from designers and creatives who work with nonprofits. The original post included 10 rules, but I think these eight are the most important: 1. Highlight the organization’s positive impact. This is kind of a no brainer so you can see why it’s the first rule. Telling your story by sharing the impact your organization makes is critical to getting donors to engage and want to help. 2. Let the design tell … Continued

Digital marketing trends for 2015

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Last year, digital marketing accounted for 25% of all marketing dollars spent. And according to a Gartner survey, that will rise to 33% this year. As a nonprofit, it’s essential to plan and implement your digital marketing strategies in areas considered most important in 2015. Based on an article in the Huffington Post, here are some predicted areas for concentration: 1. Email marketing Create smarter, more targeted content that speaks to your audience. 2. Building connections by building relationships Your audience will give to organizations that they know, like and trust. Social media helps establish personal relationships quickly and for very little cost. Nonprofits that connect by being more … Continued

Research-based design = insightful design solutions

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Third in a series of posts highlighting the importance of strategic design in today’s economy. It is inspired by the book “the Strategic Designer” by David Holston. Charles Eames, one of the most influential designers of the 20th century, stated that effective design cannot depend solely on a designer’s preferences. Instead, it should be strongly influenced by business goals and customer needs. This of course seems obvious. However, it takes research to determine what those goals and needs are. Design research can take many forms. There are companies who focus strictly on market research and can do in-depth analysis of … Continued

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