News, Ideas, Opinions & Design

First Impression: Marie Catrib’s Restaurant Website & Online Bakery

The moment I stumbled across Marie Catrib’s, I was delighted. When a website design gives you that “claps hands like seal” feeling, you know something awesome went into the making of it.

Continue reading for user experience perspectives, photography points and an assessment of the company’s social presence and integration into the business of this unique restaurant in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

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The Most Gorgeous Website You Will See Today: Grayden Poper

Grayden Poper is an interactive designer with a great sense of whimsy. I came across his site in a list of creative “About” pages and am so glad I did!

When you first hit his site, you see some different things Grayden wanted to be when he grew up. Hit the teardrop above each one to reveal his comment about it. The intro is the perfect setup for his work, the bulk of which seem to incorporate lovely textures and rich depth in colors and images like his own personal site does.

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October 2012 Designer Wallpapers for Desktops & Devices

I loaded a beautiful new wallpaper onto my desktop that is representative of my birth sign, Libra. It’s called Aire and it’s both calming and uplifting, at least to me, which is probably because I am the stereotypical air sign with head-in-clouds syndrome! Find it and some more pretty, nature-inspired looks at The Art Times.

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Customer Service via Social Media… How’s That Working for You?

There is a real disconnect between genuine customer service and social media accounts online for the purpose of providing customer service, and it is almost never the fault of the staff running the social accounts.

Brian Solis and the folks over at Pivot have compiled an infographic and data on the stark reality of customer service satisfaction in this age of social media. In Brian’s words, “The challenge for change agents and internal champions is about moving businesses from #lipservice to #customerservice.”

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The Most Gorgeous Website You Will See Today: Oliver Lisher

Stumbling around the internets this morning while drinking coffee I found a designer/coder’s site that is just jaw-droppingly simple and beautiful, a user experience dream if not for one noticeable flaw (in my mind at least)… there’s no portfolio! With such a pretty site in hand I wanted to see more, more, more but the closest I could come was to click on the Dribbble link – I wonder if he is using that platform as his portfolio?? I would find that a little odd, but keeping up a portfolio IS a giant pain (our Fresh ID portfolio is not updated at all, even now).

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365 Days Worth of Massive Inspiration for Designers of Print, Digital Web & User Interfaces

Yesterday I ran across two amazing sites I wanted to share with you. As a designer, I know what it’s like to both get stuck in a creative block, and envy the work of others. Prepare to feel envious looking at some of these digital masterpieces!

365 Awesome Designers

The first offers 365 Awesome Designers with links to their sites and Twitter handles, and some of the work is phenomenal, from illustrations to web design, print and user interface design.

In addition to the samples which are easy to scan quickly, the designers sites are works of art and must-see as well… you’re going to be here for days and days unless you caffeine up and immerse yourself in a design orgy! Here are a few of my favorites – I have no doubt you’ll find many of your own if you spend time perusing the work here.

Continue Reading → Aims to Help Developers Standardize the Web

In a rare show of solidarity some of the internet’s biggest players have joined forces and launched, a wiki of web standards contributed to by an open community of developers.

The Next Web reports that Apple, Adobe, Facebook, Google, HP, Microsoft, Mozilla, Nokia, and Opera have all committed to the initiative and that the new site will serve as a single source of relevant, up-to-date information on the latest standards, including HTML5, CSS3 and others as defined by W3c.

All documents shared will be licensed under creative commons and community users are encouraged to share code and examples under this license so all can benefit. For more information watch this video and visit the site.

Is it Time for You to Tumble?

We’ve never been shy about pushing people to examine Tumblr – it’s our favorite micro-blogging platform! The themes can be so much richer and if you work at it, you can achieve just about anything you need to, despite not hosting the site yourself or having to work around code limitations.

To inspire you to take a fresh look at Tumblr and all it has to offer as an online repository of your random musings, here are some resources of the most gorgeous themes we’ve seen, as well as examples of themes we’ve modified to match our clients brands.

Gorgeous Tumblr Theme Sites

ThemeCloud has some lovely, photo-centric themes that are very clean and neat and not expensive at all – less than the cost of a latte in most cases!

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5 of the Best WordPress Sites on the Web

I stumbled across a nice list from WPMU that is lists in their opinion, the best 40 sites on the internet. The full list of 40 sites may seem overwhelming, but there are some great sources of content and information among them. Here are my go-to resources for WordPress… what are yours?

1. Smashing Magazine’s category “features quality articles about developing clean, smart and fast websites with WordPress. The articles are intermediate level, with an emphasis on practical, hands-on discussions related to WordPress.” I love how the detail that for you so you know exactly what to expect.

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Beyond Marketing: How Social Media Can Help Companies Save Money, Keep Customers Satisfied and Gain Access to Fast Information

This post was written by Lisa Qualls a while back and not published. Some great points here about looking beyond the SM ROI of marketing efforts and realizing how social media can yield many other benefits inside your companies and organizations.

Leads, sales, and new revenue get most of the headlines when discussing ROI or why you should take advantage of social media platforms. However, cost reductions need to be considered as well when figuring/estimating time spent, as well as customer retention. Social media introduces new possibilities to traditional business practices such as customer care/service, research and development (R&D) and internal communications. These may not be as “sexy” as marketing and sales but anyone of them can be the Achilles heel to even the strongest of companies.

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Social Media & Creativity


ENTREPRENEUR has an interesting article that asserts “social media is nothing without creativity” and simply from reading the headline, I got the point and have to agree, from a marketing perspective.

Not every brand using social media for some purpose needs to create interesting, unique content… there are many brands that use platforms like Twitter or Facebook primarily to provide customer service, such as your local cable company or telecom provider. Those accounts need to focus more on being effective than spinning out a constant stream of content. But many of us (and our clients, if you’re an agency type) are using social media in an attempt to achieve a greater reach and awareness from marketing messages, and creativity is going to win the attention in this game.

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User Experience Activities for Ecommerce & Software


Reposted July 2, 2012 as this is applicable to an upcoming post on user experience and influence – watch for it this week!

In an effort to better communicate what we do for clients, I’ve created two PDF documents that describe the various user experience activities that take place on an ecommerce or software design project.

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Does Your Brand Need a Makeover?


Yesterday and this morning I spent some time giving the online presence for our social media product, Intefy, a summer makeover on Twitter and Facebook. I’ve also recently redesigned the Fresh ID branding (you may have seen our Facebook presence with our new Freshopolis branding, or new business cards & brochures (we are working on finishing the site redesign and other things also) and I wanted to take a moment and talk about why this is so important, especially for smaller brands.

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Be Honest: Do You Provide Customer Service, or an Endless Loop of Hoop-Jumping Hell?


I am about to relate a true story. I’m sure many of you have had similar experiences and I’d love to hear about them in the comments. Names will not be changed to protect the guilty, so reveal away.

I have Time Warner Cable at my city house. I originally signed up for just the Internet, and when I did there were some options for TV of either 29.99 or 39.99 (or maybe both, unsure) for a digital package that has mostly filler stations and no movie channels. (My country house cable is much better, we get 1 HBO, 1 Showtime and 1 Cinemax at least.) I decided not to sign up for the Cable TV after all because I don’t like much that’s on TV and am used to using my Roku/Netflix on nights when I feel I must have non-internet entertainment. I am usually only in the city Monday thru Thursday nights, so I see TV on weekends.

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To Answer or Not to Answer… That is Apparently the Question for Some Businesses Online


So this morning I had kind of an interesting, annoying, local small business fail. I’m in the country for the weekend – many of you know I live in KC and Garnett, which is a rural Kansas town of about 3500 people and about 20,000 cows. My mother is here for Mother’s Day and there is a surprisingly attractive spot here that serves brunch on weekends. (A miracle in a town this size.) So on Facebook, which is where they are, I asked them if they’re open on Mother’s Day for brunch… pretty much a very basic, yes or no type of question that can be easily answered.

They Liked it.

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