The content of a message is often composed of both words and images. Image searches are a part of a graphic designer’s life. Here at BMC we find ourselves at stock-image sites, dutifully pecking out requirements into the search field, hitting return and then sorting through page after page of offerings looking for something that hits the mark. So what are we looking for? What do we find? And why is it so hard to come up with that right image?
In conjunction with our attendance at the annual iNACOL Blended and Online Learning Conference in Orlando in early November, Christine and I took time out for a day of play—and learning—at Disney's Hollywood Studios.
Whenever I'm in non-English-speaking countries, I love to look at signage, pamphlets, fliers, and other promotional materials geared towards selling me, the visiting English-speaking traveler, on various dining, lodging, or activity options. The example above is a brochure I saw hanging in a window of a tiny souvenir shop inside the Axum airport in northern Ethiopia.
We are always researching and learning to stay current with trends in our field. But lately there has been a decided push to dive deeper into some of the new technologies out there in order to help our clients improve their communications and sharpen our design thinking and development.
In any major engagement with a client we begin with a phase we call BluePrinting. This is the time during which we develop a shared understanding of what we need to create, how to approach it, and everyone’s role in making it happen. BluePrinting ensures that the vision each member of the project team has in their head is the same, and that the functional and technical details are clearly described.
It seems like everyone is always talking about the future, and we recently got a closer look at the conversation. WebVisions is an international event that began in our own backyard (Portland, OR). The conference is all about getting inspired by other disciplines and exposes designers, programmers and strategists to the new ideas and trends that are revolutionizing business. Nearly every session left us inspired and amped with real application for our work with clients.
In the past couple of weeks, all around the world self-hosted WordPress sites have been under attack by ill-intentioned botnets. This is the largest recorded attack, and it is affecting all kinds of WordPress sites from personal blogs to large enterprise properties. The good news is that due to the preemptive measures we take, all of the sites we've built are safe from this recent attack. The bad news is that site performance and availability could be affected due to the sheer number of computers trying to access a site at once (similar to a "denial of service" attack).
Generating content for your website is a critical aspect of having a site that meets the needs of your customers and clients. But writing for the web is very different than writing a research report, an article, or other type of printed document. While the audiences might be the same, the environment and your readers’ purposes may not be.
At the end of 2012, Blue Marble Creative finished a two-year board member commitment to the Gorge Owned Business Network (GO!), a local nonprofit organization focused on building awareness about the value of local ownership and environmental and social responsibility. GO! is a member of the national BALLE organization.
This year's Vimeo Grand Jury Prize winner is Rafel Duran Torrent's feature about Neil Harbisson, a man who was born with complete color blindness, a condition called achromatopsia. People with achromatopsia can only see in black and white. In 2004, Harbisson attended a lecture on cybernetics by Plymoth University student Adam Montandon who later joined Harbisson to develop a device called the eyeborg. The eyeborg allows Harbisson to "see" color as sound. He can now perceive colors outside of the range of normal human vision.
I must admit, my political activism is largely relegated to NPR news updates, voting in the local elections, and signing the occasional petition. I once went so far as to write a letter — from scratch — imploring my congresswoman to approve funding for a local social service agency. But when the issue of coal coming by train and barge from Wyoming through my beautiful Gorge and out to the northwest Washington coast came up last year, there was no way a letter or a signed petition was going to cut it. I had to do something.
We don’t have to tell you how fast things are changing with the ways people communicate and the tools they use. It can be tough to keep up but necessary. Lately we’ve been reviewing our current service offering and considering ways we can make working with us more fun, productive and relevant to your needs. It’s too soon to give you all the details but we can give you an idea of where we’re headed. Our core work will always be to make vision and ideas tangible through media, so we are putting a lot of emphasis on content development with new service packages that include writing and video production. We’re excited about working even more closely with our clients to craft presentations, and to help them think about how to spin off content chunks into social, digital, and print media.
2012 was one of those boundary-pushing, sometimes-out-of-my-comfort-zone-but-ultimately-dynamo growth years. On both personal and professional fronts I stretched and stretched and sometimes just flat out fell down. My mountain biking improved. I starting making art again. I gained a new sense of peace with the adoption process. New, amazingly talented people entered my world. I came to see greater value in my perspective and gained more confidence in sharing that. I've found it a rather cathartic process to document what I learned last year, particularly when it comes to my business, as I look ahead to what's in store for this next. What follows is a summary of the major ah-has from 2012.
While so much of our work is helping our clients with their external communications, increasingly we have been focusing on clients’ internal communications systems as well.Creating sustainable workflows for generating and managing marketing content in-house is critical to making outreach efforts successful – let alone happen at all.
This past Spring we were very pleased to have Steve Elliott, web developer extraordinaire, join our team as full-time staff. Steve has been working with us for several years now and he continues to blow our minds with his brilliant solutions to the quirkiest and toughest website issues. He’s also a complete barrel full of laughs with an infectious off-beat sense of humor that keeps the good times and creativity rolling here at the office. Steve brings a strong aesthetic sensibility that we find uncommon among traditional web developers and which gives our work more dimension and efficacy. His ability to combine programming genius with empathy for users has made the BMC brand of the website content management system an entirely unique offering. Later in the summer, Melissa Andrews came on board as our staff graphic designer. Melissa’s mature eye for design was an instant sell and her unflagging positive mental attitude brings great energy to our mix. She is bursting with ideas and fresh perspective. For the past several months Melissa has been working behind the scenes as she comes up to speed with clients and projects so many of you may not have met Melissa yet, but you can look forward to her being a more visible member of the BMC team in 2013.
We recently created this t-shirt as a gift for our clients in the education and technology sector. It is a pretty simple concept, just the word "blended" with a gradient color blend inside. So, what does it mean? And why did we feel compelled to make a t-shirt?
A global non-profit and industry thought leader since 2002, Sustainable Travel International offers innovative programs that support sustainable development through responsible travel. Their practical solutions help destinations and businesses of all sizes respond to sustainability challenges, while strengthening the positive impacts of tourism worldwide.
Our friends over at Renewable Choice Energy have an exciting project in the works. We helped the newly formed Mosaic Labs Inc. come up with this video to promote their greenhouse gas software.
With all the hubbub this week about SOPA, PIPA, and Wikipedia's beautiful protest of those initiatives, an email with a subject line of "Are you at risk if your team ignores font compliance?" really caught my attention when it popped in my inbox. The email shared a recent story about Dutch company Typotheque VOF suing RaiseDigital LLC, the design firm who created politician Rick Santorum's website, for $2 million for unlicensed use of Typotheque's trademark font Fedra. Just two months ago, P22 Type Foundry sued NBC Universal Studios for copyright infringement when Universal used the P22's font Cezanne Regular on Harry Potter merchandise connected to a ride Universal Studios themepark. Lawsuits involving typefaces are nothing new but they live in the grey area between technically right and legally wrong. Fonts themselves can't be copyright but the software used to create them can. So if the font was created by hand, then it's not protected, but if it was created by a computer, then it is copyrightable. If a hand-designed typeface is ever going to be an editable computer font, then at some point along the way software will be used to digitize it.
Staffing an entire in-house marketing or communications department requires a level of investment and commitment that’s just not feasible or copasetic with the business model of many forward-thinking businesses and organizations. Partnering with an outside agency or freelancers can offer the best of both worlds—the intimacy and responsiveness of an in-house department, with the flexibility, expertise and outside perspective of a specialized brand agency. The key is finding a creative partner who understands the unique communication challenges that businesses and organizations focused on social and environmental issues face. Complex and innovative concepts, diverse constituents, team members scattered across the country or globe and language or cultural barriers all impact how messages are generated and delivered to your audiences.