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Category Archives: Design

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We’re on the awards path!

By | Awards, Design, News, Viral Video, Websites | No Comments

Counterintuity is proud to have added to our expanding trophy case with three new awards from W3, honoring creative excellence on the web, and recognizing the creative and marketing professionals behind award winning sites, marketing programs, and video work created for the web.

Less than 10% of all W3 entries (3,000 in all) were selected as Gold Winners, and we are thrilled to announce our website for Bragg Crane took home the gold in the construction category.

In determining winners, entries are judged based on a standard of excellence as determined by the IAVA, according to the category entered. To uphold a high standard of excellence, a category may have multiple winners, or may have no winners at all. Entries are scored on a ten point scale by the judges. Outstanding entries are are awarded Silver Winners, and we’re happy to claim two of these: Bragg Crane website for Visual Appeal, and our political satire video “Where Will You Go?” created for a 2010 state ballot initiative.

“This year’s W3 Winners demonstrate the out-of-the box thinking and creative execution that exemplifies what the Web is all about” said Linda Day, the Executive Director of the IAVA. “On behalf of the entire Academy, congratulations to this year’s W3 Award entrants and winners for their dedication to pushing the limits and finding new ways to raise the bar in Web Creativity.”

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Good websites can’t be rushed

By | Design, News, Websites | One Comment

Search Google for website design, and you’ll see claims such as “We Design Fast Websites” and “We’ll Build Your New Website in Less Than 20 Minutes!”

When it comes to making websites, it’s true that faster is better.  Yet that only refers to the performance of your site, or the speed and efficiency at which your website responds.

A good website firm will not promise to create a high-quality site in a week, or with larger sites, even in a month.  Creating a custom website requires planning, research, programming, expertise and quality assurance that simply can’t be completed in 20 minutes.

We have dozens of customers who came to us after finding out the hard way that the fast way just doesn’t work, and can also be very costly.  Broken code, link errors, unintelligible copywriting and a complete disregard for simple SEO and keyword best practices are the bane of our existence—and frankly, a consistent source of income.

Just like a slow-cooked oven roast is well worth the wait, so is a high-caliber website. Savor the process a superior design firm offers, from planning and architecture of the site, through copywriting, design and coding, to editing and quality assurance.  You want a web firm that takes the time to validate every feature and assures a value-added experience for your customers or clients.

In the end, you’ll end up with a gourmet web product, rather than take-out type turmoil.  Your website won’t mind waiting.

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Don’t buy into the Facebook iframes hype–YET

By | Change, Design, Facebook, News, Social Marketing, Technology | No Comments

Courtesy of blog.madarco.net

We have been diligently researching the Facebook switch on Friday from FBML to iframes.  Our advice?  Don’t panic. Static FBML will be around for awhile.

All this move changes is that developers and designers now need to know HTML and have access to a hosted site in order to make custom applications and graphics for your Facebook page. Most page owners don’t realize that this is simply a change in how the coding of a Facebook app (i.e. a custom page) works.  It’s a slow phasing out of Static FBML, Facebook’s proprietary application that allows users with little coding experience create custom tabs Facebook Pages.

With an iframe application, the main difference is that content must now be located within an HTML document that is hosted outside of Facebook’s servers—usually, your own website (although they can and should be hidden). An iframe is simply HTML code or “inline frame.”  Basically, customs apps will now be a hosted “web page” layered on top of your Facebook Page.  And your designer will need to know HTML.

There is already a lot of hype surrounding this change, and a lot of companies are trying to make money off of it, such as Wildfire and Involver, to name a few.  Don’t buy into the propaganda.  Remember that “Free for 3 months” is not ultimately free.

In fact, there’s even a possible SEO downside to switching to iframes. At present, search engines do not crawl content within iframes, so anchor text links on your existing FBML tabs will not be crawlable.  Unless something changes, iframes have absolutely no search engine value, and FBML does.

Your existing Static FBML tabs (like welcome pages and contests) will be fully supported by Facebook for a while. They can still be edited or replaced with new FBML code. No page owner with FBML-based apps needs to panic.  When your current FBML apps no longer serve your audience, that’s the time to look into iframes.  Right now, the cost of recoding into HTML and adding monthly hosting fees are too high to justify a switch.

For the near future, there is no reason we can see to upgrade existing static FBML tabs to iframes. Rest easy for now, Facebook  friends.

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Do we take design seriously?

By | Branding, Design, Email Marketing | No Comments

We’re in awe (and horrible shock) that something so hideous could come out of an iconic company. I’m talking about the new logo of GAP, the clothing company. Who would let this happen? Umair Haque, of the Harvard Business Review, takes a stab at the trainwreck in his article, “The Gap Logo Debacle: A Half-Brained Mistake“. Below is our response to his five questions to gauge whether you’re taking design seriously enough:

• Do designers have a seat in the boardroom — or just in the basement? How often does your CEO ever talk to a designer?

Counterintuity’s foremost goal in any endeavor we undertake is creativity. That means creativity in design, creativity in thought, creativity in writing and creativitiy in implementation. We are always having discussions about the look and feel of anything we develop.

• Are designers empowered to overrule beancounters — or vice versa?
Our most recent staff meeting included the importance of empowering everyone, including designers, by asking the question, “I don’t know, what do you think?” It’s played a key role in how we approach problem solving.

• Is the input of designers considered to be peripheral to “real” business decisions — or does it play a vital role in shaping them? Is design treated as a function or a competence?
The aesthetics of a website, of print material, of a logo are the first impression one has about a business. Since that is the case, design is key and we strive to create fresh material that reflects the businesses we represent in a helpful and meaningful way that is unique to them. No one business is the same, and no one look is the same. A cookie-cutter approach doesn’t work in this day and age. Counterintuity’s President, Amy Kramer, has often said to clients, “If you want to look like everyone else, then use someone else.” We approach each project uniquely because no one is the same.

FrontBack

• Are designers seen just as mechanics of mere stuff — or as vital contributors to the art of igniting new industries, markets, and catgeories, sparking more enduring demand, building trust, providing empathy, and seeding tomorrow’s big ideas?
Take a look at our business card, you’ll realize that our design is much more than mechanics. We used our creativity in design and in actionable writing to create an effective business card that would start a conversation, drive business, and create a lasting impression.

• How much weight does senior management give to right-brained ideas, like delight, amazement, intuition, and joy? Just a little, a lot — or, as for most companies, almost none?
Creativity is key and the only way to produce creativity is to encourage it. In some way or another, we all get kicks out of the little things we see out from others and inside our office. Including… GAP’s new logo.

Does your business take design seriously?

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Some Flickr tools

By | Design | No Comments

Flickr is a great way to keep your website photo gallery current as well as a bevy of other social marketing benefits:

  • Search engine optimization. Tag your images with keywords and fill in your profile with your website or blog address.
  • Share images. People want to see what they’re getting, and you want them to see (and get) you.
  • Provide free images. You can find free images (for use on your blog or other marketing) under Creative Commons by Attribution license.
  • Promotions. You can hold photo or image contests, and use the system to collect submissions.
  • Drive traffic to your site. When people search for images, your images will come up on Google, Yahoo, and other search platforms.

Recently, a number of friends and clients have asked how they can embed their Flickr photo sets on their website or blog. Following is a handful of tools to help you get a slideshow on your website or blog:

And here’s how you can embed the slideshow directly from Flickr.

Please share any additional suggestions in the comments below. We’d love to know about more options!

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Choosing the right color palette for your website

By | Branding, Design | One Comment

The basics for every website start with choosing a color combination that works with what you are trying to sell or market. Choosing the right color scheme can be crucial to selling a product, as you don’t want the buyer to get turned off and not make a purchase.

When choosing a color combination for your website, you should refer to a color wheel, available online or at any art store. Graphic designers live and die by this color wheel. As you can see below, the color wheel splits into two equal sections: warm colors and cool colors.

clr-whl-warm-cool

Warm colors are based on reds, oranges and yellows:

warm

Cool colors are based on greens, blues and purples:

cool

Exploring warm vs. cool colors for your website is important.  When choosing colors, keep in mind that cool colors recede and warm colors advance. Depending on the color scheme you choose, your website will give the viewer different feelings, such as calming (warm) or refreshing (cool). Remember that the human eye is immediately drawn towards bright, warm colors and white.

Warm color palette:

Royal Palms Hotel

The Royal Palms color scheme makes the viewer feel warm, cozy, and comfortable.

Cool color palette:

Wrigley

Wrigley’s color scheme provides the feeling of cool, fresh and clean.

For a dramatic and eye-catching effect, you can mix the two color palettes. Using two complementary colors—those that are immediately opposite one another on the wheel—invokes more than one emotion from your viewers.

For example:

Betty Crocker

Betty Crocker uses different shades of cool blue as the background, and a very powerful warm red as the foreground. The viewer is drawn to the red links and buttons, which helps navigate through the site in the manner intended by the company.

Gowalla

Another contrasting yet user-friendly color palette is green and orange. Notice how the green relaxes and recedes. The vibrant orange pops.

Start your website palette with the color or color combo of your logo. To make the site visually stimulating and flowing, use no more than two colors (although you can use different shades of those colors) plus white and black.

By using color to influence your viewers, you have the power to guide what your visitors see first and how they navigate your site.