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WordPress Site Design & Build: NeighSavers.com…

We worked with Bev Greene at Matchpoint Projects to develop a sweet new site for NeighSavers. We’ve worked with Bev on numerous occasions – she manages projects, we do the work, the client wins! It’s a great match. See my point? See what I did there…

Anyway – Neigh Savers Foundation is a great cause that helps re-home retired racehorses. The racing lifespan of a horse is very short when compared to the average length of a horse’s life, and often these magnificent animals are allowed to languish when they’re no longer able to race. So, Neigh Savers steps in and helps find homes for the horses. Very nice.

They’ve been scuffling with an outdated website, and along with Bev, we helped develop a new and feature-rich site. Some of the features…

  • Built with WordPress, so it’s easy to maintain, super search engine friendly and highly configurable right out of the box.
  • Built around WooThemes’ Canvas, so you know it’s got all the slick features a modern site needs.
  • Easy donation buttons to help drive conversions in the right direction.
  • Integrated “Horse Portfolio” so it’s easy to display horses for adoption, as well as equines who have found their forever home.
  • Fully responsive, so it looks and functions great on every device.

It’s a great cause with, if we do say so ourselves, a pretty terrific website. It’ll function well for years to come, and Neigh Savers will reap the benefits of a truly modern, functional and attractive website. We designed a logo and identity package for Neigh Savers previously, and it’s nice to be able to launch a website that displays their new look, logo and identity.

Working with Bev as a project manager was a blast as always, and knowing that our work was going to help animals in need felt really super.

WordPress site for Neigh Savers

Human Resources in Asheville

WordPress Site Launch, Logo and Human Resources…

Look! A happy client! Go, Jamie, go!

Look! A happy client! Go, Jamie, go!

HR Designs offers on-call human resources solutions to businesses big and small – outsourcing what can be a difficult job, and one that can be personal and uncomfortable (and unpleasant if handled improperly.) HR Designs partners with businesses and helps them in many areas – hiring, firing and personnel strategies. Everyone wins – and if someone decides to be butthurt about being canned, the company can say “Hey, HR Designs fired you. Wasn’t me!”

We recently had the pleasure to work with Jamie at HR Designs in developing a logo, website and marketing materials.

Very cool company with a great concept and an owner with a great passion for human resources and for enabling business growth. Jamie was a lot of fun to work with, and the logo, website and collateral turned out great! Take THAT, Toby.

Visit HRDesigns.com to check out the logo and the HR goodness. The site features:

  • Built using WordPress, so it’s easy to keep it all updated and humming on along.
  • Theme based on Canvas by WooThemes, so it looks great and functions like a champ.
  • Contact forms, content toggles and all sorts of bells and whistles.
  • Responsive design, so the whole shebangabang looks great on all devices – phones, pads, laptops and desktops.

Thanks to Jamie and the crew at HR Designs for a fun project. Even Michael Scott would approve…

WordPress Site Design for HR Designs, Asheville NC

McCensorship?

McCensorship

I’ve decided that beginning tomorrow, May 1, I am embarking on a campaign of petty annoyance. I will tweet, daily, one complaint about any of the number of consumer products in which I am routinely disappointed. Big places, little places – anyone who gets (or has gotten) my goat will be fair game. I’ll keep track of it all, respond when I’m responded to and make a general nuisance of myself.

Why? Why not. I’m good at complaining, and there are limitless things to complain about. I’ll try to make it entertaining, but my main goal is to waste the time and resources of the crappy places that I complain about. It’s nothing personal (except when it is,) and I hope to have a little fun and propagate my ill will upon the Twitterverse.

I decided that I would start with McDonald’s – and I started this morning. I posted about how the McGriddle sucks. I was nice. I compared it to an Adam Sandler flick – interesting at first, but ultimately tasteless and lame. Nothing bad, no curse words, nothing “attacking.” I went back to check on it, and my tweet was gone.

So – I posted the same thing, more or less. And – 3 minutes later, the second tweet was gone as well.

Why was this removed? Why was I censored? For my opinion? If so – Twitter has some explaining to do. They allows misogynistic, hateful and ignorant stuff all over the place, but – complain about a crappy sandwich, and you get pulled?

I see a few scenarios:

  1. McDonalds is powerful, and they have a direct line to Twitter. If this is the case, I think there should be disclosure. Who got my post pulled and what was their rationale?
  2. Twitter is specifically pulling posts for complaining about McDoo. Why? I can make all the racist comments I want, but if I talk critically about a multi-billion dollar pusher of crap food, tweet gets killed. Hypocritical much?
  3. My account was hacked and ONLY those posts were deleted. Probably Russians.

Personally, I think it’s #1, all day long. And if so, that’s wrong. Plain and simple – wrong.

Game on, Twitter. Game on, McDoo. In the words of the late great Rusty Shackleford, “I am your worst nightmare! I have a three-line phone and plenty of time to kill!”

I’ll be complaining about every menu item. At least once per day, and I will keep track of what gets deleted and what stays. I will contact and pester Twitter until I get an answer as to why my posts were pulled. I will waste more of their time than I waste of my own.

I feel like I owe it to humanity to use my God-given gift of irritation to better the planet for all of us. Follow the idiocy on Twitter.

Oh – and the McGriddle sucks.

Image from Shutterstock. Not endorsed or affiliated with McDonalds or their crappy food. Also, for the record, I worked at McDonalds for a summer when I was in college, so I’m an expert.

WordPress 3.9 “Jimmy Smith” and WooThemes – Updates…

WordPress, our web development platform of choice, has been updated to 3.9. There are some great features – drag-and-drop images, in-editor image scaling and more real what-you-see-is-what-you-get editing for everything. It’s a good, solid update that will make the whole experience a little easier and more intuitive. Check out the video.

 

UPDATEIn order to update your site, log in to your dashboard and find the “WordPress 3.9 is available! Please update now.” banner at the top left. Click on “Please update now.” and then hit the “Update Now” button on the following screen. Wait a second or three, and – DONE

NOW – When you update to WordPress 3.9, and you’re using WooThemes, something kind of breaks. You’re used to having the little WooThemes Shortcode button in your editor, but after 3.9, it might disappear. OH NO!

But, the fix is pretty easy. Navigate to your dashboard, hover over the name of the theme (in this case, Canvas,) and click on “Update Framework.” Make sure you’re using the latest Woo framework – as of this post, 5.5.6. Now, you’ll have a slightly nicer-looking Woo Shortcode button.

Follow the 3 steps shown:

WordPress 3.9 and WooThemes

The only issue is that it doesn’t appear that the WooCommerce shortcode button isn’t appearing in the editor. So – if you’re running WooCommerce, it’s a good idea to wait until there’s a fix or workaround in place. We’ll keep a running update list here in this post, so be sure to check back in.

If you’d like us to update your site and make sure it’s all running like a champ – give us a shout. We’ll get you updated and enjoying that cup of coffee in no time…

Spring Has Sprung & We’re Spring-Loaded

chick

Spring in Asheville is a wonderful time – everything is budding and going green, gardens are being tilled up, the days are bright and warmer, the nights are crisp and we’re all pleased to virtually no end. We’ve welcomed ten feathered beings into our family, many new clients into the fold, and we’re going full steam ahead on some exciting and varied projects. Of course, all this great action has caused us to neglect our blogging duties – but, heck, new starts abound…

We’ve also got some pretty big news on the Woo Themes front. We can’t let it out of the bag at the moment – but let’s just say that  your favorite WordPress and Woo Theme developers are being recognized for general awesomeness. We’ve known it, you’ve known it – but now it’s becoming official. We can neither confirm nor deny that it’s US – but we can say that it’s someone very close to us. Stay tuned for an announcement.

We’re also working hard on a great WordPress knowledge hub. Videos, customization tutorials, links, reviews and resources. We’ll be offering access to the whole kit & kaboodle to our clients first – but it’ll be free and it’ll be something you want to bookmark. Or, you might want to tattoo it on your forehead. Up to you.

So – in the words of the inimitable David Yow, “I feel carbonated. I feel spring-loaded.” Yep. There’s a lot going on, and we’re excited. Only pop music can save us now!

Designing Mastery: Awesome Designs

Hey guys! Haven’t been on in a while. I’ve been on my break. But I’m back, so hopefully I’ll be on now. :)

Anyway, here are some awesome designs of awesomeness that say “Oh my God, I’m so awesome you’ll puke rainbows!”

 

abstract_0005Raaaaiiiiinnnnnboooooowwwwwwsssss.......!RainbowPOOOOWWWWWAAAAAHHHHHHH!!!!OhMahGadRainbows

 

 

So yeah. Ya like? I’m still on the Photocopied Santa case, just in case you’re wondering.

More coming soon!

-SJP

Heroes of Design: Antoni Gaudí

Design Heroes - Antoni Gaudí

I don’t think I need to say too much about Gaudí. I’ve always been a big fan of architecture as an art form – and this guy takes that notion to the absolute limit. The Sagrada Familia (the roof of the nave shown above,) the Park GüelCasa Batlló and the Colonia Güell all stand as masterworks of a man who understood the power of architecture and who knew how to think “outside the box.”

I’ve never been to Barcelona. Hell, I’ve never been to Los Angeles – but experiencing this guy’s work in person is ABSOLUTELY on my bucket list. His organic style is really something to behold, and the motion and fluidity of his lines are incredible. What else can be said other than this guy was an incredible artist with an eye toward the future – but not in a strictly modernist way. His work transcended modernism then, and it holds up even today.

Check it out. You’re going to spend a LOT of time looking at his stuff. Time very, very well spent.

Heroes of Design: Al Jaffee

al jaffee studioI grew up with Mad Magazine. Not sure how it started – or when, for that matter, but as far back as I can remember, Mad has been an accomplice and an inspiration. Maybe that’s not such a good thing to admit – but, it is what it is.

The illustration in Mad was generally pretty great – Aragonés, Berg, Martin and Drucker (and the Usual Gang of Idiots) kind of painted the backdrop of my childhood. Almost without exception, though – when I picked up a Mad, I went straight to the back and checked out the Fold-In by Al Jaffee. Gorgeous color, impeccable layout and topical humor, plus the added fun of “hidden” info made the Fold-In one of my faves.

Al Jaffee painted all these gorgeous works by hand – and at age 92, he’s still going strong. Without the aid of a computer, he still does things the way he’s done them for a long, long time. And – you gotta admit – they’re freaking awesome. And, according to the man himself, he never sees the folded version until he sees the actually newsstand copy. Amazing! Here’s a link to an interactive fold-in gallery. Take a few minutes and check it out. Best time you’ll waste all week!

Lest you think he was (and is) a one-trick pony, Jaffee did a lot of terrific black and white stuff (his inventions series is another favorite, along with “Snappy Answers to Stupid Questions”) and some terrific political commentary. Click the image below to be taken to a Google search of some of Jaffee’s mind-blowing stuff. There’s also a little video down below that’ll introduce you to the man you wish was your grand-dad. No folding required…

Heroes of Design - Al Jaffee

*studio photo hat tip: this guy

New Launch for New Life…

newlifeWe were approached by New Life, Inc. of Asheville to build a website for their recovery programs. New Life operates a group of homes that promote sober living through 12 step programs, healthy community and personalized recovery programs. We’re happy to help out by building a good looking and easily updatable website. Built using WordPress and Woo Themes, this site is easy to maintain, update and change, as all aspects of the site are user-configurable without getting into code or other such mucking about.

Check ’em out. Great folks, a great cause and a (if we do say so ourselves,) great site.

Colors. Oh, the Colors.

Color is such a broad and difficult story – because everyone sees and “feels” color differently. There are some constants, but the only real constant with color is that it’s totally inconsistent, because people are pretty inconsistent.

The way people interact with or react to color is reasonably predictable – it’s why pink walls in jail cells work as opposed to red – but the way that people mechanically see color can be a real crap shoot to design around. That’s what we’re talking about here – color in design, web sites, printed goods, on monitors and on paper – and it really is one of the biggest issues designers can face*. There are a few reasons:

Firsteveryone’s eyes are different. Blue eyes are more sensitive to bright lights, and stuff can seem washed out. It’ll also give you a wonderful headache that caffeine can’t cure.

Seconda “significant portion” of the public is color blind to one extent or another. Since there is so much subtlety and finesse involved with color, a small variance in the way one set of eyeballs mechanically sees color can make a huge difference in how the finished piece can look.

Thirdhow many damned devices do we have to design for? And each one of those devices can be different within it’s own model – one Apple monitor doesn’t look like another – then you have to multiply that error rate by the number of different devices, sizes, ages, conditions, and other factors, and you wind up with a billion different problems. Then – is it going on paper? What kind of paper – and where was it manufactured? Tshirts? Billboards? Stickers? HOLY CRAP! If it’s getting printed, how? What kind of ink. How much pressure while it’s being printed? Offset or digital? On and on it goes.

Fourth – environmental issues affect how you see color. Natural light at 4 o’clock in the afternoon is not the same as natural light at 1:30 in the afternoon. There are a million different types of lights, light bulbs, light fixtures and wattages and dimmers and manufacturers. Add to this the shape of the room. Then, the color of the walls make a difference. That coffee mug on your desk? It’s throwing some reflective light onto your screen.

Fifth – color interacts with other color. If you put red and grey next to each other, the effect of those colors on each other is totally different than if it was red and bright baby blue. Get the wrong colors together, and it looks like they vibrate. It’s weird – but cool.

Let’s break it down to a mathematical equation, and we’ll start with the different colors of eyes as our base number. Let’s say there are only 3 – blue, brown and green. Then, we’ll just say that there are only 5 variants of color blindness. 15. Let’s say there are only 1000 different devices with 5 variants per device. 75000. Fourth – let’s just say that there are only 200 different environmental factors. Now we’re up to a cool 15 million. Fifth, let’s say that there are only 50 color combinations that will ever interact with each other and we wind up with 750,000,000 different ways to “see” a single color, and I’m vastly underestimating the numbers. You get the point.

All of this is to say that color is a moving target. There are ways to mitigate the mechanical differences in color – Pantone books, color calibrators, etc – but you can’t make everyone sees your color the same way you see it. Just can’t. Thankfully – like I mentioned – people’s reaction to color is pretty predictable, so understanding that predictable reaction is paramount in choosing color for designwork.

There are “selling colors” and “love colors” and “action colors” and “calming colors.” There are subtle nuances inside those categories – and you can mix and match and complement and contrast – but you have to use color properly for it to be effective. Just because you think your logo looks great in yellow, that doesn’t mean that it’s the best choice to present to your customer/demographic. Personal taste and choice is kind of out the window here.

So – what do you do? Throw up your hands and say “whatever?” Run screaming? Say “screw it” and just go with bad color? No – you lean on experience – and a couple of tools. Pantone books are great – they are the de facto king of color in the design realm. Color calibrators. Color proofs and other stuff. We’ve got you covered. You don’t have to worry about making sure your color looks right across the board. That’s our job.

We can help you pick the right color for your project, and we can help make sure it looks great everywhere.

See, we’ve “done color” enough to know what looks good and how to translate that to the finished piece. You want your business cards, your web site and your tshirts to all look great AND look like they belong together. You want consistency in your color, and we know how how to deliver.

We understand color. We can help YOU understand color. Let’s go.

*the foremost is lack of talent – but I suppose that’s subjective. I digress. I know that’s unusual.