Archive for June, 2008

Growling on a Saturday

Saturday, June 21st, 2008

We have to admit – we sometimes find work more appealing on weekends. Whether it’s to take care of bills and other paperwork or to get a head start for the next week, we like rolling in after brunch and hanging around the office for a few hours. It’s a good feeling – no calls from clients, no urgent deadlines (in most cases), and we can play music without worrying about anyone else in the building (we’re usually the only ones here).

And of course, there’s the drinks-before-5PM-without-guilt factor. Today, I happened to walk by Grab, a specialty food store in Park Slope, and noticed their growlers – 64 fl oz. jugs – and their selection of three beers: Brooklyn Summer Ale, Hitachino Nest White Ale, and Sixpoint Bengali Tiger. The growlers went for $4.95 each (refundable if you bring them back) and to fill up, they cost $9.95, $22.95, and $12.95, respectively. I bought all three, Brooklyn Summer Ale for a party later today, the Hitachino Nest White Ale for home, and the Sixpoint for the office.

Grab Growler - Sixpoint Bengali Tiger

Grab did a great job in designing the growler – simple, 2-color type design with some clever wordplay.

Grab Growler - the back of the jug with text

The back of the jug, with the fun symbol art equation and the well-written fine text is a nice example of how good design can transform take-out beer into a memorable consumer experience.

New Work: MorePeaceCorps

Monday, June 16th, 2008

We’re feeling mighty good today. Just one week ago, we were anxious about the daunting task of building a website in just five days. The layout designs and site map had been approved but a number of tasks lay ahead: gathering all the content, coding all the pages, installing the content management system, creating the Flash and Javascript elements, checking for browser compatibility, etc. Basically, stuff that usually takes a month or two. But it’s projects like these that can make the business of web design fun and rewarding. Some background and screenshots:

MorePeaceCorps is a national outreach campaign by the National Peace Corps Association to reinvigorate the Peace Corps. The Peace Corps, a creation of the Kennedy administration back in 1961, has been experiencing a steady decline in both the number of volunteers and the funding appropriated by Congress. This campaign, by creating a strong network of returned volunteers, lawmakers, and leaders, hopes to increase Federal funding and to raise awareness about the importance of Peace Corps to America’s global image.

We began the project on May 13 with the goal of launching the site for an important conference on June 14. A few other milestones were set – to have a logo in place by May 23 and to launch an interim website by May 30.

Our approach to the logo was to keep it simple, keep it flexible, and to make it friendly yet bold. We opted for Hoefler & Frere-Jones’s Gotham Rounded as the typeface and a bordered circle as the shape. After a couple rounds of back and forth, showing variations in colors and text arrangement, we narrowed the choices to two final logos and eventually selected the winner:

mpc_logos.gif

Next was the interim site. We initially thought about something extremely simple – perhaps a one-pager with some text and the logo slapped on top – but the abundance of great photographs made us want to try something different. The layout was pretty much a one-pager, but we decided to use the logo on top as a frame for a dozen-photo slideshow and also broke down the content into the three words of the tagline: Bigger, Better, and Bolder. This way, a visitor could get a clear sense of the campaign’s goals in a format different from the standard mission statement.

mpc_interim1.jpg

mpc_interim2.jpg

With the logo and interim site out of the way, we focused our attention on the design of the website. We wanted it to be colorful, fun, informative, and energetic – a site that would convey the process of reinvigoration. With this in mind, we assembled a palette of bright colors – orange, bright green, and magenta – to complement the blue colors. We then focused on the navigation and layout of the site, to make sure everything would be easily found and readable.

Here’s how the homepage turned out:

mpc_home.jpg

and the News & Events page:

mpc_news1.jpg

For the content management system, we used Expression Engine, which we think matches the needs of this site very well, especially in the management of the numerous states pages. We also created a Flickr group pool for MorePeaceCorps to encourage returned and current volunteers to upload photos to share with visitors to the site. We used FlickrSlidr for the slideshow.

By June 13, after what seemed like an endless week, everything had come together very nicely. The site received positive feedback from the NPCA staff and was fully operational. It was presented at the NPCA conference in Pocantico on the 14th . Yesterday, we came in for a few hours and put in some finishing touches, made some tweaks, and officially launched the website. There’s still some more content that’ll be added later, but for now, a big “whew” and some catching up to do on other projects.

Visit www.morepeacecorps.org.

Working With Constraints

Friday, June 6th, 2008

rumsprite.jpg

From the ingredients left over from our party last weekend, we concocted a Friday late afternoon delight.

2 oz. of Bacardi Gold rum
4 oz. of Sprite
half a lime, cut into fourths

A White Cuba Libre?