Case Study: Just Salad

When Just Salad came to Command C for a full redesign, their site needed some updating and cohesion. Based on an old-school computer game feel, it was cute and kitschy, but distractingly busy in concentrated areas, leaving a lot of dead visual space. Our first major revision was to make the site responsive, so it would translate well to mobile browsers and focus on the essentials for those users: menus, orders, locations. The mobile view also leverages geolocating and Google Maps to find the location closest to the user. Next, we added a pretty sweet Google maps integration so customers could find them more easily: Since Just Salad is a franchise business, we also added WordPress’ multi-site functionality.  With it, the user can switch between locations in various international regions. This was …

By: lucia martinez
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Responsive Web Design 102

Last week we touched on the very basic basics of responsive web design, i.e. what exactly it is and why you probably want it for your site.  Now let’s go over what it involves. Responsive web design isn’t just about changing the display size of a page, since that would do nothing to facilitate user experience (UX) on mobile platforms.  Responsive design’s most important element is the design, not just development or building.  The information on the page has to be scaled just like the display does: the most important elements on the page have to be identified, and those are the ones which have to appear on the smallest version of the page.  For example, take a look at the landing page of our Just Salad redesign: Now look at the …

By: lucia martinez
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Responsive Web Design 101

“Oh, and I want a mobile site, too.” This is a request that web designers hear all the time, and one that can open up a world of pain (and questions).  Do you mean an iPhone-friendly site, or a Blackberry one?  Maybe you meant iPad?  Kindle Fire?  Android?  Some other obscure and/or yet-to-be-invented tablet? But here’s the thing: maybe you don’t actually want a mobile site.  No, really, stay with me.  Because in order to reach the most mobile users, you’d have to have various mobile sites ready for various mobile devices, each with its own set of files and data to update. No, maybe what you actually want–and need, to stay competitive on today’s web–is a responsive website. When Command C’s head honcho, Sara, asked me to write about responsive design, …

By: lucia martinez
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Font Allergies

Technically these are typeface allergies.  Why?  Because fonts and typefaces are not the same thing.  Typeface refers to the design of the character, whereas font indicates the particular combination of typeface, size, and effect.  So Times New Roman is a typeface, but 12 pt. Times New Roman is a font. But basically they’re used interchangeably nowadays. The point is, whether you call it a typeface or a font, Comic Sans is nauseating.  

By: lucia martinez
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Case Study: The Brookeside Group

We’re really proud of our latest site launch, client relations firm The Brookeside Group. This was a full-scope redesign and development project that included rebranding, UI/UX design, and custom development on the WordPress platform.  Our mission was to create a fresh and cohesive look and feel that communicated the company’s accessibility and professionalism. We leveraged WordPress’ flexibility to create unique page templates for each interface, and built a custom demo plugin that allows users to register for demos directly through the website.  On the UX side of things, we strategically placed testimonials and calls to action to establish trust more quickly and offer a guided-path user experience. Here’s what it looked like before: And here’s what it looks like now:

By: lucia martinez
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Teamwork

It’s kind of a glorious thing, being an independent creative.  No one to report to, no one to monitor, no other opinions to consider, just you and, if you’re lucky, the client.  This is great if your business is as specific as your talent: you devise logos, or make letterpress stationery, or code sites. For web designers, things can get a bit stickier. There’s a very real possibility that as your business expands and your client list grows, you’ll be asked to do more.  Maybe you’ll start by farming out odd-jobs to freelancers here and there, and that might work for a while, but if you’re built to last, you’ll outgrow that model and need a more reliable structure. Then it’ll be time to put together a team. They can be independent …

By: lucia martinez
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Recruiting New Clients: Do’s and Don...

As Head of New Business, reaching out to prospective clients is (duh) a major part of my job description.  For a boutique web design firm like Command C, mass generic emails just aren’t part of the game plan, ever.  There’s a lot of preliminary research involved on this end since we’re pretty picky about our clients—I like to get a feel for their communication style and what their businesses entail before making contact.  This kills two birds with one stone: I can make an initial assessment of who the company is and how their web presence could be improved, and my introduction email is tailored to them.  There is nothing more unappealing than the generic “Dear Command C – We really like your work.  We would like to see if you are …

By: lucia martinez
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Networking Basics (And Then Some

Networking is my personal nightmare.  There’s something about putting yourself forward, about self-promotion, that really makes me uncomfortable.  What if you’re annoying?  Too pushy?  What if the other person is just listening politely and can’t wait to get out of there?  What if everybody hates you? Bad news first: if you want to make it in web design–or in almost any field–you’re going to have to network.  The more competition you have, the harder you’ll have to do it.  Yes, the first step is producing good work that you’re proud of, but if no one is aware of it, you’re never going to excel at what you do.  (Of course, sitting around waiting to be discovered is an option, but there are only so many Mariah Careys out there.)  There are two …

By: lucia martinez
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The Web Design Process: Critiques and Edits

Critiques and editing are two absolutely essential steps of any creative process. They are also potentially the most difficult ones. Critiques—actual critiques, not just positive reinforcement—involve feelings and egos, whether they’re yours or those of someone else.  Editing requires cutting, and cutting your baby brainchild is never easy. (At least not for most of us.)  We’re closely tied to the work we produce, and accepting that it needs to change and that other people see flaws that we’re unable (or unwilling) to see is really, really hard.  Unfortunately, most of the things we produce as professional web designers (or musicians, or artists, or writers, whatever) rely on public appeal for their success or failure: it’s better to account for other points of view before, not after, you launch. So how to get …

By: lucia martinez
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Creatively parched: Brainstorming tips and tricks

For many people (myself included), the most difficult part of any creative process is taking that first step.  Whether you’ve been asked to redesign a website from top to bottom or devise a logo from scratch, you have to start with an idea.  A fresh idea. How to find it? Here are some things that might help: 1. Go 1.0 and use pen and paper. Even better, use index cards and a Sharpie. Write out all the keywords relevant to your project in big, clear print. (Your client will have probably given a list of what they’re looking for. Start with that.)  Spread them out on the floor or a large table and start arranging and rearranging with the most important words at the top or in the middle, with everything else …

By: lucia martinez
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Meet Lucia

Hello! My name is Lucia Martinez, and you’ll be seeing a lot of me around the site in the future. I’ll be serving as Head of New Business and directing social media and communications for Command C, writing about everything from brainstorming basics to the differences between UI and UX on the blog and in the monthly newsletter. For the past six years, I’ve worked as a technical writer in the IT division of a major financial firm, learning the ins and outs of risk analysis, policy writing, and technical documentation.  Prior to that I worked as a copywriter and editorial assistant at a couple different magazines, composing advertising and editorial copy for print and digital publications. I’m super excited to be joining the Command C team and reading your thoughts and feedback on …

By: lucia martinez
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