Non-Profit Web Design: Acumen Fund

After Hurricane Sandy tore through Brooklyn a few weeks ago, we’re more aware than ever of how much we need the helpful companies out there who are doing everything they can to help the world. This month we’re taking a look at some companies who are doing just that – and backing it up with awesome web design and UI/UX. Acumen Fund is a NYC based non-profit that has been working to combat poverty on a global scale. Their investment of time, energy and resources has continued to create awareness and generate funds to better the lives of millions of people around the world. One of the best ways an organization can reach new audiences and celebrate a cause is by having a beautiful and easy-to-use website that clearly defines their identity …

By: Mary Barbour
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Case Study for Senior Planet

Last week, we went live with our redesign of the Senior Planet  website! Senior Planet is a social and informational site for youthful seniors who are still active in the community and want to stay hooked in.  They wanted us to update their site to make it easy to navigate, with a user-friendly interface that their audience would respond to. We did a complete redesign on WordPress, updating their image with vivid colors and  big pictures, bringing the most essential information to the foreground. We used large print and bold menu tabs to facilitate user navigation. We also built a custom events calendar that can be easily updated with new content. Lastly, we made sure the site was optimized for social media sharing in order to increase their visibility. Just for point …

By: Mary Barbour
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Need Tech Support After Hurricane Sandy

No matter what people try to say about New Yorkers, residents of this city know the importance of helping each other out, especially in hard times. Hurricane Sandy tore up much of the Northeastern coastline and has left many people in need of help. I feel so inspired every time I glance at Twitter and Facebook and see the newsfeeds buzzing with info on volunteer opportunities from both individuals and big organizations. If you haven’t already, hop on Twitter and search #sandy to see for yourself. In addition to the thousands of folks who continue to donate money, food, blood, supplies, water and medical help, the generosity extends even further, to people who might be in danger of a more gradual harm to their income and well-being. Companies are now offering free …

By: Mary Barbour
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To Redesign or Not To Redesign

How do you know when it’s time to redesign your site? Marketing research has shown that redesigning every 2 to 3 years is most effective, but following generic rules like that can sometimes lead you down the wrong path. After all, there’s no sense in changing your site just for the sake of change.  As Paul Scrivens says in What is Design, “Don’t redesign just to do something new, redesign because you have a better answer to the question.” It’s also important to note that humans are averse to change! We are. As quick-thinking and innovative as we can be, we still resist it with everything we’ve got. If you have a lot of users who have grown familiar with your interface, or even just a few very dedicated ones, beware of potentially alienating …

By: Mary Barbour
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By Design: My Role at Command C

I’m rolling into my sixth month here at Command C, which seems like a good time to reflect on what it’s been like for me, as  a Fiction Writer, to get involved with a web design team. I’ve learned a lot these past months and been met with many perks and many  challenges (like how I’m currently resisting  the urge to use allegory and metaphor to further explain this feeling). Sara and I crossed paths through a 3rd-degree connection – one of those “Hey I have a friend who has a friend who runs a rad company who needs a copywriter!” kinds of things. I’d worked at tech startups before, but, let’s be honest, writers are not usually the people you want fiddling around with your hard drive. Sara had a different …

By: Mary Barbour
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Engaging a Design Firm: Step by Step

We hear a lot of stories from people who have searched and searched for a design firm to work with, only to end up having a crap experience that leaves them disappointed.  We want to save you the time and money wasted in this process by clarifying what exactly is important to look for in a designer and how to make sure you find a client/designer relationship that really works. Step 1: Don’t jump into a relationship too soon. This is possibly the most frequent mistake people make,  and it’s a big one.  You don’t decide to get married on the first date (I hope), so why would you get involved with a design firm before getting to know them? The relationship should be long and fruitful and, if handled well on …

By: Mary Barbour
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MarketPress: eCommerce thru WordPress

MarketPress is another eCommerce solution to weigh against the options we’ve been discussing in weeks prior. How does it stack up? MarketPress is developed specifically for WordPress, which means that if you love using WP, you might find it suits you well. Working with your developer, you’ll be able to fully integrate your cart with your website – everything is editable from the same admin, ooh la la! On the flipside, MarketPress is a plugin that was adapted for a blogging platform that evolved into a full CMS. What this means for you is that although it’s designed to perform eCommerce, it’s working from a structure that wasn’t. Whereas the heartbeat of  Magento and  Shopify is eCommerce. MarketPress isn’t always as intuitive as one might hope. We’ve heard clients use words like ‘clunky’ and ‘cumbersome’ when …

By: Mary Barbour
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Shopify: eCommerce Made Easy

Shopify is an eCommerce solution that we like because it is smart, powerful and super easy to use. If you’re small merchant, you’re only selling a limited number of products or you’re doing all the shipping and distribution yourself, there’s a good chance Shopify is the right solution for you. The difference between Shopify and Magento is that Shopify is a hosted solution as opposed to open source, like Magento. This means that your store, sales, and other files exist and are accessible on the web as opposed to on your own server. There are benefits and drawbacks to this, but for a person or business who just wants a simple online store, Shopify has all the stuff you’ll need. Another great thing about Shopify is that it is highly customizable. You …

By: Mary Barbour
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Magento: eCommerce on Steroids

  Magento is one of the eCommerce platforms we like best. What do we like about it? For one, it’s amazingly customizable, which is kind of our shtick. It’s a super robust, open source software, which basically means the sky is the limit as far as what you want it to look like and accomplish – it’s also embedded with mobile optimization for making your eStore mobile ready. Magento’s multi-store checkout allows you to host several different sites/stores on one Magento installation, with a single checkout. (Check out GAP’s site for a great example of this). Shipping can also be seemlessly integrated, which is great for companies that have hefty distribution needs. Magento, like WP, is an open source software – offering you a set of files to download which you can tweak …

By: Mary Barbour
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eCommerce 101: Magento vs. Shopify vs. MarketPress

eCommerce is the general term for business transactions that occur on the internet. Everytime you shop for birthday gifts online, transfer money with PayPal, check your bank balance or bid on an awesome pair of roller skates on eBay, you are engaging in eCommerce. We primarily use three different platforms for building  eCommerce sites: Magento, Shopify, and a WordPress Plugin called MarketPress.  A lot of times, our clients want to know what the all around “best” platform is. But it’s not that simple! There are lots of different factors that help us determine which one will work best for each particular client. We encourage people to ask themselves: “What is the Number One Goal of my site?” (Remember: Your Website is an ecosystem and everything within it should support your main goal!)  Are you planning …

By: Mary Barbour
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Case Study for BCI Systems

BCI Systems came to us for help with creating a new brand identity and website. They are a modern, forward thinking business and they wanted a simple, clean website to capture that essence and convey it to their clients. We did a complete overhaul, converting the old site to a single-page layout with simple parallax animations. These are images on the site that move in response to the users scrolling. It’s a nice way of animating a page without making the images too distracting – they only move when you scroll, not when you’re stopped on a page to read text. We also redesigned The Manager logo to make it more cohesive with the updated brand. We worked together with their team to organize their content into a hierarchy that makes the …

By: Mary Barbour
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Sites We’re Itching to Redesign: Yale...

After taking a look at MIA’s fanpage last week, we stumbled upon the Yale University School of Art site. WTF? Apparently, we’re not the first to come across this eyesore – the Reddit community already has a forum devoted to the University’s somewhat alarming design mishaps. First things first: we get that this is an experiment. Art students are…artsy. So the idea that this site is a “wiki” page where students and faculty are all given editing access is creative, for sure. But when the result is heaps of poorly disseminated information scattered over pages and pages of big textboxes hovering over low-res .gifs, we sort of wish they’d handed over the web design aspects to…well, us. Having an interactive, “installation piece” for a website is certainly a creative thing to do. …

By: Mary Barbour
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