Sometimes, as a designer, we spend too much time on the computer. There. I said it. To all my design professors out there – you were right.
But, occasionally an opportunity comes along to do something different. That’s why I love District Bliss.
A month or so ago I got an email from Sara and Sarah asking if I’d do the paper products and giveaways for their DIY event in April – Makeup with Ariel Lewis. And of course, I jumped at the chance. Working with District Bliss is awesome, because I can stretch my creativity, and do something – anything I want to – hands on.
For the DIY event, I did Mason Jar takeaways with burlap ribbon, name tags and Hershey’s Kisses. I also did hand sewn notebooks for all the participants to write in while taking the class. Images of the final products below.
One of the best parts of going to the event was seeing participants actually using the name tags and notebooks.
Thanks, District Bliss, for another fun event! I hope to collaborate again (and again).
I went to a networking event recently, and left with one thing on my mind – what is effective networking and are we doing it?
I felt as if a good deal of people at the event were simply there to collect business cards. While exchanging cards is important, unless we have a memorable interaction, I’m not likely to use it.
So what would make me remember you?
Before you hand me your card, have a conversation with me. Not just about business, but about the area, the event, whatever strikes your fancy. Sometimes a witty anecdote can go a long way to break the ice.
One of the people that stood out to me was a woman I met early on – who later came back to introduce me to someone she thought might be able to use my services. Not only did she listen, but she made an effort to connect me with someone else. I’ll definitely be keeping her card.
Be a partner.
Rather than a client/contractor relationship, I like to think that I am a business partner – helping my clients make their business great through design. I take this approach to networking as well. I want a long term relationship with the people I meet, so I don’t mind if I don’t get a card from everyone in the room. One or two in depth conversations may be enough. Who knows?
After all this, why is this on the list? Have an interesting business card can be a good conversation starter. It is also a great leave behind so I can contact you later. Just don’t use it as a replacement for a conversation.
As we write out our holiday cards, we can’t help but reflect on this year, and all the milestones that we’ve accomplished. From going full-time in February to sponsoring an event with District Bliss in November, it has been quite a year. Below are our 10 favorite moments of 2015 – the year in review.
Stacy Kleber Design went full-time!
Vader joins Stacy Kleber Design as our first fuzzy Office Assistant.
Completed signage and event design for the IB Conference of the Americas 2015.
Helped to organize Happy Hour with Freelance DC.
Sponsored an event at Kendra Scott with District Bliss.
Relocated our office the Gaithersburg, MD. (Don’t worry! We didn’t go far!)
Launched the new website.
Spent time at The Wilbert Group office in Atlanta.
Thank you all for being a part of this year! We can’t wait to see what the next one brings…
We are excited to share with you some of the official photos from the District Bliss event! All photos courtesy of Kathy Lynn Photography.
In November we were a featured vendor for District Bliss at the Kendra Scott store in Bethesda. If you haven’t checked out Kendra Scott yet, you definitely should stop by – the jewelry is beautiful, and they have a color bar where you can chose your stones and make a unique piece that is truly your own.
For the event, we created these amazing thank you cards, signs, coasters and giveaways in Kendra Scott yellow. The designs were a big hit, and we are excited to share them with you!
Official pictures coming soon, but until then, enjoy this sneak preview!
As I mentioned in our newsletter, November is going to be an exciting month for us. We are getting ready to be a participating vendor at the District Bliss November Social at Kendra Scott in Bethesda. If you aren’t familiar with District Bliss, you are missing out. Run by Sarah and Sara, an amazing photographer and wedding planner, the events are a chance for creatives and wedding vendors to mix, mingle and socialize while learning about each others businesses. Each event has featured vendors in a variety of categories who provide work for the event – from venues to florists to photographers, and in this case, designers, which is the role I’ll be filling November 5th. Come back for a sneak preview of what I’m working on soon, and in the mean time, sign up for the event here! It will be a blast.
For those who missed it, I spent one night last week with Fuel DC teaching small business owners tips to create simple images for their websites and social media. If you aren’t familiar with Fuel DC, they run a few events a year in order to help entrepreneurs learn skills that will assist them in running their business.
While having a designer create custom graphics for you every day would be an ideal scenario, as small business owners, we all know that this would be neither cost effective nor realistic for someone who is either starting out, or is a single person business. That is why we need to find simple, fast and lucrative ways to promote on a budget.
I covered some of the websites that I shared in my blog post earlier in March as a teaser for the event. This week I’ll recap some of the tips that I gave on designing your images for maximum effectiveness.
Keep your fonts simple, and stay away from cliches like Comic Sans. Script fonts are ok, but be wary of using them on images that will be used small, such as photos you are inserting into tweets. Script can get hard to read at small sizes.
A color wheel is a great cheat sheet for choosing colors. Do not overlay colors on opposite side of the color wheel, or they will appear to “vibrate” to the eye (for example you wouldn’t overlay yellow text over purple, or bright red text over bright green). Stick with dark on light, and light on dark for maximum contrast.
Overlaying Text on Images
When you want to overlay text on an image, choose something that is either blurred out so that the text won’t compete, or an image with a large blank area such as a sky or a grassy field, where the text will be easily visible.
Keep your message short and simple. People skim their social media, and if they don’t get the message within a few seconds, the opportunity to hook them in is lost.
Even with all the options out there for creating images, be true to your brand. People build a relationship and come to expect a certain image from you as a business. If you start giving them conflicting messages, and images that don’t fit your brand, you will begin to build a level of distrust with the customer.
Last week I had the pleasure of attending the DotGovDesign Conference in DC. I’d like to share some of what I learned with you here, to give you a taste of what is going on in local government design.
Creating Motion Graphics & Video Communications – Department of Labor
The first session that I attended was Creating Motion Graphics & Video, presented by the Department of Labor. They showed their video on family leave, as well as some other interesting videos. A favorite highlight in this talk was the animation at the end of the video – where the wings flap slightly to animate the logo. While many people think of government design as restrictive, the Department of Labor staff proved that there is interesting and modern work going on, and that you should seek to constantly challenge the status quo to make each design better than the last.
Design Federal – Jason Schupbach
The next session I attended was the keynote by Jason Schupbach from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). He talked about the history of the NEA, including the many grants they have sponsored to help better the arts. These grants have touched many people, including some of the great designers like Ivan Chermayoff – who produced “The Design Necessity” for the first Federal Design Assembly. Jason mentioned that the NEA funds about 50% of design grants submitted – so start applying and get some funding!
Building Confidence in your Agency’s Leadership for New Designs and Solutions – IDEO
The next session I attended was with IDEO, and was about building confidence in design. They gave us 5 basic principles – design for someone specific, build props, everyone in government is a service designer, make the design process transparent and design for the way decisions are made.
Design for someone specific suggested that the more specific you get, the more broadly applicable your solution will be.
Build props is about making your project easy to imagine. Showing people a prototype or sketch can go a long way in helping you both sort out the wrinkles in your design, as well as get your design approved. It starts a dialogue.
Everyone in the government is a service designer brought forth the notion that as a designer, we can empower others to see themselves as valuable contributors to the design process.
Design for the way decisions are made was one of the most insightful parts of this talk – it implies that instead of trying to fight the process, we can use it to our advantage to help get our ideas through the decision making process. It seems so obvious, and yet it is something that many people can easily overlook.
Could Design Help End Extreme Poverty? – USAID
After lunch, I attended the talk by USAID on “Could Design End Extreme Poverty?” Again we saw video design for USAID, which seems to be an extremely effective way to engage people for cause advertising. Many of the work at USAID is done in conjunction with Ogilvy, a well known design firm. The ads were engaging and tugged at the heart strings.
Designing for 1600 Penn – Ashleigh Axios
Designing for 1600 Penn was the talk that I was most looking forward to at the conference. Ashleigh’s talk was full of interesting tidbits and insights. Some of my favorite quotes and insights were:
Designers are creative problem solvers at heart.
In house designers have a special kind of endurance.
It is a little easier to get things done when the White House has done it before you.
Mistakes will happen. Roll with them.
40% of lower income families only check internet on mobile, so think about how you strip your site down for that screen size.
Ashleigh showed us an extensive wall plan for the enhanced State of the Union address – with layers upon layers of infographics, the President’s speech and key facts that could be interspersed for viewers.
She also consistently proved that no matter where you work or who you work for, design is design and things happen. From a slide not showing up on the President’s Powerpoint to “handling the crazy,” it seems life at 1600 Penn is not so different from life at our other in house design studios.
Thank you AIGA DC for organizing the DotGovDesign Conference!
With so much great information, it was impossible to put it all in one post. So here are more insights on the up and coming web trends from An Event Apart day 2.
Responsive Design is Still Hard/Easy! Be Afraid/Don’t Worry! – Daniel Mall (@danielmall)
Daniel Mall was a dynamic speaker. He primarily talked about HOW we work – our process and how it should change and adapt as much as web design does.
“Why do we model our agencies or teams around the outdated idea of the assembly line? We are turning web into a commodity.”
He says we should be working in a framework, not a process. A process involves predictability, with the same result every time. A framework has structure, but still allows for surprise and innovation.
Mall pointed out that so many of us are working in a way that we work alone until the next person takes over.
“When we all work in our own “lanes” we race to the finish and leave the others to do their part alone.”
Our process should be less about passing the baton, and more about agile framework which allows for working on all aspects of a product at the same time. This allows everyone to contribute ideas.
“The Superfriend Model: No one is the boss, just get whoever you need for your project at the time.”
Another interesting insight is that of a performance budget – structure how fast a page on the site should load by giving it a budget.
“To appear faster than your competitor’s website, yours needs to load atleast 20% faster.”
A third great idea is a visual inventory. In my eyes, this is like a mood board taken to the next level. It is a way to show the client what they want, without spending weeks creating a comp they may hate. For example, Mall used CNN. Imagine they want their site to be “fun.” Put their logo on an already existing “fun” site and see if that is what they have in mind before you move too far in that direction. Design is about having the right conversations with the client.
“Ask – are you sure your brand wants to wear those clothes?”
“If you listen hard enough, clients will tell you about their brand.”
The Art of Anticipation – Derek Featherstone (@feather)
Derek Featherstone started off by putting us in a state of mind about context. So often we view context as device, but this is not true.
“Context is time, location, proximity, device, state of mind, capabilities, activity, interest and interaction.”
He spoke about how to use the knowledge you have of these things to your advantage, to give the consumer a better end product. His example was a conference – why not make the schedule appear first the day of the conference, when that is what everyone is looking for.
“Since the schedule is the most important thing the day of the event, it should be easy to find.”
Another interesting term Featherstone brought up was Minimum Viable Interaction. What is the least amount of interaction someone can have with your site to still understand it.
“Can someone interact with your site by only reading the headings?”
He also brought up HOW we work – that we should track modes of interaction to schedule our difficult projects at the time when we are at peak productivity.
“Content in context is actually king.”
Designing Engagement – Jaimee Newberry (@jaimeejaimee)
Jaimee Newberry introduced us to brand personality. She encourages us to bring brand personality to everything that people touch within our design.
“Humanize your products. Who is my product? If my product were a celebrity…”
She encouraged us to be an ambassador of empathy – how does the user feel? Your ultimate goal is to get your user to feel like you understand them. Build a relationship of trust with them.
“Create an escape for the never ending swipe-through screen. It shows empathy.”
“Be an ambassador for the value and substance of empathy. Your product needs this.”
Newberry taught us that a simple text change can make a huge difference.
“Twitter changed from “What are you doing?” to “What’s happening?” to better engage users.”
“The simplest change of words can change everything for your brand.”
“”What are you doing?” makes you feel like, who cares? “What’s happening?” makes it about passions.”
She showed how putting a good spin on a bad situation can mean everything for your brand.
“Advertising. “Come in and try the worst meatball sandwich that one guy on Yelp ever had. IN HIS LIFE.” Put a positive spin on it.”
Everyone wants to try that sandwich now…
SVG is for Everybody – Chris Coyier (@chriscoyier)
“In the nerd calendar, it is the year of the SVG!” – enough said.
Chris Coyier packed an incredible amount of information into his presentation of svg. It might be best for me to post this in sound bites, as he was really engaging…
“SVG: You can use it, you can use it now. And it is easy to use.”
“But it’s just for logos and “flat design,” right? NO!”
“Illustrator just SPEAKS svg. Illustrator can be yours for $19.99/month.”
“This is an eps. I don’t even remember what this is anymore, but I can open it in illustrator (and save as an svg).”
So essentially, what I got was that an svg is an eps turned to code. The number of vector points determines the size of the svg.
“You can link an svg as an image or you can put the code right into your html.”
Svgs mean worry free resizing, because there are no pixels. They also mean that you will have a constantly editable image, because it isn’t dependent on going back to the source file.
By far, my favorite example of a use for svg from the presentation are the responsive icons. You can see them here – http://responsiveicons.co.uk
Designing Using Data – Sarah Parmenter (@sazzy)
Sarah Parmenter taught us the importance of data in design. She warned us against being designers who are part of the culture who design just to make things pretty.
“Being a good designer is not enough. We need to be able to tell WHY.”
Data helps us to justify decisions without bringing personal opinion to the table.
“How can we get everyone on the same page without bringing personal preference to the table?”
“Nobody has an excuse to make an uninformed decision anymore.”
Parmenter also introduced us to personas – she suggested hanging images of your customer personas in the office to remind you of who your clients are and what you are aiming for.
She talked about social media metrics. For a salon she worked on, there was a 98% drop in bookings when you advertised openings but left the booking link off the Facebook post. People don’t want to have to make an effort – you need to make it easy for them to interact.
“In order to maximize Facebook, you have to have a call to action in every post.”
“Instead of hiding struggles, allow them to humanize you with your customer.”
Parmenter gave us another great example of thinking like the customer – keeping umbrellas by the door for customers, so that if it rains and they just got their hair straightened, they can take one.
Overall, I thought AEADC was fantastic this year. Last year, I felt like it focused more on responsive design (which was also great). This year, I felt it was more about the customer – user experience, connecting with the user, etc.
If you get the opportunity to attend, I highly recommend it.