Dan Roam Keynote on Visual Communication at NTC 2012

We’re here at the Nonprofit Technology Conference in San Francisco this week. This morning was a great keynote by Dan Roam, author of “The Back of the Napkin” & “Blah, Blah, Blah – What to Do When Words Don’t Work.”

Below are highlights of the presentation:

“We can solve our problems with pictures”

Dan’s primary point was that pictures allow us to solve problems far better than words, and unfortunately, pictures aren’t even involved in many of our largest problems.

“We can clarify our ideas with pictures.”

55% of our brain works to process visual information. Why spend the first 18 years in school learning how to be more verbal? Why do we only define intelligence by ability to verbalize?

“Whoever draws the best picture gets the funding”

This is something Dan repeated throughout the presentation. Whoever best describes the problem is the person most likely to get the funding. This is because:

  1. They are able to get buy-in as they help people understand the problem
  2. And also because the person who has drawn the problem has already began to map out how it works, who is involved, and is laying the foundation for the solution… so they are more able to come up with a solution

“Any sufficiently well drawn problem carries with it the beginnings of the solution”

How Our Brains Process Pictures

Our brains process visuals using 6 visual pathways. When drawing a picture of an idea, be sure to address all 6.

  1. What – Recognizes the objects in front of you
    This is the simplest recognition of an object
    The picture of this is a portrait
  2. How much – Quantitative – How many are there?
    The picture of the “Ho much” visual pathway is a chart
  3. Where – Distance – Where are they?
    The picture is a map
  4. When – There is no cause and effect, just sequence picture is a timeline
  5. How – Cause and effect based deduction of what we think we are seeing
    The picture is a flowchart
  6. Why – Make the connection of why something is happening

A Real Life Example – Dan Roam on Healthcare Reform

Dan has recently been in the news for using pictures to explain Healthcare Reform. He, along with the help of a Heathcare expert reviewed the 1,447 page Healthcare Reform bill and created a series of 40 visuals to explain it and posted them to Slideshare.

View more presentations from Dan Roam

The presentation is approaching 500,000 views. And Dan has been interviewed on news organizations like Fox News on the topic. Because he was best able to show a picture of the issue.

Similarly, Dan has worked with the government to create whitehouse.gov/whiteboard – which uses visuals to explain complex governmental issues.

More Nonprofit Technology Conference Goodness

It was a fantastic session & I can’t wait for more NTC goodness!

More resources from NTC 2012:

Houston Website Designers Seminar Explores Crucial Client Conversation Topics

Tuesday, I had the opportunity to attend the Houston Website Designer Series monthly seminar, hosted by the Art Institute of Houston.  Aaron Long,  a VP here at Schipul, was one of the presenters alongside Bo Bothe from BrandExtract, Joe Robbins from Joe Robbins Photography, and Tom King with Forward Marketing.

The presenters each shared stories and tips from their past experiences working on website design projects with clients to an audience of Houston developers, designers, and design students.  I gained new insight about how a design project can either go smoothly and stay within budget or go horribly wrong and become very costly solely on the basis of the types of conversations the agency or designer has with their clients throughout the project.

Designing a Website is Complicated

The process of building and designing a website is often more technical and time intensive than most people realize.  There is also the added challenge that our clients want a website for marketing their products and services to generate new leads.  This adds complex elements to the project to ensure proper branding, communication of the company and what you do, has calls to action and specific content for search engine marketing, plus custom development like a shopping cart for e-commerce, event registration, site login and permissions capabilities, etc.

Designing a complex website requires excellent 2-way communications between the client and the project managers and account executives.  As in every industry, this presents a challenge sometimes.  Lawyers struggle to explain complicated legal contracts with their clients, real estate agents have to explain the title and loan processes to clients, and doctors find ways to discuss very private, medical issues with their patients.

The Keys to Successful Communication

Education

As each of the presenters shared their tips for improving communication, Education was at the core of each success story.

Tom King on Designing Content Strategy

Tom King explained the complications of explaining to clients the importance of creating a content marketing strategy before the website design project kicks-off and integrating the strategy with the overall project.  Many clients want their website to be found in search engines and by new leads, and don’t realize how much time and research is involved in identifying the right keywords and creating the content that will go on the website before it launches and after it launches in an ongoing effort to boost search engine rankings.

To educate clients and prospects, Tom shares videos and resources from Google’s Zero Moment of Truth education series and shows clients these 2 videos that share the Coca Cola Content 2020 strategy:

Tom explained that he shows prospects these videos before the sales meeting because “if they watch these and don’t get it, then we won’t work well together.”

Bo Bothe on Designing Brand Identity

Bo Bothe’s presentation walked the audience through communicating with Marathon Oil’s executives as BrandExtract managed the project to redesign Marathon Oil’s entire brand identity.  According to Bo, education about every step of the project down to teaching Marathon Oil the finer aspects of just what a logo is, was critical to the success of the project.

You can see the results of the rebranding in this video:

Aaron Long on Designing Software

Aaron Long’s presentation stresses the importance of educating clients on the differences between software and preferences in order to keep projects within budget and time lines.  Aaron communicates to clients that the purpose of software is to lower costs, and content management systems are software that are already built and will lower the cost of the website project if clients use it.  Preferences, on the other hand, raise costs and when a client wants to customize software for their project, they need to be aware that custom software development is the most expensive thing in a project.

One tip Aaron shared during his presentation is that it is up to the designers and developers to ask clients more specific questions about what they envision the end result of the website to be.  Don’t just accept it when a client says they want a shopping cart feature with their website, dig deeper and find out what products the clients will sell with the shopping cart, what special functions will this cart need to do for selling products, shipping, collecting customer data, etc.  Aaron suggests showing clients working sites with examples of what is standard so clients can better understand what they are buying when they are buying the software.

Here’s Aaron’s presentation slides to view his other tips for educating clients on the more technical side of a website design project:

Joe Robbins on Designing Web Photography

Joe Robbins brought his experience in creating professional photographs and images for advertising in print and on the web to the seminar to share the importance of having quality photographs on your website. He discussed the conversation designers should have with clients and recommended educating clients on the costs associated with photographs along with the pros and cons for hiring a professional photographer compared to stock photos and photographs already owned by the client.

Joe explained that “a well designed website is very important, but if your choice of photography is poor, all that hard work could come to nothing.  A visually arresting site can be the difference between a sale/inquiry and the customer leaving your site prematurely.”

Website Design is NOT  About the Design

Although you might find this ironic, not one of the speakers for a website designer seminar spoke about graphic design for websites or talking to clients about design  for the website projects.  They all stressed the importance of creating a website that marketed and sold your company online to obtain new customers.

Tom King’s remark was that content brought new visitors to your website via search engines and not the design or appearance of the site.

Bo Bothe insightfully said “You can’t just make things pretty anymore, you have to make things that work.”

“Funny makes money, not necessarily pretty” was the comment from Aaron Long regarding creating websites that drive revenue.

And Joe Robbins demonstrated how to incorporate quality photography into your website for a more visually appealing site that reflected your brand in the same way companies use glossy print advertisements offline.

The presenters recommend that we steer our focus away from the flash-based, graphic-heavy websites that make it difficult to add and edit content on and also are poorly ranked by search engines.  Instead, focus on a strategy that integrates your marketing efforts with your website design.

This seminar explained the importance of talking with and educating clients and hopefully the videos and presentations I’ve included from the seminar will give you a better understanding of the process involved with building a complex website.  I encourage you to attend the next Houston Website Designers Seminar coming up in July if you are interested in learning more.  The seminars are always free to attend.

If you want to learn more about Schipul’s website design process to build complex websites that generate leads and revenue for companies, contact us and check out our training calendar for upcoming web marketing events and webinars we’re hosting!

 

Our Favorite Facebook Pages

Some of us at Schipul spend a lot of time on Facebook. A LOT. But don’t judge, it’s totally part of our job. Whether we’re sprucing up a profile picture for a client, building out an iframe, checking out the latest Facebook updates (and there’s ALWAYS an update) or trolling to see who’s doing what with their audience, this social networking site commands a good deal of our attention. As such, we’ve seen it all when if comes to the best and worst of Facebook fan pages. Check out the faves from some of the Schipul staff:

Katrina’s Favorites

No surprise here. Our fashionista/Creative Services Team Account Executive, Katrina Esco, LOVES how Nordstrom uses their Facebook page to highlight their services, and they keep fans coming back with beauty how-to videos hosted by their beauty director using a Beauty Central app.


Katrina also gives Sephora’s Facebook page props for always keeping their content fresh with new promotions as demonstrated on their Exclusive Deals tab. But Katrina gives Sephora the most points for recognizing the importance of photos and fan engagement on their page by feeding in customer pics taken in photobooths installed in select retail locations. You can even browse by location and date.

 

Scooter’s Favorites

As for me (Katrina *Scooter* Kokoska), I get a kick out of the Skittles Facebook fan page. And to be perfectly honest, I don’t like the candy even a little, just their marketing. The Skittles page encourages fan engagement by soliciting fan photos and featuring a different “Rainbro of the Week” each week as their profile picture. Also, their posts are random, silly and make me smile (and their not self-promotional). My favorite random post from them this week: “Sometimes I sneak up on my alarm clock when it’s sleeping and yell ‘How does it feel!‘”  

I also have mad love for the (client) Tony Chachere’s page. Now this page doesn’t flaunt a lot of bells and whistles. Why? Because it doesn’t have to. Tony’s skips the games and apps and gets right down to what Facebook is all about: Community. They post content about real people doing real things in real life, and their fans love it.

Erica’s Favorites

Creative Services Team Graphic Designer, Erica Bogdan, totally digs Red Bull’s Facebook page for their fun videos and games, and loves the aesthetics of the Anthropologie page because: “It’s sooooo beautiful and makes my closet sad.” But Erica’s favorite page? Franklin the Dog of course.

 

Garrett’s Favorites

Creative Services Team Assistant Account Executive Garrett Thomas has some interesting favorites of his own. While he doesn’t ‘Facebook like’ the Barbie page, he thinks they do a great job of bringing together Barbie’s multiple personas in a palatable format for their target market.

And he loves the Stride Gum page because, well, who doesn’t love a Yeti with a sense of humor?

What are some of your favorite Facebook fanpages?

Friday Fun: Eye Candy, Ahoy! Six Beautiful & Current Trends in Web Design

Here at Schipul we kinda sorta REALLY ❤ website design. And as a designer, I love spending hours scoping the internet in search of beautiful sites that push the envelope in terms of skill and creativity. I’ve come up with a list of six of my favorite popular web design trends (for designers and non-designers alike!) to catch a glimpse of what’s out there on the web and maybe give   some ideas for anyone thinking about updating their own website!

 

#1. Scrolly-Scroll

Scrolly-Scroll is what I like to refer to for sites that seem to go infinitely horizontally or vertically with content built onto just one page. The navigation of the site will not direct you to another page but will take you somewhere else on the homepage. This technique is definitely not for everyone (especially for folks that have a lot of content on their page) but for people with minimal content and a need to stand out from the crowd, Scrolly-Scroll is a fun site option for navigation.

http://deda.me/
http://www.thecombine.org/
http://www.kevinkristenwedding.com/

 

#2. Illustration Skillz

Site Illustration is a growing trend with site design and can be done in a variety of ways – vector graphics, simple hand illustration, collage,   water color effects. The possibilities with illustration are endless but it’s also important to note that some website illustrations can get too overwhelming and distract from the content. Strong and memorable sites are able to find a happy balance with their illustrative graphics and the content of their website.

http://www.meomi.com
http://www.kutztown.edu/acad/commdes/
http://www.eventipity.com/

 

#3. Texture Love

Texture is something many designers are beginning to frequently use to add more depth to their layout. Whether texture is   just the background or to various elements of the website like buttons, a logo, the navigation, etc., adding texture to a website can make the site feel more personable, tangible, and welcoming.

http://www.dixonsapples.com/
http://www.thismanslife.co.uk/
http://www.growcase.com/

 

#4. GINORMOUS Images

For a minimalist effect some site designers go for large images on a page with small navigation that sometimes almost seems secondary. Sites that use large graphics and backgrounds are visually eye catching but may not be the best for navigation and sites with large amounts of content to share. Some sites with large graphics and backgrounds like to add a dynaminc element which changes out the picture periodically, giving the viewer more eye candy.

http://womens.timberland.com/
http://momentskis.com/
http://vaai.nl/

 

#5. Type Treatment

Some site designers like to completely shift their focus away from graphics like large images or illustration and focus solely on typography to make their design stand out. This sites give prominence to type by making large words and numbers the sole feature of the layout. Adding texture and using specialty fonts (aka NOT papyrus or comic sans) help draw the viewers eye to the beautiful lettering.

http://www.givebeyond.me/
http://lerecorddumonde.be/
http://brockkenzler.com/

 

#6. Color Minimalism

Some websites have a minimum color scheme to achieve a certain aesthetic. This simplicity can be nice while others may view the layout as dull and not “pop” out as much as colorful websites. Color minimalism is definitely a personal preference, just like all the other trends I mentioned earlier, and should be used only if it matches the content of your site.

http://walkingwallofwords.com/
http://www.tdhcreative.com/
http://kuvva.com/

 

Feel like I forgot to mention a web trend you love? Drop a note in the comments and let us know which trends you’re really loving right now!

Branding Guidelines: Top 10 Tips

Branding Guidelines

This post comes as a blast from the past by our very own JJ Lassberg – she’s taken a new direction in her creative and tech world, but remains ever a Schipulite! Enjoy her great thoughts around branding!

In a world saturated by marketing ads and promotions, where children watch more than 40,000 ads of TV alone,   it’s hard gain the competitive edge.

Here at Schipul, we believe there are 10 Top Branding Guidelines that can help you stand out in the crowd:

  1. Focus on the #1 thing you provide
  2. Get a short, Clear Tagline that tells me what you are going to do for me
  3. Be consistent with your branding – don’t change it because YOU get bored, it’s all about ME the customer
  4. Show that your are the best by choosing top quality, up to date graphics and design
  5. Use Your Branding EVERYWHERE
  6. Share your branding with a press kit – give people what they need to talk about you
  7. Train everyone in your organization to say the same thing about what you do
  8. Let Your fans rave – them where and how to do it
  9. A bad reputation is louder and more demanding that even the best branding
  10. Let go… just a little. Be Fun, Kind and Grateful to anyone willing to engage and share your branding online.

For the full Branding Guidelines – view the Slideshare Presentation Below: