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It’s all about the brand

by Jose Luis Cortes 28. May 2013 15:10

 

In my opinion there are many things that can and should be used out-of-the-box when it comes to SharePoint. Experts agree that many developers will try to implement something that SharePoint already has, only because they are not aware that a particular feature is already available within the platform. But branding is not one of them. A SharePoint site coming right out the box will look blue and white.

While it may work perfectly well, it just doesn’t attract the user to work on it; it looks dry.  People may use it for a while because they have to, but the effort could easily die weeks or months later, especially if the site is not being used to post or use new information. So it becomes a catch 22: The employees don’t use it because it has no content, and our experts don’t post content because the employees don’t use it.  How do we break the cycle and how do we prevent it from even starting in the first place?

I believe a good branding can prevent the indifference of the user.

A branded SharePoint site includes our logos, colours and whole corporate image, inviting the user to work with us on a warm, friendly and familiar environment; an environment what will make them feel good.

Some experts will go as far as saying that in a proper branded environment, users will not refer to it as “SharePoint” but will use an internal, relevant name for them. For example in a Record Label, the Intranet could be known as the “Gold Record.”
Branding is a key factor in the user adoption of our platform. It is also something that cannot be improvised. Branding must be planned in advance and several areas may want to participate in the branding effort, such as:

  • Top Management
  • Marketing
  • Graphic Design
  • IT and of course
  • The developers of the SharePoint implementation, regardless whether they are internal or external resources.

The future intranet users from all different companies can also be included in the branding push, in the form of surveys or small competitions where they may win fun prizes in exchange of ideas or initiatives. 

These activities will also help them want and enjoy the Intranet.

In the words of a wise man:

"If you want to build a ship, don't drum up people together to collect wood and don't assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea."

 

Written by Jose Cortes

Konverge Custom Software - Jose Cortes

Jose Cortes works on Sales and Marketing at Konverge. With more than 10 years of experience in his field, he helps prospects, clients, and friends understand their business needs and define the technological goals that will later materialize into IT Systems. Originally from Mexico City, he has made Canada his new home. You can find him on .

 


About Konverge Digital Solutions Corporation: With roots dating back to 1994, we are a focused Information Technology consulting firm that provides an unmatched level of personalized service and efficiency. Our mission is simple, to build value-creating applications that eliminate the manual business processes in your organization, enabling your team to achieve and exceed business goals and objectives.
Our company is focused on your company’s ROI.

Managing Productive Visual Design Reviews

by Christine Harris 14. February 2013 09:56

By Kim Cullen from Adaptive Path

Raise your hand if you’ve ever been a part of a design review that included any of the following comments:

 

[ ] I hate green.

 

[ ] Can you make it “pop?”

 

[ ] Just tweak it around a bit and we’ll have another review.

 

[ ] Make the logo bigger.

 

[ ] Can you just make it look like Apple?

 

It’s a common challenge in visual design: creating a feedback structure that respects the subjective nature of visual design, yet also generates actionable items for moving forward. In reviews, clients need to know that their opinions are heard and the design team needs to walk away confident that they have clear next steps. This can be especially challenging when reviewing visual design comps, often considered more subjective then the no-nonsense wireframe.

View the full article: http://www.adaptivepath.com/ideas/beyond-i-hate-green-managing-productive-visual-design-reviews

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Graphic Design

Empty States Design

by Christine Harris 6. February 2013 17:00

It’s one thing to get someone to sign up or download your app, but to get them to use and engage with it is another.  Users need to easily find direction and sense of purpose which is why onboarding is so important.  Don’t forget about the empty spaces too.  These screens are great ways to delight users with design and let them know what’s happening.  

Empty States is a tumblr blog that collects screenshots of Empty States and gives critiques:

http://emptystates.tumblr.com/

A great source for inspiration for empty states.

 

 

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End User | Graphic Design | Interface Design

Retina Display and The Future of UI Interfaces

by Christine Harris 5. February 2013 16:31

What is old is new again when it comes to UI.  The shift away from Skeuomorphic design to a Flat design and design for Retina display brings print design to the screen.

Skeuomorphic design made popular by Apple has been both admired and hated by designers.  While the skill taken to painstakingly create illustrations that are derivative representations of real things is not easy, critiques of skeumorphism see is as lazy design, meaning it cannot evolve, lacks innovation, and is actually contributing to a devolution of design.  After all, where can one evolve from derivative representation?  Make it look more like the real item it represents? 

 

 

Enter Flat design, the backlash to skeumorphism.   Google, Facebook, and Windows 8 are good examples of this style.  Flat design has been championed as the revolution screen design has been waiting for: it’s innovative, honest, and feels like a cool crisp drink on a hot summer’s day.  Perhaps it was Apples rich Corinthian leather texture used in their Calendar that made designers say “This has gone too far”.

 

 

Skeumorphism held a special role in UI design way back when we were making computers for every household and every kind of user.  The job of designers at this time was to make technology friendlier and a great way to do this was to make something new seem familiar and even better, add elements of nostalgia (for example, Apples vintage microphone voice recording app, or using a rotary phone dialer interface). However, this generation is now tech savvy and we have the following generations that have come along.  The continued use of real life metaphors starts to become a little insulting at this point.  

The shift away from skeuomorphism also has to do with the introduction of Retina display.  We realize that skeumorphism looked so great when it came out because is created a beautiful interface on top of the crude 163 pixel per inch resolution.  On a Retina display like in print, skeuomorphic techniques fail and look ridiculous.  For this we need to look to another design strategy – print design.   As John Gruber has mentioned:

 “The trend away from skeuomorphic special effects in UI design is the beginning of the retina-resolution design era. Our designs no longer need to accommodate for crude pixels. Glossy/glassy surfaces, heavy-handed transparency, glaring drop shadows, embossed text, textured material surfaces — these hallmarks of modern UI graphic design style are (almost) never used in good print graphic design. They’re unnecessary in print, and, the higher the quality of the output and more heavy-handed the effect, the sillier such techniques look. They’re the aesthetic equivalent of screen-optimized typefaces like Lucida Grande and Verdana. They work on sub-retina displays because sub-retina displays are so crude. On retina displays, as with high quality print output, these techniques are revealed for what they truly are: an assortment of parlor tricks that fool our eyes into thinking we see something that looks good on a display that is technically incapable of rendering graphic design that truly looks good.

 

If you want to see the future of software UI design, look to the history of print design”

 

Moving forward, do what is real and looks good.  

 

Some examples of Flat Design:

 

Squarespace - http://www.squarespace.com

 

Nest - http://www.nest.com/

 

Layervault - https://layervault.com/

 

Lost World’s Fairs (Print Poster Style) - http://lostworldsfairs.com/moon/

 

Justin Timberlake (Magazine Style) http://justintimberlake.com/main/

 

 

The New Yorker (print newspaper style) http://www.newyorker.com/

 

Sources:

The Trend Against Skeuomorphic Textures and Effects in User Interface Design, by John Gruber

http://daringfireball.net/2013/01/the_trend_against_skeuomorphism

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End User | Graphic Design | Interface Design

Logo Design Process –Field Eagle

by Christine Harris 17. January 2012 11:48

 

Field Eagle is a field inspection application that enables facility managers and building owners to perform property inspections.  Konverge partnered with Motion Computing using their rugged F5v tablet as an ideal machine to make Field Eagle a durable product in the field.

Dino Bozzo, the creative visionary for Field Eagle wanted to create the Field Eagle brand around ideas of ruggedness, durability, endless mobility, and freedom (to do inspections easily anytime anywhere).  The eagle, having a razor sharp eye for detail, being boundless and rugged, and known for their endurance, speed, and strength was an ideal symbol for the new Konverge product.

After hearing Dino’s ideas behind the brand, because eagles are such a visually strong symbol, my initial response was to go with the eagle as a symbol for the logo.

I like to sketch out logo ideas on paper before firing up Illustrator.  What evolved from this was circular eagle shape with a swooping wing.

Taking the concept into Illustrator, I started using geometric shapes to make the wings and head of the eagle.

 

 

And what it might look like as an icon…

 

 

The stylization of the eagle wasn’t right. The product team was not 100% happy with it and neither was I….so back to the drawing board….

 

 

And back to Illustrator keeping the circles more contained within the central circle this time.

 

 

And add some feathers and we have...

 

 

Just needed an eye….we went with the last one.

 

And Finally, the logo.

 

 

 

Choosing the Palate –

 

 

Brown – Brown encompasses earthiness & nature with reliability and support

 

Blue –  Blue has been a standard color in business branding for its association with loyalty, intelligence, communication, and trust.

 

Navy – Navy shares qualities with both blue and black.  From black, navy gains the attributes of seriousness, earthiness, sophistication and excellence.

 

Tags:

Graphic Design

Graphic Design Fundamentals for Developers

by Christine Harris 1. November 2011 16:31

In the world of web development, there is a great perceived divide between the roles of developers and designers. It goes with the common idea that creative people use more of the right side of their brain which is associated with random-intuitive, subjective thinking, and a better ability to look at the big picture. While on the other hand technical individuals are dominated by the left brain which is associated with logical-sequential, rational and objective thinking, and looking at smaller parts of the big picture.

However, developers and designers have a lot of commonality regarding their thought processes when it comes to their work. When a project is proposed to a designer or developer both must break down the project into its smaller parts and build upward in a logical-sequential way. Both must use creative problem solving skills that consider both the big picture and its smaller parts.

What is undoubtedly different are the tools used to accomplish the task. This article is meant to bridge the gap by explaining some design fundamentals for developers.

Layout Principles – The Grid

Grids are made up of horizontal and vertical lines that act as a backbone to page layout. Using grids in layouts has been a fundamental design principle for centuries. Not all design uses a grid; however, for designers to achieve layouts that have structure and consistency, grids are very helpful. Grid layout in web design and web applications are an important part of usability because they create predictability, ease of navigation and make layouts visually appealing.

For web, one commonly used grid is the 960 grid. This width is optimal for 1024 X 768 screen resolution sizes. For most layouts 2, 3 or 4 units are desired; therefore 12 and 16unit grids are ideal because they are easily broken down into these smaller units in a uniform way.

The following images were borrowed from 960 Grids

960 Grid with 12 Columns

960 Grid with 16 Columns

The following are examples of sites that use a grid based layout:

 

Typography

Typography is another important design fundamental and is an important aspect when creating good UX. Typography is not just about choosing a font; rather, it considers things such as typeface, font-size, font-weight, spacing, margins, line height and color. Typography patterns have been established for centuries and because users look for familiar patterns to quickly scan pages good UX integrates these age old patterns. Consider typography commonly found in newspapers: Largest font for the headline often bold, medium size font for sub-headline, smaller fonts for the article copy. It would only make sense that an online news site would follow the same pattern:

It is possible to drive an entire UI with typography alone. Consider the following examples from Google and UX Magazine that have little to no use of images:

 

Serif versus serif

A short and worthy note for design fundamental for developers is the difference between Serif fonts and Sans-serif fonts. Serif fonts have added detail on the ends of some of the strokes that make up the letters and symbols. Sans-serif fonts are simply fonts that are lacking serifs.

The following image was borrowed from Wikipedia

 

Time New Roman and Georgia are examples of serif fonts while Arial and Segoe UI are Sans-Serif fonts.

 

Color

Color is an interesting aspect of design because it can be applied to any element and can create or change meaning for that element.

Color Terminology

Painter Primary Colors – Red, Blue, Yellow

Print Primary Colors CMYK – refers to the four inks used in color printing: Cyan, magenta, yellow, black (key)

Light Primaries RGB - refers to an additive color model where Red, Green, Blue light is added together to produce a broad array of color. Computer screens, televisions, and other electronic systems use this.

Hue – means the actual color name from the pure spectrum of colors such as red, orange, yellow, blue, green, and violet.

Saturation – refers to the dominance of hue in the color. A color becomes desaturated when white is added to it.

Value – is defined as the relative lightness or darkness of a color. Value is significant when it comes to defining form and spatial illusions. For example, a contrast of value separates objects in space while a gradation of value creates contour.

Psychological Implication of Color

Color may imply meaning or emotion but this notion should not alone dictate color choice in a chosen palate. How people are affected by different color stimuli vary from person to person and can be culturally dependent. The job of the designer is to create meaning in colors by how they use them in design.

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Graphic Design