Archive for April, 2010

Social media meets product development…

Thursday, April 15th, 2010

I was delighted when I ran across a new website yesterday. Zoom Creates has been abuzz with talk of product development for the last 6 months. We’ve spoke of very little else, in fact. You see, we were given the opportunity to partner in the development of a new consumer product and we got to walk through it from inception to branding through to website creation, print materials, launch parties and events and the list goes on. So, you might call us experts. This is hardly the first product launch we’ve been a part of, but certainly the first product we’ve helped create from the get-go. We are thrilled, to say the least.

While skimming the web for product development research-ness, I came across Quirky.com. I was immediately intrigued because this is a site and notion like no other. It is social media brainstorm meets “let’s invent something” for a glorious result. Without running the risk of explaining the idea badly, I’ll defer to the “Learn” page on Quirky where they say the following about their process:

“Quirky is a social product development company. Your product ideas come in, the Quirky community and team work on them, we sell the product worldwide, and then we share the revenue with the inventor and all influencers.

By enabling this fluid conversation between our global community of influencers and Quirky’s expert product design team, we are able to accomplish what was once unthinkable: bringing one brand new product concept from sketch to store each week.”

Users are able to take part on a few different levels, from giving their opinion on an idea for a product, to submitting an idea for consideration to purchasing a developed item on pre-sale prior to production. Personally, I find the concept to be fabulous on so many levels. For more information because there is truly SO MUCH info out there, please visit Quirky.com and while you’re at it, pick up the Jus, a nifty little juicer that squeezes the juice right into the attached pitcher. Woop!


Photoshop: a design tool or design for tools?

Tuesday, April 13th, 2010

After many months of subscribing to the site PhotoshopDisasters, I can no longer hold in my true feelings. I eagerly await the arrival of a new disaster each day on my Google Reader. Some of them are hideous (what was that designer thinking?), some are difficult to spot (although once the error is spotted, I can see nothing but that) and others are debatable (maybe not a disaster, after all).

Let me back up a little… there is a time and place for everything, including Photoshop. For someone like me who lives in the world of Account Services,  I don’t use the program everyday and when I do, it’s to remove crow’s feet from a close up shot or possibly to fade out someone in the background of a candid group photo. I recognize, however, that Photoshop is a glorious tool that can have (and always does at Zoom!) magical results. I’ve watched our creative team do wonderful things with this software, but it’s all within reason, or in good humor. However, the examples I see on PhotoshopDisasters are far from reasonable and perhaps the only thing they are is laughable. I am amazed at the damage that is done to these images, and then even more amazed when I see that the image was actually used in a catalog, on a billboard or as part of a multi-million dollar marketing initiative. Perhaps I’m spoiled by the level of quality I’m used to seeing here at Zoom, but I just cannot imagine any member of our creative team allowing something so obviously wrong to go out the doors with our name on it.

Without ranting for too long, you get my point. Here’s what I have come to know over the years: design is an art, far more than a software application. It is an eye for aesthetics, an image that evokes a feeling and a professional trade that goes further than just “making things pretty.” I am confused as to who is designing in such a way that their “best work” ends up on PhotoshopDisasters. Are they allowing children to edit the images or maybe they are just too busy to properly QC the work…. either way, it’s unfortunate that Photoshop is being abused in this manner.

Here’s what I can personally assure you:  Zoom Creates features the highest quality designers who know how to use Photoshop, not Photoshoppers who try to design. Enjoy the disasters below!


Things seem to look a little elongated perhaps?

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Practice Makes Perfect

Monday, April 12th, 2010

Vectortuts Pen Tool Exercise

Need to sharpen your penmanship? The pen tool is by far one of the most important tools in illustrator’s repertoire. It allows you to create lines and shapes by using anchors (think connect the dots). The pen tool can be a bit daunting at first and take a bit of time to master, but it’s definitely a necessity for a ton of projects. I came across a comprehensive guide to the pen tool on Vector Tuts+, which broke down the features, shortcuts, and methods for working with the pen. I’d suggest trying out the Pen Tool Exercise at the bottom of the article if you need practice, or maybe even a little refresher course. Best thing I took away from this read: being able to change the anchor point and handle display. I’m loving the larger sized handles. To change the size of your handles in Illustrator go to Illustrator > Preferences > Selection & Anchor Display. In this dialog box, you can then choose the handle and anchor size to your liking, click Okay, and enjoy!

Anchor & Handle Prefrences


What do you think of the new Tiger Woods Nike ad?

Friday, April 9th, 2010

In a bold move on Nike’s part, on the eve of the Master’s 2010, both ESPN and the Golf Channel aired the new Nike ad featuring Tiger Woods and created by Wieden + Kennedy. Woods says nothing in the ad, but faces forward looking solemn while a voiceover of his late father, Earl Woods, plays. He asks, “did you learn anything? Nike has been one of the few sponsors to stand by Woods since the uncovering of his “issues” in late November 2009.

Now, for my own commentary, which is more marketing-centric than opinion of Tiger. I think that Wieden + Kennedy did exactly the right thing, assuming they were asked by Nike “how do we fix the debacle that is Tiger Woods?”. The advert is compelling, pulls the viewer in and urges them to think beyond the behavior to the root causes. IMO. It does not excuse his behavior, but rather, takes the approach that he is, in fact, human, and does, in fact, make mistakes. Cheers to humanity in advertising. I think…


Hugs and Kitties for everyone!

Thursday, April 8th, 2010

This week we celebrated Greg’s birthday. And in preparation, as has become tradition, the rest of the design team searched the internet for just the right image to Photoshop Greg’s face onto for his birthday card from the Zoomers. All week we had been threatening Greg with a “Kittens and Hugs” party instead of the “Pizza and Pints” party he was hoping for. So, you can imagine how excited we were to find this image to “Gregify”. Of course we had to add some additional kittens, just for good measure. As we put together the card we couldn’t help but browse the images from the last few years. We certainly got a laugh out of them, so I thought I would share. Enjoy!


Basic MODx Template Tutorial

Wednesday, April 7th, 2010

We here at Zoom Creates love giving people the option to maintain their own websites once we are done building them. One of our favorite CMS platforms is MODx. It’s based on PHP, is open source, and is extremely flexible. Today I’m going to talk to you about the basics of building a HTML based template.

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2010 Web Design Trend: Introduction Blocks

Tuesday, April 6th, 2010

When you visit a site for the first time, one of the most important elements you can find is an introduction block. We look to the block to greet the visitor, introduce the site, and give a brief description of who they are and what they do. Many sites follow the practice of using an intro block, but it is generally uncommon to see them used on either blogs or e-commerce sites. This block is mainly found in the upper-left area of the page, which is usually be the first area a viewer will look, making it a great place to let the user see your most key information. You’ll notice that today’s intro boxes aren’t scared to break the boundaries. They can be found in new areas of the page and also tend to take up a large chunk of real estate no matter the quantity written. They are bold, beautiful, and a great way to make a first impression. Check out examples of large intro blocks below:

Sold Shops

Seth Said

Kyle Standing

Jason Reed Web Design

Big Cartel

Tobias Baeck


-=The Beauty of Bark Cloth=-

Monday, April 5th, 2010

Over the years I have collected many things. Some of them long gone now due to changing interests or simply because I couldn’t bear the thought of packing and moving them again. Bird Cages would be a glaring example of this. Currently, I only collect one thing — Snow Globes. If we’re friends, heaven forbid you go somewhere and don’t bring me one back, because I will remind you of it. For years to come.

Some collections start out innocently enough, the random purchase of a vintage travel clock or a “nearly” perfect Roseville vase. The next thing you know, you have a dozen…or more.

My Bark Cloth obsession began on E-Bay over a decade ago. My first purchase was a large set of dark green curtains with a geometric pattern, touted to have hung in a New Orleans bedroom. I was born in New Orleans, so it seemed to be a fairly innocuous way of honoring my past. Until things got out of hand, that is.

If you’ve never held a piece of real Bark Cloth in your hands, it’s a shame. Heavy, textural and often smelling of Grandma, it has the power to transport you back to a cozy guest cottage, or a swinging bachelor pad.

You can purchase exceptional reproductions now, so I thought I would post a montage to set the tone on this cold and rainy spring afternoon here at the Studio.

Remember children, we’re all special and unique, but it takes a certain kind of person to be truly ‘eccentric’. Collecting large boxes of bark cloth you’ll never use is just one step on the path to Crazy Town.

All Aboard!
Mrs. Knightly


Gigabit IPA

Monday, April 5th, 2010

Gigabit IPAIn a phenomenon bringing both the craft brewing and geek world together (once again), Portland, Oregon’s own Hopworks Brewery has released a special seasonal beer called Gigabit IPA. This, in an effort to help the City of Portland convince Google to select our city for one of the rollout locations for their upcoming gigabit fiber network. Go Portland!

The description of the beer, according to Hopworks, “This fresh & edgy IPA honors Portland’s new gigabit network project to pioneer a connected future with Google fiber-to-the-home. Embrace the bandwidth with a massive NW hop aroma, with rich citrus and pine accents aggressively balanced with clear malt caramel flavor, and a deep, clean, satisfying finish.”

Google will announce their target communities by the end of 2010. The gigabit plans will deliver Internet speeds more than 100 times faster than what most Americans have access to today with 1 gigabit per second, fiber-to-the-home connections.

Personally, I have been eagerly awaiting the possible arrival of gigabit fiber from Google in Portland, but now we can all quench our thirst in anticipation with this delicious craft brew from Hopworks. End result: WIN.

Portland Hearts Google – read more & keep updated


Google 3D Competition Finalists

Thursday, April 1st, 2010

Five teams from around the world have been selected as finalists from more than 100 entrants in Google’s Model Your Town Competition. Now, it’s up to you to vote for the best entry.

The competition was announced in December 2009 as a way for citizens to show pride in their hometowns by creating detailed 3D models of their communities. The contest also served as a cheap way to add more 3D content to Google Earth (Google Earth) (Google) 3D modeling tools: SketchUp (a 2006 acquisition) and Building Maker (a Google product launched in fall 2009). and as a nice platform for showcasing the capabilities of two Google

Teams in Barranco, Lima, Peru; Braunschweig, Niedersachsen, Germany; Donostia-San Sebastián, Gipuzkoa, Spain; Dursley, Gloucestershire, United Kingdom; and West Palm Beach, Florida, United States have all made the cut. It’s interesting to note that the Spanish team is the only entrant with multiple contributing members; every other town modeled was a solo project.

Check out this video of the finalists here:

Thanks to Mashable for the info!