6.26.2009

Office Signs

Our New Baby (other than the dog)

So many of you now know that The Design Group has been settling into a new downtown Charleston office for about two weeks now. Today I am posting pictures of the screenprinted signs we put up today (courtesy of Digital Printing Solutions of Mount Pleasant) that now light up our door. The trick is that we can see out but no one can now see in! Check them out below, with even more after the jump.

The Design Group office signs - Downtown Charleston The Design Group office signs - Downtown Charleston The Design Group office signs - Downtown Charleston The Design Group office signs - Downtown Charleston The Design Group office signs - Downtown Charleston

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Alternative Phone Service Providers

Fast, Easy and Cheap Phone Services

After my partner and I needed to get a new office phone plan when The Design Group moved in to our new office, we did a lot of research before making a move. Because we didn't find too much information out there comparing the different options (other than through our local provider), I thought it would be important to share this information with you.

Magic Jack USB Image -  Alternative Phone Services

Magic Jack was the ultimate winner of our phone challenge. Magic Jack is a USB drive and works by plugging the USB into your computer and subsequently plugging your phone into the magic jack. That's pretty much it. At $40 for your magic jack with your first year of service included - it is $20/year for the Magic Jack service (about $1.65/month) - this deal is incredibly hard to resist. One unfortunate issue- we somehow lost our magic jack after moving into our new office. However we were able to forward all of our magic jack calls to our cell phone for even more convenience! I've also heard they work well over seas, thus my brother that is heading to Afghanistan next month will be getting one as a present from us.

Skype Logo - Alternative Phone Services

Skype is already well known for their messaging and video conferencing features. While most people utilize Skype for their free services, the lesser known service Skype offers are their phone services. For $60 a year, Skype offers it's clientele an online number with very few limitations that can be reached using any landline or cell phone. The primary drawback I found was the necessity of being on Skype at all times. This is something I simply was not all that sure we would do. Other than that, however, I have heard pretty solid reviews.

COMING SOON!

Google Voice Logo - Alternative Phone Services

Although we will have to wait two weeks for it to officially become available, Google Voice by Google is already making waves in phone technology. Google voice offers features including call screening, call blocking, SMS, call placing and taking, phone routing, phone forwarding, voicemail, notifications, share voicemail and more. Be sure to check it out in two weeks!

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6.25.2009

Is Jeff Goldblum Alive?

Black Thursday?

So today is officially going to be coined Black Thursday (at least by the webutante). Two well known entertainers - Michael Jackson and Farah Fawcett - have already passed away. Now we have one more question to ponder... What is the status of Jeff Goldblum? Rumors about Jeff Goldblum, a popular actor and entertainer who starred in movies including Jurassic Park and more recently the show Law & Order Criminal Intent, have been circulating indicating that he has now died as well. If this rumor actually proves to be true, I think we may have a "Black Thursday" on our hands. Although ,I can not seem to find any confirmed resources with this information on the potential death of Jeff Goldblum. Thus, only time, and technology will tell.

If anyone has any additional information regarding the latest "Black Thursday" developments, be sure to pass it on.

UPDATE: Jeff Goldblum is not dead! Apparently, Twitter seems to have spurred a few culprits in this depressing day in Hollywood history. No more rumors, please. He is alive. Let's reserve Black Thursday for Farrah and Michael. RIP.

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6.18.2009

Our New Creative Office

The Design Group's New Diggs

As you have probably noticed, my blog postings have been fairly unpredictable lately. The good news is that my delayed posts have been the result of The Design Group moving into and setting up our brand new (first) office in downtown Charleston! We are now located at the corner of Elizabeth & Ann - 49 Elizabeth Street - which is across from the visitor's center and near the museum. We welcome friends, family and clients to come visit at their leisure! I am posting some pictures for everyone to enjoy ;)

The view outside:

The Design Group office - Downtown Charleston

The Get-Down-To-Work Room:

The Design Group office - Downtown Charleston The Design Group office - Downtown Charleston

Our lounge area (it's still a little bare right now, furniture will be coming soon)

The Design Group office - Downtown Charleston The Design Group office - Downtown Charleston

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6.10.2009

11 Case Studies in Single Page Website Designs

Keep It Simple, Stupid.... The right way

A new trend on the web I have noticed increasing in popularity is the single page website design. This is constituted by an all inclusive, all important Home page. The reason to use a single page design is varied, however there is one indisputable result: fewer people can get lost in a website when there is just one page. That said, there is a right way and a wrong way to handle a single page website design. Below I have listed 11 single page website case studies and examined the fundamental details of why they went right or where they went wrong.

The YES YES's

  • Gotta Get to FOWA (Future of Web Apps)
    Single Page Website Image - The Webutante Comments: Web 2.0, clean, bright
    What makes it work: Staying Power. This site is looking for sponsors. People who support their aspirations to get to FOWA. People who will join their facebook groups or read their Tweets. Everything is clearly laid out and easily accessible. You don't get lost in the page because of anchored text throughout. It's length is used as a tool.
  • RZMota
    Single Page Website Image - The Webutante Comments: Graphical interface, ease-of use, potent functionality
    What makes it work: Content. RZMota does not sacrifice information or functionality in order to fit everything in one place. Instead, RZMota utilizes a clean structure to entice the viewer to check out the portfolio, learn about the designer and contact the designer. Usability remains in tact and the functionality does not deter the viewer.
  • Sofa
    Single Page Website Image - The Webutante Comments: CSS-driven, pure, simple
    What makes it work: Accessibility. All that is needed is there in an easy format for viewing.
    Faux Pas: No contact method other than a listed email. I let it slide for Sofa because of their powerful design, hence they are on the YES YES list.
    Webutante Fix: Small contact form at the bottom for potential clients.
  • Maurivan Luiz
    Single Page Website Image - The Webutante Comments: Perfect.
    What makes it work: The page is all encompassing. There are multiple methods of contact so the call-to-action is not neglected, numerous portfolio items, and all the information you need about Maurivan - including his sense of humor (which you see with the panic button).
  • Kobe
    Single Page Website Image - The Webutante Comments: All-inclusivity, usability, functionality
    What makes it work: The site maintains its curb appeal and stature while exploring the information about Kobe. The email sign-up is constantly present in addition to a separate contact form, and it's graphical appeal is excellent.
  • MPlusZ
    Single Page Website Image - The Webutante Comments: Clean, CSS-Based, comical
    What makes it work: MPlusZ keeps your interest throughout their single page site through their entertaining design, increased functionality and user prompts. Their work is elegantly featured on a slider, a contact form and contact information is available. Content and graphics are both used effectively without overloading the viewer with either.
  • Vanity Claire
    Single Page Website Image - The Webutante Comments: Hello, beautiful.
    What makes it work: While the design really speaks for itself on this portfolio site, there is also an element of charm in Claire's usability. With lighthearted leads and clean/pure functionality, you really get sold on the website...and Claire. That, my friend, is the point of a portfolio website, which makes this single page site get five stars in my book.

The NO NO'S

  • Alessandro Cavallo
    Single Page Website Image - The Webutante Comments: Great Design, beautiful work
    Faux Pas: Contact me link is merely an email link! Anyone who uses a webmail system (Yahoo or Gmail for example) will not be able to send Alessandro a message without installing Mac Mail or Outlook. Remember: Single page websites should not be a compromise, but rather a solution. Details should not be sacrificed for lack of room. Every t should be crossed and every i should be dotted.
    Webutante Fix: A contact form in a multi-box to maintain the one page feel but increase functionality
  • Basil Gloo
    Single Page Website Image - The Webutante Comments: Clean, Wow-factor, distinctive
    Faux Pas: The website lacks both information and functionality. There is no contact form, merely an email link instead, there are no explanations or featured works. Sure, we are linked over to Everyone Knows and Webmasters International, Basil's companies, however we know little about Basil or his work by looking at this site.
    Webutante Fix: Add sectionalized features via JavaScript with brief informational resources. Add a Contact form as well as work examples. Link the latest blog post to another section of the page. Familiarize the viewers with Basil and Basil's story. A website is supposed to serve more of a purpose than merely that of a business card. It is a tool.
  • Creative People
    Single Page Website Image - The Webutante Comments: Clean, Graphical, Distinctive
    Faux Pas: It took me a few minutes before I was actually able to find the navigation for this website. It blends in with the background and almost leads you away when all of the sudden you notice it (or you hope to). That's a huge problem considering that without the nav, the site is simply an off-beat image of a dude holding a sign and a squirrel.
    Webutante Fix: Make the navigation using buttons or icons. Use a different color for the buttons other than white or gray so they stick out more. It's called usability - and it is an absolute necessity on any website, much less a single page site.
  • Daniel Stenberg
    Single Page Website Image - The Webutante Comments: usable, functional, clean
    What makes it work: Everything is right there to see. The functionality is blazingly obvious so it can not be mistaken, and as a portfolio it serves it carries out all necessary functions.
    Faux Pas: Anyone who uses a webmail system will not be able to send Alessandro a message without installing Mac Mail or Outlook.
    Webutante Fix: A contact form that follows the 'About Me' section to maintain the sites single page appeal but increase the usefulness.

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6.06.2009

Espresso by MacRabbit

The New Way for Developers to Work

So after I wrote about The Relevence of Dreamweaver in the Web 2.0 Era, I really began to realize the strong need for a new multi-faceted development tool encompassing multiple features that perform above and beyond Dreamweaver standards. This was why I was so stoked to find MacRabbit's Espresso, a revolutionary software that combines multiple web development functions into one unified workflow. Created by the makers of CSS Edit (a well-respected CSS tool used by many web developers), Espresso streamlines code, CSS, publishing and more. Check it out to learn more about this revolutionary new web development tool.

MacRabbit - Espresso image

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