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Archive for October, 2008

Supporting Healthcare Providers with Cost-Effective Micro-Sites to Drive Appointments

October 29, 2008 Leave a comment

To help our client LasikPlus support health insurance providers, DigitalDay developed a cost-effective set of micro-sites that explain the benefits to each network, guide members to local centers and encourage them to schedule their appointments.

Each of the micro-sites leverage an interactive Flash locator map to guide members to their nearest LASIK facility. To make scheduling as easy as possible, the client’s centers are tied in directly to the scheduling application designed and developed by DigitalDay.

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4 Steps to Better Feedback

October 28, 2008 1 comment

One of the most challenging things about working with or in a creative agency is dealing with feedback. At an agency like DigitalDay, there are numerous projects going on all the time. As each project moves through conceptual, design, and production stages, we solicit feedback from the client. Conversely, if you are the client, you’re given the opportunity to check and comment on projects as they progress.

Unfortunately, feedback doesn’t always go smoothly. One of the most frustrating comments I hear is “We’re not crazy about…” . Maybe we’re doing an outdoor themed piece, and the comment is “We’re not crazy about the clouds”. A comment like this is so vague that it’s almost worthless. Do you want more clouds, less clouds, bigger or smaller clouds, a different style, more prominent, less prominent, abandon clouds altogether? There’s so much room for interpretation that the designers, art directors, and project managers are forced to either contact the client for further clarification (wasting time and money on both sides) or make an educated decision based on knowledge of the brand, the project, etc (potentially choosing poorly, wasting even more time and money to fix it).

So, I’m proposing a few simple steps to improve the efficiency and usefulness of feedback. In the end, everyone wins with better workflow, lower cost, and better marketing pieces.

  1. For Everyone – Ensure your feedback is submitted on time. There are times where someone asks for feedback, gets a little bit and then moves on, only to have someone higher up in the organization respond later with significant changes. This is extremely disruptive, and results in costly redundant changes.
  2. For Clients – Be specific. Try to frame any comments you have in a proactive way, that leads to or directly suggests a change. Instead of “We’re not crazy about the clouds”, try “The clouds don’t fit our theme of an urban environment. We’d like to see a comp with more focus on the city below, so we see more details there.”
  3. For Agencies – Engage and educate your clients. Often times, your clients don’t have the experience and expertise you have, that’s why they hire you. Explain to them that you don’t understand what certain feedback means, and you need more information to improve their piece.
  4. For Everyone – Be honest. If something doesn’t work for you, don’t worry about stepping on toes or hurting feelings. Everyone involved is a professional, and as long as your feedback is relevant and constructive, it will only lead to a better product.
Categories: Internet, Web 2.0

Efficient design starts with efficient fonts

October 14, 2008 Leave a comment

Typography is a huge part of any well-done graphic design. Choosing the perfect set of fonts and styles for any given design should be intentional and informed, and therefore time consuming. Additionally, the size of a designer’s collection of typefaces grows over time. At an established agency like DigitalDay, we have literally thousands of fonts in our collection that are either supplied by clients, purchased for projects, or picked up from various software installs.

The best tool I’ve found for organizing and working with a large font library is FontExplorer X. It also happens to be free, which is a great bonus. The only downside is that there is no Windows version. There are similar tools for Windows, but for now Linotype’s program is Mac only.  Why do I need any font software, you ask? Well, there are several advantages over the built-in tools on either Mac or Windows.

First, if you have say, 1000 fonts, and they are all activated, it becomes very time consuming to select a font from an applications list. If you’re scrolling through, or just browsing within an application, it’s much more friendly to search through say 50-100 fonts than your entire collection. Loading all of your fonts every time also eats tons of memory. And when you have loads of design applications and files open, every little bit helps.

The true killer feature, for me, is the ability to make font sets or “playlists”. There are many times when I know I’m looking for a sans-serif font, or something very ornate, but I don’t know exactly which font I want to use. What I’ve done is break my entire collection down into different categories. I can browse through single categories at a time, which is an incredible time saver.

Additionally, if I have a large project that uses many different typefaces, I can group them together and activate or deactivate all at once. If you’re familiar with playlists in iTunes, the concept should be familiar. Browsing a few specific fonts instead of digging through hundreds of possibilities is a huge help.

Another nice feature is auto activation. Let’s say you’re working on a big style guide in your page layout program and you’re using many different fonts. You want to be prudent and not leave them active all the time, but you might occasionally forget to turn them on, or forget to add a font you use , etc. Not to worry. Font Explorer X will detect what fonts are used in your file and activate them for you.

Font management is an often-overlooked process, but it can be useful and an incredible time saver. Browsing quickly and intelligently will give you more time to find the perfect fonts for a better piece for your agency and the client.

European TAAN Meeting Report: Reykjavik 2008

October 11, 2008 Leave a comment

I traveled to the “Land of Fire and Ice” last week to represent DigitalDay as the only U.S. agency at the recent European Transworld Advertising Association Network (TAAN) Meeting in Reykjavik, Iceland October 2 — 5, 2008.

A lava field after a light snow the night before, just west of Reykjavik.

A lava field after a light snow the night before, just west of Reykjavik.

This European TAAN Meeting was well-attended with agency principals from Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Poland, Russia, Scotland, Sweden, Turkey and the host agency ENNEMM of Iceland.

Our hosts from Iceland's ENNEMM Ad Agency during Friday night's dinner at Domo Restaurant in Reykjavik during the TAAN Europe Fall 2008 Meeting in Iceland.

Our hosts from Iceland during Friday night's dinner at Domo Restaurant in Reykjavik during the TAAN Europe Fall 2008 Meeting in Iceland.

Highlights from the meeting included:

TAAN as a Global Network: Peter Gerritsen, TAAN’s President, led the discussion on how the TAAN member agencies can best harness our global capabilities to deliver value to each of our clients. Through our relationships in Europe, Asia, Africa and both Americas, we can offer clients coordinated local market support “above and below the line.”

Donovan Hawker of Opinion Valley, Paris, Gregor Lof of X-Ingredient, The Netherlands and Peter Gerritsen, TAAN President during the TAAN Europe Meeting in Reykjavik, October 2008.

Donovan Hawker of Opinion Valley, Paris, Gregor Lof of X-Ingredient, The Netherlands and Peter Gerritsen, TAAN President during the TAAN Europe Meeting in Reykjavik, October 2008.

The New IcelandAir: Helgi Björgvinsson, CMO of IcelandAir, treated the group to an inside look at how this innovative, global marketer positions itself in the highly competitive airline industry market. The presentation included a peek at IcelandAir’s new advertising campaign which has yet to be released to the public.

Peter Gerritsen, TAAN President introduces Helgi Mar Bjorgvinsson, CMO of IcelandAir during the TAAN European Fall 2008 Meeting in Reykjavik, Iceland.

Peter Gerritsen, TAAN President introduces Helgi Mar Bjorgvinsson, CMO of IcelandAir during the TAAN European Fall 2008 Meeting in Reykjavik, Iceland.

The Art of New Business: Morgan Shorey, Director of New Business for BERLIN CAMERON United and a lifelong new business specialist, presented a seminar on her new business approach and creative ideas on how to improve new business efforts. Interestingly, many of the European agency owners felt her tactics were “too American, too hard-sell” whereas I found her approach creative and personable.

Morgan Shorey, Director of Business Development at BERLIN CAMERON United presents "The Art of New Business" during the TAAN Europe 2008 Fall Meeting in Reykjavik, Iceland.

Morgan Shorey, Director of Business Development at BERLIN CAMERON United presents

The Outing: On Saturday afternoon, the TAAN members boarded a fleet of 4-wheel vehicles for a guided adventure tour of Southwest Iceland. We sampled dried fish chips at an outdoor fish drying rack, hiked through the lava fields to descend into a lava cave, drank schnapps on a black sand beach and ended the evening with a traditional lobster dinner in the seaside town of Stokkseyri.

John Reisky du Dubnic, The Duffy Group, and Hallur Baldursson, ENNEMM, pause in front of drying fish racks during the TAAN Europe's 4-Wheel Outing in Southern Iceland, October 2008.

John Reisky du Dubnic, The Duffy Group, and Hallur Baldursson, ENNEMM, pause in front of drying fish racks during the TAAN Europe

Svetlana Protasova, Aviator, Bernd Loschenbrand, Kieswetter, and Artur Slawnikowski, Oskar Wegner, prepare for take off on the TAAN Europe's 4-Wheel Outing in Southern Iceland, October 2008.

Svetlana Protasova, Aviator, Bernd Loschenbrand, Kieswetter, and Artur Slawnikowski, Oskar Wegner, prepare for take off on the TAAN Europe

In addition to the valuable business meetings, I was able to build stronger relationships with all of the European agency principals — relationships that will help both DigitalDay and our clients. I also had the opportunity to spend some free time exploring Iceland. The following are some photos from this once-in-a-lifetime trip.

Landscape near Mosfellsbær, Iceland. This time of year, Iceland is green -- it's Greenland that's Icy.

Landscape near Mosfellsbær, Iceland. This time of year, Iceland is green -- it's Greenland that's icy.

Barbara and Mark Vitullo at Þingvellir, Alþing, the site of Iceland's Viking government in 930 AD.

Barbara and Mark Vitullo at Þingvellir, Alþing, the site of Iceland's Viking government founded in 930 AD.

The Great Geysir in the Haukadalur valley, Iceland, is the oldest known geyser and where we get the English name for this phenomenon.

The Great Geysir in the Haukadalur valley, Iceland, is the oldest known geyser and where we get the English name for this phenomenon.

A view down a downtown Reykjavik side street, with its typical metal-clad buildings, leading to the harbor.

A view down a downtown Reykjavik side street, with its typical metal-clad buildings, leading to the harbor.