Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Print Isn't Dead! (Annual Print Design Survey)

For the past 49 years, Graphic Design USA magazine publishes a print design survey that takes a pulse on the print industry. Over the years, their findings proved that yes, digital marketing is on the rise (and will continue to be an important part of marketing campaigns), but print will never die!

Some of their data shows print provides a high ROI, print drives online traffic, print periodical readership is actually growing, print readers spend more time per advertisement or per page, print reaches demographics not on the grid, not to mention print can be sustainable and tree-friendly. But, in addition, print also offers a much more tangible, permanent, physical, and ultimately more personal experience.

As predominately print designers, we couldn't agree more with GD USA's findings. All in all, We don't think the print industry will be disappearing anytime soon, but it's had to shift focus a little bit and integrate better with digital marketing! "Print is Getting Smarter!"

Download GD: USA's full print design survey here and let us know what YOU think!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

What Do "Back to the Future" and SEO Have In Common?

"Lorraine…I'm Your Density! I mean, your destiny."

OK, OK, so SEO and Back to the Future don't really have a lot in common. But during a recent SEO discussion, I simply could NOT get this quote out of my mind!

I recently attended "PowerPress", a superbly informative seminar led by our friend Tobin of New North. While the seminar's main focus was on Wordpress websites (I seriously have so much new information that my brain has gone into slight overload), we also touched on some great SEO tools and practices.

Now, I won't even begin to pretend that I know a whole lot about SEO. I get the general idea and even some of the ways you can increase it, but most of time it just makes me cross-eyed to think about it (I'm a more visual kind of person...hence the whole graphic designer thing). But, the tool that really caught my eye is called SEO Quake, a handy analytic seo-tool for Firefox, Chrome and Opera browsers. While SEO Quake offers a variety of free tools, today we focused on Keyword density. Keyword density is the number of times a keyword or phrase appears on a web page compared to the total number of words on the page.

You can use SEO Quake to test your own site's keyword density, to see which keywords on your site are the biggest/most used—and it may not necessarily be the keywords you want! Go ahead and download SEO Quake for yourself and see where your keyword destiny…I mean density, registers.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Creative Genius.....or Utter Madness?

A look into the creative mind of Kalico Design's junior designer, Jen Tyler...

When it comes to the creative process we all have our different ways of going about getting the solution. I’m always looking at different solutions for creative problem solving. This helps me to understand why sometimes it’s so easy to come up with profound and simple solutions to creative problems, and other times I might as well be banging my head against a wall. Do we all share some kind of common method? Are there key points to our madness?

I recently came across a book titled The Creative Process Illustrated: How Advertising's Big Ideas Are Born it includes the personal illustrations of design processes for many famous designers. In the beginning of the book the authors mention a man named Graham Wallas who proposed one of the first creative process models in 1926. It is as follows:

Stage 1. Preparation: The problem to be solved is carefully considered and resources are gathered in order to confront the task. The conscious mind is focused on the problem.
Stage 2. Incubation: Drawing upon these resources, consideration of the problem is internalized and becomes a largely subconscious activity. The mind makes connections more freely and abundantly.
Stage 3. Illumination: Possible solutions to the problem transition from subconscious to conscious thought. This is a moment of insight and optimism.
Stage 4. Verification: Solutions are tested and may be applied if shown to be viable.

My creative process model follows this with slight variations.

Stage 1. Preparation:
Read project brief. Immediately start brainstorming. Word association. How could letters merge and make shapes. Picture a rainbow. Stare into space. Freak out because I’m not in school anymore and don’t have two weeks to sketch one comp for a client!
Stage 2. Incubation:
Put the project out of my mind. (Or try to.) Go home. Watch TV. No, those commercials are not some kind of magical insight into this particular clients problem. No, not everything has a deeper meaning just because you want it to. Try to focus on the project before going to sleep. Maybe dream about the solution.
Stage 3. Illumination:
Wake up. Didn’t have an epiphanic dream? OK, now its crunch time. Back to step one. That sketch still looks the same as when I started – I can do better than that! More sketching. Lets clean it up with our mad computer skills. Apply color theory.
Stage 4. Verification: 
“Presto Chango!” Finally! Give self a hand. Beer anyone!

What is your creative process? We'd love to hear!

(Image courtesy of central)