Pitchfork Magazine have these amazing feature articles. This is perhaps one of the simplest, but also my favourite. The Pitchfork design is eminently readable online. The choice of font/size etc make reading long articles very easy. The gentle manual movements in the photography/illustrations really enhance the whole experience of reading these articles.
This article is a couple of years old, but still one of my favourite designed pages on the web.
Instagram have a new logo. It’s causing uproar on the inter webs. This is of course, a tiresome current strategy for attention – create something a bit rubbish and contentious to draw attention to oneself. The ensuing outpour of derision counts for free publicity (or strictly speaking, greater saturation and spread). It’s a win/win situation for a brand because either the furore dies down as people get used to any changes, or the brand reverts in full, or partially to their ‘old’ version – winning people’s digital hearts again. Facebook famously did this a few years ago when they weirded out the news feed, only to change to back (almost) as it was only days later.
So, what’s wrong with the new Instagram logo?
Instagram’s skeumorphic logo has a playful hat tip to Polaroid’s iconic branding. It was a clever trick to show Instagram’s retro flavour with film-like filter FX
Well, the new logo seems to be attracting great publicity. In fact, I was unaware it had changed until someone mentioned how much they disliked it.
The old logo hinted at Polaroid’s branding. This wasn’t plagiarism, but a playful hint at the retro filters available to Instagram users. The camera itself looks a bit like a Polaroid instant print camera.
It is hard to underestimate how powerful this logo was for Instagram. That Polaroid look was instantly recognisable and the ‘expected behaviour’ of the app was described without words. It is quite a complicated logo. This is common of the beginning of the iPhone home screen icon design wave back in 2007 – icons that are punchy at home screen size, but will scale up to larger web sizes.
The new logo dramatically shuns the old look and sets out to show Instagram in an entirely different way. The new icon does not look like a retro photo app, it now looks like a function. It is now simply a camera with garish multi-coloured graduated background, which is very distinct, if devoid of meaning (perhaps it looks little like leaked light on film? – Ed).
The old skeumorphic style Instagram logo
Instagram has come a long way, and since being both out by Facebook is probably the single most important photo sharing app around in 2016. The new logo seems to be a bold attempt at communicating a new purpose – beyond it’s more humble retro camera and convenient online sharing roots (these features were fairly revolutionary because in 2007, you still needed a bit of web know-how to publish (especially photographs) online. Apps like Instagram allow online photography publication with no knowledge of the workings of the internet at all. The new logo appears to be saying ‘I am the camera’ – replacing the smartphones’ default camera app icon as the de facto choice when it comes to taking photographs. If this is the intent, then I’d say the logo works quite well. The main issue is that it looks less, well, iconic. It lo0ks pretty amateur, naive and worst of all, generic. It looks like it might have been lifted from the internet as part of a pre-made icon set. Personally, I find the camera shape a bit to ‘cute’ and childish looking. I’m of an age that remembers Polaroid instant film in common usage. The original icon was instantly recognisable as evoking that style. Maybe the new logo is deliberately excluding my age group with it’s very blandness and naive shape – to an audience too young top have seen or used a real Polaroid camera (although there is a a strong early 90s trend currently and the background perhaps at a stretch alludes to the early 90s Acid House tie dyes).
The old logo is a skeumorphic looking retro camera. It instantly evokes Polaroid cameras, even down to the borrowed rainbow colours. It states its intention as a retro camera app very well – especially on a 2007+ era iPhone home screen.
The new logo is a flattened icon outline on a smudge of colour.
The real issue with the new Instagram logo can be seen when used in monochrome. It looks utterly generic and anonymous. It becomes a random camera function icon. Admittedly, in these modern times, there is little need for a monochrome version of a logo for a digital app/tool/service,. but still, good design – good logos usually keep their visual distinction well in one or two-colour schemes. It is still a good litmus test for design communication. The logo essentially fails this test entirely.
Negative points about the new Instagram logo
The new logo bears little visual relationship to the previous logo – it is a very large visual ‘progression’.
The ‘Polaroid’ rainbow colours are gone in favour of the random colour smudges.
The pictogram area looks like a function, not an application
The new logo features background gradients, which are current trend (see iTunes 12 logo)
The logo does not communicate as a recognisable brand device in monochrome. It is only the colour that makes it recognisable.
Positive points about the new Instagram logo
It is still clear this is a camera/photography related app/ function
iOS camera function icon
Newest iTunes logo (after a few false starts) utilises colour gradation in the outline
Jetpack is rapidly zooming beyond its early reputation as the slow boat to China, and becoming a plugin to be reckoned with – as a suite of goodies rather than a single function plugin.
Today I tried out the contact form in Jetpack. Previously, I have almost always used the magnificent Contact Form 7, and the premium Gravity Forms for meatier interactive form content.
The Jetpack form is really easy to construct (or use the default form), but I wanted to use placeholders instead of labels. Leaving aside the controversial issue of accessibility (which is improving all the time), there appeared to be no easy way to do this in Jetpack.
In the end, a simple JQuery solution did the trick. This will actually work on other forms, but the previously mentioned ones already have built-in placeholder capability.
The above checks that the page is loaded, then dives in and looks your ID or class with the attribute of placeholder and puts in your text.
You can hide the labels if you want, with a bit of CSS. This is best done with a minus text-indent, or the trendy new clip technique. Ideally, don’t use display:none as this will completely hide the label from screen readers, meaning especially blind or partially sighted people using specialist browsers probably won’t be able to use your form.
Missy wanted to be Cynthia Rhodes when she grew up. Life not always throwing the right kind of lemons, she instead trained in ballet, gymnastics and dance (as well as a good healthy dose of Fine Art Theory and History thrown in) – and has become one of the Southern Hemisphere’s top cabaret pole dancers.
It was clear early on that Missy is definitely not in the tacky plastic shoes, flat alcopops and bad r n b school of pole dance. It was clear we going to have some fun creating a look that instantly shows this distinction.
The site feel takes a lot from the silent movie era. It is hard to say exactly how this came about, but we talked a lot and had a common love of Weimar era styling. In fact, her formidable Art History knowledge, insight and sense of aesthetic set the tone and benchmark for this project. Whilst we didn’t want to directly copy a particular vintage design, the sense of romance and drama and magic of was definitely high on the list for the new website look.
The site homepage sets the stage for what Missy is about. Instantly distinctive, with an elegant image of her effortlessly posed on the pole. It is one of the most minimal homepages I have produced, with hardly any text – letting the imagery speak. On pressing Enter, the homepage flickers and fades away in almost the blink of an eye to show the new page. It is
The site details are based on 1920s ornamentation. The thumbnail images on the news page are small porthole pictures in Black and White. They softly saturate to full colour when you roll over them.
The menu bar takes cues from early movie theatres, and the calendar and gallery are styled in a panelled ‘leather’ upholstery.
Technically and artistically, this has been an extremely challenging site to make. The lack of text on the homepage is anathema to modern SEO compliant sites. I took a cue from live performance and theatre to get around this. The homepage is actually a ‘curtain’. When you enter the site, the homepage magically fades away to reveal the news page. The site, and search text is, essentially in waiting behind this curtain.
This site is the first one I have produced with the new WordPress TwentyTwelve as the parent theme. This particular theme is actually so new, I had to search around to find a download link for it. TwentyTwelve proved to be a perfect partner to the project for its own elegant and lean coding.
The calendar uses schema.org coding for perfect visibility on Google’s event searches.
Back to Missy, she is an extremely enigmatic person and performer. Her work on the pole is distinctive and quite unlike other performers. Go and see her in a show (check out the calendar page!), or if you are a promoter, hire her now, you need her in your show!
Sapphira’s Showgirls Burlesque Academy has launched a new gift voucher scheme, and asked Artballs to produce their voucher. Wanting something distinct, we produced the voucher with novel skewed name boxes on the back.
Shameless promotion for one of my clients, but it’s too good an offer not to shout about!
uturn66.com, the South London based Fashion Emporium are having a huge sale on House of the Gods clothing. This isn’t shabby old stock from a past season, but brand new season stock. It’s a new site and they are feeling generous, so drop by, choose some stuff and use the coupon code: hogs30 at the checkout to get your discount!
Hurry, as a massive discount like this won’t last long!
I’m really quite touched to have received this photo, taken in Red Bennies, Melbourne by Sapphira and her Showgirls!
Artballs has been working with Sapphira for some time now, upping the game with new designs for her posters and website. People have really noticed – especially the posters put up around Melbourne. We’ve made two sites, misssapphira.com and sapphiramusic.com, and posters, xmas cards etc. to promote her business.
Goldsmiths University asked us to tidy up their Strategic Plan online. They had an existing site that was (made by a student :-0) and whilst had some really nice illustration elements, was hard to navigate.
This project was a little unusual in that the target audience (teachers) is already captive. The site itself is not public, but used as information and forum for comment and discussion. With this in mind, we spent time comprehensively going through the Strategic Plan content itself and created a three layer flow for the navigation. The Plan itself features just a few main chapters, each with bullet points that are expanded upon. We created a fairly standard ‘top’ navigation, which features a flyout menu of the Plan sub headings. When you choose an item, it shows in the main content area on the right of the page. Any item from the plan is can be reached with this simple 1, 2, 3 flow from left to right across the screen.
The site is connected directly into the university system to allow only relevant staff access, and allows the University staff to comment and discuss each aspect of the plan individually. Staff can comment, or add video feedback.
UTurn66.com is the online presence of U Turn clothing in Tooting Bec. The friendly boutique shop features some of the best fashion clothing for women and men in South London – with brands such as Religion, Ringspun, Wrangler, House of Gods, Komodo and more.
Whilst Tooting Bec is known by some to be the centre of the universe, we wanted to create an international presence for the physical shop, as well as feature special items and offers that are available online only.
The shop features a live search – which filters, with images, as you type and helps you find things you like quickly. Each product can feature a gallery of different views and closeups to get a real shopping experience.
You can choose between three different views to help browse the clothing, and also view items in a particular price range. The shop is designed to be hands on and finding information is very easy from the Help menu.
The site is hooked up to the Google Merchant Centre, which means that the shop is connected directly to Google for product searches – helping reach a wider audience.
The site has been really well received by both regular shop customers, and also the brand suppliers.
The site receives excellent traffic outside of the UK, and the first online store customer was a lovely lady from the Netherlands. A very exciting online start to a boutique shop in Tooting Bec, London!
The Australian Burlesque Festival is back! Bigger an better than ever. Now in it’s third year, and with more cities added.
The ABF team wanted something more grown up this year. They worked with Kathy St. Clair (check out her postcards) to produce the logo rework and titling, then Artballs used the branding colour scheme and created new site layouts.
The site was extremely successful last year, and as mentioned here, top of Google for a lot of Australian Burlesque related search terms. This is in part due to SEO management being an integral part of the site structure (admittedly it is also in part of Artballs nagging advising the team to post more! 😉
The site flow has been turbocharged based on looking at the site analytics. The site still features the ‘high street’ banner system from last year. This is basically a cute looking column of banner ads (not showing on this screengrab – 2012 sponsors live shortly!). Rather than have annoying and intrusive ads within the page, Artballs came up with the High Street idea – of putting all the banners together, all on, all the time. Audacious, but it had the feel of shopping on a high street, hence the clever name!
The ads were very positively received displayed in this way and got huge click throughs.
If your business is involved in burlesque, cabaret, costume or make up (headline sponsor was Illamasqua last year), his site is THE top online advertising/sponsorship destination in Australia right now.
Now here’s the really fun stuff. The site navigation has been improved. It is easier to navigate and find things, and on the back, easier to update too – bonus!
Each city was represented in the header last year, and this year we had the cunning idea of incorporating the city names directly into a secondary ‘Buy Tickets’menu bar. We used a 1930s style ‘feathered’ ticket office arrow to give it that subtle ‘romance of travelling’ hint! So, you not only see which cities the festival comes to this year, but the city names are functional too!
The menu code design improves Google sitelinks – Buy tickets now shows – pow!
The slideshow is fully iPad/touchscreen compatible and the description text (showing on the Google screengrab) is lifted straight out of the user editable animated slidewhow – see SEO built right in!
Our favourite feature is the map – which features event dates and ticket links. We think it is the easiest ticket system we’ve ever come across! You just roll over the city stars and the show dates magically appear. Clicking the star gives you full show info and a ticket link. Voila!
Trumpet blowing, but Artballs is about innovation and fun.
If you are in Australia between 7th–24th of June, the Australian Burlesque Festival is the hottest ticket in town.