Web Design in Halifax Nova Scotia, Canada

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Clean and simple.

Posted On February 18th, 2013 Author Amy Wheaton Filed Under Branding & Web Design,

When we sit with a new client to discuss what they want their website to look like, the two adjectives we hear most often are "clean and simple".

This isn't a shocker. I don't think too many clients are on the hunt for "messy and cluttered".

But interestingly, during the design process, what starts off as "clean and simple" can quickly veer into cluttered territory - and it can be hard to pull a site back from the precipice of disaster once that line has been crossed.

Clean and simple does not mean easy. In fact, a truly clean design can be the hardest kind to maintain. It's like buying white furniture. That white couch looks gorgeous in the showroom, doesn't it? Bring it home to your kids and your dog and your coffee-drinking self, and before you know it, it's unrecognizable.

So, you're getting ready to build a website. You have a ton of information to share but you really want it to be clean and simple. How do you do both? A good web design and development studio will be able to suggest some solutions for you, but here are a couple of…

UX Design - a real thing or just a pretentious buzzword?

Posted On January 22nd, 2013 Author Kyle Racki Filed Under User-Experience,

Many business owners and marketing professionals are used to hearing the term "UX" (short for User Experience) thrown around a lot in recent years. Some may think it's just an industry buzzword with no real meaning. Well, I can say it's not. Here's all you need to know to get the gist of UX:

User Experience Design is not web design or usability. It's not information architecture, nor is it business and content strategy…it's all of those things combined. UX takes into account a user's total experience when they interact with your product or brand. 

It is not strictly tied to websites - it could also apply to a storefront or exhibition. However, it's most commonly linked with interacting with digital experiences. There are several sub-disciplines of UX, basically split into two main categories: UX Strategy and UX Design.

Image Credit: Taken from Killer UX Design by Sitepoint

Questions we ask

UX Strategy is all about the very high-level aspects of a project. It asks questions like:

  • What are the business goals of…

New Year’s Resolutions for Marketers

Posted On January 7th, 2013 Author Amy Wheaton Filed Under Business Development, Internet Marketing,

One week into 2013, it's prime time for New Year's resolutions. Just walk into any gym in North America for proof. Of course, three weeks from now it'll be a very different story. It's easy to go out on January 1 with guns a-blazing only to crash and burn by the end of the month. 

As marketers, designers, and developers, no doubt there are tons of goals we could be setting for ourselves, but trying to do too much too quickly is often our downfall. Here are five resolutions for 2013 that are actually doable and can help yield rewards throughout the new year and beyond: 

1. Resolve to add value. Clients love working with agencies and design firms. Believe it or not, clients get excited about meeting with their agency team. Quite often it's the most fun part of their day. They get to look at new designs or concepts, ask questions, give feedback, and make decisions. But clients should be looking forward to working with you for other reasons, too. What value do you offer them? Are you regurgitating the same marketing plans over and over with a different client name in…

Corporate Social Media: Is there such thing as TMI?

Posted On December 11th, 2012 Author Amy Wheaton Filed Under Business Development,

Growing up, my mom used to say, "Those who have nothing to hide hide nothing", usually right before she'd read my diary. Transparency may not be the best policy when you're 16, but the mentality is well-regarded in the professional world. Corporations make their financial records public too, whether online, in an annual report, or in a press release.  Charities are open about sharing their financial information so the public can see where their money is spent. Everybody likes to toot their own horn a little bit, so agencies of all sizes often issue a release when they win a new client or a new piece of work. 

Transparency goes beyond financial information and a public client roster. It can mean things such as sharing information about how your business is run - your internal processes, your full client list, the way you work. Most companies have a section of their website dedicated to profiling their team members, perhaps a few images of their office - a little peek inside the doors of an organization, a way to put a face to the names of the people you're working with. 

Some companies take it…

Is design perfectionism possible on the web?

Posted On December 2nd, 2012 Author Kyle Racki Filed Under Branding & Web Design, Mobile and Responsive Design, User-Experience,

I still remember back in design school, one of the very first lessons we learned during a cut paper project was that professional designers are anal-retentive perfectionists. When we mounted work, it had to be perfect. Our mat board couldn't have any tears, our printouts were cut with a metal ruler and exacto blade, our sheets centred perfectly on the board (measured two or three times). No knicks, scratches or glue bubbles were permissible on the project.

This lesson was beaten into us (not literally, most of the time) for a reason: We had to give a shit about our work. If we were that obsessive about just mounting a printout to hand in to our instructors, we should be even more attentive with work that the world would see. The kerning of letters had to be adjusted just so. The spelling had to be accurate. Things that were supposed to align had to align precisely.

If you were to lurch behind a good designer and watch him or her work, you'd probably see him moving objects on the screen pixel by pixel with the arrow key, fine-tuning the typography, or sliding the opacity…

Office Space

Posted On November 19th, 2012 Author Amy Wheaton Filed Under Business Development,

Since its incorporation, Headspace has changed locations a few times. Our office used to be located in downtown Dartmouth, followed by about a year of working remotely. Since the summer, we've been in our new home in the Hydrostone Market in Halifax.

Our team is well versed in the pros and cons of both scenarios.

Working In An Office: The Good

There are obvious benefits to working in an office, which is why probably 99 per cent of people with jobs in any industry don't work from home. 

For our team, having an office means there's always a meeting space available to chat with clients - no scrambling to find a coffee shop that isn't too noisy or showing up at our clients' location for every discussion.

Having a central workspace builds a sense of camaraderie amongst the team. It's easier to ask questions and get information from colleagues when you can see them face to face. 

I believe it also looks better for potential clients when we have a physical address. While many clients don't care where the work is taking place as long as…

A new look for an old favourite

Posted On November 14th, 2012 Author Amy Wheaton Filed Under Branding & Web Design, Internet Marketing,

On Monday, Coca-Cola rolled out its new website design, which aims to be more of an online magazine than a brand mouthpiece. Called "The Coca-Cola Journey", the new site is named for a magazine that was published for the company's employees during the 80s and 90s. It features articles, interviews, opinion pieces, videos, and blogs about a variety of topics: sports, history, health, environment. 

Sure, it's impossible not to notice that this is indeed a Coca-Cola website, with frequent references to the brand and a subjective favourable slant, but material is presented in a way that's interesting, engaging, relevant and consumer-facing. 

Coca-Cola is just the latest corporation to shift their web presence to be more about sharing a story than flat-out hawking a brand. In a New York Times interview, Ashley Brown, director for digital communications and social media with Coca-Cola, explains that his team now operates similarly to an editorial team at a magazine. 

While there's definitely a Coke-friendly "point of view" to the content, they're striving to be a credible source, open to things such as accepting opinion columns that don't necessarily jibe with the views of the company. Coca-Cola's…


Posted On November 7th, 2012 Author Amy Wheaton Filed Under Business Development, News,

I returned to work this week after a year's maternity leave and was surprised by how much has changed since I left Headspace last fall to have my munchkin. 

Things are different at the office. Our little team of five has grown to nine. We've gone from remote offices to a lovely new spot in the Hydrostone. We have a new process in place, new clients, new projects galore and a new website. 

The work we do has changed, too. Last fall we were beginning to test the waters of responsive design and had launched a couple of mobile applications for clients. This year, responsive is almost second nature, and apps and software design and development are a huge part of our business. 

It makes me think about how quickly things change, not just in the digital realm, but in the communications industry in general. I started working in advertising in 2006 and looking back on those early days slaving away as an account coordinator, there are tons of differences. Smartphones and tablets didn't exist then. There were no QR codes. Online advertising is no longer an afterthought - in fact,…

9 ways we (nearly) perfected our development process

Posted On September 8th, 2012 Author Kyle Racki Filed Under Business Development, Coding & Application Development, Branding & Web Design,

I used to think process was an ugly word. Who wants to be neck deep in charts and documentation, wasting time when we could be actually doing the design or dev work? And it’s that kind of thinking that got us screwed over on jobs our first couple of years in business.

Well this year, I think we finally got it right. Sure, there’s always room for improvement, but there are several ways in which we nailed down, perhaps our most efficient, effective process of building websites and applications, and one that actually enhances the fun for us, while also ensuring clients get what they want in the end.

Take a look at this process chart I made a few months ago:

This process shows a more refined way that we go about a project that fits into one of two camps; Either a website built in ExpressionEngine or an application built within the CodeIgniter framework.

Putting the visuals first: UX first

We’ve recently adopted a UX-first approach to most projects. The bigger and more complex the application, the more important this approach is.

Scrolling is the new… not scrolling?

Posted On July 25th, 2012 Author Kyle Racki Filed Under Branding & Web Design,

So you've often heard clients say: "There's too much on the page, people might not know to scroll. Did I mention, I HATE scrolling on websites?"

Yes, this was the reality of the web a few years ago. But is this direction really relevant now?

I say, no.

First of all, the only time scrolling ever sucked was when you had to physically maneuver your mouse over to the right side of your browser window, click and drag it down. But wheel's on mice have been standard for about 10 years ago, and on Mac laptops, you have to merely use two fingers to scroll instead of clicking and dragging anything.

And of course, touch screens have changed everything. One finger to swipe up or down the page is all it takes.

But mobile devices are the primary reason that having a lot of content on a page is not really a big deal. In fact, I'd argue that it makes for a worse user-experience to limit content to above the (imaginary) fold.

The primary reason is bandwidth. What makes more…

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