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Virginia Cantaloupe Festival poster designGlerin recently designed the poster for the 33rd Annual Virginia Cantaloupe Festival and brought a whole new look to the event.

Working with the Halifax County Chamber of Commerce, our goal was to start a new tradition of a collectable poster for all festival years beginning with 2013. This year's design has fun with changes in schedule and location from past years.

The festival is being moved to Berry Hill Resort, bringing back memories of the beautiful rolling hills that we enjoyed during the first years when it was originally held in Turbeville. Scheduling a month earlier to avoid the thunderstorms that have plagued past years resulted in a bit of local controversy since Halifax cantaloupes won't be ripe until the next month.

Never fear, though, because each festival-goer will receive a voucher good for one free cantaloupe from local growers.

After throwing around many concepts, we decided to go in a totally different direction than the festival had ever been and, having some fun with the controversy, went with the theme "The Melons Are Coming!"

The design team drew inspiration from old sci-fi movies and "The War of the Worlds" radio drama.

Hope to see you at LopeFest on June 7, 2013!

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sweet16It's hard to believe Glerin has been around since 1996, and even crazier to think back on how different things were back then when I first started developing websites professionally. I had been playing around with website development for about a year before that.

To put things in perspective, a little trivia from 1996:

  • The average American with internet access spent less than 30 minutes a month surfing the web.
  • Many people thought AOL was the internet. It was the most popular site, reaching 41% of users.
  • Travelocity opened online, and primarily travel agents were booking passengers on American Airlines.
  • Apple stock sunk to a 10-year low of $18.
  • Microsoft introduced the wheel mouse.
  • Google was first developed.
  • Netscape was the most popular browser.
  • The 5 major search engines were Yahoo!, Magellan, Lycos, Infoseek, and Excite.
  • IMDB.com came online.
  • If you had internet access you were on dialup, waiting forever for your modem to connect.
  • Average page load time was 30 seconds. (3 seconds today & people will leave your site!)
  • Developers like me were coding their sites from scratch - no WYSIWYG editors (What You See Is What You Get).
  • The internet was commonly referred to as the "World Wide Web."
  • There were 2o million internet users in America; to put this in perspective, there were over 245 million in mid-2012.
  • Time magazine featured Amazon as one of the best websites, amazed at being able to search for books by author, subject or title.

And to think many smart business people wrote the internet off as a fad!  It's mind boggling to try to imagine how much things will change in the next 16 years. Are you still waffling on your web presence?  If so, you need to start thinking seriously about the future of your business because there's no way it will survive in the long run without adapting to the new economy, of which the internet is the hub. Even now, 40% of consumers research online before purchasing offline.

For a little more nostalgia, check out these screenshots from 1996.

Time's review of Amazon's "revolutionary new way" to sell books:


Screenshot of Yahoo from 1996:

Yahoo in 1996

Screenshot of Godaddy from 1996:

Godaddy in 1996

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We've all heard the saying "beware the cost of the lowest price," and this also applies in design.  The best option doesn't necessarily have the highest price, but often the lowest priced option has the highest cost.  "How?," you ask... Let me share an experience I had today, and how poor usability cost Walmart a sale. Add enough of these sales up and it could be a substantial chunk of change, even for a company of that size.

wal-amazFirst off, remember that price is the sticker price of an item but true cost is arrived at by combining that price with what you stand to lose in sales, time, goodwill, efficiency, etc.

We needed an item for the office that wasn't available locally so I decided to order online.  I was on the road and a quick search on my phone gave the exact item I wanted for $99 at Walmart's online store.  Being in a hurry, I was prepared to order without shopping around.  The problem arose with the poor design of their mobile checkout process and Walmart's sale became Amazon's sale.

I chose the free "ship to store" option but in the next step found that the item wouldn't arrive until near the end of the month; the initial shipping options step didn't show the prices of the various paid options, so I went back to change to standard shipping to check the price & see how much quicker I could get it. The mobile checkout process didn't have the option of changing the shipping choice after it had been selected. I couldn't even select a new choice if I deleted the item from the cart and then re-added it.

Not to be deterred, I deleted the item from the cart again, closed Safari, and cleared the cookies in the iPhone settings.  Surely that would clear the shipping choice - but no joy. Exasperated, I left the site, did a new search, and found the same item on Amazon for $30 less. The net effect of poor usability in the checkout process cost them a $100 sale and saved me $30 by prompting me to look elsewhere (something I should have done anyway but since I was in a hurry and their price was reasonable I was willing to risk paying more).

The exact same product was being sold at both stores.  The only reason I found the item on Amazon - at a lower price to me - was that the poor user experience during checkout pushed me away.

Design isn't just making things look pretty.  It's making sure things work like they should when they should. After all, often that's the only difference between your product and a competitor's. When you're weighing the cost of your next design project, make sure to consider the true cost. Not only should it look nice but functionality should also be tested in every way possible, using different buyer personas, to try to anticipate customer problems and find proactive solutions.

In presenting options to our clients there will usually be a range of prices for various solutions.  We're happy to explain the price differences and whether saving on price may actually end up costing you. Sometimes the differences may be aesthetic, but many times the higher priced solution will cost less over time through more in-depth testing, or by creating a more efficient workflow, establishing a foundation you can build upon later, contributing to happier customers, or communicating your message more effectively.

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  • Lisa Kipps-Brown
    Lisa Kipps-Brown says #
    Karl, also your points are great examples of UX not just being "design" as most people think of it. Amazon's great customer servic
  • Lisa Kipps-Brown
    Lisa Kipps-Brown says #
    So true, Karl. And you would think with all the money Walmart has to spend their mobile UX would be better!

Bill Cosby's Little BillWhat do Aretha Franklin, Peter Criss (Kiss drummer), Chris Noth (Law and Order, Sex and the City), and Bill Cosby all have in common? They've all collaborated and co-written with Charles Kipps. Here's your chance to learn firsthand how to break into the entertainment industry from a guy who started with no connections and made it big in his early twenties.

5-10-15-20-25-30 years of love by the PresidentsIn his own words, this is how he got his start: "One day I was in DC, and I heard a song coming through a window.  I thought it sounded interesting.  So I walked in and saw three guys singing a song called "5-10-15-20 (25-30 Years of Love)." I told them
that I wanted to take a demo tape of it to New York.  Now keep in mind that I was in my early twenties, and I told them I could do something with it.  I called a couple of people and ended up being directed to a guy named Ron Moseley at Sussex Records.  He loved it, and it went on to be a Top 10 hit and have a Grammy nomination that year.  The group was called "The Presidents."

Charles Kipps has won Emmy, Edgar and Peabody awards, and has 7 gold records. A few highlights over the years:

  • TV credits include Exiled: A Law & Order Movie, Little Bill, Fatherhood, The Cosby Mysteries, Columbo, and Law & Order: Criminal Intent.
  • Among his film credits is Fat Albert: The Movie, co-written with Bill Cosby.
  • Crystal Death book by Charles KippsAuthor of four books: two non-fiction – Out of Focus and Cop Without A Badge – and two mystery novels - Hell’s Kitchen Homicide andCrystal DeathCrystal Death was chosen by publishing trade magazine Kirkus as one of the best mysteries of the year.
  • Wrote and produced songs for artists such as Aretha Franklin and Gladys Knight. He wrote Walk Away From Love, a number one hit for David Ruffin, former lead singer of The Temptations.
  • Produced the blockbuster song The Hustle by Van McCoy through McCoy/Kipps Productions.

If you're a writer who's serious about breaking into the entertainment industry, here's the link to the webinar (Wednesday, Jan. 16, 1pm PST): https://www.writersstore.com/ten-steps-to-break-into-the-entertainment-industry?lid=cktwspromo


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