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Archive for the ‘Design’ Category

Jump Start Your Business: 10 Steps to Engaging User Experience

Tuesday, March 31st, 2015

“A UX designer is coordinating, orienting, helping all of the other folks [designers] achieve some common goal, a singular intent… UX designers lead organizations to ensure that great experiences get out into the world.” – Peter Merholz, author of Subject to ChangeUser Experience

User experience design (UX design) has become the key to successful websites and businesses alike. 2014 was an amazing year for experience design, embracing minimalism and imagery. (more…)

Desert AdFed – AdBAM, Massive Marketing Summit

Friday, January 30th, 2015



Our little digital desert community is growing. While I thrive on everything digital, technical and growing my client’s business – it’s awesome to connect, in real life, with fellow professionals in the Coachella Valley.

Desert Ad Fed recently held the first Ad BAM, massive marketing summit and media auction. It’s a premiere event where digital marketing and advertising business leaders share their ideas, successes and trends in what has become – the new normal.

Discussions encompassed all things advertising and digital with a memorable keynote speaker and great breakout sessions, where we could take our pick from six speakers.

After soaking in all of the emerging technologies and experimental marketing practices – the excitement lead into their annual AdFed Media Auction.  Attendees purchased media at drastically reduced prices.

Peter Buck, Creative Director at Red Bull, North America started off the summit with an in-your-face keynote “speech”.  Red Bull sells more than 5 billion cans of soft drink a year. He had a European Mad Men’esque sort of demeanor.

“I’m not going to talk about customer relationship marketing, about KPIs and I will not talk about ROIs. What I’m going to talk about is the ‘Oh My Gods,’” said Buck.

Yeah, I liked him immediately.

Buck has experience working for some of the best agencies in Europe: from Munich, Hamburg, Düsseldorf, Frankfurt to London – before joining Kastner & Partners in Los Angeles as a Partner and Creative Director.

His message was to look beyond the obvious, have fun and do the don’ts.  All messages I personally love to live by, in varying degrees.

His “Element of Surprise” presentation started off with getting “surprisingly close”, with a Red Bull POV mountain biking video with inhumane flipping, spinning and leaping on a narrow, dirt trail that left our hearts racing.

I thought, “Oh my God.”

Get surprisingly personal, surprisingly thoughtful or surprisingly entertaining.

Check out the commercial that put Cadbury back on the map.

What does a gorilla have to do with a chocolate egg?  Nothing, really. But this was inspired and surprisingly entertaining and was able to capture imagination.

And it took Britain by storm.

Or, get surprisingly noisy.

Red Bull stormed into Pairs as they launched its energy drink in France in 2008, joining up with hundreds of other Red Bull minis at the Arc de Triomphe.  The drivers then surprised curious Parisians by giving them free samples of the energy drink.


Photocredit: (c)Richard Walch/Red Bull Photofiles)

Get surprisingly simple, surprisingly silly or surprisingly dramatic.

A Belgian agency brought the drama to Belgium with a real-life, crazy stunt.  Goading people to push a big red button… well, you’ll see:

Duval Guillaume was the agency for the TNT stunt, a leader in guerrilla agency tricks in Europe. It was one of the biggest viral video ads of the year, with 4.5 million views in the first 24 hours.

Who else wouldn’t want to see football players, gunfire, fistfights and bikers in lingerie all at the same time?

Alternatively, companies can get surprisingly emotional, which this small Los Angeles based fashion label did with their “First Kiss” video.

Wren produced a video in 2014 featuring 20 strangers who were asked to kiss for the first time. Here, a kiss isn’t just a kiss. It proved to be sensitive, heartwarming and oddly passionate.

Peter Buck talked about the minimal branding and how that helped it made a massive success. I thought the song chosen was brilliant and honestly made me tear up. It was – indeed – surprisingly emotional.

The “First Kiss” video has been viewed 156 million times. The budget for the video was about $1,300.

Buck then gave more amazing advertising examples. Try your marketing hand at being surprisingly scary, surprisingly shocking, surprisingly curious or one of my favorites, surprisingly empowering.

It can’t be easy to promote more feminine products, but Always created a campaign that won over not just girls, but Dad’s – like Buck – across the world.

Be disruptive. Be daring or long lasting. Do the don’ts.

Never stop surprising.

Say Hello to Ello

Friday, January 9th, 2015

ello-banner---698x400Any social network that is able to gain global interest and popularity by some Californian drag queens will spark my curiosity.

The animated artists fled Facebook after the giant social network began to impose a “real names” requirement on users. But these smoky eye experts haven’t been the only social-ites that are fed up with Facebook.

Ello was created by a group of artists and designers from the Berger & Föhr Studios who were tired of social networks that rely on users to sell advertising and selling their users’ data to other advertisers.

Users are rushing to join Ello and – at one point – the network was seeing 35,000 sign-ups hourly.

These design-minded owners fueled more interest with their invitation-only membership. A fellow web-minded cohort and I requested account invitations at the same time. When I received mine and he didn’t, we both had to wonder what their selection process was, if any.

Perhaps it’s part of the allure, rolling out the network like a Hollywood club, pulling back the red rope to the “VIP section”.  And admittedly, I did feel a little cool.

It reminded me of using a Mac for the first time as a longtime PC user.

It’s simple, hipstery and so-minimalist-it-hurts. It was almost daunting at first.

When I started poking around and following fellow Ello users, I realized that most of the users were photographers, artists, designers, architects, filmmakers and the like.

It’s like Burning Man digitally exploded on my desktop.



Did Ello somehow find out that photography was my first love? Either way, I was intrigued.

Soon they’ll be offering “special features” that people can pay for if they’d like to add them to their account. Will it out-social Facebook?  I doubt it.  Not after Facebook has spent billions and have snatched up other services like Instagram and WhatsApp. And I don’t think people will abandon Facebook so quickly after spending years building their moments and connections.

Some can even argue that well targeted ads are welcome (new craft brewery in L.A. you say? Okay, I’ll “like”.). Despite this, Ello is a breath of fresh air.

Here are 15 things you should know about the new social network:

  1. No advertising: the owners pledge that your account data will never be made available to third parties for advertising or commercial purposes.
  2. The site is a platform built for posting and sharing content publicly. Search engines will be able to see the content you post.
  3. Ello is more similar to Twitter and Google+ than Facebook. You can follow any user without having to be followed back, and anyone can follow you.
  4. It’s currently only available on desktop, for another two months. They will release the mobile app in Q1 2015.
  5. You place accounts that you follow into one of two groups: Friends or Noise.
  6. Like Tumblr, you can post photos and written thoughts, long or short.
  7. There is no “like” button. They may roll out their own version, in order to save posts for reading later.
  8. Your username is also your URL, which you can change at any time.
  9. You can view your “NOISE” stream as the same layout as your “FRIENDS” stream. Just toggle your NOISE layout back and forth from expanded to compressed view by pressing Shift—5.
  10. Find the Ello logo, to place on your website here.
  11. The company plans to offer more advanced features in an a la carte fashion. And these features will not likely be free.
  12. Brands can request invitations to Ello just as anyone else can.
  13. Ello now has more than 1 million members.
  14. To create a post, click the black box and start typing. Upload photos by clicking the double window icon just below the gray text box.
  15. Ello’s founders and investors have signed a new charter that prohibits the company from selling user data or ads, and should the company be sold, it would also force the new owners to comply with these terms.

Here’s how to get started:Ello Social Network Infographic

  • Request an invitation:  You can be invited by others. Those who don’t know anyone offering invites can be put on a waiting list for Ello-extended invites by entering their email addresses in the form on the home page.
  • Once you have an invite code, go to https://ello.co/join to create your account.
  • Signing up:  Ello asks you to choose a username, which is also your URL.
  • Click the large circle to upload a photo – recommended size is 340×340.
  • Create a post. Go ahead, upload an unusually large image and write a paragraph or three.
  • Discover: Click on the Discover icon to find interesting users to follow & friend.

Above your friends list, you see a button for adding/discovering friends, one for sending invites and another for settings.

Ello Social Network Friends ListAs of January 7th, the programmers listed some updates (quoted from “Dev Update” in Ello):

  1. Ello should be way faster. We updated some stuff that makes stuff post and update like lightening.
  2. The REPLY ALL button in comments is now only available on your own posts. We did this to prevent Spam as we found a few people overusing this button a bit (shame on you!).
  3. The comment bar no longer has the poster’s username pre-populated. When you comment on someone’s post, they’re automatically notified. If you want someone else to be notified, mention them!
  4. Users can now follow & unfollow the @ello user, which is a running stream of some of our favorite posts from Ello.


“We are not trying to compete with Facebook,” Budnitz says. “We see Facebook as an advertising platform. We see Ello as a social network.”

Whether Ello is the next big thing remains to be seen.

Right now, Ello is an escape for people wanting to express themselves on a clean canvas. Social behavior continues to evolve, signaling the need for marketers to grow, blossom and connect in new, different and beautiful ways.

But don’t be fickle. Don’t say goodbye to the other social networks just because the younger, sexier one has come along.  More importantly, understand social behavior by using your interactions to build trust, loyalty and advocacy.

Unbounce CTA conference – September 2014

Wednesday, September 17th, 2014

Unbounce put together their first kick-ass Call-to-Action (CTA) conference (cussing really got the point across in a ‘no-bullshit’ kinda’ way) in one of the most beautiful cities in the world. It was in Vancouver that we learned how to create a successful landing page and post-click experience for our clients.


 Behold 25 Tweet Takeaways ~


Graphtek Supports the Coachella Valley Community

Friday, December 13th, 2013

Here at Graphtek, we not only want to help businesses grow, we like to see our community grow and prosper by supporting non-profits like Desert Best Friend’s Closet.

Desert Best Friend’s Closet empowers low-come Coachella Valley residents to attain employment through education and wardrobe services. Desert Best Friend’s Closet partners and collaborates with other agencies in the Coachella Valley to provide interview-appropriate attire at no cost to individuals seeking employment who do not have the means to buy such attire themselves.

Graphtek made a donation to the cause by building the site in approximately two weeks, for free.  We launched it on November 13th 2013.

Graphtek President, Kate Spates said, “I was so excited to hear Desert Best Friends Closet was chosen for the Extreme Non-Profit makeover and I couldn’t wait to dig in to redesign her website. I felt like her website could do a better job to simplify what Connie’s organization does, what they need from the community and who they help. By using images with text in the photo slider at the top, along with simple calls to action, we achieved that.”

“This site shows Desert Best Friend’s Closet as a more polished and professional agency that we are striving to become,” said Connie Golds, President and Co-Founder of Desert Best Friend’s Closet.
We want to wish Desert Best Friend’s Closet and those seeking employment big successes in 2014 and beyond!


What makes a great website?

Thursday, November 7th, 2013

Good web design is a careful balance between technology and aesthetics.  When you visit an eye catching website, what is it that makes it stand out?  Is it the visuals?  Is it the content? Or, the easy navigation?

The following are some important factors to take into consideration when designing or purchasing a website.

Your online image should reflect your offline identity. Ultimately, you want your website to connect the user with the information they are searching for. You want to do this by peaking and keeping their interest.  This is where your company should craft a mission statement and business goals and objectives.  A pretty site does nothing without strategy.  A well designed website should fulfill the business objective, whether it’s to inform or sell.

Your target audience’s interests should be the overarching consideration in determining the style of your site.  Consider Orbitz.com or Expedia.com websites. Their layout and styling focus on the search tool rather than adding flashy elements.Web-Design-Infographic_200x765

Understanding the human thought process is important in designing an idyllic experience on the web.

–    Clean Visual Design: Keep is simple. You’ve heard it over and over. The visual effects play an important role in the communication of content, but only as long as it serves the website’s primary purpose. The aesthetics should support the navigation and interaction functions.  CSS transitions can help us to make website interactions more human.

–    Ease of Use: Start out with a structure that appeals to and works with your audience first. The last thing you want is for visitors to become flummoxed by a confusing website. Simply, make sure people can effortlessly find the information they’re looking for. This is where text structure, search placement and other site elements come into play. If your viewers have to go searching, then your navigation is too complex. Knowing how users move around a web site is useful in keeping their interest and helping them easily find what they’re looking for. Increasing the usage of the successful callouts and eliminating the ineffective ones will increase conversions.

–    Functionality: Whether it’s to inform, entertain or serve as an e-commerce platform, a good website has to serve its purpose. It can be the most strikingly beautiful site you’ve seen in years, but if you can’t find the information quickly, you’re going to leave. Your site on a mobile device should anticipate their need and address it with design and navigation that allows them to easily find whatever it is they need. Make the site intuitive.

–    Speed: About 30% of consumers will start to abandon a website after 5 seconds of loading time.  There are many factors to consider in making a site load faster. Simplify design elements can not only increase the speed, but can be popular aesthetically. It won’t matter how pretty your site is if nobody waits around long enough to read it.

–    SEO:  A gorgeous website doesn’t do much good if no one can find it!  Content is king! This can be augmented through blog posts, static pages, eBooks, YouTube videos and more. Keywords, frequency and relevance are crucial in your SEO efforts. Establish an ongoing content marketing campaign where relevant and timely content is placed on your website, regularly. Google will reward websites with fresh, relevant content.

With the massive increase in mobile usage, responsive web design provides an optimal viewing experience across all devices.  Creating a website version for each resolution and new device would be impractical, given the endless number of resolutions and devices. New devices with new screen sizes are being developed every day, so web design should automatically adjust.  Responsive design is just that, responsive. It’s the concept that design and development should respond to the user’s behavior and environment based on screen size, platform and orientation.

Believe it or not, there is a science to how we view the web. Companies like Google, Barnes & Noble and eBay are all integrating neuroscience discoveries into their web design.  Our eyes will be drawn to certain common elements of web design.

EyeQuant uses algorithms based on eyetracking studies and research to evaluate web sites, claiming they can predict where a viewer’s attention will go when they load a web site. Realeyes uses computer vision to read people’s faces and to measure how they feel.

The significance of a good web design in the modern day is monumental. Be sure you have an expert/s working with your business’ best interest in mind.

Recent Work: RandyWillardInc.com Gets a Website Redesign

Tuesday, July 24th, 2012

Randy Willard WebsiteIs there any fashion designer faux pas worse than having outdated collections on the brand’s website?

For men’s custom clothing designer and desert resident Randy Willard, who frequently styles and designs custom clothing for high profile athletes, releasing a new clothing collection meant his website would become outdated.

Willard, who designs custom suits for clients including Emmy Award-winning sportscaster Joe Buck, NBA player Grant Hill and former NFL player Kevin Carter, was frustrated with his website when he turned to Graphtek for help. He needed an easy-to-update website design that could keep up with his fashion forward collections.

He also wanted his website to be a strong tool to help sell the look that Randy Willard’s collections offer. We knew nothing could sell the Randy Willard look better than high quality fashion photography, but the existing website design wasn’t very photo-friendly.

“Randy has always had amazing photography but it had to be cropped to fit his old site,” Graphtek President Kate Spates said. “When we started the redesign, we wanted to make it so that the photography would be the center of the design.”

Keeping this in mind, Graphtek recently redesigned the Randy Willard website to focus on dramatic, full-screen fashion photography, allowing his products to speak for themselves.

And with Willard’s fashions constantly moving forward, we needed to ensure that his website could keep up with his new collections. To achieve this, Graphtek incorporated a user-friendly content management system into the redesign that will allow Randy and his team to easily change the website’s photos, headlines and content as needed. Collections can easily be changed out as soon as they become dated, and the CMS also allows Willard to update the “Events” page with information on the various charitable events and social functions he donates to.

Since Randy Willard is not only a designer but also a renowned stylist, we added a “Stylist” page that features his handpicked style pairings. As Willard says, a beautiful suit means nothing if not styled correctly, so his redesigned website provides plenty of visual inspiration on the art of styling.

The redesigned and recently launched randywillardinc.com is now an immersive men’s fashion experience that effectively sells the Randy Willard look by focusing on stunning photography that’s easy to update.

With summer being off-season in the Coachella Valley, it’s the perfect time to redesign your website. Whether you want to make a few functionality changes or completely overhaul your existing website, starting your website redesign during the summer means your perfect website will be ready for business this fall.

At Graphtek, we understand that there’s more to effective website design than templates and text. We specialize in custom-designed websites that work for your business, and we’re ready to help your website reach the next level. Whether you need website design, a site redesign or other digital marketing services, contact Graphtek today to discuss how a digital marketing strategy can benefit your business.

“Surf the Musical” Launches Marketing Campaign for Vegas Production

Wednesday, May 9th, 2012
Surf the musical

“Surf the Musical” might be hitting the stage in Las Vegas this summer, but the ‘60s surfer love story has Coachella Valley roots.

Graphtek worked with the producer of “Surf the Musical,” a full-time valley resident, to create the original artwork and website for the highly-anticipated musical hitting the stage at Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas June 11, 2012. The producer worked with our agency previously and knew our creative resources and capabilities would create the perfect branding for the production.

Even more important for our client was the ability to be involved. By working with a local marketing agency, our client was able to have the hands-on interaction that one only gets by working with a local agency. His creativity wasn’t diluted by emails or Skype chats. Instead, he could come directly to our office to work with our creative team, going from concept to implementation without delay.

Because of our client’s accelerated schedule, we had to move very quickly to get “Surf the Musical” ready for its summer debut. The artwork for this project needed to span the generations to bridge the gap between ‘60s music and modern times. Not only did our artwork need to be multi-generational, but it would require the versatility to work in a variety of formats, ranging from video displays to traditional print.

While the project originally explored using royalty-free images and photography for marketing, we quickly realized that neither would be capable of setting the right tone for the project’s ‘60s surf vibe. It soon became clear that original illustrations would create the ideal face for “Surf the Musical.”

The illustration also needed to encapsulate the laid back vibe of California beaches in the ‘60s, and we needed an illustrator with just the right style to bring the concept to life. With Graphtek’s vast network of creative talent, we were able to quickly locate the perfect illustrator for the project.

As we worked to evolve the concept into an illustration well-matched for the show, Brooke was born. From her blonde hair and blue bikini to her red surfboard and quintessential tan, Brooke is the epitome of ‘60s surfer girl. The illustrated Brooke is now the face of “Surf the Musical” and adorns billboards, taxi cab toppers , video screens and printed materials.

As the face of SurfTheMusical.com, Brooke can also be seen on the Graphtek-designed site. Graphtek’s in-house creative team also drew inspiration from ‘60s surf culture to develop the logotype, which incorporates surf-style lettering and a chrome finish. With a solid website and versatile artwork in its marketing arsenal, “Surf the Musical” is ready to hit the Planet Hollywood stage on June 11th.

From branding and artwork to web design and SEO, our one-stop marketing agency has the creative resources and marketing expertise to grow your business. Discover how Graphtek can fulfill your marketing needs by contacting us today!

BIGHORN Golf Club uses new technology with redesign.

Friday, March 16th, 2012

BIGHORN Golf Club, a gorgeous landmark located at the base of the mountains in Palm Desert, came to Graphtek Interactive for a website redesign. Their old site was created using Flash technology, which does not work with any mobile Apple products such as iPhone, iPod & iPad. They needed their site to be visually beautiful, yet functional across all platforms. Utilizing emerging technologies, such as a fully customized Content Management System (G|CMS) providing high level access to a broad range of media including high-definition images, responsive elements, dynamic content windows, custom video, and database connectivity to both members and non-members alike. Designed by Ed and Paul, implemented by Israel.

The Art Place in Palm Desert gets a site refresh

Friday, March 2nd, 2012
The Art Place Palm Desert

The Art Place in Palm Desert, famous for their monthly Art Walk’s, refreshed their site as part of their monthly G|ROI program with Graphtek Interactive. Part of our ROI program is evaluating the current website and it was time to refresh after reviewing our analytics. In this new design, we utilized rich colors and organized the site in an easy-to-use format where users can easily find what they are looking for and it highlights all the stores in the center. Designed by Paul and implemented by Chris.