Posts By: Anthony Rizzo

No Detail is Too Small

Posted by & filed under Brand Marketing, Corporate Identity, Think Tank.

In any successful organization, a common root to achieving today’s goals is based on a notion that no detail is too small to overlook. When designing for the world the smallest features have the capabilities of making or breaking an idea.

Thumbs Down for the Thumbs Up

Several months ago, Facebook announced the first redesign of their ‘Like’ button that had survived the web and made a large, iconic stamp on the internet. Why? With over 22 billion views a day across millions of websites, Facebook still decided it was time for a brand-leading makeover, according to the new button’s designer, Hugo van Heuven.

Absolutely nothing changed within the functionality of the button, just it’s form. It was deepened to a royal blue and the well established thumbs up icon was replaced with Facebook’s own icon. “The Like button was this light blueish thing that usually fell away,” van Heuven tells Co.Design in a recent article. “We thought we could make it more prominent, look a little bit better, and be more consistent.” Here, van Heuven speaks about consistency and not just with the brand itself, but also across the 7.5 million sites that use it. An interesting point is the ‘new’ blue color and new, reliable pixel dimensions allow for a cleaner corporate brand across the entire internet, ease of use for programmers and designers, and a heightened appeal to like things. This was definitely not a small detail to overlook and by treating it as a large overhaul ended up boosting the corporate brand and message simultaneously.

Go Ahead, Get Stuck and Watch Creativity Burst

Struggling for an idea is definitely not new to anyone in any field of design and development. If anything, it’s the first step towards solving the problem. Adapting to change is also a part of climbing out of a dark place and shine a light on the answer. Like a star gone supernova, the ideas will begin bursting from the core of the hippocampus.

Google+ has been slowly releasing updates and one in particular is the way link posts are viewed. Google also updated Hangouts to display messages similar to other messengers on the market similar to WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger. The link posts also resemble the easy-to-read post structure of Facebook. The big ideas here were legibility, simplicity, and simply what works with the intended targets. All internet users tend not to know what they want but do tend to gravitate towards what works when it comes to ease of use and engageability. The answer to Google’s issues of pleasing their users and expanding their audience was simply to bring the features of other social media outlets and unveil similar features with the Google brand. The end user gets what they want (without actually knowing they wanted it) within the intended platform, stimulating the right endorphins to keep the audience using the products.

Did it Change for the Better or Just for Good?

The overall Facebook and Google changes were very small and nothing impacted the entire site directly other than the indirect changes that allow the end users to have a better user experience. The question now: Did anything change for the better or just for good?

We know for a fact that whatever changes has been changed for good. Facebook, Google, Twitter and the myriad of social media sites borrowing from each other and accounting for their audiences’ needs are working for the better. When a change doesn’t work we see changes revert as Facebook has done before as well as slowly rolling out minor changes to eventually create a major, all-around change. In the case of TED, a major site revamp was scheduled for the first time since the site debuted in 2007 and all its users were allowed to dabble with the new design and features for some time before the release.

Ideas aren’t frozen in time. They are living and breathing things, and they continue to evolve after a talk is given. Our speakers have told us they want a way to offer more ideas and resources than fit in an 18-minute talk. And we’ve heard loud and clear from you that you want to be able to dig deeper.

— TED Staff from Introducing the new

Not only did the design and development teams offer a better video playback experience with a much more clear and organized use of space but addressed a host of questions, comments and concerns from the overall users: Ideas evolve. So must the talk, its page and contents. Mobile and non-mobile users now share a similar experience with crisp audio and video. Not too familiar with English? Access over 100+ languages with auto-scroll transcripts. A user may even monitor his or her actions and influence on each individual post. These were all very extensive additions to TED as well as showing that each minor detail was not small at all. Each was specifically solving a problem that addressed the needs of the target audience. There is no such thing as a small detail. If the smallest change has stimulated more activity, boosted interest to new and old users and expanded the user experience and interface, then the small change was a big success.

What Does 5 Days of TED Feel Like?

Posted by & filed under Infographic, Think Tank.

TED 2014 has come and gone. Lucy Farey-Jones is asked the question, “What does five days of TED feel like?”

Upon my re-entry to the real world, friends, clients and folks at my firm say: ‘How was TED?’ And there is a big pause from me as my brain tries and fails to sum it up. It’s an impossible question to answer. It’s like being asked ‘How is food?’ or ‘Puberty — how was it?’ Which is where this idea came in. I thought a way to answer this daunting question would be to make a graphic which tries to capture how TED makes me feel. I gave myself the challenge to capture 5 days in one page.

Click here to see her infographic in full detail.

Gastrotypographicalassemblage! | The Typographic Mural

Posted by & filed under Typography.

Gastrotypographicalassemblage, Lou Dorfsman’s 1966 typographic mural design for the CBS New York headquarters cafeteria has been restored and permanently installed at the Culinary Institute of America’s Marriott Pavilion and Conference Center in Hyde Park, NY.

Gastrotypographicalassemblage embodies design and art movements popular in New York in the 1960s. Three-dimensional words about food, in various typefaces and lettering styles, interlock with wry sculptures of everyday delicacies, such as bagels, a sandwich, and canned food, and the whole is suggestive of the work of artists such as Andy Warhol and Robert Indiana, as well as the Push Pin enthusiasm for eccentric nineteenth-century type. The compartmentalization of the wooden words and letters also reflects a minor fad in the 1960s and ’70s for wood type and obsolete type cases. Dorfsman himself recounts that inspiration for the wall grew out of a birthday gift he made for CBS president Frank Stanton that was a collection of wood type, metal type, and CBS memorabilia nestled into the compartments of a type case.

How Solving a Problem Creatively is Easier Than You Thought

Posted by & filed under Think Tank.

Don’t overthink it. Solving a problem creatively is child’s play. Literally. Growing up, children ask many questions and come up with wild conclusions. As we grow older we tend to relax on the wild questions and focus on the boundaries set around us. There’s nothing wrong with this when it comes to all professions such as accounting, following the processes of law, rules of conduct for business, carrying through branding elements on a new project, etc. When a problem surfaces in any industry it does requires asking these questions again in order to come to a solution.

Break It Down

A common obstacle to creative problem solving is functional fixedness, a concept of Gestalt Psychology. The gestalt effect is the form-generating capability of our senses, particularly with respect to the visual recognition of figures and whole forms instead of just a collection of simple lines and curves. Basically, our eyes work by building a perceived whole from the sum of an object’s parts. Solving a problem creatively requires one to break down these parts and examine them individually. Only then can one begin to solve the parts of the whole problem in question.

Case Study: Ariel Laundry Detergent recently unveiled a new ad campaign that rebranded designer clothing with familiar stains we don’t want on those brand clothes. A fantastic and subtle approach draws attention to a wonderful photograph of clean clothes and after reading the tag on the shirt or jacket you’re eyes head down to the tagline: Get your cardigan back and Get your jacket back.

banana-pudding“Banana Pudding” and “Dolce de Leche” for Ariel Laundry Detergent campaign; produced by Baumann Ber Rivnay in Israel.


What Am I Implying and What Was Inferred?

When presented with a problem to solve, creative firms and marketing agencies brainstorm after breaking down the elements and assemble a solution. What most tend to forget is to ask further questions upon viewing the best selected answers for the problem: What am I implying?

An advertising agency pitched a campaign to use condoms. They examined the facts that were needed to achieve this goal by pointing out a single argument in the headline and adapted a simple illustration to convey a bad guy who is wearing the product; essentially stating you won’t be a bad guy with this on. The colors and simple illustration bring attention while hitting the slogan’s message … head on. A Dutch carwash company wanted to promote their services as a protection to the car’s paint. To do this they focused on an iconic issue all car drivers, no matter what country you live in. A series of birds wearing diapers draws in the eye and conveys the message that there is nothing to stop Loogman from cleaning your car and protecting it from the next assault.

aquatroLeft: “Don’t be the bad guy. Use condom.” produced by Aquatro in Vitoria, Brazil. Bottom: “Your car paint needs protection.” for Loogman Carwash; produced by Social Glue in Amsterdam, The Netherlands.


Case Study: Above are examples of advertising solutions. One implies you’re being the bad guy if you don’t take responsibility. The other implies protection from the elements, for lack of a better word. The goals were achieved and obviously in a creative manner. They both grab attention immediately while conveying the basic message without inferring anything other than the intended message.

Does It Work?

Roughly a year ago we were approached by a small supplier of preservative-free and homemade dog biscuits. A logo for the company was created elsewhere so it was in our best interest to help our client expand upon the design and brand the product according to promote the idea of fresh, healthy and tasty biscuits for your pets for the average pet owner. We explored many small boutique and business brands from across the world and compared what was working and not working in each message. Finally we narrowed down our designs to an overall, nostalgic and vintage color scheme that illuminates the DIY approach of the product and is represented within the company’s brand.

Wags N’ Kisses Bakery was promoted lightly and the product took storm across the Eastern coast and from one person’s kitchen to several retail chains in over nine stores nationwide. By simply giving a hearty substance to the online store and website we were able to connect the logo and brand to a hearty product. This is your final question: Does it work? It is rhetorical and answers itself throughout the creative process. As long as you are able to address what it is you want to imply and understand everything there is to infer then you are able to realize if it works. If not, might as well get back to the drawing board and continue asking yourself and others a lot of questions.

Behave Responsively

Posted by & filed under HTML + CSS.

We are now 14 years into a new millenium with roughly 11 to 12% of the top 100,000 sites being responsive and there’s no doubt more will follow down this path. Responsive web design is not just a new trend but also a new approach towards the future of website experiences and interface in general. Being the marketing director or project manager you are, you sit there, watching these trends, viewing the sites and seeing the terms adaptive and responsive web design being tossed around. Next you wonder, what does all that mean and how can it be done effectively to benefit my company and/or clients?

Responsive Web Design vs. Adaptive Web Design

With tablets, mobile devices and various gadgets hitting the market, it’s beginning to overwhelm organizations struggling to keep up and integrate their businesses with these new technologies to address the issues encompassing user interactions and experiences. The good news is the general internet and mobile device users do not generally care how you approach the dilemma as long as they can effectively navigate and gain information from your organization on whatever device they are using at the time. There are two methods to solving the problem of bringing a website’s media up to modern device standards.

Responsive Web Design (RWD)

The phrase Responsive Web Design was coined several years ago by Ethan Marcotte and introduced in his A List Apart article, “Responsive Web Design” and later, his book, A Book Apart – Responsive Web Design. Responsive website design usually begins with the primary task of incorporating CSS3, media queries, the @media rule, and fluid grids that use percentages to create a flexible foundation. The websites structure relies on EMs, flexible images, flexible videos, and fluid type, allowing the responsive website to adapt its layout to the viewing device, user agent, and environment.

The distilled definition of a responsive web design is that it will fluidly change and respond to fit any screen or device size.

Adaptive Web Design (AWD)

The phrase Adaptive Web Design was coined by Aaron Gustafson, who wrote the book of the same title. It essentially utilizes many of the components of progressive enhancement (PE) as a way to define the set of design methods that focus on the user and not the browser. This Bauhaus approach uses a predefined set of layout sizes based on device screen size along with CSS and JavaScript in order to adapt to the detected device.

The three layers of Progressive Enhancement include:

  • Rich content layer with semantic HTML markup
  • Presentation layer with Cascading Style Sheets (CSS)
  • Client-side scripting layer of JavaScript or jQuery

The basic definition of adaptive web design is that it will change to fit a predetermined set of screen and device sizes.

So what’s the difference?

The main similarity between them is that they allow the website to be viewed in mobile devices and on various screen sizes. Where the two methods differ is in their delivery of the solution. RWD will repsond to the screens as pages load and switch between media while AWD dynamically builds the websites framework with pretermined settings versus responding to the media presented. RWD might present itself with more code with CSS, fluid grids, and a flexible foundation. AWD is the streamlined approach where all options are predetermined utilizing scripting to adapt the media to the current display.

Since the viewer really doesn’t care which one you use, bringing a successful user experience relies on choosing either a fluid or adaptable foundation for your website. After picking which road to go down, it’s up to the developers to make sure that site behaves responsively or adaptively.