OmniStudio was honored to host the Life Skills Center’s Paint + Paper Art Show and Sale this week. The Life Skills Center, Omni’s 2013 ReachOut Partner, offers an amazing and unique service to an underserved community, providing a warm and friendly homelike atmosphere where people with severe disabilities learn job skills, create art, and enjoy supportive daytime activities.
At Wednesday’s art show, dozens of pieces crafted by the Center’s participants were on display and for sale. Converting the Studio into a gallery and event space included the presentation of the artists’ works and photography shot at the Center displayed on monitors throughout the studio.
Omni worked across all levels of event planning to ensure success. From the redesign of the Center’s visual identity to event promotion strategy, to donation collection using digital solutions like PayPal Here and Square apps, Omni’s staff developed a strong partnership with the Center’s leadership.
“Omni’s work has remade us,” said Carlye Christianson, Interim Executive Director at the Center. “Omni truly took us under their wing. In all my experience working with non-profits, I have never encountered an entire organization that has had such a positive response to clients on all matters,” she said.
The event even sparked an idea for a simple e-commerce platform for selling artwork on their new website under development at Omni now. “I wish I could continue to shop, or browse new pieces from these artists as they are completed,” one guest said.
In addition to the sale of art pieces, which raised funds for the Center, the art show rallied community support for the Center’s programs, a core goal of Omni’s partnership with Life Skills. “By every measure the evening was a tremendous success and served as a fitting and robust re-launch of our art program, as well as our first foray into the world of special events fundraising,” said Joan Caivano, President of the Board of the Life Skills Center. “We expanded our community of friends and supporters. The proceeds and expanded community will provide crucial funding for Life Skills’ programs and activities well into the future.”
The art program has served as a core offering for over 20 years, providing participants with opportunities for creative expression in a variety of media. Artistic expression enables participants to share intellectual and emotional concepts, and the artwork that emerges is simply beautiful.
Drawing on the history and significance of the art program, founder and long-time supporter Virginia Schofield remembered an artist’s quote about Life Skills in the Washington Post several years ago. Schofield recalled, “the exhibition allowed others to see what individuals who had no preconceived notions of what art could actually do were capable of presenting. That idea still holds true, and the show at OmniStudio confirmed once again the truth of that insight.”
Omni is thrilled to offer solutions for fundraising challenges like this one. It’s a part of what makes us passionate to communicate the missions of our clients every day.
As consumers, we are always being told to upgrade our software, be it on our phones, on our computers, on our GPS devices. It has become second nature to click that upgrade button whenever prompted. It’s no wonder then, that we apply this behavior to our websites. More often than not though, the upgrade is not what you expected, so instead of getting a fully functional website, you are left with a site that is sometimes broken. Even though the developers of the website framework have updated their software, many of the custom add-ons and plugins used to enhance your site’s functionality have not been updated and therefore cease to work after upgrading. What can be done?
Our approach has always been a very methodical one. When we work with a client on an upgrade:
We build a development site that mimics the live website
We upgrade the website to the latest version of software
We then go on a functionality fact-finding mission, checking where the site is not performing properly
Afterwards, we begin to look for solutions, be it a new plugin or modifying the existing one to work as needed
After a full review of the site by Omni and the client, we take the upgraded site live to production.
Leaving website upgrades to the experts is part of why we, the experts, are here. Here at OmniStudio, we are trained for this, and are in this business to provide our clients with positive results, ensuring both quality and completeness of work. We love beautifully designed, fully functional websites and we get really upset when they break, much the way you feel when your boss tells you, you can’t have a karaoke machine in the office. (No? Just us?). So the next time you’re tempted to press that upgrade button on your website, we recommend taking these three easy steps:
We’re thrilled to share some exciting news about one of our design pieces for OPIC, the Overseas Private Investment Corporation. Their 2011 annual report, designed by OmniStudio and printed by Westland Enterprises, Inc., won several awards at last night’s Excellence in Print Awards competition (hosted by the Printing and Graphics Association Mid-Atlantic), including Best of Annual Reports–Process. Anne Redmiles from Westland Enterprises, Inc., comments on this recognition:
“The competition was indeed tough. We were up against six other contenders in this category, but the judges were wowed by the complex characteristics of the piece and the outstanding design from the team at OmniStudio.”
Omni is excited for Westland and pleased that OPIC’s piece received such great recognition. We are proud to be part of a creative, skillful, impactful team. Like Westland, we take great pride in our work. Let us know if we can help you with your next inspiring print or design project.
We have come a long was from the first pages built and shared on the internet. Remember when you had to type in “Click Here” to guide users to clicking on a link if they wanted to open and read a report? Now everyone knows what underlined text means on a website.
Design for the web continues to evolve, which means that eventually in the cycle of every organization there comes a time when the website needs to be revisited. Don’t worry! We can help you with that!
You should first figure out what is and is not working on your current website, and not from the perspective of a dedicated Board Member, who, for example, has an affinity for a terrible shade of green, or navigation ideas that are not in sync with your audience.
Here’s what you need to do. First draft some questions like the user experience exercise below. You’ll want to run a few tests to make sure that the tasks you want site visitors to accomplish can be completed quickly and intuitively.
1. Look around this page and tell me what you make of it? Just think out loud a little.
2. Who do you think owns this site?
3. Who is the target audience for this site?
4. What do you think you can do on this site?
5. What do you think is the purpose of this website?
6. How would you donate to this organization? (go through the steps on the site to see how long it takes; mark down the time)
7. Where would you go to read this organization’s latest content?
8. How would you find information about a particular staff member?
9. Where would you go to take action on a campaign or read a recent report?
10. How would you RSVP to an upcoming event?
11. What social media channels is this organization operating on? How do you know?
Then, invite three to six volunteers to be your testers. Lure them with cookies, gift cards, gratitude, or donuts—all of the above work. These volunteers, either non-website staff members or entirely external volunteers (your mom, your best friend, your uncle) will take the brief test of your site while you observe them.
As you run through the questions with your volunteers, you’ll begin to see what may not be working for current site users. On top of that you have data to show your Board Member, helping her to see that people think the color green means you’re an environmental group, and that they didn’t know you had a Facebook page so they couldn’t RSVP for your annual fundraiser. Tons of potential donors missed teachers singing karaoke to help purchase new books for students (they didn’t even know you had events or lobbied Congress on education reform).
Armed with this information, you are ready to take the first step in redesigning your website, or you have learned that your website works really well for visitors and you have succeeded in your quest to communicate your mission online. Either way congrats, and let us know how you did!
In 140 characters, what does your job entail? Working with the Capitol Visitor Center to design print and digital materials for visitors and staff while maintaining their photo library.
What’s your favorite device and how often do you use it? My iPad— everyday. Not too big and not too small—I can check my email, catch up on the news, read a book or watch a movie on the iPad.
Which social platform do you use most often? Facebook helps me stay connected to my friends all over the world and to art events happening all over the DC area.
What do you like best about your job? Working onsite for our client helps give me the hands-on institutional knowledge and personal experience which helps inform my design.
What recent project challenged and inspired you? Converting a project from print to digital by learning how to build an app has been a fun learning experience. The boundaries of the printed page are lifted and you’re challenged to think in a different way.
What cause are you passionate about? Helping collect and preserve DC history and community. As a native Washingtonian, I know that this city has a rich history and is ever changing. There are so many stories to tell, so by transcribing interviews with the Ruth Ann Overbeck Capitol Hill History Project or by volunteering with the Hill Center at the Old Naval Hospital, I feel connected with the community I love while helping to preserve a bit of history.
UXPADC hosted a great presentation to kick off the New Year with Mona Patel, a lead thinker in the UX world. Mona’s presentation challenged everyone to suspend their disbelief, or at least the rules, and open themselves to some new key principles of interactive design.
Mona introduced an idea that was uncomfortable at first. She said that web/mobile users, especially younger ones, are no longer satisfied with or impressed by the standards — they think traditional sites are boring.
In order to truly design to inspire and amaze, Mona said, “Throw out the rules.” For example, we are seeing a renaissance of the vertical scroll — a trend that comes from UX-based design for tablets. Through growing popularity and use of iPads and other mobile devices, people are more comfortable scrolling, and they are willing to do that on websites from their desktop now too if it makes sense.
Users are much more attuned to the web now, and, with just a few seconds to attract their interest, designers must veer from the ordinary. Mona pointed to the Dominos Tracker app that allows you to follow your pizza through the baking process. Mona said she and her two-year-old order pizza more often now because they can watch their pies progress from dough to delivery.
Innovative design is generated from curiosity, Mona said. It’s the same level of curiosity that breaks the rules—a state she calls “structured chaos.”
Mona turns to eBay and Pinterest as sites that play with structure and chaos. eBay’s new layout presents content more pictorially now, because they found that buyers wanted to see products rather than read text descriptions.
Pinterest takes this visual structure one step further. By breaking away from a standard page grid, they instill surprise into the design, drawing attention to images that might not have been noticed.
Another guideline Mona offered was to keep design simple. She pointed to a very simple and clear weather app that beautifully presented the weather without adding a ton of extra content or information. But the trick is to keep it simple while engaging curiosity: designing delight. Mona reminded us that we need to meet an underlying emotional need on top of just the function of the tool or website.
When it comes to design approach and process, Mona encouraged the audience not to overstudy competitors’ work, as it will silo your creativity. And contrary to her own training, Mona recommended scaling back testing new designs. “Measuring ROI on delight may just not be feasible, and we all have to breathe and accept that this is ok.”
Mona noted that mobile design incorporates some of the most innovative strategies to date—in part because of the change in interaction between users and devices (swipe, tap, scroll, pinch) that allows for more options in design. Additionally we were encouraged to think outside the definition of “mobile=phone,” and she showed us a delightful video (included below) of a love story animated by mobile chips that provided new types of engagement in a ton of tech objects.
Finally, she reminded designers that most of the options are not practical, they’re just really cool, and that we should walk away inspired rather than just informed.
What designs inspire you? What app or website delights you?
OmniStudio is excited to announce the 4.1 release of Mag+! The latest iteration of this beautiful and flexible publishing tool allows for clients to think outside the box of standard periodical publication and develop a mobile app that meets all their needs.
Updated features will allow users to click on jump links
Horizontal scrolling is no longer required
Pinch and zoom accessibility for photos
Maximizes the utility of retina screens
Dual layout, so users can rotate devices without losing functionality
The updates to Mag+ make it an even better option for organizations of all kinds to develop and host beautiful mobile apps in a diverse array of tablets.
Mag+ is a streamlined production system that integrates with Adobe InDesign to bring media-rich publications to millions of readers who now turn to their mobile phones and tablets for news, feature stories and the pleasure of viewing beautifully designed pages.
Omni and Mag+ are partnering to offer a smooth path for publishing to iPads and other mobile devices.As a marketing partner with Mag+, Omni has put this new tool through its paces to make sure it can meet the requirements of our customers’ publications.
Recently we developed walking tours for exhibits, integrated video, and installed data charts that enrich materials that existed previously only in print. The tool works incredibly efficiently for offices and departments that need to disseminate large documents and reports but are limited by low printing budgets. Apps produced in Mag+ are distributed through the Apple App store, so reports and information have the capacity to reach a much wider audience than paper publications.
For more information about Omni’s Mag+ services, please contact Elisabeth Crum.
As Valentine’s Day approaches, love is in the air, and we at OmniStudio want to express our love for beautiful web design. Open source tools like WordPress, combined with easy sharing plugins for social media posting, make it possible to build a website that you and your visitors will love. Here are some of our favorite features of websites to love.
Blog – Blogs are beautiful tools. Not only can authors and thought leaders quickly share and promote ideas, opinions, and reactions, but blogging goes above and beyond page content. Search engines love the kind of fresh and new content offered by blogging, which in turn will bring more visitors to the site. As content is king in the digital world, blogs are an excellent platform for consistently producing and sharing new content on websites.
Share Features – Implicit in any new site design is the functionality for easy social sharing. Sharing tools help visitors spread their love of content on websites and blogs. These features also allow for simple cross-promotion of a site’s content, so once a page is updated or a blog written, staff and visitors alike have a one-click mechanism for disseminating content and messages across social platforms.
Graphics – It goes without saying that we love graphic design here at the Studio. Strong visuals can engage and inspire visitors and add that emotional connection that can more strongly convey a message than plain words. With the growing use of Pinterest, Instagram, and other platforms, social sharing of images and infographics makes it even more valuable to incorporate strong visual content to any website.
Responsive Design – Show your love for the visitor by developing a website that adapts to the device they choose to view it on. Responsive design offers the flexibility to view sites on tablets, smartphones, laptops, and desktops without disrupting the visitor’s experience. All the functionality at the click of a mouse or tap of a finger!
One-Click Action – Whether you’re selling something, collecting donations, or asking for petition sign-ons, make it simple. The fewer steps, the higher the conversion rate for visitors who want to take a quick 30-second break from their email to send a message to their representative or purchase the latest e-book. And of course, visitors will love the simplicity of one-click operations so much that they may share it on social platforms – what’s not to love here?!
What are some of your favorite website features? What websites do you love?
Last month, OmniStudio announced the Life Skills Center as our 2013 ReachOut partner. For over 35 years, the Life Skills Center in northwest Washington has offered participants a daytime sanctuary; a place where they can learn emergency preparedness and computer skills, develop art projects, and much more. The Center’s work with adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities is critical to the community, and also inspiring.
We wanted to update everyone on the progress of this wonderful project. Our talented Art Director, Kathy Foltin (pictured to the right), developed three logo options for the Life Skills Center team to review. Here’s what she came up with, along with her thoughts.
Kathy notes, “The logo serves as an organization’s first impression. It conveys its personality and characteristics in a small, distilled symbol, and for that reason, is very powerful. I also wanted to convey a feeling of safety; that the participants’ caregivers and family also feel very comfortable knowing that their loved ones are in a safe place for the day.”
“The far left option makes me feel hopeful, and gives a sense of striving. It feels like the Life Skills Center is a place where someone can grow in skills and confidence and thrive,” Kathy said.
“The center option denotes a solid sense of place.”
Finally, “the far right logo indicates the Center provides a sense of comfort for participants; a home away from home and some safety.”
Kathy’s work has offered the Life Skills Center some great options from which to pick. Which would you select? Share with us why you picked it!
We will continue to update you on this project as we make progress, but in the meantime, please save the date of May 8, 2013, and stay tuned for more information about an exciting event.
Mary Meeker, general partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and known as the “Queen of the Net,” produces reports on internet trends, each one shedding a great deal of light on online behaviors. One of the resounding truths evident throughout her 88-slide presentation is that not only is digital use in everyday lives increasing, but mobile traffic is growing too. To share some examples, Meeker found that 29% of adults in the U.S. own a tablet or eReader, up from 2% in 2009. Globally, mobile online traffic accounts for 13% of all internet traffic, compared with 1% in 2009.
And it’s not just because we live in a technological world where users need mobile phones and other devices to produce work products and communicate with staff and constituents. Users want to use these devices. According to the “Queen,” in 2012, 48% of children in the U.S. wanted an iPad for Christmas, while 36% wanted a Mini, and this probably had nothing to do with the fact that these items are easier for Santa to carry (and hide).
Meeker paints a picture here, making it clear that content needs to be accessible online, but it also needs to be accessible on mobile devices. Mobile applications can offer a solution for organizations looking to tap into the digital world. But sometimes this option is not the most affordable, and sometimes organizations have content that is not optimized for mobile apps. Similarly it may be cost prohibitive for organizations to build a mobile site in addition to the site they already have.
For organizations with limited resources and a desire to connect with mobile users, consider a website redesign that incorporates responsive design. This type of website sits on the internet but can easily be viewed from both a smaller iPhone screen and from a regular computer screen. Fundraise.com is a simple example. You can view this link on a mobile device, or just play around with the width of your browser to see how the content responds. The Boston Globe works as an incredibly robust example with lots of content and several columns.
While responsive design is not the same as building a mobile website, it is a great solution for organizations looking to offer content across a variety of screen sizes.
Contact Elisabeth Crum, email@example.com, for more information about what your organization can do with a responsive design site.