ASISTS Web Design

We have recently put the finishing touches on a web appliction for the New York State Department of Education. Developed in association with the Literacy Assistance Center in New York, the ASISTS site allows teachers to record the progress and history of students, and to be able to access this information and update it at any location. Being database driven, it can automatically prepare statistical analyses within any specified parameters, for reporting purposes.

Literacy Assistance Center ASISTS

For the technically minded, the site features:

  • XHTML Strict compliance
  • CSS Styled
  • Cross browser compatibility
  • Small bandwidth footprint

All of which means that it is state-of the-art, as well as having a clear graphic hierarchy to enable users to easily navigate and understand this otherwise complex and extensive site.

Productivity Tip: Write the Best Subject Lines Possible

What was the last book you bought?

Whatever it was, I have a hunch that it had either a distinctive or descriptive title…

book covers

(Catch 22 and Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity are my last two and I would highly recommend both of them!)

In essence, every e-mail you send has a title too. it is called a subject line and should describe the contents of that e-mail as clearly and succinctly as possible. Yet often, subject lines end up being the most disregarded aspect of the communication. The Subject line is much like the spine of a book, describing the information it contains. I certainly would never pick up a book that had any of the following titles:

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Productivity Tip: Stop Constantly Checking Your e-mail

How many times do you check your e-mail every day?

If you are like most e-mail users, your e-mail program is set up to check for e-mails every 5-10 minutes. That’s a whopping 48-96 possible interruptions per day respectively! That’s like the mail person giving you letters every few minutes throughout the day. Oh! here’s another one.

Application Bar

This is a bad business and organizational practice.

  1. It is a sure way to get distracted from your tasks at hand.
  2. Answering e-mail throughout the day, instead of at a given time, can cause attention and focus deficits often resulting in poorly thought-out or rushed replies.
  3. Answering e-mail throughout the day will often create a “now or never” reply strategy.
  4. Constant interruptions can take their toll on your attitude and self-esteem.

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Doing Your Identity Homework

Quark, makers of QuarkXpress just unveiled a new identity which is a really fresh departure from their old dusty 1980’s Quark logo.

Quarks New Identity

Unfortunately, It seems that their new brand is almost identical to that of The Scottish Arts Council.

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CoverFlow: Better Digital Music Navigation

Cover art

Remember the days when you’d long to listen to music by the album? You went over to your shelves and looked at the album artwork to find the music you wanted to listen to. With the invention of MP3s and digital music players, the concept of album covers as navigational aids got lost (along with shelves full of records). Suddenly looking for a song meant you had to know the artist, album, or song name. As a visual thinker, I can easily tell you what any album in my music collection looks like from memory, but have a real problem with knowing what album a given song is on.

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Concept: Netflix Drop Off Advertising

When you love Netflix, as much as we do, it can be a real nuisance when you arrive at work having forgotten to post your viewed Netflix DVD envelopes. You curse your eyes for missing the mail box and hope you remember the envelopes on your way home… but then you forget… again… and the cycle continues.

A vicious cycle.

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Usernames Are So 1996

I’m sure it’s happened to you at some point, you visit a website that you registered with, maybe your company’s healthcare provider, but you’ve totally forgotten your username and password. If you’re anything like me, you have a few usernames you’ve used over the years and a few passwords you might have used, but which ones are they? A few minutes of trying and I usually give up and ask for my username and password to be e-mailed to me.

Usernames

This scenario happens to me over and over again and I never seem to get used to it. Is there another way? Are usernames really the best method for registering users?

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Wrong Mail

Mail incorrectly titled to the White House

Creating a Solari Flip Clock for Free (kind of)

As a graphic designer living in New York on a limited budget, I am constantly looking into catalogs and magazines, and drooling over the well designed objects I might someday afford. The Aalto vases, the Eames lounge chairs with ottomans, the Akari Noguchi paper lamps — all these items ignite my interest, but their prices bring up every designers biggest dilemma, design or Dinner?

Solari Cifra 3 table clock

One such object is the famous Solari Cifra 3 table clock. Manufactured by Solari in 1965 and designed by the flip (or flap depending on your preference) clock master Gino Valle, the Cifra 3 is often referred to as the “museum clock” as it was sold exclusively by MoMA. Gino Valle was an accomplished designer in his own right designing numerous flip clocks for Airport terminals, most notably his Monumental flip clock at TWA terminal.

Unfortunately, the Cifra 3’s, while still produced, sell for well over $200, which is a little out of my budget. Solution — make your mac (or PC) into a Solari Cifra 3 clock for free in approximately 2 minutes with an elegant little screen saver from 9031.com

Fliqlo Screen Saver

The screensaver turns your idling computer into a wonderful timepiece. The only thing this clock doesn’t do, which is a real pity, is make a flapping sound as time passes. The Cifra 3 makes a small “flap” with each passing minute and a large “chunk” every hour as every flipper turns over simultaneously to display the new hour… although that might drive some folks crazy.

For more design hacks visit Twart Design’s Design w/o Reach for some low tech answers to high design.

Lezioni Design biography – translated
Artnet Biography of Gino Valle
Solari’s Story
Design Addict’s profile on the Cifra 3

The Big Push Off

As designers, I think we have a problem letting go. Designs become like children and we, as loving parents, can’t help but want to pack bagged lunches for the little tikes. On their way out the door, we follow along, cleaning unkempt kerning, spitting in our hankies to clean off the dirty for placement only images we had neglected to delete, and warning our little dears to stay away from Pantone chips they don’t recognize.

The issue worsens in the households of web designers, whose children never leave, and endlessly come home with problems such as letters from their teachers explaining that “your Div (Webspeak) doesn’t want to play with anybody in his class and even refuses to listen to !important (More webspeak) announcements”.

That’s where we come in. Whitehouse & Company has decided to launch a new website with as much fanfare as a new gas station. (well, we kind of forgot to get those flappy streamers, so let me rephrase that – with even less fanfare than a new gas station). The idea with this site is to have something up and running now, and then to perfect it later.

We want to create a forum for design and ideas and to talk to each other: to ask questions about life that, while seemingly unrelated, connect us all creatively. Design is not just about knowing the new features of Illustrator CS2, it’s about life, pop culture, the arts, politics, music, films, and occasionally tips on webdesign.

Design should be fun, Right?

As this is a work in progress, you might notice a few rough edges. That is to be expected. Parts of the website may not match and other parts may not work as intended. We apologize in advance for any discomfort this may cause.