As a great follow up to my talk on Typography and User Experience, check out Bram Stein’s talk on “The State of Web Typography.” He digs deep into open type features, browser support, justification and hyphenation, and all sorts of great information. A must watch!
A few weeks ago, Rangers Sara Cannon, Pete Mall, and Brian Krogsgard visited Chicago to attend WordCamp and strategize about our company’s goals for the year ahead.
Sara Cannon gave a presentation called Smart Design, where she highlights design trends and best practices that aid in creating outstanding user experiences. You can see her slides here:
Range is hiring
We also announced while we were at WordCamp Chicago that we are hiring. If you are interested in working with us, please check out our careers page!
All in all, we had a great time, and it was a good time for our remote team leadership to get together, have fun, and strategize.
Oh, and there was another picture too, but this one has WordPress lead developer Andrew Nacin photo-bombing us. Our thanks to K. Adam White for both pictures!
Range started in the summer of 2012 as a partnership between Pete Mall, Aaron Campbell, and Sara Cannon. We had worked together as freelancers for a number of years already, and we were excited to start a business together.
From the very beginning, we’ve had the opportunity to work with great brands on projects that we are very proud of. We decided we wanted to grow slowly, and we’ve done so successfully. We are just as passionate today as we were two years ago.
As time has passed and we’ve gained experience as small business owners, one of our partners has decided that, in his current situation, he’s ready to explore more traditional work opportunities.
Today is Aaron Campbell’s last day with Range. He’s leaving Range on very good terms; we are grateful for his commitment to our business over the last two years. Aaron has moved his home and family to spend more time with his parents and grandparents, and has a number of personal priorities that don’t allow him to put in the type of hours he would like to put into growing Range while maintaining his preferred work / life balance.
We’re sad to see Aaron go, but completely respect his decision, and wish him very well in his future endeavors.
As of today, Pete Mall will officially be Range’s President & CEO, Sara Cannon will remain our Creative Director, and Brian Krogsgard is now going to be our Director of Operations.
As for our work, our goals, and our clients: nothing changes. We’re excited to continue providing world-class design, develpment, and consulting services to some of the best clients in the business.
– Pete Mall & Sara Cannon
Redesigning a website requires investment. As a consultant, we invest our time digging deep to get to know our clients, their history, their business model, and generally what drives them. As a business, you invest your time and human resources to work with us, and you invest your hard earned revenues in our partnership.
But it’s also important to consider investment in other items that often go with a new website: investments such as branding, photography, and video.
When we create a new website, we are looking to frame a story. Your business has a story, and our goal is to find it and help you tell it with beautiful design. And photography is a key part of telling great stories.
Tell stories with photography and illustration
For example, when Range worked with Disney Publishing Worldwide, their beautiful graphics and illustrations for their books help tell their story. Children of all ages get lost in the wonderful world of Disney through their stories, and the Disney Books website helps give a glimpse into that world through the illustrated book covers and other graphics displayed on the website.
Or, when Range Creative Director Sara Cannon worked on the Jones Valley Teaching Farm website, she was able to work with Kelly Housholder and Cary Norton, a brilliant photographer, to capture stories from Jones Valley that help tell their story as an educator for students about healthy eating and sustainable community development.
Photography also has another big advantage in a website: it converts well. By saying it “converts”, I mean that photography helps convince website visitors to do what you ask them to do. You may ask them to click a button, or buy something, or fill out a form. Good photography, especially of people, helps convince visitors to take such actions.
37Signals did a fascinating case study to test this. They saw over a 100% increase in signups for one of their products by using photography in their sales pitch — specifically photography of people.
Barack Obama’s digital team was also famous for A/B testing various designs for improving conversions. And they had excellent success. As Kyle Rush notes in one of his case studies, they increased conversions by 49% between two versions of their donation page.
And Rush cites photography as a huge factor in the testing’s success. But not just photograhy, but specific kinds of photography. In a separate article he highlights how the context of imagery can play a huge role.
Photography was a huge part of the Obama brand. We had several photographers that took lots of amazing photos of the President, the First Lady and everyone else. We took advantage of this by testing a ton of images. We tested photos just about everywhere from donate pages to sign up forms and about everywhere else you can imagine. As with layout and usability we learned a lot about how users react to different kinds of imagery. We found that there are many variables in photos that can affect conversions, but possibly the biggest impact had to do with the context in which the photo was used.
Photography isn’t an afterthought
I hope that these examples help highlight how photography and imagery should not be an afterthought in our web projects. Photography is an important part of your overall investment in your brand. And it helps us, as web designers, better serve you when you have great photos.
So, in your next web project, remember the importance of photography for the overall project success. Of course, in case you are scared about how to go about this, we know a lot of excellent photographers who can help you get great photos so we can better help you tell your story.
Our own Brian Krogsgard talked to Matt Medeiros and Scott Sousa of Slocum Studio on Week in WordPress, a podcast about the news of the week in the WordPress ecosystem.
Hey y’all. My name is Brian Krogsgard, and I’m happy to be joining Range as a Junior Partner. I’m looking forward to working with the outstanding team here.
I’ve followed Range since its inception, and I’ve always loved their mentality that a small company could do big things.
So, who am I?
I graduated from Auburn University with an Industrial Engineering degree, and for a few years web development was purely a hobby for me. My first job was as a technical sales engineer in the manufacturing industry, where I got my feet wet learning the value of effectively managing customer relationships and complex projects from start to finish.
But eventually I made the leap and turned my web development hobby into my career. Today, I bring experience building websites large and small across a variety of industries. I specialize in theme and light plugin development.
I also keep a keen eye on what’s happening in the WordPress community. I run a WordPress news blog called Post Status, which helps me learn more about my craft, share what I learn, and get to know many wonderful people that make the WordPress ecosystem great.
I’m based out of Birmingham, Alabama, where I live with my wife, Erica, and our blue Great Dane, Lucy May. I organize the Birmingham WordPress Meetup Group and co-organize WordCamp Birmingham.
At Range, I’ll wear many hats, just like Sara, Pete, and Aaron. My skill set compliments theirs nicely, and I really look forward to learning from them and bringing my best efforts to the table.
Disney Publishing Worldwide has relaunched it’s books site, books.disney.com, on WordPress. When Disney came to us, we were excited, but it was clear that the biggest struggle was going to be the timeline. They wanted to build an all new books.disney.com on WordPress, and they needed it in less than a month. It was a tall order, but we pulled it off. From concept, to wireframing, design, development, and launch, Range put in a team effort to design and build the new books.disney.com.
In order to keep such a tight timeline, we knew wireframes needed to be done in less than a week, and the design needed to be finished just a week after that. Sara Cannon stepped up to the plate to lead the wireframes and design, and kept the schedule right on track. The design is also responsive, so it looks great on every device.
The development team pulled some crazy hours for a little while there, but the end result is an amazing site that meets our client’s needs and was delivered on time. We couldn’t have done it without Disney, who was a great partner. They held up their end of the bargain to trust our instincts and give quick feedback every time we needed it.
We are proud of the end result, and we hope you like it too. Be sure to check out the site, and who knows, you may find a new book for you and your family.
Check Out the full post on Torque at WCSF!
Be The Unicorn by Sara Cannon
What’s all this talk about Unicorns? Beautiful, sparkling, Golden Unicorns.
My beginnings in Web Design and Development surfaced out of a love for technology an art. I was an artist and print designer with a thirst for something more. Because I wanted to be relevant and engaged, I ended up diving head first into the fast moving waters of web design and development. To get things done, I hunkered down, studied, imitated, and learned. To be completely self-sustainable, you end up learning bits of everything. I strived to become a renaissance woman. I wanted to build and create, without needing to rely on others to achieve my goals.
A few years later, I was hired by a small agency that really needed a one woman show. They did not want to need to rely multiple departments and titles to get the job done.
They needed a Golden Unicorn
They wanted someone who could not only always solve the technical problems at hand, but had an eye for design and user experience. Someone who could say “yes that can happen” without hesitation and then google it right after making the promise. Since then, I decided to strive to be the unicorn.
In the industry now, there seems to be a long standing tension between designers and developers. This tension is manifested in the workplace, in social settings, but it is also within ourselves – with how we think. It is the longstanding battle of the left brain and right brain. The left side of the brain is known to be logical, analytical, and objective (hello technical directors!) while the right side is known to be intuitive, thoughtful, and subjective (creative thinkers). But the one thing both sides of our brains have in common is Problem Solving. Even though both sides are radically different, there is a common thread there. No one wants to be a code monkey or a pixel pusher. We want to solve problems, and do great work.
Check Out the rest of the Post on Torque
Join Ran.ge and YouTube this week to find out more about our open source upload widget for WordPress. We will show you how it works and walk you through the source code for the widget itself.
Tune in to @YouTube Developers Live at 10am PDT
update: check out the video of the show & demo below!