TJ Brightman

We hope you have grown to love our annual holiday wine roundup as much as we have. In preparation for all your parties and dinners, we pulled together a few recommendations to help you decide the perfect wine for your holiday toasts.

Follow these three rules when it comes to wine — keep it simple, drink what you like and most importantly, share with friends! There’s no need to be intimidated or worried if your bottle will be a good fit. A few good standbys will be the perfect addition to any holiday event.

Sparkling Wine — If you want to impress your friends, remember that all Champagne is sparkling wine, but all sparkling wine is not Champagne. Either way, Champagne, prosecco, cava or any California sparkling wine is a hit. You can’t go wrong with a good sparkling. It’s festive, fun and bubbly!

Riesling — This often-overlooked wine is crisp, refreshing and aromatic. Riesling is produced mostly in Germany and France’s Alsace region, but you can find some great domestic ones too. The versatility of a dry or semi-dry Riesling makes it a perfect pairing for salad, turkey, fish, roasted butternut squash or dessert.

Pinot Noir — Pinot Noir is a typical pairing with turkey, but it’s delicate flavors and light aromas go well with any grilled meat or poultry. We tend to favor Pinot Noirs from Russian River Valley AVA such as those produced by Walt Wines, but you can also find wonderful Pinot Noirs from Oregon.

Cabernet Sauvignon — You can’t forget this classic Bordeaux wine this season! Bold and rich, a great cab is perfect to warm you up on cold winter nights. Pair a Silver Oak, Far Niente or Joseph Phelps cab with filet mignon, beef tenderloin or a roast.

Dessert Wine — The wine pairings don’t end after your main course. Dessert wine can be a stand-alone dessert or paired with your favorite tasty sweet. Our picks include Joseph Phelps Eisrebe and Dolce by Far Niente.

Happy Thanksgiving from your friends at A. Bright Idea! Cheers!

Chris Lamartina

Outside of my career in advertising, I produce low budget horror movies, and believe it or not, there’s more similarities between the two than you might think.

Now, I’m not suggesting we put a bloody chainsaw in your ad for toothpaste, but if you can understand the psychology of how monster movies work for an audience, you can leverage those ideas to create some truly powerful marketing plans.

Here are three quick concepts to consider in future projects.

There you have it. Three quick lessons on how strategies in marketing and in horror movies share common goals that you can leverage for your next big idea.

Kristie Sheppard

It’s a tale as old as time. Shoppers see a promotion for “joining the club” or getting those special “members-only” benefits and then before they know it, they have more memberships than they know what to do with. Then, after just one shipment, they cancel the membership altogether. How do you keep members around for the long-haul? For wine clubs, it starts with creating brand loyalty.

What’s in your shipment?
Make your members feel like it’s Christmas morning the day their shipment arrives. Leading up to delivery, build up the excitement through emails, social media and phone calls. Make each and every member feel special, as if they are your priority customer. Personalize your packaging by including a note or brief letter. Even better – toss in some extra swag. Think of your shipment as the one piece of mail people look forward to getting. Your club members should be thrilled to receive that big box!
Create brand ambassadors
Use your shipment as an opportunity to cultivate your audience. Include fun tips, tricks and recipes that will make your members want to tell their friends and family, and include a referral discount coupon for them to pass along when they do. Go beyond just delivering a product and include a DIY experience in each shipment that features the wines. For example, with the summer shipment of Sauvignon Blanc, include a dinner recipe that pairs with the wine. Toss in suggestions for table settings that match the label and your brand colors as well as some craft supplies with an instruction card on how to turn that wine bottle into a centerpiece. If a shipment has sparkling wine, include instructions on how to saber it. If you give your members something to talk about while enjoying the wine, they will.
Make members feel special
Communication is the key to any successful relationship. Communicate with your members more often than just notifying them of their shipment. Turn the purchase into a relationship. Send a birthday card or wine club anniversary card. Call them once they receive their shipment to answer questions about the wine. Engage with them on social media by liking their posts, commenting on their activities or creating conversations through a custom hashtag. In order for your members to feel that you care, you have to show them you do.

Do you have other methods for creating brand loyalty? We want to hear them! Tag us on Facebook or Twitter to let us know your tips.

Adriana Guidi

The ‘A’ in STEAM

Adriana Guidi

“Design is where science and art break even,” said Designer and Entrepreneur Robin Mathew. Most people don’t recognize a correlation between science, technology, engineering, and math as they relate to art, but at A. Bright Idea, we certainly do.

Digital Canvas

It might surprise you to know just how much technology goes into graphic design. Throughout a whole workday, technology gets used to establish creative to bring brands and advertisements to life. No longer solely centered around creating a piece of art, a graphic designer’s strategy now includes a focus on functionality and how their work will succeed in the digital world.

Users can now access online information via desktop, mobile or tablet surfaces. With a change in user experience comes a shift in design strategy. Responsive design, for example, involves creating a website to work on large horizontal desktops as well as a small portrait phone. Designers must keep this in mind during the development process to ensure any text, graphics or videos will function properly no matter the source.

By committing to life-long learning, designers and artists can smoothly transition as technology continues to evolve, thus becoming artistic and creative in a digital and technological sense.

Modern Paintbrush

Just as Leonardo da Vinci found common ground between science and art, so do contemporary graphic designers. A computer, in turn, becomes the paintbrush.

Technology provided the fuel for art to not only evolve but come to life with a direct purpose that integrates directly into everyday life. Whenever you see a logo for a company or a design on a website, you witness art in a digital form.

For the most part, graphic designers start out with a sketch of an idea before turning to technology to elevate it to the next level. Software suites, like Adobe Creative Cloud, allow graphic designers to easily transition from sketch to vector — digital images created by placing lines and shapes in a given two-dimensional space — arrange pages of a brochure or create custom animations. When designers use this software to enable creative freedom, the technological and artistic worlds collide.

Unexpected Inspiration

Creative inspiration can stem from anywhere. Designers use math and science for concept inspiration, as well as product execution. Math allows designers to create crisp and accurate graphics. Simple, yet important things like measuring out the sides of a brochure or making sure lines run precisely parallel to each other make designs as perfect and functional as possible. Designers also use math to scale images, convert units, write print specifications and develop dielines for printed projects.

Geometry acts as a building block for many different designs, such as creating icons and graphics to then use in making complete shapes. It seems like a simple concept, but designers more often than not use shapes to create a complete image, not free-hand drawings. For example, designers can create a light bulb through the use of geometry by setting various shapes at different angles and placements. This method requires a meticulous approach, bringing several different variables together to create an end product.

With so many variables to work through and consider, problem-solving becomes an essential part of a graphic designers’ process. When an engineer gets tasked with building a bridge, key components to consider include the quantity and cost of materials needed. Similarly, when designing a brochure, graphic designers also consider size and shape, materials, cost efficiencies and other variables to ensure a complete and functional final product.

Creativity and technology not only coexist but also produce groundbreaking ideas and outcomes. Art not only fits perfectly into science, technology, engineering and math, but creates a connection among all of them. Strategy and technicality have no limit when it comes to various industries. An engineer exudes the creativity of an artist, just as an artist emanates the innovation of an engineer.

Jessy Weiss

Are you interested in learning how to change color in a picture so it blends perfectly? It takes a lot of skill to get it right, but Senior Graphic Designer/Internal Brand & Social Media Manager Jessy Weiss makes it look easy in the below tutorial. Check out Jessy’s guide to Adobe Photoshop and soon you’ll become a pro yourself.

LeAnne Eck

We strive to empower our clients and audiences with knowledge and understanding of the work we do, whether it’s graphic design social media, video production or website development. The technical aspects of many of the areas we offer support can seem, frankly, overwhelming to some, which is why we’re breaking down our process. To help you better understand website production, let’s take a look at user experience.

A BRIEF OVERVIEW

The user experience (UX) looks at how people interact with a website in relation to the site’s overall functionality. It is the study of the who, what, why, where and when pertaining to websites, analyzing what the user sees and stands to gain when navigating a website. Focusing on creating a connection between the user and a website, a successful user experience evokes emotion and feeling that, without it, may come across as static and boring. A positive connection will, in-turn, make the user want to return over and over again.

When you think about website design, UX often takes a backseat to the design and development of a site, but the research and planning serve as the most important steps in the process. Without a good foundation, a site will not have a clear path to function and grow. The study of UX pushes site design further and allows for updates to functionality based on the users’ needs. Can you imagine trying to search for something on Amazon using the interface from 15 years ago? Industry experts study how people use the site to improve the UX over time so as users’ needs change, so does the site.

 

THE FIVE W’S OF USER EXPERIENCE

Taking the time to study UX early on in the site design process will make it easier to use and more likely have users remain on the site longer while also returning more often. Most sites can achieve these benefits by taking a closer look at the 5 W’s listed below:


Determine your audience through research

  • Create employee or customer surveys to identify your existing audience
  • Research analytics, if you already have a site, to see who visits the site
  • Based on the survey feedback and analytics, create a user profile listing a fictitious person who would use the site, this allows the team to give a face to the audience


Focus on what is most important and design the site from there

  • Build off of the information architecture and start by creating wireframes, blocking off areas of the site without actually designing it
  • Adjust the hierarchy of the site to ensure the site flow leads users in the right direction


Create an information architecture and describe information placement

  • If you have a current site, start by outlining the current structure so you can work on making it better
  • Use a white board with sticky notes to easily move items around in real-time
  • Add notes for specific page elements and visualize the layout


Build out a realistic timeline for when you want the site to go live

  • Base your site’s launch around a new product release
  • Stick to your deadline


Determine your goal for the site and the needs of the users

  • Create a focus group to meet and brainstorm what you want users to get out of your site
  • Use sticky notes to get ideas out quickly and narrow down a concept

 

Current website design trends create an easy-to-follow, almost templated user experience. But with creativity, research and planning, the possibilities of website design are practically endless. Follow the five W’s when planning your next website to put your site on the track to success.

Corey Warnick

With the Internet, technology, design and a host of other website-related factors constantly changing, so does the answer to, “What can I do to improve my website?” As it stands today, the keys to a successful website can be broken down into four main components — responsiveness, interactive design, architecture and visibility. As you dive into each of these components, take a look at your personal or business website to see where it could use some upgrades.

RESPONSIVENESS

Having a good looking website will attract users initially, but making sure it functions well will keep them coming back. In the world of smartphones and tablets, making sure your website is responsive and mobile friendly, meaning the site is just as easy to use on mobile devices as it is on a desktop computer, is crucial. If your website doesn’t respond or function well on mobile devices, users have little incentive to stay on the site, and with technology continuing to improve and advance, a growing number of people use their mobile devices to browse the web. According to Statista, mobile devices accounted for 49.7 percent of web page views worldwide as of February 2017.

INTERACTIVE DESIGN

Incorporate movement into your website as a technique for catching the user’s eye and encouraging them to take a look around your website. While interactive elements take many forms, adding big, full-width videos, parallax scrolling — where background images are providing the illusion of depth when a user scrolls — and animation are at the top of the trendy website list add another level of interaction with the user. Keeping the user engaged will extend their stay on your website, leading them to learn more about what you have to offer.

ARCHITECTURE

Displaying the right information on your home page, such as call to action buttons and links to other pages, helps guide the user directly to the content they want. At a minimum, the most important information you should feature on your homepage includes details about you or your company, services you provide and contact information. You don’t want to overload the user the moment they visit your site with a lot of unnecessary content that could potentially confuse or mislead them. Smart architecture will give users what they need on the initial visit and more information as they become more familiar with your site.

VISIBILITY

So your website is responsive, has interactive elements and excellent architecture, but can your target audience find it? That’s where Search Engine Optimization comes in. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is key to getting your website to rise to the top of Google, Bing and other search engine results. Proper meta keywords, titles and descriptions relevant to your website content not only help define you or your business, but they help users easily find you.

As technology continues to advance and design trends continue to evolve, staying familiar with website terms and trends will help to ensure your website’s success. Think about your visitors when making or considering updates and how you can enhance their user experience.

For more information about user experience, stay tuned for an upcoming blog with everything you need to know. Are you planning on updating your website? Leave us a comment with your plans!

Eric Bach

No matter the season, it’s always a good time for spring cleaning — whether it’s decluttering your desk or cleaning unnecessary files off of your computer. Tidy up using these tips from Senior Graphic Designer/Illustration Manager Eric Bach.