Archive for the ‘Design’ Category

Ecommerce Christmas: A Journey To Holiday Success

As part of the holiday festivities around Brand Labs’ offices, our design team mocked up a holiday card. While that may not seem impressive at first, keep in mind this card doesn’t just include employees posing in ugly sweaters or simply offer well wishes. Instead, this holiday card is a road map to holiday success in the ecommerce world. A Journey To Holiday Success, if you will.

Below is the final product and below that is the original sketch our designer Tim drew, before making it digital and extra awesome. Plus, the two step-process does a great job reinforcing our full-scale design skills, for any companies who might be interested in having us design logos and site graphics.

Enjoy the journey and have a great holiday season!

Original Sketch:


Ecommerce Infographic: The Buying Power of Millenials

Is your company having trouble engaging the proper target market? Well, we all know teenagers are the loudest brand advocates and older generations have more purchasing power than most. But, don’t forget the Millennials. To highlight this evolving demographic and help ensure businesses can capitalize on their transitional understanding of the World Wide Web, our design team made this insightful infographic on Millennials and their online buying mentality.

Remember, men lie and women lie, but Ecommerce numbers do not. Use these stats wisely and your bottom line could be bulging in no time.

The Importance Of Having A Well Designed Company Logo

Brand Labs does not only deal with ecommerce as a science — as our name implies, we also deal with your company’s brand as a science. We’ve had many customers since we began back in 2006 (500+). Aside from what we already knew about the importance of having a well designed logo, we’ve learned something else… having a good ecommerce logo design on your website can increase conversions! In the next few paragraphs we’re going to explain why having a good looking logo is so important and why it can persuade visitors to make a purchase.

Your company logo is your company’s face to the world. It’s one of the first things someone will see when they visit your website or look at your product packaging. A unique logo is one of the main ways people remember your company. It should link your website with your marketing materials. It should give those who see it a feeling for what your company does just by looking at it. It should give people a sense of trust to buy from your company.

If your company is a startup, after deciding on a name and a business plan, one of the next things you should consider is having a logo designed by a professional graphic designer. At Brand Labs we pride ourselves on our design abilities. It’s one of the reasons we got into building ecommerce sites in the first place. We took a look at so many online stores and saw that they looked terrible. We wondered how they were able to stay in business. We knew that if we weren’t comfortable ordering products from websites that used a poorly designed default store template with a logo that was created with a simple font typed in Microsoft Word, then thousands of other people would be nervous, too. We knew that we could help these companies do better, increase site visitors, and increase revenue.

Take a look at some of the logo comparisons below. These companies all came to Brand Labs because of our reputation as an agency that can take their online business to the next level with our expertise in design for ecommerce.

Shadetree Power Sports logo

Cool Tools logo

eUndies logo

MX Megastore logo

We’ve seen many studies about how visitors view websites. The majority of people always start from the top left corner and move across and down in a kind of F pattern. Typically, a logo is placed in the top left corner of a website because that is the first place people look. If someone is a first-time visitor to your site, you want to present them with a professional look to make them feel at ease with purchasing something from a company that has been and will be around for a while. If someone is a return visitor, you want them to feel comfortable that they are visiting the same site where they previously had a great online shopping experience. The placement of the logo in your site’s header is important to give people that anchor of confidence they need to make a purchase.

You don’t need to be a big company and spend a ton of money to have a great logo, but even big companies need to be careful when changing their overall branding strategy. Take Gap as an example. They went through a logo redesign process to try to “modernize” and re-energize their brand. What happened instead was, shall we say, not good and Gap reversed their decision and reinstated the old logo.

Gap logo

It’s easy to see why: the new logo lacked character, originality and thought. If you’re looking for someone to design a new logo for your company, make sure it is someone that has proven they do great work. However, it is also important to keep an open mind during the design process. While you know more about your company (and probably your target market as well) than the designer you hire, a good designer should know what kind of look and feel will work best for you without jumping on the latest trend. Your logo should be something that will stand the test of time and not need to be redesigned every few years because it’s trying to be “hip.”

Take a look at your current logo. Ask yourself what it says about your company. Does it look professional? Is it memorable? Is it appropriate for your type of business? If you are unsure about any of these, a redesign might be something to think about. Money spent now on a well conceived, impeccably designed logo will show a return for years and years to come.

Brand Labs goes through an extensive research and design process when we’re hired to design a logo. We begin by talking directly to you about your brand and where you want to take it. Even though we’ll work through many sketches and concepts internally, we’re only going to show you the concepts that we think work best for your company. It’s our job to create, through science, what we think will make your company unique in a sea of competition.

Features Missing in Adobe Photoshop CS6

In our previous review of Photoshop CS5, 6 Valuable Features Missing in Photoshop CS5, we went over some shortcomings that we think Adobe should rectify in Photoshop. Version CS6 has been out for a while now and we have been using it for several months since this writing. Adobe has made some nice improvements to this new version, but also some glaring omissions.

1. Snap Vector Tools and Transforms to Pixel Grid

Photoshop CS6 Vector Snap

A great new feature that allows Photoshop to easily snap vector shapes to whole pixels. For anyone that uses vector shapes, you know that in the past when you draw a shape it can overlap pixels creating a fuzzy edge. This new feature, when turned on, eliminates fuzzy edge syndrome. Unfortunately, this feature is hidden in the app’s preferences. We tend to turn this on and off many times throughout the day as we work. There are reasons for this: the need to nudge existing shapes that do not have crisp edges, freeform drawing with the pen tool, creating clipping paths around photos, etc. Instead of simply having an option right in the toolbar to enable/disable snapping, you have to open the Preferences every single time. This can eat up a lot of time. The only workaround we’ve found for this is to create two actions (one to turn snapping on and one to turn it off) and assign hotkeys to them in the ACtions panel. This works well, but had Adobe thought this out better it would not be necessary.

2. Symbols and Graphic Styles

Photoshop Graphic Styles

We’re lumping these two together, since they go hand in hand. These are carry-overs from our Photoshop CS5 wish list. Adobe has still not included a feature for reusable symbol objects in Photoshop. Fireworks has them. Illustrator has them. Photoshop does not. Smart Objects are a great feature, but they are not as flexible or easily updatable as symbols. Nor is there any kind of 9-slice scaling feature for Smart Objects.
Graphic Styles implementation in Photoshop is essentially useless. You can basically save a style to reuse later, but when you apply the style to a layer Photoshop has no memory of it. So, you cannot update a style and then have every layer that the style is applied to update along with it. We could live without one of these if the other was implemented well.

3. Text Styles

Photoshop CS6 finally has paragraph and character styles. We know many people that have been clamoring for this feature. Unfortunately, it is not implemented very well. It works decent when there are only a few text boxes, but once you start getting into a couple dozen it slows to a crawl. Simply opening the paragraph style panel and turning the preview checkbox off literally takes several minutes. This effectively makes the feature unusable. There are many posts about this in the Adobe Forums.
We’ve created a screencast just to show how painfully slow this feature works (warning: it’s a really boring video to watch).

4. Editable Shapes

Photoshop CS6 Properties

Now that Photoshop has a Properties panel, it would be great if it included options for adjusting vector shapes. When selecting a vector rectangle or rounded rectangle, it could have options for adjusting the radius on each corner. A star vector shape could have options for changing the number of points and radius of the inner and outer points.

5. Subscriptions…The New “In” Thing

It seems that many companies offer monthly subscription services for their services. Adobe has now jumped on that bandwagon. That is fine. We use their Creative Cloud subscription here and it’s great. We have access to almost every Adobe program and can download an app that we don’t have on the fly if we need it. The problem comes in when Adobe offers the exact same application to both Creative Cloud users and those that buy the standalone version, but then only offer feature updates to the Creative Cloud users, even though the version of Photoshop is not changing to CS7. A perfect example of this is CSS styles in the Layers panel. Creative Cloud users can click on any layer and select an option to copy the CSS code for that layer style so they can use that in the stylesheet for a website. This was an addition to Photoshop CS6. Standalone users do not have access to this feature even though they use Photoshop CS6. Everyone has paid a lot of money for Photoshop, so why not give everyone access to those features?

Overall, Photoshop CS6 is a nice upgrade with some great features. It would be nice if the next version concentrated on productivity instead of always having to try and throw in some “wow” features. Given that Adobe has the Creative Cloud subscription service now, they shouldn’t need to try and sell people with wow features to get them to upgrade. This is the perfect time to streamline the app and make it as productive as possible for everyone.

Oh Boy! Jerry Leigh Launches Mickey Mouse-Filled Volusion Site

Jerry Leigh's Volusion store designed and developed by Brand LabsJerry Leigh is one of the largest producers of licensed souvenirs & apparel in the United States.  Based in Orlando, Florida, they’re well positioned to serve their target market: tourist destinations.  That’s right – they make the things that cause your suitcase to be dramatically overstuffed on the way home from your vacation.  The next time you’re jumping up and down on your Samsonite in an effort to squeeze in that Donald Duck water bottle, you can thank Jerry Leigh.

Other than the fact that Mickey Mouse is always fun, there’s another good reason to talk about Jerry Leigh’s new Volusion store: it’s not a retail outlet.  It’s a wholesale site that can only be utilized by preregistered clients.  That’s not necessarily earth-shattering news (that a wholesaler would use Volusion to better serve their clients) but it’s worth pointing out when it happens simply because there are far too many wholesalers out in the world that have failed to recognize what a useful tool an ecommerce site can be.  There are wholesalers out there (you know who you are) who still take orders over the phone while working from a printed catalog.  We know the old ways can be comforting, but come on!  It’s the 21st century for crying out loud!  Put down the invoice pad and pick up your mouse!*

*Don’t actually “pick up” the mouse or it won’t work.  We’d like to assume that you already knew that, but if you’re a wholesaler without an ecommerce site, there’s a chance that the operational subtleties of the personal computer are entirely baffling to you.

Volusion Deal Of The Day… Or Is It The Deal Of Yesterday?

Deal of the Day for's Back to the Future-themed Volusion store – designed and developed by Brand isn’t just the Internet’s leading dealer of Back to the Future-related merchandise, they also happen to be an old Brand Labs customer.  We designed their current site and just recently we created a great new Deal of the Day page using Volusion’s built in functionality.

Deal of the Day is a proven way to engage your regular customers and encourage repeat visits, which is perfect for a site dedicated to a series of movies about returning and returning and returning.

If you aren’t currently using Volusion’s Deal of the Day, you’re missing a great opportunity to build loyalty and move product.  You’re also missing the chance to…

… this is usually the point at which we’d say something clever and quote the movie or something like that, but you know what?  For all of its deep impact on popular culture, Back to the Future is almost entirely devoid of catchphrases except for ones that only make sense in context, so we’ll just end here by saying:

Where we’re going, we don’t need roads.

See?  It just doesn’t work.  Our apologies.

Volusion Goes Old School

Old School Tees new Volusion site designed and developed by Brand LabsEnsuring that hipsters and nerds are not walking around topless, frightening the general populace with their pasty white skin and ironic shoulder tattoos, Old School Tees is more of a public service organization than a Volusion store.

If you’re looking for a wide variety of ways to prove to the world that you’re not likely to be running for public office any time soon, Old School Tees can hook you up.  Perhaps a sexually suggestive Fred Flintstone shirt will do the trick.  If not, the perhaps a mildly sacrilegious Big Lebowski tee?  Either way, Old School Tees is ready to put something on your chest that’s quite a bit funnier than the large food stains that usually reside there.

Welcome to Our New Home

If you’re reading this, you’re looking at our freshly-redesigned, Volusion-centric ecommerce blog (unless you’re using some sort of aggregating iPad app or seeing this on our Facebook wall, in which case you’re probably going to be cut off any second when we hit the end of the excerpt and if that’s true, we humbly request that you click through to the actual blog which you clearly have by now because there are no excerpts that go on this long, so at this point we’re just going to go ahead and continue.)

Anyhoo, welcome to our new blog!  We’ve been a little preoccupied with the new site launch, so we have a lot of catching up to do.  Keep an eye on this space to see what we’ve been up to since we last spoke.  In the days ahead, we’ll be telling you about our new app (yes – another app), our latest custom Volusion development and all of our new Volusion site designs.  Speaking of new sites…

Our new blog isn’t the only new thing in town.  We’ve also completely redesigned our website.  It’s sleeker, smarter and loaded with beautiful examples of all of our best and latest design work.  We’re pretty dang proud of it and we hope that you’ll take a couple of minutes to check it out.

On the internal side, we’d like to thank everyone in design, development, marketing and project management  – basically the whole team – for pitching in to make the new site happen.  You’re all simply fantastic!

Now goenjoy the new site.

10 Reasons to Reexamine Your Ecommerce Site

You’re an ecommerce merchant.  Let’s say that your store has been up and running for a while.  Let’s also say that it’s doing well.  Of course, it may not be doing as well as you’d like, but if that’s the case, you sure don’t need a list of reasons to reexamine your site.  If your store isn’t doing what you’d like it to do, you should be going over it with a fine-toothed comb.  On the other hand, if your store is doing well, it’s easy to get complacent.  If you fall into that group, this article is for you.

We’ve said it a bazillion times: a website is a living thing. You have to nurture it – help it grow. If you neglect it, it’ll die… or worse. It’ll grow beyond your control until it’s a huge, rambling jumble of awkward navigation, dead ends and baffling content. Still unconvinced? Check out the list for the scolding you so richly deserve.

Read the rest after the jump…


Custom Volusion Template Development Timeline

Custom Volusion Template Timeline and Workflow Chart ©Brand LabsWe’ve been designing and developing custom Volusion templates for a lot of years now and it’s fair to say that we’ve got the process down to a science.  Need convincing?  Let’s go to the chart… (click to enlarge)

What you see here is the Brand Labs Custom Volusion Development Timeline.  Of course every Volusion template is unique.  That means that the custom development process varies from project to project, but there are certain things we can count on – predictable patterns.  That’s what this chart is all about.

If you look the chart over, you’ll see that it covers eleven weeks of consultation, design, more consultation, development and still more consultation.  If anyone tells you they can design your Volusion site from the ground up in under eleven weeks, we can tell you what they’re going to cut out: consultation.

Building a custom ecommerce site is a collaborative effort.  We pride ourselves on our efforts to learn about your business and its needs, but no one knows your business like you do.  Look at this chart – the orange areas are the periods in the process in which the client takes the lead.  In the eleven week process, you’ll see that the client takes the reins no less than seven times.

We want to work with you to transform your business in under three months – just fifty-five business days to build the online store of your dreams.  Call us to find out more about our custom Volusion template design process and how it can change your site from good to great.

Contact Us