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Entries in Design (96)


ProBlogger Logo Design

ProBlogger Logo DesignAt the end of May, Darren Rowse contacted me through MakaluMedia, to redesign the ProBlogger logo.

Darren has one of the net's most popular blogs, and is one of the founders of b5media. I was honored to have a chance at designing the new identity, so I agreed to come on board the design team with Darren's site designer, Ben Bleikamp.

Darren's story is interesting, not only because he turned blogging from a hobby into a full-time career and business, but because he freely shares what he's learned from blogging. I quite like Darren's attitude of helping others grow and succeed by sharing his knowledge.

In this post, I'll share details and sketches on the new ProBlogger identity.

Initial Specs and Feedback
Darren answered my standard list of questions, and from his initial feedback I gathered several themes to embrace and portray with the new ProBlogger identity. He wanted ProBlogger to be:

  • A welcoming community where bloggers can learn and grow

  • A source of information on making income from a blog

  • A site promoting professionalism in blogging

  • An extensive blogging reference

  • Keywords: income, professionalism, community, inspiration, credibility, encouraging

Darren wanted a clean, crisp, contemporary, professional logo, without superfical "Web 2.0" stylings. He wanted a logo to represent himself and his blog, in a design that wouldn't go out of style in 6 months.

Sketches v1
problogger-mini-v1.jpgWith all of this information in mind, I began sketching multiple concepts to get the project rolling (click the image to see the v1 sketches).

With all of my logo projects, I like to loosen up with pencil in my Miquelrius notebook, freeing my mind to explore ideas. Note the keywords on the upper right of the page, which help guide me in idea generation during this first sketch phase.

I focused on theProBlogger P, as it portrays the brand well, and would be a consistent element from the original design. I explored one other idea (8) which suggested community as a nucleus with network connections and multiple outer atoms.

In Darren's feedback, I learned that he liked the emphasis on the P. He preferred the squarer P characters, as these leaned away from the "surf" look and feel he saw in ideas 17, 18 and 19. He also liked the community concept he saw in 8, so it was on to v2 sketches to explore those ideas a bit more.

Sketches v2
problogger-mini-v2.jpgI this set, I explored the winning concepts and a few others, bringing in aspects of idea 8 and the community "atomic" ideas merged with the P character.

After review, Darren and his team of trusted advisers focused on two ideas from this v2 set: concepts 19 and 23. Next up was the black & white and color phase.

Black & White and Color Concepts
Because Darren was on a tight timeline, I changed my normal process, including both black & white and color logos on the same mockups. This way Darren could see the B&W ideas and some explorations of initial colors.

Concepts v1:
In the first set you'll see I came up with ideas based on the v2 sketches (2, 3, 4 and 5), along with a new idea (1) which came out I worked with the logos. Sometimes this happens, and I've learned to go with the flow and include these as options:

Concepts v1

Darren's feedback from round 1 aimed us at the P within a nucleus circle with orbiting atoms around this central icon to embed the concept of comminity into the mark. While the more graphical representations of this community were interesting (1, 2 and 3), the clearer P emerged as Darren's top choice.

Concepts v2:
Based on feedback from v1, I narrowed to the single P with orbiting atoms, exploring different ways the atoms could be positioned, the connection between atoms and the outer ring, a font option and variations on the provided color pallette:

Concept v2

Concepts v3:
Darren really liked the color combo in ideas 7 and 8 in this set, leaning toward 7 a bit more. He wanted to keep the "P" and "BLOGGER" in orange and do one final exploration on atom position and separation between the atom and the outer ring. So I did a final v3 to help Darren see the 3 final options:

Concept v3

In the final version, I felt the leading atom suggested forward movement, and the separation of the atoms from the circle provided focus to the 3 atoms. 7.1 was chosen as the final winner:

Problogger Winning Logo

Darren was pleased with the final logo, which was subsequently included in Ben's redesign of the site. It was great fun to see the logo announced on Darren's blog, followed by the release of the new site design.

As one might expect, with a major change on a popular site, there were a few who liked the old design better. However, after reading comments on the site related to the new logo and design, a majority of Darren's readers really loved the new site design and logo. Most importantly, Darren was pleased with the results.

Thanks Darren for choosing to work with me and MakaluMedia on the logo design. It was an honor and a pleasure working with Darren and Ben on this project.

Related Links
A New Look for ProBlogger - Coming Soon (Very Soon) (ProBlogger)
New Design Update (ProBlogger)
We’re Entering New Design Transition Phase (ProBlogger)
ProBlogger Redesign - Bedding Down for the Night (ProBlogger)
Redesign of - Designer Tells All (ProBlogger)
Redesign of (Ben Bleikamp)


My Podcast Interview on The Micro ISV Show

ch9bot.gifA few weeks ago, I was invited by author, micro-business owner and new MakaluMedia logo design client Bob Walsh, to be interviewed on Microsoft's The MicroISV Show (a podcast for software developers) with co-host Michael Lehman:

It's a brave new world for MicroISVs in which it's no longer enough to drag some controls onto a form and simply make sure they're lined up and the tab order is right. The mantra "form follows function" is becoming more and more important for developers as advent of Windows Vista, WPF and Silverlight once again change the expectations of how customers perceive software. You've got to "put your best face forward" and think about design of the user experience right from the beginning.

In this episode, Michael Lehman and Bob Walsh talk to Mike Rohde, designer and art director for MakaluMedia, about the changing role of design in software development and how and why MicroISVs must incorporate design thinking into their development process.

Listen to The Micro ISV Show #22 podcast:

• Putting your best face forward - The growing importance of design for MicroISVs
• Direct Podcast MP3 Link (Size: 36MB, Runtime: 40:13)

We had a great time! I had an opportunity to talk a bit about my views on design being more than window-dressing on applications, the importance of starting early with a designer, how to choose a designer, vector-based development tools and how they may effect developers and designers, and more.

Bob worked in questions about my creative process, asked how I generate so many sketch ideas, and even slipped in a mention of my Moleskine Planner Hack project.

Have a listen and let me know what you think.


Friday Tidbits: Pudding, Journler & Northern Room

Here are a few Friday tidbits to share:

Ataraxis Pudding Launches
stack.jpgPudding, a tool crearted by Michael Sica, launched last Friday. It's a web-based tool for sharing creative work with others. Pudding allows you to post images of your work in a private account, for clients and colleagues, to view and comment on. It comes in many flavors depending on your needs, free 30 day trial and a tour to see what Pudding can do.

Journler Gets 4.5 Mice from Macworld!
Journler Icon DesignMy friend Phil Dow's wornderful mac application Journler just received 4.5 mice from Macworld, in an August 2007 review. I've talked about the icon I designed and how I love the application — so it's very nice to see a great guy like Phil, seeing success and critical acclaim for the hard work he's invested in Journler.

Good Tunes: Northern Room
onlyseconds.jpgA few weeks ago I came across the local Milwaukee band Northern Room, via my good friend Joe Phillips. They have a great sound, which I quite like. I'd categorize their sound as similar to Snow Patrol, U2, Coldplay, and O.K. Go. Check out Northern Room on iTunes, Purevolume and SonicBids.

That's all — have a great weekend everyone!


"Trying to look good limits my life." — Stefan Sagmeister

I love that quote from Stefan Sagmeister.

It questions concerns with looking good, in context of being real and taking risks. Trying new things. Doing something that may not exactly fit your image.

Why are we so concerned with looking good?

Of course, I understand why on one level. You want to look good for your friends and family, your employer, customers, prospective clients, and people in general. That's not what I mean.

I mean maintaining "appearances" rather than letting down your guard and being real.

I mean sharing weaknesses with your family and friends now and then.

Trying the sushi, kimchee or flaming cheese, exactly because eating those strange foods is both scary and exciting.

One thing for me it's not always letting others know what bothers me.

I'm getting better about being assertive and sharing these things, but it's hard. I don't want to hurt feelings. What might people think?

On the other hand, I need to be real and honest. It's limiting my life.

I'm working on it and will try to let go of looking good in exchange for being real.

How does trying to look good limit your life?

Here's Stefan's TED talk, in which he talks about happiness and how it relates to design. This quote is mentioned near the end of his 15 minute talk.

Check out more information on the design piece "Trying to look good limits my life" on Sagmeister's company website.

I've also found a Hillman Curstis short film on Stefan, sponsored by Adobe.

Finally, Stefan's interview at DesignBoom.


Paul Stamatiou's Logo Design Project

paulstamatiou.pngI've just completed a logo design project with tech guru, and fellow 9rules blogger, Paul Stamatiou.

Paul writes commentary and reviews on varied topics with a focus on technology, and has very high visibility on the web. So as you can imagine, I found it a fun challenge to work with Paul.

Below are links to the set of mockups and final art at Paul's Flickr account:

Paul Stamatiou Logo Design Set
Paul Stamatiou Final Logo Design Spec Sheet

It was fun, and different working with Paul, since he put all of the sketches, black and white and color mockups I did for him on Flickr — as they were delivered — and opened them up for public comments. I've not had that kind of in-progress, public critique done with my work before. Paul and the commenters liked the work and through the normal process, Paul selected a final winner.

One advantage to having your client post in-progress to final work posted on Flickr is, prospective clients can see the process, how it works and looks — which hopefully sends them to me and MakaluMedia for their identity design.

All in all, it was a blast working with Paul. I think we've found a clean, crisp and memorable mark for Paul to use as personal branding, on the blog and for other things, which makes me very happy.

Thanks for choosing to work with me Paul! :-)

Related Links
Paul Stamatiou: New Logo, New Design
Paul Stamatiou Logo Design Set
Paul Stamatiou Final Logo Design Spec Sheet

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