Last weekend I visited Colour World UK with my sister. Colour World Uk is an event that welcomes hundreds of colourists to an event designed specially for hairdressers of all ages and stages. The event focuses on inspiration, learning techniques (by watching accomplished colourists at work), and sharing ideas to grow a colour business.

My sister Katie is one of the most talented, focused and knowledgeable hairdresser of her age you’ll ever meet. To keep up to date and to maintain this fantastic skill set she frequently goes to events and talks throughout the year. As as any good sister would, I accompany her.

These events are an absolute joy for a graphic designer to attend, especially when discussing the process and the technicalities of colouring.

Many of us at university are told, design does not live in a bubble. You must engage with other things in life to become a more well rounded designer. This becomes easier said than done when you’re interested in beautiful type, colours and layout. However if you look hard enough you will find that you can gain so much from talks/events/visits that you would not instantly think have any connection to graphic design.

Vidal Sassoon

On Sunday the lecture that inspired me the most was by Edward Darley –
UK Colour Director from Vidal Sassoon. Incase you’re reading this and have no idea who Vidal Sassoon is here is a brief history.

Vidal Sassoon was a male hair dresser in 50’s and is possibly the single most influential hairdresser – ever. He was a forward thinking hairdresser who took inspiration from the Bauhaus movement. This inspiration and cross over between architecture eventually created one of Vidal Sassoon’s most iconic hair cut – the asymmetric bob

asymmetric-cut_rex

Vidal’s process and values are heavily installed into his team and this was very apparent during Edward Darley’s lecture .

Colour Theory

Darley spoke about the use of colour theory and how this knowledge can allow you use colour to create shape and balance within hairstyles.

By referencing the likes of Johannes Itten and his most famous book ‘The Art of Colour’, the lecture instantly became accessible to anyone who uses or deals with colour. It is easy to forget that not only graphic designers deal with colour, therefore was pleasantly surprised and fascinated that there was this strong connection between hair and design.

Throughout the talk Darley spoke convincingly about colour theory with real life examples. Not only did I learn and reinforce my exsisting knowledge surrounding colour theory, I also was reminded how to important it is to be great at public speaking. Darely spoke with such passion and integrity that it was impossible to leave the room without feeling inspired.

This was just one of the many inspiring talks from throughout the day, there were plenty of discussions and presentations that looked at collections, the ideas behind them and the creative process. All of these events relate back to design; we all use ideas and have a creative process the only difference is the medium.

Even if you are not interested in the subject of hair, listening to those who are speak and discuss hair with confidence and creativity can only benefit you as a designer.

I’ve found that usually people fall into one of two camps. Camp one: Moodboards are a necessary step in any design process. Camp two: Moodboards use up too much time and can hinder creativity.

A moodboard can mean something different depending on what kind of context you put them in, however a moodboard is generally a combination of colours, typography, images and textures. With the mass of online inspiration such as pinterest and Niice you can now create moodboards quickly without slaving over hundreds of magazines with a pair of scissors in hand.

Are moodboards worth it?

Have you ever jumped straight into a project, spending days on mock ups to then send them to the client to only to hear that the work isn’t them or that it doesn’t have the right look and feel?

These kinds of situations can be avoided by using moodboards earlier on within a project. By using moodboards and communicating with your client you are able to get a better understanding of what their expectations are from the start. By adding in this step you are able to save valuable time, as creating a loose moodboard is a lot less time consuming than creating pixel perfect mock ups.

Moodboards are accessible and a great communication tool — as they say a picture is worth a thousand words. So if you’re a client briefing a designer but struggling to put into words what style you are looking for, creating a simple moodboard may be your answer. Also a moodboard can help with miscommunication as one person’s idea of the word ‘Fun’ may be another person’s idea of ‘Busy’ — getting everyone on the same visual page from the start of a project is probably one of the simplest ways to ensure a project runs smoothly.

Moodboards aren’t the answer to everything

Now i’m not saying every project requires a moodboard, sometimes they aren’t appropriate. For example if you’re a client with a solid brand that has a distinctive look and feel, it might not be right to spend time sourcing visuals to reinforce a well established brand with solid enough guidelines already in place.

Moodboards can also lack purpose when designing the experience of a website. As websites are naturally interactive, and as moodboards are naturally static it can be really difficult to communicate the overall interactive experience with no moving elements.

Moodboards aren’t a replacement for original creative thinking. By no means should a project start with moodboard without solid concepts and ideas. Sourcing images without a concept leads to hours of wasted time and makes it incredibly difficult to justify to a client why you have proposed a visual idea. By taking the style over substance approach could mean that your design becomes based on trends rather than your clients needs.

At Eight Arms we believe that in a digital world, content is key and sometimes the best way to grab attention is with animation or video.

A successful website is engaging, user friendly and most importantly has great content. Content can be well written and interesting but sometimes a static website containing text and image alone may not be enough to tell your story.

Internet users are now often spending less than 15 seconds on a website*. As a result we’ve adjusted our design approach in order to cater to users with shorter attention spans. However, diminishing attention spans aren’t the only reason we’re rethinking our approach. We’ve also noticed that over the years, users have shifted their time spent online towards video content and the dominance of video on the web has increased dramatically. Youtube is now the second largest search engine on the web with 6 billion hours of video content viewed each month**.

As more people engage with video on multiple devices, video content has become far more accessible than ever been before. Therefore designers and developers have begun treating video content differently. More and more websites now use video as the main focus and purpose of the website rather than an additional after thought.

At Eight Arms we embrace video content and use video to successfully promote products, brand and services. This use of video makes it easier for us to communicate businesses thoughts and ideas quickly while taking the users digital experience to a new level.

In our latest campaign with Fairtrade we were challenged to bring to life the themes from a film in a way that audiences could relate to, engage with and share socially. We used snippets of video to create a modular homepage that showed relatable footage of both the western world as well as the farmers lives in Malawi. The results speak for themselves, Fairtrade had the highest number of engagement, traffic and conversions than ever before.

We also brought video to the forefront of the Tinderflint website redesign. By including multiple 5 second edits of their current showreel within the homepage we were able to target those 15 second users, as they would instantly get a taste for the kind of work that Tinderflint produce.

These are just two of many examples where we have integrated video content alongside the more traditional use of text and imagery. At Eight Arms we believe that with ever increasing broadband and mobile internet connection speeds, video is now becoming the standard user expectation as opposed to an additional design enhancement. We predict that this trend will continue to grow over the coming years and feel there is no better time than now to start taking video content more seriously as part of your digital content strategy.

*What you think you know about the web is wrong
**Youtube the 2nd largest search engine infographic

Guest post written for Tinderflint

Do you know your CMS from your SEO? Here we explain a few of the terms that we use throughout website projects.

Within the digital world it is really easy to throw acronyms and techy terms around without a second thought. These terms might make sense to us as a studio but what about a client who may not be so tech savvy? Below we’ve created a list of words that we use frequently here at Eight Arms.

1. API

An API or Application Program Interface can be considered as an alternative user interface that makes requests for or use of information from another computer, operating system, or another application.

Many websites these days are huge databases of information. We can use APIs to “get the information out”, for example automatically displaying tweets on your website without the need to upload each one manually.

2. CMS (CONTENT MANAGEMENT SYSTEM)

A content Management System is the system that you can use to manage the content of your website. There are hundreds of Content Management Systems available for your use at a range of prices. Many of the most popular ones are open source, such as WordPress or Drupal.

3. SEO (SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMISATION)

Search Engine Optimisation is a process of upgrading the visibility of a website or a web page in a search engine’s organic (or un-paid) search results.

4. WIREFRAMES

A website wireframe is a visual guide that represents the skeletal framework of a website. Wireframes will typically contain no designed elements of a website such as branding or imagery, but will show how the proposed content and other website elements will be arranged on a page.

5. SITEMAP

A sitemap is a list of pages that online users have access to on a website. Sitemaps can be used as a planning process when designing a website. They are usually organised in a hierarchy with the top navigation first and then pages sitting below each relevant category.

6. HOSTING

Most websites essentially consist of a number of files. These files need to be accessible over the internet, so for that to happen we need computers that are attached to the internet with a high speed connection. These computers are known as servers, and hosting is an agreement between a company who owns these servers to let space and resources on them.

7. TEMPLATE

The template refers to the design of a page that can be used multiple times across a content managed website.

8. CACHE

When you visit a website your browser downloads the web page, the data is “cached,” meaning that the website is temporarily stored on your computer. Therefor the next time you wish to access the webpage, your browser will access it from the cache so that the website will load quicker.

9. DOMAIN

All the servers in the world have addresses to find them. These aren’t geographic addresses with street names, but something called an IP address which looks something like this — 192.101.123.234

IP addresses aren’t the catchiest or most rememberable website address, so what usually happens is you register a domain name from a service provider like “eightarms.co.uk”, and the provider will ‘point’ the domain name to the IP address, so everyone who types in the name will unwittingly end up on your server.

10. URL (UNIQUE RESOURCE LOCATOR)

A Unique Resource Locator or web address is what you can type into an internet browser to access a website or other resource on the Internet.

 

Guest post written for Eight Arms

Last night I went to D&AD’s second home to hear David McCandless talk about his latest book, Knowledge is Beautiful.

Information design is getting bigger, and so is David McCandless in the design world. While at university nearly everyone I knew had a copy of Information is Beautiful, so I was excited to see tickets pop up for his latest talk.

The talk took place in D&AD’s second home, with a really good turn out. David spoke briefly about his work and focused on the strange, funny and interesting relationships that would appear in the data he investigated. As David explained, information design allows us to make numbers and data relatable.

‘Information is Beautiful’ was a great book when it first arrived on designers bookshelves — seeing data as fun and shown in a visually stimulating way wasn’t as prominent as it is today. It’s great to see that information design has developed, and I think David does this well with ‘Knowledge is Beautiful‘ as he has looked at data in comprehensive way, in more detail and placed it in context. Naturally this deeper investigation of data allows us to understand information and gain knowledge from the facts rather than assumptions.

@mccandelish

20150117_145034

Above: Sandra’s work at Penpushers

Last year I had signed myself up to a 1 to 1 intensive course of calligraphy. I’ve recently become more aware of lettering and how you can make absolutely stunning work with traditional techniques — so naturally I turned to calligraphy first as I felt it was the best place to start when trying to understand hand lettering.

On Saturday I ventured North (well of Essex anyway) and visit Sandra at Pen Pushers in Epping. I met Sandra previously at Hobby Craft in Romford, I was totally unaware that Hobby Craft had in-store lessons such as Calligraphy. Due to working full time I just couldn’t get to the classes on a weekday evening so decided to just book a one day intensive lesson.

Sandra has a spacious studio and instantly makes you feel at home! We started the lesson at 10am and began with the basics and the general rules of calligraphy.

After I completed the day lesson I can honestly say that I feel so much more confident. I feel that now I can go off on my own and practice as I now know the technique as well as what I should be aiming for. You literally can’t beat having someone there who has a wealth of experience to sit down with you and go through the work with you. Watching youtube videos are all well and good but you can’t get the live feedback and encouragement.

I would recommend Sandra’s workshop fully! You can find out more information here at www.penpushers.com/ or head over to the facebook page Here

20150117_145025

20150117_145008

Above are my letters produced on the day – Caps are so much harder than lower case! Also my sunday practice sheets below!

IMG-20150118-WA0005IMG-20150118-WA0007  Also found this fab calligraphy beginners set in the charity shop! Brand new!

20150118_154331