Who Runs the World…Fonts.

If you just didn’t understand the above title at all please go to Youtube search Beyonce Run the World (Girls), but I’ve replaced “girls” from the song with “fonts” because this is a design blog so I can do that! I also think I’m funny, but my family and co-workers definitely disagree and those are the people I spend most of my time with so there must be some truth to what they say. But only a little bit.

Anyway all jokes aside, today I want to share my favorite places to find free fonts of all varieties. Below are my top 3 font sites:

DaFont: No, I don’t just like this site because of the absolutely amazing name. This is the very first free font site that I found when my design days were still in the infant stage. It is also the first font sight I go to when I start a new project. The fonts are vast and diverse, and the site makes it super easy to find and upload the fonts you need. Note: most fonts are only free for personal NOT commercial use, but many fonts allow the option to purchase for commercial use.

1001 Free Fonts: This site is similar to Dafont and I’ve also been able to find some much needed fonts from here. Note: most fonts are only free for personal NOT commercial use, but many fonts allow the option to purchase for commercial use.

Fonts Squirrel: Now this site ALLOWS commercial use of fonts. Though you may not see the variety of fonts on this site as you see on DaFont and 1001 Free Fonts, most of the fonts are great when you need a universal font or a font that is easy and simple enough to read.

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the enemy.

When I first thought of the many possibilities of brand competition with my beloved Pittsburgh Penguins, I wasn’t sure how broad to go. Should I go with another sport or should I go with another NHL team? So eventually I decided to go with THE enemy, aka. the Philadelphia Flyers.

Now I know it may not seem like their is a large competitiveness between brands, but it is a BIG deal, like the biggest deal! And I don’t think this sort of compare and contrast exercise would go well with just any NHL team from say Colorado or Canada, but because these two teams reside in the same state (and not even that big of a state) I thought that this exercise would be interesting.

The first thing I did to scout out the enemy’s camp (that’s what I’m calling their social media) was looking through their Twitter and Facebook almost immediately I spotted some differences and similarities between the Penguin’s sites and the Flyer’s sites. While Pittsburgh likes to actually add videos to their social media, Philadelphia uses links to redirect users to their main website. This is a pet peeve for me when it comes to social media because when I see a few words and then an ugly link I’m just not going to be interested enough to click on it. Maybe if their was a picture involved I might be more interested, but for the most part this is social media, I’m looking for fast content and being redirected to your website to watch a 30 second video just isn’t cutting it for me. If it’s shorter than 3 minutes, then please go ahead and post the video in the social media feed.

Some similarities I saw between the two team social media sites  were “live action” tweeting of games, press conferences, and pre/post game interviews. I also saw that they both liked to shout out players social media accounts when talking about that specific player in a tweet. I think that this is a great way to get more people involved with the players and their lives. It makes fans feel like a part of the team family.

Something that I saw lacking on the Flyer’s social media were retweets or shares from outside sources like fans, sport blogs, major sport news sites, or even the actual team players. A major thing that I like about the Penguins is that they like to retweet fans and players. And I like this because, like I mentioned in the paragraph above, it makes the fans feel involved. And I think that is what makes social media successful is getting people involved and making them feel apart of something larger.

To Boston, With Love.

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Last week a talked about designing memories. This week I wanted to write about memories creating a design. Sometime these designs can be our own response to a memory. And more specifically a telling of a story or stories through our designs. I came upon the above picture a few months after the Boston Marathon bombing. The photo is the cover of Boston Magazine’s May 2013 cover issue. Photographed by Mitch Feinberg, the image concept was created by Liz Noftle, their deputy design director.

In an article on their website, John Wolfson said, “To me the cover is about two things: perseverance and unity. By itself, each shoe in the photograph is tiny, battered, and ordinary. Together, though, they create something beautiful, powerful, and inspirational. Remove just one shoe and you begin to diminish, in some small way, the overall effect. Collectively, they are the perfect symbol for Boston, and for our response to the bombings. This staff is filled with people who feel the same way. Our home is hurting right now, and our hope, together, was to produce something that reflects the intensity of affection and pride that all of us here in the region feel for Boston.”

Sometime the only way we can share our feelings is through design. Sometimes the only way to heal ourselves and others is through our designs.

Content. Content. Content.

My favorite content on social media is sort of opposite of that in my daily life because I am a reader. Like a real “books are my friends” nerd! I will read no less than two books on a busy day. I know, I have a serious problem on my hands. However, when it comes to social media, I hate to read posts. I just can’t stand it. Give me an amazing picture, give me a video, give me an ad. I will more than likely pay attention to a sponsored ad with a photo than a friend’s three sentence paragraph. And that may make me somewhat of a horrible friend, but if they had posted a picture instead I wouldn’t have ignored them. So I’m just going to say that it’s partially their fault.

Anyway back to the content discussion, I think that the main reason for my preference of videos and photos is that I like my social media to be quick. It takes me less time to look at a photo. And when I’m watching a video, if it’s entertaining, I don’t care how much time I’m wasting! And I can watch a video while simultaneously doing something else. I can’t do that with words.

Creating Memories

There are many times where the things I create are for myself. When I’m happy. When I’m sad. Whatever the reason every design means something. As designers we put effort, time, love, and even some frustration (okay sometimes ALOT of frustration) into what we create. Each design takes a part of ourselves. When we express ourselves through this art, it becomes something that will forever reflect what I felt in that moment of creation. I know this sounds so deeply profound, but it is the truth. So when we create something for others we get to share a part of us with them and in doing so because we’re creating with them in mind we capture apart of them as well.

Just this weekend my older sister asked me to create a baby shower invitation. And because I love my sister, and of course I’m like the GREATEST sister ever, I said yes! But it goes deeper than a simple question and answer. My sister has given me the privilege to create something that will be the first invitation to celebrate a new life. My nephews life. This creation will be an invitation from my sister to all those she loves to join her in this journey. This design will create excitement and love. This design will be carefully laid in little Mateo’s baby book together by his grandmother and mother. It represents a dream come to life. It is a keepsake. It is a memory. As designers sometimes we get the amazing opportunity to create something that will signify so much more than just a simple design. We create memories.

Zoetica Media: How to Handle Online Criticism of Your Business or Organization

I see online criticism most days of the week when I’m scrolling through social media, especially when I am looking at the comments on a popular brand/company site or post. So when I saw this post on the Zoetica Media blog I chose to write about it for this weeks class blog.

I like that they first start out the blog by giving examples of simple every day boo-boos when it comes to responding back to a critical post about a brand/company on social media or even an initial post from the actual brand/company that ends up creating a frenzy of negative traffic to their post and social media page.

First off I can understand how easy it is to read something negative and, without a rational thought, responding back in as little as a few taps and a click, but what I don’t and can’t understand is going out of your way as an employee or OWNER of a company and initiating a negative and alienating response about a customer! This is the last example they offer about a Caffe owner posting on Facebook negatively about two mothers and their children leaving crumbs on the ground when enjoying a meal at the Caffe.

Not only did that owner just alienate PAYING customers, but they also alienated pretty much anybody who as a parent has taken their kids to eat at a restaurant. So basically a lot of people. And that post generated negative buzz directly onto that Caffe’s Facebook account.

Zoetica doesn’t go into detail about this example, but it does highlight many interesting and helpful suggestions for how to handle any online criticism that brands/company’s may encounter. One of the biggest take-aways that I had with this blog post was their suggestion that social media handlers approach any encountered critiques as a human. Not as a policy or a strategy or a media robot, but as a human being. Step into the customers shoes, and treat them not just as a customer should be treated, but as a human should be treated.

Falling In Love With Design…Again

We all have those days when the thing we love and enjoy the most becomes somewhat tainted by outside and sometimes even inside forces that make us hate hate hate. I’ve had many a times when design is just the very LAST thing that I want to do. And on many occasions this design dread is usually brought on by what I like to call design block.

Design block is basically the same thing as writer’s block, it doesn’t matter how hard and focused and inspired you try to be you are just blank. There’s nothing there. And boy is it frustrating especially when a project for school or work is due soon and you need all the design gods that were ever created to save you. But sadly I don’t believe in the design gods. Well I’m not a full 100% believer, but perhaps more around a 13% believer! But that’s still a 87% fail rate so basically you are all on your own. Anyway I’m going to drag myself out of writing any more nonsense and get to the point: don’t FREAK out and don’t GIVE UP.

Take a breath and go do something that will take you away from the designing madness. And I know that it easier said than done. I am a complete control freak, but I have learned to switch of my wired and crazy brain and create a care free place where design just doesn’t exist anymore. It’s in this place where I can breathe again. And when I come out I’m ready to be inspired and I accept whatever the design gods have in store for me. 🙂

Favorite Brand

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When I’m not nerding out on design or books (see past posts), I’m most likely watching some sort of sporting event. I grew up playing many sports and I still try to involve myself in as many as I can whether it be physically playing or just watching on TV. My most most most favorite sport though is one that sadly I’m really very bad at playing, hockey. So of course I have a favorite team, the Pittsburgh Penguins. And before you ask the question let me tell you, no I’m not from Pittsburgh nor have I ever even been to visit, but somehow fate aligned and I became a fan of the best professional sport team on the PLANET!

And truthfully this class blog works out so well with how I became besotted with the Penguins because it was really through social media that a love and bond was cemented. When I first became aware of the team/brand I did what any child of the 21st century did and I went online to seek more info from the teams main website and social media sites. The Penguins do such a great job at continuously updating their sites (Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat) as well as posting content that is of interest to followers and fans. I know that for me the content and excitement I got from each posting was what really truly nurtured a relationship and forever fan in me.

The team uses their main social media sites to supply game updates to fans that aren’t able to watch live (like me who is usually in class), they really use Twitter to its fullest potential by posting live play by play action from the game. They also post many videos and behind-the-scenes photos of the team and even the players home-lives. The social media team does a great job of using social media to link content back to their main hub, the Penguins website.

I also am a frequent visitor of the side social media sites the team offers, like that of the actual social media team and other employees that provide a behind the scenes of the teams oerations. Both types of the Penguins social sites are very interactive with fans. I myself have gotten retweeted and responded to by the main twitter page and some of the side pages run by the employees. They do a great job in involving you in the team and making it feel like we are all one big family!

Social Media Content

When I’m scrolling through my social media sites I tend to notice that the posts that hold my attention are the ones who’s content appeals to me most. I think overall that is what is most important when thinking about what content to post on social media. What is my current audience interested in? What will appeal to them? And this appealing content will be different for each company and each audience. Whether it be two vastly different companies like Baby’s R Us and Goodyear Tires or two relatively closely related companies like Target and Walmart. So I think it’s important to know who the audience is and what they want to see on social media.

For me all the social media pages that I follow I already have an initial interest in. I have already devoted time and effort into following a specific page because I am interested in the content being posted. But, I need those companies or social media pages to keep my interest. If I’m following Target I want to see news on discounts and photos of new featured clothes that they have because that is what I go to Target for. However, I also want to be entertained. This is where “humanizing” or personality comes into play. I also like when companies ask questions through social media. It’s like having a conversation and it gets people involved.

This question concept is also where I think companies and social media professionals can become more interactive with their followers and customers. Ask questions. Answer questions. Invite a conversation. All of these are excellent ways to not only get to know your followers/customers, but to also reinforce and strengthen current follower/customer relationships.