On a Power Mac 7200 ,circa 1995, we began this web development journey. Because the movie is set in the 90’s they developed a period piece to match the times. Our site was lot like this gif/comic sans awesomeness. What was your first website like?
In the modern world if you have a thing or do a thing that thing better have a fancy name. Which brings up “Content Upgrade”, what is a “Content Upgrade”? It’s pretty simple, give me your email and I’ll show you my… More specifically, give me your email and I’ll give you something, usually some content, expertise, knowledge. Fair trade? that’s up to you. Here’s a primer.
At first glance you instantly get that Deja vu feeling. Then it hits you pretty quickly, the Merril Lynch logo. “Close” is an understatement, but you be the judge. Don’t want to get an argument about intentions, and I like to think no designer would purposely want to go “there”. Just do a google image search for “bull logo” and you’ll see it’s pretty easy to come up with an original unoriginal bull.
Many logo refresh attempts are met first with “why?” and most people are not comfortable with change, it’s disconcerting. I feel this is the case, again. Let me explain. USF has had a few too many logo iterations in the past not so long a space of time (yes I’m mixing in the Academic logo with the dizzying array of athletic logos). Other than it being a bull, there is no logical visual progression, each new version too different from the last. Once again that is the case with this new version. Lending itself to criticism for not building a consistent visual brand at a school that is doing well improving it’s academic reputation.
Well, what’s done is done, how is it? Is it good? When it comes to logo redesigns the trend is to simplify on each iteration, moving away from multiple colors and gradients to a flat one color design arriving at minimal shape recognition. Apple and Starbucks are the classic examples. The new bull on it’s own follows that trend, and it’s done well. The bull is faithful to the actual bronze bull on campus. It has a strong defiant sense. It’s a BULL damnit!
So, well done on the bull itself. There is potential for this bull to be a lasting one. You can cut or smooth out a few angles here or there but how much more simple can you get before you lose it as a bull. And all would be well in the world here in Tampa but then there was this: I have to admit that we are font snobs around here. Many a project goes over time as we battle to the death over arc, stem, descender, ligature and other terrifically boring aspects of fonts. So we have to say WTF? on this new USF. The “U” and the “S” have a semi extrusion giving them a 3-D aspect, which would be fine but this is absent in the “F”. There is a weird perspective, a disjointed spacial feeling to the eye, like Cezanne’s fruit on a table that looks like it wants to roll off, or Manet’s bench that goes under at one perspective and comes out another on the other side. This is furthered by the extrusions having different sized “barreling” with the “U” having a much larger aperture than the “S”. This also makes the “U” look slightly larger than the “SF”.
So, we’re gonna pass the bull but fail the typography. Hopefully the logo on the side of a bus gets partially blocked by a minivan.
Why? Why Massive Ant, why should we steal this shirt?!?! Get a shirt we’ll plant a tree. Because it’s a cool design. Because it’s good quality. Because it’s made in the USA by an awesome small business. Because it’s good for the environment (for every shirt we’ll plant a tree or maybe two or three). Because you’ll be helping us increase our brand awareness. Because this shirt once inspired Abbie Hoffman to write a book. Because you’re not a thief (because things cost money, so don’t steal, buy this shirt). Because every time we’ve said the word “because” you’ve been slowly hypnotized into buying this shirt.
When we count to three and snap our fingers you’ll awake feeling refreshed and looking great in your new shirt.
Makes a great Holiday gift.
P.S. Stay tuned, we have two other Massive Ant branded charity shirts coming soon! One for our favorite ALS charity (Project Main St.) and one our favorite Rescue Animals charity (The John and Christine Tortorella Family Foundation).
We’ve done a few sites for some of their clients, so we were eager to get to work on their own website. Day 1 Sports & Entertainment is a full service sports agency based in Atlanta. Day1 represents some very high profile NFL players, and is branching out into other professional sports as well. Like any good agency they get the best contracts for their clients but it doesn’t stop there, they provide community outreach opportunities for their players to give back, as well as wealth management services to make sure their clients futures are secure.
The Day1 requested a website be developed that had the look and feel of the unique business environment of professional sports athletes. A bit of our WordPress movement skills were needed to showcase what these people do while highlighting a few of their players. Another fun site to work on and it’s pretty cool to see these guys at work on Sundays.
Tampa fans stay tuned… we are hard at work on Buccaneer Mike Evans’ charitable foundation website.
About 10 years ago we did a website for a nationally known dance studio that opened a branch here in Tampa. We gave the client the option of a Flash website, one that would allow us to use some animation and music to convey the movement and mood of a ballroom dance studio. The other option was a fairly new method of building a site, a fairly new platform (CMS) that we were playing with at the time, WordPress. You see, Flash was incredibly capable for building beautiful dynamic websites, but it was very difficult for our clients to update things such as events and schedules (something a dance studio would need often). The client chose to go with the Flash site. On the up side we did a beautiful site. On the down side it wasn’t long before they needed weekly and sometimes daily updates to the site. Now there were ways to get Flash sites updated by having Flash pull from a text file (xml) but it still had to be handled by us.
This was a turning point for us, we were smart enough (and lucky!) to see what the future held. With SEO turning away from keywords and metadata to an algorithm that relied on frequent and relevant content, and the constant problems with the monster that Flash had become, we decided to jump headfirst into developing WordPress websites.
So why are we telling you this? Well, one of the principals of this dance studio was a world champion dancer named Luca Baricchi. He remembered the site and everything we went through to get it just right. Jumping ahead to the present Luca was developing a unique approach to the techniques, training and educational methods of classical dance, and was establishing a new institute. Luca hadn’t been to the USA in some time but we were honored when he flew in from Italy, just to meet with us. He wanted the fluid and graceful feel of the Flash website but needed the infrastructure of WordPress to allow him to grow as his institute did. We always missed the freedom of design and animation that Flash served. So we’ve been sharpening our skills to marry that freedom and functionality into one site platform. We also designed a logo to match the feel of what Luca’s techniques and spatial 3 -dimensional movement.. Be sure to have a look at the results.
“But my Grandmother doesn’t like the coffee, can you give me 3 others to choose from?”
While in a sales meeting and going through our website development history… we were dealing with the performance lag issues with the Flash player on Mac’s and Macromedia’s lack of dealing with it. We had two constant issues to overcome with client’s demands, random Flash performance issues coupled with version compatibility, and, the constant issue of content management, which we had semi-solved with XML. While doing a random search we half lucked into seeing the writing on the wall – the demise of Flash – and found WordPress 1.0. So, funny that I just ran into this fun video (well, fun for graphic designers) Photoshop 1.0. I actually cut my teeth on P’shop 3.0 but had messed around with 1.0 it once on my Dad’s Mac.
A very common question around here. We have to be very diligent about the images our clients give us on a project. In today’s litigious society – even though the website is not “our” website – as the web designers we are just as likely to be named along with the client in any copyright related issues. Our safe advice is to go straight to our trusted stock sites and fork over the few bucks needed for piece of mind. It’s also usually easier to find that perfect image, in the proper size, needed as opposed to scouring the web for a similar image free of rights. However, sometimes the client has found that perfect image and they really, really want to use it but don’t know if they can. “Better safe than sorry ” usually applies here, but it may be worth going through the motions to find out. Here’s a handy flow chart provided by The Visual Communication Guy to put your image through the test.
Once again we have a client in the process of being bamboozled out of their $$$ by some slick talking SEO salesman promising them the top ranking on a Google search. Luckily we were able to talk them down from the ledge. These people know nothing about what you do, they just have a list of words they will cleverly cram into a few paragraphs that will read like a bad infomercial. Look good to a search engine? Maybe, but most humans will know it looks like a naked mannequin in the window of an abandoned strip mall. Your clients will know it’s not you and the chances of them sharing it or coming back for more aren’t good. In the long run you’re hurting your business more than helping. Our advice has been the same for years… write it yourself. You’ll save money, connect with your clients, and you may find that it hones your skills to do what you do better. We can help make it easy for you to write, publish and edit your content. Ask us how, we’ll show you how easy it is.
So, who knows your business? You. You do!
Seen this done before – not as art – for science, and I think it was termite colonies. Semi-related, but why not.
Some friends of ours children wanted to help out their local animal shelters after learning what happens to some of them 🙁
We were only to happy to help. So we built them a simple little website. Keep up the good work kids!
For our clients (who update their websites via smatphones) who have been wondering if it was safe to still use their WordPress apps… yes just be sure to do the update.
We have your logo files and pictures. And more pictures. We’ve talked at length about the importance or frequent, relative content and how this is crucial to search engine exposure. But we have no text from you. Sure we can help you by guiding the direction and particulars needed to create good content. We don’t recommend copy writers because no one knows your business better than you. So, we encourage you to write your own content. Which brings up the next stumbling block to getting your website design off and running: we need it now! [Read more…] about Information Architechture – or, Why We Need Yor Content Now
Apparently the best way to give your readers information is don’t. I’ll keep it short… In the Twitter age, content dies in a non-scrolling website. Maybe long articles will be broken into a series of tweets. Did you get this far? Yes? Further than most. How the KISS method evolved from keep it simple to keep it short.
Look no further, Massive Ant has a Facebook page! We come across stuff. We link to stuff. You look at stuff. It’s just that simple. Order now, It’s free! Just pay no shipping and handling charges. So act now. and enjoy the wonder and convenience of Massive Ant, Facebook Page.
We’re experimenting with CSS frameworks, not that you would care, but it will make things quicker and more efficient with your designs, visual updates and changes when we are dealing with your website. We don’t know of many developers in the Tampa area doing this, are you? Which one are you using? why?
I was recently asked by a budding web designer friend for some WordPress “advice” (read: training) and since I’ve barely got the time to breathe in my own backlog of development related updates and training I thought I’d put this out there. Someday I’ll make it to a meeting, sounds like fun with like minded folks (even if they’re our competition, ;-)). Anyway if you’re looking for a place to bounce around some ideas and live in the Tampa Bay area, join:
Giving our web design clients the control and freedom to mange their own content was the best gift in our business development. Our gift to WordPress is to continue recommending the best CMS platform available. Happy to say we’ve been with you since the beginning. Happy Birthday WordPress!
Here it is, the latest in luscious logo trends. Trendy!
Up four points this year is one more reason to go with WordPress, let us show you how easy it it is to manage your own website content.
As designers we’ve grown to rely on WordPress for it’s ability to morph into any client situation. As developers, it’s an easy choice for the same reason but the clincher is it’s stability and security. The WordPress team is ever vigilant in updating the core software, and while it can take some vigilance of our own to keep up with the updates, it’s good to know we’re never left wanting for a hole to get patched.
WordPress development sees it’s next iteration with 3.6, beta it if you want to play, or just preview the next set of features, including improved audio/video support and a new cahced auto-save feature, never lost that in-progress post content again.
Check it out at WordPress
Very often clients ask us to remove the meta (author, time, category, etc.) line below the post or page title. In an effort to “clean up” the look and discard the clutter to make things easier for the user,
After years of Flash development the writing was on the wall, Flash was waning. When it was clear Apple and Flash were not going to play well together on the internet playground, we made the jump to WordPress. Longevity was the prime factor when we chose WordPress as our preferred platform and prime recommendation for our clients. As a small firm we needed to reduce long term development time and allow for our clients growth while keeping their cost at a minimum. With the speed and sometimes surprise of change when it comes to internet technologies being an early adopter, no matter the care taken, can be half research and half gamble, we did our best to reduce the chance factor. It looks like we made the right decision.
For us the long awaited drop kick of Internet Explorer 6, so long to that long lived thorn in our web design side. For you an improved back end administration. For your visitors a tremendous increase in performance and speed with a fresh development of the core code. Learn more:
St. Petersburg, Florida based charitable organization Gulf Coast Jewish Family & Community Services has approved the release of their new website, while still under content development our clients main goals have been achieved.
[Read more…] about Preview: Gulf Coast Jewish Family & Community Services
Preview: Gulf Coast Jewish Family & Community Services or GCJFCS presented us with a “massive” rebranding problem: take six existing, well established branches of their services, all with different branding, and house them under one umbrella.Â We created a multi-site environment which allows each branch a separate control panel for content development and presentation while allowing an overall administration to the main organization.Â Although the subsites are still in the process of building out their content, the main construction is complete.Â We are currently developing a cohesive set of logo’s that will further tie the branches together visually.Â Stay tuned…
Bringing them up to date with a fresh look and and easy to use content management system (CMS) to meet their rapidly growing needs while providing a new level of service for their clients.
Tampa based Cobra Technologies established in 1995, is a US based consulting and software product company with expertise in content management and document capture(scan). Massive Ant completed a full website redesign as well as branding and logo update. We provided a custom content management solutions to fit their needs as well as secure client areas.
This years logo trends, glad to see the facebook “blue” trend has waned. But “Brown”, ugh.
Using WordPress our clients have found that learning how to manage the content on their sites is a quick and painless process. In fact most find that they are adding more content then they ever thought the would. They then quickly find out that they are becoming their own SEO professional just by posting to their sites. The natural next step of curiosity is to ask “how does this all work?”.
Follow this link for a great tutorial of sorts complete with nice graphics that isn’t to technical but offers an in depth look at the inner workings of your WordPress site.
Too much server, too many pitfalls… Why we provide VPS hosting to all of our clients, because it’s just right.
Here’s the basics:
Here’s the latest on WordPress for our clients who take advantage of Smartphone content management for their websites. A new version for iPhone and iPad that adds some great features, video support (finally!), the media library gets some attention, and the best part… autosave for posts.
Android users get mostly bug fixes on the latest version and the long awaited post status option.
Custom WordPress site with a full featured online library for Tampa based Archiva Images.
learn more about this web siteÂ Archiva Images | Tampa Web Design, Website Development, WordPress Developers, CMS.
Archiva Images images offers custom stock image portfolios for businesses looking to avoid having to customize imagery to fit their needs and avoid a generic look and feel to their marketing materials. We’ve created a customized private back end that enables graphics departments or any employee to access imagery specific to their company and have it easily available in multiple formats and sizes to suit specific needs, whether it be for corporate websites, emails, presentation, or print. Clients can batch images and save sets or email images to others directly from the website for distribution.
It works like this… for now.
A basic overview of functions available in the latest development of WordPress and some example of how business websites can utilize custom content types.
Massive Ant is on Facebook… because we’re supposed to have one of these. These used to be called “Fan Pages” but now Facebook is just calling them business pages. So what will you find there? All the cool stuff we find out on the web, design work we like, art, music, videos, and various content that generally doesn’t have a place here, so we’re putting it there.
Come join. Click through and hit the “Like” button:
We’re exited about two of the trends in Web Design we’ve been playing with here at the Ant Farm, Mobile Design (iPhone website versions!) and the design freedom possibilities of CSS3. Also a move towards print influenced, typography heavy design should bring Serif fonts back in favor, readability returns! A nice showcase of what’s to come:
We are proud to be involved in such a great program for low income youth in our area. Pinellas Opportunity Council, Inc. and Youth Arts Corps in collaboration with Jim’s Harley-Davidson proudly introduce original designs by Classics Unzipped, a youth entrepreneurial program.
(sorry the site is now down)
Pinellas Opportunity Council, Inc., Youth Arts Corps, and Jim’s Harley Davidson, team up to foster entrepreneurial understanding in St. Petersburg, Florida’s low income students by creating a hands-on environment for students to transform their ideas into a revenue stream. Keeping a motorcycle theme, leather goods are “up-cycled” by the students who add their own styles and fashion to donated products which are then offered for sale with proceeds going back into the program.
visit Classics Unzipped
Heather McAdam star of NBC’s Sisters and Beverly Hills 90210 opens her new studio, Heather McAdam Professional Acting Studio in Los Angeles, California.
Heather McAdam, who has starred on NBC’s Sisters and Beverly Hills 90210, having coached privately for years has opened her long awaited acting studio.
Gulf Coast Jewish Family Services provides incredibly life-altering services to many people. Each one of the individuals they serve has a story. Imagine that story told through the eyes of professional photographer Sonia Raymund. Book design and layout as well as logo design and collateral material for advertising and reception.
More and more clients coming to us for website design are concerned primarily with search engine placement. We quickly inform them that there is no magic bullet for getting a top ten return, and to be leery of SEO (search engine optimization) companies promising top returns. After all it’s Google’s game and they make the rules, any gaming of the system and they just change the rules, or worse, just blacklist your site. At Massive Ant we utilize safe “white hat” techniques for your site to steadily climb the rankings without any stumbling going up the ladder. The first and best thing we do is utilize the awesome features built in to WordPress. To learn more here’s a few tips we use that illustrate why we use WordPress as our CMS (content management system) of choice:
Matt Cutts is a Software Engineer who heads the web spam team at Google. Matt has been using WordPress for years and feels WordPress makes search engine optimization easier and easier with each update.
We strongly advocated Flash development over the years, but there’s a new queen in the ant farm… Jquery. With content management needs and the Apple-centric developments created by the iPhone and iPad, design times are a changin’. Here’s an excellent non-confrontational piece on this controversial subject:
It’s our web-design blog. We may shoot over the heads of some with the web-design geek factor getting too high at times but here is where you’ll find what latest subjects interest us, and maybe you too.
Massive Ant want to welcome Gulf Coast Jewish Family Services. With six major divisions (“buckets”), we are currently designing a website that will house a unique site for each entity. Utilizing features in the latest WordPress release a separate back-end administration will accompany each sub-site for separate content management. Each division has been operating their marketing strategies somewhat individually so we’re also overhauling their identity materials into a more cohesive package including design and color standards and revamping their logos.
New York Rangers Coach John Tortorella and His Wife Christine Tortorella along with their children provide needed services for children in the New York City and Tampa Bay / St.Petersburg Â metropolitan areas.
Oasis Massage & Wellness of Tampa, Florida
Renowned two time Professional World Ballroom Dance Champions Luca & Loraine Baricchi.
Children’s book author Christine Tortorella came to us with her latest project and realized that a website can be much more than just a simple portfolio.
Reggie decided it was time to update from his Flash site to WordPress to take advantage of WordPress’ search engine friendliness and ease of adding to his portfolio of demos. Whether audio only or video, Reggie now simply uploads his demos to his Youtube account then embeds them directly to his website.
visit Reggie Murphy Voiceovers
Clean and out of the way is how we design for our fine art clients, it’s the artisits work we’re showing off, not ours. Â Eric required a functional intuitive interface design that could handle the variety of projects in his portfolio.
TheÂ Youth Arts Corps is a free youth development, arts education and job training program .Â The Corps offersÂ three after-school and summer arts education programs, provides arts activities at a number of residential, recreational and juvenile justice facilities in Pinellas, Hillsborough and Manatee counties, and offers training and technical assistance in youth arts program development and implementation.
We provided a WordPress CMS that provides custom user roles for administration and students to allow the students to essentially control their own content with the oversight of the administration.
A unique site for Geometric artists. Â Geoform.net is a highly interactive database driven Flashâ„¢Â website that displays a random array of artists images and interviews while allowing for infinite search options and listings. Â A Flashâ„¢ based custom CMS was created for Geoform driven by XML files generated from a custom FileMakerâ„¢ application. Â Handling infinite images and an immense amount of data while presenting a clean user friendly website was the goal set by Geoform, we’ve been told we beat that goal.
Alex requested a database driven FlashÂ® site that he could manage. Â We created a custom FileMaker interface that allows him to edit and export a single xml file.
voiceover talent, DJ, and sound engineer ,Papy Saygbay.
Grain Pictures needed a simple way to display their work that would allow for them to easily self incorporate their work. The sites administration panel enables them to quickly embed video from their HD Vimeo account.
Syndicated Radio show Diggin’ In The Crates (ditc radio) has a new home. Live chat while they’re on the air, video galleries, podcasts, survey’s and more, they’re “diggin'” it.
Tampa’s premiere on-line alternative lifestyle community.
Looking for an alternative, that did not exist, to the same old bar scene and technologyâ€™s proliferation of stunted communication through way too many on-line hook up sites, founder Robert Geller, with the support of his dear friends (Lisa, Rani, Brian & Travis) set out to create a new social normâ€¦Outings & Adventures, the new place for fun. Facebook integration, event planning softwatre, e-commerce for events as well as products, this site has all the bells and whistles. UPDATE: O&A is now smartphone enabled for Iphone, Android, and more!
another database driven FlashÂ® site for New York artist, Kim Uchiyama