iStrategyBlabs

Creating a Logo for ContraryCon

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This Saturday, ISL will be putting on a free web conference entitled ContraryCon. The half-day event, kicking off at noon at 1776, will consist of a series of presentations in which speakers will present ideas in opposition to the popularly accepted trends in interactive design and development.

When I joined ISL in May, one of my first projects involved working on a logo mark for the conference as well as subsequent branding along with several other new hires (James, Rebecca, and Alyssa). Each of us was tasked with creating several logos on our own before coming together for group design team critiques.

The final logo mark, a criss-crossing “X” formed by back-to-back C’s, came from many personal iterations trying to explore the idea of contrarian views that would be expressed at the conference. Here’s a quick look at what went into crafting a mark for a contrary conference.

Many Many Iterations

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Although the end logo may look sleek and simple, there were many different iterations that went into crafting the final crossing C’s. Between three designers, we ended up with 20+ different ideas of logomarks and typefaces before coming to the final product.

Just on my own, I explored concepts ranging from a canary in a coal mine (both a bird meant to warn workers and a song off of The Police’s Zenyatta Mondatta) to the idiom of the black sheep (“used to describe an odd or disreputable member of a group, especially in a family” – thank you Wikipedia) to a take on the clichéd speech bubble representing debate. All of my ideas were focused on ideas that go against the grain, offer debate, and seek attention. Unfortunately, they were all also a bit of a stretch when it came down to what they meant.

Shuffling Up the Conversation

 

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The end goal of ContraryCon is to encourage attendees rethink how and why they work. Our amazing panel of speakers will be arguing for and against trends in design and technology. In essence, they’ll be mixing up the stale and complacent conversation so many of us are having every day.

This idea of remixing our thought process lead me to think of the shuffle icon. A simple cross of curved lines, the icon has come to represent the mixing of content. In the case of ContraryCon, words, ideas, and speeches will be shuffled and rethought.

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What started as the everyday shuffle icon became a simplified cross, symbolizing a warning – a call for attention. Above you can see just a few of the many iterations on this simple shuffle idea that lead to the final deliverable.

The End Product

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In the end, my final cross was paired with Norwester, a typeface chosen and slightly modified by James. Not only that, but our small team fleshed out a variety of collateral that will be displayed throughout the conference venue.

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If you’re in the DC area this Saturday, make sure to come out and and get contrarian! For any more info on the event, check out the ContraryCon site.

What It’s Like To Be A Teacher At General Assembly

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Teaching is something iStratetyLabs fully supports — nay encourages — for its employees both internally and within the community. We have a multitude of opportunities to both teach and learn from our coworkers. We have “Battle Schools”, which allow team members to teach  a topic they’re passionate about to follow ISL-ers. It’s a great way to learn and a great way to practice public speaking. There are other awesome things we do, but they’re G-14 classified! You’ll have to join the team in order to have access to such knowledge.

A few months ago, Samia Khan wrote the post “What’s it like to be a student at General Assembly”. At the time I was just getting started with my Front End Web Development course. I thought I’d give an alternate account to round out the experience so that potential students as well as instructors have an idea of what to expect from a GA class.

I began a GA 10-week front end web development (FEWD) course back in May. Other than the standard instructor preparation I wasn’t sure what to expect. What I walked away with was much more than a teaching experience. Sure, I created lesson plans, spoke in front of people on a regular basis, critiqued assignments, and all the other responsibilities that come along with being an instructor of any kind, but that’s just the beginning.

Having to teach people what you take for granted every day is an incredibly enlightening experience. I found that concepts/ideas that I thought to be simple and straightforward are actually nuanced and fairly complicated. On the other hand, concepts that I thought I understood well, were brought forth and I was forced to reevaluate my own understanding– this is a humbling experience to say the least.

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On the first day of class expectations are set. Students are informed that the course is not designed to create expert front end developers, rather, to provide building blocks and tools that can be used to enrich an individual’s knowledge and experience — “Give a man a fish…” you know the rest. One thing I had to reiterate to my students was that professional developers (and myself by extension) don’t know everything and that asking for help and googling for answers was a big part of the job. I even touched briefly on the myth of the genius programmer.

By far the most rewarding portion of the class was final presentations. There were students who, prior to the course, had never really touched HTML/CSS/JavaScript and whom by the end, presented interactive websites and in some cases the beginnings of web applications! Creating a foundation of working knowledge that empowers students to grow individually is a responsibility I do not take lightly. It was an honor and privilege to take part in that process. Kudos to my TAs Michael Dick and Rami Chowdhury — you guys rock.

The Mobileys: Now Accepting Applications!

Announcing The Mobileys


Attention, attention, The Mobileys are here
Calling all mobile app entrepreneurs far and near
Apps that benefit our nation will compete
And be judged by some of the industry’s elite
For the chance to win $10,000 dollars in seed money
No… I swear… we’re not being funny
So tell all the developers and app creators you know
themobileys.com is where they should go.

 

But actually tell everyone you know. Thanks.

 

For the 2nd year in a row, Mobile Future is working with the team at iStrategyLabs to run The Mobileys, a mobile app competition that gives out $20,000 in seed money and the opportunity to work with an experienced and influential judging panel to a mobile app, service or other product that makes our world a better place. If you or someone you know has an app, service or product that fits the build, we’d HIGHLY recommend applying or telling them to apply to The Mobileys.

 

And while you’re here, check out this Venture Beat post about it!

 

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AM/PM, Recap of Our First Digital PM Event

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Last week our Strategy team hosted AM/PM, our first ever coffee chat for digital Project Managers to discuss tools, tips, and challenges facing our community. We had a great turnout, with about thirty attendees from top DC agencies such as Viget, AKQA, and RepEquity. It was amazing to be around so many talented individuals, and hear their insights on project management tools, team structure, and project scope.

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With all of the meet-ups for designers and developers, it’s a rare treat for digital PM’s to have their own space to exchange ideas and foster relationships. We’re hoping that AM/PM can serve that purpose!

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Thanks to everyone that participated! With all the positive feedback we’ve received, we’re looking at hosting our second AM/PM chat later this summer. Stay tuned and join the conversation on the AM/PM twitter account!

 

 

#IntroFriday Will Change Your Life, And Someone Else’s Too

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Perhaps it’s because I can toss a business card across the table with the accuracy of Peyton Manning that I often get asked to speak about the idea of “networking” or how to become a “super-connector.”  That said, the word “networking” often connotes the transactional, disingenuous side of relationship building. At the end of the day, one of the best ways to build & strengthen relationships is to provide selfless value to others. Here’s what you’re doing wrong and what you should be doing instead:

You are Doing it Wrong:  im-late-for-business-roller-blades The business card collecting, name-dropping, sales-driven types might be good at filling out a rolodex, but they’re too quick to ask for value (or simply to try and sell you something) instead of seeking to provide value (an idea, a connection, an opportunity, etc.). Too often are they demanding value in an email exchange (like calendar spamming), rather than simply creating it.

The Right Way: Many have written up great advice on this front, from the likes of Steve Blank on “How To Get Meetings With People Too Busy To See You” , and some even offer actionable recommendations and exercises such as James Altucher — who has a simple list of skills required to become a superconnector. The main message is to  provide real value to build real relationships. Here’s a dead simple way to get started: introduce two people you know to each other via email (two people who you know would both enjoy or find value in connecting with one another). Instead of #FollowFriday, let’s call this approach #IntroFriday.  Here’s an example:

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If you’re 100% confident that both parties will indeed be interested in meeting the other, then go ahead and let it rip. If you’re not, send them  individual notes to see if they would in fact be interested in the connection. Through practice, you will sharpen your radar and develop better intuition for future intros.

If you don’t have an intro to make, email someone you know and ask what types of intros would be beneficial to them (an investor? a designer? a plumber?), and remember it for the future. That’s it. I guarantee if you practice this, something positive will come from it… and sooner than you might think.

If it doesn’t, I’ll buy you a cup of coffee.  :)