It’s our favorite time of year – when all of the crazy facts from the world’s internet use come alive in infographics and clever videos to show us how much time we spent online. Check out our own edition to 2013′s recaps below with the annual Mobile Year in Review 2013 for Mobile Future on the biggest trends in mobile in 2013. If you’re left wanting more, you can watch the Mobile Year in Review 2010, 2011 and 2012 too!
In 2013, Natural Markets Food Group (NMFG) expanded their flagship restaurant and market concepts — Richtree Natural Market Restaurants and Mrs. Green’s Natural Market — across the US and Canada, and tapped iStrategyLabs to lead comprehensive website redesign and development, and social media strategy.
Before we started, Richtree and Mrs. Green’s had been operating independently, and NMFG was in the process of integrating them into a cohesive brand family. We were challenged to work within creative concepts that both maintained the companies’ unique identities and character, and refreshed them to reintroduce to new customers.
To meet the core needs of the project, we focused on three central objectives that would serve as a foundation to our approach.
1) Re-introduce a new, cohesive and unique brand identity. We needed to stay true to the companies’ history and core attributes, illuminate the best aspects of the brands’ character, and present a new identity that resonated with both long-time customers and new shoppers alike.
To accomplish the task, we knew we needed to make good food the star of the show. Beautiful photography of organic and all-natural foods are used front-and-center in our foundational design approach, complimented by supporting design elements of fresh colors and artisanal textures to provide a cohesive design concept.
From there, we were able to use the design framework to create a flexible, unique approach that tailors the core visual concepts to the individual brands. The result is a complimentary design approach that overlaps visually while maintaining a unique and independent visual character.
2) Create a customer-centered web experience. The heart of this project required us to reflect, compliment, and translate the in-store customer experience to the web. To do that effectively, what customers need to do first and foremost is experience the store in person — which means finding store locations and information, food options, and even complete online ordering in a simple, easy process.
To tailor the web experience for what customers need most, we focused on a few key elements. First, store information and locations are super-easy to find, making it as easy as possible to take the first step in experiencing these unique food markets yourself.
Second, an independent online ordering system was a top priority feature that informed our central design approach. While the integrations between platforms are simple, we designed them to result in a seamless experience from the customer’s perspective.
Third, the websites prominently feature the essential aspects of a good customer experience — like in-store events, promotions and specials, recipes, and more. These aspects of the customer experience are important to customers who care deeply about the foods they eat, while driving in-store visits.
Fully responsive website designs help to ensure that customers can find what they’re looking for easily from any device, from the comfort of home or on the go at one of the many store locations.
3) Bring it all to life with character. Our design approach needed to make Natural Markets Food Group stand out from the crowd among other organic and natural food markets.
To do that, we used the latest, most innovative interaction design concepts, grounded by a foundation of arresting, bold imagery. The result is a flexible design framework that puts core visual elements in the spotlight — with just the right touch of motion and interactivity.
On the Richtree Natural Market Restaurants website, we use a fun set of animation designs that highlight individual dishes from each of their unique eateries, and reflect the personality of the store.
For Mrs. Green’s Natural Market, bold imagery is complimented with full-screen parallax animation that highlights their core values around good health and good food.
And on the Natural Markets Food Group website, we used a unique slideshow format that combines bold use of color, imagery, and messaging to communicate the core values of the company and reveal what those values mean in practice.
Finally, we made it all social. In the design process, we accounted for how each of the concepts would translate into social media — and how social would integrate back into the websites.
The ultimate result is a visually consistent network of digital marketing channels, customized to the personality of each market, with social media content that feeds back to the websites in a meaningful way.
On completion of our initial project phase, iStrategyLabs has remained on board as an NMFG partner, for ongoing website design and development, and as their social media agency of record. It’s been our pleasure to work with a company so committed to an innovative customer experience that promises good food as part of a healthy lifestyle.
CourtPlay, the brainchild of two die-hard tennis enthusiasts and professional coaches, came to iStrategyLabs with a clear mission: streamline the scheduling process between tennis coaches and players, allowing coaches to spend less time booking lessons and more time giving them.
iStrategyLabs took this concept and, with the CourtPlay team, built a brand and web application that gives coaches the ability to market themselves, eases the administrative responsibilities of coaching, eliminates the inefficiencies of their current scheduling process, and gives them maximum earning potential. Players now have all the necessary tools to sign up for lessons, find players at their skill level, and locate courts in their neighborhood.
The first step was to develop a killer brand for CourtPlay. Inspired by the sport of tennis and the possibilities CourtPlay.com held for creating a new sense of ease for tennis coaches and players alike, iSL Creative Director, Zach Goodwin created a striking logo for the new company. He explains:
The CourtPlay identity, typeset in Klavika, needed to feel like it straddled the line between a sports and lifestyle brand. The simple, modern, Nike-esque boldness of Klavika helped achieve that balance. The vertical stroke dividing the two words was intended to suggest the net of a tennis court, while also providing a needed jolt of contrasting color.
Next, iStrategyLabs worked with the CourtPlay team to develop core values for their brand. Given the company’s early stage, iStrategylabs found it pivotal to establish their internal compass – the values that would eventually drive our work with CourtPlay and their functionality as a business. In our discovery process we worked closely with the CourtPlay team to deeply understand both their team and their brand in order to establish the following values:
Be Authentic – Be Simple – Inspire Action
Share Knowledge – Be Essential
ISL started the web design process by performing a technical assessment of CourtPlay’s existing platform. We needed to create a sophisticated application that included a booking system with a credit card-driven point of sale, a messaging system for players and coaches to interact, and profile creation with location-based searching. On top of all of that the new platform had to be visually striking, extremely intuitive and easy-to-use.
The result is a clean and beautiful web platform that allows coaches to focus their time on what they do best, coaching. While CourtPlay is an effort to make the lives of tennis coaches easier, it is also an endeavor that caters specifically to tennis players, allowing them to connect to coaches, players, and tennis facilities. In the end, everybody—tennis coaches, players, and clubs—wins. And really, that was the goal of CourtPlay all along, create an innovative way to bring together the greater tennis community.
Start playing now! Sign up today at http://CourtPlay.com.
The Task: We partnered with GE to create a bold, intellectually engaging, and visually striking data visualization that shows relationships between variables around global trade. Executing the concept involved an agile design and development process to incorporate our data, and then creatively match the design and interactivity.
We needed to create a design to educate and entertain a broad audience, while also keeping experts and high-level decision makers in mind.
The Concept: Business and trade are complex issues that impact, and are impacted by many variables. This visualization allows you to explore relationships between trade, economic, and quality of life variables across the globe. In order to visualize those relationships, we analyzed and combined several publicly available global data sets from trusted sources.
1) Data Analysis: We started by analyzing a number of global data sets to identify trends and relationships between variables and start to articulate how they would be visualized.
To compare data across multiple variables and scales (ex.: days, steps, financial values), we standardized the data to identify the relationships within and between values.
We then normalized, centered, and scaled the data so that each variable has a mean of zero (0) and standard deviation of one (1). No data is changed or altered in this process; it is simply standardized on a common scale, to isolate the relationships between variables.
The final visualization pulls from five global source-data sets from 2011, including: Global Imports & Exports (UN Commodity Trade Statistics DB), Global GDP (World Bank), Ease of Doing Business Index (World Bank), Global Competitiveness Index (World Economic Forum), and the Human Development Index (United Nations).
2) Comparing Relationships: After the data was normalized, centered, and scaled, we were able to identify and compare relationships between variables.
To simplify and more clearly show comparisons between countries, we grouped countries into quartiles based on performance level per variable. Each country falls into the first, second, third, or fourth quartile (bottom 25% to top 25%) for each variable, which can then be compared to all other countries on a simple and common performance basis.
3) Visualizing Outcomes: Based on the data values and level of performance per country for each variable by quartile, we visualized the outcomes for each country and how it compares to other countries around the world. The visualization is a tool that allows you to explore and identify those relationships, for different countries, groups, and variables.
The Product: The final product is an interactive storytelling device that illustrates the essential roll that trade and vibrant competition has on improving the world’s economy.
Complex global data sets are consolidated into a simple interface that allows for exploration and identification of relationships between trade, economy, and quality of life across a number of variables.
We were thrilled to work with GE to bring their vision to life, and always enjoy the challenge of making big data easy to see and simple to understand.
We love working with Rackspace for their unique combination of racker savvy and scrappy start-up style. When we had the opportunity to work on the Rackspace Startups website redesign together, we knew we’d crush it.
The Rackspace Startups program provides startups with special access and pricing on tech tools, development platforms, cloud hosting, and professional development resources.
We redesigned a fully responsive website with a simple user experience that puts all of Rackspace Startups’ tools and resources at the fingertips of eager entrepreneurs everywhere.
We followed an in-browser production process from wireframes to design and development, testing and refining the design at every step along the way. The product is an elegant, single-page website that’s fully scalable by adding new WordPress pages and blog content.
A few highlights:
A simplified sign-up and application process makes it easier for startups and incubators to find information and join the Rackspace Startups program.
YouTube API video integration dynamically pulls YouTube videos into the site, making new content available right from Rackspace Startups.
Easy content management. The Rackspace team includes a cadre of development rockstar rackers, we wanted to make content management so simple that anyone at the company could easily update the website anytime. We build the WordPress management dashboards to offer the easiest solutions for managing website content from custom pages to creating new forms.
We were stoked to work with Rackspace Startups on such a cool project and excited to see the future of the program.