Vote for TJA for Ranking Arizona 2021!

Voting is now open for AZ Big Media’s Ranking Arizona 2021 and we need your help! Follow the simple steps below to help TJA rank #1 again this year. You may vote once per hour through July 31 at 11:59pm.

How to Vote:
1. Visit the Ranking Arizona website
2. Register with your email address and create a password OR use your login information from last year
3. Vote for TJA in the following categories by clicking the VOTE button:

  • Advertising and Marketing
    • Advertising Agencies
    • Best Workplace Culture
    • Graphic Design Firms
    • Internet Marketing
    • Public Relations Firms
    • SEO/Social Media Marketing
  • Business Services
    • Best Place to Work
    • Event Planning
    • Women-Owned Businesses

Thank you for your support!

Get to know Graphic Designer, Nichole Peterson!

TJA prides itself on creating a winning culture through the rad people who work here. Now’s your chance to get a peek behind the curtain on process, origin stories, and even some secrets from one of our very own. Content Strategist, Teresa Velasco, interviewed Graphic Designer, Nichole Peterson, via Slack.

TV: Okay girl, when did you know being a designer was something you wanted to do?

NP: I was always into anything that involved art growing up, but I knew I wanted to be a designer when I took a high school graphic design class and fell in love.

TV: Is being a designer all it’s cracked up to be?

NP: I think it’s excellent! I get to make pretty things for work and always have the opportunity to be creative. There are days when my brain just isn’t creative. Working in an agency, I have to push through that mental block to get my work done. It’s a struggle to find inspiration some days. When I’m in one of those ruts, I usually need to seek out work from other people for inspiration. I have some design websites I frequently reference:

TV: When there’s a more challenging project, what’s your plan of attack?

NP: I collaborate with my teammates and start planning the best course of action before I even open a program so I can begin with a strategy. This is something that’s become a bigger part of my process as I grow as a designer; I spend more time in the planning phase before diving in.

For example, if I’m designing a poster, I’ll talk with our Production Director  to get a grasp on specs and size. Then I’ll consider what the poster is meant to do—whether it’s to drive traffic, build brand awareness, act as an informational piece—and combine that with all the info provided by the client services team. That’s when I start thinking about the layout. Once I have some solid ideas, working with other Creative team members to get feedback is extremely helpful in creating a piece that is aesthetically appealing as well as functional.

TV: What are some hot design tips you can share?

NP: I found that learning the actual theories and history behind design helps set you up for success. Without a solid foundation, people tend to just throw design work together with no real purpose. It is always important to have intention behind your design, and knowing the history of it helps you understand that better.

TV: Do you remember what your first project was at TJA?

NP: It was a stairwell mural of the greater Phoenix area for Hotel Valley Ho . My first impression of the work I was doing was that we had really rad clients that allowed us to be creative with their projects, which meant they trusted us to design our best work for them. That was a really good feeling. 

TV: What about your first impression of TJA?

NP: We have so much fun here. We have crazy ice breakers, pops of fun, team builds and more. It’s all meant to create an enjoyable environment for us. That was something I wasn’t used to coming from my old job. The people here are also extremely dedicated, honest and unique. It makes for really good work and even better culture.

TV: Alright, last question: what’s your deepest, darkest secret?

NP: Oh geez, really? That’s a tough one. Well, a work-appropriate one is that I feel like I don’t live up to my title as a creative because of how I named my stuffed animals as a kid. I had a polar bear named Pola, an ostrich named Ostrey, and a worm named Wormy.

Don’t let her stuffed animal names deceive you: Nichole has cranked out stunning work during her time at TJA. Check out some of our case studies to get a taste of the kind of creative work Nichole and the rest of the team can create for your organization.

Considerations for collaborations: How to make unique brands work together.

Marketing is a group activity.

However, branding is often created and deployed in a silo. There are some external considerations of course—industry trends, competitor sets, etc.—but beyond that, brand development is not a decision that necessarily needs to be “coordinated” with anything outside of the company. Even nested organizations or those under the same ownership tend to be visually independent of each other.

Right, so what’s the issue?

We are operating in a collaborative age: companies, influencers, popups and celebrities are mixing and mingling their brands. With all this crossover, it takes real work to keep all those logos, color palettes and keywords from turning into a puddle of melted crayons. When brands collaborate, talented designers—like the ones we’re fortunate to have here at TJA—are responsible for keeping aesthetics consistent but complementary, without muddling or diluting the impact of the organizations involved.

Join us as we share our top tips for keeping cooperative branding from becoming a mess.

Don’t just smoosh them together and hope for the best.

You have the logos for both organizations, so why not just paste them in the same area? You have pictures of both products, so why not just collage them together? No. Please don’t. Trust us; we know whereof we speak. You could probably get away with asset dumping, but that doesn’t mean you should. For the sake of brand (and visual) integrity, we encourage you to explore some of these alternative strategies before you Salt Bae logos and photos all over the place.

  • Cut to the core.
    A great place to start is with why these entities are collaborating in the first place. Did they come together to support a cause? Are they selling complementary products? By looking at the end goal, you’ll be able to create a narrative for the partnership as a whole.
  • Symmetry is your friend.
    Sometimes it’s impossible to work with perfectly coordinated colors, logos, assets, fonts and voice. Strive to find equivalent content, and then mirror it in layout. I.e. do you have two photos of people having fun? Two illustrations of buildings? Using subject material that’s as similar as possible can show how well the two brands go together.
  • Have the elements converse with each other.
    Try a call-and-respond methodology when you’re selecting which photos to use. If one has a couple at breakfast, pick another that has someone walking through a street during midday. End with a photo of a family at night. There’s a way to create a continuous theme throughout the piece even when you’re working with seemingly unrelated content.

Respect the integrity and individuality of each brand.

It’s a good idea to unify the palette and marry the messaging of the players involved to a certain extent. It becomes an issue if your audience isn’t able to tell that you’re portraying more than one brand if you took the names of the organizations involved out of the equation. Be sure to pay homage to what makes each brand unique.

  • Play up the contrast.
    There’s harmony in opposition; allow the brands to become foils for each other. It creates an interesting dynamic when the distinct traits of each brand play off each other. Execute this well, and the entities will appear more complimentary than ever.
  • Give the brands a platform.
    Even if brands are working toward a goal that is separate from self-promotion, the secondary goal of any collaboration for the brands involved is to expose themselves to a new audience that shares traits with current loyal fans. Always keep in mind what will pique the interest of the individuals who may not have encountered the organizations before, displaying what qualities align with the audience’s affinities.

Speaking from personal experience.

Mountain Shadows and Hotel Valley Ho—two of our long-held clients—run an annual, cooperative 3-Day Sale in the springtime. While both properties have histories that begin in the midcentury, they have unique brands, looks, voices and personalities. Both hotels appear together on the collateral, billboards, emails, social posts and more during the lead-up and duration of the 3-Day Sale.

In previous years, the 3-Day Sale was hosted simultaneously but separately: each hotel used its own branding and promoted the sale through their specific channels. This year, the hospitality concepts came together to maximize exposure and broadcast the event to a broader audience than ever.

The properties are distinct, but the creative team utilized the similarities the hotels share to create symmetry for visuals and narrative. We also pulled out and highlighted the differences, which allowed each concept to shine where they specialize. For example, Hotel Valley Ho has a lighter, brighter, mid-century-mod vibe, whereas Mountain Shadows has an elevated, secluded, contemporary aesthetic. By choosing colors from the brand standards that are complementary, photography that created the narrative we knew would be appealing to both audiences and crafting copy that conveyed the urgency of the sale, the collateral came together and made the brands look like they always belonged together. 

Three things a luxury brand isn’t (and one thing it always should be).

What we talk about when we talk about luxury.

Luxury brand marketing is a vague concept when you stop to think about it. What does “luxury” even mean? How do you encapsulate it visually? More importantly, in this age of omnichannel branding, how do you convey the value of luxury through a digital experience?

When Bradley Wealth Management, a high-end boutique financial services firm, reached out to The James Agency to refine their brand’s visual and online identity, we took the time to evaluate what constituted a luxury brand experience, and more importantly, what did not.

You’re better off without:


“Just because you can doesn’t mean you should” is a principle to live by when it comes to luxury branding. White space is your savior, an economy of language keeps your core message clear and high-impact visuals convey the essence of your brand without the need for extra fluff.

Bradley Wealth Management’s original site was overwhelmed with content. Without a clear hierarchy of information, visitors had a hard time engaging with the website. One of the primary goals of the brand refresh was to create an online journey that conveyed the most important details right away in an easy-to-read and elegant manner.


Get specific. Dedicate time to understanding what the most critical elements of your brand are: if you had to boil your company down to five pillars, what would they be? Could they stand on their own? As tempting as it might be to lay out every detail of your organization’s operations on the homepage, highlighting a few crucial elements will perform measurably better than speaking generally about everything.

Bradley Wealth Management made it clear that their priority for the website was to offer the same quality of personalization as they do during their one-on-one consultations. Through goal-based planning, Bradley Wealth differentiates itself by encouraging the life aspirations of their clients. We translated those traits into an engaging web experience with messaging that focuses on the in-depth relationships their team cultivates amongst all their clients.


“A brand is only as good as its execution across mediums.” Is that an adage? If not, it should be. Make sure you’re providing consistent touchpoints across all platforms so that no matter where potential clients pop up first, they’ll be sure to get an accurate impression.

We were tasked to create the graphic standards and web experience that became the paradigm for all iterations of the Bradley Wealth brand. By developing a clean, bold personality that could be replicated across multiple applications, we created a foundational aesthetic that would gain rapport with their user base.

However, don’t leave home without this:


A conversion website is essential to keep the user journey as fluid as possible. Eliminate all points of resistance or friction; get to the point and then get to the call to action. Every aspect of the experience should be relevant, and shouldn’t land the user in a dead end. By interlinking webpages and referencing different parts of the brand experience, you’re encouraging your consumer to self-direct through the journey you built for them.

For the web experience, we worked with Bradley Wealth Management to develop a clearly-defined sitemap that would seamlessly lead users from one page to the next, filling them in on all the need-to-know information without winding up stuck. Every page features a call to action that prompts the users toward signing up for the customized planning offered by their financial services team. 

The more you know.

Luxury isn’t just in the looks, but looks matter; it’s not only in the sitemap, but content organization counts. There are various definitions of what comprises a truly high-end experience, but perhaps more important is understanding what to steer clear of in order to retain the respect of your consumers, both past and potential.

Photos vs. illustrations: what works better?

As a graphic designer, one question you come across often is deciding whether to use photography or illustrations in your designs. This important aspect of design helps to create work that’s both functional and beautiful. So what is better: photos or illustrations? The answer isn’t as simple as the question… Here are a few ways I determine what will provide the most impact when I design.


Knowing your target can seem like an obvious approach on how to design projects, but it can also be a big determinate on whether to use photography or illustrations. Let’s start with something simple, like age. Say you have a younger audience: they might be more receptive to an illustrative style that creates a sense of whimsy. By using illustrations you can show things that simply do not exist in the real world and in doing so you can create a lighter or more fantasied reality. How about the older generations? I might use photography in order to instill a feeling of reliability. People tend to trust photography more because it gives an accurate representation and provides the viewer with more concrete details. Photography can feel more relatable than the imaginary qualities of illustrations. 


When advertising a tangible product, it is probably a good idea to use photography to represent that product. Photos are good for providing a visual description and conveying professionalism. Do you need photos to show consumers what it is they are purchasing? If the focus is something intangible like a service or concept, illustrations can be very helpful. For example—say you were to design a piece for a broad, generalized idea like leadership. What does that look like in a photo? That’s hard to come up with a single photo to capture the entire idea of leadership. Whereas illustrations allow you more flexibility on how to present this idea, giving you a wider range of possibilities.


Being able to find the trigger points that will make people react the way you want to what they are seeing is extremely important. If you need a strong emotional pull, photos can help with that. This is because people connect with faces, and being able to see real-life faces in a design can trigger one’s emotion. If you’re going for a more logical feel, illustrations might be the way to go. Illustrations can help provide easy-to-understand imagery that is simple and to the point.


There is no right or wrong when it comes to using photography vs. illustrations, but there are some tools I use to help me decide which is best in order to elevate my designs. There is no exact science on whether to use an image or illustration, but as a designer, it is up to us to come up with a plan that will have the most visual impact.

And hey! Did you ever think about using both?

Adapt or die

It’s the most basic tenet of evolution, but a hard pill to swallow. There can be a lot of attachment surrounding a tried and trusted brand strategy. However, a hard conversation needs to be had when the needle isn’t moving forward anymore.

Maybe the current brand makes the company look dated. It may not reflect the flow of the industry. It might not match the ethics of the organization. And that’s when the “R” word gets dropped into the discussion.


Rebranding conjures up violent images of throwing a baby out with the bathwater. That’s not the intention—nor the basis—of a successful refresh. The main reason for a rebrand is to realign with the original values and ideals of your company and see if it has kept pace with the times, both in terms of aesthetics and operation.

Redesign the wheel. Don’t reinvent it.

What worked? There’s something resonating with your audience, otherwise, your organization wouldn’t exist. Dig deep, find the core of what your brand is doing well. Ask your team questions about the identity of your company so everyone is on the same page moving forward. Some of the answers might be challenging and hard to hear. That’s okay: rebranding is not always a comfortable process. What’s important is that it works in favor of your company’s long term goals. Here are a few thought-provoking questions to get you started:

  • What do we think people say about our brand when we’re not in the room?
  • Are we solving the same problem for our customers that we were when we started this company?
  • What organization is doing what we do better than we do it? What do we have that they don’t?

All hands on deck.

There’s more to rebranding than sketching up a new logo and calling it a day. It’s a multifaceted process requiring many different approaches. To show what it takes to successfully pull one off, The TJA team discusses how each department contributes to making a rebrand that flies instead of flops.

Creative: Important considerations include what the ultimate goal of the rebrand is. Are you trying to put life into a tired brand, or is the company shifting its focus, or expanding or narrowing their services? Always pay attention to the equity of the existing brand and the perception that it holds—Do you want to keep that, leverage it or erase that from the conversation?—Darren Simoes, Art Director 

Organic + Paid Social: Organic social can provide the perfect way to roll out the rebrand by updating your profile images, cover photos and posts on feeds and in stories that tease, boast and boost the new brand. Paid social, with other paid media, offers an even larger reach with the ability to customize your target audience to those who have remained loyal to your brand through specific website behaviors, engagement on your page and past interactions with your brand, as well as reaching new audiences you’re wanting to bring into the loop. —Jamie Schelling , Social Media Manager

Public Relations: Our job in public relations is to give your rebrand the announcement it deserves. How that announcement looks varies client-to-client, and it’s certainly not a one-size-fits-all approach. From newsletter teasers to grand reveal parties, your company’s rebrand will depend on the ones who matter most: your customers. As marketing professionals, we understand your customers, and as communications professionals, we understand how to deliver your message to them. Bottom line: PR is the cherry on top of a rebrand sundae. —Keller Perry, Public Relations Account Manager

Promises made, promises kept.

Rebranding, at its core, is about keeping promises. Your business is offering consumers something that makes them feel like they’re a part of something bigger, better, prettier. With an outdated approach, it’s harder to deliver on your commitment to move your customer closer to their best self.

A successful rebrand needs to resonate with organizational goals, have a positive impact on public response and enhance the product or service. It needs to be in alignment with the goals consumers have when they reach for your product or service. It also can’t fly under the radar. A huge part of a successful rebrand is awareness. PR and media involvement play a massive role in allowing your business to strike while the iron’s hot, and garner a positive public perception of your company’s transition.

If the alchemy of all those elements is there, you’re well-positioned for a successful refresh. 

TJA has had the privilege of directing the rebrands in multiple industries, including real estate, food + beverage, travel + tourism and more. If you’re looking for some inspiration for where to start with yours, check out some of our work.

Success stories

How To Make a Rich Media Ad In Google Web Designer

In my first Google Web Designer post, we went through a basic introduction into the program as well as the step-by-step process for creating a simple animated ad. This time we are going to get a little more in-depth and walk through the creation of an expandable display ad.

Moving away from standard display advertising, Rich Media ads allow more opportunity for creativity, an enhanced experience and more consumer interaction. Consumers are exposed to a large volume of images and commercials every day, and it is important to have creative that will grab attention. One way to do this is to utilize the click-to-expand design. Activated only by the user clicking (not hovering) this option can expand up to 728px x 270px. Although expandable ads are priced on a cost-per-click basis, this only applies if the user clicks through to the landing page, not if they only expand the display. This provides a lot of opportunity for increased brand awareness.

First, you will need to design the creative for your ad. I went over this process in detail in the first GWD post, so if you need a refresher check it out! Remember, for this ad you will be designing for two different sizes. These sizes are referred to as the “invitation state” and the “expanded state.” The invitation state can be any of the following dimensions:

  • 120×600
  • 160×600
  • 200×200
  • 250×250
  • 300×250
  • 300×600
  • 336×280
  • 468×60
  • 728×90

Corresponding with the invitation state dimensions, the expanded state dimensions are:

  • 240×600
  • 320×600
  • 400×200
  • 500×250
  • 600×250
  • 672×280
  • 468×180
  • 728×270

After you have designed the ad and saved the files out as .SVGs, you’re ready to set up your ad. For this tutorial, I will be using a 200×200 invitation state and 400×200 expanded state.

1. When you’re ready, open GWD and select the “Expandable” ad type on the left side of the window. Then you will need to name your ad and select the folder where it will be saved. The environment should be set to DoubleClick. Next, set your invitation state size and your expanded state size.

2. GWD will automatically open to the invitation state portion of the ad, with a tap-area element already placed. Import the creative for the invitation size and center it on the stage. Send the artwork to the back so that it is behind the tap area event. In the bottom left corner of the screen you will see a button, that allows you to toggle back and forth between the invitation state and the expanded state. The expanded ad will automatically have a tap-to-close area in the top right corner. Next, ad the artwork to the stage and send it to the back.

3. Now, we will add a “background exit tap area” to the stage that will allow the user to click to the landing page. This element is under the “component” drop-down menu on the right side. Using the “properties” drop-down menu, adjust the size and alignment of the background exit tap area. You also will need to give the element a unique name like, “backgroundExit.”Then toggle the “events” menu down and click the “+” button in the bottom left corner. Select the “backgroundExit” element, then select “tap area” and “touch click.” Select “Double click component” and then “Exit.” The receiver is “gwd-ad.” Finally you will need to give it an exit identifier (I used “bgExit”) and paste in the desired URL. Now, you can preview your ad using the preview button in the top right corner of GWD. Once your ad is complete, you will be ready publish it!

Google Web Designer allows endless opportunities to get creative with Rich Media ads. For an added challenge, try adding in video to your expanded ad! Comment and let us know if you have any questions or additional tips!

Tips and Tricks to Using Google Web Designer

Have you been using Google Web Designer to create banner ads? Until starting at The James Agency, I hadn’t even heard of it! For those reading who don’t know, Google Web Designer is an application used to create HTML5 advertisements without having to actually dig into the messy coding part. GWD allows you to pull in images and assets to create animations, while it takes care of the HTML and CSS portion. This is perfect if you’re a designer, but not really into coding (like me). The interface is easy to navigate and it’s a free program. The downside is the program is still in beta, so it can be pretty clunky and sometimes really frustrating.

Now that I have some experience with the program, I wanted to share a few tips that have really helped me. First, just start trying things. If you are familiar with AfterEffects, GWD is similar enough that you’ll be able to learn by doing. Second, keep your files extremely organized. As I mentioned, GWD can be finicky and staying on top of your organization will make a big difference.

To start using Google Web Designer, go to and download the application. I have provided a walk-through of my process below, complete with a few videos for clarity.


Start by laying out the ad in Illustrator (Photoshop works too), then figure out the flow and which pieces you will be animating. In this case, I’m going to be sliding the the white text on and off the screen, rotating between the headline and the price point. Make sure you’ve expanded all of the elements and separate them on to different artboards. For this ad, the logo, red color block and button were on an artboard and the headline and the price point each had their own artboard. Next, you will need to save all artboards as .SVG files. For any images, save at the correct size as a .JPG

Opening GWD

Once you’ve opened GWD (it can take a minute, so be patient), you will need to name your file. Make sure it’s saving to the correct location and choose the correct size.

I prefer to work in the view called “Advanced Mode” because it feels a little bit more like AfterEffects. You can toggle your timeline option in the top right corner of that workspace. Next, import your .SVG files and images

Set Up File

Before animating, you’ll need to make sure all the assets are named correctly. For whatever reason, GWD prefers assets to be named with no spaces. If you don’t name them that way prior to importing them, you’ll need to do it before you start animating. Drag elements on to the workspace (I rename the layers here, too). Sometimes the elements will come in at a really small size, but as long as you created them at the right size in Illustrator, you can go to the ‘properties’ panel and adjust the width and height there.


Now it’s time to animate! I separate the layers and line everything up the way it will be animating. Much like AfterEffects, you will add keyframes to the timeline to animate. To add frames, you can right click and add or use F6. I highlighted all three layers and added keyframes at the same time. Next, you will need to loop your animation. To do this, click at the 0s mark in the “Events” row and select ‘Add Label’. Type ‘startLoop’ and press the enter key. In the same row at the end of the animation (3s for this example), right click and select ‘Add Event’. Double click on the keyframe that appears and toggle the ‘Timeline’ option. Select ‘gotoAndPlay’, choose the page and choose the label ‘loopStart’. To preview the ad in a browser, select ‘Preview’ in the top right corner.

Once you’ve adjusted all the timing and save the project, you are ready to publish the ad. Simply press the ‘publish’ button and GWD will create a .ZIP file. Choose the location and name of the .ZIP file and go through the various publishing options, selecting or deselecting the options that are necessary for your ad type. Once you have published the ad, you can share the .ZIP file or upload it to an ad platform or web host.

And that’s it! This is a super basic animation, but a great start to getting comfortable in the program. If you have any questions or tips of your own, tweet them @TheJamesAgency.

Arizona Foothills Best of Our Valley 2018

Voting is now open for Arizona Foothills Magazine’s Best of Our Valley 2018, and we need your help to win! To vote, simply log in using either your Facebook or Google+ account and click on the links below to cast your vote for team TJA. You can vote once a day per category until voting closes on Thursday, November 30. We are grateful for your support. May the voting begin!

Agency Nominations:

TJA Team Member Nominations:

April Marketing Munchies

Check out some of the most recent and trending marketing, advertising and social media news in the industry! 

6 Branding Mistakes Undermining Your Company’s Image

Branding is key when it comes to your company. Get ahead of the game and ensure you are building a sustainable brand. Karla Cook’s article addresses how inconsistency and design trends, if not played well, can lead to a brand flop. Stay alert and avoid making these mistakes.

21 Fascinating Persuasion Techniques For Conversion Optimization

The end goal of most businesses and marketers alike is conversion. The ability to persuade someone that you’re worth their time and your product is worth their money is something marketers strive for everyday. In this munchie, Bill Widmer writes about 21 techniques that are offered through psychology to persuade an individual.

What is Mastodon? The New Social Network Vying To Be The Next Twitter

Twitter has some very dedicated followers, but in the past few years, it has definitely seen a stall and even a decline in users. Eugene Rochko took notice and decided to create Mastodon: the anti-Twitter. Will this emerging social network stand a chance at becoming the new and improved Twitter?

Is This New Adobe Tool Bad News For Graphic Designers?

Could Adobe be changing a graphic designer’s workflow? The company recently came out with a new technology called ‘Sky Replace’ and it does exactly what the title says. It replaces a boring sky with filters and graphics, and enhances it where you deem fit. This feature is meant for Creative Cloud users who do not have the time to send their project to a full creative team. Will this change how graphic designers work?

Twitter’s Considering An Advanced Version Of TweetDeck – For A Monthly Fee

If you want more, you’re going to have to pay more. The new TweetDeck would include analytics tracking, trending data, alerts, and more. In his article, Andrew Hutchinson inquires whether the features are worth the cost and how much additional insight would naturally be produced.

Facebook’s Launching A New, Immersive Ad Format Called ‘Collections’

Facebook recently came out with ‘Collections,’ a new type of ad unit. Facebook has stated in the past that video is the new form of advertising and connecting with consumers over the internet. This new ad unit will be in a video format, with related products listed below.

Why Word Count Shouldn’t Drive Your Content Marketing Strategy

In recent years, we have concluded that long-form content provides articles with in-depth information and it is assumed that it drives higher engagement and desired metrics. A report analyzed by John Hall argues this though and the results are thought-provoking. It might be more about quality than quantity when it comes to content marketing.

State Of Email Report: 5 Tips To Build Better Email In 2017

Are you struggling to make your email marketing campaign stand out from other companies? Kayla Lewkowicz, touches on subjects such as what happened in the email world last year and major industry challenges. She slid discusses how to utilize a responsive design to optimize your Gmail, along with many other subjects. Read more for tips on optimizing your email in 2017.

Instagram Announces New Option To Save Live Broadcasts

Live video is the latest and fastest growing medium on social media. With Instagram’s update, users and businesses now have the ability to save their live broadcast to use at a later time, expanding the possibilities.

How Redesigning HubSpot’s Website Doubled Conversion Rates

Austin Knight has a lot to say about how HubSpot was in design debt, and what it did to refactor its site. Increasing conversion in a meaningful way is not an easy task to accomplish, but HubSpot managed it and your business can too. Read about the concepts, kickoffs, and research HubSpot utilized to reach positive results.

How to Create a Successful Brand

Our CEO, Veronique James, sat down with Mike Arce of the GSD Show to share her experience of building her own company, strategies for developing a strong brand and the inspirational mantras that guide her both professionally and personally. After 12 years of leading a successful integrated advertising, public relations and digital agency, Veronique knows what it means to hustle hard and has expert advice for both young entrepreneurs and established business owners alike.

Want to watch more GSD Show episodes? You can subscribe to their YouTube channel and follow along with them on Twitter.

How to Effectively Use a Transparent Background

There are countless design techniques and special effects we utilize to achieve awe-inspiring design, but a lot of them can be complicated and overwhelming. It’s important to remember that some of the most basic elements of design have the potential to do more than they seem, like the background. Just a small touch of a transparency level can create added distinction, contrast and even visual interest to your overall look. Here are few tips on how to effectively use a transparent background in graphic design.

1.) Use a transparent background to create contrast to assist with readability

transparent background hotel valley hoWhether it’s a printed flyer, a billboard or a digital design, photos are used often as a background. However, not all photographs have the perfect white space to place text in, and at times the composition or the brightness of the photograph can create some challenges in placing your text in the right position. If this is the case, a transparent background can be used to accentuate your text.

This technique is often found in web design. In the example to the left, a colored layer was placed as a background over an image so text could be placed right on top of the image. The colored layer helps tone down the busy-ness of the background image, improving the readability of the text.

2.) Bring more focus to a specific area

When executed properly, a transparent background can help put the spotlight on a particular part of an image. You can use the transparent layer as a background or shapes to guide the viewer’s perspective and enhance the design. This technique can really bring out a creative look to the design.

3.) Bring out a different look and feel with a color or gradient ubs-website-1

Colors can be used to tap into a certain mood, and using a transparent color background over an image can do the exact same thing. Experimenting with different colored transparencies and levels of opacity can help set the tone of your design, as you can see in the example to the right.

4.) Use white transparency to your advantage

A white transparency layer will desaturate the color beneath it to create a sense of simplicity and an airy appearance. Also, when layered above a distracting image with a lot of different elements, a white layer can help minimize the details and create a cleaner look.

5.) Show depthmsb-notecard-5x7-b

An interesting way to utilize a transparent background is to use a set of transparency layers to create a multi-dimensional design. At times, showing depth to your design can be intriguing, and this technique will definitely help show all the layers and details underneath every layer.

Using a transparent background effectively not only adds depth, but it can also be a solution to fundamental design problems like readability and contrast. Remember to use this technique sparingly, and try the design in multiple environments to ensure that it works and stays true to your design intention.

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