About the Author

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James Wynne
James Wynne

James Wynne is Director of User Experience for Sandstorm and has been in digital product development since 1996. He has worked as a UX designer for a myriad of clients including large eCommerce brands, mobile device manufacturers and integrated marketing agencies.

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Karen Bartuch
Karen Bartuch

Karen Bartuch is passionate about data and uncovering hidden insights to help her clients make better business decisions. She enjoys taking an innovative yet evidence-based approach to her work.

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Ron Brown
Ron Brown

As a digital strategist, Ron is focused on creating campaigns and unique communications that drive engagement.

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Emma Thompson
Emma Thompson

As an Associate Digital Strategist, Emma has a background in ad sales and a desire to create strong brand identities.

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Terribeth Beasley
Terribeth Beasley

As a QA Analyst, Terribeth is detail oriented and driven to provide excellence within every project.

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Amanda Heberg
Amanda Heberg

As the VP, Business Development, Amanda leads new business development, sales, partnerships and marketing strategy across Sandstorm. Amanda collaborates closely with new clients to build strong, long-lasting partnerships while aligning Sandstorm's capabilities to solve client business problems.

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Eric Savage
Eric Savage

Eric Savage is a JavaScript Developer with expert knowledge and extensive experience in front-end development.

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Megan Durst, digital strategist
Megan Durst

Building strong client relationships in between running 5Ks

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Bill Kurland, Copywriter
Bill Kurland

Copywriter Extraordinaire

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joshua sovell
Joshua Sovell

As the Marketing Manager Joshua is in charge of crafting the Sandstorm narrative via compelling blog content and community engagement.

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Jeff Umbricht
Jeff Umbricht

Jeff is an Illinois native with a passion for web development. Making code into great things drives him every day. He’s often busy building awesome experiences for Sandstorm clients, and there’s a high probability that he’s rocking out to metal while he codes.

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John Rausch
John Rausch

Over his 25 years in the advertising industry, John has produced award-winning work for many B2C and B2B clients. He is a passionate believer in the power of the brand and brings a strategic approach to every piece of creative.

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Lisa Goepfrich
Lisa Goepfrich

Lisa is a Digital Strategist who is extraordinarily adept at building visual stories.

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Nick Meshes
Nick Meshes

Nick is Sandstorm’s Director of Analytics and Technology. He’s boosting our quantitative focus. He’s busy increasing our capabilities in web analytics, website optimization testing, SEO, SEM, display advertising, business intelligence, and personalization.

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Alicia Newland age 5
Alicia Newland

Alicia is an Account Director with 15+ years of experience on the agency side. Her first job as a paper carrier back in the 80’s, planted the seed for her dedication to building solid client relationships and her love of media.

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Tracy Graham
Tracy Graham

Tracy is Senior Designer at Sandstorm. His background in design and photography for print and web with experience in multiple industries makes him a Swiss army knife of creative awesomeness.

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Sean Fuller
Sean Fuller

As Technology Director, Sean is a hands-on developer and technical lead on projects. He works with design and strategist teams from kick off through launch to plan, design and execute technical solutions for client projects. 

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Reilly Willson
Reilly Willson

Someday I'll need a real bio, but for now I'm busy creating awesomeness for our clients!

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Amanda Tacker
Amanda Tacker

Amanda is a Digital Strategist with several years of experience on both the agency and client sides, with both B2B and B2C clients.

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Kellye Blosser
Kellye Blosser

Kellye’s unique approach involves a delicate balance of left and right-brained thinking. She most recently hailed from the corporate video world. Here at Sandstorm, she’s excited to bring strategic, innovative thinking to every project.

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Emily Kodner
Emily Kodner

Emily is our Senior Director of Client Delivery. She consults with clients, leads projects and works alongside our team of creatives and developers to provide solutions to complex business challenges.

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Megan Culligan
Megan Culligan

Megan knows the importance of picking a winner. With a background in politics and PR, she knows that a successful marketing campaign requires coordination of many moving pieces and a team focused on achieving a great goal. You’ll see her analytical point of view on the blog, providing insight and tactics for success.

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Meaghan Glennan
Meaghan Glennan

Meaghan is a storyteller. From the Granite State to the City of Broad Shoulders, she's created impactful true-life tales about people, places, businesses and events. As she guides Sandstorm's story by directing our marketing communications, you'll see a lot of her unique perspective and style.

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Holly Brinkman
Holly Brinkman

Holly's title at Sandstorm Design is Strategy, Research, and Writing, as she does a little bit of everything. She loves clever advertisements, strong brands, social media, and intuitive web sites.

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Matt Chiaromonte
Matt Chiaromonte

Matt is a copywriter and social media guru in Sandstorm’s Internship Program. With a background in marketing, journalism, and improv comedy, Matt brings equal parts knowledge and entertainment to our little corner of the Internet. When he isn’t generating social media content, Matt can be found enjoying pizza, podcasts, and many other things that begin with the letter “p”.

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Amanda Elliott
Amanda Elliott

Amanda Elliott is the Marketing Coordinator at Sandstorm Design. She absorbs the creative energy from our leadership team and facilitates the team so they can focus entirely on solving client challenges. She is passionate about anticipating needs, solving problems, and making projects fun.

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Sharonda Thomas
Sharonda Thomas

Our newest social media marketing and copywriting intern Sharonda has a passion for producing read-worthy content. Knowledgeable with various social platforms she will combine her communications and journalism background with her love of social media to keep our audience engaged. An artist at heart, Sharonda spends her free time cooking, painting, and barbering.

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Karen Boehl
Karen Boehl

Karen does a little bit of everything – webmaster, social media manager and search engine optimizer. She can most often be found on Twitter, in the Usability Lab, or happily buried in the Drupal admin menu.

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Jason Dabrowski
Jason Dabrowski

Jason is one of Sandstorm’s designers and also helps keep the office running smoothly. As a veteran of the theatre—from acting to directing, lighting to set design—he knows the value of hard work and a positive attitude. Look for his unique voice on the blog.

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Nathan Haas
Nathan Haas

Nathan is a User Interface Art Director at Sandstorm. He is a proud alum of The University of Tennessee. His main focus was print design, but he soon realized the potential of pixels. This combination of print and interactive gives him a unique view of design possibilities.

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Kyle Lamble
Kyle Lamble

Kyle is your stereotypical bluehat hacker, by day, who wants you to upgrade your browser to support his love for cutting edge web development techniques. By night, he is a curator and publisher of art. Co-founder of Loosey Goosey Art, Kyle spends much of his off time helping artists find their inner potential.

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Will Biby
Will Biby

Will wears many hats at Sandstorm. From writing web content to executing social media strategies, he is quick to act and insistent on a job done right. Will enjoys writing, so expect to hear from him often on the blog.

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Andy Cullen
Andy Cullen

Someday I'll need a real bio, but for now I'm busy creating awesomeness for our clients!

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Derek Vanderlaan
Derek Vanderlaan

Derek Vander Laan is Sandstorm's Senior Design Architect. With 20 years of experience, he designs web sites, infographics, and interactive digital experiences. His creative skills are always at work either at his desk or plotting a prank for someone else's.

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Andrew Jarvis
Andrew Jarvis

Andrew lives in Bucktown with his wife and three cats in various states of hairlessness. When he's not at Sandstorm doing front-end development he is passionate about creating 3D art.

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Michael Hartman
Michael Hartman

As Sandstorm's Technology and Usability Director, Michael leads our developers and usability researchers in creating web sites and applications—both desktop and mobile—that embody our favorite blend: intuitive user experience and dynamic Drupal development.

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Janna Fiester
Janna Fiester

Sandstorm's VP of UX & Brand Innovation, Janna, is a design-thinker. Showcased in several design publications and exhibited at the Art Institute of Chicago, she is talented in taking nuggets of good ideas and nurturing them into solutions that are always strategic, engaging and visually delightful.

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Alma Meshes
Alma Meshes

Alma likes to help get things done at Sandstorm. She's worn many hats in her many years here and knows a little bit about everything.

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Sandy Marsico, Founder & CEO
Sandy Marsico

Sandy Marsico is the founder & CEO of Sandstorm®, a digital brand experience agency that turns consumer insights into engaging user experiences through our unique blend of data science, brand strategy, UX and enterprise-level technology.

Industry Insight

Karen
Drupal 7 Developers Share Lessons from Conference in Chicago

This time a month ago, Sandstorm Design attended DrupalCon Chicago. Since then, our team of Drupal developers have been sharing with the rest of the company the key takeaways from the conference.

Over sandwiches and soda, our Technology and Usability Director Michael Hartman talked to the team about new possibilities Drupal 7 features open up and how we can use them to continue to provide exceptional content management solutions. We were inspired enough to keep discussing Drupal long after the last bite had been eaten. In fact, we're still talking Drupal this and Drupal that. And the conversation isn't likely to end anytime soon!

This blog was posted by Karen on April 14, 2011.
Karen Boehl

About the Author

Karen Boehl

Karen does a little bit of everything – webmaster, social media manager and search engine optimizer. She can most often be found on Twitter, in the Usability Lab, or happily buried in the Drupal admin menu.

Karen
Sandstorm at DrupalCon Chicago

It has been an amazing week for our development team at DrupalCon Chicago 2011. We absorbed Dries Buytaert’s keynote, mingled with other Drupal 7 developers, danced to a song about Drupal (not kidding!), and attended session after session on topics like theming, design, user experience, implementation and configuration. We had a blast and learned a lot!

We’re so proud that Chicago got to host the Drupal conference this year. And we’re so grateful to all those who made DrupalCon Chicago a success. Most of all, we’re looking forward to the future of Drupal, which is only looking brighter and brighter!

Check out our pictures from DrupalCon Chicago!

This blog was posted by Karen on March 11, 2011.
Karen Boehl

About the Author

Karen Boehl

Karen does a little bit of everything – webmaster, social media manager and search engine optimizer. She can most often be found on Twitter, in the Usability Lab, or happily buried in the Drupal admin menu.

Karen

Back in September, Kevin Thau, Twitter’s VP for business and corporate development, announced that Twitter is not a social network. This got a lot of buzz in the blog (and micro-blog) community, but clearing up the labeling of Twitter is most relevant for people not familiar with it. They're the ones who don't know what it is. And if you come into it with a social network/Facebook mindset, you’ll only get frustrated and feel disappointed. Only Facebook can do Facebook. You have to approach this part of your social media strategy with a Twitter mindset.

So, what is the Twitter mindset? What do you DO on Twitter? It's very simple:

  1. Share – Facebook is about sharing who you are, Twitter is about sharing what you’ve found. Use bitly, tinyurl or any of the other little link web sites to share the articles, blogs and web sites you like, and add a little comment about why.
  2. Reply – While it might not be a social network, Twitter is a social place. Engage in conversation. It’s fun and easy!
  3. Retweet – If you simply want to pass along a tweet you found interesting without adding a comment, click the retweet option. You can also retweet the traditional way, by copying and pasting it, and adding “RT @(insert author’s username)” in front. In the few characters that are left, add your own commentary.

The best advice is to just dive in. Once you see how others are tweeting, you’ll get it. And don’t forget to follow our Chicago marketing firm @SandstormDesign!

This blog was posted by Karen on January 26, 2011.
Karen Boehl

About the Author

Karen Boehl

Karen does a little bit of everything – webmaster, social media manager and search engine optimizer. She can most often be found on Twitter, in the Usability Lab, or happily buried in the Drupal admin menu.

Karen

Twitter has reached almost 200 million accounts, and has just added its seventh language – Korean. As Twitter expands worldwide, so does the opportunity for you to grow your business just as far.

Twitter will become increasing vital for networking and maintaining relationships with your overseas contacts, just as well those in the States. On top of that, it offers another valuable (and free) avenue for marketing your brand online (in seven languages, perhaps?). As you know, we kind of have a thing for marketing and branding.

If your company doesn’t already have an account, get one. And if you have one but you’re not using it, start now. If there were ever a time to jump on a bandwagon, this is it.

This blog was posted by Karen on January 20, 2011.
Karen Boehl

About the Author

Karen Boehl

Karen does a little bit of everything – webmaster, social media manager and search engine optimizer. She can most often be found on Twitter, in the Usability Lab, or happily buried in the Drupal admin menu.

Karen

They say you learn something new everyday. And today we learned quite a bit from our Technology and Usability Director, Michael Hartman, who shared some key takeaways from a ‘Putting Research into Practice’ training seminar by Human Factors International, Inc. One of the most intriguing findings was from a study by Tractinskya, Cokhavia, Kirschenbauma, and Sharfib (2006) where participants made a split second decision (500 milliseconds) about the attractiveness of a web site. 

Turns out the average attractiveness ratings stayed about the same when the exposure time was extended to 10 seconds. This means users’ impressions about a web site’s aesthetics are made in less than a second. They don’t really change their mind after more time on the site. We all know how important first impressions are. Which is why aesthetics are extremely critical if you want a user to stay on your web site for, well, more than a second. If you ever need a little help with your website design, you know who to call.

This blog was posted by Karen on January 14, 2011.
Karen Boehl

About the Author

Karen Boehl

Karen does a little bit of everything – webmaster, social media manager and search engine optimizer. She can most often be found on Twitter, in the Usability Lab, or happily buried in the Drupal admin menu.

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Karen

2010 was a spectacular year for Sandstorm! At the beginning of the year our office space grew, and as the year went on, so did our staff. In 2011, we’re anticipating even more growth for this Chicago marketing firm.

And the Sandstorm staff is looking forward to another type of growth – we’re hoping to grow some healthier personal habits! I asked around the office for the Sandstormers’ New Year’s Resolutions, and from the results, it looks like we’re a pretty health conscious bunch. Here are the resolutions:

  • Surround myself with positive people
  • Drop 5% body fat
  • Stop eating high fructose corn syrup
  • Eat better and be nicer
  • Run on the treadmill every week
  • Cook more home cooked meals
  • Read new books, one classic novel, one work of fiction, and one fluff read
  • Eat more organic food and less pizza

So, with salad on our plates, gym shoes on our feet, books in our bags and smiles on our faces, we at Sandstorm Design wish you a very Happy New Year!

This blog was posted by Karen on January 4, 2011.
Karen Boehl

About the Author

Karen Boehl

Karen does a little bit of everything – webmaster, social media manager and search engine optimizer. She can most often be found on Twitter, in the Usability Lab, or happily buried in the Drupal admin menu.

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Holly

At Sandstorm Design, we live and work by the “Yes, and” marketing strategy. It is one of our core values and reflective in absolutely everything we do. So what is the “Yes, and” marketing strategy? For us, “Yes, and” is a way of thinking. It is being open to new ideas, thinking outside of the box, and drawing outside the lines. It is doing what is asked for, or expected, and then coming up with something new and interesting to also think about. It is always striving to be better, and innovative, and three steps ahead of what’s next.

If you’ve worked with us before, the “Yes, and” marketing strategy is very evident in our creative work. Usually, we will give you one concept that’s exactly what you want (we hope), and another that gives you a new idea to consider. The goal is that, regardless of which concept you go with, we challenge you and show you something unexpected.

And, until now, we sort of thought that we coined the “Yes, and” marketing strategy phrase. Recently, I came across this article that proved otherwise. It also outlined how special “Yes, and” truly is (we invent airplanes ☺), and how the counterpart “Yes, but” also plays into the mix.

This blog was posted by Holly on October 28, 2010.
Holly Brinkman

About the Author

Holly Brinkman

Holly's title at Sandstorm Design is Strategy, Research, and Writing, as she does a little bit of everything. She loves clever advertisements, strong brands, social media, and intuitive web sites.

Holly

The idea of Google advertising on TV is a little weird to me. They’re a search engine, and the leader in their industry...what do they need to advertise for? But when I saw the first commercial in their “Search Stories” campaign, I was very impressed. They took something as quick and trivial as a 20-second search, and demonstrated the monumental impact that it has on a person’s life.

Before learning search engine optimization and working at an interactive marketing agency, I never really understood the importance of search engines. But in today’s world, Google is the first place that most people turn for literally every decision they make. If you have a question, odds are that Google can answer it.

And that is a really important thing. Because in doing so, Google, a search engine that is mathematically pulling data based on relevance, obtains a persona and a voice. It’s your trusted advice-giver, resource, and industry-expert for everything life throws your way. And it knows me so well! Today, I found this fun little tool that lets you create your own Google Search Story. I built a quick one about a user’s first experience with Sandstorm Design. Check it out, and please share your stories with us too!

This blog was posted by Holly on October 21, 2010.
Holly Brinkman

About the Author

Holly Brinkman

Holly's title at Sandstorm Design is Strategy, Research, and Writing, as she does a little bit of everything. She loves clever advertisements, strong brands, social media, and intuitive web sites.

Sandy

Zak recently emailed me an article about why bronze medalists are happier than those who win silver, with a small note that read "reminded me of you". I didn't even have to read the article to know what he meant. I hate the B+, the second place, the silver, the most defeating words from a potential client, "We really struggled with this decision, the two companies we narrowed down to were so great..." you know the rest. You get the B+, the 89%, the race through your head if there was anything else you could have done, had a stronger pitch, shown more expertise, presented a more cohesive plan, a better demo, etc.

For years we have been working on going for the gold, striving to make that emotional connection, and helping our clients do the same. Strategic marketing and strong branding can't necessarily help silver medalists, but it can help companies who are tired of hearing from their sales team that a competitor just won their business, again. With strong positioning, a consistent brand, and a strategic message, marketing can bring a brand to life, clearly demonstrate added value, and in the end, be that one "gut" feeling that makes your company win the gold (over and over again). Ready to start training for that gold medal?

This blog was posted by Sandy on February 24, 2010.
Sandy Marsico, Founder & CEO

About the Author

Sandy Marsico

Sandy Marsico is the founder & CEO of Sandstorm®, a digital brand experience agency that turns consumer insights into engaging user experiences through our unique blend of data science, brand strategy, UX and enterprise-level technology.

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Sandy

The Web Marketing Association has honored us with the 2009 WebAward For Outstanding Achievement in Web Development and Design for National Association of Realtors' Green REsource Council website. The Green REsource Council was founded to make the knowledge of green real estate practices available to everyone and is the only environmental real estate designation addressing multiple specialties for agents and property managers. 

We are very proud to be recognized for our green design work, and continue to strive to build intuitive online user experiences.

This blog was posted by Sandy on October 16, 2009.
Sandy Marsico, Founder & CEO

About the Author

Sandy Marsico

Sandy Marsico is the founder & CEO of Sandstorm®, a digital brand experience agency that turns consumer insights into engaging user experiences through our unique blend of data science, brand strategy, UX and enterprise-level technology.

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