Sandstorm Blog

Sandstorm Design is thrilled to kick off the new year by launching a new web site and brand for Gregg Communications! What started with a web site has grown into a full on partnership to reinvent Gregg’s brand. And it has been so wonderful to have a client as enthusiastic about the process as we are! With a new website and identity, the Gregg brand is now aligned with the quality service and expertise of their staff. We are so proud to announce this launch and look forward to more growth with Gregg!

This blog was posted by on January 18.
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.

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 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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We are proud to announce the launch of the new F.H. Paschen, S.N. Nielsen web site! We love working with this construction company, some say we’re almost as “Paschen”-ate as they are. Great people, great work, and a great history. We couldn’t wait for this site launch!

In addition to a new branded look and feel, the web site is filled with interactive video and functionality. We built a searchable project database that includes over 100 of their top projects. We also created an interactive experience on the homepage, new custom videos, an interactive map and a dynamically building ‘Contact Us’ form. To top it all off, custom photography highlights one of the company's strongest points of pride – their people. We couldn’t be more passionate about launching this web site for F.H. Paschen, a company we are proud to call our client and partner.

This blog was posted by on November 15, 2010.
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.

Sandstorm Design is excited to announce the launch of SRES.org! We’re so happy to provide this excellent resource to anyone age 50+ with real estate needs, helping them connect with SRES® designees all over the country. The SRES® designation, offered by the National Association of REALTORS®, indicates specialization in the real estate needs of those age 50+. Baby boomers can visit this web site to easily search for an SRES® designee near them, and prepare themselves for what types of considerations they’ll face with their real estate decisions.  We love working with the National Association of REALTORS® and marketing to seniors, and couldn’t be more excited to launch this web site!

This blog was posted by on November 2.
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.

Sandstorm Design is proud to announce the launch of our second interactive health care web application. Federal employees have the opportunity to answer a series of questions and get a customized recommendation to help them find the right insurance plan. Along the way, learning moments are integrated throughout the experience, educating the user to make better decisions.

We love working with our clients as much as we love creating interactive tools to make people’s lives a little easier, and that’s why we’re so excited to launch this quick and easy-to-use web application to help Federal employees!

This blog was posted by on October 22.
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.

Sandy

We are so honored to be mentioned in B2B magazine today! I just wanted to share as it really demonstrates our company's passion for user centered design and usable web sites. Here's a little excerpt for those that don't have time to read the full article:

Another trend: Making the most of a user's time on the site, rather than focusing on increasing the amount of time spent on the site, said Sandy Marsico, principal of Sandstorm Design, a web design and usability firm. “You want to help them find what they want quickly and get on with their day. Businesspeople don't have any time to waste anymore.” “You want clear areas of content,” Marsico said. “There should be more conversation and less selling.”

This blog was posted by Sandy on September 13.
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.

Sandy
Medicare Application

After months of collaboration, health care education, Medicare explanation, web application development, voice over talent selection and a bit of instructional design, we are proud to announce the launch of an interactive health care web application to help users understand Medicare health care coverage options from a large insurance company. After going through the application, I feel confident I can help my parents through the Medicare process and explain the difference between A, B, D, gap and advantage. If you can't, and you know someone who is around 65 years old, you should send them to check it out. (There's closed captioning as well as the ability to increase the type, too.)

This blog was posted by Sandy on August 18.
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.

Sandy
persona development - how much is too much information?

Part of our user-centered web design process includes the development of personas through research and analysis. Personas have a noticeable advantage over traditional demographics because we (you, me, clients, etc) can relate to a person far more naturally than a list of stats and demographics. It's human nature to bucket information into a way that you can remember, that you can relate to, that you can engage with - and a persona literally puts a name with a face on a fictional character that we can all discuss and create an amazing experience around.

So my big question is how far to go with the persona? How much detail is necessary to tell the story and paint the picture?

This blog was posted by Sandy on September 2, 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.

Sandy
Free user research for website hosting companies

I would like to personally offer a free user research opportunity here for website hosting companies - for those website hosting companies that question what their customers want, need and feel. For those website hosting companies that are serious about growing their hosting businesses by listening to their customers.

At the end of the day, what we value most, is the most simple of requests - that you please please please keep our websites up and running. What we fear the most, is that you are going to take our websites down for any number of reasons (fixing a bug, fixing a hack, server down for no particular reason, cold fusion crash, windows crash) and not let us know, and not have an answer to when it will be fixed, and quite frankly, move on with your day as if this is and should be expected. Many website hosting companies brag about their up time, but here's the catch. It's not the uptime of our websites, it's the uptime of your servers, which doesn't protect our websites enough. This makes us (your users) not trust your hosting company.

This blog was posted by Sandy on September 1.
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.

Sandy
Impacting the user experience with blue frosting

I made blue and silver cupcakes for my staff today. To get that Sandstorm blue, I had to bust out the food coloring and mix up both the cyan and the magenta to get that silvery blue that makes up our logo. I also put the chocolate cupcakes in silver trays so the cakes look like they are silver and blue.

However, the blue is a little smurf-life as Janna said. And so far no one has eaten a cupcake but me. Hmm... Now I'm not a bad baker (I'm actually decent) as I've brought cupcakes before and they are usually gone by noon - so it got me thinking what was different about these Sandstorm cupcakes and I think it's the blue frosting? Could the blue frosting impact their desire to eat the cupcake, therefore creating a more negative user experience?

This got me thinking about our company color blue, and how blue is a color associated with a positive user experience from a web site and corporate perspective. But when it comes to food, I can't think of a restaurant or fast food restaurant that uses blue except White Castle and that alone proves my point. Color can make a big impact on the user experience. The big question now is if hunger will take over and will the cupcakes be gone this afternoon?

This blog was posted by Sandy on August 25.
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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