Sandstorm Blog

Sandy
Chicago web design company's Client Spotlight

The Client: National Association of REALTORS, Real Estate Buyer’s Agent Council (REBAC)

The Goal: Create a user-friendly web site that addresses the needs of multiple user groups.

The Solution: After conducting usability testing, user research, and establishing personas, we identified what type of information the different user groups required, and what features and functionality they were looking for. We designed a clean web site design and navigation that organized information by user group, and tested the navigation to ensure key tasks could be completed with ease. Important information and tasks were called to attention in the form of graphic callouts to engage users and ensure that they found what they were looking for. Cool blues and greens were added to round out their color palette, and subtle textures were incorporated throughout the design to add dimension. A coordinating advertising campaign, brochure, and tradeshow were launched in conjunction with the new site to drive traffic to the site and brand REBAC consistently across all mediums.

This blog was posted by Sandy on September 11, 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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Sandy

At Sandstorm Design, we had an incredible time designing and building the Broadway in Montgomery web site this summer! Our creative team explored a very visual, experiential design concept to draw the user into the essence of theatre - taking cues from Broadway. Adding to the theatrical drama are subtle hints of interactivity from the rotating home page show display to the interactive season ticket package selections.

Aligned with our mission, we had a great time challenging ourselves and our client to create a memorable and intuitive online user experience! Plus as an added bonus, we got the opportunity to take this brand and execute in print including ads, posters and brochures.

This blog was posted by Sandy on August 21, 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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Sandy

I know it feels like no marketing and design firms are hiring right now. And when you go to careerbuilder.com (one of our fav clients we've had for over 6 years now) and do a search for web design, web development, graphic design, marketing and copywriting positions it seems like the opportunities are pretty slim. But here's the reality. Most marketing, interactive and web design firms are boutique, and boutique firms generally don't have HR departments, and they often don't post on the large job boards because they often can't manage the masses of resumes. So what do they do? (we are hiring despite what the media conveys).

I can't speak for all, but I can tell you a little about our marketing agency. We always go to referral sources first. We ask our employees if they have any friends. We utilize our social media connections to see if they have any friends or family that would be a great fit. We go to Craigslist. And we give Creative Circle a call. You know we always mean to post our open positions on our web site, but we often don't get to it. I think mostly because we're always looking for a blended position - someone who has a few primary skills with secondary skills that compliment others on our team, and it's tough to write a job description that is always fluid and in motion... kind of like our company.

This blog was posted by Sandy on July 14, 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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Sandy
Web design portfolio updates: How often is too often?

It feels like we're always behind when updating our web design portfolio on the Sandstorm website. Does anyone have any feelings on how often we should be updating our creative work - monthly, weekly, quarterly, whenever we have time to? It's great that fresh work is always being produced, and I'm proud of the quality of award winning work we do, and want to give ample time showering our clients with pride and love by showcasing them on our web site... but right now our timing is pretty random. We're always working on content in our web site and changing that almost daily (as part of our SEO and keeping the site fresh), but those portfolio pieces tend to lag a bit. Maybe I should assign the portfolio update task to the new guy at our web design firm (he he he).

This blog was posted by Sandy on July 1, 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

So I don't usually write about pop culture, nor about tragedies in the news. But the Michael Jackson brand has just exploded. The PR, the news, the talk shows, the memories, the brand. As I am writing this, there are 404,210 memories from Michael Jackson fans worldwide on the Michael Jackson web site (and growing by the minute!). Web sites are popping up everywhere selling memorabilia. I predict the Michael Jackson brand will only get stronger. And the name 'Michael' will now make it back to the #1 boy's name for 2010 (it was slipping a few years ago after the Michael Jordan days).

This blog was posted by Sandy on June 30, 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
Broadway in Chicago: Our Web Design Show

We are having way too much fun with our newest web design and development project - traveling Broadway shows like Wicked, Stomp, Annie, etc. brought to smaller cities across America and in Canada. We are creating this amazing, theatrical user experience on the web utilizing almost everyone on staff from usability experience and message development, to information architecture, creative execution, web development and of course - project management.

Stay tuned for our web site launch date for city #1 coming in July. (Our web design company is so excited we can hardly resist showing you the web design comps!)

This blog was posted by Sandy on June 24, 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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Sandy
Web design firm wins web award for NAR!

We're so honored! Our web design firm won a web design award for the National Association of Realtors Green Designation web site. It's a green industry site, an association and in real estate - three of our favorite industries to work in. As Holly would say, we heart winning!

This blog was posted by Sandy on June 22, 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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Sandy
Web Design Chicago versus Web Design Firm Chicago

To the average google researcher, the two key word phrases 'web design chicago' and 'web design firm chicago' may seem like the same thing so you would assume you would get the same results, but it's not entirely true. Interestingly enough, google considers Sandstorm Design an incredible find for a web design firm (maybe because we're a full service interactive agency?), but for the average web design search, we're not. In my next life I would enjoy being a google algorithm strategist.

This blog was posted by Sandy on June 15, 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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Sandy

Sandstorm Design is pleased to announce the launch of MissionGetHired.com, a new CareerBuilder.com site that helps U.S. Veterans find jobs. Sandstorm Design proudly developed the new brand name, information architecture, experiential design and messaging for the site, adapting the CareerBuilder.com brand to cater to U.S. Veterans. "We wanted to create an online experience that spoke directly to Veterans," creative director, Janna Fiester, said regarding the brand strategy.

The site launched in April of 2009 and instantly received recognition. Pentagon correspondent, Barbara Starr, mentioned the site on CNN's Road to the Rescue segment – the only feature thus far with a positive spin on unemployment. Veteran employment is currently at 8.1%, compared to the 8.8% overall United States unemployment rate.

This blog was posted by Sandy on May 13, 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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Sandy

JamesHardieColorPlus.com, a site Sandstorm Design was fully responsible building through their user-centered design methodology, is today's webpick on CommArts.com. Sandstorm Design conducted user research, usability testing, designed, wrote, and developed the site. Innovative interactive applications including the Find your Shade Quiz, Product Comparison Tool, and Sample Color Swatches contributed to the editor's webpick.

"We are so proud to be recognized by Communication Arts Magazine for our user-centered web site work," said Sandy Marsico, Principal of Sandstorm Design, "We built the site from the user's perspective and learned directly from homeowners what types of assistance they were looking for to make the best siding decision for their home."

James Hardie Building Products come from a world leader in fiber-cement technology. James Hardie invests heavily in research and development, with a special emphasis on product quality and production efficiency to develop durable and low maintenance siding products, backerboard and pipe. 
 

This blog was posted by Sandy on March 4, 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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