Category Archives: Digital Out-of-Home

Snapping Pics at Client Spaces for Future Mockups

I just can’t help myself to always snap a few, or a shit-ton of pics with my cell phone at a client location when we’re there for meetings or other, non-photographic reasons. They are so helpful. Clients love to see past and future mockups actually placed in their environments, and it is sooooo hard to get images from them of their spaces.

The fun part is that you’re not actually suppose to be taking pictures and using them, especially not for your marketing purposes. So usually I’m creeping around before the client lets us in, like around reception in the public area, just snapping cell phone pics in a non-discreet manner like I’m just reading text messages horizontally… which nobody ever does. I’ve only been called out at a client retail location but never in a corporate office. But I have been told before to be sure not to get any computer screens in my pictures.

My favorite is getting people in the pictures also. Especially since most of our digital work is based on engagement… so I want some people in there either looking at a screen or about to touch a screen. I get a lot of receptionists in there, some random guests, even some co-workers (they really hate it usually).

Of course the pics aren’t the best but usually if you get a steady and in-focus shot, you can photoshop that bad boy in some professional fashion to make it work. Lets be honest, iPhones will take a pretty badass picture these days and will work for most needs these days, and a hell of a lot cheaper than paying for a photoshoot or high res stock images (… don’t get me started on prices of high res stock images of fucking office building interiors!!!).

Graphs, Charts, & Data Visualizations are getting Pretty Advanced

Its amazing to see how data visualizations have been pushed from a development standpoint, which helps designers know which cool affects can come at a smaller development effort and not break the bank or timeline.

graph data visualization entry

When decided on the actually graph or chart type, its easy to have 3 or 4 that really fit your data in a good way, but then it becomes more of a cosmetic discussion on what looks better or fits better with where you’re displaying it at.  Even stylistically the development Libs or plug-ins make the design more streamlined as they have built in CSS treatments like gradient shading or drop shadows.

A lot of the libraries really focus on the animating of the actual graph pieces which really make any data vis really pop. Even if the end visual seems sort of plain, that first 1-2 seconds when it is animating into its full representation, any client or stakeholder will be wowed with the motion graphic aspect of it.

New Bar Tablet Application at Chili’s, with Menu and More

I grabbed a seat at a Chili’s bar to catch a football game, and when the bartender didn’t come over for a minute, I ironically noticed a little tablet staring at me which was playing a brand loop with little promo videos about drinks and appetizers. Ok, I’ll bite. I touched it and it gave me some intuitive options of drinks, menu, games, and more. Nicely done Chili’s, I didn’t see that coming. It actually helped me get my beer order ready before the bartender arrived. The interface was pretty simple (good job not overdoing it), but it did have a slough of bar-like games to play.

chilies bar tablet email signup

Upon browsing, I was happy to see a free giveaway for an email signup. It was done pretty tastefully (pun intended) and the signup form wasn’t too overwhelming. This is one of those points (digital takeaway, or user activation) that someone in the industry is always looking to see how others do, or if they did. I’d be interested to see the conversion rate for this bar tablet signup, but at least they are leveraging their digital experience to try.

New ESPN Studio with Big Digital Media Wins

ESPN created a new studio set and did it right with some innovative digital experiences. It really seems they wanted to push the limit with the environment and have multiple areas where associated branding, graphics and color could be shown. I absolutely love it, and don’t think its distracting (which would be my worry if planning it). Even though the new host desk seems a little Star Trek-ish, I’m ok with it because the overall feel isn’t too futuristic … which is ironic since Star Trek came out in the 60’s.

espn new studio big video wall

One of the signature areas is the large media wall that is the backdrop for one of their main discussion and interview areas. It seems to be around 10 displays wide and 7 displays tall, and have them jutting out at inconsistent levels from each other. At first glance, it seems like a hard idea to swallow with all the extra dimensions, but then I realized that the sides of the displays seem to show (or mirror) the content from that display (or the display next to it). And even though it might just be mirroring some of the content, it still gives the impression of a seamless piece of content and comes across really nice. I will work on getting a tour and seeing this bad boy up close.

Jay-z, Beyonce, and Me … Checking out the Digital Signage

I’m pretty sure that I was the only patron at the Jay-z concert who was analyzing the video wall backgrounds on stage. I was pretty impressed with the various executions of style that appeared on the side media walls and background wall. The digital media element was slightly overshadowed by the San Fran background of the bay bridge, water and palm trees but it definitely dominated when it got darker out.

jayz concert detail

I think the point that made me specially snap a pic was when I noticed they had the camera footage of Jay-z in black and white, just for the affect. It gave off an edgy, ghetto, possibly hip vibe … that I can’t argue that you need since you’re touring with your wifey.  It was pretty dramatically different from the girly tones that Beyonce had going (like pink-ish backgrounds).


Digital Menu Boards Present Huge Opportunities if Done Right

As soon as a restaurant moves their menu boards into the digital realm, which does have a big initial cost, they can start to take advantage of real time updates and eye-catching visuals and movement. From fast food, corporate cafeterias, to displays behind the bar at fine dining restaurants, these digital endpoints allow for the company to promote their products or experience in innovative ways that can be very eye-catching.

It seems like a big win just to have the menu items and prices with associated images of the product that can be quickly updated through a content management system, across any and all restaurants with the push of a button. But the advertising opportunities to promote new products and specials make these digital menu boards start to get fun.

Now, here is where I think people have gone wrong. When you’re trying to read the menu and the background graphics or images behind the text are animating and paralax-ing, it gets a little crazy. I was at Wendy’s and the backgrounds were slightly moving different directions which is a cool affect on the web but while I was standing there trying to read, I started to feel a little sea-sick. It just seems like the distraction element of this has to be taken into account, and maybe keep the cool motion affects for a separate screen or just during a complete transition of the screen’s content.

On a different and unexpected note, I was at a bar in Las Vegas, and there was 2 displays behind the bar; one playing TV and one playing promo content. I was actually entertained by their content, which was more about their specials, events and marketing, but it gave me some nice visual stimulation during commercials on the TV. If the content is done nicely, I think there’s a huge place for this in more establishments if the restaurant can afford and execute on proper branded content. And I’m not talking about your TV commercials, unless its hilariously funny.

New 3D Styled Maps and Floor Plans for Interactive Wayfinding

As I was looking into new stylistic approaches to creating floor plan maps, all the 3D modeling stood out as the more innovative and visually interesting approach. The irony here is that I just convinced a client that having walls or features in a standing perspective gets in the way of the viewer clearing seeing walkways and other features behind them. Oh well.

Having a floor plan modeled in a 3D program, not only creates a visual interesting graphic (with shadowing and skewed angles) but also is very efficient in how your create and edit it. You’re not just illustrating it, but you’re creating the floor plan and dimensions and then you have that set to modify with the program doing the hard part of rendering it out at the perspective you want. Thank you Maya.

The first time I leveraged a designer to create our floor plan in Maya (3D) for us, I was thrilled to see him deliver a PSD with separate layers for the floor, walls, shadows, etc. Now, he might have worked some magic, as he’s an experienced badass, but it was ultimately the perfect deliverable for the additional design elements to be set with and then to hand off to development to create the application.

So I guess using Illustrator is going out the window to create floor plans from now on when you can use 3D modeling programs like Maya … if you know 3D or maybe a new media designer or motion graphic designer who knows the right programs.