Design

Website Makeovers To Inspire You

Website Makeovers To Inspire You

Creating a new website can easily slip into the “not today” category, and for good reasons.

It’s easy to get caught up in a flurry of worries like: What if I can’t find the right vendor? How can I be sure that I’ll get a website that helps grow our business? What if there are cost overruns? What if there are delays? What if I haven’t managed an outside web vendor before? Or where do I even begin?

Neutral Color Guide (When to Use Neutrals)

Neutral Color Guide (When to Use Neutrals)

While colors are trending towards bright, vivid hues, the hard-working neutrals—white, gray, black, and brown—have a staying power because of their flexibility. They might not be your favorite color, they don't tend to steal the show, they aren't usually even noticeable, but they are the bedrock of strong design.

2017 Design Inspiration (8 Trending Examples)

What's up with design trends anyway?

Let’s start with novelty. It turns out, we're wired to seek out new experiences. A chemical reaction takes place in the brain when it encounters something new. The brain releases dopamine, which prompts us to seek more new experiences. Thus, novelty is not only pleasurable, but actually pushes us to learn and grow.

On the flip side, we also tend to follow trends for less sincere reasons. For some, the need to keep up with the "Joneses" (or at least appear to be keeping with the times) is paramount. And like it or not, we’re also motivated by the need to fit in and conform to the group.

So what does this mean for design trends? Are they making our brains grow, or just appeasing our pride? Probably both. Advances in technology, the predominance of mobile and a voracious appetite for content have pushed design to change and grow. And there are a couple of possible reactions. Ride the waves of trend, keep it traditional and solid, or innovate. At the end of the day, a designer who understands the needs of her client will get it right.


1. Material Design

Although not a trend itself, Material Design cannot be ignored in a discussion of design trends. Pioneered by Google as a visual language, Material Design uses graphics and motion to cue viewer responses.

The basic idea is that visuals and motion should have predictable behavior that is based on reality. Material Design employs deliberate color choices, edge-to-edge imagery, large-scale typography and intentional white space. It also plays heavily with grid, and employs "cards" to serve as entry points to larger groups of information. And where Google leads, everyone follows.


2. Semi Flat

Skeuomorphism: a digital object that demonstrates the attributes of it's real world counterpart. Drop shadows! Gradients! Textures! Everyone loved it.

Then everyone hated it. And designers reacted by introducing flat design. Flat design took the world by storm. No more shading or gradients or textures. It felt more...authentic.

Skip ahead. Flat Design became Flat 2.0, then Semi Flat. Don't get me wrong, it is still flat design, the goal is not to create illustrations that appear to be photographs. But for the sake of dimension and movement, a bit of light has been added back in, as well as subtle shadows. Even gradients are sneaking back in, along with subtle complexity (think pattern and print).

And yes, Google Material Design has the full set of "rules".


3. Bold Colors

Color trends are being affected primarily by two factors. The first is the move to mobile. We're interacting with technology in every environment now, and designs on those screens need to pop. This is leading to a rise in brighter, bolder colors. You probably wore it in the '80s and '90s. So look out for vibrant duotones and color transitions everywhere.

Secondly, we're all facing technology burnout. The more we surround and immerse ourselves in technology, the more we want to pull away. Pantone nailed it when they named the 2017 color of the year: Greenery.


4. Geometric Shapes, Patterns, and Lines

Oh the '80s. Squiggly lines, geometric patterns, and shape confetti. A resurgence of this trend started in 2016 and looks to continue.


5. Dramatic Typography

At this point, it should be no surprise that bold typography is also on the rise. In a realm that is increasingly saturated with graphic input, any small advantage is sought. Daring type treatments can be achieved through size, color, texture and arrangement. With small screens and even smaller attention spans, viewers have come to depend on bold fonts in high-contrast bold colors.

And while the strictly hand-lettered trend has probably peaked, we'll still be seeing traces of organic influence on type.


6. Custom illustration

Brands are no longer just looking to have their own fonts and colors, but their own illustrative style. And the less corporate, the better. We're seeing organic and hand-drawn custom illustration everywhere as companies try to make themselves appear fun and make their products more accessible.


7. Original Narrative Photos

As consumers encounter the constant barrage of new content, our desire for truth increases. And photos that appear candid, unfiltered, spontaneous and gritty feel more original and genuine. Anything viewed as stock has come to represent what is wrong with the corporate world.

The perception is that anyone with an iPhone can take a great shot. Viewers are looking for cues like simplicity, movement, flash to convey reality, raw emotion and the ordinary. So while professional photography will not be going away, we will seeing a more subtle use of post-production tools.


8. Integrated Motion

We'll be seeing motion everywhere: paralax scrolling, animation, looped video headers, cinemagraphs and a predominance of GIFs.

Whether subtle or complex, they not only capture interest, but quickly convey emotion. And they help tell stories.

Get Inspired: Here's What's Hot in Motion Graphic Videos

What does the word "video" evoke for you? Do you see a talking head? A staged, corporate piece? A Hollywood production? 

Today, video production styles vary widely—opening the door to countless ways of expressing your message in this powerful medium. If you're developing content designed to get viewed and remembered, take a moment to see what's possible beyond the traditional videos you might be used to. 

In this blog post, we're focusing specifically on some trends in motion graphics—a fun and versatile type of video production that can range from very affordable to cinematic.


Flat design

Flat design is a minimalistic design approach that emphasizes usability. It features clean, open space, crisp edges, bright colors and two-dimensional illustrations. Simple images convey messages more quickly than detailed illustrations. Images like icons can indicate universal actions or purposes so that everyone can easily understand them.


4K design

On the creation side, there is an increase in 4K related video production, video editing and motion design products. Hardware producers (projectors, displays, televisions) are pushing hard to get 4K into the mass market.


Hand drawn hybrids

Blending hand drawn elements with CGI components is a great way to give the audience a sense of wonder. This concept is powerful when trying to explain how a complex design came to life. It makes it easier to understand and appear more tangible. It’s a powerful marketing technique that makes it easy for the target audience to fall in love with a desired look.


Vector organics

This year there are more animations turning up in which organic shapes transform in a liquid way.

Shapes are smeared and splash back together, often at the moment of a peak in the action, moving in slight slow motion, with twists and bends. It resembles the psychedelic shapes known from the 60’s.

Abstract drops and smears, swirling typography, and even characters whose limbs are being stretched and swirled. It may be a counter movement against the downward trend of geometrical squares, triangles, and circle-transitions.


Mixed disciplines

What was once an uncommon occurrence, is now becoming more and more prevalent. Many motion graphics today successfully combine mixed disciplines to create a more graphic, stylized, and illustrated look.


Seamless transitions

Seamless transitions are nothing new nor revolutionary when it comes to motion graphics but they have gained in popularity only recently. They create a feeling of fluidity and allow one scene to flow into the next without any interruptions or cuts between them.


Gifs

Although GIFs aren’t a new thing, they have recently gained traction after Facebook and Twitter allowed embedding and sharing. They are a great way to convey a message in a precise manner and are often used to add a touch of humor.

Which of these trends speaks to you?

A Behind-the-Scenes Look at Creating CMBell’s New Visual Brand

As we’ve been preparing for our 20th year, we’ve spent a great deal of time visioning and provisioning our company for the future. This has been exciting work, and you can see some of the results of this work here.

Communications has never been more important to businesses and organizations, and as we look at trends and needs among our clients, we’re convinced that our new mission statement precisely describes the space we’ll occupy: Creating signature communications that drive purpose and grow business.

As an outgrowth of that, we’ve updated our visual brand, and in this entry, we’ll take you behind the scenes on some of the work that led up to this.

Colors

Our final color palette is a nuanced mix of traditional and modern:

  • Navy and gold perfectly represent the classic and timeless attributes of our firm.

  • Orange adds a modern vibe—migrating from the deep burgundy of our previous logo into a more fiery, passionate version of red.

Font

Our art director selected several fonts that represented the right mix of modern and traditional. In the end, we selected Optima because it has the dignity, sophistication, and clarity we were looking for. The addition of the dots between the C. the M. and the B harken to our first logo and were added back to help those unfamiliar with our name to say it.

We chose Raleway as our body font because of its clean versatility. It also expresses our belief that simplicity must be a central part of any communication.

Tagline

Our signage and business package pair our tagline “Signature Communications” with the short version of our name, "CMBell"—dropping "Company” for the sake of keeping it as simple as possible.
 
Behind each of these was a great deal of research, exploration and internal discussion. Our entire team was involved in the process of reviewing, moving us closer to the final product with each of their insights.

Our Story

This is just one of the things happening as we celebrate year 20 of our journey. If you haven’t read our 20-year story or sauntered through 20 Things We've Learned from 20 Years of Business, we invite you to visit our blog and get some inspiration for your own journey.