1. Mary Blair + more at the Walt Disney Museum

    Check out the “Magic, Color, Flair: the world of Mary Blair” exhibit at the Walk Disney museum while it’s still up. Mary was art director (not animator) for Disney during the 40s and 50s. Her student work is featured first — and it’s always interesting to see where artists begin — and continues through her trip to South America (part of a goodwill tour with Disney during WWII), which inspired the bright, colorful, stylized concept drawings you’ll recognize in many of the iconic Disney movies of the era, including Peter Pan, Alice in Wonderland, Los Caballeros, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, and perhaps most famously the “It’s a small world” ride.  
    While you’re at the museum, also check out the main Disney exhibit, which chronicles Walt’s life alongside the many technological breakthroughs he made in animation and film, including the multiplane camera (standing two-stories tall in the gallery), and using a bouncing ball in the negative to synchronize music (try it yourself at the multiplayer Guitar-hero-esque synching booth). 
    Plus, who can resist controlling an animatronic parrot?  
    My favorite single display though was the enormous wall of Steamboat Willie cells. It’s overwhelming! What a great way to show off both the mechanics and effort and joy of that signature animation. 

    Mary Blair’s exhibit is up until September 7th, but the Disney museum is open year-round. Go and be a kid for a day! 

  2. (Re)designing the Ticketmaster ticket

    We love (re)design exercises, and we do them often. We also like to give shout outs to any outstanding redesigns we find out there.  Matthew Lew described his TicketMaster redesign in a Medium piece a few months ago and we think it’s pretty smart.

    Matthew is a designer and music enthusiast, and with each Ticketmaster concert he attended the shortcomings of the ticket design became increasingly apparent. 


    They’re hard to read, particularly in low light, and the lack of information hierarchy creates UX issues. Plus, the design hasn’t really changed in forty years. Take a look: 


    Before checking out Matthew’s solution, we at REDSHIFT did our own. We reviewed the current ticket and identified the problems, split into teams to create some new sketches, and then pitched our new designs to each other.

    Key goals: 

    • Eliminate redundant information 
    • Get rid of the difficult to read ALL-CAPS fonts
    • Create a better information hierarchy 
    • Highlight the band’s artwork. 

    This last one isn’t necessarily obvious, but tickets are keepsakes — many put them on their walls and into their scrapbooks — and we wanted to preserve and enhance this. A band image is a simple way to make each ticket unique. 

    Finally, we compared our designs to Matthew’s. 



    His solution was certainly successful, and focused on many of the same issues. We thought he could have pushed the prevalence of the band’s artwork even further. The tickets look different, but not quite different enough, and the images are not entirely clear beneath that graphic treatment. However, we love the color coding according to event type. 

    Great job over all and we hope Ticketmaster hires Matthew (or Redshift) immediately.

  3. Creating Real-time, Reactive User Experiences

    When you stop and think about it, we’ve reached a pretty exciting moment in web technology where the traditional request-and-response interaction no longer reigns supreme. Our patterns of use online are anything but linear. Daily, we cruise through dozens of apps where many users interact with the same data at the same time, and content loads dynamically without waiting for us to refresh. When not carefully designed with the end user in mind, this new web paradigm can feel quite chaotic.

    UX Designer and friend of Redshift Dom Nguyen just wrote a great piece, Design For Realtime, that outlines a few key principles designers can use to translate the complexity inherent in today’s apps.

  4. Recently the meaning of color came up as a topic in the office. In honor of our company name, here’s are a few words that come to mind when people see the color red.

    Recently the meaning of color came up as a topic in the office. In honor of our company name, here’s are a few words that come to mind when people see the color red.

  5. Top 30 ways to go viral on Facebook that will BLOW YOUR MIND


    YOU WON’T BELIEVE what this introverted teen did to a police offer! 

    23 LIFE-CHANGING photos of kittens with sharpie eyebrows! 

    You’ve probably noticed that socially shared media such as lists, quizzes and news videos has taken over your Facebook newsfeed. 

    The viral content space is becoming increasingly competitive, with sites like BuzzFeed, Huffington Post and Upworthy all growing in popularity. In 2014, BuzzFeed’s projected revenue is $120 million—double what it was last year. 

    Here at Redshift, we’re exploring the ways in which media like this connects with people so much that they want to share it with their friends. 

    Here are some tips from the big guys about how to go viral:


    8 common traits that viral BuzzFeed links share:

    1. List posts are shared twice as often
    2. Viral headlines are usually short (< 74 characters)
    3. Headlines with questions are 24% more likely to go viral
    4. Viral headlines are written for humans, not Google
    5. People don’t like sharing sex related posts
    6. Popular posts tend to challenge the status quo
    7. People love sharing posts with current event headlines
    8. People like to share visual posts (images, videos)

    3 tips on how to make your content go viral

    1. Never use the word “viral” in your content. OOPS!
    2. People like to share things about themselves and are more likely to share if the content makes a strong statement about who they are
    3. People like to share things if they have a strong positive emotional response to it (successful content is awe-inspiring, emotional, positive, or surprising)


    10 tips from from Upworthy about content creation

    1. Find or create great content

    2. Write at least 25 headlines

    3. Avoid giving it all away in the headlines - XX

    4. Get someone to optimize your website for social sharing

      Facebook’s HTML share tags

    5. Edit headlines and descriptions on Facebook, if necessary

    6. Be visual

    7. Do A/B testing, even if it’s a simple one using just Bit.ly

    8. Let analytics be your friend

    9. Create more content

    10. Include a strong call to action

    Upworthy’s 9 tips for writing viral headlines

    1. Don’t give it all away in the headline
    2. Also, don’t give it all away in the excerpt, the share image, or the share text

    3. Don’t be shrill. Don’t form an opinion for the end user. Let them do that.
    4. Don’t bum people out
    5. Don’t sexualize your headlines in a way your mom wouldn’t approve
    6. Don’t over think it. Some of your headlines will suck. Accept it and keep writing.
    7. Lastly, be clever. But not TOO clever.
    8. Optimizing for Social is different than optimizing for search. Search wants proper nouns. Social wants intrigue.
    9. “If your boss wants their logo on Facebook shares, tell them to find a new digital director who can make people care more about logos than kittens.”

  6. Guerrilla User Testing


    Making user experience decisions based on data is better than guessing so we’ve incorporated weekly user testing into our process at Redshift by inviting people on TaskRabbit to come in and provide feedback on our designs. User testing doesn’t need to be an afterthought. Here’s how we get fast results:

    • 30 minute sessions every week with 2 people
    • 5 users will yield enough data to pinpoint problems
    • Get the right demographic for your product
    • If you don’t have a digital prototype, a paper prototype also works
    • Ask users to speak out loud and explain their thinking
    • Resist the urge to jump in and bail users out when they’re struggling

  7. Reinventing the recipe

    The first recipe was written on a Babylonian stone tablet in 1600 BC. And the standard format hasn’t changed much since then!

    We have been working with a client to reinvent the recipe for digital devices, and we started by researching what other designers have created. Here are a couple of examples we found inspirational:

    Yes, that’s right, this is an app from Uniqlo—the Japanese clothing retailer. And yes, each chef’s outfit is coordinated with the dish. The visual design in this app was the easy favorite in our office.

    Look & Cook earns a place in this post for their visually elegant approach to the ingredients list. Be sure to arrange your ingredients on the countertop this way before you start cooking!

    Though not a cooking-specific app, Snapguide allows you to create image-drive how-tos that work very well for cooking. The visual design is a bit lacking here, but we were impressed to publish content from a smartphone.

    In the weeks ahead we will be working on a digital recipe solution that combines some of the best features of these apps with creative ideas of our own.

  8. The best beautiful animated GIFs

    GIFs—animated images of the oft-mispronounced file format that just won’t die—have been returning with a vengeance since the mid-2000s.

    While dot-com-era GIFs were known for their pixellated crudeness, today’s GIFs boast sleek, artistic imagery. On top of viewers’ quicker download speed, designers use techniques like Cinemagraphy to pack in ample colors while keeping files small—getting more bang for their buck. 

    Sites like TumblrBuzzFeed, and Reaction GIFs all generate revenue off this improvement in GIF quality and ingenuity.

    Here are some beautiful examples of high-quality GIFs:


    Christina Lu
    Lu is a super-talented illustrator who works at Buzzfeed. She won the 2013 PBS Thirteen Reel 13 Tumblr Month Contest.


    Nicolas Menard
    Menard is an artist/director from Montreal with a screenprint-based style. Check out his short films.



    Robin Davey
    This London-based artist, animator, and director is inspired by mid-century illustrations.


    Hua Chun Yang 
    This China-based animator is a known preferrer of hand-drawn illustrations over CGI.


    Joe Maccarone
    This Baltimore art student has an eerie, Lynchian sense of scene.


    Matthew DiVito (Mr. Div)
    Matthew DiVito is a motion graphic artist who creates geometric, retro-cosmic GIFs.


    Sachin Teng
    Sachin mixes realism with cartoonish and glitched-out styles. He’s illustrated for Adidas, Wired, and the New Yorker.

  9. The Mechanical Turk

    A few of us in the office have been obsessed with the Mechanical Turk - both the late 18th century ruse and the contemporary bizarre/genius Amazon service. Recently, we decided to investigate the Mechanical Turk and find out what is all about.

    The original Mechanical Turk was a chess-playing automaton created in 1770 by Wolfgang von Kempelen to impress the Austrian empress, Maria Theresa. The Turk toured Europe and US, beating Napoleon Bonaparte and Benjamin Franklin, and performing the knight’s tour. 

    In the early 1820s, it was revealed that the Turk was being operated by a skilled accomplice hiding inside who operated the machine. Despite this revelation, the Turk continued to tour with various chess masters until it was finally destroyed by fire in 1854. The original operator remains a mystery.

    Amazon’s Mechanical Turk is a crowdsourced web service launched in 2005. It provides an on-demand, scalable, human workforce to complete jobs that that computers are currently unable to do, such as recognizing objects in photographs. Each individual task (called a HIT) requires a very small effort to complete and is rewarded by a small payment - often only a few cents. “Requestors” post requests or tasks to a database and Workers choose to accept the task based on the rate and their qualification for the task.

    On average, workers are willing to complete tasks for less than half the US minimum wage. This has caused some to criticize the service as a digital sweatshop. However, workers set their own hours and only accept tasks they wish to do. And it appears at least some portion of these people are doing the work for fun.

    Here are a few ingenious projects that were completed using the The Amazon Mechanical Turk:

    The Sheep Market

  10. RIP

    Design giant Massimo Vignelli passed away today. He was responsible for some of the most iconic designs of the 20th century. While his NYC subway map and DC Metro signage are particular stand-outs, we were always a fan of his “brown bags” for Bloomingdales.

  11. FIVE Teaser Website

    Our FIVE teaser website is now live! Check it out at: www.fiveapp.io and let us know what you think.

  12. FIVE UX Spotlight: Perfecting The List

    FIVE is a new app from Redshift that lets you share and compare your top five of everything. From a UX standpoint, this means the app’s primary function is browsing and consuming lists of content.

    Designing a great list interface might seem straightforward, but we quickly discovered there’s more to it than meets the eye. Here are a few of the questions we found ourselves wrestling with as we started our first sketches:

    • What kind of items can make up a list?
    • Are list items interactive?
    • Should you see the list all at once or each item individually?
    • How do you present a list title in addition to its contents?

    Let’s take a look at some of these early sketches which featured fairly conventional approaches to designing lists including slideshows and carousels:


    We also tried some more unusual navigation concepts:


    As we kept trying out different formats, two key ideas began to crystallize. One, rather than require users to flip through a series of individual entries, it’s quicker and more satisfying to consume lists as a single collection. Seeing top five lists in one glance lets you compare and contrast entries and subconsciously invites you to reorder or suggest new ones. It’s an example where grouped content is more valuable than the sum of its parts.

    The second hypothesis was that creating a separate title page would allow us to create a feeling of suspense before revealing the list. Just like a master comedian prepares his audience for the punchline, a good five would showcase its concept with a great-looking cover image and pique user interest before the reveal. Good timing is important, even in UX design.

    With these ideas in mind, let’s fast forward from sketches to our final design. High-level goals include:

    • Presenting fives with a rich, immersive cover image.
    • Encouraging users to combine title text and cover image in creative ways.
    • Using beautiful typography to showcase title and list text.
    • Revealing the entire list in a single view with no scrolling required. 


    Our FIVE teaser website will be launching tomorrow and stay tuned for a follow-up post on how we created our signature transition animation.

  13. FIVE, four, three, two…

    As we countdown to our FIVE website launch, we thought it would be fun to look back to the days when the app was just a name and a concept. Check out some of the early candidates for the app title and stay tuned for the website!



  14. Understanding Taste: The Trouble with Online Retail


    Anyone who’s spent weeks searching for the perfect laptop bag will tell you: one of the great unsolved mysteries of e-commerce is understanding taste. Of course, there are other issues; fit and sizing, shipping costs, and the hassle of the return. But taste is more nuanced. The process of discovery is mercurial, and most of us don’t know quite know what we’re looking for until we see it.

    We’re constantly assured that e-commerce is the future of retail, so it’s surprising to learn that only 6% of retail sales last year occurred online.* Suddenly, solving the problem of taste, discovery, and want seems a great deal more pressing. 

    At Redshift, we’re particularly invested in this problem as we look at crafting solutions that help users navigate an online environment that grows more cluttered and overwhelming by the hour. We decided to take a look at the ways various industry players are catering to user’s taste.


    Retail’s response generally falls into two kinds of strategies: optimizing page layout, and creating branded editorial content. 


    J.Crew and eBay excel in this first area. Like 99% of online retailers, they understand that the best way to capture attention is to comb their catalogs and offer up a simple homepage showcasing just a few curated selections. We think J.Crew does this better than most anyone else, and eBay gets an honorable mention because (not without help) they have managed to cull 100 million+ listings into a homepage of cohesive and appealing collections.


    Many retailers are also opting for the other strategy: creating branded editorial content. When done well, this is a terrific opportunity for brands to establish themselves as trusted tastemakers, highlighting the promise of a lifestyle while subtly pointing to products that can fulfill it. Mr. Porter’s Journal is a standout here. 


    Online Media Outlets

    Blogs and online magazines also play an important role in this ecosystem for their ability to influence taste, and drive sales to online retailers via affiliate programs. Phillipe von Borries—founder of the hugely successful Refinery29—says it best: “commerce is a critical component for us reinventing a media company and what the content commerce relationship is.” Refinery29’s genius is in creating content that people actually want to read, and in having an exceptional intuition for when/how often to insert product tie-ins within this content. Lifestyle bloggers like Cup of Jo's Joanna Goddard and GOOP's Gwyneth Paltrow have also proven out this model. Over the last decade, traditional print media has repeatedly struggled to map their content to an online landscape. Though it may rankle with some, von Borries' content-commerce hybrid does seem to indicate a clear path forward.


    Discovery Engines

    In the last couple of years, a slew of startups have sought to aid in the discovery of new products: Pinterest, Svpply, Polyvore, and Wanelo, just to name a few. These platforms all have slightly different recipes for how they serve up products, but they’re all looking at the same things: who your friends are, what stores you like, what (if any) tastemakers you follow, and what products you’ve earmarked. Conspicuously absent is shopping history. It turns out, although this data is valuable in many ways, most of us dislike being pigeon-holed by our past purchases. 

    Looking ahead, it’s hard to deny the immense value of the Pinterest machine, but we think Polyvore is also one to watch. With a thriving community based around user-generated (shoppable, of course) collages, they have unique insight into how people are curating, browsing, and consuming products online. Their goal is to take this data and use it develop a “taste graph,” which they claim will allow for an unprecedented level of accuracy in determining what any given user will like. 


    In short: taste is still very much an unsolved mystery, but the big players seem to be getting closer to cracking it. 

    *Source: Pew Research Center

  15. MailChimp’s official Voice & Tone guide is awesome.

    Check out MailChimp’s indispensable and beautifully crafted tool to help you nail that “just right” voice and tone for your web-based comms. We promise you will find a use for this, despite the MailChimp-centric perspective.