New Website Launch – WordWizardsInc.com Gets a Facelift

Just about a year ago, we launched a completely new design for our website. Our website development team decided to take wordwizardsinc.com and spice it up a bit,  focusing on ease of use, cleanliness, and simple functionality. Most of the structure and features are the same, but this time, our graphics design team has perfected the colors, graphic elements, fonts, and other visual aspect to deliver a much improved facelift.

The Old Word Wizards Website
The Old Word Wizards Website

Contrast and Color

The Site as of November 2011
WWInc.com 2.0 (November 2011)

One of our objectives since we launched wwinc.com 2.0, was to deliver our content with a bit more pop, while improving the overall contrast of background, text, and visual elements. What we came up with is nothing short of, well, sexy. Our lead designer, Andy LaGow, has over 30 years of experience with graphic design for professional media, in both the print and digital medium. We gave him the task of choosing the right mix of visual elements to deliver our content more clearly, while enabling us to call attention to any element of critical importance to improve the overall flow of our site.

Scribey’s Last Stand

Since our founding in 1982, we have use an etching of a 16th century scribe, lovingly known as “Old Scribey,” to represent our logo to the world. In WWInc.com 2.0 we x-rayed his colors in an attempt to give him some new life. At that time we liked it, but as we cleaned up our design we realized that the time had come for Old Scribey to end his exuberant mid-life crisis and return to his black and white roots. Contrast is the key! As you can see while browsing our site, or by the screenshot of the homepage below, this most recent iteration of our website is much more readable because of the contrast between background and text, with a splash of color in key areas for pop. Please leave a comment if you have anything to tell us about the new design, and remember, we can do one just as good for you too!

Word Wizards, Inc. New Website
WWINC.com Most Recent Website Version



Call Today for 20% Off Graphic Design Services!

Hello, my name is Ilana Gordon and I am the President and Creative Director at Word Wizards, Inc. Our company has been producing professional quality print and digital-media design for over 30 years. We are located in Silver Spring, Maryland and serve many government and private-sector clients in the DC metro area and beyond. The following is a short list of some of our specialties that we feel may fit the needs of your organization.

Print Media

Magazines
Brochures
Corporate reports and internal documents
Logos and “brand specific” printed materials
Conference collateral

Digital Media

eBooks/ePubs
Website design
Online marketing materials
Newsletters/eZines
Internet advertisements

Word Wizards is currently offering a 20% discount off of our normal hourly rate of $70/hr on all design services. We invite you to take a look at our online portfolio to review some examples of our work.

Please contact me directly or give our team a call if you are interested in discussing your next graphic design project. Thank you for your time and have a great day.

Best Regards,
Ilana Gordon
President, Creative Director
Word Wizards, Inc.
8555 16th Street, Suite 711
Silver Spring, MD 20910
301-986-0808
wordwizardsinc.com/design

* This offer expires November 15, 2012, so call today!

 




5 Websites With Amazing Graphics

Word Wizards has provided graphic design services for over 20 years. The following is a list of some sites with amazing graphics that we want to share with you. These days graphic designers have better tools and technology than ever before. Thus, we present to our loyal bloggers and readers some amazing examples of graphic design on the cutting edge.

Amazing Tron Inspired Artwork by Graffiti Technica

Graphic Design Blog .Org

I first stumbled on to this blog because of an article they posted, Conceptual Digital Artwork by Top 5 Digital Artists. Some of these graphics really blew me away. GDB.org is a great place to catch some great examples of the cutting edge of graphic design, and hear from experts who want to showcase their graphic arts capabilities.

The Art Of Sam Farrand

Wow this graphic artist is inspirational to say the least. Specializing in sacred geometry and the power of digital fractal art, Sam is truly on the cutting edge of the graphic design spectrum. His website is not completely finished, which is why I have pointed you to his Facebook page, but Sam is most defiantly worth a look if your into some wild digital mastery.

Webitect – 40 Breathtaking Examples of Graphic Design Examples

It may only be one post on a much broader blog, but the graphics are stunning to say the least. This post explores several different categories of graphic design in the digital age including, Vector graphics, photo manipulations, and more!

Fotolia – Graphics, Stock Photos, and More

Looking for that perfect piece of clip art, photograph, or simple graphic? Look no further! Fotolia is one of our favorite resources for professional graphics and graphical elements. Check out their amazing library and enjoy!

Grafitti Technica

Wow, wow, wow, this site has some amazing examples of how talented and inspirational digital graphics can be. Attention, no buildings were vandalized in the making of this website, 100% digital, 100% legal.

A Word of Possibilities

Word Wizards is happy to share these examples of some far out graphic design work. We usually stay in the more practical realms with our graphic design services, but we take inspiration from all of these incredible, and free resources. Thanks to all the artists and designers who allow free browsing of their material on the web. Remember, always support your artists in any way you can, share their work with your network and make sure to support their art!




SEO Tips – Spam Defense Catpchas Vs. Bots

Catpchas for security

Many blogs use comments to provide a more interactive experience for their users. People can share opinions, criticize disagreements, or even just let you know that they found your article helpful. Sadly, when you allow unrestricted access to your comment feed,  spammers and spam “bots” quickly move in and start taking advantage for their own malicious SEO purposes. Furthermore, if you require every commenter on your blog to sign up, many people will be turned off at the seemingly blatant attempt to “capture” their information for the sake of interaction. So how do you allow easy access to posting comments and prevent the spammers from taking advantage?

Catpchas To The Rescue:

A catpcha is a special field added to a form that prevents automated services from polluting your feeds with filth. The concept is that it requires just a little bit of human thought to answer , preventing automated “bots” from spamming you constantly. We chose to use a simple question in written format that makes sense to any legitimate users, but confuses bots and thwarts spamming attempts by denying them access. There are many different categories of catpchas, some visual, some verbal, and some written.

HumanCaptcha

HumanCaptcha is plugin written by Outerbridge which uses questions that require human logic to answer them and which machines cannot easily answer.  Most captchas are based on the requirement to reproduce a number of randomly-generated characters (which are sometimes blurred, jiggled and/or on a fuzzy background).  HumanCaptcha generates a simple question which the user must answer using logical thought.  HumanCaptcha is much more accessible than standard captchas, which many people find difficult to read or understand.  Visually impaired people are more likely to be able to use HumanCaptcha than a character-based one.

Lock it up!

CAPTCHAs are useful for improving security in a number of situations, for example:

1.    Reducing Comment Spam in Blogs
Most bloggers will have come across programs that submit spam comments, often with the aim of improving the search engine ranking of a website.  By using a CAPTCHA, only humans can enter comments on your blog, and people do not need to sign up before they enter a comment.
2.    Protecting Email Addresses From Scrapers
Spammers crawl the web looking for e-mail addresses rendered in text. CAPTCHAs can hide your e-mail address from web scrapers, by requiring users to solve a CAPTCHA before revealing your e-mail.
3.    Deterring Viruses, Worms and Spam
CAPTCHAs may reduce the likelihood of e-mailed viruses, worms and spam, by only accepting an e-mail if it has been established that there is a human behind the sending computer.




Hollywood Ballroom Dance Center: New Custom Calendar

One of our favorite web clients, the Hollywood Ballroom Dance Center, LLC, has become very creative with the WordPress Ajax Event Calendar plugin.  This plugin is beautifully written and allows detailed entry of color-coded events.  It allows links, images, and maps in the event detail, which show in a modal window.   But because the Hollywood Ballroom Dance Center’s calendar is jam-packed, they needed an adjustment for their clientele.

 

Test Link

Hollywood Ballroom Dance Center using Ajax Event Calendar
hollywoodballroomDC.com uses Ajax Event Calendar

There is always something happening at the Hollywood Ballroom Dance Center.  On any particular day, the calendar may have six or seven entries.  That means that their calendar extends far down on the web page.   And when you are in the middle of the calendar, it’s easy to lose track of where you are.

To improve their user experience, Hollywood Ballroom Dance Center has created a header category to show the day of the week as well as the day number. We suppressed the date numbers that would show in the grid by default to avoid redundancy.  The result is a kinder cleaner experience for their dancers.

Take a glace at this Ajax Event Calendar.  With the color-coded categories, the extensive detail available for each event, and the clarity of presentation, the calendar is working well for the  Hollywood Ballroom Dance Center.  And their customers are so pleased they are doing the happy dance.

 




Graphic Design For The Web: Bridging The Gap

Graphic design has been a specialty of Word Wizards, Inc. since day one. Before we even had our own office, we were offering professional desktop publishing and graphics design for clients. Our team of graphic designers are experts in the latest graphic design technology. As the tools of graphic design have evolved, so has the pool of competition in the graphics design industry. With the dawn of the internet age, finding a good graphics artist is easier than ever, and the fine line between graphic designer and web designer is blurring.

Word Wizards Inc Home Page

Graphics for the Web

Composing graphics for the web is an entirely different animal than traditional graphics design. Graphic design for websites must covey a specific message to a non-specific audience. The balance between quality, detail and data size is always an issue, especially with page speed as a critical factor in modern SEO ratings. Graphic images must be tested for clarity and color in multiple browsers due to discrepancies in the way different software displays images. Possibly the most important factor is the layout and optimization constraints of a website, meaning, the way one organizes graphic information on the web makes all the difference when users are navigating through a website.

A synthesis between graphic arts and web design.
Click to see an example of the perfect fusion between graphic design and web design.

Bridge The Gap

With progress comes new challenges and new opportunities. The world of graphic design and web design is now forever intertwined. It is up to firms like ours to maintain the highest level of quality in our graphic design efforts as the capabilities of design software and the expectations of our clients continue to increase in complexity. Just remember, you always get what you pay for, especially when it comes to graphics. Yes, graphic designers and web designers are now overly common services offered cheaply and globally via the internet. However, an intimate knowledge of how to integrate graphic elements on the web only comes from years of experience and a deep understanding of how users work with the internet.




New Website Launch: Hollywood Ballroom Dance Center

The Word Wizards website design team proudly launched http://hollywoodballroomDC.com/ last week.

Screenshot taken from Hollywood Ballroom Dance Center website designed by Word Wizards, Inc.

Nothing is more satisfying to our team of web developers than the launch of a new website. Just as with our graphic design services, our website design efforts are original and customized each time. Translating business objectives into a functional, optimized, and graphically organized website is a unique challenge each time. It requires a meticulous attention to detail and the requirements of the client. It further requires our web developers to think outside the box and come up with effective solutions to seemingly impossible problems.

Some of the web design challenges we faced and overcame in this project include:

  • Organizing a website with many different components
  • Creating an easy to use navigation bar without sacrificing design or functionality
  • Designing stimulating graphics that convey the message intended by the client
  • Coding of advanced custom features, i.e. a calendar that can be easily modified, and a side bar that “floats”
  • Making sure the website functions properly on several different browsers

Word Wizards would like to congratulate our client on the successful new launch of this website. We invite you to explore this web page as an example of our extensive capabilities as a website development firm. If you reside in the DC metro area and you would like to learn how to dance, or rent a big space to host an event, we strongly recommend that you stop by The Hollywood Ballroom Dance Center and take a look around.




The Joys of Dropbox

I’ve been late to the party most of my life, so it’s no surprise to me that I’ve only now discovered Dropbox, while I’m sure the rest of the world has moved onto the Next Big Thing. But that’s okay, I’m here to tell you that I’ve spent a fair amount of time flailing about the Cloud to no avail. Mostly I’ve been working through Apple’s buggy MobileMe service, which Apple converted to iCloud when they updated Mac OS X late this summer. But it has its limitations with our despotic router, mostly with reliability. I keep asking myself this question: if I go home without today’s work on a flash drive, can I get to my data at work if something comes up? The answer always seems to be, “Possibly, but probably not tonight.”

Similarly, I’ll inevitably forget some—or all—of my work at home and rather than have to go home and get it, I’d really like to be able to log into my computer at home and retrieve the data. But the answer to the question, “Can I log onto my Mac at home through Back to My Mac?” is a fairly steady, “No.” Our router does not allow shenanigans of this nature. Honestly, this router would be right at home leading a large, Central-European country in the 1930s (whose ancestors are also famous for sacking Rome, probably because there was nothing on TV that night).

There are plenty of solutions. Most corporate entities employ some form of VPN scheme, but that usually means having to configure your router and employ VPN clients, which is an allocation of IT resources that doesn’t make sense when all you did was foolishly forget your work at home. I imagine I could enable my iMac at home to allow me to tunnel in via SSH (all Macs are essentially Unix boxes at heart) and retrieve the data that way if I had to. But ick. And asking our router to do anything it doesn’t want to do is like asking Queen Latifah if she likes girls or boys: it’s apparently none of my business.

Enter Dropbox. The beauty of this software is that a) it exists on multiple computing platforms, meaning Mac, Windows, mobile operating systems, even Linux; and b) it’s free. It’s like having your data on a flash drive that you can access from any of your computers or mobile devices, but that you don’t have to put in your pocket. Dropbox, in short, means never having your data put through the laundry.

I could take space up here describing what it is, but the Dropbox folks do it better (which saves me from having to do it at all). Suffice to say that it’s changing my life. And it’s saving my company money: I think I may have put our last flash drive through the wash.

 




Web Design: There’s No I in Team

Web design in its various forms has become big business around the world. From the most basic amateur pages to complex multilevel corporate projects, producing a website always depends on the resources, requirements, and time constraints of the individual. The lower end web design projects are moving increasingly towards automatic content management systems; where users can pick a template, customize and in a very short time create a functional website. At Word Wizards we focus more on custom solutions for our clients, nothing we do here is “cookie cutter” and each project we take on results in a professional quality, fully integrated, web solution.

Sounds cool, right?… But what does it take to design and implement a professional grade website? It takes a team effort, and specifically, it requires a team of unique individuals, each with their own expertise in various aspects of web design. We have noticed that there are usually three “gurus” required to make a web design project effective. These three flavors of design experts each focus on a different critical aspect of the web design process, and work together to ensure that the three top priorities of website development are handled with expert care.

The three main things to manage when creating a new website are, functionality, appearance, and implementation. Functionality is responsible for making sure that the structural design effectively satisfies the intended function of the website and creates an effective, non-confusing user experience. Appearance takes structure and functional organization and translates it into a graphic design that is visually appealing to the users and consistent with the brand and intended purpose of the client. Implementation is the back-end guts of the website; which includes all the coding, hosting, domain support, CMS workflow, and database support.

The Functional Expert

Generally, this is a person who really understands the way individuals use the internet for different purposes. This individual is responsible for creating a structure that provides easy access to all the important information. In addition, this web expert must understand and manage the constraints of SEO and weave them into the fabric of the page from the beginning. Possibly the most important role of the functional web designer is the creation of a user friendly workflow, providing a user experience that works for the intended purpose of the website and doesn’t confuse any less than savvy internet users.

The Appearance Expert

To transform conceptual structure and theoretical workflow into visual form takes the expertise of a master graphic designer. This expert must know how to utilize advanced graphic design software and create visual components from scratch that will be used to create the physical appearance of a web page. It is the responsibility of this person to come up with an exciting and effective visual experience for the users, making sure that everything is in plain sight, and being creative with the way everything will look, while still maintaining functional integrity.

The Implementation Expert

Sometimes known as the “webmaster” or, in our office, “the code warrior!” This individual is gifted with an intimate knowledge of the ever evolving world of programming languages. The functional and visual elements of a website are mute if you can not host it, integrate it, and keep it working smoothly. When designing a new website, this person holds the reigns, because all of the work your team produces will reflect their level of talent and proficiency. It is this person’s responsibility to put your plans into action, keep the web page updated, and hard code any interactive or data driven elements into a functional machine known as a web page.

Thus, we have created a trifecta of experts, but there is still one person missing from the team…

The beloved SUPERVISOR. Yes, its is the supervisor that truly brings it all together. This person doesn’t need to be an expert at any one function, but the they must have a working knowledge of all of components of the website and coordinate between the various members of the design team. This person is responsible for organization, cross coordination, and managing the needs of the client as reflected by the design and capabilities of the team.

So now you know what it takes, and if you don’t think you can squeeze it all by yourself, the Word Wizards Web Design Team is here to give you a helping hand!




Word Wizards Inc: New Website Launch

After over a year of development, Word Wizards Inc. is prepared to launch our brand new website. 100% of this website has been developed in-house by our highly skilled web design team. New design, new content, and new services are just some of the highlights of this important step for our organization’s future. We invite our clients and interested readers to explore our site and let us know what you think.

 


After!

 

Enjoy, and remember, we can do the same for your business too!

 




Word Wizards Now On GSA

 





After 2 years of applications, tests, reviews, and countless hours, Word Wizards Inc. is proud to announce our acceptance to the highly revered GSA (U.S. General Services Administration) schedule network. Getting approved for the GSA is no small task, and we are extremely grateful to the kind people at GSA that assisted us during the process. Now that we have been awarded GSA status, we are poised and ready to reach out to potential new clients and continue to grow our business. Visit our GSA page for details about our schedule, SIN #s, and anything else related to GSA projects.

 




Word Wizards Moves to Silver Spring

In March of 2011, Word Wizards Inc. finalized the move to a new Headquarters location on 16th street in Silver Spring, Maryland. The new office is bigger, better, and more efficient, utilizing the most advanced technology to maximize the effectiveness of our workspace.

Our new office building in Silver Spring, MD

When the business first opened in Bethesda, Maryland, we were located at 7900 Wisconsin Avenue. Originally, Word Wizards shared office space with another business in the same building. Within a short time, the organization grew to occupy an entire suite of our own.

Our former office building in Bethesda, Maryland

Word Wizards has continued to grow over the years and made the decision to move into a bigger office in the winter of 2010. As anyone who has moved an office knows, it was a big investment in time and energy. Now our staff has settled in, and we have begun a new phase of growth, development, and innovation here in our new home.