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Advanced Business Card Designs

The design industry is an ever changing ecosystem of innovative and creative ideas. In an environment that is so constantly in flux its essential to stand out. At Elemental Studios we understand that first impressions are critical and the need to make an impact as soon as you meet a new potential client is extremely important. The first thing we tend to provide a new interested clients is our business cards, so why hand then something everyone else has? Just as the graphic design industry evolves so does the printing industry. Today you can find printing techniques that were unavailable prior or just extremely expensive.

Our design team is seasoned in creating options that incorporate the latest in printing techniques, such as Clear (Acrylic) Business Cards:  (Some images provided by www.plasmadesign.co.uk)





Or how about these metal cards: (Some images provided by www.plasmadesign.co.uk)




Other incredible new printing options include wooden cards, leather cards, turf cards (Actual TURF!) and various other unique materials. Call our studio today and speak with a design coordinator to find out what options would be best for your business and start creating and impact today.



A Map of Who’s Got the Best (And Worst) Internet Connections in America

A Map of Who’s Got the Best (And Worst) Internet Connections in America

In the digital age, access to high speed internet is fundamentally important. But some regions of the country are still left out in the cold. We took a look at where you can get the best—and not best—internet in the U.S.

In an interview this February, Susan Crawford–former special assistant to President Obama for science, technology and innovation–summed up the state of America’s slow, expensive internet thusly:

The rich are getting gouged, the poor are very often left out, and this means that we’re creating, yet again, two Americas, and deepening inequality through this communications inequality.

Where can we find these two Americas? The map above shows relative download speeds (by congressional district*) across the contiguous U.S., based on January through July data from over 5,600 cities and towns represented in Ookla’s Net Index. Blue means a faster download speed than the national average of 18.2 Mbps, while red means a slower download speed.

18.2 Mbps isn’t shabby, and it’s a lot faster than where some other sources put U.S. internet speeds. This is because Ookla’s data are primarily coming from the site Speedtest.net, which is self-selectively used by people who’d actually bother to check their download speeds. On one hand, this means that the raw Mbps figures are heavily skewed towards high-speed users. On the other hand, it means that the relative comparison between regions is a lot more interesting – instead of simply mapping out what parts of the country haven’t fully switched away from dial-up, this is showing, for users who are at least somewhat internet-savvy, where good speeds are generally available.

Basically, these data show where getting a fast internet connection is even possible.

The Fastest and Slowest

The fastest single location, with an average download speed of 85.5 Mbps belongs to Ephrata, Wash., a small town of 7,000 that happens to be home to its own fiber optics provider. Google’s grand experiment in Kansas City, Kan. comes in second, clocking in at 49.9 Mbps. The worst speeds can be found in Northeastern Arizona, where Chinle and Fort Defiance both clock in at less than 1.5 Mbps. For a complete list of cities and towns by speed click here, or check them out on the map below.

Extended Borders

The kernel density map below smooths this data out a bit, with each pixel colored by the average internet speed, relative to 18.2 Mbps, within a surrounding 200-mile radius (weighted by distance). The metropolitan Northeast, Florida, and most of Arizona come in pretty strong, while the enormous internet hole called Montana is pinned between the techy Northwest and the suddenly oil-rich North Dakota.

A Map of Who's Got the Best (And Worst) Internet Connections in America

Income vs. Speed

As to Browning’s point, this “communications inequality” probably has a lot more to do with income than it does with pure geography. The map below, on the same relative-to-the-national-average scale, shows median income by congressional district based on 2011 American Community Survey Census data, which we then correlated with download speed. No surprises here, the more money you live around, the faster speeds you have access to.

A Map of Who's Got the Best (And Worst) Internet Connections in America

Population Density vs. Speed

Population density may have a less linear effect – while rural areas are less likely to get high-speed coverage, dense cities may see that coverage slowed by heavy use. Density by congressional district is plotted below, but the correlation (polynomial, based on our hypothesis) wasn’t as strong as income.

A Map of Who's Got the Best (And Worst) Internet Connections in America

In an economy that is increasingly internet-driven, speed matters. It’s nice to think that Google will eventually fiber-up the U.S. out of the goodness of its heart, but until useful internet is recognized as an essential public good– like highways, or electricity –the rich will just keep getting richer.

*Congressional districts may seem like an odd choice, but it’s the only census-linked, nationally comprehensive geography that fills the awkward gap in grain between states (50) and counties (3,144).

The science behind fonts (and how they make you feel)

By , Monday, 23 Dec ’13 , 06:25pm  ||  http://thenextweb.com



Mikael Cho is the co-founder of ooomf, a network that connects short-term software projects with handpicked developers and designers. Mikael writes about psychology, startups, and product marketing over on the ooomf blog.

I’ve noticed how seemingly small things like font and the spacing between letters can impact how I feel when reading online.

The right font choice along with the absence of sidebars and popups makes everything feel easier and better to read.

Websites like MediumSignal vs. Noise, and Zen Habits are like yoga studios for content. Their presentation of content puts me at peace while reading, allowing me to fully focus on the stories without distraction.

Just look at the difference between Medium and Cracked:

Exhibit A) Medium.com

medium 730x600 The science behind fonts (and how they make you feel)

Exhibit B) Cracked.com

cracked 730x600 The science behind fonts (and how they make you feel)

When you compare the two, it’s obvious which one makes you feel like crud.

The Cracked layout is painful to look at. Your eyes squint and dart, constantly second-guessing what you’re reading now with what you should be reading next.

After experimenting with how we display content on the ooomf blog, I discovered there’s an element of science behind why we feel this way toward certain typefaces and layouts.

How we read

When we read, our eyes follow a natural pattern called a Scan Path.

We break sentences up into scans (saccades) and pauses (fixations). Here’s theScan Path for a typical reader:

fixation saccade 730x239 The science behind fonts (and how they make you feel)

Your eyes typically move across a page for between 7 to 9 letters before needing to pause to process what you’re reading. As you scan a sentence, no useful visual processing is happening in your brain. Visual processing is completely dependent upon the information taken in when you pause.

So why does this matter? Understanding the way we read is important for designing how words look because you can directly impact someone’s connection to your writing with the right font and layout.

Why the right font layout makes you feel good

When I set out to write this post, I wasn’t sure I’d find scientific backing for why we feel a certain way toward certain fonts.

I thought choosing font was mostly art, with a sprinkle of science.

That was until I came across a study by psychologist Kevin Larson. Larson has spent his career researching typefaces and recently conducted a landmark study at MIT about how font and layout affect our emotions.

In the study, 20 volunteers – half men and half women – were separated into two groups. Each group was shown a separate version of The New Yorker – one where the image placement, font, and layout were designed well and one where the layout was designed poorly:

good bad The science behind fonts (and how they make you feel)

The researchers found that readers felt bad while reading the poorly designed layout. Sometimes, this feeling would be expressed physically with a frown.

The corrugator supercilii facial muscles that help produce a frown have been linked to the amygdala, an area of your brain responsible for emotion.

Meanwhile, the participants who read content from the good reading layout, felt like it took less time to read and felt better.

People exposed to the well-designed layout were found to have higher cognitive focus, more efficient mental processes, and a stronger sense of clarity.

The researchers concluded that well-designed reading environments don’t necessarily help you understand what you’re reading better, but they do make you feel good, causing you to feel inspired and more likely to take action.

Culture impacts your preference for fonts

One explanation for why some fonts make you feel a certain way is because of deep links in culture.

For instance, Courier fonts were designed to resemble old memos written on type writers:

courier inside The science behind fonts (and how they make you feel)

Many people relate Helvetica with the US Government because it’s used in tax forms.

These associations are difficult to remove and should be considered when deciding on a font choice. Here’s how Bank of America’s website would look with the Impact font associated with News headlines:

Original Bank of America website:
Screen Shot 2013 12 11 at 4.36.18 PM 730x555 The science behind fonts (and how they make you feel)

Bank of America website with Impact font (associated with newspaper headlines):
Screen Shot 2013 12 11 at 4.37.11 PM 730x545 The science behind fonts (and how they make you feel)

When the fonts are changed to Impact, Bank of America doesn’t exactly seem trustworthy.

Because fonts are designed by humans, there is usually some meaning attached to them. You don’t want to choose a font that is easily associated with something in our culture that’s markedly different than the vibe you’re trying to give off.

How to design better content

The quality of your content is the most important thing but how you present that content by choosing the right font and layout still has it’s place.

As French poet Paul Claudel put it, “The secret of type is that it speaks.”

So how can you design your words to help elicit positive feelings in people? Here’s a few techniques from typography experts that you might find useful:

1. Choose an anchor font

Type designer Jessica Hische recommends first selecting a typeface for the content that is most prevalent in your project (most likely your body copy).

This will be the typeface that you base your other font decisions on like headlines and subheads.

There’s four main categories of fonts to choose from:

Serif Fonts – Letters with short lines coming off the edges. Viewed as more formal and traditional. Best suited for print.

serif sansserif The science behind fonts (and how they make you feel)

  • Sans-serif Fonts – Letters without serifs. Viewed as informal and playful. Best suited for digital.
  • Script Fonts – Resembles handwriting and often used in formal invitations. Not ideal for body copy.
  • Decorative Fonts – Informal fonts viewed as original. Best suited for headlines but not body copy.

For reading on the Web, it’s best to stay away from script or decorative typefaces. Most Script and Decorative fonts have low legibility which slows down your reading because you are busy trying to figure out what letters are.

You don’t want your readers asking, “was that an ‘a’ or an ‘e’” every word.

If you’re scrunching your eyes trying to figure out a word that’s a signal that your brain is dedicating unnecessary energy to identifying words.

Decorative typefaces should be used for content that is meant to be seen at a glance, like in a logo, rather than read as multiple paragraphs in body text.

When choosing a font for body text, it’s usually best to stick with a Serif font or Sans-serif font.

Some typography experts recommend sans-serif fonts for reading online because the quality of screen resolutions is less than in print. But, as screen resolutions dramatically improve, Serif fonts are becoming easier to read on the Web. Content-heavy websites like Medium use a Serif font (probably to give off the vibe of a print editorial).

The most important thing with choosing a font is to make sure the letters are easily decipherable from one another so your readers don’t have to spend precious mental energy identifying letters.

There’s a trick that Hische uses to make sure your font choice is a good one. She recommends that you make your fonts pass the Il1 test:

Il1 730x482 The science behind fonts (and how they make you feel)

2. Pick a font size bigger than 12pt

In 1929, a study was conducted called the “Hygiene of reading.” One thing researchers were trying to determine was which font size would be best for reading. The study looked at 6pt, 8pt, 10pt, 12pt, and 14pt type sizes.

The researchers concluded that a font size of 10pt font is the most efficient for reading but a lot has changed in how we consume content today compared to the 1920s.

However, as more reading shifts to digital and screen resolutions improve, the way we read content is changing. Many designers mention that 16pt font is the new 12pt font. A recent study has also shown that larger font sizes can elicit a stronger emotional connection.

Medium has one of my favorite reading environments online and they use a 22pt font size. Several of my other favorite websites have adopted a font size over 20pt for their content:

  • Medium – 22pt
  • 37Signals: Signal vs. Noise – 22pt
  • Zen Habits – 21pt

While having a huge font over 30pt most likely wouldn’t make sense, many blogs have font in the 10pt-12pt range. Try increasing your font size. If you’re using 12pt font, try increasing to 16pt font. If you’re using 18pt font increase to 22pt.

You can feel the difference.

3. Watch your line length

The line length is how far your sentences stretch across the page. The ideal line length should be between about 50 to 75 characters.

Here’s an example of the longest line length from Zen Habits. It’s 78 characters, about 6.5 inches:

zen habits The science behind fonts (and how they make you feel)

This line length has been shown to be most effective in helping readers move through their Scan Path.

If the line length is too short, your reader’s rhythm will break because their eyes must travel back to the left of the page too often.

A line length that is too long makes it hard to find where lines of text start and end. It can make it difficult for your reader to get to the next line without accidentally jumping to the wrong place.

Research shows that your subconscious mind gets a boost of energy when jumping to a new line (as long as it doesn’t happen too often) but this energy dwindles as you read over the duration of the line.

Here’s the line lengths from the sites mentioned above:

  • Medium – 75 characters
  • 37Signals: Signal vs. Noise – 76 characters
  • Zen Habits – 78 characters

4. Mind your spacing

Adequate spacing between letters is important for your readers to be able to move through sentences fluidly. The tighter your letters are together, the harder it is for people to identify the shapes that make up different letterforms.

Take a look at another example from Jessica Hische of the readability of Helvetica versus Avenir. Hische recommends Avenir because of its more open spacing:

13 730x303 The science behind fonts (and how they make you feel)

Proper spacing makes your readers feel good. Here’s 5 recommended font combinations from Google Web Fonts that have good spacing for reading long blocks of content.

I decided to put these tips into practice with our ooomf email newsletter campaign. Here’s a comparison between our original campaign and our new design:

email campaign comparison 730x453 The science behind fonts (and how they make you feel)

By changing the font and increasing it’s size, our email content felt much better.

Packaging content the right way is important and knowing why we feel the way we do about the look of content will hopefully help next time you design content for a project. As Aarron Walter, author of Designing for Emotion, writes,

“People will forgive shortcomings, follow your lead, and sing your praises if you reward them with positive emotion.”

It’s important to remember that while there is a science connected to how your words are designed, no amount of good design can save bad content.

Write well first. Design well second.