Behind the Scenes: A Day on the River

In preparing for our first annual company retreat in the mountains of East Tennessee, we were sure to suit up with multiple GoPros and accompanying apparati. The result? An up-close-and-personal perspective of the awesomeness that ensued.

3 Basic Ingredients to Setting up a Failover Server

Last week the Focus Lab website went down, along with some clients’ sites. It wasn’t just a simple, brief outage. The shortest outage was just past 10 hours; the longest was around 42 hours. That’s a long time for a site to be down. We were able to restore a few of them by deploying the version-controlled files to another environment and updating the DNS records to point to the new environment. But in each of those cases we were technically deploying an older version of the database, which isn’t ideal.

This experience helped nudge me toward a more automated approach to setting up a failover server. This isn’t just about having a back every X number of hours. This is about automating a response to downtime that is longer than acceptable.

How We Do: Custom Lettering

Hey, I’m Will. I am helping capture moments at Focus Lab. The special moments, like at the recent inaugural company retreat, as well as the everyday moments of creative magic. Like this one.

Table of Contents


Best in Show: Bill’s Faves from the Design World 10/22

I am constantly blown away by how much talent there is within the design community. I’ve gathered and listed below some awesome work from this week’s web trolling. Huge props to these designers and the work they are putting out. I’ve categorized my picks below.

2 days ago - by Bill Kenney

We Go Places: Brand New Conference

I had the amazing opportunity to go to the Brand New Conference a few weeks ago in Chicago. I have special ties to Chicago, as it’s my birthplace. But my parents relocated when I was very young, so it was really great to explore the city as an adult.

1 week ago - by Sam Stratton

Portfolio: Our Work on JibJab Messages

Update: JibJab Messages app featured on the Today show. If you’ve been on the internet at all in the past 15 years then you are well aware of who JibJab is. If not, then you have been missing out big time. (Go do your homework at JibJab.com and StoryBots.com.) Well, 2014 has ROCKED. In large part, that’s due to the fact that we’ve been working with the entertainment godzilla JibJab–first on branding and then on their new mobile app, JibJab Messages, a new nerdy GIF–sharing, selfie–capturing messaging tool that makes your daily existence and communication mo-better.

1 week ago - by Bill Kenney

Portfolio: WP Ninjas

From the beginning of the WP Ninjas branding project, I was really excited to start working on this. The clients were super cool and very trusting. They gave us some great direction and then free creative range to work our magic. Based on their initial feedback, one of the things that I found most important when building the mark was the fact that they were so community-driven. WP Ninjas creates a variety of Wordpress plugins that people can use to implement on their site and customize to their liking, so when a problem came to the forefront people would shoot them emails of how to fix or change something they had questions about. This is where they would step up to the plate and respond to each and every email that came through. So keeping this in mind, we both agreed that the best approach to this would be to have something that was friendly, functional, and trustworthy.

2 weeks ago - by Jonathan Howell

Snapshot: This Week in Photos 9/30

Another two weeks, another snapshot. Last time we’d started a few new projects, launched a new site, and enjoyed some giggles (which is par for the course around these parts). We’ve had progress ‘up in hur.’

3 weeks ago - by Alicja Colon

Behind the Scenes: A Day on the River

In preparing for our first annual company retreat in the mountains of East Tennessee, we were sure to suit up with multiple GoPros and accompanying apparati. The result? An up-close-and-personal perspective of the awesomeness that ensued.

on September 22, 2014 - by William Kesling

Snapshot: This Week in Photos 9/18

New projects are a plenty over here at Focus Lab. Be sure to stay tuned as we start sharing the process from discovery to launch.

on September 18, 2014 - by Alicja Colon

3 Basic Ingredients to Setting up a Failover Server

Last week the Focus Lab website went down, along with some clients’ sites. It wasn’t just a simple, brief outage. The shortest outage was just past 10 hours; the longest was around 42 hours. That’s a long time for a site to be down. We were able to restore a few of them by deploying the version-controlled files to another environment and updating the DNS records to point to the new environment. But in each of those cases we were technically deploying an older version of the database, which isn’t ideal. This experience helped nudge me toward a more automated approach to setting up a failover server. This isn’t just about having a back every X number of hours. This is about automating a response to downtime that is longer than acceptable.

on September 17, 2014 - by Erik Reagan

How We Do: Custom Lettering

Hey, I’m Will. I am helping capture moments at Focus Lab. The special moments, like at the recent inaugural company retreat, as well as the everyday moments of creative magic. Like this one.

on August 19, 2014 - by William Kesling

The Big Reveal: Clique Hits the App Store

After blood, sweat, and tears–and to much fanfare–we’re announcing the beta release of our first app, Charlie Waite’s baby: Clique. It’s available today in the App Store! Introducing a revolutionary way to share and connect with people. Manage and grow your contacts through this user-friendly platform and up-to-the-minute cloud synced personal and professional contact information.

on August 14, 2014 - by Summer Teal Simpson

Portfolio: Orange PR & Marketing

It’s not often that we get to work with local clients. When we do, it tends to be a pretty awesome company. If there’s anything we’ve learned it’s that great people = fun project. Orange PR & Marketing, new to Savannah in 2014, was TOTALLY awesome and fun. Here’s a peek at the final product.

on August 12, 2014 - by Summer Teal Simpson

How We Do: Retreat Wrap Up

If you follow us on social media, you are well aware of our recent, first annual, weeklong company retreat to the East Tennessee mountains. An amazing week filled with adventure, shenanigans, team building, and a little food poisoning, here is a person-by-person recap of the incredible week spent together. For a comprehensive recap, scroll down to Kellie’s entry, which captures play-by-play of the week.

on August 5, 2014 - by Summer Teal Simpson

High Fives: Focus Lab Featured at How Design/Logolounge.com

Admittedly, I am a little late to the party. So many of you may already know that several Focus Lab designs were named at this year’s HOW Design Live Conference in Bill Gardner’s 2014 Design Trends Report. If you missed it, be sure to read all about it on Logolounge.com.

on July 31, 2014 - by Summer Teal Simpson

Spotlight: The Client’s Perspective

We recently finished branding work for Druid, an open-source data store that handles real time data ingestions and real time interactive queries. Awesome client, awesome product.

on July 29, 2014 - by Summer Teal Simpson

Spotlight: Shub

Hiya. I’m Shabnam, a relatively new Focus Lab addition, in a project management seat. Well, on a ball, to be precise.

on July 24, 2014 - by Shabnam Gideon

A day at the office

I wanted to share a quick video one of our newest team members created. You’ll get a more formal introduction to him in the coming weeks. For now, check out one of the first videos he’s made at Focus Lab. There will be much more to come!

on July 22, 2014 - by Erik Reagan

How We Do: Diversity in Design

Since starting here at Focus Lab, I’ve had the opportunity to work on a bunch of different things, like e-newsletters, icons, a complete brand refresh, and a little bit of user interface design. This is something that I’m grateful for–being able to work on different deliverables gives people the opportunity to explore different approaches to design and they are able to find things they are good at or enjoy doing. Since joining the team, I’ve begun to have this overwhelming love for creating icons. I am not the best at them so I’ve been taking notes from Matt Yow and Charlie Waite. I can tell that my skills have improved in the past four months.

on July 15, 2014 - by Jonathan Howell

After Hours: Kellie’s Top 5 Movies (of all time)

Let me start with how much I appreciate film. I studied film in college, worked at the Great Movie Ride at Disney where I spent days spieling movie facts, had the entire Blockbuster library at my disposal while working through college, and have had the awesome opportunity to work on a few films. I love the medium. I love film history. I have such a broad appreciation for film, from the early black and whites (including silent films), up to today’s CGI-laden action/sci-fi’s (lens flare).

on July 10, 2014 - by Kellie Groover

After Hours: Jonathan’s Favorite Podcasts

While the rest of my coworkers are currently working on Top 5 Favorite Albums and Top 5 Favorite Films series, I thought I’d tackle what I spend most of my days listening to: Podcasts.

on July 8, 2014 - by Jonathan McGaha

After Hours: Rocky’s Top 10 Favorite Movies!

While enjoying a recent movie marathon, I decided to compile my top 10 favorite movies of all time. Truth is, I could probably write up a top 100 list but this is a good start. Every single one of these movies carries with it memories. Not just the memory of what happens within the movie but what happens before, during, and after sitting down to watch it.

on July 3, 2014 - by Rocky Roark

Business in Marriage: The Third Spouse

I’ve been married for seven years, a father for six of those years. My bride and I have experienced commitments and limitations of employment, transition to entrepreneurialism and the stresses inherent, financial hardships, and the joys of growing a business. We’ve disagreed. We’ve fought. We’ve resolved. We’ve learned. We’ve taught. We’ve grown. We’ve been on quite the journey over this relatively short span of time. A significant part of our journey has been learning to build and maintain a healthy marriage while also learning to build and maintain a healthy business. One of those is hard enough on its own. But doing both?! Mission impossible? I don’t think so.

on June 26, 2014 - by Erik Reagan

After Hours: Gaming

We all have our hobbies. We all have that certain something we turn to once we punch out for the day. Some people enjoy baking cookies, flexing at the pool, knitting scarfs to re-runs of jeopardy, or lip syncing Wu Tang. For me, that certain something is hopping online and getting waist-deep in decapitated bodies (and lip syncing Wu Tang). Totally have your attention now, don’t I?

on June 24, 2014 - by Myles Kedrowski

Rustbelt Refresh

Two weeks ago I made the 40 minute trek north to Cleveland to take part in the second annual Rustbelt Refresh. Rustbelt is a one-day web design and development conference expertly put on by the Cleveland Web Standards Association headed up by Brad Colbow, Brad Dielman, and Bridget Stewart. Here is a rundown on the talks and my personal takeaways.

on June 19, 2014 - by Jonathan McGaha

Spotlight: 2014 Color Run

You may have noticed from previous tweets and journal posts. We like to have fun as a team. Fun things are more funner with more peoples. Hence, team fun-ness occurs. Back in March we ran in a local 5k to support the March of Dimes, an organization I have a particular connection to after my daughter was born prematurely. After that event we knew we had to do other races and runs in the future. Almost immediately we had our sights set on The Happiest 5k on the Planet, otherwise knows as The Color Run.

on June 13, 2014 - by Erik Reagan

Bookshelf: The Strategic Designer & Designing Type

This past month I read two books, one on brand strategy and the other on typography. We are in the midst of refining our branding process again, so I thought the first book would help further that internal discussion. At the beginning of the year, Bill and I discussed my goal of furthering my knowledge of type. Hence, the second book.

on June 12, 2014 - by Rocky Roark

Lifestyle | Weightloss Journey

Last year after our big office party, I came to the realization that I wasn’t happy with myself and how I had let my weight get out of control again in my life. I remember saying to myself, “Hey! You’ve got your dream job, but what about the life you have always wanted?” At that moment I decided that I wanted to make some real life changes.

on June 5, 2014 - by Rocky Roark

How We Do: Team Focus Lab!

Two weeks ago we had a full house at Focus Lab HQ…for the whole week! It’s amazing to see the office energy surge when the whole Focus fam is in town. We did miss a couple peeps that week… Alicja Colon and Matt Blackwell… just know we cracked one open for you.

on May 27, 2014 - by Kellie Groover

Spotlight: Branding Bear Joins the Team

Here’s a quick little introduction story about me and how I got to where I am sitting now (if I’m really even sitting, you’ll never know). Hopefully my little half-wit story will spark some interest with you, so here it goes.

on May 22, 2014 - by Jonathan Howell

Special Events: Focus Lab Streams TEDxCC

TEDxCC is a hot event this year! Ticket sales quickly sold out to the event at the Jepson Center. Our team at Focus Lab waited too long to purchase tickets, so instead we’ll be viewing the live stream instead from our office. We wanted to invite our friends who may have missed out on tickets for the live event!

on May 21, 2014 - by Summer Teal Simpson

Portfolio: Fynder

Once we’ve successfully completed a branding project, we like to do a little something special for the client. Often times, client gifts involve new “gear” imprinted with their freshly designed brand experience. But before we ship these goodies, we like to capture the essence of the project and client in an internal photoshoot led by resident photographer Alicja Colon. In the below shoot, I modeled with the branded yoga mat and water bottle, appropriate props for a British web booking platform. We were in love with this client. And how well this gradient mark came out.

on May 20, 2014 - by Summer Teal Simpson

How We Do: We Meditate

Well, some of us do. We might not do it every day, and we definitely don’t do it right at the scheduled time of 11 a.m. But, hey, we’re doing it.

on May 15, 2014 - by Shabnam Gideon

Standards: Keep it Simple

Of all the amazing standards that hang on our wall, this is the one that echoes in my mind: keep it simple. It applies to Focus Lab in obvious ways: we observe a simple design aesthetic; we streamline processes to only what is needed; we look to build and grow simple, honest relationships with our clients; we 86 the bullshit.

on May 8, 2014 - by Summer Teal Simpson

Original Art: Oreos

Can I tell you a secret? This project manager doesn’t like Gantt charts. Sure, I seem to fall on the side of organized over chaotic, but that outer shell isn’t my flavor.

on May 6, 2014 - by Alicja Colon

GIFs speak louder than words

Chances are, If you’re reading this blog, you’ve used a GIF in the past week or two. Our industry is no stranger to communicating with animated GIFs or otherwise fun images. It’s not an officially policy around here, but most of our team members have taken it upon themselves to build up a library of such images for use in daily conversation. Suffice it to say we’ve seen our fair share of conversations in GIF form.

on May 2, 2014 - by Erik Reagan

We Go Places: Creative South Conference

A few weeks ago, eleven of the Focus Lab team members caravaned to quaint, historic Columbus, Ga., for the 2014 Creative South design conference. The five-day trip was an expo of some of the industry’s most talented creatives, a well-planned networking opportunity, as well as a chance for some team building and sightseeing. We came; we saw; we laughed; we ate, drank, and were merry. Thanks to Mike Jones, Daniel Severns, and the whole Creative South team. Our hats off to you for a fantastic experience. We look forward to next year.

on May 1, 2014 - by Summer Teal Simpson

How We Do: Working Remotely

I’ve worked remotely for the better part of a decade, so I’ve seen the good, the bad, and totally terrible side of it. It takes a certain type of person to work remotely. You have to be a self starter, focused, excel at time management, and be immune to distractions. Don’t have these qualities? Neither did I when I first started out.

on April 29, 2014 - by Charlie Waite

Standards: Make it Better

Make it Better (seen above) is one of the eight core standards that we have at Focus Lab. When we first reviewed these standards as a team, my mind went back to one of the most meaningful essays I have ever read, Merlin Mann’s Better. Better was written in 2008 and came to me at a time when I was stuck professionally. I’d been at a job for many years and I struggled against the flow of that daily routine. Around me, others were content with what they knew about their jobs and methodologies. Meanwhile I dealt with a feeling of professional inadequacy. I didn’t have anyone pushing me, telling me to do better, or to learn more. I was just stuck.

on April 25, 2014 - by Jonathan McGaha

Original Art: Holga Patina

Everyone has a side project. Even if you don’t know it. Maybe you find yourself washing dishes all the time. That’s a helpful and productive side project.

on April 22, 2014 - by Matt Yow

After Hours: In the Garden

Spring has sprung in Savannah and, with it, the beginning of my gardening season. I am by no means Farmer Rocky; after taking a year off of having a backyard garden, I am throwing my hat into the ring once again.

on April 17, 2014 - by Rocky Roark

Musings: The Trendy Slippery Slope

I often ponder the industry that we are in and how it operates. My recent thoughts have lead me to speculate about trends. I’ve noticed that the design industry gets caught up with trends. I understand where they come from and why they exist, but at what point do they become detrimental to our work? Is work of poor quality if it doesn’t “trend” on Behance or dribbble?

on April 15, 2014 - by Sam Stratton

Spotlight: Myles in Minneapolis

I’ve restarted this blog post now probably half a dozen times. Each with mildly entertaining introductions about stories from my past. And as the night progressed, I found it unnecessary to talk about how I grew up in a town of less than 300. Or to explain how my high school years were spent in a van with four other smelly dudes playing music. I thought it was counter—productive to ramble about how my best friends and I skipped junior prom to play Splinter Cell until the sun came up. Chugging Mountain Dew until we went into cardiac arrest. I thought to myself, “No one wants to hear about how the majority of your childhood was spent effectively avoiding security guards while on a skateboard.” I then took a step back and realized being grown up isn’t half as fun as growing up, and if I wanted to keep this short and to the point I had better fast-forward 20 years. So here’s the post I decided to write…

on April 8, 2014 - by Myles Kedrowski

Spotlight: Kellie, Take 3

Hey there, hi there, ho there! I’m Kellie Groover, one of the newbies here in Focus Lab Land. I’m the behind-the-scenes office lady, resident mouseketeer, backstage manager, special forces teammate, pretty much whatever-I-can-do-to-make-everyone’s-life-easier, go-to gal. Think of me as a fairy godmother for the Focus Lab team.

on April 8, 2014 - by Kellie Groover

We Go Places: Creative South Speakers

We’re pumped about speaking as a team at the Creative South Conference. Four of us will take the stage at this awesome design conference to talk about the moving parts that we’ve needed during our rapid growth over a three year trajectory.

on April 3, 2014 - by Bill Kenney

Portfolio: PinkBlush Maternity

PinkBlush is an online-exclusive maternity and fashion wear boutique based out of California. They’ve been serving up tasteful and sincere clothing for several years without a tailored brand image. That’s where we came in. We rebranded PinkBlush with a purpose that really sets them apart and positions them well on their continued path of growth.

on April 1, 2014 - by Matt Yow

Erik Reagan, COME ON DOWN: Our co-founder’s adventure on The Price is Right

Erik’s traveling and otherwise slammed with work or else he’d be reporting this to our blogosphere directly. And, well, we just couldn’t contain ourselves any longer from sharing this awesome announcement. Our very own Erik Reagan got to compete last month on none other than The Price is Right (aired 3/28)!!!

on April 1, 2014 - by Summer Teal Simpson

Bookshelf: Dale Carnegie Collection

One of my goals for 2014 is to reignite an old passion for reading, one that fell dormant in college when I was forced to read textbooks and the dreaded poetry. (Queue music from Psycho.) I started this year off right and finished one book within the first few days of the new year. I kicked off with How to Win Friends and Influence People by the amazing author, Mr. Dale Carnegie. Here I will discuss my reading of both this and another book that carries his name (though wasn’t written by him), Make Yourself Unforgettable: How to Become the Person Everyone Remembers and No One Can Resist.

on March 26, 2014 - by Rocky Roark

High Fives: A Toast to Dribbble

We love Dribbble. Ok, that’s an understatement. The fact of the matter is Dribbble alone helped grow our two-man company to a team of 14 in just a couple of years. And our Dribbble networking was likewise responsible for introducing us to some stellar clients and industry peers. Easily, half of our recent output is attributable in some way to our Dribbble presence. Last year alone, Dribbble leads accounted for $800k of our revenue. (If I’m being honest, it drives more potential than that; we’re limited in the amount of work we can take on.) We—and the greater design community—are blessed to access an affordable platform that can turn a couple hundred dollar membership investment into nearly $1 million in revenue. Other industries would kill to have an outlet like that. Forget that it’s actually fun to post and monitor.

on March 19, 2014 - by Bill Kenney

How We Do | We Work OUT

Our 2014 company resolution is Fitness this year. We kicked off the new year with office planking challenges in January, 30-day fit challenges for February, and the office ladies have also started running as a group. Our next challenge we thought, how about a race?

on March 14, 2014 - by Kellie Groover

2013 Recap

It’s time to ring in another New Year. I don’t know about you, but I’m still occasionally putting 2012 down on paper. (Literally, Bill put 2012 on the cover of a photobook holiday gift. Doh.)

on December 20, 2013 - by Erik Reagan

Climbing in the Clown Car

Given that this is my blog debut, let me start out with a hearty “Hello, everyone.” I’m Summer Teal Simpson, brand strategist, copywriter, and newest addition to the Focus Lab team.

on December 11, 2013 - by Summer Teal Simpson

A TV. On wheels. A step-by-step ‘How To’ guide.

If you’ve been hiding in a cave for the past couple months, you may have missed our obsessive Tweetstagrams on the evolution of our new office. One of our big-deal, new features is a 65” LED TV that rolls along the back wall of our conference room/playroom. Since this has easily been the most asked-about feature, let me give you a rundown on the reasoning behind it and how we pulled it off.

on October 31, 2013 - by Bill Kenney

This is Where the Magic Happens

A Photographic Tour of the New Focus Lab Digs This week has been one of hoots, high fives, and hot-cha’s. We’ve been doing the proverbial end zone dance for 24 straight hours. Why? Well, for one we just launched our shiny new website. But, just on the heels of that, we also opened our doors to hundreds of our local friends and colleagues for our first party in the new space. The party, which is more of a commemoration, comes about two a half months into our occupation of the space and roughly four months after demolition took place on structures remaining from previous occupants.

on October 25, 2013 - by Bill Kenney

A new year. A new story.

So, here we are. Another year in, and our team is stronger than ever. It may go without saying but we have been super duper, crazy busy. So busy in fact that we designed our own new website a year ago and we just got around to making it a real thing. A good problem to have, many would say. We would argue that, knowing in our industry the importance of accurately reflecting our company culture, values, and portfolio. Precisely the qualities that we wanted to tractor beam with our new website.

on October 24, 2013 - by Bill Kenney

Building a Web Shop for Success

The 2013 ExpressionEngine Conference was held this week in Portland, OR. I was in the speaker lineup but was unfortunately unable to make it in person. I’m thrilled to say that what kept me back home is that I had a baby boy join the family a few weeks ago. Rather than travel across the country, I stayed home to help out my wife in and around the house.

on October 16, 2013 - by Erik Reagan

We Likes to Party

It’s been many months in the making, but now that we’re putting the spit-shine finishing touches on our new space, it’s time to throw a PARTY! Friends, family, and colleagues, please help us celebrate two great announcements: our new office digs on the second floor of the Old Landmark Building AND the launch of our brand-spanking-new website on the same date.

on October 14, 2013 - by Erik Reagan

UI Position / Hiring

We need help. Not the kind where you’re worried about us. The kind that results from a high demand of awesome projects. We want you to join our team to help us produce even more great work.

on October 10, 2013 - by Bill Kenney

Leadership, Part II

We now return to the LeaderCast post series, already in progress… You can read Part I here.

on October 10, 2013 - by Bill Kenney

Leadership, Part I

Two months ago I traveled to Atlanta with copilots and fellow Focus Lab team members Erik Reagan and Alicja Colon. We ventured north to attend what turned out to be an extremely inspiring conference called LeaderCast. This year’s conference theme was “Simply Lead,” and upon leaving Atlanta at the event’s end, I found myself facing a rather giant list of areas where I needed to grow. Most importantly, I fully realized the importance of not taking the leadership role - and the skills that demands - lightly.

on October 8, 2013 - by Bill Kenney

Speaker Highlight | Circles Twenty13: Matt Stevens

The past month has been a series of firsts for me, including my first time flying in a plane and my first visit to an Apple store. (True story.) It was also the first time that our design team attended the Circles Conference. The annual two-day event takes place outside of Dallas and features some of the design industry’s key players speaking about design, as well as life outside of work. I’d be hard pressed to pinpoint a favorite speaker, but the talent and exuberance of Matt Stevens really stood out.

on October 3, 2013 - by Rocky Roark

UI Photography Part 2

The previous installment of this two-part series reviewed why custom UI photography is a splendid thing. Today, we’ll go over the obstacles to creating beautiful UI shots.

on September 19, 2013 - by Alicja Colon

Illustration Process

Those who follow the Focus Lab team on Dribbble may have seen the recent shot I posted that showcases my current illustration process. (I distinguish “current” since every process I undertake, whether design or illustration oriented, is ever evolving over time.) The shot’s popularity led me to this post, step-by-step, the methods behind my creative madness.

on September 17, 2013 - by Rocky Roark

Grow Yourself

What would you say if I told you I knew of a one-stop resource that could help you grow yourself, grow your team, and grow your profits? What if I told you that resource was free?

on September 13, 2013 - by Erik Reagan

UI Photography Part 1

Can you feel the excitement jumping off the computer screen?! You should. Because it is with great enthusiasm and overwhelming joy that I take off my project management hat and chat instead about… (drumroll)… photography.

on September 10, 2013 - by Alicja Colon

Setting up Artboards in Illustrator

We’ve received a flood of inquiries about presentation style for our branding process. Inquiring minds want to know: How does Focus Lab lay out frames to showcase a deck of work. I know some designers use InDesign; others have found Keynote to be helpful. We use Illustrator for our presentations. Of course, we’re always seeking new ways to improve our process but, for now, our methods are simple and effective. I’ve included a few screenshots to better explain the process.

on September 5, 2013 - by Matt Yow

Layers - they’re not just in cakes

The day has finally come for me to outline the layering process we’ve adopted at Focus Lab. This system emerged to help me organize my thoughts and flush hand-drawn wireframes into Photoshop before going in and pushing pixels. It also allows multiple designers or developers to navigate robust PSD files quickly and easily. Further, it is convenient for designers who like to work more freely within a PSD, providing for a certain level of structure without impeding freeform design processes.

on September 3, 2013 - by Charlie Waite

Kickstarting at Focus Lab

Hello all. I’m Rocky, the newest addition to the Focus Lab design team. I’ve logged a little over two months here and, well, I love it. What a cool experience it’s been transitioning from being on the outside looking in to being a behind-the-scenes magic maker.

on August 29, 2013 - by Rocky Roark

Personality

One basic thesis is to build brand identities with imbued personality rather than risk them being inherited via consumer experience. In other words, intentionally ascribe personification to brand identities. This idea surely blurs the line between marketing/advertising and basic visual brand identity design, but infusing personality is an important component of visual brand element creation.

on August 22, 2013 - by Matt Yow

The UI/UX Endorphin Theory

My name is Sam Stratton, and I’m one of the new designers here at Focus Lab. I have an idea, a theory, about application experiences that I’d like to share today. This isn’t a theory that has been extensively tested or researched. It’s more of a conversation I’d like to start; one that I haven’t seen much of yet.

on August 20, 2013 - by Sam Stratton

Focus Friday Chats

If you’ve been following @focuslabllc on twitter you’ve probably seen us tweet about something we’re calling Focus Friday Chat. For a handful of weeks in July, we opened our virtual doors for an hour each Friday to answer questions and general industry chit chat.

on August 15, 2013 - by Bill Kenney

New Office: Beta

If you follow us on Twitter or Instagram you’ve noticed we’ve spent the past couple of months planning for and building out a new office space. This past Monday was our first day working from the new space so we wanted to share a little bit about it with you fine folks. We’re doing an official office launch party in late October, after we’ve actually finished building things out to our spec. That doesn’t mean we have to wait until October to share some pics though!

on August 15, 2013 - by Erik Reagan

A Project Manager’s Dream App

As Focus Lab grows, so too do our project management application needs. Juggling more projects, team members and their varied schedules is becoming increasingly demanding. As the one responsible for this balancing act, I’m always on the prowl for a solution that will jump through all the hoops I need. My selfish intent in authoring this post is too see what you use and what items you are most concerned with in a PM app.

on July 23, 2013 - by Alicja Colon

FuneralOne

To my right, there’s a man with a beard and glasses; to the left, another with a beard, but bald and no glasses. Who are these guys? Well if you’re familiar with our gang, you’d recognize it’s Matt and Bill, Focus Lab’s lead brand designer and creative director, respectively.

on July 16, 2013 - by Alicja Colon

The Sidecar That Never Was

Five months ago I made a decision to no longer pursue one of my dreams from a few years ago. The decision stung. It wasn’t an easy one to make. But as I write this five months postmortem, I am confident it was the right decision.

on May 17, 2013 - by Erik Reagan

Always Learning

I’ve had an idea for a while to do a series of posts describing the mechanics of what we do at Focus Lab. Not a series about our craft or techniques, but instead about what keeps our engine running, how we change the oil and what type of oil we use. This will be the first post in a scattered series entitled “How We Roll.”

on May 7, 2013 - by Erik Reagan

Origins

Lately I’ve been thinking about where Focus is today compared to where we started from. After going through some old emails, I thought it would be fun to share my first contact with Bill along with how we got the Focus ball rolling.

on March 26, 2013 - by Erik Reagan

What’s your job title?

What’s your job title? You know, that word or phrase on your business card that so succinctly tells the world what you do. Today mine is Technical Director. It’s accurate-ish.

on March 19, 2013 - by Erik Reagan

What is my role?

You know that conversation you have with your mom? The one you’ve had about 20 times because she doesn’t truly understand what you do at work. “So… you’re a designer?” she asks.

on March 13, 2013 - by Alicja Colon

On Goals

At the beginning of each year we seem to hear more people talk about goals than any other time. There must be something about the change back to a single-digit on the calendar that encourages people to stand up straight and say “I’m going to do something different this year.” Or maybe it’s just marketing.

on January 22, 2013 - by Erik Reagan

2012 Recap

Wow. It’s hard to believe that 2012 is already coming to an end. As I write this, Focus Lab has already ceased all client work for the year. We’re wrapping up some things internally as we prepare to take about ten days off to enjoy the holidays with friends and family. Like last year, we wanted to recap how 2012 went for the Focus team

on December 28, 2012 - by Erik Reagan

Form Building Add-ons in ExpressionEngine

Recently we published a post that reviewed member profile add-ons in ExpressionEngine. At that time, we promised a similar review of form management add-ons as a complementary piece. This post will review three such forms add-ons that make HTML forms in ExpressionEngine easy, fun, powerful and beautiful. We couldn’t pack in every feature of every add-on but aimed to walk through high-level features and, ultimately, our recommendation of which to choose.

on November 13, 2012 - by Jonathan McGaha

Branding Snappy

We are excited to spotlight one of our newest branding and User Interface projects for a product called Snappy. Snappy is a new Help Desk web application being developed by the amazing folks over at UserScape (the creators of HelpSpot). Ian Landsman and his team approached us to help bring their idea of a lightweight and speedy Help Desk to life. Throughout the process we’ve found that the UserScape team is a design firm’s ideal client. Not only are they amazing people that understand the design process, but they are also open to any and all ideas, no matter how ridiculous (see: Snappy underwear).

on October 30, 2012 - by Charlie Waite

Member Profile Add-ons in ExpressionEngine

My name is Jonathan McGaha, and I’m a developer who has worked with Focus Lab for a little over a year. As we prepare to start a new project, we realized that a review of the available options for member management and form management would be valuable for us as well as other members of our community. This post will look at the currently available add-ons for creating and editing member profiles in ExpressionEngine, while a post reviewing form management add-ons will follow in the next few weeks.

on October 23, 2012 - by Jonathan McGaha

That’s all, folk. Go buy a book. :)