Armadillo Studios Inc.

Happy 10th Birthday iStockPhotos

Here’s a quick little post to acknowledge a pretty impressive milestone for the Tech Community in Armadillo’s hometown of Calgary.

If you haven’t heard, “iStockPhotos”:http://www.istockphoto.com/index.php is turning ten years old today and to celebrate they are “launching a mini-site, giving away a slew of prizes”:http://istock10.com/ and are “now one of the top trending topics on Twitter”:http://istock10.com/twitter/.

As one of our preferred service providers, by providing High-Quality stock imagery at an affordable price, iStock has done wonders for the Web Design community. Without their services, the development of many of our projects would not be possible.

But on a more local note, as a Calgary-based company iStock have given back even more. Through a trickle down affect of knowledge and talent, iStock has probably provided more to the growth of our community than many people know. Many of our fellow competitors, freelancers and partnering consultants have cut their chops and learned the ropes of the industry by working for iStock. By fostering a pool of great local and international talent to staff their operations, one of the great by-products has been the injection of new ideas and new talent into the Calgary community. Their presence at Democamps and other events has helped spread ideas and design concepts. Without their presence, the blossoming community in Alberta wouldn’t be as strong as it is today.

So to iStockPhoto, HAPPY BIRTHDAY and all the best in the future.

The Revamped U of A Ski Club

_Ah! University. Sweet, sweet memories of University_.

The Armadillo Team have some fine memories of our days in University and our time with the University of Calgary’s Ski Club. Many of these memories are fairly blurry, but they are rather fond one.

So when the U of Calgary’s sister club, The “University of Alberta’s Ski Club”:http://www.uofaskiclub.ca, came to Armadillo Studios with a predicament we were more than happy to help. (Plus, “we’d already gave their southern cousins a little bit of a makeover earlier this year”:http://www.uofcskiclub.com/)

First and foremost, the new “U of A Ski Club Web Site”:http://www.uofaskiclub.ca is not an original Armadillo design; rather we’ve dramatically upgraded the structure and the skeleton of what they were left with.

The U of A Ski Club had a web site built by a third party, but was never given the information on how to update it or maintain it. Instead they were left with a static web site with no real CMS and no way of communicating with their beloved membership. This is unfortunately a common predicament in our industry and many clients in this situation approach us. So in came Armadillo to save the day.

Using the key elements of the original design to the site’s keep continuity, we rebuilt the web site using the WordPress Management system and even incorporated a few key design elements that were missing from the original site. Including links to Social Media elements, ShareThis Functionality, a Contact Us form and even a large beefy footer for simple navigation.

Over the next couple of weeks we’ll be working with the U of A to further improve their web site and improve their web site’s usability. But more importantly, we hope the new site will help them get more involved with the student body and creating more fond memories for others.

Eco Living Inc. Launches

Armadillo Studios and Eco Living Inc are proud to launch “www.ecolivinginc.ca”:http://www.ecolivinginc.ca – the online home of Calgary’s newest Developer of Multi-Family homes.

Earliet this year the owners of Eco Living contacted Armadillo to help develop a brand new web site site, one which would be easy to update, accessible on mobile apps and would allow them to showcase the different elements of their business model. The main goal of the new Eco Living Inc site was to develop a contemporary HTML/CSS based web site that stood out against the local competition, through simplicity and ease of us.

Leveraging Eco Living’s existing branding development, Armadillo constructed a WordPress powered site built on a simple and intuitive layout design. The color scheme reflects the earth-tone nature of the company’s logo and their commitment to _Eco Logic_ developments. In addition, we also incorporated a simple photo sideshow in the sidebar, which will allow the Eco Living team to update their web site with photos of their latest products once they become available.

We are proud to launch this new site and look forward to seeing Eco Living’s business grow.

The yycPhotobook Launches

It is with big grins that we are proud and extremely pleased to announce the first copies of the “yycPhotobook”:http://www.yycphotobook.com have been published.

As mentioned in a “previous article”:http://blog.armadillostudios.ca/article/yycphotobookcom, Armadillo has been honored to team up with Duncan Kinney (of “yycBlogs”:http://www.yycblogs.com) to design and construct the yycPhotobook. And now that the book is completed, we are even more excited for the upcoming launch party on Sept 18th.

In regards to the actual design process for the book, the yycPhotobook team started by selecting a diverse collection of unique and engaging photos from a group of Calgary photographers. Next, we brainstormed a layout and order that would maximize the impact of each photo. We then assembled the basic skeleton of the book in InDesign using the easy to use templates supplied by”Blurb.com”:http://www.blurb.com. Keeping with the theme of the original web site; The yycPhotobook design utilizes the same crisp aesthetics associated with the minimalist web site. Each photograph in the book is given it’s own page with the author’s accompanying avatar and a short 140 character description of the work. In combination, this ultimately created a unique 40-page book that encompasses Calgary’s distinctive identity.

As mentioned, the yycPhotobook launch party is on *Sept. 18 at Venturion* (214 11th Ave. SE). There will be beer and wine for sale at reasonable prices and some light refreshments. You’ll be able to meet the contributing photographers and get a sneak peek of the book. The book will also be made available to the public through yycPhotobook.com and Blurb.com, on the day of the party.

The Cookingwithfire.com Redesign & Recipe E-Books

The average lifespan for a web site design is roughly 1.5 to 2 years. Due to which, we have seen a bit of an influx of returning clients looking for touch-ups to their site. One such client was Linda Matthie of
of “Cookingwithfire.com”:http://www.cookingwithfire.com.

As one of the original roster of web sites launched during Armadillo’s inaugural year, the first cookingwithfire web site was built as a fairly straight-forward promotional site designed to showcase the company’s line of Mexican inspired cookbooks. It was one of our first web sites built with an integrated corporate newsletter and it was the first e-commerce site we built to use the “e-junkie commerce engine”:http://www.e-junkie.com/?r=5350.

Now, queue the redesign.

The new Cookingwith Fire Redesign has shifted the focus of away from a promotional site complimented by a small online market place, into a fully functional e-commerce web site.

By shifting the navigation from the left-hand side of the site to the top, key navigational information is now located in a more intuitive area. In addition, we have removed some of the unnecessary sidebar content and populated it with direct links to the site’s popular “newsletter articles”:http://www.cookingwithfire.com/bite-your-tongue-when-sharing-these-hot-sauce-tips/, the “existing hardcover product line”:http://www.cookingwithfire.com/the-fire-n-ice-cookbook/ and the “new E-Book Recipe line-up”:http://www.cookingwithfire.com/the-cooking-with-fire-product-line/.

The second aspect of the redesign was to improve the e-commerce interface to coincide with the release of 11 new “Recipe E-Books”:http://www.cookingwithfire.com/the-cooking-with-fire-product-line/. Using the upgraded *E-junkie* platform we were able to enhance the overal shopping experience, keeping users contained within the cookingwithfire environment and the removing the hassle of additional windows. We have also created easy to find *View Cart* buttons on each page and simple links to the iniduval product desctiptions.

We have been honoured to work with Linda and her popular Cookingwithfire brand for the second time in our short history. We’re currently working on implementing a new newsletter service for the next round of e-book recipes, in the hopes of enhancing the web sites reach and awareness.

Seenster Alpha Goes Live

Two weeks ago, the Armadillo Team made the hour trek up to great wilderness of Banff for the latest rendition of “DemoCamp Calgary”:http://barcampcalgary.com/2009/06/03/democampbanff-in-two-days/ at the “nextMedia conference”:http://www.nextmediaevents.com/banff/. The team was up there to support Cameron Rout and the live alpha demo of the “seenster.net”:http://www.seenster.net project.

As the about page describes; *seenster.net* is for independent musicians who bootstrap their efforts on their own dime, the Prolific Compilation Card is a recommendation tool that gives artists the opportunity to get paid for recommending music in real life, at their gigs. *Unlike Last.fm, iTunes, and Myspace our product brings the social music network into Real Life to sell recommendations as a tangible commodity*.

The Armadillo team was proud to help Cameron with design tweaks and some back-end modification to get the product into a live state. In the future we’ll be working together to really enhance the product and get out of the dreaded Alpha state and into the more sensual Beta state.

If you are curious about the project or would like to get involved either follow the “team on twitter”:http://www.twitter.com/seensters or email Cameron directly at “cameronrout@seenster.net”:mailto:cameronrout@seenster.net.

yycPhotobook.com

With the advent of online collaboration, it’s amazing at how fast a simple idea can go from a random thought to online collaboration to web site launch. Take our newly launched “yycPhotobook web site”:http://www.yycphotobook.com as an example.

After being approached by “Duncan Kinney”:http://www.duncankinneyblog.com, of “yycBlogs”:http://www.yycblogs.com fame, to take on the task of designing the layout for the new collaborative/crowsourcing photobook project – “yycPhotobook”:http://www.yycphotobook.com we quickly went to work on establishing a home base for the project. Utilizing a simple black, pink, and white color scheme and inspiration from Italian outfit “loveleft’s”:http://www.loveleft.com/ stunning use of typography, we have created a simple informational site to spread the word to calgary’s growing photography community.

Armadillo Studios will continue to post entries on the progression of the project, from the initial meeting to the development and publication of the project. So check back shortly.