This Case Study on Graphics by Color Group provides a project summary, a description of research, a summary of group and individual project strategies, a synopsis of project challenges, and a description of the effectiveness of the project’s final outcome.
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Graphics by Color Group, formerly Color Group Imaging & Graphics, is a third generation printing and graphics production business located in the New York metro area. The company is dedicated to providing a broad range of services that have evolved both technically and conceptually, over the past 69 years, to meet ever-changing client needs and expectations. However, the company’s recent name change indicates a shift in their branding strategy and an interest in reconceptualizing their identity and mission. Our task in the 2015 Spring Digital Projects course at Peekskill Center for the Arts, was to evaluate their new name, online presence, and match it with communicable design and applications that support their mission.
Research consisted of evaluating current trends in website construction, research of app interfaces and logos, research of comparable services offered by other graphics/print production facilities, and research of comparable branding and design initiatives.
The current Graphics by Color Group website provides an easy to navigate user interface. It effectively communicates the range of diverse services the company offers and represents the quality of these services through images and text. A drop-down portfolio menu as well as a central frame (or hero) cycles through images of their work, providing excellent testimonials. It has a traditional layout with a menu bar at the top, an informative statement about its history and mission, a place to upload files, store hours and contact info.
Despite the pleasing aesthetics and user friendliness, the current site lacks interactivity and a visually communicative style that are hallmarks of a website dedicated to graphic production and visual services.
Based on our research and discussions we determined the website requires these elements:
About page: brief history of company, summary of services and mission statement
Location: interactive map, directions
Upload: for photos, client graphics or design elements
Services: list of available services represented by visual icons
Portfolio: high quality representations of previous work
Pricing: provide an interactive price calculator
Design Catalog: offer ideas to clients in format that is easy to navigate
Events: represent site specific trade-show graphics and installations
Testimonials: client quotes, press releases, articles
Blog: illustrate completed work, connect to social media sites, (this is an opportunity for branding, visibility and marketing). For example:
Subdomain and App: create a subdomain and app that are specifically designed for mobile devices
This site provides rationale for the construction of a subdomain:
This 21st century printing company must utilize the industry which it serves, to serve itself. Design has always had communicative value, but the ubiquity of image driven content, in the 21st century, gives design overwhelming and implicit power. The Graphics by Color Group website is functional, but it doesn’t represent the potential of their brand. Their website must be their virtual storefront. It must shape behavior not only by virtue of its content, but through its aesthetic, and its functional diversity. It must be as creative as any product manufactured in their lab, and as functional and friendly as the staff in their Hawthorne location.
In this abstract, Artfact: Shaping behavior for preferable outcomes, Rob Girling, Principal at Artefact writes about the function of design in the 21st century. “Our proposal is that ‘shaping’ behavior becomes the new function of design in the 21st Century.”
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I thus divided my strategy into three components: Branding, Aesthetics and Functionality:
Branding: This 21st century printing company must utilize the industry which it serves, to serve itself. Design has always had communicative value, but the ubiquity of image driven content, in the 21st century, gives design overwhelming and implicit power. My personal goals and strategy were to integrate images, graphics and video that speak about the company’s history and services, making clear connections between content, design and brand.
Functionality: The Graphics by Color Group website is functional, but lacks mobility, responsiveness and could better represent their services and brand. Their website must be their virtual storefront and represent their ability to transform any clients ideas into a tangible reality. It must also shape and drive behavior not only by virtue of its content, but through technology that connects clients to both the creative process and design/production strategies. Our class recommended updating the website with revised navigation bar, wire frame, scrollable graphics, interactive content.
We also recommended the development of a mobile strategy, including the creation of a subdomain and the construction of mobile app and app logo that would that would streamline navigation on a mobile device and offer an experience that matches the design mission of the company. A mobile app would also provide an enhanced visual experience, increase marketing and visibility, augment the user interface, and provide a more detailed catalog of printing options and graphic services. It could offer a pricing calculator, a user-friendly design catalog (that connects to the Display Folio Exhibit and Design Catalog on the current website), monthly special alerts, interactive directions/maps, and a blog. In effect, it would create a virtual storefront that is as friendly as the staff in their Hawthorne location.
Aesthetics: The change in the name to Graphics by Color Group is a call for a new logo. I focused on exploring ways to integrate ideas for a new logo with the current logo as a way to mitigate client confusion and facilitate a smooth transition to a new design statement. It is equally important to utilize images on their website that speak about the company from both a historical and contemporary perspective.
The biggest challenge for this project was not having the opportunity to meet with the team at Graphics by Color Group during the research phase of our project. This made it impossible to evaluate their priorities or understand their aspirations. It was also difficult to accurately understand the company’s capabilities or typical clients. Alternatively, it did provide the advantageous perspective of a prospective client, and allowed our class to evaluate our strategy independent of the company’s expectations and direction.
The assignment to develop a prototype website, mobile app, and promotional video was an incredibly interesting and tightly focused assignment. It necessitated learning several new programs (WordPress, Illustrator, Flash) — and drawing from familiar programs (Photoshop, Premiere Pro). It was a tremendous opportunity to study and meet with a real client with real needs. The one-on-one interaction with Marc Weinstein, President of Graphics by Color Group was particularly worthwhile and provided the opportunity to deliver a professional presentation. The assignment provided many additional opportunities, including the simulation of a focus group (composed of our class), critiques with insightful feedback, and invaluable opportunities to present and receive constructive feedback from our client, instructor and peers.
Samples of Work
Iterations of the APP icon:
The primary element missing from the website is a contemporary design that matches its brand and mission. I propose changing the interface to a vertical scroll, streamlining the content, offering a load-page with a strong visual message, and adding a blog, downloadable app and subdomain dedicated to mobile devices.
ITERATIONS OF THE WEBSITE
In these first iterations I took images from the current website. The feedback from these initial proposals initiated my considerations of layout, meaningful images, content and messaging.
In these initial iterations I focused on using images that signified the longevity and history of the company.
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In these iterations I focused on using an image representing the technological advancements the company has made. The image also speaks of the internal precision of the company.
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Final iteration conceptualizing the “Color” in Color Group.
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Graphics by Color Group: Getting it Done (with alternate opening created in After Effects)
Below are a several articles about Graphics by Color Group president, Marc Weinstein. The articles were helpful in shaping a more detailed understanding of the company and give insight into their current production methods and services. They are also informative portraits of the company’s history and Marc’s role in its success.
A Company of High Tech Images, NY Times,
by Penny Singer, January 23, 2000
Old-fashioned photo shops develop with the times
Lohud article by Elizabeth Ganga, December 26, 2014
Color Group Crosses the Digital Horizon by Rich Handley