Morgan Branding
Morgan Branding

branding + graphic design + web design

Designer Resources

Bulletproof Buttons in Emails

June 6, 2016

We design a lot of emails over here at MB (A. LOT. OF. EMAILS.).  One of the biggest hurdles to overcome is buttons that work across all* email clients. Of course, there are plenty of other headaches to deal with (nested tables, inline styling, Outlook), but making bulletproof buttons is a good thing to have in your arsenal. Below is a link to a great article from Litmus that talks about a few possible approaches. We use “VML-Based” approach, as it seems the most stable and consistent. Go get ’em.

Bulletproof Buttons in Email

Most Used Email Clients

Related, check out this recent breakdown of the most used email clients. Maybe it’s about time we ignore all the complications with Outlook!

So, you want a design job? Start here.

February 8, 2016

Every so often (okay, 10 times a day), we get résumés from hopeful designers. Less often, we get asked something along the lines of, “what do you look for in a designer?” So, we thought we’d shed some light on what can help make you appealing, and us very happy.

Q: What do you look for in graduates?

First, let’s assume you’re a descent designer. Check.

After that, the first thing that comes to mind: details, details, details! When you’re just startin’ out, trust me, you’ll get burned by the details. But, after you’ve cut your teeth a bit, you’ll come to love the details! The reality is, if you fail to figure this one out, you’ll not only piss off the client (yikes), but your boss, too (double yikes). Being able to manage your projects and pay attention to all the wee-little details, without someone holding your hand, is crucial for holding a fancy, grown-up job.

Beyond that, we also look for fresh, vibrant talent that not only has a good eye for design, but has the ability to think creatively. It’s not enough to be a designer capable of cranking out cute stuff, you gotta be able to develop fresh and unique ideas to problems or challenges that clients have. Without good ideas behind your work, you’ll end up with “beautiful pieces of shit” (thanks, Brad Frost).

Lastly, you gotta be cool! Personality goes a long way. Top 3 personality traits: funny, hard-working, kind. Don’t be a jerk! Conan says, and we agree wholeheartedly, “work hard and be kind, and good things will happen.”

Q: What skills would a student/graduate need?

Skills we look for (in everyone) include: attention to detail, broad knowledge of typography and color theory, good sense of hierarchy and overall layout, and a very strong knowledge of Photoshop, Illustrator and Indesign, along with a basic knowledge of HTML and CSS. And if you wanna get fancy, get familiar with Sketch.

We recommend doing internships your entire way through school so you can get a feel for agency life, and what you’ll need when you leave the school-nest. Nothing beats experience. And we’ll say it again, don’t be a punk. We look for big personalities with small egos. If you don’t know something, don’t fake it. You’ll come off kinda douchey.

Now get out there, and good luck!

—The fine folks at Morgan Branding.

Ron Swanson: Bacon & Eggs

November 24, 2015

Last week, we spent a little time learning some new kinetic type skills via Jake Bartlett @ skillshare.com. And, what better than Mr. Ron Swanson to help us out. Enjoy!

Pro-Tip: 4 Tools of the Trade for Efficiency and Organization

April 15, 2015

As the number of clients and projects grows, the need to stay organized and efficient is incredibly important. These tools will help you stay on top of timelines and due dates, improve the process for presenting comps, speed up your timesheet and invoice process, and make payroll a breeze. We use these tools on a daily basis, and couldn’t live without them.

  1. Todoist. Todoist is a great to-do list and task manager. In addition to having native mobile and desktop apps that allow you to access your tasks anywhere, it allows you to invite clients to specific projects speeding up collaboration and keeping everyone on the same page timeline-wise. You can also assign specific project-related tasks to specific people. For us, we assign due dates for feedback to clients, speeding up the overall process, and protecting us against a situation where feedback is a week late, but you still need to hit your deadline (we’ve all been there). To boot, it’s well designed in incredibly easy to use.
  2. InVision. Invision is an incredible prototyping, collaboration and workflow platform. Similarly to Todoist, you can easily invite your clients (or collaborators) to specific projects for collaboration. For example, we invite developers to web projects early in the process so that we can solve design-development issues prior to the clients seeing anything (and falling in love with that thing that will cost an extra 2K to develop). Invision allows you to collaborate in real time, and as of today, you can create guided tours through projects. We love you, Invision.
  3. Freshbooks. We’ve been using Freshbooks for more than 5 years. It makes keeping track of time, expenses, and invoicing clients a breeze! And when tax time rolls around, creating your year-end reports is a snap. Plus, you can keep an eye on your P&L throughout the year and make sure you’re staying in the green. Plus, you can assign projects time-estimates to see if your billables are in line with time spent on projects.
  4. Zen Payroll. We used to use Paychex…and paid out the nose for not a lot of service, a ton of paperwork, and an outdated, clunky web platform that required a special degree to understand. Zen Payroll is insanely efficient, much more cost-effective, and paperless (yay trees). With a couple clicks, you can run payroll, pay freelancers, update employee info, and run reports. Employees and contractors get emails when they’re paid, can update their own bank and account info, print out check stubs if they want–do everything on their own without requiring their employer (or Paychex) to be involved. It’s awesome-sauce.

UX Lesson: Copy

October 20, 2014

Being a designer is a lot more about communication that most think. Without clear communication, you run the danger of creating what Brad Frost eloquently coined, “a beautiful piece of shit” (thanks, Brad). And this couldn’t ring more true than with the ever-quikening environment of UX. Users want to do what they want to do…and fast. Requiring them to read too much copy, or copy that doesn’t make sense, could cause them to turn their nose up at your beautifully designed POS, or worse, give you a bad review. Nobody wants that. So, here are some quick tips on writing good UX copy:

  1. Get to know your users. Make sure you’re writing for the right audience.
  2. Know your limitations. If you’re not a good copywriter, or you’re struggling, hire one.
  3. Write like a human. Speak to your users like you would in casual conversation. Don’t alienate them with machine talk.
  4. Use copy as a guide, not a crutch. If you find you need copy to explain your UX, revisit the UX.
  5. Lastly, keep it simple.