Ecomagine Your Energy Use

Home Energy Use Calculator

This morning I woke up, made myself a pot of coffee and headed downstairs to get a start on the day ahead. A little later I found out that my laptop costs roughly half as much to operate annually as my coffee machine … funny.

Lisa Strausfeld, Pentagram partner and her team recently worked with GE to develop a Home Appliance Energy Use calculator. Launched on Earth Day, the calculator can be found at either GE’s Ecomagination or the Healthymagination website. Not only is beautifully simple in its design and easy to understand, the calculator is also very informative, giving detailed information on how much energy and resources dozens of common household appliances consume, as well as the cost associated with operating them.

A set of drop down menus allow viewers to obtain detailed information on each appliance’s energy use in watts, gallons of gas or dollars to operate over the timeframe of a day, month or year. Appliances are also ranked according to their energy needs. As operational costs for these appliances varies regionally, viewers can even select which state they would like to see the results for.

Blue stars next to various appliance icons indicate Energy Star alternatives while green stars invite the viewer to take a closer look at how quickly an Energy Star appliance would pay for itself when replacing an older appliance. Users can determine a rough daily, monthly or annual total cost in watts, gallons of gas or dollars for appliance use by deselecting appliances from the available list or view an estimated cost for a singular appliance by scrolling over individual icons.

Don’t forget to turn the lights off!

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Beautiful Paper. Bright Ideas.

Mohawk Fine Papers recently launched a website dedicated to Loop, Mohawk’s new eco-friendly line of recycled papers. Described as the world’s most comprehensive line of environmentally friendly papers, Loop utilizes both post consumer waste and renewable energy sources in production. Not only does this new line is feature papers available in a wide range of colors, finishes and weights, Loop also constitutes the largest selection of 100% PCW options available on the market today.

In addition to providing information on the Loop line of papers, the website contains a number of useful resources and tips on sustainability: including an environmental calculator that gauges the environmental effects of a project consisting of paper materials.

Become Your Own Client: a Primer for Website Redesign

When it comes to working with our clients and prospects advice, we’ve probably all been guilty of not following the mantra “practice what you preach”. We get so caught up in the daily functions of our business and the needs of our clients that our own image begins to show a few cracks of its own. In such cases, it’s time we start taking a dose of our own medicine.

Take The Langton Cherubino Group for instance.  A New York firm specializing in marketing strategies and communications programs, the Langton Cerubino Group recently redesigned their website to adhere to the standards they hold so high for their clients.

“It’s hard to turn the equation around and become your own client.” (David Langton, Principal, Langton Cherubino Group)

As a design communications firm which specializes in branding and identity, the firm asks their clients a number of initial questions before developing a working solution for them. During the redesign, they turned these questions inward, essentially making themselves their client.

  • Who is your target audience?
  • What impressions do you want to make?
  • What information do you want to convey?
  • What does this project have to do in order for you to consider it a success?

By making this effort to address their own needs and target new prospects and visitors, it seems the firm has developed a great formula for a successful website design: one that is easily accessible, has a structure designed for the visitor rather than the firm, includes engaging links and content, is optimization for search engines and gives the firm the ability to add new content quickly.

After answering these questions, it was time for co-founders David Langton and Norman Cerubino to begin developing a website redesign that made the best impression of their work. To gauge the success of the project, new requirements of the website were outlined, including:

  • An easily accessible design.
  • A structure based on what their visitors are interested in seeing rather than just what the firm wants to show.
  • Various links and content that engage visitors to learn more about individual projects.
  • A search function to increase traffic to the site.
  • The ability to add new projects and content quickly.

While working towards achieving the goal they outlined, the Langton Cherubino Group treated the assignment as if it was one they took on for a paying client, conducting weekly meetings exploring the underlying details of the site redesign, conducting market studies of competitor sites, designing drafts of potential solutions and holding critiques to assess their viability. The result of all of this work culminated in a systematic solution with a form follows function approach.

Another requirement of the redesign was making the new website searchable and accessible by well-known search engines such as Google, Bing and Yahoo. The old website, which was built in flash and not easily recognized by key search engines, hurt their online visibility to a degree. The new website, based in HTML and includes both key words and descriptive text, has increased its recognizability with key search engines and has made the site easier to find for their visitors.

“We now have a more robust web solution.”

Conceptualizing Your Computer Use

IOGraphic tracks and then visualizes your mouse activity on screen.

When designing websites today, designing a site that is easy to navigate is just as, if not more important than designing a site that entices the viewer to immerse themselves further into the page. But just how does one go about figuring out the right path to take which culminates in a successful user interface?

For starters, there are many “heat map” applications available for user interface research. Essentially, the purpose of these apps is to gauge just what is it in a website that visitors find interesting – what part, or parts of the screen are they drawn to? These maps are visual records of the mouse clicks and cursor trails of website visitors you can use to understand how people explore your webpage.

An addition to the list is a fun, interesting application called IOGraph (formerly MousePath), created by Moscow designer Anatoly Zenkov. Using the application is very simple: run the app, press record, minimize the window and go about your daily routine. Open up IOGraph anytime after it’s launch and pause the app to view a map of your on-screen activity. You’ll find the visual representation is very similar to a Pollock painting or a Steadman-esque line drawing: tracks of your mouse path, circles where your cursor pointer lingered and stopping points where you may have been using your keyboard or otherwise immersed in content are all represented.

While the site heralds IOGraph as “an application that turns mouse movements into modern art”,  web developers and designers alike will see the additional benefits and uses for this application right away: a free testing tool for honing a site’s UI. IOGraph is available for both the Mac & PC and is free for download at http://iographica.com/.