Help Wanted

Building 13 is a small Cincinnati-based graphic design company. When I say small, I mean, like, it’s just me. I rock web design, motion graphics, as well as print and branding design.

I am looking to bring on a talented (entry-level or associate-level) designer. Building 13 has found success working on a variety of project types and sizes. It’s a versatile company and I need a versatile designer with great communication skills and a constant willingness to learn. A good attitude, too. That’s a must. There isn’t a specific “type” of candidate for this position, but he or she might look a little something like this:

An all-around rock star designer that is comfortable working in multiple mediums (i.e. web and motion)

Or…

Someone who is a bit more skill focused — preferably in web design (front-end and some basic programming skills like php, rails or similar) or motion graphics (show me your reel!)

Or…

Maybe it’s someone else. Maybe it’s you. Tell me why you’re the designer that Building 13 needs. Show me what you bring to the table. Convince me you’re the ideal candidate.

Possible points of interest:

  • I currently work out of my house in Mount Lookout.
  • I’m not big on résumés.
  • I’d like to see some of your best work (I prefer links over attachments).
  • If you can show me how you think, that’d be pretty dope.
  • My work samples can be found here: http://building13.com/ and here: https://vimeo.com/bldg13 (all kinda old stuff; hey, I’ve been busy!)
  • Must love dogs dog.

Possible perks:

  • I’m down with you working remotely some (or perhaps all) of the time.
  • I do have a nice ping pong table. It’s currently folded up here in the office, but that can be changed (will be tough to play if you work from home though).

If you’re interested, please shoot me an email: nathan@building13.com. Please send links to your work. Including salary expectations would be helpful too. Depending on the number of responses I get, I may not be able to respond to everyone.

Thank you for your time!

Fin.

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22 months ago, I joined Nathan at Building 13 as a minority partner. This was the culmination of a goal established while I was an undergraduate at the University of Dayton – to own (or co-own) a design business at some point in my future career. While it was happening earlier than I had anticipated, the idea of being a business owner was extremely exciting. Partnering with a longtime friend and someone who I greatly respect and admire on myriad levels was the salted caramel icing on the proverbial cake. We hammered out the details, acknowledged the risks we both were taking, and talked openly and freely about what we needed to do to keep B13 moving on the steady upward trajectory Nathan had established the two years prior as a sole proprietor.

The acclimation to becoming a business owner was definitely a learning-on-the-fly situation. After nearly 7 years of my only responsibilities being delivering creative ideas and design, I was now trying to learn all the other responsibilities of business ownership on a 2 year delay from my partner. I give Nathan all the credit in the world for being patient with me as I attempted to learn about B13’s existing processes, and we worked together to form new ones as well. The juggling act of day-to-day business tasks with idea creation and design execution was a welcome challenge.

I understand that this next part is probably going to sound like some boo-hoo, woe-is-me, my-life-is-so-hard type shit. It’s me admitting that sometimes life overwhelms, mindsets change, and priorities shift.

The birth of my beautiful daughter in Sept 2012 brought even more responsibilities to my life’s plate that felt like it was starting to overflow. Reflecting back on it, that was the beginning of my mindset starting to shift in the direction of wanting B13 to be just work, a job where I could live out the aphorism “do what you love.” The tedium of proposals and estimates and taxes and new business generation and x-y-z started to wear on me. I don’t think I fully realized that was the case until a year later, in the fall of 2013. In between, I tried to work hard and push through, even taking the reins completely for a month while Nathan went on his much deserved Epic Road Trip.

My naiveté about what it would actually take to run and grow a successful business coupled with major life changes all led to where we are now. Building 13 and I will be amicably parting ways as of today. Ultimately, B13 doesn’t fit with what I want professionally and what’s best for my growing family anymore. I absolutely don’t regret this experience. Being able to work alongside a great friend that is as driven and talented as Nathan has been tremendous.

Thank you, Nathan, for giving me the opportunity to help grow B13. I will always be proud to consider you a colleague and a friend. We may not have set the world on fire, but at least we survived mixing business and friendship, which in itself is no small feat.

The all new Building 13

It’s Launch Day!

We currently live in a time of great promise, but also great upheaval, in the web design world, that is. From desktop to iPad to tablet to Android to iPhone to Blackberry (ugh), the many new facets of how a website must adapt are almost limitless and sometimes overwhelming. With the maiden voyage onto the information superhighway of building13.com (beta), we took our first crack at harnessing these some of these new facets and creating a great experience to showcase some of our talents.

Well, without further ado:

building13.com

 

Simplicity, usability & responsiveness were at the forefront of our design process. Below are some highlights of the site we’d like to explain a little more:

Intuitive Keyboard Navigation (desktop only)

While this style of navigation is fairly trendy on the widest world of webs at the moment, we fell in love with it and insisted on implementing it on our site. Right up top we explain the “rules of the game” so to speak, so they’re easy for you to experiment with. While using this “new way” of navigation, we hope the user comes to the realization that the up-down + left-right arrow keys mimic those of the “swipe” motions in touch devices. We believe providing this makes a bridge to a more harmonious experience from desktop to iPad to iPhone. That doesn’t mean you can’t just scroll away with your mouse though… by all means, go right ahead.

Device Agnostic Design

Otherwise known as responsive web design, this philosophy seems to be a supremely polarizing one in the web design community. In our humble opinion, while there is a time and place for everything, RWD should be implemented as a strategic engineering approach, not just as a strict presentation solution. We wanted our site to adjust itself to compliment this changing environment in our field. This is a really important topic to us and the rest of the community. We look forward to chime in with some thoughts in the future.

We will continue to tweak and build upon this beta launch of our website, adding a project archive, search function and Spotify playlist (so you can jam with us) to name a few. In the end, if you like our work and enjoyed your experience navigating through it, we will be like this. Let us know what you think of the site, for better or for worse, below in the comments or hit us up on Facebook or Twitter. Thanks for your time in advance, cheers!

 

Mobile vs Retina

Evolution

While the web is certainly in a state of constant evolution, a seemingly pivotal transition period seems to be underway. One of the last more significant transitions was going from dialup to high-speed broadband during the early to mid 2000’s. That evolution allowed higher bandwidth sites like Flickr and YouTube to flourish.

The latest evolution of the web does not come from the web itself, but rather the devices that we use to view it. Well, there are actually two parts to this evolution: mobile and Retina Displays (high pixel-density displays). And they seem to be, at least temporarily, at odds with eachother—more about this conflict later.

Mobile

Before Apple unveiled the iPhone back in 2007, mobile browsing of the web was, in hindsight, a total joke. Now, browsing the web on a mobile device can be an equal, if not superior, experience compared to on a laptop or desktop.

So, designing for the web is now a bit more complicated. It’s vital for designers to create sites that perform well on all types of devices. This has led to creating mobile versions of websites and more recently, responsive websites. ((These are huge topics and we plan on sharing some thoughts regarding responsive sites in the future.))

Retina Displays

Without going into too much detail, here is a brief visual overview of what a Retina Display is:

Pixel Density

It’s really pretty simple. Retina displays basically have 4 pixels jammed into the space that used to take up one pixel. This makes for really beautiful screens.

retina display diagram 1

Physical Image Size

The same size image on a retina display would be half the physical size of the same image displayed on a non-retina display. To “counteract” ((I say counteract because without scaling 2x, any images used for navigation would probably be too small to be usable. Also, scaling 2x presents the image more than likely closer to the creator’s original intent.))  this effect, the device’s operating system automatically doubles the scale of images (and text).

retina display diagram 2

The funny thing about retina displays is that when they display images ((Notice I mention images—as in static images. Videos, because they’re “moving pictures” don’t look nearly as bad)) that are not “retina” quality, the images look terrible.

Apple popularized the Retina Display ((Apple has labeled their high pixel density screens Retina Displays. That term, while really only refers to Apple’s devices, seems to be sticking. So, I’ll be using the term “retina display” in a more generic sense—say, anything with more than 220 pixels per inch. Sorry Apple.)) with their iPhone 4. Retina Displays are now availible on iPhone, iPad and most recently available on a MacBook Pro. HTC, LG, Motorola Mobility and others have followed suit.

Solutions

There are already several solutions to serve up high-resolution images to retina display devices. We even came across this which is very interesting, but seems a bit hack-y in execution.

At odds

The conflict between mobile and retina goes back to bandwidth. Mobile devices are increasingly showing up with retina displays. But for images to take advantage of retina displays, they must contain more pixels. More data. More kilobytes—megabytes even. This is a nightmare for the seemingly struggling carriers, and data plans they offer to the penny pinching consumers.

Our attempt to add to the solution

We thought we could add to the solutions ((We are using retina.js to serve up @2x images to screens with a 2x CSS pixel ratio and non-retina images to screens with a 1x CSS pixel ratio)) mentioned above by letting the user decide whether or not to display retina images. We present the user with the ability to toggle between retina and non retina images. With 4G/LTE still sparse and with limited data plans we decided to make the default set to show non-retina images. A simple toggle and the page refreshes with beautiful retina images.

You may notice an actual difference in the content of many the images—mainly images in projects tagged with web. Many of the sites we have designed are built at a static page width of 960px. So when we want to show these as retina images the 960px width doesn’t fill the entire frame. So you’ll just see a bit more background color. This just goes to show that the 960px width page is or is soon to be dead. #responsive

Still mobile

Apple’s has indicated with it’s latest MacBook that not only will our smaller devices sport Retina Displays, but, now, our primary workstations will too. The new MacBook is still very much a portable machine. So, bandwidth can be an issue especially if you’re using your smart phone as your internet connection.

When Apple starts rolling out desktop workstations with retina displays, we might have to reconsider our approach. But for now, we think it’s a dandy solution.

What do you think?

A Good Design Philosophy

Pinterest’s Founding Designer Shares His Dead-Simple Design Philosophy

Stop thinking about design in terms of wire frames or visual style; it is about the product as a whole. Designing is figuring out the purpose of your product and how you orient everything else around it. And that means that everyone within a company plays a role in the design process. And thatmeans that everyone in a company needs to learn design literacy. It’s a hard task.

This is a concept that we can’t stress enough to our clients. As more companies with strong design sense (Apple, Pintrest) become wildly successful, this concept becomes easier to justify.