Color makes an impact. It’s one of the strongest visual cues you can use.
When we started Infovark, we knew we wanted to make something different. Gordon and I had just come from the enterprise software arena. We were tired of boring press releases and the battleship gray applications.
One of the things that caused us to reach out to Amy Hoy for help with our user interface design was her bold use of color, which you can see on Slash 7, her principal blog, and also on her projects twistori and freckle.
One of her first questions to us was about the adjectives we wanted associated with the project. What sort of impression did we want to make? In addition to “new and different,” we provided answers like helpful, friendly, enthusiastic, accessible, earthy, natural, and intuitive. Clearly, our approach to creating software, the company name, and the critter all had an influence.
We had already taken one pass at the user interface for our application, but it still retained too much of the drab, corporate look so common in applications today. Even paragons of design like Apple and Adobe use neutral tones like brushed metal and charcoal gray. Microsoft is noted for Windows’ blue and white scheme. Amy’s advice:
My suggestion for fixing the aesthetic problems can be summed up in two words: Be bolder. Ditch the color waffling: go bold. Ditch the lighter shades, commit to the bright ones. Kill the grey. Get rid of borders and boxes. Get rid of gradients. Ditch the icons, unless you can get bold, iconic ones that can do the job with just one color.
You can see that advice at work in the new look of this blog and the Infovark Underground. And we hope you’ll see it in our user interface, too. The screens aren’t ready for primetime yet, but you can see our color palette below.
These are not the exact colors you’ll see in our application, but it’s provided the inspiration for our scheme.
Have I mentioned that I’m the son of an interior designer? I may sling code all day, but I appreciate good design. And for me, these colors have meaning. I won’t bore you with color theory, but if you’re at all interested in color, marketing, and branding, it’s worth looking at the Usability Post‘s Guide to Choosing Colors for Your Brand and Smashing Magazine‘s Colors in Corporate Branding and Design. Both provide insight, advice, and lots of examples of how color influences our impressions of companies and products.
I’m really fond of our logo. It conveys all of the attributes we want for our software: friendly, helpful, simple, and organic. Both Gordon and I are determined to make usability one of our primary concerns, and the logo is an inspiration. Our thanks go to the designers at Logoworks, who took our vague ideas and turned them into the graphic you see below.
Figure 1: The Infovark logo.
Over the next week or so, we’ll rework the website to reflect the infovark color palette and style elements. Stay tuned.
We spent days coming up with the name infovark.
Naming a company or a product is harder than you might think. It’s tough to find an interesting, unique and concise name that expresses the goals of the project in a memorable way. We consulted the Name Inspector, Vitamin, and Guy Kawasaki’s blog for help. The global nature of the Internet and the importance of keyword search means that most of the obvious — and not so obvious — company names and domain names have already been registered.
After much brainstorming and headscratching, we turned to the Dotomator in desperation. We entered all sorts of words and phrases we thought expressed our company’s unique vibe. No luck. We tried nonsense words, a la jabberwocky. We tried swapping prefixes and suffixes. Then, as a joke, we started randomly combining bits of these words with colors, numbers, and animals in classic Web 2.0 style. One of the sillier results was “infovark.”
After we stopped laughing, we spent hours looking for something better. But we kept making dumb jokes about infovark. No matter what else we tried, nothing felt quite right. With misgivings, we grabbed the domain for a boring corporate name instead. We gave ourselves email accounts. But it was infovark that captured our attention.
Ultimately, we decided that despite it being a bit weird, infovark was the most memorable of all the names we tried. So that’s what stuck.
Now that we’ve had a chance to reflect a bit, it’s not a bad choice. It turns out that few things dig faster than an aardvark. It’s a great metaphor for search, one of the key technologies of Enterprise 2.0. And since we’re a company that makes software for knowledge workers, we liked the idea of having an animal that roots around for tasty morsels as a mascot. Besides, who can resist the consonance between knowledge workers and infovarkers?