November 5, 2021 - News Articles
In February 2013, we posted an article about writing comprehensive project scopes for web development. The article details the anxiety, trust, expectations, and comfort created by a detailed project scope for digital design and development, be it a web site, web application (SaaS), or Mobile App. This 5-page article takes designers and clients alike through the process of creating a scope and the benefits to both parties when embarking on a new project.
Since its creation, we’ve occasionally gotten feedback that the time and cost spent developing a scope was unnecessary, where ambitious entrepreneurs prefer instead to dive headfirst into building out the product. Their concerns are valid: I’m already allocating funds for the development of my app. Why do I need to spend more on this part of the strategy?
April 4, 2021 - News Articles
This year, ERA404 celebrates 20 years! We started by moonlighting as freelancers in New York City on April 21, 2001, and have grown over the last 20 years to provide print, identity, motion, and environmental design, digital design and development, and strategy services to over 480 clients. With a fulltime staff of two and 50 contractual designers, developers, and artisans, ERA404 has helped hundreds of companies and individuals grow their brands, businesses, and visions. We owe all our success over the past two decades to the clients that entrusted us with their projects, the family and friends that supported us throughout the years, and our creative network, without whom ERA404 wouldn’t exist.
It’s been a fun, challenging, and exciting ride over the past 20 years and we’re looking forward to the next 20, continuing to help make the world a more understandable, functional, and beautiful place.
April 10, 2014 - Information Resources
This is a quick trick for any Cordova coders operating on a Windows environment.
C:\app\>cordova -d platforms add android cordova library for "android" already exists. No need to download. Continuing. Checking if platform "android" passes minimum requirements... Creating android project... Running command: cmd args=["/c", "C:\\Users\\My Account With Spaces\\.cordova\\lib\\android\\cordova\\3.4.0\\bin\\create", "--cli", "C:\\app\\platforms\\android", "com.mycompany.testapp", "Test App"] 'C:\Users\My' is not recognized as an internal or external command,operable program or batch file.
( Grrr )
Windows should probably know better than to create directories (especially often accessed ones, such as a user’s profile folder), if it doesn’t know how to later address them in command line.
If you’re scratching your head over this one, you can get around it by modifying the path.
Open superspawn.js, located here:
C:\Users\[My Account With Spaces]\AppData\Roaming\npm\node_modules\cordova\src
Update the line that calls the command to use a symbolic link. It’s roughly line 57:
cmd = resolvePath(cmd);
cmd = cmd.replace('C:\\Users\\My Account With Spaces\\.cordova','C:\\cordovalink');cmd = resolvePath(cmd);
Then, create a symbolic link at the new location C:\cordovalink, using this command:
C:\>mklink /D C:\cordovalink "C:\Users\My Account With Spaces\.cordova" symbolic link created for C:\cordovalink <<===>> C:\Users\My Account With Spaces\.cordova
Hopefully this will save you some time.
January 28, 2013 - News Articles
Oftentimes when approached by clients and agencies, we’re asked about our creative process at ERA404. While people can easily see a step-by-step diagram of our development process, broken down by time, cost and client interaction, we have never really outlined how the creative process works here. This is partially because development, which is creative in its own right, is considerably more objective, pragmatic, and analytical. The process is linear, relying on previous checkpoints to proceed to latter ones.
Design, on the other hand, grows organically and chaotically. It pushes forward and outward in untraceable trajectories. If one thinks of development as a relay race with the baton being passed at regular relay points, design is more like a quixotic multi-player game of capture the flag. It’s undoubtedly the most challenging, gratifying (and possibly frustrating) part of our job here, riddled with stops, starts, reorientation, redirection, hidden doors, trap floors, exploration, and trial and error, relying purely on experience and gut instinct to reach the goal. And while the description above sounds daunting, it’s the primary reason we love our jobs so much.
So, depicting our creative process in a linear diagram like our development process is impossible. But each design roughly follows the same objectives along the uncharted path, which, coupled with client feedback and critiques, act as polestars in guiding us to their completion. Below are those objectives, distilled and organized as they would be in a perfect world, free of the organic and beautiful growth of real-world scenarios:
Defining the Problem
- Defining the Problem
To maximize success we first define the problem we are trying to solve—we articulate it and give it boundaries (what’s part of the problem? what’s outside our control?). We call upon our designers to help cull, visualize, express that problem in human terms—looking at it from many different views.
- Envisioning the Desired End State (Knowing what victory looks like)
(If you’ve ever been part of a team that seemed lost, it’s likely this step was skipped.) Knowing how to both characterize and recognize a victory will be vital when embarking on the journey of solving the problem. As designers, we can help prototype the end state (through scenarios, models, journey maps, etc.).
- Defining the Approach by Which Victory can be Achieved
Once we know where we want to go, we need to create a map to get there. That map must be imprinted in the minds of every participant along the way, including clients and team members. We find it helps to draw an actual map with our clients, to assist them in visualizing the distance and milestones to the destination.
- Inciting Support—And Then Action
In some cases, not everyone will want to make the journey. They’ll need to be inspired. Convinced. Reinforced. Educated. As designers, we call on our skills as communicators to help them see why they should come along.
- Seeking Insight to Inform the Prototyping of the Solution
After the team is assembled, in which the client plays an integral—if not central—role, the next task is to look at the work ahead and be smart about it. Often it pays to take pause and seek insight that will enable the team to prototype a solution. That means research. Our designers help structure that research, especially in reporting its findings.
- Prototyping Potential Solutions
The prototype might might literally mean physically prototyping the solution: building it in miniature, or as a one-off, to see if it will work. Or, it might mean prototyping a new customer experience—a collection of moments that make up an experience. In either case, we play a critical role in communicating the vision to clients.
- Delineating the Tough Choices
A good prototype (or prototypes) unearths all sorts of unexpected data and insight. And from that, tough choices emerge. Should we include this feature, or that? What if the solution costs more than clients have budgeted? Can the prototype be broken down into stages to make the objective more affordable and digestible? What if there are downsides? Together, with regular and consistent communication we try to make the choices evident.
- Enabling the Team to Work as a Team
And, when crucial to the project, we help the team work as a team: helping make choices, envisioning different outcomes, seeing the “whitespace” that connects divergent views and approaches.
- Choosing the Best Solution, Then Activating It
This is the culmination of many steps of hard work. If we do our jobs right, we can often be the pivotal voice in this step, helping argue for the best overall solution—we can visualize the case, see different sides of the problem and lay out a path for making a commitment to the chosen solution.
- Making Sure People Know about our Solution
Once a solution is chosen, the task becomes to ensure that people—customers, constituents, employees—know about it. In a traditional sense, this is about marketing the idea. In a deeper sense, it’s about empowering people to support/own/celebrate the solution.
- Selling the Solution
In most cases, an exchange of money or time will be involved—between seller and buyer, creator and participant, sponsor and beneficiary. That process is generally helped by design, so that people know what they’re buying and what it’s worth.
- Rapidly Learning and Reorienting Based on your Successes and Failures
The most effective projects are those in which we constantly learn, strive, and improve. Our job is to help take the team back through the journey, recounting the steps where good decisions were made and where the team could act differently next time.
October 7, 2012 - Information Resources
As we round third plate to complete our 10th year of business at era404, it’s impossible not to reflect upon the previous decade’s successes and lessons. In fact, despite the enormous pride we have for our successes—the awards we’ve won, the opportunities we’ve been afforded, the pieces we’ve created—it was in the lessons that our company grew the most. We can only assume that the same way the triumphs and tribulations of a child’s first ten years shape his or her personality, a business uses its own experiences to analyze the risks it will take and the directions it will pursue.
The first ten years weren’t always easy. Read More
June 9, 2012 - Press Releases
CARLSTADT, NJ — On Friday, June 8, Pantone launched a new version of their web site that features ERA404’s Pantone Moods widget in the footer of every page of the site. The widget’s “Realtime” tab shows a streaming feed of moods and color chips submitted by users through the Facebook application, Pantone Moods. Visitors may also see the previous day’s most submitted color chip, mood keyword and submission city by clicking on the “Most Popular” tab. The widget compliments the application’s trending and reporting tab which was designed and developed by ERA404 earlier in the year.
Visitors interested in seeing the widget in action can visit: pantone.com. To submit moods to the widget, log-in to Facebook and add the Pantone Moods application. For more comprehensive trends, including proximity, gender, location and time matches, current color and mood comparisons, and global mood trends, click the “Mood Trends” tab from within the Pantone Moods Facebook app.
Pantone Moods currently boasts a lifetime user base of nearly 70,000 users and over a half million moods posted and has been featured in GDUSA, Communication Arts and other industry periodicals. The application was originally conceived and created by ERA404 in October 2008, and was redesigned in August 2011 based on the unprecedented response from Pantone brand advocates and fans on Facebook. See this project in the ERA404 portfolio, here: https://www.era404.com/loves/pantone/