Adventures in design, game development, app marketing, SEO and other stuff.
Posts tagged Design

Shades of Aqua - A look at the evolution of the Miami Dolphins’ aqua jersey over the years.

Many people were complaining about the Dolphins “soft” new uniform after its debut in the Hall of Fame game last Sunday. These people may be surprised at how similar this new “soft” aqua is to prior iterations. I created this infographic to show that.

Personally? I think the new uniform looks sleak, although I will concede they are a bit plain. I hope they add back the iconic sleeve stripes of the 70s & 80s back into the uniforms in the future.

#Website Lessons Learned: NFL Wallpaper Zone

Taking a look back at some of my old (mostly abandoned) web projects and breaking down all the lessons learned to gain greater insights to apply toward future projects.

While most of these projects would undoubtedly be considered failures by most standards, there is much to be learned from failures. Often times, the greatest learning comes from failure.

I will begin with my most “successful” venture: NFL Wallpaper Zone


The Concept

NFL Wallpaper Zone was conceived as a way for me to combine a few of my passions (Photoshop & the NFL) into something that could conceivably generate some pocket change using #SEO strategies of the day and basic monetization from Google Adwords.

The concept was simple: a website that provided free unique desktop wallpapers for each team in the NFL. 

A Peek Behind the Curtain

NFL Wallpaper Zone wasn’t a tremendous success, but it did eventually perform admirably in its niche while I was still supporting the site. I targeted a variety of keywords to rank for, usually a variation of “team + wallpaper(s)” and “team + schedule + wallpaper(s)”. In addition, I set after the goal of ranking for the more highly trafficked terms “nfl wallpaper” and “nfl wallpapers”. 

Starting with the 2010 NFL season (roughly a year after starting the blog, I achieved those goals, ranking #1 or #2 for “nfl wallpaper” and “nfl wallpapers”.

During that offseason, I put a lot of effort into creating unique desktop schedule wallpapers for each team with a template I created that with which I would swap out some elements such as the photo of a popular player, the city landscape background, the schedule and the team logo and colors.

Example of the 49ers wallpaper:


This work paid off as the site went on to rank for “2010 wallpaper” terms for most teams.


Organic Visits Since Launch in Nov, 2009


Total Organic Visits: 139,535
Total Visits: 239,603 (received a lot of referral traffic from FB, random blogs and Google Images)

Peaks: Traffic peaks during Super Bowl week and the day immediately following the game because I create an optimized post in anticipation of the game that targets “Super Bowl wallpaper” related terms. When I utilized this strategy, I usually ranked on the first page for all related terms.

Lessons Learned

  • Anticipate!
    I had an inkling that the fans would go searching for wallpapers the right after the Super Bowl. Anticipating this, I always created a post that mentioned to “look out for our Super Bowl wallpaper” in the days preceding the game. This post would generally rank for the terms I wanted, and was able to place the completed winner’s wallpaper up just in time! Understanding how future events might change user behavior is crucial in staying ahead of the curve. Be prepared!

  • Quality Matters
    While the site itself was nothing more than a blogger blog, I put a lot of effort into each wallpaper. This paid off as I often received compliments and was able to gain more than 500 Facebook followers for the NFL Wallpaper Zone Facebook page without much marketing. People simply found the site via search, liked the quality of the content, and started joining the FB page thanks to the FB Like box I placed on the blog.

  • Practice Makes Perfect!
    Each time I went about starting a project, I was able to hone the design process and create better results. The quality of the wallpapers increased with each new project.

  • Start with a Passion
    This site was probably my most successful because it involved two things I was truly passionate about. It made it easy for me to just sit down and create content for the site because it was something I enjoyed to do and naturally wanted to share the results with others. I often shared links to this site across various NFL forums, and enjoyed seeing the positive feedback.

What’s Next?

The site has been neglected for the better part of two seasons now. Even so, it still receives some traffic once football season picks up. It has long lost its rankings for the money keywords (“nfl wallpaper” and “nfl wallpapers”), but still seems to generate traffic for some longtail terms.

I do get the urge to create some new wallpapers from time to time, but I have no plans to further support this site at the levels I did back in 2010. I am off to bigger (and hopefully) better things, but I can always look back on this project as a moderate personal success that gave me some great lessons to apply to future projects.

Rebranding: New Personal Logo #Design

Having decided to relaunch my blog, I determined that I needed a new logo that could be used across a variety of platforms, including this blog, my design portfolio and on social media profiles. I wanted to create an identity that consisted of my initials with a clean, simple, modern aesthetic.

I began with the following rough sketch:


I imported this sketch into Illustrator and began to lay things out in vector format. I knew that I wanted the S and L to be the same width and height for the purposes of creating symmetry. I wanted this logo to fit nicely within a square and to be readable at all sizes. 

I was able to rather easily create the look I wanted for the S and L in the vector format. However, the K didn’t quite look right. I experimented with the letter in a variety of formats, but nothing really looked the way I wanted it. I knew that I wanted the K to be nested within the L, but I couldn’t find a way to make it “fit” the rest of the design the way I envisioned. I had originally planned to have the K be a different color than the S and L, but every combination I tried failed to achieve the look I desired.

At this point I decided to try experimenting with the concept of placing the K in a box nested above the L. Fortunately, this did the trick. The K silhouetted against a colored rectangle really solidified the logo for me.


I am still unsure of which color combination I prefer, so for now I am using both for different mediums. Here is the alternate version:


FYI, this was the original personal logo that I had been using on my portfolio website and on Twitter for the past year or so:


#StealMyIdea: Mobile Debate App

The following app idea was spawned in a brief moment of inspiration. I have no plans to develop this idea into anything further. Feel free to #stealthisidea


TicTake (Name TBD)
Debate / Opinion Video App

Idea: A social video platform that allows users to share short 3 minute takes on questions that have a “pro” or “con” stance. An additional component for live debates between 2 users. Gamified. (Mobile & Desktop)

Is there a market?: Yes. Debate / opinion shows are amongst the most popular on any medium. The internet is rife with people who debate passionately on variety of topics - most specifically, politics, sports and religion. However, most of this debate currently takes place on forums or social media platforms. There are a handful of video debate platforms in existence, but they do not appear to have gained traction.

Competitors: Deeyoon, MeeVSyou, DebateHall

Why haven’t existing video debate platforms gained traction?: Current video debate platforms have a few problems:

1. Live debates only.
In order for this format to work, you need to have a large user base to ensure that each user has at least 1 other user to interact with on any given topic. Otherwise, their experience will be poor since there may be times when there is no one around to debate with.

SOLUTION: QuickTakes - a system in which users can share quick 3 minute “takes” on a topic/question of their choosing. This will allow users to create content even when they do not have a challenger for a live debate. These would be ideal for a mobile app, as live debates are probably not the most technologically feasible on mobile devices at the moment.

2. Poor discovery engine.

The current video debate platforms have atrocious discovery engines. At the moment, DeeYoon simply has a chronological list of archived debates. MeeVSyou has no discernable way to discover content. DebateHall has a generic navigation system.

SOLUTION: Utilize a system of tagging to allow the community to categorize content. Rank high quality content and debates in descending order.

I visualize this working kind of like Quora, where there is ONE question under which users can debate or share their takes. For example, the question “Who will win the Super Bowl: 49ers or Ravens” can only be asked once. Any time a new user attempts to create this question, they will be directed to this “thread” under which they can share their takes or challenge other users to a live debate. The live debates and takes will be archived under this thread, with the most popular ones (based on upvotes) will be at the top.

3. No Incentive to debate.

Other than the desire to share your opinion and debate, there are no outside incentives to use the services.

SOLUTION: Gamification. Allow users to gain points and levels based on their participation in live debates and takes. Users can use these points to purchase “power-ups” that can be used during live debates to gain an advantage against your opponent. In addition, as a user levels up, new “power-ups” are unlocked. Highest level users can perhaps enter a revshare program (similar to YouTube Publisher) in which they will receive a portion of revenue from ads on their content.

In addition to gamification, the other incentive to join this platform would be to gain authority on a topic. This is a major component of the Twitter post extention platform Sulia (See:
http://sulia.com/channel/miami-dolphins/) Journalists were routinely using this platform in order to become recognized as a “leading expert” on their topic within Sulia because it helped them gain visibility and authority on their topic. A similar mentality is present on Quora.

On TicTake, users will try to outrank other users on a topic in order to maintain their status as an “expert” on a topic that is important to them.

  • QuickTake - A 3 minute “take” on a question or topic.
    The QuickTake is split into 3 “takes” at 1 minute each, with a conclusion at the end.

  • TakeDuel - A live debate.
    Users can challenge other users to a structured debate on the topic or question of their choice. Users can find challengers by browsing through the topic channels or by tweeting or sharing an invite to their challenge via social networks. The live debate will have a traditional debate structure between 2 opponents that will not exceed 10 minutes in duration. Other users can view these debates live and once they are archived. In both cases (live and archived), users can vote on winners of each round and of the overall duel.

During the duel, each challenger will have 5 slots in which to set their “power-ups”. These special cards can be purchased with points either accumulated from their activity or those purchased in the store.

It’s time for the Miami Dolphins to enter the modern era with a new brand identity and logo design. In an attempt to create a new brand identity for the Dolphins, I have created a logo that is a combination of the old Dolphins Stadium logo and the sunburst on the current iteration of the main logo.
It’s time to leave the goofy anthropomorphic helmet-wearing saturday morning cartoon dolphin logo behind with the mediocre legacy of the 1997-2011 Miami Dolphins.

It’s time for the Miami Dolphins to enter the modern era with a new brand identity and logo design. In an attempt to create a new brand identity for the Dolphins, I have created a logo that is a combination of the old Dolphins Stadium logo and the sunburst on the current iteration of the main logo.

It’s time to leave the goofy anthropomorphic helmet-wearing saturday morning cartoon dolphin logo behind with the mediocre legacy of the 1997-2011 Miami Dolphins.

Concept Art 101 

I stumbled upon this robust resource for concept art and the character design process. There seems to be many helpful tips throughout this thread. Tagged for later!