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crafting brand experiences
for the modern audience.
We are Fame Foundry.

See our work. Read the Fame Foundry magazine.

We love our clients.

Fame Foundry seeks out bold brands that wish to engage their public in sincere, evocative ways.

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Platforms for racing in the 21st century.

Fame Foundry puts the racing experience in front of millions of fans, steering motorsports to the modern age.

“Fame Foundry created something never seen before, allowing members to interact in new ways and providing them a central location to call their own. It also provides more value to our sponsors than we have ever had before.”

—Ryan Newman

Technology on the track.

Providing more than just web software, our management systems enhance and reinforce a variety of services by different racing organizations which work to evolve the speed, efficiency, and safety measures, aiding their process from lab to checkered flag.

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Setting the pace across 44 states.

With over 1100 locations, thousands of products, and millions of transactions, Shoe Show creates a substantial retail footprint in shoe sales.

The sole of superior choice.

With over 1100 locations, thousands of products, and millions of transactions, Shoe Show creates a substantial retail footprint in shoe sales.

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The contemporary online pharmacy.

Medichest sets a new standard, bringing the boutique experience to the drug store.

Integrated & Automated Marketing System

All the extensive opportunities for public engagement are made easily definable and effortlessly automated.

Scheduled promotions, sales, and campaigns, all precisely targeted for specific demographics within the whole of the Medichest audience.

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Home Design & Decor Magazine offers readers superior content on designer home trends on any device.

  • By selectively curating the very best from their individual markets, each localized catalog comes to exhibit the trending, pertinent visual flavors specific to each region.

  • Beside the swaths of inspirational home photography spreads, Home Design & Decor provides exhaustive articles and advice by proven professionals in home design.

  • The art of home ingenuity always dances between the timeless and the experimental. The very best in these intersecting principles offer consistent sources of modern innovation.

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  • Post a need on behalf of yourself, a family member or your community group, whether you need volunteers or funds to support your cause.

  • Search by location, expertise and date, and connect with people in your very own community who need your time and talents.

  • Start your own Neighborhood or Group Page and create a virtual hub where you can connect and converse about the things that matter most to you.

December 2016
By Kimberly Barnes

Going the Distance: Four Ways to Build a Better Customer Loyalty Program for Your Brand

Loyalty programs are no longer a novelty. That means that yesterday’s strategies won’t work moving forward, so look for ways to rise above the noise, setting yourself apart from the cloying drone of countless other cookie-cutter programs.
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Going the Distance: Four Ways to Build a Better Customer Loyalty Program for Your Brand

article-thedistance-lg It’s easy enough for a customer to join your loyalty program, especially when you’re offering an incentive such as discounts. All your customer has to do is give out some basic information, and voila! They’re in the fold, a brand new loyalty member with your company. From there, it’s happily ever after. You offer the perks; they stand solidly by you, bringing you their continued business. Simple. Or is it? In reality, just how many of those customers are act ively participating in your loyalty program? Do you know? Sure, loyalty program memberships are on the rise according to market research company eMarketer, having jumped 25 percent in the space of just two years. However, that figure may be a bit misleading. The truth is that, while loyalty program sign-ups may be more numerous, active participation in such programs is actually in decline. At the time of the study, the average US household had memberships in 29 loyalty programs; yet consumers were only active in 12 of those. That’s just 41 percent. And even that meager figure represents a drop of 2 percentage points per year over each of the preceding four years, according to a study by loyalty-marketing research company COLLOQUY.

When discounts just aren’t enough

So what’s a brand to do? How can you make your loyalty program worth your customer’s while—as well as your own? After all, gaining a new loyalty member doesn’t mean much if your customer isn’t actively participating in your program. Consider this: Does your customer loyalty program offer members anything different from what your competitors are offering? Chances are your program includes discounts. That’s a given. And what customer doesn’t appreciate a good discount? But when every other company out there is providing this staple benefit in comparable amounts, it becomes less and less likely that customers will remain loyal to any one particular brand. Frankly, it’s all too easy for customers to get lost in a sea of loyalty member discounts. They’re everywhere. In fact, just under half of internet users perceive that all rewards programs are alike, according to a 2015 eMarketer survey. The key to success, then, is to differentiate your business from the crowd. If you can offer your customers something unique and valuable beyond the usual discount, chances are they’ll be more likely to stick with your brand. Here’s some inspiration from companies who get it.

Virgin: Reward more purchases with more benefits.

That’s not to say you need to get rid of discounts entirely. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth. Customers still love a good discount. The goal is to be creative in terms of the loyalty perks you offer. Take the Virgin Atlantic Flying Club, for example. As part of its loyalty program, the airline allows members to earn miles and tier points. Members are inducted at the Club Red tier, from which they can move up to Club Silver and then Club Gold. Here, it’s not just a discount. It’s status. And people respond to feeling important, elite. Still, even where the rewards themselves are concerned, Virgin is motivating loyalty customers with some pretty attractive offers. At the Club Red tier, members earn flight miles and receive discounts on rental cars, airport parking, hotels and holiday flights. But as members rise in tiers, they get even more. At the Club Silver tier, members earn 50 percent more points on flights, access to expedited check-in, and priority standby seating. And once they reach the top, Club Gold members receive double miles, priority boarding and access to exclusive clubhouses where they can get a drink or a massage before their flight. Now that’s some serious incentive to keep coming back for more. Discounts are still part of the equation – but they are designed with innovation and personal value in mind, elevating them to more than just savings.

Amazon Prime: Pay upfront and become a VIP.

What if your customers only had to pay a one-time upfront fee to get a year’s worth of substantial benefits? It may not sound like the smartest business idea at first glance. But take a closer look. Amazon Prime users pay a nominal $99 a year to gain free, two-day shipping on millions of products with no minimum purchase. And that’s just one benefit of going Prime. It’s true that Amazon loses $1-2 billion a year on Prime. This comes as no surprise given the incredible value the program offers. But get this: Amazon makes up for its losses in markedly higher transaction frequency. Specifically, Prime members spend an average of $1,500 a year on Amazon.com, compared with $625 spent by non-Prime users, a ccording to a 2015 report from Consumer Intelligence Research Partners.

Patagonia: Cater to customer values.

Sometimes, the draw for consumers isn’t saving money or getting a great deal. The eco-friendly outdoor clothing company Patagonia figured this out back in 2011, when it partnered with eBay to launch its Common Threads Initiative: a program that allows customers to resell their used Patagonia clothing via the company’s website. Why is this program important to customers? And how does it benefit Patagonia? The company’s brand embraces environmental and social responsibility, so it was only fitting that they create a platform for essentially recycling old clothing rather than merely throwing it away. The Common Threads Initiative helps Patagonia build a memorable brand and fierce loyalty by offering its customers a cause that aligns with deep personal values. OK, so their customers get to make a little money, too. Everybody wins.

American Airlines: Gamify your loyalty program.

If you’re going to offer your customers a loyalty program, why not make it f un? After all, engagement is key to building a strong relationship with your customer. And what better way to achieve that goal than making a game of it. American Airlines had this very thing in mind when it created its AAdvantage Passport Challenge following its merger with USAirways. The goal: find a new way to engage customers as big changes were underway. Using a custom Facebook application, American Airlines created a virtual passport to increase brand awareness while offering members a chance to earn bonus points. Customers earned these rewards through a variety of game-like activities, from answering trivia questions to tracking travel through a personalized dashboard. In the end, participants earned more than 70 percent more stamps than expected – and the airline saw a ROI of more than 500 percent. The takeaway: people like games.

Stand out from the crowd.

Your approach to your customer loyalty program should align with your overall marketing approach. Effective branding is about standing out, not blending it. Being memorable is key. To this end, keep in mind that loyalty programs are no longer a novelty. That means that yesterday’s strategies won’t work moving forward, so look for ways to rise above the noise, setting yourself apart from the cloying drone of countless other cookie-cutter programs.

637 Small changes, big impact: Realistic resolutions

Don’t let the best of intentions fall victim to the realities of day-to-day demands. Instead, focus on making incremental improvements that, collectively, can add up to big results for your site and your bottom line.

June 2016
By Jeremy Girard

Small Changes, Big Impact: 5 Things You Can (and Should!) Do Today to Boost Your Website’s Performance

There’s no time like the present to implement these quick fixes and reap the rewards for months to come.
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Small Changes, Big Impact: 5 Things You Can (and Should!) Do Today to Boost Your Website’s Performance

artice-smallchanges-lg Every spring it happens like clockwork: the temperatures get warmer, the days get longer and everything in nature becomes more vibrant and colorful. Along with these changes in the great outdoors comes the irresistible urge to clean house and embrace a fresh start. Why not keep that motivational momentum going and apply it to your business – and, more specifically, to your website – as well? After all, there’s no time like the present to sweep away the old and outdated and bring in fresh new ideas and technologies. But you don’t necessarily need to dive head-first into a full redesign and all of the time and expense that entails to reap measurable results. Instead, here are five small steps you can – and should! – take today to ensure that your site is up-to-date, relevant and doing all it can to bring you new customers and grow the community around your brand:

1. Reposition your contact form.

For most website owners – especially those in service-based businesses such as law, accounting, consulting, real estate, etc. – the key “win” for their site is when it motivates a visitor to request more information or schedule a meeting. Contact forms are a ubiquitous website staple intended to provide a convenient – and highly measurable – avenue to initiate communication between an interested prospect and a company. However, perhaps because they are so commonplace, all too often these forms are given little strategic thought, resulting in a cookie-cutter name/email address/phone number format that yields more bogus spam submissions than legitimate new business opportunities. However, there is one simple change you can make that has been shown to get better results: reposition your standard “Contact us” form as an “Ask our experts” feature. By doing so, you shift the focus of the form to providing your visitors with an opportunity to submit a question that is specific to their needs and concerns. Rather than feeling like they are opening themselves up to an endless barrage of solicitation calls and emails, your visitors will sense that they are initiating a dialogue with an expert who will help them solve their particular problem. Make sure to respond to all inquiries within 24 hours, provide helpful advice that is free of charge and tailored to your prospect’s situation, and leave the door open to continue the conversation in a future meeting or phone call. By doing so, you will establish an important foundation of trust and confidence with your potential new client that will make them more inclined to engage your professional services. expert I have personally seen the submission rates on these types of forms increase dramatically. On one site where this small change was implemented, form submissions jumped from one or two per week to one or two per day – all legitimate business opportunities that were sparked simply by repositioning the focus of the form.

2. Productize your offering.

Another challenge that professional services organizations face in creating a website that works as an effective customer conversion engine is that they do not sell a specific product but rather a suite of services that can be customized to each client’s specific needs. This makes it terribly hard to market to visitors who come to their site and simply want to know “What exactly does this company sell, and how much does it cost?”. Because there are so many variables to the company’s offerings, there is not a quick and easy answer to these questions. If this challenge sounds familiar to you, one approach you can try is to “productize” what you have to offer. Create a bundle of services with a fixed price, and market that package on your site in a simple, straightforward manner that makes your offering easy to understand and helps visitors feel like doing business with your company is as simple as buying a product off the shelf at a store. package This is exactly what my company did with some of the technology consulting services that we offer. Instead of only listing the array of services we provide, we also created a product that representing a very specific offering. This made it so much easier to answer the “What do you sell?” question, and it gave us something tangible to promote in our marketing campaigns. In reality, this approach in no way limited the range of services we are able to offer our clients; rather, it merely served as a vehicle to open doors to new opportunities and made it easier to start conversations with new customers for whom we could ultimately provide a custom-tailored solution. Examine the services that you offer, and work with your marketing team to create an appealing package that you can market – understanding all the while that this “product” is really just a means for you to connect with customers and begin the sales process with something tangible that they can easily understand.

3. Lose your home page carousel.

One simple change that I have seen many websites make in the past year or so is to remove animated image carousels from their home pages. These carousels have long been a popular fixture of website design, but the reality is that they can sometimes do more harm than good. Home page carousels typically feature giant, screen-spanning images which carry with them heavy download requirements both for the images and for the scripts that power the animation sequences, thereby creating a potential stumbling block in performance for users on mobile devices or with slower connections. Additionally, studies have shown that click-through rates on animated carousels are extremely low, and they drop significantly from the first slide to the subsequent ones. This is why many companies are replacing rotating carousels with a singular static message instead. This one change can greatly reduce a page’s download size (when my company did this on our home page, its file size decreased by 75 percent) while having little to no effect on actual user engagement or click-through. In fact, because the page now loads more quickly, many sites actually see an uptick in user engagement because fewer people are abandoning a site due to poor performance. image Do you have a carousel on your website? If so, do you know whether or not it is working well for you? Your marketing team may be able to do some A/B testing between a version of your site with this animation feature and one without it to see which performs better. Since carousels do work well for some sites (like news organizations or sites with lots of frequently updated content), having this data can help you determine whether or not it’s time to ditch the carousel.

4. Update your image(s).

Stock photography is something of a necessary evil of website design, as more often than not, companies don’t have the budget to execute a full-fledged custom professional photo shoot. However, not all stock images are created equal. Stock photos that are overused or that look so obviously staged that they scream of their “stockiness” can cheapen a site’s design and leave visitors with a negative overall impression of the site. Replacing those images can make a big difference in a site’s visual appeal. If your site’s imagery is stale, you can make some simple image swaps to freshen it up. If you are going to change out old stock images for new stock images, make sure to seek out photos that feel fresh and that are not terribly overused (most stock photo sites will tell you how many times an image has been downloaded). An even better option is to try to add some unique imagery to your site. This could be photographs that you hire a professional to take or – in keeping with one of this year’s hottest trends – custom illustrations that you commission from an artist. illustration If your budget is tight, incorporating even just one or two such one-of-a-kind images in key spots on your site can really boost its visual impact. For instance, if you lose that aforementioned carousel on the home page and replace it with one truly compelling static image and message, it can make a really powerful first impression on your visitors.

5. Publish less.

Most experts agree that publishing original, value-add content on your site on a regular basis is key to optimizing its success – both from a sales and marketing standpoint and as an advantage in the never-ending battle of SEO. While I agree with this approach in principal, for many companies, the drive to publish regularly has resulted in putting out mediocre content simply to meet an inflexible standard of frequency. This is often an entirely counterproductive effort, as content that lacks in quality, original thought or value for the reader reflects poorly on the organization and its perceived level of expertise. Publishing original content to your site on a regular basis is still a best practice, but that content must offer value for it to succeed. Let’s say a visitor comes to your site and is impressed to find that you publish new articles weekly or monthly; however, once they click through the headline to see what they can glean from your writing, if what they find is mediocre at best, what motivation do they have to return to your site again in the future, let alone entrust you with their hard-earned dollars? If, on the other hand, you publish new content less frequently, but everything you produce is of the highest quality, then that same visitor will know that the time they spend on your site will always be worth their while, and they will look forward to the next time you post something new. Re-examine your current content marketing strategy, and ask yourself whether you are focused on quality or frequency. If it’s the latter, commit instead to writing less but to improving the quality of what you offer on your site. While this change may not have an immediate impact, it will absolutely yield long-term results that your visitors will appreciate and respond positively to.

In closing

Eventually, your website will need a redesign, but in the meantime you can make small, strategic, surgical changes that will pay immediate dividends in your site’s success. This approach of implementing gradual but regular modifications will also benefit you when it does come time for that full redesign. By making intelligent improvements over time, you will ultimately be closer to your end goal, leaving less to accomplish with the redesign and thereby paving the way for a smoother and less costly project.
June 2021
Noted By Joe Bauldoff

The Making and Maintenance of our Open Source Infrastructure

In this video, Nadia Eghbal, author of “Working in Public”, discusses the potential of open source developer communities, and looks for ways to reframe the significance of software stewardship in light of how the march of time constantly and inevitably works to pull these valuable resources back into entropy and obsolescence. Presented by the Long Now Foundation.
Watch on YouTube

How to Use Colors in UI Design

Wojciech Zielinski describes and demonstrates practical tips and tools in applying color to user interfaces in contemporary digital design.
Read the Medium article

April 2014
By Jeremy Girard

Mythbusters: Website Edition

Are these myths and misconceptions of website design undermining the quality of the user experience on your site?
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Mythbusters: Website Edition

keyboard As a web designer, I routinely speak with business owners and marketing managers who are in the midst of a website redesign project for their company. During these conversations, I am always amazed by the myths about user experience and interface design that they mistakenly cling to. Many of these misconceptions are the by-product of previous website projects – leftover relics from an Internet of old. Others are more baffling, as their tenets are not now and never were true. So in the interest of championing the best practices and principles of modern website design, we’re channeling our inner myth busters and blowing the lid off five of these most persistent myths (dramatic explosions not included):

Myth #1: Visitors need/want instructions on how to use your site.

The Internet is no longer a new and unfamiliar medium, yet many companies still populate their websites with content that seems targeted to someone who has never actually navigated the Web before. When you include instructions for visitors about how to use to your website, you are adding a lot of extra words, which in most cases only serve to weigh down your pages with unnecessary visual clutter. In fact, the goal of any good design is to create an interface that is so intuitive that no instruction or explanation is necessary to help visitors move from one page to the next and complete routine processes such as making a purchase or signing up for an account. As a result, if you feel instructions are necessary, that inclination is a major red flag for serious design flaws that must be addressed in order to provide a quality experience for your user. To be fair, there are certainly instances where some level of guidance is needed. Complex interactions or applications that are truly unlike anything that has come before on the Web will require some level of training for your users, but the vast majority of websites do not fall into this category. If your site is, well, just a website (and there’s nothing wrong with that!), forego the instructions and have faith that your users are savvy enough to know and understand the well-established conventions of using the Internet.

Myth #2: These days, everyone has a high bandwidth connection.

Over the last few years, the average size of a webpage has doubled, largely due to our profuse use of images. Current design trends that call for giant, page-spanning photographs combined with the drive to deliver high-resolution images for retina displays mean that the file size of the images we are using continues to climb. Many people argue that this is acceptable because, as the size of our webpages grow, so does the bandwidth speed of our Internet connections. But is this really the case? It is true that the number of people with access to high bandwidth connections continues to increase, but the belief that all visitors have the benefit of a lightning-fast connection is nothing more than wishful thinking. There are still many areas of the country and the world that are shackled to the type of slower connections that are only a distant memory for many of us. Also, keep in mind as well that mobile visitors may be operating on a network that is either unreliable or has data download limits. In both of these instances, a website that is bloated with large content (i.e., giant videos, unoptimized images, etc.) will pose a problem. Ensuring that your website is optimized for performance is as important today as it has ever been, regardless of how fast connection speeds may be. After all, no one has ever said, “Wow, this website loaded TOO quickly for me!” Better performance and faster downloads improve the quality of experience for all users.

Myth #3: There may be some users visiting your site on a mobile device, but not that many.

Years ago – when the iPhone was still a novelty and everyone and their 12-year-old brother didn’t walk around with a smartphone in their pocket – this may have been the case. But today, visitors are accessing your website on a wide variety of devices with a range of different screen sizes. Examining the hundreds of websites that we manage reveals that an average of 30 percent of all traffic to those sites comes from mobile devices of one kind or another, and for some, it’s as high as 50 percent or more. This is consistent with the forecasts of industry analysts, who predict that by 2015 – that’s next year, folks! – the majority of all Web traffic will come from mobile devices. Additionally, not only are visitors accessing your site on mobile devices, but the same visitor is likely using multiple devices to access your content. We call this the “muti-device user”. As we covered previously in our article “Website Design for a Multi-Device World”: The multi-device world is populated by multi-device users. While a staggering variety of devices are, indeed, being used to access web content today, it’s also important to remember that the same user is often using multiple different devices to access your website – and they expect that site to work well regardless of which device they happen to be using at the time. Gone are the days of “mobile users” coming to your site only to locate your phone number or directions to your office. Today’s mobile users – and multi-device users – expect convenient, on-demand access to the same content that they can find on the desktop version of the site. Clinging to an outdated belief that “no one has a reason to visit my website on a mobile device” will quickly translate to “no one has a reason at all to visit my website at all.” Read more: Website Design for a Multi-Device World

Myth #4: You should open off-site links in a new tab/window.

This is the most common myth that I hear from clients, who insist that all links that lead to another site must open in a new tab or window. This request stems from a belief that if a visitor leaves your website to look at content somewhere else on the Web, they will never find their way back. By opening that link into a new tab, your website remains open in the user’s browser for them to return to at any time. Or at least, that’s how it works in theory. Unfortunately, I have seen this practice backfire on a number of occasions. Why would this be the case? Think of the Web as a linear experience. You move from one page to another and another. You can travel seamlessly to and from any point along  this timeline by using the browser’s back and forward buttons. But when you open a link in a new tab, you start a new timeline for the user. Having observed many website users over the years, I can tell you that the back button is a feature that they are intimately familiar with. If that user clicks a link and visits a new page, and they then want to return to your site, they will intuitively click the back button until they get there. However, if you’ve opened the off-site link in a new tab or window, then the back button eventually leads to a dead-end for that visitor. Your site, which they want to return to, is not part of their current timeline because it is open in a completely separate tab. Of course, all the user needs to do is close the current tab, and your site will be in front of them again, but I’ve seen many visitors who are unaware of or confused by this. Instead, when the linear experience of the back button doesn’t bring them to your site as they expected, they instead type your website’s URL into the browser’s address bar, thinking that something went wrong along the way. They now have two instances of your website open, so in your efforts to “help” them easily get back to your site, you’ve actually confused the user experience. Does this mean you should never open links in a new tab or window? No, it doesn’t. For example, it’s a good practice to open PDF files in a new tab because these documents feel like they are separate from the linear experience of browsing a site. Additionally, opening links in new tabs is not “wrong,” per se. It is an acceptable solution, but if you choose to use that approach, do so for a reason other than the mistaken belief that if visitors leave your site, they will never find their way back. The linear experience of web browsing – and using the back button to return to a webpage – is a well-understood convention, so don’t be afraid to let your visitors explore in the manner that is most natural to them.

Myth #5: Visitors absolutely will/absolutely will not complete a form.

The final myth we will debunk concerns web forms. Interestingly, I hear competing opinions from clients regarding forms on their websites. Some believe that visitors will not fill out a form no matter what. Others think that their users will gladly complete a lengthy questionnaire for almost no reason at all. As usual, the truth lies somewhere in the middle of these two extremes. Gathering information from website visitors is a valuable exercise. It allows you to understand who is coming to your site so you can follow up with them, engage with them and hopefully convert them into paying customers for your business. Just asking for visitor’s information is not enough, however. Very few people will be willing to complete a form unless they have a clear understanding of what they will receive in return – and what they receive needs to be of greater value to them than receiving more marketing from you. This value can come any number of different ways, such as receiving a free whitepaper or application download or registering for an event or webinar. In each of these cases, there is a legitimate reason for your site visitors to complete a form that gives you their personal information. If, however, your form simply says, “Sign up for updates!” without any further information about what those updates entail, how frequent they will be delivered or what potential value they hold, then there is a slim chance anyone will be inclined to complete that form. Creating a valuable offer is step one. Step two is the design of the form itself. Asking for too much information will be a roadblock for many visitors, who will either perceive a form with a large number of fields as being too cumbersome or too intrusive to complete, so the best course of action is to ask for only the information you need. If you never intend to call someone, then don’t ask for their phone number because that’s one less obstacle you’ll have to overcome. The more concise and easy your form is to complete, the more likely your visitors will do so. Website visitors will fill in forms, as long as you make those forms easy to complete and provide value to them in exchange for sharing their information with you.

R.I.P. myths and misconceptions

The Web and the behavior of its users are constantly evolving. Since the last time you engaged in a website redesign project, there have undoubtedly been a number of shifts in trends and tendencies, and what you learned through that experience even just two or three years ago may not be applicable today. Because of this ever-changing landscape, the importance of working with web development firm that keeps pace with these changes and the best practices of modern website design cannot be understated. Such a partnership will ensure that the decisions driving the the design of your site are relevant to today’s Web and are not relics of a time gone by.