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Chris Allison
July 9, 2013

Site Architecture and the Oregon Experiment

In the early 1970s, University of Oregon students and faculty were not happy. Sure, academics have a knack for disgruntlement, but this was a special sort of dissatisfaction: the kind that led to action.

They protested against over-logging, destruction of historic sites, the military draft, American invasion into Asia, and, particularly close to home, the new brutalist style architecture taking over their campus. After enough huffing and puffing, the university administration decided that, while they couldn’t stop all the wrongs in the world, they could take more control of their own facilities. So, they hired Christopher Alexander, a professor from Berkley, to put together a set of guidelines by which the university could conduct its own community planning and building construction—essentially an architectural version of a brand style guide.

What does all of this have to do with designing for digital? A good deal. For websites and applications today are much closer to buildings, or even cities, than they are to say, posters or brochures. Users don’t stand back separate from the visual space on the page, but move through it mentally, all the while envisioning where they are in relation to other areas of the site.

September 4, 2012

The 8 Key Characteristics of Craftsmanship

At over 85 years old, Jiro Ono is the oldest chef to ever be awarded a three star Michelin rating. His sushi restaurant — which is in a subway station — is also quite atypical compared to the rest of the world's culinary elite. But as anyone who has seen the recent documentary Jiro Dreams of Sushi can tell you, it's no surprise that Jiro is widely recognized as the world's best sushi chef. He has devoted more time to sushi than many of us have been on the planet.

August 9, 2012

Why T-SPLOST Failed: A Marketing Blunder

Atlanta, notorious throughout the United States for its traffic congestion, is part of a 10-county economic development region that last week ruthlessly shot down T-SPLOST, a 1% sales tax that would go toward a slew of transportation enhancements.

Throughout the suburbs, where distrust of Atlanta's use of tax-payer money is the strongest, residents were utterly unpersuaded that tax dollars weren't going down the drain.

July 20, 2012

Lessons from Luke Sullivan: Conflict is King

Last night the famous ad man Luke Sullivan, author of Hey Whipple Squeeze This and current chair of advertising at SCAD, entertained and educated a group of 85-100 Atlanta ad and marketing professionals at an event put on by the Atlanta Ad Club and TAG Marketing Association.

It was a great gathering. Luke was insightful and comic in a way that makes the booze and food provided hardly necessary to lighten up the crowd. The topic for the night was conflict - specifically, how to use conflict to create great ads.

May 24, 2012

Exploring New Paths to Great Creative Strategies Part 2: Beyond The Focus Group

Drawing nuggets of truth from shrouded mystery has been one of the most passionate pursuits of the human race since ancient times. In the Hebrew book of Proverbs it’s written: “It is the glory of God to conceal a matter, but the glory of kings is to search a matter out.”

As marketers, it’s easy to fall into the cynicism that we are the prophets of consumerism (oh no!), and overlook the opportunity we have to search out truth and bring meaning to the relationship between brands and people.