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Karen
Happy New Year From Sandstorm

Sandstorm is ringing in 2013 by inviting you to collaborate for a cause. Scroll through our interactive New Year's Greeting. At the end, choose a charitable organization, and Sandstorm will give them a contribution.

We love how well parallax scrolling fits the theme of collaborating for a cause. Your participation begins before you even vote for a charity—it starts the moment you start scrolling. Your movement down the page activates snowflakes and triggers year-end greetings. So travel with us through the seasons and learn about our accomplishments in 2012. You'll be part of the experience in motion and part of the collaboration to give back. You'll even get to see a cameo from the SkiFree guy (sans the yeti).

Check out the greeting and choose a charity at the bottom!

This blog was posted by Karen on January 11, 2013.
Karen Boehl

About the Author

Karen Boehl

Karen does a little bit of everything – webmaster, social media manager and search engine optimizer. She can most often be found on Twitter, in the Usability Lab, or happily buried in the Drupal admin menu.

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Karen

We're excited to welcome Carley Marcelle as Sandstorm's very first intern. She is working hands-on with sales and marketing to implement and manage critical duties that support Sandstorm’s aggressive business development strategy. These tasks include: marketing research, media channel strategy, media planning and negotiating, presentation development, and proposal writing/proofing. Carley already feels like part of the family. “Sandstorm has been a blessing. Not only is the industry and learning experience incredible, but it embodies a work philosophy and environment that most organizations today can only dream of.”

She'll also be helping develop a full-fledged internship program (details to come!). Fun fact: Carley is also an actor with video producing chops – and has a contagious enthusiasm that fills a room.

Welcome to Sandstorm, Carley!

This blog was posted by Karen on November 28, 2012.
Karen Boehl

About the Author

Karen Boehl

Karen does a little bit of everything – webmaster, social media manager and search engine optimizer. She can most often be found on Twitter, in the Usability Lab, or happily buried in the Drupal admin menu.

Karen
Our Chicago Web Design Firm

Nathan Haas joins Sandstorm as our newest User Interface Designer. Nathan last worked with a web design firm based in Washington, D.C. where he worked on both print and interactive web design projects with associations, healthcare and government.

When he's not at Sandstorm creating impactful user interfaces, he's traveling, cooking, playing lacrosse or spending time at the beach (he was a life-guard for 5 years). Nathan and his girlfriend Lauren, who met at the University of Tennessee, started a blog together that focuses on cooking high-end meals for two on a low-end budget. And as a true designer, Nathan puts his design touch on all of his projects—he designed the logo for the cooking blog and does apparel design for a few lacrosse teams.

Welcome to Sandstorm, Nathan!

This blog was posted by Karen on September 25, 2012.
Karen Boehl

About the Author

Karen Boehl

Karen does a little bit of everything – webmaster, social media manager and search engine optimizer. She can most often be found on Twitter, in the Usability Lab, or happily buried in the Drupal admin menu.

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Karen
Sandstorm moves to the new Basecamp

That's right, we're moving to the new Basecamp! The new version of our project management and collaboration tool was released this past spring. After spending some time reviewing the new features, we decided it was finally time to make the move. As of September 4, the day after Labor Day, all of our projects will be migrated to the new Basecamp.

So, for our current clients, that means you'll be seeing a fresh new interface when you log in. But not to worry. Change is good! Catching up on updates, collaborating and sharing will all be faster and simpler.

Check out the images below. The project page compiles all parts of the project in one place, and the calendar allows easier at-a-glance understanding of the project timeline. We're excited to see how everyone likes it!

PROJECT PAGE:

The project page includes all the pieces of a project – messages, to-dos, files and more. However you'll notice messages are now called discussions. And the writeboards have been changed to text documents that will allow text formatting.

CALENDAR: 

To-do items are now listed on the calendar along with the larger milestones.

For more information, read the new Basecamp launch post.

This blog was posted by Karen on August 27, 2012.
Karen Boehl

About the Author

Karen Boehl

Karen does a little bit of everything – webmaster, social media manager and search engine optimizer. She can most often be found on Twitter, in the Usability Lab, or happily buried in the Drupal admin menu.

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Karen
Sandstorm Launches Community Drupal Web Site for PROmeasure

Standardization is a hot topic in the PRO (patient-reported outcomes) community. It’s hot enough that the amount of information out there can be difficult to filter through, and makes it impossible to get your voice heard. PROmeasure is taking on these challenges with the beta launch of their site PROmeasure.org.

The site aims to involve the PRO community of authors, medical practitioners and health care IT professionals in enhancing the use of PRO in clinical practice and research by standardizing its use of measures (questionnaires). Users can download an open-source data model for measure standardization, search through a database of measures and participate in discussions with the community.

The PROmeasure web site is built in Drupal and includes a PubMed integration, user dashboards, commenting and personalization features, community forums, and content-manageable rotating graphics on the homepage.

Learn more about the possibilities available with Drupal development.

This blog was posted by Karen on August 21, 2012.
Karen Boehl

About the Author

Karen Boehl

Karen does a little bit of everything – webmaster, social media manager and search engine optimizer. She can most often be found on Twitter, in the Usability Lab, or happily buried in the Drupal admin menu.

Karen
Sandstorm Staff celebrating Top Inner City Company Award

Some of the staff at Sandstorm, literally showing upward growth!

2012 is proving to be yet another award-winning year for Sandstorm Design! In March we were named as a Top B2B Interactive Agency by Crain's BtoB Magazine. And this week, our Principal Sandy Marsico traveled to Boston to attend the awards ceremony for the Top 100 Fastest Growing Inner City Companies in America. We are so honored and humbled to have landed at the #43 spot, with a 33% 5-year annual growth.

With our Chicago marketing firm's move to a larger space last year and hiring a number of new employees, we've been steadily and strategically growing. We couldn't be more excited about this achievement, and we thank Fortune, Harvard, ICIC and all of our amazing partners who've worked with us to create impactful work!

This blog was posted by Karen on May 11, 2012.
Karen Boehl

About the Author

Karen Boehl

Karen does a little bit of everything – webmaster, social media manager and search engine optimizer. She can most often be found on Twitter, in the Usability Lab, or happily buried in the Drupal admin menu.

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Karen
Kyle Lamble at Sandstorm Design

Kyle Lamble is the latest addition to Sandstorm Design, adding to our stellar Drupal developers. He'll be supporting our Drupal development team with both front-end and back-end database development. He's experienced in javascript, PHP, MySQL, ASP.NET, C++ and has even done video game programming. Kyle uses his professional skills in his personal life too, and in his spare time built and maintains the website for the Loosey Goosey Art Zine that he and his friends created. In addition to loving life in front of the computer screen, Kyle is also quite comfortable on the big screen and has acted in several films. Welcome, Kyle. We're excited to be working with you!

This blog was posted by Karen on March 20, 2012.
Karen Boehl

About the Author

Karen Boehl

Karen does a little bit of everything – webmaster, social media manager and search engine optimizer. She can most often be found on Twitter, in the Usability Lab, or happily buried in the Drupal admin menu.

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Karen
Drupal basics

So, you're going with Drupal, eh? Let me be the first to pat you on the back! You're joining the likes of The White House, National Association of Realtors, Forrester Research and Harvard, all of whom have websites built in Drupal. This open source content management system is a developer favorite because of its robust and flexible capabilities for managing large amounts of content.

As with all things, the first step you probably took was a Google search to learn the basics of Drupal. But that quick search may bring up some overwhelming results as a lot of the information out there is actually for the thousands and thousands of Drupal developers who have made this content management system what it is today.

But you're not a developer, and no one expects you to be! (That's what we're here for.) You're what we call a content administrator. And we've put together some of the Drupal basics you'll need, without all that developer mumbo jumbo.

CONTENT TYPES

There are three main types of content on a Drupal site - Basic Pages, Articles, and Webforms. Each type has its own set of fields and purposes:

  • Basic page - Just what it sounds like, a basic page. This content type will usually have fields like a main header, sub header and body content and is used for most of the pages on your site (like About Us, Products, or Services).
  • Articles - These can be used for blog entries or news items. They have fewer fields than a basic page and include special fields like author and date.
  • Webforms - This content type is for the forms on your site, like Contact Us.

MENUS

Every site needs some form of navigation. The menus let you take the different pieces of content on your website and organize them in an outline. The main menu, for example could be made up of a few basic pages like About Us, Products, and Services, and a webform for your Contact Us page.

BLOCKS

Blocks are smaller chunks of content that might show on a page but wouldn't be part of the content type. For example, you might have a callout on all the pages of your site. If this callout is a block, you can edit it once and the changes will show on every page.

CONTENT + MENUS + BLOCKS = YOUR WEBSITE!

When you take these different pieces and add them together, they make up your website! Look at the example Drupal website below and see if you can identify the different elements:

Drupal Basics: Example Drupal 7 Website

 

BASIC PAGE CONTENT

Although we call it a basic page, not everything on the page is part of the basic page content. Notice in the image below that the basic page content only takes up the center of the page...

Drupal Basics: Basic page content

 

MENUS

That's because the rest of the information on the page is either a menu or a block. There are three menus on this page—the main menu on the top left, the secondary menu below that and a utility menu in the upper right corner.

Drupal Basics: Menus

 

BLOCKS

Finally, the callout on the right is a block. It would be edited separately from the basic page content in the center, and the changes would be carried over to any other pages on the site that include the block.

Drupal Basics: Blocks

There you have it, now you understand content types, menus and blocks! The basics of Drupal are easy to grasp, and once you log in and start updating, you'll love the ease and flexibility of it. Of course, if you ever need more than content updates, our Drupal developers would love to work on your website!

This blog was posted by Karen on March 16, 2012.
Karen Boehl

About the Author

Karen Boehl

Karen does a little bit of everything – webmaster, social media manager and search engine optimizer. She can most often be found on Twitter, in the Usability Lab, or happily buried in the Drupal admin menu.

Karen
Sandstorm celebrates making Brill Street's Top Gen-Y Employers List with sliders!

We are so excited to announce that not only is our web design firm one of Brill Street’s Top Chicago Gen-Y Employers for 2011, we’ve also moved up the list of 50 since last year—to the top 20! With freedoms to define our own culture, opportunities to give each other praise and recognition, and traditions around holidays and events, we’ve got a workplace fit for any Gen-Yer.

Sandstorm staff jump for joy after making Brill Street

And it’s not just the fun (although, yes, we know how to have a good time), it’s the collaboration, teamwork and team-building activities that allow us to grow together and work better together so that at the end of the day we can kick our feet up and appreciate every aspect of our jobs—the people, the work, the environment, the culture... oh, and of course the food!

Truth is, Sandstorm is a great place to work no matter who you are. Read more about our Chicago web design company on Brill Street’s Top 50 Chicago Generation Y Employers List.

This blog was posted by Karen on February 8, 2012.
Karen Boehl

About the Author

Karen Boehl

Karen does a little bit of everything – webmaster, social media manager and search engine optimizer. She can most often be found on Twitter, in the Usability Lab, or happily buried in the Drupal admin menu.

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Karen

When Adobe announced their decision to stop Flash development for mobile devices, we certainly weren't surprised. It's been a year since we've had any requests for Flash of any kind. But if you've been hearing that this is the end of Flash altogether, don't think that means it's time to toss it if you've got it.

If it ain't broke, don't fix it

When styling practices started moving away from tables-based layouts (way back when) there was a rush to convert anything and everything to tableless layouts with CSS. While many sites really did need to overcome some huge inefficiencies, others that were working perfectly fine in tables underwent redesigns just to be able to say they were now up-to-date. In reality, they could have waited until the need to change arose.

While mobile is growing and eventually we'll all want to have our sites accessible from any device, that doesn’t mean we all need it immediately.

Analytics

Check your analytics. If you don't have a very large mobile audience yet, and you're already using Flash effectively—then keep it! There's no reason to get rid of a perfectly wonderful experience built in Flash if your audience is accessing it just fine.

HTML5 for Mobile

If after checking your analytics you find that you do have a growing mobile audience, then HTML5 is the way to go. Along with Adobe's Flash statement, they also said they would be contributing to HTML5 for mobile. It’s universally compatible with mobile devices (iPhone, Android and beyond). The downside is that it isn’t completely functional in all desktop browsers yet.

Beyond the web site

Let's not forget, Flash isn't just for web sites. It's been used to create some amazing applications for use at tradeshows and conferences. And the great news is that these applications aren't affected by the mobile barrier, so Flash is still a great option for creating them.

 

At Sandstorm, we love the beautiful interactive work that has come from Flash. The Johnny Cash Project is one of our favorites. We even built an interactive conversation for a large insurance company. And while we'll always have a soft spot for Flash, we’re also extremely excited about the opportunities HTML5 creates. Regardless of the technology, we're just happy to be building powerful interactive experiences.

This blog was posted by Karen on January 17, 2012.
Karen Boehl

About the Author

Karen Boehl

Karen does a little bit of everything – webmaster, social media manager and search engine optimizer. She can most often be found on Twitter, in the Usability Lab, or happily buried in the Drupal admin menu.

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