Monday, April 19, 2010

Design serves to stimulate our imagination...

From the Cool Hunter transportation file...

Think back 70 or 75 years to a time when design began to break away from the traditional and elaborate rationalism that had ensued for hundreds of years. As the styles of Art Nouveau, Art Deco, Streamline and Zigzag Moderne emerged after the Industrial Revolution, designers as well as consumers fully embraced the Age of the Machine.   Shiny chrome surfaces lay across curving forms or over expansive horizontal planes and glorified a dynamic new world on the move.

And suddenly, design was muted as World War II approached. Inspiration was buried away, along with some innovative and visually stunning design work. At Cool Hunter, they are wondering why it is that car manufacturers are tripping over each other inventing boring and redundant “super modern” and “high design” cars, when the end result is a sea of lookalikes. One can no longer recognize a “premium” make from a lower-end car, certainly not by distinctive and recognizable design features.

Take a look at some of these marvels of industrial Design. Its good to know there are still people out there having fun in their day jobs in the fringes of the Auto Industry.

Monday, February 01, 2010

Toronto Job Alert - Web Architect – User Interface - WSIB

Any Web Architects out there looking for a great (government agency) job downtown Toronto (Front and Simcoe) with a secure future and a nice, stable paycheque?

Web Architect – User Interface 
The Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB)

Salary Range: This position is currently being evaluated; the final pay grade has yet to be determined however, we anticipate the range to be $76,568 – $89,000.

Check this job description over, and if it suits you, then go ahead and contact our friend Kira James at WSIB down below. Tell her FRANK sent you.

There is currently a vacancy for a permanent Architect- User Interface in the Architecture Branch of the Business Technology Services Division, located at WSIB Head Office at 200 Front Street West in Toronto.

The position of Architect - User Interface is accountable for building user interface design concepts and prototypes for WSIB’s next-generation of applications, including researching, evaluation, planning, designing, alignment and defining specific components of the Enterprise Architecture that provide a sound foundation for the development, operation, support and maintenance of systems at WSIB.

Provide recommendations to WSIB and Business Technology Services (BTS) management and project teams on a variety of transformational and growth initiatives related primarily but not exclusively to web-based products.


•          Developing usability goals and objectives to better understand our customer needs in order to better serve them
•          Recommending technical solutions which will drive automated processes and/or minimize internal sourcing needs (ie. simplifying navigation; devising efficient approaches to content and media utilization through design of WSIB web- tools; directing development of web-presence).
•          Conducting field studies and collecting user feedback through surveys, interviews, workshops to continuously improve the User Experience
•          Performing competitor analysis (ideas and benchmark)
•          Conducting usability testing at both WSIB and stakeholder locations
•          Conducting user interface reviews to determine impacts of infrastructure change and ensure solutions are aligned with corporate strategy, objectives and architectural principles
•          Participate in the development of Business Technology Services’ strategies, principles and plans
•          Conduct architectural reviews and integrate, as required, legislative requirements and business processes
•          Documenting users, tasks, and environment (personas , task analysis , scenarios , user performance requirements)
•          Keep abreast of industry (both technical on business-related) trends and internal strategies and directions through publications, research papers, personal networks and vendors to identify opportunities for WSIB
•          Conduct other related work duties as assigned or required.


·       User experience is a multi-disciplinary field that includes field research, information design, technology, writing, visual communication. A minimum of five to eight years experience is required. The candidate should be versed in the following areas:
·       User research: experience in planning, designing and practicing the various techniques of user research (field research, interviews, usability testing, card sorting, surveys, web analytics, paper prototyping, usage log analysis)
·       Information Architecture: experience in designing information architectures with an eye towards future growth; ability to notate and diagram such IA.
·       User interface (UI) design: able to deliver a high level UI design: navigation, layout, visual hierarchy. Must have the ability to communicate, and lead, through the design phases to the business and to the technical talent that will refine and implement it; familiarity with various UI prototyping techniques.
·       Accessibility: a good understanding of accessibility for people with disabilities. Knowledge of the standards and legislation must be complemented with real life experience working with users with disabilities.
·       Methodology: understanding of the various roles and deliverables within user centered design, how they fit together and within the overall product lifecycle with demonstrated ability to plan and recommend the appropriate activities for a project, as the process can scale up or down depending on various constraints; experience with methodologies such as Iterative development , Agile, RUP, and Lean
    •    Technology: while this is not a developer position, the candidate must demonstrate a good understanding of the medium’s potential and constraints (web standards, browsers, CMS, mobile web experience, etc.) and keep up to date on its evolution; fluency with web standards and technologies, including: CSS, HTML, JavaScript, JSP, XUL, XAML. Knowledge of usability and coding practices for accessibility and strong web graphics production capability and practitioner experience with Flash, Visio and other mockup tools
    •    Communication: strong writing and verbal communication skills are a must in this position, as information needs to be exchanged with the project team and at all levels of the organization; superior interpersonal skills and the ability to collaborate actively and proactively with others in a cross-functional team
    •    Self-motivated and self-managed with a high degree of analytical ability and intellectual curiosity
·       Strong attention to detail, and a commitment to delivering highly-polished web-based prototypes under tight time constraints

Qualified candidates please send your covering letter and resume quoting
“Architect – User Interface – ID #10-0015” by 4:30 p.m. on February 8, 2010 to:

Kira James, Talent Acquisition Specialist
at The Workplace Safety and Insurance Board 
200 Front Street West, Toronto, ON  M5V 3J1

E-mail: Kira James  (tell her FRANK sent you!)

or FAX:  (416) 344-4299


As a precondition of employment, the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board may require a prospective candidate to undergo a criminal records name check prior to or at anytime following hire.

We appreciate the interest of all candidates, but advise that only those selected for an interview will be contacted.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Alternative Design event in Toronto : Come up to my Room...

COME UP TO MY ROOM is the Gladstone Hotel’s annual alternative design event.

CUTMR invites artists and designers to show us what goes on inside their heads. Coming together in dialogue and collaboration, participants are limited only by their imaginations, making CUTMR one of the most exciting design shows in Toronto. The four-day curated event is in its seventh year at the Gladstone Hotel, featuring 11 room and 14 public space installations. CUTMR is a part of the inaugural 2010 Toronto International Design Festival.

Be a part of the dialogue of design and art and engage with immersive and thought provoking spaces.

The organizers are offering great design prizes through their twitter feed:

For more information on Come up to my Room, check out the website.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

TIDF: Toronto International Design Festival

TIDF is a new festival sponsored by Audi, one of our personal favourite design companies and makers of some very fine German automobiles: and another icon of modern design, Rado Switzerland, who is famous for making some of the world's most beautiful designer watches.

Celebrating local and international design, TIDF is launching this year in the design capital of Canada. Between January 20 – 24, a variety of venues around the city will host contemporary design events, including exhibits, symposiums, lectures, and fairs. Be sure to get out there and experience some of the events.

Help make this a success story so it will build upon what is presented in 2010 and come back year after year. Tell your friends, follow the excitement and generate some TIDF buzz on Twitter.

Get your TIDF passport here: or visit for all the details.

Take a few minutes to think about how you can get involved next year. 

Complete TIDF Showroom listing here.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre : Design for the Greater Good

Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, Toronto, Ontario

This is a site design and execution project that FRANK had the opportunity to submit a proposal and pitch on but despite being shortlisted to the semi-finals, failed to succeed in winning the project. We did our best, but were out bested by another firm.

You can't win them all, but you can learn from the successes of others.

 I like to follow up on these things to see how the client faired in the end. Many times I see the results and say "hey, we could have done better than that!", sometimes we agree that the client made a good call and got good value for the money, even if they decided not to spend it with us.

The Sunnybrook site is one such example: 

Taking a good look at this site will provide you a role model for how social ventures and non profits should be representiung themselves online. Newsy and ephemeral, it appears as though there is a lot of exciting things going on at Sunnybrook. They employed a crisp, clean and modern design sensibility; the navigation is good (easy to find what you are looking for, easy to get around); and the site is overall very positive, friendly and upbeat.

They made an impressive use of video, photographic imagery and a host of social media optimization tools. I would have to say that the people who designed and built this site did a very good job of giving Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre an excellent online presence and a solid basis for a vibrant and engaging community platform. 

While they likely had a pretty substantial budget for this, a smaller, non profit agency could achieve greatness and employ the best parts of something like this for not a lot of money, if you knew people in the right places...

If you are a non profit organization looking to spruce up your presence online, leverage the power of social media to raise awareness and build healthy and engaging community, you may want to consider connecting with us here at FRANK. We would be happy to help you find the language to convince the board, a business case to back it up and provide you the tools to push your cause forward in 2010.

Happy Holidays.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

beta testing the feedburner

The pace of change is rapid and all consuming. In order to be out there on the edge of things, you have to be willing to try and test new things all of the time, and quickly sift through and differentiate between the stars and the dogs.

Today has been a whirlwind as I sample and review some of tomorrow's brightest and most promising technologies. I am interested in seeing if all this works as it should. Please e-mail me back with your comments and feedback.

If you know of anything new and exciting that you want to share, please feel free to drop me a line. If you have any questions about how some of the innovative new social media tools and technologies can help you round out your overall marketing mix, then send us an e-mail, we would be pleased only too pleased to share our experiences and insights with you.


Saturday, December 12, 2009

Never underestimate the social media value of the little black dress

The MTO-W Pageant 2010, originally uploaded by roberrific.

This is a photo from the Miss Teen Ontario - World (MTC-W) pageant, which is a popular event and a prelude to The Search for Miss Teen Canada - World in downtown Toronto in July 2010.

While the idea of the beauty pageant is not new, and has often been dismissed as a thing of the past, in its revitalized format it is as popular as ever in certain circles.

And now, through innovative use of Social Media, the beauty pageant is alive and well and thriving thanks to the MTC-W Contestant Blog Army. In the dog eat dog war of beauty pageantry, it takes an army to come out on top.

In an attempt to take the pageant to the next level, the MTC-W organizers hired FRANK to come up with ways to tap into the power of social media to scan the nation for the country's brightest MTC-W hopefuls and to share the stories, the joys, the triumphs, the egos and the agonies with all who might care.

Our electronic community shares the adventure of the little girl from Smalltown, Alberta being discovered by MTC-W, flown in to Toronto and competing for fame and glory in pictures, video and stories. The genius of FRANK's innovative social media strategy lies in the boost in Page rank (search engine ranking popularity) generated by the competitive energy of fifty-four bright, young and beautiful bloggers. Essentially, our MTC-W blog army shares the experience better than the competition’s websites could ever hope to accomplish on their own. We have provided a hard working digital venue for photo, video and story telling—100 percent original content that you could never buy and the thirst for which never runs dry.

The 2009 Miss Teen Canada-World pageant came out on top of all others in Canada because of an intricate social media network of OnSugar blogs, photos and videos posted by the reigning beauty Queen, plus the 54 contestants in the pageant. In just ten days we signed up over 20,000 members to our VIP database and had over 10,000 votes cast in just a few days for the people's choice awards.

Its not all about swimsuits and glamorous dresses. What good would all of this be without some kind of social responsibility thrown in for good measure. the Miss Teen Canada-World pageant is an excellent and model opportunity for pursuing commerce in aid of social purpose. In 2009 the organizers set a goal to raise $10,000 for Free the Children, an international charity that empowers children in North America to take action to improve the lives of fellow children overseas. Through our efforts in 2009, the contestants collectively raised over $49,000. Wow. Now that is something to be excited about.

Siera Bearchell, the reigning Miss Teen Canada-World is doing an outstanding job representing her title, getting out there and raising awareness for some excellent causes. In this me to we video, Siera speaks out on behalf of Me to We Style to promote the Challenge Your Style Competition—an effort to mobilize youth to help raise awareness and funds for causes of their own choosing. You Go Girl!

The moral of this story?

Never underestimate the power of social media and the little black dress.

We are back at it for 2010, with a whole array of innovative ideas and executions that we expect will deliver a breakthrough performance for the MTC-W pageant in the coming year.

Do you have any stories you can share with us about how Social Media changed the landscape? Feel free to chime in here, share your victories and your defeats. Who knows, you just might help someone else make a difference in the lives of others less fortunate than we are.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Social Media is the new black

In the course of a day, someone inevitably calls or e-mails to cancel a meeting, someone else misses a phone call, fails to deliver something on time, a project gets delayed and you find yourself waiting...


It happens. Look at the upside. You just scored some free time.

You can do what you want with it, but in this day and age of "too many things on your to do list and not enough time in a day", this time is valuable and you should think twice before squandering it away frivolously. We all know it is way too easy to sit back in your chair, play around on YouTube, poke your friends on Facebook and at the end of the day accomplish nothing and later feel bad about it.

It’s amazing what we do when the half hour seems free or extra. Instead of letting it slip through your fingers, consider having a pre-prepared list of things you could do instead that might enhance the quality of your life, improve your business relationships and maybe even change the world. You'll thank yourself.

Consider making a top ten list of your own, including one or more of the following tasks:

• Write one or two recommendations on Linked-In for people in your network that you have worked with or for and can vouch for with integrity. Maybe they'll even return the favour.

• Read and comment on five blog posts that are relevant to your area of expertise (especially if they’re up-and-coming bloggers vs the established pros—they need all of the community support they can get and they just might pass along the favour somewhere down the road).

• Go search Twitter, follow up on a few topics you’re interested in, comment on a few posts and engage others in meaningful conversation. Share links to relevant photos, video or blogs that expand on the ideas you are discussing. Get engaged with your community. Be careful not to blow your own horn too much. People will tune you out and all of your efforts will be for naught.

• Go to,, Digg or Stumbleupon and discover some new blogs in a category that matters to you. Save and share bookmarks with your friends and colleagues.

• Seek out and read a few good blog posts from places you have not been before. Share them on Twitter and Facebook, too.

• Think forward. Come up with a list of topics to come up with in coming weeks so you can have time to research and marinate on them over the next little while before you sit down to write about them.

• Reply to some of the oldest emails in your inbox. You may never get to them otherwise.

• Investigate new social media tools or technologies that just might or might not impact you in life and your work. Staying ahead of the curve will be easier if you are out there on the front lines as much as possible. Keep an eye out for the thought leaders. Pay attention to the successes and the failures. What is the value of a disastrous mistake if we do not learn something from it?

• Share one thing you know about innovative uses of social media with someone you care about. You never know when you might spark a revolution of your own or trigger a new idea in somebody else's brain.

• Think about something you would like to do if you had the time and the means to spread joy and make a difference in the world. There are many amazing organizations and communities online that can help you do one little thing that can change the world. Start here at global giving.

You probably have a few ideas of your own for what to do with a half hour. Feel free to post a comment on this blog or e-mail me and let me know if you can think of anything to add to this list.

To learn about some innovative ways that we use social media in Toronto to connect people, build online communities, raise awareness of noteworthy causes and make more effective use of people's time, come visit us at FRANK.


Friday, November 13, 2009

Three Reasons why Social Media is still a Tough Sell

While there are many nimble and progressive organizations tapping in to the power of social media, some of the larger organizations move much slower to embrace change. Big companies have moved cautiously for generations. This is nothing new. What is interesting is the fact that despite the state of the current economy, and the economic benefits inherent in investing in innovative social media strategies and related technologies, many companies are slow to embrace this new frontier.

While many corporations and non profit organizations are certainly making forays into social media, there are countless numbers of large corporate organizations who for one reason or another are still sitting on the fence. While there is much discussion going on in the boardrooms and backrooms, many firms are grappling with how they can fit this in to the picture without losing the control they hold so dear. Instead of jumping in, they're still standing on the edge of the pool, dipping a toe in the water and trying to find their reflection.

Getting some companies — especially big, conservative and highly corporate entities to add social media into the marketing mix is still very much a hard sell. We have been wrestling with some of our best clients on this issue for years. Often, it is a classic battle waged between the old guard and the new. Eventually the X and Y generation will get their way, but it will take some time yet.

Here are three of the top reasons why some firms are not moving forward any time soon and perhaps a few suggestions on how you may be able to nudge things forward so you can get on with it once and for all.

1- Loss of Control
Consultants try make social media appear lawless and untamed.
Consultants, eager to prove the viability of social media in the marketing mix, are overwhelming some of the more conservative organizations by making social media sound more complex and more of a wild west free spirited frontier than it actually is. This creates a culture of fear around things they do not understand. Fear translates into discussions on how firms can protect themselves from this beast instead of how they can tame it, leverage its power and put it go good use on behalf of the organization. Fear based on erroneous perceptions about the realities of social media is hampering the firms ability to embrace it and move forward.

A lot of consultants are making the mistake of trying to make what they do sound like a cross between high art and nuclear physics. Their goal, I suppose, is to make their clients feel there is no way they could enter the social media space and tame this wildebeaste on their own. This is clearly short sighted and benefits no one.

Social media is not rocket science

Just like any comprehensive marketing strategy, there are some standard tools and a collection of elements that are necessary to bring together and focus  collaboratively towards achieving some common goals. It is not that complex once you know the component parts and how best to leverage them. And even if it was complicated on the surface, breaking things down to simpler terms and making it easy for the client to understand will win every time.

The best teacher I ever had in High School taught me physics. By breaking complex ideas down into terms that I could understand and then explain in real terms how these would apply in real world situations and why this knowledge would benefit me, he demystified it. He took the fear out of the equation. He made physics interesting for me to engage with, to pursue greater understanding of and inspired a keen enthusiasm for me to apply what I learned by myself.

As the Director of Marketing, or the person in charge of convincing the higher authorities of the merits of investing in Social Media—if you can do that for your boss, or the Managing Partners or the CEO, they'll love you for it. You just might see the light at the end of the tunnel and help the firm take those first baby steps towards embracing the change you have been fighting for for so long.

2- The bottom line is "Return on Investment"

All most companies really care about is whether they can hit their financial targets for the next quarter. Cool factor may be a added bonus, but it's not the goal for most publicly held companies or a privately held law firm. Especially during challenging economic times, maintaining or growing market share, improving sales and achieving bottom line results is paramount.

Social media becomes strategically viable when - as blasphemous as this may sound to many self-titled Social Media "experts"—the ultimate goal of its integration into the marketing mix is to go beyond being cool and hip and actually help to expand awareness of your brand, reach out to new markets, re-inforce market positioning, build new and lasting relationships, create new customers and ultimately, sell more products and services. Social Media can help you achieve all of that for a lot less than the traditional marketing channels. The top brass are always interested in finding innovative ways to cut costs and add new customers. Build a business case that shows a better comparative return on investment to traditional channels and your boss will pay attention.

3- Too cool for school:
Firms worry that cutting edge social media won't fit in to the corporate culture of the firm.
Changing the status quo can take time and cause quite an upheaval in a company that has been dealing with status quo's for decades. Social Media Consultants need to work together with the Director of Marketing and relevant stakeholders and prove to management that they will not look or feel inadequate because they can't embrace change quickly enough.

Young, hip and uber cool social media consultants worry too much about making themselves look good and proving how smart they are. The role of a smart consultant is to focus on making the client look smart for hiring you.

There is a reason large organizations are cautious and approach change with hesitation; they have more on the line than the consultant does, and will have to live with the outcomes of any social media project much longer than the consultant will. Taking chances on new technologies always involves risk. Seek out opportunities, contemplate best and worse case scenarios, openly discuss the risks, anticipate the negatives and plan contingencies to quickly overcome them and you will mitigate or manage the risk as much as possible.

Over my 20 year career I've seen companies described as "stodgy and conservative" when they didn't drop all their big iron mainframes for a client-server architecture that was oversold. I've seen companies described as "stodgy and conservative" when they didn't invest millions of dollars in online marketplaces which disappeared in a puff of smoke when their creators went belly up in the implosion.

If I hear someone call a company "stodgy and conservative" because they prefer to sip the koolade rather than chug it tells me that someone doesn't understand the business needs of that company.

If you would like some help de-mystifying Social Media to the people standing in the way of your progress integrating it to the marketing mix, then please do not hesitate to e-mail FRANK or give us a call. We love social media and are really good at taking complex subject matter and making it easier to understand.

To find out more about the amazing work that we do in print, pixels and social media, Please visit FRANK online.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Happy Birthday Online Advertising!

The Banner Campaign that Started a $24 billion Business

Excerpt from an article posted by Frank D'Angelo on 10.26.09 in Advertising Age,

We have come a long way baby.

Oct. 27 marks the 15th anniversary of the advertising industry's first foray into the digital age. Online banner display ads, first appeared in the age of dialup internet access on To the many of you reading this who weren't in the business back then, HotWired was the first commercial digital magazine on the web and the offshoot of Wired magazine. 

HotWired was the first online magazine to attract blue chip corporate sponsorships dollars on the web. The site launched shortly before Netscape's browser, and the advent of such other new media such as (Time Inc.'s commercial web content offering) and

Once the media commitment to HotWired was made, we needed to select clients we believed would share our excitement in entering this new space. We went through the client list and quickly reasoned that MCI (telecom), Volvo (automotive) and ClubMed (travel/hospitality) would be as good a core of candidates for this exploration as any. 

Four of our then-clients placed ad banners as part of that first campaign, MCI, Volvo, Club Med and 1-800-Collect. (The other two advertisers were AT&T and Zima.) Keep in mind, this was 1994; the first graphical web browser, Mosaic, was less than a year old (soon to be replaced by Netscape Explorer), and Web access? Purely dial-up, 24.4kps if you were lucky, meaning these ads took a while to load. The online U.S. population? Two million, if that. 

These "original six" were the first brands to take a leap of faith and place advertising in the unchartered "cyberspace" territory. But several didn't know they were taking it until after the fact. Corporate America was still largely unfamiliar with the graphical web, so we didn't even try to sell the concept. We decided to commit agency media and development dollars to place client banner ads on HotWired without clients' prior consent or knowledge. The way he saw it was if they liked it, they would be happy to pay us and if not, that was OK too; but at least the agency would get a running start at exploring this new exciting medium that was on course to change all of our lives.

To read the rest of Frank's article in Advertising age...