Category Archives: Service Providers in Saratoga

Stand up and Cheer for the Zanettis

The New Mahogany Doors at Saratoga Springs City Hall

The New Mahogany Doors at Saratoga Springs City Hall

John and Tom Zanetti built and installed new entrance doors to the Saratoga Springs City Hall. This is a longtime Saratoga millwork and cabinetry company. Please stand up and give them the credit they deserve, these doors will be around longer than those of us reading this article.
Other individuals and companies that helped out are Tom Frost, Rich Martin, and Allerdice Building Supply.

Front View of Doors

Front View of Doors

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Palio, I Can’t Get There From Here

The New Palio Website

I’m trapped, and I can’t get out. Worst of all I know that I’m stuck in a marketing companies website and they seem to be in control. I’ve already answered some questions about myself and I don’t know what they intend to do with it, luckily I lied about everything. But I’m unable to move, I see doorways but I can’t get to them. I also see text on the prison walls, but I can’t read it because it’s to far away. The back button doesn’t work because the site is built entirely in Flash. Please, someone help me.

Please Help Me Get Out of Here

Please Help Me Get Out of Here

There is also classic art trapped with me, in this case the Mona Lisa. She keeps starring at me no matter where I go, very strange. But fear not, I believe these are other people viewing the site, who show up as Avitars that have logged in. Again, I don’t know why or for what purpose. All I came here for was to find out what palio does.

The Mona Lisa is Trapped With Me

The Mona Lisa is Trapped With Me

Then I notice an instruction sheet on how to navigate the website. STOP.

If you need an instruction sheet on how to navigate a website, you might just stop and ask yourself, is this a good navigation system. I’m still shaking my head at this entire debacle of a site.

Video On a Website - Very Techie

Don't Shoot, it Is Not Worth It!

The Palio website is a total do over, there is very little you can save with this one. Get rid of the 1998 technology and let your clients know you are capable of building modern online communications.

Palio Communications threw away the rule book on building this website. They are the largest and most professional marketing and communications firm in the area, and I am a fan of their work, but they must be held to a higher standard than a local retail store. Did someone read Flash for Dummies and decide to build this site? The rule book of web navigation was written for a reason, and your not cool if you break them all.

How does something like this happen? I believe the point of the site is to explain what Palio actually means, and relate that to the services they provide to their audience. I spent a day coming up with that explanation, because I was in a confused state for twelve hours after my virtual kidnapping and imprisonment.

See for yourself at http://www.palio.com

Boyce & Drake Logo

I recently saw the new Boyce & Drake logo that is on the side of their truck. The new owners must be Irish or they are going after the Irish plumbing demographic.

New Boyce & Drake Logo

New Boyce & Drake Logo

I don’t know how long this has been out, but it replaces a really old school text logo. If I had to guess, this logo has all the hallmarks of being created by a sign company.

Do You Want Your Palm Red

FingerPaint Marketings Not So Great Logo

FingerPaint Marketings Not So Great Logo

FingerPaint Marketing is a collaboration between Ed Mitzen and Jaime Butler-Binley. Ed was the founder of Palio Communications, while Jaime was the principal of B-squared Marketing. They initially met at Palio where Jaime worked before starting her own company. This is a brave move for Ed, he has staked his reputation on this company’s success after his stunning accomplishments at Palio. This is a now brainer for Jaime.

The Eight Year Old Founders of Fingerpaint Marketing

The Eight Year Old Founders of Fingerpaint Marketing

FingerPaint is not just a simple little design shop, they have a full staff of 13 creative people, designers and web developers. Maybe they don’t want to give to much away on their client base, but the work they do doesn’t seem to justify their staff – their portfolio on the website is slim with many non corporate clients. 

So, what role does this company play in the Saratoga Springs Design scene? I think they are trying to have a real influence in city. They have a section on their website dedicated to giving back to their community. I will only focus on their local clients in this overview.

The first will be the Saratoga Polo Association, which the redesigned the old logo of many decades. Rather than totally eliminate all aspects of the old logo they did a nice job of keeping several aspects while updating it to a more modern version. Excellent job.

Old Saratoga Polo Logo

Old Saratoga Polo Logo

New Version of SPA logo

New Version of SPA logo

The brochures and advertising is nice but not earth shaking. I would like to see it have a simple elegance similar to the new logo.

Saratoga Polo Magazine cover

Saratoga Polo Magazine cover

Interior Page Layouts

Interior Page Layouts

I would really like to see some beautiful design standards with this job, there are to many typefaces that give it amateur feel overall. The advertising is cleaner but not striking. It is printed in one color and seems to have a look in feel from the 1980’s. It seems that they could start over and build this client a great design evolved around the new logo.

SPA Advertising style

SPA Advertising style

FingerPaint’s strength seems to shine in their copywriting. The web banner ads are consistent and quickly make a point. They are well done.

Saratoga Polo Web Banner

Saratoga Polo Web Banner

Skidmore College updated the Murray-Aikins Dining Hall, and hired FingerPaint to let students know that great things are to come. The staff did a nice job with their overall design, which included fun illustrations and complimentary text.

Place Headline Here

Menu Cover

Menu Interior

Menu Interior

FingerPaint must be thinking of big things in the future. I don’t know who their audience is, but they are making an effort to be a part of the design community. If you are interested in viewing their website go to http://www.fingerpaintmarketing.com

 

FingerPaint Marketing Homepage

FingerPaint Marketing Homepage

Mountains of Media

I truly believe that online media is the most important form of communication at this time. It has surpassed print, radio, and even TV. Most of the information found on a  daily basis is reached through the web. I think it’s important to include some of the bigger web development companies in the mix.

Two partners started Mountain Media,  James Curley and Scott Fultz. Both began as musicians, and followed a natural progression to web development. You may think I am joking, but is true that musicians are quite analytical people to tend to follow a technical path in life. The exception being Keith Richards.

The Mountain Media Logo is Half Code, Half M

The Mountain Media Logo is Half Code, Half M

Mountain Media is not about design, they are about search engine optimization and sales. They have been in web development for over ten years. If you are looking for warm and fuzzy, this is not the place to come. Their clients are people who want to sell their products and manage their work. If you aren’t showing up on the front page of Google, Mountain Media will write a mountain of copy, stick it on the front page until you do.

Very few of their websites are much different from each other. Not that they are all bad, but they certainly are not a design firm. Now don’t get me wrong, they do exactly what they say they will do. This is a company that advises people on how to drive people to your site, not to enjoy it once they get there.

commercial Rubber Mats Homepage

commercial Rubber Mats Homepage

One of the most disappointing sites that I saw in their web gallery is the L’Esperance Tile Works. Here is a company that sells art tile and the site looks about as accomplished as the Rubber Mat website above. This client creates works of art out of tile, and the only product on the homepage is a one inch square tile in the upper left.

L'Esperance Tile Works Home page

L'Esperance Tile Works Homepage

Now as far as L’Esperance Tile is concerned, if they sells a lot of tiles then its fine with them. This site may work, but it still looks like hell.

Mountain Media brings employment and technology jobs to Saratoga Springs. They run a tight ship and do exactly what they promise. But here is where that business model fails, the Wesley Health Care site should convey wamth and a secure feeling about a great home for your parents later years. This particular site could also sells car parts, dog collars, or chainsaws if you change the images.

Wesley Health Care Home Page

Wesley Health Care Home Page

There are web development companies that cross the bridge to good design, and great search engine optimization. Since Mountain Media is one of the largest web companies in the city, I had to address their design skills in this blog. If you are looking for a website that addresses any kind of emotion at all you may want to look a little farther.

The Future of Media is Interactive

If your looking for a company that can do almost anything online, from websites, animation, games, and video, all with a sense of humor, this could be your ticket. 

Future Media was started by Colin Baird in the early nineties. Yes that was caveman time if your counting in web years. They are located in the old Elks Building on 75 Woodlawn Avenue.

Back in 1993 Web development was really a geek process, mostly engineers playing around with code. The first generation web developers have moved onto other jobs or cease to exist anymore. Future Media has not only stayed in business, but has flourished in the process. Unlike System1, who was the original hot web development company in Saratoga Springs, who went down in flames about eight years ago, Colin has guided his company into the next generation of web development. This type of maneuver took forethought and some sort of business acumen to guide the company through such fast changing times. 

The Future Media Logo Design

The Future Media Logo Design

This has left Future Media doing some of the most complex web development in the area. Integrating Video, imagery, animations and database information into an interactive format. Naturally that type of work comes at a cost. When costs are that high, you work with large companies, and their typical clients are Japanese electronic firms. Really, that seems to be it. If you look at their portfolio they show other projects, but it certainly can’t be consistent work for them.

Here are some Toshiba stills from the Regza site at http://www.tacp.toshiba.com/regza/regzasite.aspx

 

Toshiba Regza Web Site

Toshiba Regza Web Site

Toshiba Regza Website Homepage

Toshiba Regza Website Homepage

The Albany AdClub is the only local website that I could find that they completed. You can find it at http://www.albanyadclub.com/

 

The Albany Ad Club Home Page

The Albany Ad Club Home Page

So here we have another Saratoga Springs firm that has little bearing on the Saratoga Design world. Companies like this really like the lifestyle and environment of working in Saratoga Springs but they certainly are not supported by the businesses in the area.

Future Media has really good designers as well as developers. My advice is to walk into a downtown retail store and offer to create a free webstore for them. In exchange they could get a free pair of trousers.

Visual Elements Unseen

Maria Miller created Visual Element around 1997. I don’t believe she has an office, and most likely works from her house. This is a business model that many designers in the area seem to like. It is affordable, it helps them keep their personal life in tact, and most have no real plans to grow beyond their own personal employment.

This has no reflection on the quality of any work produced. In fact it only defines how they control who their clientele will be. 

My research has found very little about this business. Her clients are not mentioned on her website, and her portfolio seems to be hibernating – nothing to be seen. Yet through conversations with local business people, I have discovered that her/their work seems to revolve around magazine design. Many of the glossy local publications like SARATOGA LIVING  seems to be her niche. 

What is her role in the Saratoga design seen? It is hard to tell, I have heard she has a loyal following but it is hard to find any information about her business, her current roster customers must keep her busy or she would advertise a bit more. Her actual address is not even mentioned on her website, just a phone number. If your looking for a bunch of logos, brochure work, or my analysis of her work, there will be none. Just this image of her home page.

The Home Page of Visual Element

Lots of Dots On The Home Page of Visual Element