Where Wearable Tech Meets Fashion

written by Georgia Schumacher 18 November 2014

Wearable techTechnology and fashion are both huge industries, and designers from each sector are coming together to spark a revolution in the way we use technology. Wearable technology could change the lives of fashion-conscious people for the better, whether it's T-shirts that monitor your health or jewelry that lets you know when you have messages or calls waiting.

Wearable Tech at New York Fashion Week

Although wearable gadgets were once clunky and inelegant, the latest generation of wearable tech aims to look beautiful and perform flawlessly. In fact, wearable technology has so convincingly crossed over into fashion that several high-tech accessories were featured during the 2014 New York Fashion Week.

Designer Rebecca Minkoff was one of the big stars of Fashion Week, with her high-tech jewelry that delivers some real functionality, as well as beautiful design. For the fashionista who doesn’t want to take time out from socializing to reach into her bag and check her mobile phone, there's a gold bracelet that connects with the phone using Bluetooth and subtly delivers a notification whenever a call or text comes in.

Ralph Lauren smart T-shirts were also featured at New York Fashion Week. These biometric wearables use silver-coated threads to conduct electrical signals through the shirt, allowing them to measure your heart and respiration rates, as well as your movements as you walk, run or play sports.

Fitness-Tracking Fashion

Many fitness-related wearable gadgets, such as the Fitbit Flex, are already very popular among runners and sportspeople. Fitbit Flex is a wristband that monitors the steps you take and the calories you burn, and watches over you while you sleep to assess the quality of your nighttime rest. Their most well-known wristband looks very technological, with its bright colors and light-up display. However, with the right design input from fashion houses, fitness-tracking wearable tech could deliver the same functionality in a much more subtle and fashion-conscious way. With its line of Tory Burch bracelets and pendants, FitBit may already be leading the industry in that arena.

With fashion designers taking on the challenge of incorporating wearable tech into their existing lines, there's the potential for wearables to develop into clothes that look and feel as good as the tech that powers them functions.

3 Design Elements You Can’t Afford to Ignore in Testing

written by Georgia Schumacher 13 November 2014

Do your web design choices compel users to take further action or cause them to swiftly click away? Once you have great written content, your design must be carefully crafted. Sometimes, A/B testing will reveal the most effective design, while other times, asking directly for feedback offers a wealth of information. Here are just a few graphic design and web elements that should be tested.

1. CTA Position

The call-to-action, or CTA, tells the user what you want him to do next. Maybe you want him to sign up for a webinar, or perhaps the CTA will help a user navigate to a video. The CTA is usually a clickable button that should be placed near the top of the page. Users may scroll down to the bottom of the screen, but only if your content and design compel them to read that far. In many cases, placing the CTA at the top of the screen where the user can't miss it is the best choice. Remember that web users read in an F-shaped pattern. Testing CTA position lets you see where it is most likely to be clicked.

CTA buttons2. CTA Color

The color of your CTA button is another important element of any interactive design. Some colors will jump out from the page better than others, and, when your background is white, many options exist. The color of the CTA should stand out on your design -- but not like a sore thumb. Finding the right CTA color can be a fine line; it should typically be consistent with the overall design scheme, but the CTA may be ignored if it blends in with the background or neighboring design elements. The only way to know what CTA colors work best is testing!

3. Photo Selection

A powerful image may keep people on a web page or email screen and increase user engagement. Using images of real customers, versus stock photography, generally adds more value to the design. However, product photos may also be more appropriate in certain situations. The placement and size of the photo will also affect its impact. Users may ignore an image placed off to the side without a clear relationship to the text. Knowing which image will connect best with the end user may be a bit of a guessing game. Testing enables designers to determine which photos elicit the best response from users.

Testing Methods

TestingOne popular means of testing your web or interactive design is A/B testing. When utilizing this method, you will create two versions of your email, landing page, website, or other design to implement simultaneously. In most cases, each version is exactly the same, minus one difference--that could be copy, CTA color, CTA position, or any other element you are testing. Sometimes, you may need to test two entirely different designs, but when you begin changing multiple pieces on your design it becomes hard to know to which design elements you can attribute success. Whichever version produces the most interactions can be used moving forward--and you can always continue testing other elements over time. Remember, testing your web design stands to greatly increase the success of your efforts. Don't be afraid to learn by trial and error!

Learn more about web design best practices in our Web Design & Interactive Media Programs.

A Thank You to Veterans

written by Georgia Schumacher 11 November 2014

US flag

This Veterans Day, The Art Institute of Pittsburgh - Online Division extends our gratitude to all those who have served in the U.S. military—including our many brave military students, faculty, and staff—for their courage, commitment, and patriotism. We remember and honor these individuals for the numerous ways they have made our world a better place throughout history.

Today and every day, our faculty and staff are committed to supporting each of our military-affiliated students as they prepare to pursue rewarding creative careers. Last month, The Art Institute of Pittsburgh - Online Division was honored to be named a 2015 Military Friendly® School, and we remain dedicated to offering flexible degree programs, scholarship opportunities, academic support, and transfer of credit policies that can help make education more affordable and attainable for all students.

At The Art Institute of Pittsburgh - Online Division, military students are encouraged to join our chapter of the Student Veterans of America in Connections (under the Organizations tab), a network where peers can provide academic and personal support, share helpful information, and discuss a wide range of topics and common interests. We also encourage military students to explore the resources and organizations available via the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

Thank you again for the sacrifices you have made and all that you have done for this country!

3 Clues to Building Better Photographer-Client Relationships

written by Georgia Schumacher 6 November 2014

While interacting with your clients can be a blast, photographers also regularly face challenges in this aspect of their job. Since clients aren't usually models or actors, a photographer can't assume their clients will know what to expect or how to act. It's one thing to give directions—such as telling them to act naturally—and another thing to get a natural-looking photo. The camera might not actually add pounds, but it does often produce insecurity and doubt.

Here are a few tips for those pursuing photography careers or taking photography classes to help you create a positive space for your clients to feel at ease.

Photographer with Bridal Client

1. Get to know each other

You will likely need to break the ice to get your client comfortable in front of the camera. Clients who don't know their photographers well are more likely to reserve their emotions when the flash goes off. For this reason, it's important to establish a personal relationship before moving on to planning the photo shoot. When director Christopher Nolan met with Matthew McConaughey for Interstellar, the two spent hours talking about everything except the movie. This, Nolan explained, was to get a feel for the relationship he and his future star would have while shooting.

2. Set the right expectations

When it's time to discuss business, set positive expectations for your clients. Don't make promises you can't keep, or otherwise set yourself (and the client) up for major disappointment. It's always better to over-deliver than to over-promise.

Talk with your clients either on the phone or in person beforehand in order to go over their expectations. What are your plans for the photos as the photographer? What do they expect from working with you? Discover a theme or mood your clients are getting at, or offer your own themes based on what you glean from the conversation.

From there, you can ask if there are any props or particular wardrobe choices they may like to incorporate. If it's a group shot, you might advise a certain color scheme for them to follow but to wear whatever makes them comfortable. This helps them relax because they'll be more prepared and will know exactly what to expect. Also, let them pick the location for the shoot, whether at their home or in a public place such as a park or a beach. This way, they'll feel at ease in their surroundings.

3. Bring them into the process

On the day of the actual shoot, get there early to set up. When your clients arrive, explain the kind of shots you plan to take and give them a timeline for the process. Show them the props, how you plan to incorporate them, and let them choose which ones they'd like to use. This interaction allows them to feel included and in control of the process. Your clients can now begin to feel like collaborators rather than just another prop.

To learn more about photography, explore our online degree programs and see what you could be learning in our photography classes!

7 Foods We're Craving This Fall

written by Georgia Schumacher 22 October 2014

Pumpkin soupFall is a season filled with appetizing, home-cooked meals and comfort foods. From Thanksgiving trimmings to aromatic soups and ciders, no other time of year has quite the combination of culinary flavors, and many of these seasonal delights pack nutritional value. Consider those vitamins and minerals the perfect excuse to indulge in the variety of dishes that fall foods offer.

1. Pumpkin

Nothing says fall quite like pumpkin. From pumpkin spice lattes to that slice of pumpkin pie after a Thanksgiving feast, this delicious flavor is easily used in a variety of sweet or savory dishes.

Health benefits: A cup of mashed pumpkin contains 200 percent of the daily recommended intake of vitamin A, and with beta-carotene, fiber, and more potassium than a banana, it's easy to convince yourself to cut an even larger slice of pie.

Try: Pumpkin chili

2. Apples

It's the season of apple cider and baked apple tarts. Fortunately, apples also keep the doctor away by providing ample amounts of fiber and antioxidants.

Health benefits: With 14 percent of the recommended daily value of Vitamin C and 4 grams of filling fiber per apple, this antioxidant-rich fruit makes a sweet treat.

Try: Ravioli with apples and walnuts

3. Sweet Potatoes

The russet potato's healthier brother has more to offer than being a great alternative to french fries. With ample amounts of beta-carotene and vitamin A, this flavorful addition to a fall menu is a guaranteed crowd-pleaser.

Health benefits: Iron, beta-carotene, vitamin A, and vitamin C make sweet potatoes ideal for increased energy, healthy cells, and improved immunity during cold season.

Try: Sweet potato casserole

4. Cranberries

Cranberries

Cranberries are far more useful than simply adding color to a Thanksgiving buffet. When it comes to food with vitamins, this sweet fruit boasts a hefty dose.

Health benefits: Known to help beat urinary tract infections, cranberries are also rich in antioxidants, vitamin C, and quercetin (a flavonoid that may help prevent both colon and breast cancer).

Try: Fettuccine with brussels sprouts, cranberries, and caramelized onions

5. Kale

With so many hearty fall dishes, vegetables often go unnoticed. Kale, however, is the ideal leafy green to add into practically any cooking creation.

Health benefits: Most people are aware that kale, like spinach, is high in iron, but it also contains vitamin K and anti-inflammatory properties.

Try: Kale, quinoa, and avocado salad with lemon Dijon vinaigrette

Butternut squash6. Squash

Not only does squash add texture and color to a variety of home-cooked dishes, it also packs a heavy vitamin punch with even more vitamin A than pumpkin.

Health benefits: In addition to vitamin A, squash contains energy-boosting B vitamins. Its low calorie content is also ideal for weight control.

Try: Baked spaghetti squash

7. Cinnamon

This sweet spice is the perfect addition to desserts and lattes, but it also transitions well into heartier dishes.

Health benefits: Cinnamon may reduce LDL cholesterol levels, lower blood sugar, and prevent blood clots.

Try: Cinnamon roasted almonds

Interested in developing your business and management skills but don’t want to lose sight of your passion for the culinary world? Consider our programs in the areas of Culinary Management and Hotel & Restaurant Management!