This site showcases the (mostly) digital work of Andrew DiFiore from both Virtual Arts Studios and answerYES Interactive as well as random thoughts and experimental projects too volatile to be contained anywhere else.

 
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    I recently launched the ecommerce site for start-up cookie company StaceyLu Confections based out of Weston, CT. They specialize in custom-made cookies for corporate and private events. I was hired to do logo design, website design and development (used osCommerce as the ecommerce platform), and to design a newsletter template for Constant Contact.

    In addition to the server-side stats I also enabled Google Analytics (you can never have too many metrics when it comes to tracking your return on investment). Along with this came server-side search engine optimization (SEO) which includes something relatively new, submitting XML sitemaps to Google (and others). I used the free sitemap generator XML-Sitemaps.com for StaceyLu (for small shops the free version is more than adequate). The site has been live for a few weeks now so go buy a cookie already.

    Aside: when asked to do the newsletter design I decided to take the plunge and learn the special Constant Contact mark-up language for creating email templates. Already familiar with XML I didn’t have any problem getting up to speed and creating the first newsletter using my new StaceyLu template. Ahh, but here’s the rub, Constant Contact does NOT allow you to keep your custom template on their server so it would be available the next time around. To do this, you have to pay them $600! Given I did all the work, this felt like a crude bait and switch. A workaround is to upload the template code each time you compose a newsletter but this is not a practical thing to ask a client to do (who was taking over the task).¬†Needless to say, I was a bit peeved. I ended up redoing the newsletter using one of Constant Contact’s built-in templates (not nearly as chic). Going to use MailChimp next time!

    {Ed. Note 12/19/06: I was interviewed by The Hour (Norwalk, CT) about my viral marketing campaigns and the StaceyLu website was pictured along with the article. Free publicity for StaceyLu but honestly not sure why the paper grabbed that picture, it has nothing to do with viral marketing. }

    {Ed. Note 3/30/10: StaceyLu is no longer a cookie company. The site is being converted into a blog about “personal growth” or something like that. It has been many years, often are the whims of start-up entrepreneurs. Still, it was interesting work at the time. }

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    Metro Business Systems (MBS) provides comprehensive IT services for wholesale computer hardware, procurement, network integration, and inventory management throughout the New York tri-sate area.

    MBS hired answerYES to redesign their brand identity, logo, business cards, brochure, and website. This included digital photography and writing fresh copy for both the company’s online and offline marketing materials.

    “We have had an amazingly positive response to our new website from old, new and potential customers. I am most impressed in the clear and concise manner in which our company’s services are featured. answerYES Interactive exceeded our expectations and as a result we will continue to utilize their creative services for all our online marketing and advertising needs in the future. It has been a pleasure working with them,” states Jeffrey LoRusso, Senior Vice President and Co-founder of Metro Business Systems.

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    International Center for Integrative Studies (ICIS) is a global community of thought leaders from all walks of life dedicated to developing solutions to the most pressing problems facing our world today. ICIS was founded in 1962 by Erling A. Thunberg to help address the humanitarian concerns many scholars and scientists had at the end of the 1950s regarding the future.

    In 2003 I had created a basic HTML website for a subsidiary of ICIS called RiverTides, an organization providing educational support to local nonprofits representing a wide variety of social causes. Three years later (after answerYES Consulting was established) I was asked to create a new website and private forum for ICIS, folding RiverTides into this new site architecture. It was decided the site would be built under the open-source content management system Drupal, designing a custom theme that reflected a more contemporary image of the organization.

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    Arista Air Conditioning, the largest HVAC company in the tri-state New York area, has been providing commercial and residential air conditioning, heating, and refrigeration for over 50 years. Their navy blue vans with the gigantic snowflake are familiar sights to local home and business owners. And it was for that reason that we gave the van a prominent place on the company’s website.

    We storyboarded the concept of a 30 second animation featuring the van displaying each of the company’s three main brands (e.g. Arista, Arista Premier, and Kelnard) as it revolved. answerYES did the photography, the Flash animation and programming, even the sound editing. Since we didn’t want the Flash to get in the way of the user accessing the content, the navigation was presented immediately. Since we didn’t want the music to be annoying, the animation only played upon the first visit (though the user could opt to play it again).

    The Flash was just a nice added touch of uniqueness, the real content was the site copy. We worked closely with Arista’s sales team to craft the right communications across all three target segments while still ensuring that it was search engine friendly.

    The entire site was built on top of the Six Apart’s Movable Type content management system. answerYES customized the templates to support the site design and architecture, including a blog and slideshow that pulled from the company’s Flickr photo stream (for things like the company picnic). We continue to provide ongoing support for the site as well as miscellaneous marketing materials like poster boards for an upcoming trade show.

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    The owners of the New York Gift Company came to me late into the holiday season to get their ecommerce site up and running before December (for anybody in retail relying on the Christmas bump knows this is too late but the client was really ramping up for Valentine’s Day). Nevertheless, I worked very closely with the owners on everything from product photos to search engine keywords in order to have the site ready for holiday shoppers. The ecommerce used was Yahoo! Store which helped expedite the security issues and New York Gift Company was up and running on 12/1.

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