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News from Boston Web design firm, Hot Knife Design, Inc.

BarCamp Boston 5 Brings Together the Boston Tech Community

BarCamp Boston 5 Brings Together the Boston Tech CommunityBarCamp Boston 5 is coming up this weekend, April 17-18 at the MIT Stata Center.

For those who haven't attended a BarCamp before, a quick description: It's an unconference where attendees create and run the sessions. So, when you go, you're not just a participant, you're a presenter too. Topics usually run the tech gamut—gaming, coding, design, hacking, co-working—to name just a few.

There's tremendous power in bringing together like-minded people for two days of discussion. Sign up for BarCamp here or visit the BarCamp Wiki for more information.

Jon Follett and Matt Holm Co-Author Chapter in New O’Reilly Book BEAUTIFUL DATA

Jon Follett and Matt Holm Co-Author Chapter in New O'Reilly Book Beautiful Data Hot Knife Creative Directors Jon Follett and Matt Holm collaborated on a chapter in Beautiful Data: The Stories Behind Elegant Data Solutions. The book, compiled by tech publisher O'Reilly Media, brings together a diverse and expert group of 39 data practitioners. These contributors explain their development process in creating simple and elegant solutions on a wide-range of projects, from "the Mars lander to a Radiohead video."

Jon and Matt's chapter, "The Beautiful People: Keeping Users in Mind When Designing Data Collection Methods", illustrates, in an anecdotal fashion, that the elegant visual design of forms can improve the completion and success rates in data collection. Using an e-mail survey campaign, Jon and Matt break down their design and development process and present readers with several insights into the user experience:

1. Form design matters. Form design can directly affect the quality of the data that you receive. Better-designed forms gather better data.

2. People create data. Data comes from people, and their actions, so designers and developers need to be thinking about those people, not just about the data.

3. Dynamic forms can "soften the blow." Using Javascript or other methods can create a soft reveal that allows the form to be subtly altered—or lengthened—based on user input. These techniques allow designers and developers to balance not scaring users off with a form that is too long on the one hand and not infuriating them that they have been "deceived" about the form length on the other.

4. Live data reporting can reveal hidden errors. In this case study, making the data available to a client for real-time analysis led to the discovery that the market research company had failed to send the survey to half of its list in the initial mailing.

Check out Beautiful Data, available now on

Jon Follett’s Articles on User Experience Among UXmatters’ Top 25 Most Popular

Jon Follett's Articles on User Experience Among UXmatters Top 25 Most PopularThe online magazine UXmatters recently determined its all-time most popular articles published on Two written by Hot Knife Design's President, Jon Follett, made the top 25: "Seeing the World in Symbols: Icons and the Evolving Language of Digital Wayfinding" as well as "Engaging User Creativity: The Playful Experience."

"Seeing the World in Symbols" addresses the difficulties in designing memorable icons in the digital age; "Engaging User Creativity" discusses how digital services and products can attract users by boosting the ways they help their users "play." Both articles attracted numerous comments and compliments on the UXmatters site.

UXmatters is a Web magazine covering user experience strategies and seeking to inspire UX professionals. The magazine also serves as a forum for discussing new UX ideas and issues affecting the industry and fosters opportunities for the UX community. In addition to contributing as a columnist for UXmatters, Jon Follett sits with other industry experts on the UXmatters Advisory Board.

Hot Knife Design Launches Site for The Larkin Painting Company

Hot Knife Design Launches Site for The Larkin Painting CompanyHot Knife designed and developed a new Web site for Boston-based interior and exterior painting firm, The Larkin Painting Company, a winner of the Angie's List Super Service Award. The Larkin Painting Company specializes in environmentally-friendly green painting practices.

Hot Knife Design built the Web site on Expression Engine, an open source content management system, which allows Larkin Painting Company staff to make Web page updates easily and efficiently. As a part of the company's ongoing online marketing and lead generation efforts, the site also includes a "Get a Quote" page, a useful tool giving the business an online channel for possible work inquiries.

To kick-off this project, Hot Knife Senior Designer, Joy Follett helped The Larkin Painting Company created a striking logo, based on owner Bill Larkin's unique perspective on the company's services. Bill wanted potential clients to immediately understand the care and quality behind Larkin Painting's work, as well as its environmentally-friendly care for the Earth; this is depicted through a sunrise and blue sky logo. Joy then incorporated the logo theme into the design of the site itself.

“Visual Design for Web Sites and Web Applications” Selected as Presentation Inspiration

On Friday, October 30, Note and Point—a gallery devoted to making your Powerpoint and Keynote presentations that much better—selected Hot Knife Design's "Visual Design for Web Sites and Web Applications" as presentation inspiration.

"Visual Design ..." was originally created as a half-day workshop for the Boston Chapter of the Usability Professionals Association (UPA) and contains over 70 slides on a variety of topics from selecting Web typography, to grid layouts, to capturing creative thoughts.

Hot Knife is pleased and honored to have our work selected as a resource for the creative community by Note and Point.

Congratulations to Localytics and the Boston TechStars Class of 2009

Congratulations to Localytics and the Boston TechStars Class of 2009On Thursday, September 10, mobile analytics company Localytics presented their digital product to a packed room at Microsoft's Kendall Square facility, the New England Research and Development Center, as a part of the TechStars 2009 Investors Evening. TechStars is a technology company incubator which has programs located in both Cambridge, MA and Boulder, CO.

Hot Knife Design was privileged to be Localytics' design partner in both the creation of the Localytics public facing Web site  and the user interface for the Web-based mobile analytics application.

Recognizing the market potential of the Localytics application, Boston Globe Innovation Economy blogger Scott Kirsner gave Localytics his "Most Likely to Be Acquired" award.  

The Localytics analytics engine for mobile applications was also a finalist in the Massachusetts Innovation & Technology Exchange (MITX) 6th Annual MITX Technology Awards for Analytics and Business Intelligence.

Hot Knife Creates New Web Site for Localytics, an MITX Technology Award Finalist

Hot Knife Creates New Web Site for Localytics, an MITX Technology Award FinalistHot Knife is excited to be working with Localytics, a mobile analytics start-up company in Cambridge, MA.

The Localytics analytics engine for mobile applications has been recognized by the Massachusetts Innovation & Technology Exchange (MITX) as a finalist in the 6th Annual MITX Technology Awards for “Analytics and Business Intelligence.” The Localytics team will find out if they've won their category at the awards ceremony on June 16, 2009.

In light of their higher profile, founding partners at Localytics engaged Hot Knife in May to overhaul their Web site. The team at Hot Knife has been busy creating a well-designed and easy-to-use site to help Localytics gain new users. The site launched today at

Hot Knife Sponsors UPA Boston Annual Conference for Second Year

Hot Knife Sponsors UPA Boston Annual Conference for Second Year On May 26, 2009, the Usability Professionals Association (UPA) Chapter of Boston will be hosting its eighth annual Boston Mini UPA conference at Bentley College. Hot Knife Design, Inc. is proud to be a sponsor of this event for the second year in a row. This year the conference, a forum for the advancement of critical topics in usability and user-centered design, will feature such local Boston luminaries as Jared Spool of User Interface Engineering, discussing "Building Robust Personas in 30 Days or Less" and Chauncey Wilson of Autodesk who will be presenting a "UX Content Workshop" with Morgan Kaufmann Associate Acquisitions Editor Mary James.

As a part of the company's sponsorship activities, Hot Knife will again be designing the conference materials. Last year's work was well-received by attendees, who enjoyed the creative, clean and usable designs Hot Knife generated for the conference collateral.

Hot Knife Launches Redesigned Site for Marathon Moving Company

Hot Knife Launches Redesigned Site for Marathon Moving CompanyBoston-based Marathon Moving, a five-time Angie's List Super Service Award Winner, chose Hot Knife Design to overhaul and deliver a new and improved site that will help the company to better attract and serve clients. Hot Knife's Creative Director, Jon Follett, worked with Marathon's co-owners, Paul and Gail Nelson, to determine the most effective site architecture and functions for their business needs—and to create a striking, professional look and feel. Developer John Knotts built the site using Radiant, a Ruby on Rails content management system. The CMS allows Paul and Gail to update the text and photos on their site and maintain their news blog.

The redesigned site also includes a robust "Get a Quote" form system, that enables users to choose between a brief or comprehensive estimate for their move. The "Get a Quote" web forms submit data that can easily be imported into Marathon Moving's database.

Jon Follett and Dan Pickett to Speak on the Design and Development Process at Refresh Boston

Jon Follett and Dan Pickett to Speak on the Design and Development Process at Refresh BostonJon Follett, Hot Knife's Creative Director, and Dan Pickett, Chief Engineer, will be discussing "Making Agile Work for Design" at the April 29th meeting of Refresh Boston. Their presentation will cover a short intro to agile and current design and UX practices. From there, they will talk about how agile works well for developers but also poses problems in regards to design—and then offer several solutions and techniques to help mitigate these issues.

Jon and Dan will present at Refresh Boston on Wednesday, April 29th, 7 PM at the Microsoft New England Research & Development Center. The meeting is free, with refreshments provided. For those unable to attend, the meeting will broadcast live on Ustream.

The Refresh Boston group is made up of designers and developers who are interested in advancing the new media culture in Boston as well as promoting design, technology, usability, and standards.

Jon Follett Asked to Present “Using Web Tools to Build Virtual Teams”

Jon Asked to Present Using Web Tools to Build Virtual TeamsThe New England Web Developers Association (NEWDA) has asked Hot Knife's President, Jon Follett, to speak to the group about “Using Web Tools to Build Virtual Teams.”

Over the past five years, due to the ever-increasing speed and wide availability of broadband data pipes, the virtual company has grown in popularity as an organizational strategy for businesses in tech-centered fields. The virtual company structure allows employees to integrate their work and lifestyles as they see fit, living where they want and working when they want.

The current U.S. economic crisis has made virtual teams even more appealing to businesses, because such teams can be significantly less expensive to run, requiring less overhead cost. At the same time virtual teams can be much more difficult to manage than those who share physical space.

Based on his A List Apart articles, "The Long Hallway" and "The Rules of Digital Engagement", Jon will discuss running virtual teams in the real world and useful Web tools for managing communication, collaboration, and creativity.

Jon will give his talk at NEWDA's Hudson, MA meeting on March 25th, 2009. NEWDA, a non-profit group of Web development professionals, organizes and supports its members in networking, sharing resources, and job searching.

Dan Pickett Speaks to the Boston Rubyists

Dan Speaks to the Boston RubyistsHot Knife Development Partner, Dan Pickett, is giving a talk to the Boston Ruby User Group. His presentation, "Thinking Sphinx and the Sphinx Search Engine," will cover the latest and greatest option for indexed search, Pat Allan's Thinking Sphinx. Dan will describe Sphinx's powerful capabilities and the benefits of using this new search engine.

Dan's talk at the Boston.rb meeting on Tuesday, March 10th will be held at Sermo (215 First Avenue, 4th Floor, Cambridge, MA) from 7 to 9 pm. Boston Rubyists devote three nights a month to exploring their deep interest in Ruby, a Web development language. The group was started in 2005 by Chris Lambert, a Northeastern graduate student who now works for Google in California.

Jon and Dan Speak at Ignite Boston 5

Jon and Dan Speak at Ignite Boston 5Ignite Boston 5 selected Hot Knife's President, Jon Follett, and Hot Knife Development Partner, Dan Pickett, to give their talk, "Getting Back on Track: Saving Derailed Projects." Jon and Dan are among 17 other speakers talking about a variety of tech topics. With 20 slides in 5 minutes, this rapid-fire presentation should be entertaining and informative. Attendees voted "Getting Back on Track" as the #1 presentation they wanted to hear. This latest installment of O'Reilly's Ignite Boston is on Thursday, February 12 from 5 pm to 9 pm at The Hooley House, Faneuil Hall. 

Northeast Insurance Web Site Launches

Northeast Insurance Web Site LaunchesHot Knife Creative Director Jonathan Follett worked with Northeast-Metro West Insurance Agency to create a simple, yet comprehensive design that invites trust in the insurance agency. Jon collaborated with Development Partner Seth Aaronson to overhaul Northeast's Web site. The site they developed provides both new visitors and current clients with useful information and tools across a range of insurance needs. 

Northeast-Metro West Insurance Agency is a Massachusetts-based company that represents 25 insurance carriers. The company had gone through a period of expansion and was looking to rebrand to present a cohesive online presence.

Hot Knife Sponsors UPA Boston’s Usability and User Experience Conference 2008

Hot Knife Sponsors UPA Boston's Usability and User Experience Conference 2008Hot Knife is a proud sponsor of the Seventh Annual Mini UPA Conference at Bentley College in Waltham, MA on May 28, 2008. Held by the Usability Professionals Association's Boston Chapter (UPA Boston), the conference is expected to attract over 300 industry professionals and offer over 30 presentation sessions. The conference aims to explore the most current concerns in creating user-centered experiences across a range of fields, from web sites and mobile devices to healthcare and software. It also offers attendees the chance to network with other usability professionals from New England and around the world.

Hot Knife Wins 2008 Horizon Interactive Award for Outstanding Media Solution

Hot Knife Wins 2008 Horizon Interactive Award for Outstanding Media SolutionThanks to the Horizon Interactive Awards for showcasing our work on The Nureyev Legacy Collection.

The 2008 Horizon Interactive Awards Competition received over 1000 entries from around the world. The record number of entries were reviewed by HIA judges—an international panel of industry experts—for the "best blend of creativity and functionality." Hot Knife's submission, The Nureyev Legacy Collection Web Site, received a Bronze award. The Web site was created to support the release of Life Behind the Metaphor, a book of rare Rudolph Nureyev photographs.

The Horizon Interactive Awards prides itself on "honor(ing) the most talented developers of interactive media" and providing participants with "a level playing field . . . regardless of company size. Often, smaller firms . . . produce outstanding work that never receives the recognition it deserves."

Hot Knife to Create New Corporate Identity for McDep, LLC

Hot Knife to Create New Corporate Identity for McDep, LLCOil and gas investment research company McDep, LLC has selected Hot Knife Design to refresh its corporate identity for both print and digital use.

McDep, LLC provides independent stock analysis for major investment banks and individual clients. McDep principal Kurt Wulff has been featured in Barron's, and Oil and Gas Investor, and has appeared as a guest on Bloomberg, Nightly Business Report, CNBC, CNN, and Wall Street Week.

Hot Knife Design is pleased to be selected to provide creative services to McDep, LLC, and we welcome them as the newest member of our growing client family. 

Silver Scenic Selects Hot Knife for Web Site Redesign

Silver Scenic Selects Hot Knife for Web Site RedesignAward-winning New York set design company, Silver Scenic has selected Hot Knife to refresh their Web presence and corporate identity.

Silver Scenic has produced beautiful, ground-breaking sets for a wide range of cable and broadcast television clients including the Food Network, Premio Lo Nuestro (The Latin Music Awards), and Latin talk show powerhouse, the Cristina Show.

We're enthusiastic about working with such a creative client and are looking forward to bringing Silver Scenic's new portfolio online.  

Chilean UX Magazine Publishes Translation of Hot Knife Article

Chilean UX Magazine Publishes Translation of Hot Knife ArticleJonathan Follett's article "Where Are You Now? Design for the Location Revolution", a piece on location-aware Web products and services which originally appeared in UXmatters, was translated into Spanish and published at, a Chilean user experience strategy Web site as "¿Dónde estás ahora? Diseñando para la revolución de la ubicación". We're excited about this opportunity to speak to a broader audience. Although, we'll need to brush up on our Spanish to fully appreciate it. Thanks to the team at for their hard work in the translation process.

Hot Knife Consulting Creative Director, Matt Holm Elected Vice Chair of CHIFOO

Hot Knife Consulting Creative Director, Matt Holm Elected Vice Chair of CHIFOOCongratulations to Matt Holm, our Consulting Creative Director on his recent election to the Vice Chair position of the Computer Human Interaction Forum of Oregon (CHIFOO). As part of the CHIFOO leadership team, he will be responsible for helping to organize the group's 2008 Program Series.

Last year's series "Mind the Business: Promoting the Value of Your Work" featured speakers like Luke Wroblewski, Senior Principal of Product Ideation & Design at Yahoo! Inc., on "The Shifting Role of Design".

Matt is looking forward to contributing to the success of CHIFOO as a forum for education, networking, and interaction for the design and development community in the Portland, Oregon area.