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Sep 08 2021
Sep 08

DesignHammer has been awarded four MUSE Creative Awards in the 2021 competition, including two Gold Awards and two Silver Awards. DesignHammer’sredesign of the Divers Alert Network website took home a Gold Award in the Nonprofit category and a Silver Award in the Association category, while our TransmetriQ website build for Railinc earned a Gold Award in the Information Technology category and a Silver Award in the Transportation category.

To win these awards, DesignHammer collaborated with DAN to consolidate three of their sites into one user-friendly WordPress website with a custom-designed, mobile-responsive theme to maintain brand identity and more effectively engage their audiences. The TransmetriQ achievement comes after longtime client Railinc commissioned their third project with DesignHammer for a custom website to effectively reflect the rebranded identity for their commercial product line.

The MUSE Creative Awards is an international competition for creative professionals who inspire others to greater heights with their concepts, ideas, or designs. The organization was created by the International Awards Association (IIA), on a mission to honor, promote, and encourage creativity by providing a new standard of excellence for evaluating media design production and distribution.

The IIA conducts five awards competitions, including the MUSE Creative Awards, NYX Marcom Awards, the TITAN Business Awards, the LIT Awards and the Vega Digital Awards. DesignHammer has now earned eleven awards in total from the IIA over the span of four years. Prior to MUSE, our most recognition from the IIA was in the 2021 Vega Digital competition where our Divers Alert Network redesign also earned two awards, including a Canopus Award (platinum), and Centauri Award (gold). This latest achievement for 2021 is important to DesignHammer, because this year is our first time entering the MUSE Awards ever. 

Judges for the MUSE Creative Award competition are chosen from top-tier digital agencies across the United States; creative directors, copywriters, photographers, illustrators, educators, and some freelancers are all represented within the jury panel. MUSE Award winners must demonstrate outstanding achievement in one or more of the following areas: content, imagery, audio, interface, design, accessibility, innovative use of technology, appropriate use of technology, and overall appeal. The full 2021 MUSE Creative Award winner list can be found here.

“I am pleased with DesignHammer’s success in our first set of entries in the MUSE Creative Awards.  The competition was tough this year, with likes of industry leaders such as IBM, Getty Images, and Clinique winning Platinum awards." 

— David Minton, DesignHammer Managing Partner

About DesignHammer

As a full-service web strategy, design, and development agency, DesignHammer has been integrating proven practices and delivering tailor-made technology solutions to help companies and organizations achieve their business goals since 2001. Headquartered in Durham, North Carolina, DesignHammer has been internationally recognized for their award-winning websites and web design & development industry expertise. Using a collaborative development process, DesignHammer’s close-knit team of experienced web strategists, developers, and designers leverage existing software platforms, custom software frameworks, and third-party software integrations to provide client organizations with the best ROI.

Sep 08 2021
Sep 08

Thanks to the hard work of our team this past year and stellar reviews from our clients, DesignHammer has once again been recognized with an esteemed Clutch Leaders Award. Clutch recently listed DesignHammer as the 2nd best digital agency in all of North Carolina for 2021.

Clutch.co is the leading ratings and reviews platform for IT, marketing, and business service providers. Each month, over half a million buyers and sellers of services use the Clutch platform which contains over 200,000 agency listings. To select their annual Leaders Award winners, Clutch uses a complex methodology that consists of meticulously evaluating a company’s service focus, case studies, brand reputation, and verified reviews, among many other factors, to determine a company’s industry expertise and ability to deliver.

Securing a second place position against hundreds of North Carolina competitors demonstrates that Clutch’s algorithm has recognized industry excellence throughout every qualifying aspect of our agency and considers DesignHammer to be one of the development industry’s finest. 

In addition to their annual Leaders Award, Clutch regularly updates their proprietary “Leaders Matrix,” which provides a visual representation of top performing companies in a particular industry and location. As of this release, DesignHammer is ranked 2nd on Clutch’s Top Drupal Developers Matrixin Raleigh/Durham, and 3rd in Clutch’s Top Web Developers Matrix for all of North Carolina.

In reference to the 2021 B2B Leaders list, Clutch Customer Operations Representative Austin Ellis stated: 

“These providers excelled in their respective fields and have shown that they can provide high-quality services to their clients. Companies looking for a partner in web design, branding, SEO, mobile app development, and other B2B services should check out the firms on this list.” 

This is DesignHammer’s third Leaders Award following our previous recognition from Clutch as a Top Performing B2B Company in North Carolina as well as a Top Global Service Provider in 2020. Winning a Clutch Leader’s Award is a testament to our clients’ success working with DesignHammer and a reflection of the time spent sharing their satisfaction level with Clutch representatives.

“DesignHammer is honored to be recognized as a top digital agency by Clutch in their recently published Top-Performing B2B Companies in North Carolina. We’d like to thank both current and former clients who left us glowing reviews, as well as Clutch for recognizing our agency’s commitment towards delivering quality work and providing our clients with a positive, collaborative project experience.” 

David Minton, Managing Partner

 

See Clutch’s official North Carolina Leaders Award Press Release

Top North Carolina Web Developers on Clutch

About DesignHammer

As a full-service web strategy, design, and development agency, DesignHammer has been integrating proven practices and delivering tailor-made technology solutions to help companies and organizations achieve their business goals since 2001. Headquartered in Durham, North Carolina, DesignHammer has been internationally recognized for their award-winning websites and web design & development industry expertise. Using a collaborative development process, DesignHammer’s close-knit team of experienced web strategists, developers, and designers leverage existing software platforms, custom software frameworks, and third-party software integrations to provide client organizations with the best ROI. For more information visit: https://designhammer.com.

Sep 08 2021
Sep 08

DesignHammer has been awarded five dotCOMM Awards in the 2021 competition, including two Platinum Awards, one Gold Award, and two Honorable Mentions.

Our custom TransmetriQ website build and the DesignHammer website have each been recognized with a  Platinum Award in the B2B category and in the marketing/digital agency category, respectively. Additionally, our redesign of the Divers Alert Network website has been awarded one Gold Award in the nonprofit category, as well as two Honorable Mentions, one in the association category and one in the sports/recreation category.

Longtime client Railinc commissioned their third project with DesignHammer for a custom website to effectively reflect the rebranded identity for their commercial product line (TransmetriQ), a website that dotCOMM has now recognized with a Platinum Award. DesignHammer’s latest Gold dotCOMM Award was the result of close collaboration with Divers Alert Network in 2020 to consolidate a number of web properties into a user-friendly WordPress website with a custom theme. In addition to these two clients, DesignHammer took home a Platinum dotCOMM for the 2021 redesign of our own company website.

“We are pleased with the recognition of the new Divers Alert Network website — and we’re thrilled with the improved user experience for our customers and members”

— Bill Ziefle, DAN President & CEO

 

Administered and judged by the Association of Marketing and Communication Professionals (AMCP), dotCOMM Awards is an international competition honoring excellence in web creativity and digital communication. The AMCP is one of the largest and oldest, third-party evaluators of creative work in the world. Other noteworthy dotCOMM award-winning projects from 2021 were commissioned by Duke Energy, NATO, Cornell University, and WP Engine. See the rest of the 2021 dotCOMM award winners.

These five awards bring DesignHammer’s total dotCOMM Awards total to fifteen, since 2017. Previous DesignHammer projects to have taken home awards include work for the Council for Entrepreneurial Development (CED)Highland CompositesInteriors in FlightThe William Blake Archive, the North Carolina Center for NonprofitsRailincDuke Health, and the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival.

“I’m very proud to hear of our agency's recent achievement and happy to see the AMCP judges have recognized the value of the results we deliver our clients. Earning two Platinum Awards, one Gold, and two Honorable Mentions from dotCOMM, is a testament to the skill, vision, and collaborative effort our team.”

— David Minton, DesignHammer Managing Partner

2021 dotComm awards

About DesignHammer

As a full-service web strategy, design, and development agency, DesignHammer has been integrating proven practices and delivering tailor-made technology solutions to help companies and organizations achieve their business goals since 2001. Headquartered in Durham, North Carolina, DesignHammer has been internationally recognized for their award-winning websites and web design & development industry expertise. Using a collaborative development process, DesignHammer’s close-knit team of experienced web strategists, developers, and designers leverage existing software platforms, custom software frameworks, and third-party software integrations to provide client organizations with the best ROI.

Jun 30 2021
Jun 30

In honor of DesignHammer’s 20th Anniversary, we thought it would be neat to ask the DesignHammer team what they thought the DesignHammer logo represented. For this fun thought experiment, staff members were asked to analyze various parts of the logo including the block/box graphic, the name “DesignHammer”, and if they had any thoughts around the typography and brand colors that they’d like to share. 

Here's what the staff had to say about the DesignHammer "block":

“The DesignHammer logo has always reminded me to think outside the box. Why continue to stick to what you know when there's always so much more out there you can use to learn and grow? That's why DesignHammer has been able to stay in business for so long, they're all about growth and working outside the box.”

Madelyn Yonnetti, Graphic Designer

 

“It’s a stylized taco representing how good web development is a mix of many ingredients and tastes good.”

Taco Sketch

Jay Roberts, Lead Developer

 

“A closed box that is opening. The logo signified finding hidden answers inside the box.”

“In working with our clients, we are often asked to make a thing, “the box.” This may be a website, an app, or a more unique solution. Seldom have our clients already assembled the necessary information for anyone to correctly build the box they need. Some firms will simply look at the box on the surface and build what they can see. This risks missing the hidden depths of what the client actually needs. Using our repeatable process, we work with our clients to help open the box and learn what they really need and desire. Through this collaboration, we and our clients are successful.”

 

Stephen Pashby, Account Manager

 

“The smaller, foreground piece looks like a book or magazine that the figure behind (perhaps a person's head) is reading/studying; it kind-of suggests that DH is always learning and has their finger on the pulse of current tech and trends.”

DesignHammer logo

“As far as color goes, it hints that there are some Duke and Carolina fans/grads at DH (it's no surprise that this NCSU grad would notice the lack of red!). The tagline goes hand-in-hand with the company name in suggesting that we have the tools and skills to create great products. The logo graphic + name (entire logo) somewhat resembles a hammer (the graphic being the head of the hammer and the name being the handle), which is a neat touch.”

 

Tiffany Cissel, Developer

 

“Two things—one that we like to think outside of the box for our clients, and secondly that we realize that while the 'front page' is important and makes an impact for the client, it's the layers that live beyond that are truly important to the success of a site.”

Dave Shepley, Development Strategist

 

“From the opening of Stanley Kubrick's groundbreaking adaptation of Arthur C. Clarke's seminal 2001: A Space Odyssey, in which the alien Monolith appears before a group of australopithecus in Olduvai Gorge, through the radio burst directed at Jupiter (Saturn in the novel) by the lunar situated Tycho Magnetic Anomaly-1 (TMA-1), the near impossibly advanced "Firstborn" use advanced technology to steer human development, and literally lead us to the stars. DesignHammer's logo represents the partially excavated Tycho Magnetic Anomaly-1 buried in the lunar soil (from a reverse angle with the retaining wall in the foreground), ready to release a burst of advanced technology and creativity to propel our clients toward achieving their goals through overcoming their obstacles.”

Space Odessy

 

David Minton, Managing Partner

 

“I like the idea that one of our ‘guiding principles’ is openness in the development process, rather than taking a specification and handing back a product without any other communication. We certainly seem to invite a lot of client participation and discussion in the process. I think this helps us in a variety of ways, including delivering a final product more in line with client desires/needs, helping shape the client expectations in cases where their desires may not address their needs, giving client authority and responsibility for certain decisions, and allowing bidirectional flexibility when necessary.”

 

Michael Nicholson, Project Manager

 

“When I started at DesignHammer, my first impression of the DesignHammer box logo was that it must be related to thinking “outside of the box”, but that interpretation seems too easy for this question, particularly because boxes can represent so many things. In dreams, for example, boxes typically tend to symbolize concealment. Under this definition then the DesignHammer box may represent hidden secrets. The front of the box appearing to “open”, however, may mean we’re open to revealing our trade secrets and the hidden talents of our staff members to our clients. So, final answer, the DesignHammer "open box" logo symbolizes that we are ready to share our agency's collective knowledge with anyone who's willing to listen"

 

Hunter Deschepper, Account Manager

 

“It's cliché but I'm going with one of these: "thinking outside the box, thinking out of the box, thinking beyond the box, or thinking outside the square.”

 

Frank Yonnetti [Original Logo Designer], Partner & Lead Designer

Jun 22 2021
Jun 22

Many interesting things happened in 2001:

  • The Vatican claimed that Pokemon was safe for children
  • Pizza Hut paid $1 million to deliver a pizza to the International Space Station
  • A SuperBowl ad cost you $2.1 million  
  • iTunes was first launched

2001 is also the year that DesignHammer opened its doors — even as the technology world was dramatically shifting and the ‘dot-com bubble’ was bursting.  

“It’s not like we didn’t know what we were getting into since our prior company had been a victim of the dot-bust, but we had no idea how hard or easy it would be to try it on our own. We were fortunate in the early days to have a number of friends and clients from past business relationships join us at DesignHammer as we were learning how to run a 3-person web design and development shop.” — Managing Partner David Minton

February 2001 was probably not the best time to start a new technology venture, but co-founders David MintonRobert Weeks, and Frank Yonnetti had a plan and started by landing the internationally renowned Durham Bulls Baseball Club as their first client. Over the next five years, the three partners picked up additional high-profile clients, including RTI International, the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction, and the Chemical Industry Institute of Toxicology. The workload was becoming more than the three partners could handle, so it was time to search for a larger office space in Durham, and hire some staff. (Read more about our journey here).

Twenty years later, even in the midst of a pandemic, a SuperBowl commercial costs you a cool 5.6 million. The International Space Station is almost at the point of overcrowding, making that $1 million pizza that much more valuable. 20 years after launching iTunes as a concept, it is a stalwart among popular download and streaming services with over a billion downloads worldwide. 

DesignHammer has now grown into a full-service web agency, serving more than 200 clients and completing over 550 projects. We have done so with a talented and close-knit team of digital experts who use a collaborative development process to deliver specialized services ranging from Web StrategyDevelopment, and Design, to SEO and digital marketing Consulting. Our diverse set of clients come from a range of industries, including government, higher education, non-profit, IT, and healthcare. DesignHammer aims to provide client organizations with the best return on investment (ROI) by leveraging existing software platforms, custom software frameworks, and third-party software integrations. DesignHammer is active in the free and open source software (FOSS) community and recognized for our commitment to developing and expanding upon PHP platforms like Drupal and WordPress, while developing on most other ‘stacks’ like Scala, Python, Django, Vue, Angular, Electron, Laravel, Typescript, and more. 

The Triangle Business Journal has listed DesignHammer as a Top Graphic Design Firm and Top Internet Marketing & Design Firm in the Triangle for the last 19 years. We were also recently named a Top-Performing B2B Company in North Carolina by Clutch, a leading national ratings and reviews platform for IT, marketing, and business service providers. Our exemplary, flexible, and employee-first workplace practices ensure a healthy working environment for our team and we have been recognized as a “When Work Works” award winner since 2012.

We are excited to see what the next 20 years will hold as the company continues to expand, explore new technologies, add new partners and clients, and continue to refine our processes. Thank you to all of our current and past clients for being a part of our journey and growing with us. We are looking forward to the next decade of building smarter websites. If you have an upcoming web project, get in touch to learn more about how DesignHammer can contribute to your success.

DesignHammer 20th Anniversary Zoom

Jun 17 2021
Jun 17

2021 marks 20 years since DesignHammer started as a custom web development company. We couldn’t think of a better way to commemorate this milestone other than by unveiling our newly redesigned website. 

Developed in Drupal 8, the new website has been a highly collaborative process across the entire company. It’s been a truly successful team effort to launch the site and we are excited to share it with our clients, friends, and followers. 

Our new site has several features to help our visitors understand our company, our service offerings, and our values. Read about our documented, repeatable Process, a recently added feature designed to show site visitors our roadmap for building successful websites. Get to know Our Team and the company’s Story. Find highly detailed descriptions of the Services we offer across our wide technology stack — and don’t forget to check out our case studies and Client Testimonials from the last two decades!

In addition to the added content, the new DesignHammer website now features a custom chatbot designed to collect business information from prospects, direct site visitors to the content they’re looking for, and provide them the opportunity to live chat with the team during business hours. Go ahead and check out our new bot! If you are interested in learning how a website chatbot could streamline your customer and prospect communication pipeline, shoot us an email or simply message us through the chat window — we’d be thrilled to build you a custom bot!

Take a look around the new site, drop us a line, and keep an eye out for more content as we celebrate 20 years of delivering cutting-edge websites to our clients.

DesignHammer website before and afterDesignHammer website before & after
Jun 17 2021
Jun 17

In honor of DesignHammer’s 20th Anniversary, we thought it would be neat to ask the DesignHammer team what they thought the DesignHammer logo represented. For this fun thought experiment, staff members were asked to analyze various parts of the logo including the block/box graphic, any thoughts they were willing to share around typography and brand colors, and finally, what they thought the name “DesignHammer” meant. Part 2 of this series will explore staff interpretations around our company's name.

Here's what the staff had to say about the name "DesignHammer":

“A hammer is the building block of any construction project. And when it comes to websites, design is the first building block. To me, this just goes to show that DesignHammer does everything. This company is the building block for any great website. From my experience working here, everyone contributes something valuable, and we use everyone to learn more and grow more as a company.”

Madelyn Yonnetti, Graphic Designer

 

“Thematically, it invokes the idea of using the right tool for the right job.”

 

Jay Roberts, Lead Developer

 

“To me, the name DesignHammer connotes two concepts that I feel we try to deliver through our work at DesignHammer:

  1. The marriage of form and function, creating websites that both communicate our clients' brand message and serve as tools to further their organizational goals. I think many firms focus on one or the other, but we strive to achieve both.
  2. We take a pragmatic, workmanlike approach to our craft (web strategy, design, and development), focusing on getting the job done.”

Stephen Pashby, Account Manager

“Honestly, it doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me (lol), but I've always thought it sounded cool. Maybe it suggests that we can build designs that we and/or our clients dream up, i.e. we have the tools ["hammer"] & skills to turn web ideas ["design"] into realities.”

 

Tiffany Cissel, Developer

“DesignHammer was born during a different age of online branding, back when .com domain names with real words were still available, and before company names featuring generic-sounding, made-up words became more popular. This was also before the current trend of single-word names directly related to the focus of the company, be they dictionary or phonetic approximations. Back then industry leaders were the likes of "Frog Design" and "Razorfish", and so "DesignHammer" was created along that theme.”

David Minton, Managing Partner

 

“Hammers have been historically used to shape and craft objects. Combine with Design and our job is to shape, craft, or breakdown design to make a new product.”

Dave Shepley, Development Strategist

 

“While the actual story behind how the name ‘DesignHammer’ was chosen is pretty pedestrian, names gain meaning in use as much as in being given.

To me, DesignHammer represents our basic philosophy of web development. The two words each have their own relevance, and together they paint a picture of how we approach our work.

Design represents both the obvious factor (design of look-and-feel and usability of websites), but also our commitment to operating based on data and feedback; in effect, operating by design. Our process is always rooted in purposeful action, not just doing something ‘because.’ Whether it’s development, consulting, content creation, or even internal HR processes, we try to make sure that there is a reason we’re doing something a certain way (even if sometimes that reason is just that we’re going to give a try and then see how to improve from there).

Which brings us to ‘Hammer.’ Truthfully, we use very few hammers in our approach to web development (shocking, surely). But both our processes and our development technique often uses iteration as a strategy. Whatever our first intention may be, we are constantly evaluating where we are, what has been working well, and what hasn’t. We then make some changes that we think will help, and repeat the process. But ‘DesignIterate’ is a mouthful, and just doesn’t work.

But in the physical world, there is a similarity in our iterative process and in hammering, as one would in a forge. The initial efforts get at least a rough shape, and something for the end client to react to; further strikes of the hammer refine the shape into a more functional and pleasing finished product. And when done correctly, that finished product is stronger for all of the efforts put into it.

So, what I want DesignHammer to represent is this: we’re always working with some purpose in mind, and we’ll keep refining it until we get it right. Whether that’s your website or our process.”

 

Michael Nicholson, Project Manager

 

“Counterintuitively to what one might think, I know for a fact that “DesignHammer” does not mean that we’re always ready to “hammer out designs” left and right, although that was my first (incorrect) impression of the name. DesignHammer is a partner agency, we aren’t a dev shop filled with code monkeys ready to do anyone’s bidding at the flip of a switch. Our development and design process is actually very careful and methodical; it is how we ensure continuous delivery of excellent web design and development solutions to our customers time and time again.”

“To this day I do not personally know what “DesignHammer” means, but if you’re seeking a quick turn-around agency who claims they can rapidly hammer out any design project you throw at them, then I have two things to say to you, 1. Be ready to sacrifice quality for speed and 2. Good luck with your search for a different vendor because that’s not exactly how we do things here at DesignHammer — Sorry!”

 

Hunter Deschepper, Account Manager

 

“Unfortunately it doesn't mean anything. It's a unique name and was an available domain at the time. Another name we almost considered was DesignTractor :P”

 

Frank Yonnetti ["DesignHammer" Co-Namer], Partner & Lead Designer

Jun 03 2021
Jun 03

How is it possible that it’s been more than a year since the pandemic started? At DesignHammer, we are all grateful to have emerged from this crisis safe and sound. In this blog, the team took the opportunity to reflect back on the past year and comment on its challenges as well as unexpected silver linings.


How has working through the pandemic made work more difficult for you?

MiniaturesA big part of my job requires getting heads-down and writing code. It's challenging to get into the flow in a house full of people having video calls.

Has it affected your work life in any positive ways?

As a group we have put a lot of effort into developing our remote work techniques so that we all work more efficiently not being in the same office. I expect a lot of that experience to continue to be relevant once the office re-opens.

Have you found there to be any silver linings for you personally over the past year of the pandemic?

Like many, I have taken up a variety of new hobbies. It's been fun to explore and develop some new skills over the last year. An example is, I got an airbrush and have learned to build and paint models.

Jay Roberts, Lead Developer

How has working through the pandemic made work more difficult for you?

While our team and our clients have stayed closely connected via Slack and GoToMeeting, some kinds of collaboration (such as brainstorming with a whiteboard or ad hoc scoping discussions) are just not as easy remotely. We have had to be more focused on scheduling internal collaboration time and have not found a great replacement for the good old whiteboard at the conference table.

Has it affected your work life in any positive ways?

I've gotten a lot more used to video calls and see the value in using them over non-video calls in many instances. I also have enjoyed not having a commute each morning and evening (don't miss driving in traffic, even for values of RDU traffic).

Have you found there to be any silver linings for you personally over the past year of the pandemic?

For several weeks of the pandemic, I worked from home with my then-fiance (now husband) which gave each other a unique look into aspects of our personalities that we may not have as likely to have seen otherwise. Unfortunately, I have not able to pick-up any new hobbies or the like as it feels as though my time has been more restricted since starting to work from home :-(

Tiffany Cissel, Developer

How has working through the pandemic made work more difficult for you?

The most challenging part of working during the pandemic has been childcare. My two kids, now in fourth and first grades, have been in virtual school for over a year now. My wife and I, both with jobs requiring multiple calls and video conferences per day have to balance also being school monitors as well as parents. Making sure kids are in the correct Zoom session at the right time, are actually paying attention to class, and helping with their schoolwork is a contestant distraction from our job responsibilities. Add to this providing tech support, enforcing outside recess time, and preparing healthy snacks on demand on top of the normally expected homework review, school project supervision, test preparation leads to many late nights trying to stay up on job responsibilities. My wife and I are really looking forward to our kids return to their year-round in-person school in July.

Has it affected your work life in any positive ways?

Scheduling has become much easier. By not having to travel to meetings with clients or prospects, we typically save hours per week. Not attending out-of-town in-person conferences saves days of travel time, as well as not being away from home. I have also been able to attend virtual conferences I never would have been able to, based on time and expense, had they had not been for the pandemic.

Have you found there to be any silver linings for you personally over the past year of the pandemic?

Little girl on battleshipOne of the silver linings of the pandemic was a project I have spent time helping my now seven-year-old daughter with. She missed not being able to see her grandparents due to COVID lockdowns in early 2020 and was interested in participating in birthday card drives for seniors isolated from friends and family. She was connected to a veteran’s group online and began sending birthday greetings, as well as follow-up letters and photos. So far, she has sent over seventy cards and letters with photos in total to over a dozen women who served in the US military during World War II. All served in either the US Coast Guard SPARS or the US Navy WAVES. The veterans, all women who are now between 96 and 106 years old, live across the US from Maine to California and North Dakota to Texas. The WAVES and SPARS share stories of life growing in the 1920s and 1930s, many in rural America, their time in service during WWII, as well as the joy my daughter’s correspondence bring to them. My second silver lining was helping my wife create a YouTube channel. The channel, Cocktails Under Quarantine, is all about helping people learn how to make craft cocktails at home through a combination of recipes, book and spirit reviews, and interviews with other content creators. The first video was intended only for friends and family, shot and uploaded to Facebook straight off her iPhone, and admittedly had pretty awful production value. Over the next twenty-five episodes we upgraded equipment and learned about audio recording, lighting, and editing, to the point that the latest results are pretty decent. While always just a project my wife and I could have fun doing together, we somehow acquired a small following, and the videos have been viewed thousands of times, with regular requests for recipes or reviews of particular spirits. Our hopes to further improve the quality of our content, and continue the channel post pandemic.

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David Minton, Managing Partner

How has working through the pandemic made work more difficult for you?

We lost the opportunity to simply walk over to someone's desk and brainstorm about issues we may be having with a work-related task. Plus we never get to see each other unless it's through video chat. I know this may sound crazy but I actually miss seeing my co-workers 5 days a week.

Has it affected your work life in any positive ways?

I still go to the office every day, so that aspect has not changed. Well except that the office is usually void of people. But for me, the most positive part is the lack of traffic on the roads. It's starting to fill back up over the past few months, but it's still not near the level it was before the pandemic. I think I've only been in 1 or 2 traffic jams since this all started.

Have you found there to be any silver linings for you personally over the past year of the pandemic?

I've been able to spend more time with my family which I really appreciate. Before the pandemic, they were always out doing something that keep them busy. And now that their favorite activities aren't available, along with the many restrictions, they stay home more.

Frank Yonnetti, Partner / Designer

How has working through the pandemic made work more difficult for you?

As many others have stated, the lack of social interaction has probably been the most difficult thing to cope with over the past year. It's difficult from both a morale and a productivity standpoint. In terms of morale, working form a virtual setting discourages social interaction with colleagues and I have not kept up with all the "happenings" in everyone's lives. From a productivity standpoint, it's a lot more difficult to provide and recieve immediate responses from team members via Slack than it would have been to simply walk 10 steps over to their desks from across the office. I've also missed out on the opportunity to meet new people at in-person at various conferences and networking events, so expanding DesignHammer's network and keeping up with professional communities has also been difficult.

Has it affected your work life in any positive ways?

PuppyI have to admit I don't mind gaining the extra hour everyday that would have been spent driving to and from the office through RTP traffic. Extra sleep has definitely been good for my psyche and has also probably been beneficial to me in terms of personal productivity. We already had a pretty flexible work-life balance at DesignHammer pre-pandemic, but having less personal interactions (and even less client interactions) means I have had even more personal freedom to mold my work schedule in a way that best fits my needs.

Have you found there to be any silver linings for you personally over the past year of the pandemic?

The pandemic has given me more time to connect with my partner who is also working from home. Before the pandemic I always disliked the act of cooking and would often eat out more than I'm proud to admit, but as working from home has gifted me with extra time and energy, I decided to start cooking daily. Turns out I'm actually pretty good at it, and it also turns out that weekly meal prepping and planning becomes less overwhelming with both practice, and a plethora of newly mastered recipes to choose from. I also took the WFH opportunity to adopt a new puppy since I knew I would be able to give it much more attention given the new circumstances than I would have been able to had I been commuting to an office every day. 

Hunter Deschepper, Account Manager

How has working through the pandemic made work more difficult for you?

The virtual interaction with the team is just very different. Without actually being present together, there's a higher requirement to maintain connection and camaraderie, and sometimes that doesn't happen. Additionally, it's harder to be aware of everyone's workload, so it's easier to overload someone at any specific time. And yes, I may go a bit stir crazy sometimes ;)

Has it affected your work life in any positive ways?

The fact that I've been able to be at home since my son was born in January has been a huge positive, and has greatly reduced the stress that I would have felt being at work during those first few months.

Have you found there to be any silver linings for you personally over the past year of the pandemic?

Well, my son was born January 2nd, so there's that ;) I mean, the pandemic didn't make that happen, but it's still a pretty big life goal. Also, being able to be home with my wife more (she works over the weekends, so we don't have any days off together) has been nice, even more so after Holden was born.

Michael Nicholson, Project Manager

How has working through the pandemic made work more difficult for you?

Dad and SonAround the time the world started working from home, 2 big life changes happened: the nanny for our then 1-year-old started to become less available, and ultimately pregnant, and I moved to an open floor plan loft. Managing a child learning to walk and climb amidst work made life difficult for sure. Also the loss of immediate collaboration with co-workers took a minute to get used to.

Has it affected your work life in any positive ways?

Without the, admittedly enjoyable, distractions working in an office offers, it's been easy to knock out pockets at work at once. Also, as our office has a mostly open work environment it's easier to make client or sales calls, or be less distracted by others calls and meetings.

Have you found there to be any silver linings for you personally over the past year of the pandemic?

I've been around more to take the dog for a walk, to be able to drop off and pick up my son from school. A quick trip to the park, or a walk around the neighborhood is much easier than it used to be, and since I've been home more with less desire to watch TV, I've probably read over 150 books the last year or so.

Dave Shepley, Development Strategist

How has working through the pandemic made work more difficult for you?

I personally am able to work at the office, but everyone else is working remotely, so of course there are going to be struggling with trying to communicate over the phone about projects and what needs to be done. I have also affirmed even more with myself that I hate talking on the phone and over video, I'm definitely ready for that to be over.

Has it affected your work life in any positive ways?

I've surprisingly actually been able to work more because of the pandemic and I have a more stable work schedule. Thankfully because of this I can know what my day-to-day looks like and I can be home and have free time and also spend time with my husband.

Have you found there to be any silver linings for you personally over the past year of the pandemic?

Well, I got married and was able to have a small and intimate wedding with the people I most cared about! I also moved into a new apartment and became a plant mom. And finally like I stated earlier, I have a more stable schedule in general so I'm able to spend more time at home with my family.

Madelyn Mattsson-Boze, Graphic Designer

How has working through the pandemic made work more difficult for you?

Durham HomeWhile our team and our clients have stayed closely connected via Slack and GoToMeeting, some kinds of collaboration (such as brainstorming with a whiteboard or ad hoc scoping discussions) are just not as easy remotely. We have had to be more focused on scheduling internal collaboration time and have not found a great replacement for the good old whiteboard at the conference table.

Has it affected your work life in any positive ways?

I've gotten a lot more used to video calls and see the value in using them over non-video calls in many instances. I also have enjoyed not having a commute each morning and evening (don't miss driving in traffic, even for values of RDU traffic).

Have you found there to be any silver linings for you personally over the past year of the pandemic?

We moved in to a new house just before the stay-at-home orders came out, so we have had a year to unpack and settle in.

Stephen Pashby, Account Manager

As you can see, the pandemic has imposed many challenges on the DesignHammer team. But, we’ve also managed to figure out how to thrive, work together virtually, and even pick up some new skills! We hope that you have gotten through the pandemic safely and are looking forward to seeing you in person! As always, if you need a smarter website, contact us!


Jun 02 2021
Jun 02

DesignHammer has been awarded two 2021 Vega Digital Awards by International Awards Associate. The Divers Alert Network website redesign has been recognized with a Canopus Award (platinum) in the non-profit category, and a Centauri Award (gold) in the associations category. 

DAN Vega Award Winner

DesignHammer collaborated with DAN to consolidate three of their sites into one user-friendly WordPress website with a custom-designed, mobile-responsive theme to maintain brand identity and more effectively engage their audiences. 

"We are pleased with the recognition of the new DAN website by the Vega Digital Awards — and we’re thrilled with the improved user experience for our customers and members."

— Bill Ziefle, DAN President & CEO

Other notable Vega award-winning website projects this year were commissioned by The Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum, Natural Resources Defense Council, and State Farm Insurance Company.

The DAN awards are the 6th and 7th Vega Digital Awards for work with our clients since 2018. DesignHammer has submitted projects and won awards in three of the last four years. Other Vega Digital award-winning projects include work for RailincThe Center for Entrepreneurial Development (CED)Highland Industries, and The William Blake Archive.

The Vega Digital Awards are administered by International Awards Associate (IAA), a group of industry innovators, creators, designers, and communications professionals, deeply committed to moving the industry forward through the discovery and recognition of new and existing talent.

Evaluated in blind judging by a panel of senior-level digital media professionals from around the world, websites are judged on visual design, content, structure and navigation/functionality, interactivity, and overall experience. Winning entries represent excellence in design, development, marketing, and communications, and the opportunity to stand out in an international competition above thousands of other entities

See the rest of the 2021 Vega Digital award winners.

May 31 2021
May 31

DesignHammer is closed for Memorial Day, to honor those who gave their lives for our country.

On which holiday do we say “thank you for your service?” In the United States, a number of holidays related to the military are celebrated, with two—Memorial Day and Veterans Day— being federal holidays. While often confused, they have different origins and honor different groups. There is also a third holiday, Armed Forces Day, which many people are not aware of. 


Over Memorial Day Weekend, Section 17 of Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Virginia, May 23, 2020. (U.S. Army photo by Elizabeth Fraser / Arlington National Cemetery)

Armed Forces Day

Armed Forces Day is the newest of the three holidays and is celebrated on the third Saturday in May. The holiday, established in 1949 and first celebrated in 1950, replaced the separate Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard Days, though the separate days are still observed by some, particularly within the respective services. In proclaiming the creation of the holiday, President Harry Truman wrote:

“I invite the Governors of the States, Territories, and possessions to issue proclamations calling for the celebration of that day in such manner as to honor the Armed Forces of the United States and the millions of veterans who have returned to civilian pursuits.”

This would be the most appropriate day of the three to honor those currently serving in the US military, though also appropriate to honor veterans as well. Learn more from United Service Organizations (USO) on Armed Forces Day

Veterans’ Day

Veterans’ Day is always celebrated on November 11, as it originated as Armistice Day, the anniversary of the end of hostilities of World War I in 1918. With the first anniversary of the End of the War, President Woodrow Willson proclaimed:

"To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations…"

In 1938, an act of Congress made Armistice Day a legal holiday to honor the veterans of World War I. But, after the sacrifice of World War II and Korean War service members, veterans groups petitioned the government, and in 1954 the 1938 act was amended to change the name of the holiday to Veterans Day to honor American veterans of all conflicts. The bill was signed into law by President Dwight Eisenhower, himself a veteran of both World Wars.

But who is a veteran? According to Title 38 CFR § 3.1 of the Code of Federal Regulations “Veteran means a person who served in the active military, naval, or air service and who was discharged or released under conditions other than dishonorable.” This would be the most appropriate of the three to honor those retired or otherwise discharged from the US military. You may learn more from the US Department of Veteran’s Affairs’ Veterans Day Frequently Asked Questions.

Memorial Day

Memorial Day is celebrated on the last Monday in May. Originally known as Decoration Day, the first national celebration was held on May 30, 1868. In that year, Commander in Chief John A. Logan of the Grand Army of the Republic, a fraternal organization composed of veterans of the Union Army, Navy, and Marines who had served in the American Civil War, called for May 30th as a memorial day. 

 “The 30th day of May 1868, is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village, and hamlet church-yard in the land.”

It is reported he chose the end of May, as that was a time flowers would be in bloom throughout the country. The tradition continued into the twentieth century, with May 30 being a day to clean up and decorate the graves of veterans of both North and South.

The term “Memorial Day” was first used in 1882, and eventually became more common than Decoration Day after World War II. In 1971, federal law changed the name of the holiday to Memorial Day, and the observance from May 30 to the last Monday in May. The scope of the holiday was also changed to honor service members who lost their lives in all American wars. This is the day intended to honor the veterans who died in combat or succumbed to their wounds later. You may thank them for their services, but they are no longer able to acknowledge your greeting.

Learn more about Memorial Day from The Library of Congress

What to do?

Whether you choose to celebrate these holidays with a backyard cookout, sales shopping, or a visit to a national cemetery, it is useful to know the origin and intention of each holiday, in case you run across a current or former member of the armed services along the way.

DesignHammer Memorial Day

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