Updates: August '17

September 25, 2017

Working and playing hard at DesignHammer

We’ve had a full and busy month around the office working on fantastic projects, and were honored to again make the Triangle Business Journal’s lists of top Internet Marketing and Design Firms! We’ve made time for fun in and out of the office with experiences like viewing the solar eclipse, attending GovCon and GenCon, and kayaking.

Recent Projects | In Production | New Clients | Awards and Recognition | Tools and Technology | Conferences | Professional Development | Community Involvement | Featured Client | Around Town | Anything Else

Featured Blog Post

Series: Building reusable custom components with Vue.js

Our technical development series on building reusable components with the Vue.js framework continues with Part 3: Autocomplete dropdown. We demonstrate how to build an autocomplete dropdown, emphasizing on how to build a reusable component that allows for enhanced functionality over time.

Recent Projects

Rare homepage redesign

This month, we helped Rare launch a revamped design for their homepage. The new design offers a better overview of the kinds of content inside the site, and adds promotion of the new rich content Rare is producing with their photo essays, like Fisherman and the Sea.

In Production

Highland Composites

The redesign for Highland Composites was a fun change from designs we regularly do. We had access to a library of high res photos and videos to pull from which opened up the creative workflow. All team members involved in the design phase helped to bring it to the best possible look and feel. The next phase is build-out which should provide another opportunity for creating a fun user experience.

New Clients


RTI Innovation Advisors is a unit of RTI International. RTI-IA is a non-profit committed to making the world a better place by turning knowledge into practice. They provide support, analysis, and experience to help a wide range of clients turn insights into new products, services, and technologies that improve the human condition.

DesignHammer is now in the process of a Design and Planning project working towards creating a new website specifically for RTI Innovation Advisors with a goal of helping RTI-IA better connect to existing and potential clients.

Awards and Recognition

Triangle Business Journal’s The List

Since 2002, DesignHammer has made the Triangle Business Journal’s lists of top Internet Marketing and Design Firms, and Graphic Design Firms in the Triangle. DesignHammer was listed as #9 Graphic Design Firm, and #20 Internet Marketing and Design Firms for 2017, based on the number of employees.

Tools and Technology

Drupal Audit Service

Thorough analysis of an existing Drupal site is an important first step in many of the projects we work on. Working from a robust understanding of the current state of a client website reduces uncertainty in project timelines, helps avoid budget overrun, and informs prioritizing current and future work.

DesignHammer recently unveiled a new site audit service that combines best-of-breed tools from the Drupal community, custom in-house analysis and reporting tools, and hands-on examination by our developers. The resulting report provides a thorough assessment of overall site health and security which identifies any problem areas that may impact current and future projects.


UXPA Workshop: Designing Content Models

Michael Nicholson and I had a chance to attend the Triangle UXPA workshop, Designing Content Models, hosted at Red Hat. Content modeling has similarities to data modeling, but in terms of how to handle and design systems with your content at the forefront.

The session was led by Sara Wachter-Boettcher, a content strategy consultant and author. She took us through a real-life scenario, broke us into groups, and guided us through steps your team might take to create more useful and usable content (including mobile).

Professional Development

Drupal GovCon

Sessions Stephen attended:

Community Involvement

GovCon 2018

Since 2013 DesignHammer has been a sponsor of Drupal GovCon (formerly Capital Camp), one of the largest Drupal conferences in the US, held annually in the Washington DC area. With close to one hundred sessions in 2017, the conference is a mammoth undertaking for the small group of volunteers that organize, program and promote the annual conference. As another way to give back to the community, DesignHammer discussed opportunities with conference organizers and is looking forward to helping to put on GovCon in 2018.

Qualyst Transporter Solutions

Qualyst Transporter Solutions provides cutting edge hepatic modeling for research in the pharmaceutical, consumer products, and agricultural industries. They have a variety of trademarked technologies which can better predict liver reaction when compared to standard, non-transporter activated models. DesignHammer recently developed a new website for them, and is excited to see the reaction from end users.

Around Town


Na’Mean is one of those places where literally every item on the menu is delicious. They specialize in fresh, modern Asian cuisine, with unique flavor profiles. Some of the office favorites are the Pyongyang Hot Chicken (Korean Fried Chicken, Gochujang Mayo, Romaine, Ssamjang, Quick Pickles, Pickled Radish) and the flavored blended ice drinks (recent flavors including Almond Horchata and Pomegranate Mint). They have specials that change regularly, so you’ll never worry about getting bored.

Anything Else

Solar Eclipse Viewing - Amanda

On Monday August 21, 2017, I was lucky enough to observe my first solar eclipse in totality.

That weekend happened to coincide with our yearly family lake trip, at Lake Barkley in Kuttawa, KY. And as it turned out, totality was almost perfectly centered at one of our usual floating spots.

As someone with even a small interest in astronomy, I know what happens during an solar eclipse and what to expect when the sun is 100% obscured by the moon. I've seen NASA photos of previous events, and they are wonderful. But these photos do not come close to experiencing it in person.

The difference between 99% and 100% is like night and day (almost, but not quite, literally). At about 50% you begin to notice that the sun feels a bit dimmer, and you look up at the sun with your eclipse glasses and get excited. With a couple of minutes to go, it's gotten cooler, the sun is much dimmer as if the sun is setting. The sun is now just a small crescent in the sky.

The water was perfectly smooth. All the boats in our cove were quiet, with everyone looking up at the sky in anticipation.

Then the moon slides completely over the sun, and magic happens. It's now twilight, with a slight glow on the horizon as if the sun has just set for the day. It feels many degrees cooler than it was even just a moment ago (the rest of the day is expected to be in the high 80s).

You look directly at the sun, which is now a black hole in the sky, with white wispy corona tendrils dancing around it. There are almost no words to describe the feeling. And then, in what feels like seconds (but is really 2 full minutes), it's done.

Without exaggeration, the most amazing and beautiful thing I've seen in my entire life.

The next solar eclipse with totality in the USA will be April 8, 2024, mere days before one of my milestone birthdays. I know where I'll be. Thanks for the birthday gift, universe!

Solar Eclipse Viewing - David

The remaining staff experienced the eclipse in Durham at DesignHammer’s office. The experience was novel, with a dimming of sunlight and unusual color and quality of light. Unfortunately, as it turns out the viewing experience of 94% totality did not equal 94% of the experience of totality, maybe more like 10%, based on what we heard from others.


Since joining DesignHammer, Allen Freeman has been working on getting me on the water in a kayak. After a year of kind offers, he finally succeeded and this summer I have been kayaking on the Haw and on the Roanoke. The Haw was a great deal of fun, but largely uneventful. The Roanoke was more eventful however, with my first surprise exit from a boat. I have since started to learn how to roll a kayak!

GenCon Recap

Stephen and I enjoyed our experience at “The Best Four Days of Gaming,” also known as GenCon 2017. The 50th iteration of North America’s largest tabletop gaming convention was full of excitement, wonder, cosplayers, games, artists, authors, and, yes, crowds. Turnstile attendance for the event was over 200,000 people over the four days, and for the first time ever badges sold out.

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