7 Steps to Tech-Savvy Wedding Planning

Wedding planning tips, websites, and apps for tech-savvy brides

The second you say “yes” and slip on that pretty diamond ring, you’ve not only committed to the man of your dreams but also a months-long part time job of wedding planning! Not to worry — below I’ve shared some apps and websites that make wedding planning a lot less stressful and a ton more fun. Even if you’ve opted for a simple affair or splurged on a wedding planner, every bride can benefit from a few helpful tips!

1. GET STARTED

Take the first step by signing up on The Knot and WeddingWire. In my opinion, these are invaluable from start to finish. There are some great tools and features to take advantage of, most importantly vendor searches and reviews. You can also keep track of to-do checklists, your budget, and guest list. They are available as apps for easy access anywhere and include tons of tips and advice on etiquette and pretty much everything wedding related. There is an option to build your wedding website, but I opted for a more customizable choice elsewhere.

The Perfect Palette wedding colors

The Perfect Palette

2. DEVELOP YOUR STYLE

This pretty much goes without saying, but Pinterest is a great resource for wedding inspiration. It’s helpful to be able to set up separate boards, like one for dresses, one for overall look and feel, one for great ideas (like for favors or signage), etc. You could even set up a group board to share ideas with bridesmaids, your hair stylist, or photographer. I thought it was helpful to be able to keep track of items I wanted to purchase but budget for along the way, like outfits for wedding events. Once you have your images compiled, you can save to your tablet or print copies to take to vendor appointments.

A great source for browsing color palette ideas is the Perfect Palette blog. For ideas on honing in on your wedding style, read these tips from the wedding blog, Style Me Pretty.

Wedding Woo websites

3. CREATE YOUR WEBSITE

Having a wedding website gives you the chance to share valuable information with your guests. The bonus benefits are that you can upload fun photos and bios to help build excitement about the event. I found Wedding Woo to be a user-friendly option for a simple and customizable solution to create a wedding website. Besides the basics, Wedding Woo gives you the option to manage RSVPs, create a Guestbook, and display an auto-populated gallery of your wedding hashtag photos from Instagram. Some other options are Wedding Window, offering a responsive design website, and Riley & Grey, showcasing stylish upscale-feel designs. With a website and app in one, Appy Couple encompasses a fully mobile experience.

4. SHARE INFO

Inevitably you’re likely to end up with countless files and folders of wedding documents. I found that it was helpful to use document sharing websites, like Dropbox or Google Docs, to be able to coordinate information with other people. My sister (and Matron of Honor) and I shared a Google Docs spreadsheet for my shower guest list, which allowed me to update her on any address changes while she could update me on RSVPs. The same could be done with the wedding list so bride and groom can both make live updates. It could also be helpful to set up online document sharing with your wedding planner!

Zola wedding registry

5. CLICK & SCAN

Setting up your gift registries online is a must. What’s even better is downloading the app, which most big retailers offer. The flexibility that comes with the chance to change items, quantities, or even scan a product into your registry from the store is greatly helpful. Registry experts like Crate & Barrel have even developed a Thank You Manager to help you say on track with thank you notes. Innovators like Zola are taking things a step further by allowing you to bring products, services, and experiences into one place to create a truly unique and customizable registry experience.

6. SMILE

Long gone are the days of disposable cameras. Wedding hashtags on Instagram have become the gateway for guest candids. What’s even better is if your website will display a gallery of your tagged photos so that everyone can see. Apps like WedPics offer even more flexibility by allowing guests to upload photos and videos from a phone or computer, and have partnered with photo printing services to make ordering prints a cinch. Bridal Guide offers more suggestions in their post, Easy-to-Use Wedding Photo-Sharing Apps.

Spotify music player

7. PLAY

As the wedding gets closer, all the showers and events start popping up. What better way to get the party going than with the perfect playlist? Spotify is a useful tool to create custom playlists and also stream music from a pretty solid assortment of existing mixes. The best thing is that you can play your custom playlist offline, making it easy to bring anywhere. For my bachelorette party I created a fun, party girls mix to listen to while we were getting ready in the hotel, and currently working on another upbeat, romantic mix to play while we’re getting ready the day of the wedding. Nothing sets a better tone than some great music!

For more app suggestions that streamline the wedding planning process check out Mashable’s post, 16 Apps and Gadgets for Wedding Planning.

Box Buzz: Subscription Commerce

Subscription commerce websites have been sprouting up everywhere recently.  Everything from snacks, undies, and beauty products to tackle, razors, and baby products can conveniently arrive at your door for a flat monthly fee.  I’m equally intrigued by the marketing potential as I am by the psychology of it.  How excited would you be to receive your carefully wrapped box every month, in some cases curiously anticipating what the contents will be!  The subscription model offers customers either a curated collection, random assortment, or a convenient selection of regularly used items.  The possibility for gifting also has potential with sites offering various price options for subscriptions ranging from one month, three months, six months, to a full year.

One of the originals, Birchbox, has gained huge success by working with companies who supply sample size products cost-free in return for the guarantee of customer acquisition.  They’re monthly fee at only $10 per month (or $20 per month for men) is below most of the other websites, allowing them to pick up more volume and gain access to a wider audience.

Here are 15 different subscription websites and what they’re all about.

BarkBox

What they offer:  Treats and toys for dogs, customizable based on the size of your dog.  I love the branding and illustrations on this site!

barkbox

Birchbox

What they offer:  “High-end beauty and lifestyle samples from top brands” for women and men.  The goal is that you fall in love with some of the samples, resulting in a full-size product purchase.

birchbox

Glossybox

What they offer:  Luxury-sized samples of beauty products.

glossybox

Beautyfix

What they offer:  Beauty products selected by a panel of beauty industry experts.

beautyfix

Dollar Shave Club

What they offer:  Three different levels of razor blades for men. When their promo video went viral on YouTube, it crashed their site but resulted in over 12,000 new subscriptions within the first couple of days.  They are planning on expanding their product line to include other personal care items for men.  That video, brilliant.

dollar shave club

ShoeDazzle

What they offer:  Trendy shoes selected for you based on results from a style survey.  Kim Kardashian is a co-founder, recently joined by Rachel Zoe as Chief Stylist.

ShoeDazzle

JustFab

What they offer:  Accessories and apparel curated into a “Boutique” based on your style preferences.  The subscription is an option but not required on their site.  Kimora Lee Simmons is President and Creative Director.

JustFab

Beachmint

What they offer:  Designer-curated products from jewelry and fashion to home and beauty.  The company hosts an impressive list of celebrity ambassadors

BeachMint

Underwear Society

What they offer:  Quirky and youthful-style socks and underwear for men and socks, leggings, tights, and undies for women.

Underwear Society

Panty by Post

What they offer:  Frilly panties for women, including a bridal collection.  They also offer a classic-style boxer brief for men.

Panty by Post

Citrus Lane

What they offer:  Assorted goodies for parents with young children, including snacks, books, and toys.  You can customize your box based on your child’s age.

Citrus Lane

Mantry

What they offer:  Gourmet groceries geared toward guys, the “modern man’s pantry.”  I. Love. This website.  The branding, typography, package design, the name.  Perfection.

Mantry

Knoshbox

What they offer:  Artisan foods, randomly assorted each month.

Knoshbox

Craft Coffee

What they offer:  A variety of coffee from a select group of roasters, tasting notes, and brew tips.  Customize your subscription based on the type of grind.

Craft Coffee

Mystery Tackle Box

What they offer:  Fishing lures and tackle aimed at both beginner and advanced level fishing enthusiasts, including tips on how to use them.  Surprisingly, this wasn’t the only fishing subscription site I came across!

Mystery Tackle Box

SO once you’ve received your monthly deliveries, you can conveniently apply a face mask then snack in your undies and heels and give your dog a treat, all without having to leave the comfort of your own home! Ha!

Resources:

Box It Up – The Rise of Subscription Commerce by KISSmetrics

The beauty of Birchbox: it’s not subscription commerce, it’s marketing that women actually pay for by Erin Griffith

Subscription commerce: thinking inside the box by George Henry

My Subscription Addiction: This website reviews a huge range of subscription websites, including daily updates and news. Time for a subscription intervention!

For the LOL of cats

Maru, courtesy mugumogu

The Photographers Gallery

Who doesn’t enjoy a good laugh from a funny cat picture?!  Taking the cat “meme” phenomenon one step further, The Photographers’ Gallery has designed an exhibit around the theme.  As a cat person myself, I can appreciate the quirkiness and absurdity of our feline friends…  I IZ AMUZED!  (Visit lolcats.com for some more of this fun ridiculousness.)

eBay the New Way

eBay new

Welcome to the new eBay

“Technology is revolutionizing the way people shop, and eBay is shaping the future of commerce.”  — Devin Wenig, President of eBay

Last week I had the pleasure of attending a presentation by Connie Birdsall of Lippincott, Brand Strategy and Design Agency.  As the creative director, she has been involved in many high-profile branding projects including the recent re-design of the eBay marketplace.  The initial launch of the re-design took place about a month ago and has proven to freshen up the eBay brand through many different avenues.  Admittedly, I have not been much of an eBay shopper in the past, but I’m excited about the shopping possibilities as a result of a new and improved website!

The Goal

eBay was looking to freshen up their image in order to signify an evolving brand.  The website not only offers auction-style selling, but has a range of “buy it now” goods and a growing mobile presence.  Some of the website changes are a reflection of younger, mobile-savvy users.

An Overview of Changes

Arguably the most noticeable change is the new logo.  Designating a new chapter, “The design is inspired by today’s vibrant marketplace and sleeker experiences, but carries forward the iconic color arrangement and approachable form to reflect eBay’s heritage.” (Lippincott.com)

eBay new and old logos

Comparison of eBay’s new (left) and old (right) logos

Website Updates:

  • Pinterest-like feed with larger images
  • Cleaner, more contemporary look, and more white space
  • Fewer clicks of the mouse to buy item for usability
  • Stronger search and recommendations through homepage feed  to help give consumers insight and a more personal experience
  • Same-day delivery of products from local stores through eBay Now for mobile app to stay abreast trends with competitors like Amazon and Wal-Mart
  • Daily deal offers in select cities
  • Autocomplete feature added to search bar
eBay feed

eBay.com Feed Feature

eBay autocomplete search

eBay.com Autocomplete Search Feature

eBay product landing page

eBay.com Product Landing Page: Shoes

eBay product page

eBay.com Product Page: Shoes

Some of the launch features also included a letter from the president of eBay Marketplaces, a look book, an info-graphic, a social feed and Frequently Asked Questions.

Despite many changes in form and function, some favorites are here to stay.  The search feature that helps shoppers who already know what they are looking for is not going away.  The company says it wants online shopping to feel more like window-shopping or browsing in a brick-and-mortar store.

The Future

eBay President, Devin Wenig, hinted that more is to come. “We will continue to make shopping more intuitive, more convenient and more relevant,” he said. “This is just the beginning.”

Some useful links:

Welcome to the New eBay (note from the President)

Lippincott’s eBay Case Study

USA Today “EBay launches site redesign”

CBS News “EBay unveils big redesign with a nod to Pinterest”

With Liberty And Justice For All

Happy Election Day, America!!!  Don’t sweat, this is a non-partisan post.  The only advocating I’m doing here is for style and design.  😉  I’m proud to say that I exercised my democratic right to vote today, but was disappointed that I didn’t get an “I Voted” sticker (who can I contact about that?)!  Now that the polls are closed, it’s time to just sit back and see which “lesser of two evils” will be running our country for the next four years.

Below you’ll see the logos for Obama and Romney, a snapshot of their campaign websites, and a few patriotic style images for fun.  I noticed that Obama’s website design was built with responsive design, whereas Romney’s website was not.

Obama and Romney campaign logos

Obama and Romney 2012 Presidential Campaign Logos

Obama 2012 Presidential Campaign Website

Obama 2012 Presidential Campaign Website

Romney 2012 Presidential Campaign Website

Romney 2012 Presidential Campaign Website

patriotic-inspired images

Happy Election Day!

Proactive Responsive Design

proactive responsive design

Proactive Design Presentation by Nathan Smith

This past week, I attended a presentation that DSVC hosted on the topic of responsive web design.  Nathan Smith (creator of 960.gs), Mark Sims, and Mike Townson of projekt202 highlighted some fundamentals as well as current issues and topics related to responsive design.  The presentation can be viewed by clicking here.

Here are some of the key elements from the presentation:

  • A responsive website is ideal for companies that may not need an app, but need their users to have mobile access to key information
  • The mobile-first approach can help resolve the issue of large, desktop-targeted image sizes creating lag
  • Sass is a CSS pre-processor that can help execute mobile-first while preserving the desktop experience of older browsers
  • Retinafy.me is a resource that explains how to create high-resolution websites that are also quick-loading
  • Responsive design works best when a website is initially planned with that method, rather than trying to adapt responsive to an existing fixed-grid website
  • Carefully consider how people are using the website on a mobile device and what information is the most vital
  • Examples of some reputable companies that have adopted a responsive website:
Microsoft homepage

Microsoft.com

GRAMMY homepage

GRAMMY.com

Time homepage

Time.com

Disney homepage

Disney.com

The guys at projekt202 gave a great presentation and I feel fortunate that I got to attend!

Check it Out: Technology Advancing Retail Point-of-Sale Systems

iPad point of sale system

iPad POS (using ERPLY)

The dynamics of the shopping experience continue to change and evolve, seemingly due to the commanding presence of technology.  In addition to the internet serving as a vital catalyst, there are soon to be other players changing up the game.

According to a Yahoo! Finance article, Urban Outfitters has made the decision to convert their point-of-sale systems to Apple devices (like iPod Touches and iPads) in lieu of cash registers.  While this is something that Apple has been implementing for some time already in their own retail stores, it’s interesting to see it take off with other retailers.  CIO Calvin Hollinger of Urban Outfitters states, “iPads cost about 1/5th as much as a cash register, and can be used for so much.”  Another benefit is their space efficiency and the ability to swivel the screen towards the customer so they can view the screen and enter information, as needed.

iPod point of sale

iPod Touch POS (using Omniexpress)

Another retailer looking to advance their POS system is JCPenney.  TIME Moneyland outlines some of Ron Johnson’s new strategies for JCPenney, including doing away with checkout counters, cashiers, and cash registers.  According to the article, “Johnson explained that physical retailers should be able to do everything an online-only retailer like Amazon does and more—including face-to-face customer service and options such as in-store pickup.”  The new strategy would involve various self-checkout possibilities, Wi-Fi networks, and mobile checkout.  The strategy is already in effect in select locations, and all of the JCPenney stores are expected to offer mobile checkout by the end of the year.

Nordstrom is planning to follow suit (USA Today) with numerous other retailers trailing closing behind.  How will customers react to these new changes?  While some customers may be confused or annoyed, the convenience factor could prove to be huge benefit.  It’s kind of like an odd marriage of shopping on your mobile or tablet device WHILE shopping in the actual store.  Those who already shop online may not be bothered too much by the change, and I’m sure everyone would revel in skipping the check-out line.

Using the iPad as a POS system could be an advantage for small, independent retailers as well, providing a money-saving alternative to a traditional cash register and the option of portability for those on-the-go businesses.

I’m curious to see what this fervor for the iPod and iPad — and other mobile touch technologies — will impact next!