August 27, 2019Comments are off for this post.

Introducing Spark: The first Sketch library made truly for UX designers

I’m excited to announce the release of a project we’ve been working on for a long while in our free time over at Dragon Army. But first, a preface.

A little history.

UI designers and coders have near endless free and premium resources to help facilitate their workflows and speed up their processes. Seems like a new design kit or front-end framework is released every other day, giving these roles a great and expansive set of tools to use on new projects.

As I transitioned into full-time UX work at Dragon Army, it became obvious to me that those of us in dedicated UX professions do not have nearly the access to free or affordable resources that other roles tend to. It seems like everything we need—from user testing platforms to e-commerce research and even professional training materials—are quite expensive. Not to mention, prototyping tools usually come with pre-built sets of elements, so those of us that do UX design inside Sketch are kind of left out to dry.

Well, at least we were until today.

Introducing, Spark, a new Sketch design library made by Dragon Army exclusively for UX designers!

What exactly is Spark?

Spark is an open-source design kit for building mid-fidelity wireframes and flows in Sketch. It contains a veritable cornucopia of elements, templates, and more to aid in rapid wireframe production and quicker ideation.

Why Spark over any other design library?

We’ve architected Spark to aid UX designers specifically. Here’s how:

Single Element Focus

Spark was designed around a building block mentality, providing a vast assortment of elements to rapidly compile a screen. We stayed away from the urge to create realized page blocks such as headers or feature areas, since frameworks that accomplish this type of need are readily available. 

Color Agnostic 

Nearly all other Sketch UI kits are focused on visual design and specific themes, but Spark is set in grayscale to remove the need to convey a specific design language.

Responsive and Customizable

99% of Spark is responsive and override enabled, so you can customize your elements to best suit your project’s needs.

What kind of stuff is in Spark?

We have jam-packed Spark full of everything you need to jump-start UX projects. We’ve broken down everything into major categories so you can access what you need faster. Here’s a quick rundown of what we have:

  • Basic Components - Contains a huge variety of cross-platform and device-agnostic components
  • Android Components - UI for Android apps based on Material design
  • iOS Components - UI for Apple devices based on iOS 11/12 SDK
  • Charts - Commonly used charts for quick insert
  • Flows - Responsive symbols to create user flows and documentation
  • Form Fields - Commonly used form field items. States and icons within fields are manipulatable.
  • Icons - A subset of Font Awesome 5.0 icons in vector format, listed alphabetically
  • Templates - Prepackaged form templates for common cases, such as login and address collection
  • Typography - Preset font styles in white, gray, and black, as well as all three alignments
  • Basic Styles - A scale of 5 grayscale options, and some basic colors for element states

You can preview all of this on Sketch Cloud: https://sketch.cloud/s/OWyMp

How do I get it?

You can add the library to your projects or download the file to your computer from our link on Sketch Cloud: https://sketch.cloud/s/OWyMp

What if I want to contribute to Spark?

Got an idea to make Spark better? See a bug in the project? We would love your suggestions and help maintaining it!! We’ve released Spark under the Creative Commons license and opened the project on Github.

Join the project, and help us make this into the ultimate UX designer’s resource: https://github.com/jessewallace/spark 

Why release it for free?

At Dragon Army, we believe in Inspiring Happiness by Doing Good. We felt this was a great way to give back and put a smile on the faces of those that have been looking or waiting for an affordable (or really ANY) framework for their wireframes.

We had some awesome help.

Spark got a great injection of resources from the following amazing authors:

Donnie Suazo Jeff Broderick Tran Mau Tri Tam, and Great Simple

We hope Spark makes your designing a little faster, a little easier, and a little more fun. If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out directly at [email protected].

Happy designing!

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Written by Jesse Wallace, Sr. User Experience Designer at Dragon Army 

Twitter Handle: @jesse_wallace

July 17, 2019Comments are off for this post.

New Book “The 5-Day Turnaround” by Jeff Hilimire Helps Leaders Kickstart Growth by Acting Like Smart Entrepreneurs

ATLANTAJuly 16, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- Dragon Army announced today the release of "The 5-Day Turnaround," a new business book by first-time author, Jeff Hilimire. Written in a narrative style, the book takes the reader through five days of mind-stretching meetings during which they learn how leaders can drive growth by acting like successful entrepreneurs.

"The most common failure in business today is the inability to keep up with the pace of change," said Jeff Hilimire, CEO of Dragon Army. "I've poured the lessons that I've learned over my 20+ years as an entrepreneur into the pages of this book with the goal of helping leaders move faster using an entrepreneurial mindset."

The narrative focuses on the five core mindsets of a successful entrepreneur. Each trait is clarified so any leader can easily follow and immediately start making an impact. The book also included a workbook section for team building or individual growth, as well as bonus material in the form of 48 business and life hacks.

"Jeff personifies the definition of an entrepreneur: resourceful, ambitious and full of grit. Transforming established corporations to act more entrepreneurial requires these attributes in spades, and no one is better to expand on them than Jeff," said David Cummings, Founder of Pardot and the Atlanta Tech Village. "The only established corporations that thrive tomorrow are the ones that are more entrepreneurial today. Unlock growth by following the strategies laid out in The 5-Day Turnaround and ensure continued success."

The book, published by Ripples of Hope, is available on Amazon in ebook, paperback and hardback formats. Jeff is available for speaking opportunities and to learn more visit jeffhilimire.com.

About Dragon Army:

Dragon Army is a purpose-driven digital experience agency. We work with leading brands such as the American Cancer Society, Chick-fil-A, The Coca-Cola Company, Delta, The HoneyBaked Ham, IHG, Krystal, NFHS, United Way of Greater Atlanta and more. Our experts create powerful experiences to deepen emotional connections and amplify impact. Headquartered in Atlanta, Dragon Army is an Atlanta Business Chronicle Pacesetter Awards recipient and was named one of the city's leading mobile app development companies by Clutch.

Follow: @DragonArmy #whatdragonsdo

About Ripples of Hope:

Ripples of Hope is a nonprofit organization that exists to incubate and accelerate the growth of high-impact organizations focused on making the world a better place. Participants benefit from CEO mentorship, board creation and consulting, fundraising and growth support, managed services, operations support and more. Participating companies include Dragon Army, 48in48, Central Outreach & Advocacy Center, Love Beyond Walls, Love Not Lost, Spark Women, Children’s Museum of Atlanta, Advice for Good, Rompio and New Crew. Learn more about business as a force for good at ripplesofhope.com.

If you would like more information about this topic, please call Jessica Carruth at 770.313.5784 or email [email protected].

June 17, 2019Comments are off for this post.

The Road to Fun: Designing Games Through Feedback, Iteration & Charm

When people see our finished games they often ask, "how did we come up with something like that?" Sometimes they also ask, "why we would come up with something like that?" Our ideas come from many places: a lunchtime doodle that blossomed into Little Broken Robots or setting out from the get-go to make the most action-packed, one-handed tower defense game we could with Defend the Dam — or maybe just highlighting our furry friends with Bork n’ Sniff. While the ideas always come from different places, how we make fun, engaging experiences that Inspire Happiness always go through the same process: playtest often, iterate constantly and add a whole lot of charm.

Always be playtesting! It is never too early to get feedback, and your first line of defense is your team. While Dragon Army works on a game, we always set aside time during the week (usually Fridays) so everyone can stop working on the game and just play it. Finding out early what is working and what isn’t allows you to prioritize what your team should be iterating on!

Change this, cut that! Always be willing to make drastic changes or cut systems if it is getting in the way of fun. Often times, teams get attached to the systems or mechanics they have spent so much time working on, but games are complex ecosystems and that feature the team really loves could be polluting the whole game. You have to always be willing to try different things, and (if all else fails) be willing to remove the system entirely.

Add the charm! Draw attention to the "possibility" space and reward exploration! We love polish at Dragon Army, but we always want it to serve a purpose. Maybe it’s to draw the players eye to something important like the clock slowly ticking down in Little Broken Robots or to provide an extra layer of feedback and direction for the player, as they navigate the level in our latest project, Tumble Totem.

These three simple parts of our process help us find the fun in every project, and if we stick to them, we should always achieve our goal of Inspiring Happiness. If you’d like to learn more,  hit us up on our contact form!

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By: Patrick Rossetti, Developer at Dragon Army

 

July 30, 2018Comments are off for this post.

Why Supporting Black Arts is Important

Earlier this month, I had the pleasure of attending the National Black Arts Festival (NBAF) Gala: What Makes A Legend event. The NBAF is dedicated to advancing the arts and the contributions of artists of African descent, and to celebrate its 30-year anniversary as the oldest multidisciplinary arts organization in the country, the nonprofit organized a stellar event including, great food, music, and, of course, art by distinguished local Atlanta Artists for guests to bid on.

As a leader within our People and Culture Department at Dragon Army, I felt privileged to represent our company and support an organization that is in-line with our corporate values of Celebrating Diversity and Doing Good.

Judy Hanenkrat, who oversees Special Events and Fundraising at the NBAF, said something that really resonated with me, “The NBAF isn’t just for Black people, it’s for all of us.” This nugget of truth is incredibly important because all human progress is driven by creativity, which is one of the many reasons Dragon Army is proud to support an organization that celebrates the successes that come with advancing the arts and contributions of artists of African descent. Below I’ve outlined the top reasons the NBAF is for everyone: 

Solidarity and Support

Vikki Millender-Morrow, CEO of NBAF, said it best, “It’s 2018 and there is still a very small percentage of artist of African descent that are able to make a living as an artist.” In addition to this, there are still racial and socioeconomic disparities within art education and funding. To address these inequalities, the NBAF promotes diversity by supporting young artists. Its school-based education programs provide artistic and professional development for public school students to improve their academic success and open pathways to higher education. The NBAF Festival, Gala and other events celebrate champions of Black culture and provide a much-needed space for solidarity in turbulent sociopolitical times. Why is this important? It is important because unity is strength and when faced with adversity, it is necessary to realize our connectedness. This realization also allows us to understand how our actions and inactions impact those around us.  

Celebration of Culture

The NBAF understands that celebrating culture and diversity isn’t ignoring differences, but truly allowing people with differing perspectives to have their voices be heard and stories told. The NBAF offers performances, commissioned works, visual arts programs and arts education, as well as, public programs to local, national and international audiences.

Transcension and Progress

Progress begins when you start asking the right questions. At the end of the What Makes a Legend event, Vikki Millender-Morrow did just that by asking, “How do we have art across sectors? How do we merge art with education? How do we use art to better health outcomes? How do we use art to really increase the economic vitality of the city of Atlanta? How do we use art to cross cultures... to cross generations?” These are the types of questions that excite and motivate our Dragons. When we are able to challenge ourselves as well as others within our community, we are able to truly use our privilege and power to create equitable communities.

Dragon Army strives to Inspire Happiness as a company, and partnering with organizations like the NBAF is one way we’re making a positive impact on our local community.

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By: Khadijah Hall, Operations Coordinator at Dragon Army

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