Five Digital Design Trends to look forward to in 2017

With a new year come new trends. TWG Plus is looking to the future as we break down five trend worthy topics!


“…done correctly, GIFs can take your engagement and click-through rates to the next level.”

GIFs, really? I know what you’re thinking. GIFs are everywhere, and you’re right. So what’s so great about them? The GIF is nothing new, but their usage is becoming more popular than ever. Let’s be honest, abusing GIFs can kill your UX (user experience), but done correctly, GIFs can take your engagement and click-through rates to the next level.

According to The New York Times, 23 million GIFs are posted on Tumblr every day. Facebook gets more than 5 million daily. Slack sees more than 5 million GIFs each month.

GIF or JIF? Let’s Settle It.
I can’t tell you how many debates I’ve engaged in regarding the pronunciation of the word GIF — it’s sad really. The “G” in GIF stands for the word “graphic,” so many people believe that it should be pronounced with a hard G. But according to its creator, Steve Wilhite, the correct pronunciation is “JIF,” like the brand of peanut butter. I’ve been saying it wrong for all these years — who knew.


They’re easy to digest.

They’re mobile friendly.

They draw attention to important information.

They help tell a story. 


They bring emails to life.


As we focus more and more attention on content, designers will pay closer attention to headline size. In a world of constant distraction, visual hierarchy and headlines that draw attention are key. It’s important to dedicate plenty of screen real estate to the simple statement defining your company’s product or services. Start playing with space and mixing different fonts…the possibilities are endless.


Google Fonts first launched in 2010 as a way to move the web forward and make it faster and more expressive by creating a simple way to add type variety to websites. It offers an intuitive and robust directory of open source designer web fonts. Google allows you to share and integrate typography, into any design project seamlessly; no matter where you are in the world. It’s Googles world now anyway — we just live in it.

Expect more designers to explore Google Fonts in 2017. Check it out!

Google Fonts



“Duotones can spice up an overused image, add a fun element when once is lacking and just help engage users visually.”

As minimalism came to the forefront in 2016, designers sought out ways to inject personality into their design work. [Insert big, bright colors here]. Duotones can spice up an overused image, add a fun element when once is lacking and just help engage users visually. Expect to see more duotone imagery used to bring consistency when several images are displayed. Check out these color soaked websites that really draw your attention!

As you can see, it’s not only about bright color, but gradients are also making a comeback. Yes, I said gradients, but let’s not get crazy here. There’s not always a pot of gold at the end of this rainbow. Use gradients thoughtfully and with purpose.



“88% of online users are less likely to return to a site after a bad experience.”

So what is UX exactly? Short for user experience, UX brings user’s problems top of mind, and all design decisions should be centered around them. It’s important to focus on understanding your target audience, not who you think your target audience should be. Get to know your users through research and solve their problems (spoiler alert: actually talk to them!). Research is that genuine friend that tells you not what you want to hear, but the actual truth that makes you think twice. Use the information to your advantage to better impact your decision-making.

Still not convinced? Here are some powerful stats on UX:
• 88% of online users are less likely to return to a site after a bad experience.
• Judgments on website credibility are 75% based on a website’s overall aesthetics.
• First impressions are 94% design-related.
• 85% of users think that a company’s mobile website should be as good or better than their desktop website.

TWG Plus Digital Viewbooks Win GOLD! – 2014 EDMAs


Last week, Higher Education Marketing Report announced the 2nd annual 2014 Education Digital Marketing Awards. These awards test a firm’s creative mettle against companies across the country.

TWG Plus pulled in 10 EDMAs this year— 5 Gold, 2 Silver, 1 Bronze and 2 Merit. Our innovative digital viewbook took the lion’s share of the awards.

We are extremely proud to share this honor with our higher education partners across the country. This is what a true collaboration can do.

Gold Winners
Kalamazoo College, Digital Viewbook, Online Publications
Kalamazoo College, Digital Viewbook, Miscellaneous Interactive Media
Morgan State University, Digital Viewbook, Online Publications
University of Idaho, Digital Viewbook,Online Publications
University of Idaho, Landing Page, Admissions Website

Silver Winners
Bluefield College, Digital Viewbook, Online Publications
Southeast Missouri State University, Digital Viewbook, Online Publications

Bronze Winner
Northwest Missouri State University, Digital Viewbook, Online Publications

Merit Winners
Morgan State University, Landing Page, Admissions Website
Warren Wilson College, Digital Viewbook, Online Publications

Bloomfield College Embraces Their Brand

bloomfield pubAs the A-Team’s Hannibal once said, “I love it when a plan comes together.” And it certainly has with our partnership with Bloomfield College.

Earlier this year, we partnered with Bloomfield to help them engage in a broad-scale branding project.Their goals were threefold: create a thoughtful brand that reflects the spirit of the College; generate pride and excitement within the College community; and roll the brand out in a way that will engage prospective students and their families.

We’re proud to say that the first phase of the brand launch is well under way and we could not be happier with the results! Bloomfield College is an innovative leader in coaching students and helping them develop both inside and outside of the classroom. Their brand, centered around the theme of helping students ‘write their own story’, captures the essence of their mission while focusing on their students, just as every member of their community does on a daily basis. We believe that’s why it is resonating so well on all levels.

Most exciting for us is working with a partner who ‘gets it’. Bloomfield College has embraced their new brand fully and enthusiastically. Together, we’ve refreshed their recruitment publications, developed a new website, re-launched their YouTube channel and completely revamped their tour program. Bloomfield College is taking the ball and running with it! Don’t take our word for it, read more about it in their alumni magazine here:

Bloomfield College is going places and we’re glad to be along for the ride.

The Facts About Teens, Snapchat, and Higher Education Enrollment

Snapchat, teens, enrollmentIn November of last year, Snapchat turned down a $3 billion dollar buyout offer from Facebook. Astonished social media wonks cried foul. How could a company that has no revenue be worth $3 billion dollars?

There is a general theory in digital media that money follows eyeballs. So, who are the people that are driving this enormous valuation?


Snapchat is one of the worlds leading social networking services. 46% of 12 − 24 year olds use the app to communicate. 77% of college students use Snapchat to send pictures, text and video.

Wait, you haven’t heard about Snapchat? No one can blame you. The company is only three years old. From simple beginnings as a Stanford class project, the mobile app has grown from handling 25 images per second in May 2012 to 700 million per day in May of this year.

Snapchat has grown into a mainstream communication tool. Since most of these images are coming from Millenials, agencies, businesses and higher education institutions have flocked to it.

Why should you care about Snapchat?

snapchat-teens-enrollmentThe rapid adoption of Snapchat by teens represents a fundamental shift in the way people use the Internet. Millenials are the first generation of mobile users. They don’t surf the open web on desktop computers. They don’t use email. They don’t talk on the phone. They use private apps like Snapchat and Whatsapp to communicate with their own controllable, private network of friends.

According to Business Insider, Snapchat is attempting to corner the handset market for the millenial generation. If Snapchat becomes the “start app” for millions of teens, higher ed professionals need to learn how to market accordingly.

Believe it or not, the ephemeral nature of Snapchat is also a boon to marketers and institutions alike. Unlike Facebook or even Twitter, users must stay actively engaged with their phone to communicate. If a student receives a snap from their school of choice, it disappears in 10 seconds, leaving the student waiting for the next post.

What is Snapchat?

Snapchat is a photo messaging mobile application that allows users to send photo, video, and text messages to a private network of friends. Photos, dubbed “snaps”, have a limited lifespan. Users can set a timer from 1 to 10 seconds. When the timer runs down, the image is destroyed. Snapchat users are in control of who sees their snaps. Likewise, they can control which snaps and friends they want to see.

In a way, Snapchat is a perfect storm of generational disconnect. Teens crave privacy. Parents don’t “get” technology. Placing a private network in the hands of sixteen year-olds across the world was bound to create a tsunami of data that only Millenials would understand.

Getting to Know Snapchat

The best way to learn about the app is to download it for yourself. It runs on Android and iOS.

Once you’ve downloaded it, you’ll get a practical lesson in Metcalfe’s Law. Snapchat isn’t very useful if you aren’t connected to any friends. Find a student in your office, ask them to friend you. Play with the app. Send and receive snaps. Snapchat is intuitive, and you will get the hang of it quickly.

Now that you have an introduction to the top communication tool for 12-24 year-olds, it’s time to plan a Snapchat campaign.


This wraps up the first post in a series about teens, higher education, and Snapchat. Snapchat has risen from a college project to a major social networking phenomenon. Teens, in particular, are the primary users of the tool because they can communicate within their own open, secret garden, protected by a wall of mobile technology. In the next installment, we’ll look at some examples and lay out a plan for building your own higher education Snapchat campaign.

2014 HEMR Awards. What else is there to say?

TWG Plus received notice that we won HEMR awards for our work with Averett University, Marymount California University,  Maryville University, Spelman College and Niagara University.

Sometimes, it’s hard to express the appreciation that you feel. In those cases, it’s best to paraphrase Sally Field. “You like us. You really like us.”  That’ll do, Sally. That’ll do.


Averett University, Gold, Best in Show Total Recruitment



Marymount California University, Merit, Total Recruitment



Maryville University, Gold, Direct Mail



Niagara University, Silver, Poster


(by raymond)

Spelman College, Merit, Brochure

spelman copy