Orbital Studios Inc.
22 Wilson Street, Third Floor Hamilton, ON L8R 1C5
Phone: 905-977-8407

Eating healthy in Hamilton

Here at Orbital, sustainability is something we focus on; in what we build and what we buy. In light of this, we recently decided to introduce a new benefit to all current and future members of our team: Mustard Seed Co-op memberships. The Mustard Seed Co-op is a new grocery store that gives Hamiltonians access to a variety of locally produced, sustainable food, and much of it is made by local Hamilton producers. Hero Coffee, Cake & Loaf, Mapleton’s Organic Ice Cream are a few of our favourites, but there are plenty more. 

The decision to introduce this benefit was a no brainer, really. At $100 for a lifetime membership, it is an incredibly small investment that gives so much in return. Access to a variety of locally produced, sustainable food is something people used to take for granted. Today we are forced to make a case for it, and we think the Mustard Seed Co-op does just that. 

We recently attended the Mustard Seed Co-op's grand opening, and immediately noticed a community network effect happening. While we shopped around, some local musicians treated shoppers to some great tunes, reminding us all that there is some truly amazing talent in our city. We were especially happy to see our favourite new local band, Lee Baby Sims performing their own original music, while several local vendors offered samples of their offerings. 

We’re not the only organization to introduce this sort of philosophy into our culture, but we wish that even more businesses would. To write a list of the benefits would be easy, but none stands out more than this one: Healthier food = healthier brain. 

Want to learn more about the Mustard Seed Co-op? Watch this video, then head on over to the Mustard Seed Co-op's website and become a member today.

 

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Highlights from Hamilton Hive X 2013: Orbital's first Hive X Experience

On October 26th, some of us from the Orbital team had the pleasure of attending Hive X 2013 at the Sheraton Hotel/Stelco Tower.  

For those of you unfamiliar with Hamilton Hive, they describe themselves as “…a local network of young professionals and entrepreneurs.” Their mission is to “…enable members to connect, engage and grow, and to work together to build, promote and love Hamilton.” 

As if the idea that each and every person in the room was willing to get up early and dedicate their Saturdays to attend the conference wasn’t inspiring enough in itself - each presentation and workshop throughout the day was thoughtfully packed with messages of enthusiasm and high hopes for our city’s future.

The energy in the room was notably vibrant (particularly for 9am on a Saturday) and it was clear that connections were being made in every corner. It was also apparent right from the get-go, that one of the underlying themes of the day was this: people are not only recognizing the City of Hamilton’s potential. They’re ready to take action.

Hive X 2013

One of the many highlights for us, included an engaging presentation on disengagement, delivered by the spirited Charlie Hendershott. Hendershott’s speech set the tone for a day that was filled with reminders that no member of any organization (employers and employees alike) truly benefits from a position of apathy. Enjoy his ironic take on “Effective Disengagement…”.  We highly suggest that you do! 

When deciding which workshops we would most like to participate in, admittedly, we were a little unsure of what to expect from what was being called a “speed-dating-style” workshop.  How refreshing it was then, to be introduced into an environment that encouraged participants to engage in round-table discussions with various, prominent individuals from a mix of organizations and backgrounds, to essentially brainstorm ideas for bettering the lives of the people in this city. Real discussions about real ideas for improvement were buzzing all around us. 

Belonging to a city that is producing so many individuals who care about what we want our own ...

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Ladies Learning Code workshop comes to Hamilton

When I initially heard that Hamilton would be hosting its first Ladies Learning Code workshop on national Learn to Code day, September 21st - I was immediately intrigued by the concept. It’s no secret that the majority of coders are of the male persuasion, and I loved the idea of seeing a bunch of ladies sharing in their journey of demystifying code together.
 

Ladies Learning Code in Hamilton, Ontario

I was pleased to see upon my arrival at the event, that I was not the only one who felt this way.
It was so great to see that there was a full house! 
 

I might add, that it was not just the number of attendees that impressed me. The number of people who were willing to volunteer as mentors for the day was also pretty extraordinary. In fact, our very own Nick Tomkin had offered his services as a mentor and was advised that with the huge number of people who were willing to sacrifice their Saturday’s to help out, they already had more than enough mentors participating!

The event was met with a tremendous amount of support from many other fantastic folks within our community as well. The generous people at Platform 302 were kind enough to donate their nifty little space to us, and the environment was wonderfully welcoming. To top it off, a nutritious and delicious lunch of salads and sandwiches crafted by Cake and Loaf  was the perfect fuel, helping us all to stay energized and focused throughout the afternoon portion of this all-day session.

Going into the event, I felt that I already had a pretty good grip on the basics of HTML & CSS, as a current student at McMaster University’s CCE Web Design & Development program. I honestly wasn’t sure if I’d really take too much away (other than a little fun) from this event. Thankfully, it turns out that I was able to take away quite a lot! I found that there were a number of concepts covered in the class that I was really only half grasping, that I now feel I’ve got a much better understanding of. 

Our instructor, Heather Payne, was clearly knowledgeable and did a superb job keeping us all on track (with the assistance of our experienced mentors, of cour...

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Introducing the 2013 Supercrawl app for iOS and Android

As many of you may already know, the Orbital team is entirely made up of folks who have had the pleasure of being born and raised in the City of Hamilton. This is precisely why we could not have been more thrilled to have had the opportunity to build and develop the 2013 Supercrawl application for iOS and Android.

Now in its 5th consecutive year, Supercrawl is an event that exemplifies the evolving transformation of James Street North and its surrounding area, into the hub it has become for artists and art lovers alike.

After many hours of hard (...but admittedly fun) work, we are delighted to say that our end-product is packed with not just flashy, but functional features that Supercrawl goers will really appreciate.

 

Supercrawl App

Here are a few of the neat features we've packed in:

Twitter
While using the app, hit the "Twitter" feature and all of your tweets within the app are automatically hashtagged with #Supercrawl2013! What's more, your tweets may appear on the Supercrawl Map for others to see!

Supercrawl Map
When designing the Supercrawl Map, we wanted to create a useful experience that wasn't littered with hundreds of unusable markers and points of interest. The illustrated re-imagining of the James Street North district was created in collaboration with the Supercrawl team to highlight key areas of the event, while emphasising the character and architecture of downtown Hamilton. The GPS-enabled map also allows users to easily locate nearby points of interest. With a lot of help from the Supercrawl team, we were able to create a map that provides detailed information on where to find your favourite artists, vendors, places to eat and more. 

Listings
Moving beyond simply providing event scheduling information, users also have the ability to access information on artists as well as performer profiles. Each profile can be shared with your friends. The app pulls the data for artists, food, performances and other listings from an external event system API.

Schedule
We wanted to make it easy for attendees to know exactly where and when the next ...

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Hamilton Arts Council

The Hamilton Arts Council is a local, non-profit organization dedicated to improving the arts and culture in the City of Hamilton by increasing accessibility. Utilizing existing branding, Orbital set out to create North America's best Arts Council website – and we think we did! The new Hamilton Arts Council website is responsive and accessible, meeting and exceeding WCAG and AODA compliance.

Hamilton Arts Council Website

Orbital also created tools that serve as a resource for members of the Hamilton Arts Council, and community as a whole. By developing an online Member Profile builder with Drupal, members are now able to create their own space on the web where they can showcase their art, write blog posts and moderate their social media without the worry of maintaining web space or hosting.

Tight integration with social network APIs, including Twitter and Facebook, the Hamilton Arts Council website helps the organization stay focused by moderating and automating their Tweets and Facebook Statuses automatically.

Online payment integration using the Stripe API allowed Orbital to implement reliable, secure low-cost transactions that enabled easy donation and membership payments. Hamilton Arts Council has experienced a notable increase in the number of members and donations since the launch of their new site. 

To see more, visit the Hamilton Art Council's new website.

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Magic Numbers

Last night I watched Barry Schwartz's TED Talk and found myself fascinated by his theory that having too much choice can lead to a paralysis of decision making. In his one example, employees are asked to choose a retirement fund. When asked to choose from 50 funds, the rate of participation drops by 10%, suggesting that too many options confuse or overwhelm people. 

"You offer 50 funds, 10% fewer employees participate than if you only offer 5. Why? Because with 50 funds to choose from it's so damn hard to decide which fund to choose that you'll just put it off until tomorrow. And then tomorrow. And then tomorrow." "And then, of course, tomorrow never comes." – Barry Schwartz, 08:40

 

Apple's Magic Numbers

This got me thinking about Apple. Their product line is tight. It doesn't serve everyone, but it serves its target well. If you decide to be an Apple customer, you have a limited choice in hardware, but an expected overall level of quality. No matter where I go to buy an Apple product, I have a perceived idea of the product's quality, price and functionality. Whether I choose a ...

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Creating Effective Mobile Experiences

When we started to think about building the mobile version of our site, we went with the basics. While designing a user experience, we always try to put ourselves in the shoes of the user. What would really frustrate us if we were just trying to get a phone number? Or an address to plop into our GPS? Bottlenecks between you and your client are never good.

The mobile version of our site trims the fat, so to speak, and allows the user to quickly find pertinent information without the frustration of zooming and swiping to get to what they need.

Menu

Our menu is condensed in the mobile version, but with one click, you have quick access to our phone number. Want to call us? Tap our phone number in the menu and you're done! 

Mobile Website
 

GPS-Enabled Directions

Let's say you're on your way to Orbital, but you are so excited to get started on your project that you completely forget to write down our address. No problem, just visit our contact page on your GPS-enabled mobile device! 

This great feature was made possible by an incredibly well-crafted API by Google. The Google Maps and Directions API provide mapping and coordinates routing. The coordinates are provided to Directions API through HTML5's Geolocation API. 

Mobile Website


Just click on "Show me how to get to Orbital". You'll then be asked if our site can access your current location based on your coordinates. Note: We never store your location coordinates, or any other personally identifiable information.


Mobile Website


Once you've allowed the site to access your location, a route between you and Orbital will be shown. We're the Orbital  and you're the Our lovely client Read more

Hello, Hamilton!

Orbital is a new digital agency in Hamilton that specializes in developing robust HTML5-powered websites, web apps & native mobile apps. And we're so happy to join the growing tech sector in Hamilton!

Orbital is founded on the idea that education and communication make for a great experience when designing and developing our client's products. We take the time to help you understand the technology, but we also sit down with you and help you understand how your website or mobile app works.

Our mantra: "How can we expect our clients to understand the technology that drives their product if we don't create a foundation for them to learn?"

During the development of your digital product, we'll explain why we chose one technology over another while explaining fundamental concepts of user experience, design & engagement that we've practiced and developed over the years. 

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