Apprenticeship Recap – Quan Ika Vu

Quan Ika Vu joined Bright Bright Great for 9 months upon graduating from Columbia College with a degree in Graphic Design. His portfolio stuck out to Bright Bright Great as one of exploration, modernism and we knew he would fit in well with the design team.

Thanks again to Quan for his hard work while at BBG.

“I’ll definitely miss Quan’s humor in team chat. Never change a thing. Let the true Quan shine. 🔥”

Jason Schwartz, Creative Director

Quan Vu

By: Quan Ika Vu

I knew of Bright Bright Great and the highly anticipated conferences they co-hosted. I knew that if I could join them I would be doing killer work.

Working with the team at BBG was truly transforming. I did not expect the experience I gathered after 9 months with their team would surpass my 4 years of college education.

There was no time to slack. Every day was incredibly fast-paced.

It’s one of the things I love about a small agency like BBG. You will learn to output lots of amazing work quickly, while being self guided. Each team member is expected to carry his or her own load from start to finish. At any given time, I had 3 clients/projects, which demands a lot from a designer, but that’s how you grow! Not a lot of agencies out there offer what BBG does. From the get-go, I was in client meetings, conference calls, and working alongside the entire team and leaders in the community. I also successfully designed 2 retail typefaces, which totally boosted my skill set to a new level.

You’ll never feel left out at BBG and are expected to be a one-person army from the first day.

In school and at bigger agencies, they won’t teach you how to interact with clients, let alone deal with sticky situations; a skill entirely missing from what you learn at school. I’ve come to learn that if you’re not able to sell your design through client communication and persuasion, you’re not a good designer. Clients are tough; not like your teachers or parents who always tell you’re the best. Out in the real world, you really have to make a stand for yourself and earn it.

My takeaway post-BBG is to be versatile. A saying by Nick Lush that I would always remember, it goes something like this: “All designers can be great and happy at what they do, but a versatile designer can afford longer vacations than a niche one.” That saying is self-explanatory. Being versatile not only with your skill set, but also with the ability to pitch yourself and your work. I can now design websites, typefaces, and make presentations look sexy, none of which was taught at my print-based degree in school.

The BBG gang is my family, and I’m honored to have them in my professional career. I will never forget how much fun we had, all the mini road trips and goofy team chats, and most importantly the knowledge they gave me.

Catch me on Behance and Dribbble. I can also be easily found in the Chicago design scene and am always down for a coffee!

Posted By
Jason Schwartz

BBG Named A Top Digital Agency in Chicago by Clutch

Bright Bright Great is proud to announce that Clutch, a Washington, DC-based research firm, has selected BBG as a leader among Chicago Digital Marketing Agencies and Chicago Web Designers.

Best Digital Marketing Agencies in Chicago 2016

Clutch reached out to digital agencies in Chicago, like BBG, to provide information about their company and their services, including notable clients, case studies and portfolio items.

After an internal assessment of our company, Clutch conducted in-depth interviews with some of our esteemed clients. The positive feedback we received from them was especially humbling.

When asked why they chose us as their partner, one of our clients stated:

“BBG’s distinct visual brand voice stood out from the rest and matched quite well with the swagger and soul of our own personal brand voice. We looked at style, compatibility, and willingness for rapid prototyping in order to achieve mutual understanding of the specific nature of each project.”

Be sure to check out our profile and reviews on Clutch’s website to view our near perfect rating and read interviews with some of our past clients.

Posted By
Jason Schwartz

How-To: Free SSL Certificates From Let’s Encrypt

SSL certificate costs have been steadily declining over the years. A decade ago, you’d have to shell out hundreds of dollars a year for a certificate, but more recently, adequate protection has been available from under $10.

Now, thanks to a non-profit initiative called Let’s Encrypt, SSL prices have truly bottomed out: free.

Let’s Encrypt operates a little different than traditional Certificate Authorities. Where historically certificate purchases have had to be authenticated through the domain’s registrant contact – a process that is all too often confusing for the client – Let’s Encrypt authenticates entirely through server-side software.

Let’s Encrypt is currently in beta, so there are still some kinks to work out, and a bit of elbow grease required for those wishing to give it a try. This article will help guide system admins through the setup process.

Installation

At the time of this posting, official distribution packages are mostly unavailable. So to get the source files, clone from git:

git clone https://github.com/letsencrypt/letsencrypt

Then run the installer:

./letsencrypt/letsencrypt-auto -h

Configuration

You can predefine settings in /etc/letsencrypt/cli.ini:

# This is an example of the kind of things you can do in a configuration file.
# All flags used by the client can be configured here. Run Let's Encrypt with
# "--help" to learn more about the available options.

# Use a 4096 bit RSA key instead of 2048
rsa-key-size = 4096

# Uncomment and update to register with the specified e-mail address
email = you@domain.com

# Uncomment to use a text interface instead of ncurses
text = True
agree-tos = True
renew-by-default = True

authenticator = webroot

Let’s Encrypt supports different authenticator methods for different server environments (e.g. Apache). We prefer “webroot”, which doesn’t mess with any server configuration files. This tutorial will assume you feel the same way.

Usage

To generate a certificate, run something like:

letsencrypt-auto certonly -w /path/to/webroot -d domain.com -d www.domain.com

This will generate a challenge directory at /path/to/webroot/.well-known. Your server will need to be configured to allow access to this hidden domain or the authentication will fail.

If all went well, you should now have a certificate! Certificates are stored in /etc/letsencrypt/archive/, but you’ll want to use the symlinks they generate in /etc/letsencrypt/live/ to ensure your host file is always pointing to the most recent version. An example nginx configuration looks like this:

server {
	...
	ssl_certificate /etc/letsencrypt/live/domain.com/fullchain.pem;
	ssl_certificate_key /etc/letsencrypt/live/domain.com/privkey.pem;
	...
}

After restarting your web server, you should now have luxurious SSL encryption.

Renewal

For security reasons, Let’s Encrypt certificates are only valid for 90 days, so at this stage, you’ll want to get something in place to help automate the renewal process. At the time of this writing, there are no helpers to do this, so we wrote our own. The following script will test certificates found in the /etc/letsencrypt/live/ directory and renew any that are expiring within the next 25 days. If adapting this for your server, be sure and update the letsencrypt-auto binary path.

#!/bin/bash
#
# USAGE:
# -q quiet



#--------------------------------------------------
# Default settings

today=$(date -d "now" +%s)
limit=25
updated=false
use_quiet=false
use_output(){
	#echo if we aren't being quiet
	if [ "$use_quiet" == false ]; then
		echo $1
	fi
}



#--------------------------------------------------
# Parse arguments

while [[ $# > 0 ]]
do
key="$1"

case $key in
	-q)
	use_quiet=true
	;;
	*)
		# unknown option
	;;
esac
shift # past argument or value
done



#--------------------------------------------------
# Renewal

for d in `find /etc/letsencrypt/live/ -mindepth 1 -type d`; do

	domain=`basename $d`
	use_output "------------------------------"
	use_output "DOMAIN: ${domain}"
	use_output "------------------------------"

	cert="${d}/cert.pem"
	exp=$(date -d "`openssl x509 -in $cert -text -noout|grep "Not After"|cut -c 25-`" +%s)
	days_expire=$(echo \( $exp - $today \) / 86400 | bc)
	use_output "	Expiring in ${days_expire} days."
	status="ignored"

	#under the limit, let's renew!
	if [ "$days_expire" -lt "$limit" ]; then
		cert_file="/etc/letsencrypt/renewal/$domain.conf"

		use_output "	Starting renewal..."

		domains=$(grep --only-matching --perl-regex "(?<=domains \= ).*" "${cert_file}")
		# Determine last character
		last_char=$(use_output "${domains}" | awk '{print substr($0,length,1)}')
		# If last character is comma, then delete it from $domains
		if [ "${last_char}" = "," ]; then
			domains=$(use_output "${domains}" |awk '{print substr($0, 1, length-1)}')
		fi

		webroot=$(grep --only-matching --perl-regex "(?<=webroot_path \= ).*" "${cert_file}")
		# Determine last character
		last_char=$(use_output "${webroot}" | awk '{print substr($0,length,1)}')
		# If last character is comma, then delete it from $webroot
		if [ "${last_char}" = "," ]; then
			webroot=$(use_output "${webroot}" |awk '{print substr($0, 1, length-1)}')
		fi

		if ! /path/to/letsencrypt-auto certonly --renew-by-default --config /etc/letsencrypt/cli.ini -w "${webroot}" -d "${domains}" > /var/log/letsencrypt/renew.log 2>&1 ; then
			use_output "	Renewal failed."
			status="failed"
		else
			updated=true
			use_output "	Renewal succeeded."
			status="renewed"
		fi
	fi

	use_output ""

	#log it
	echo `date +"%F:%T"`" ${domain} ${days_expire} ${status}" >> /var/log/letsencrypt-renew.log

done;



#--------------------------------------------------
# Restart server?

if [ "$updated" == true ]; then
	service nginx restart >/dev/null 2>&1
	use_output "NGINX restarted"
fi

With the renewal process automated like this, we can simplify maintenance and make these free SSL certificates practical on production environments.

Be sure to check out our tips on How to Achieve an A+ SSL Configuration on Nginx to see how to maximize your encryption potential.

View all BBG Technology posts here.

Posted By
Josh Stoik

New Work: Geneva Trading

Geneva Trading was designed to be a nimble organization with a rigid focus on its core strengths: risk management, market development, and alpha generation. They partnered with Bright Bright Great to update their look.

Geneva Trading laptop

Geneva Trading was born out of a desire to approach the world of digital trading with a strong focus on technological innovation and to make that point even stronger, Geneva needed a bold, modern site with which to tell their story.

Bright Bright Great started work on this project to totally revamp Geneva’s brand, creating a new logo and wordmark to compliment a totally reimagined art direction featuring a color palette with strong neutral tones accented by vibrant neon colors and custom illustrations.

With the site now launched, BBG will stay on to provide managed hosting services in order to ensure the best possible web experience for Geneva Trading’s audience.

Geneva mobile

 

Geneva Index Page

 

Geneva Trading Logo

 

Geneva wordmark

 

Geneva Letterpress Business Card MockUp

 

Geneva Illustration

Geneva Text Interaction1

Geneva Internal Pages 3by3

 

Geneva LocationCards

Posted By
Jason Schwartz

BBG Art Director Vince DeSantiago Featured in HighSnobiety

Vince DeSantiago, one of our Art Directors at Bright Bright Great, was recently featured on Highsnobiety’s Top 5 Instagram Accounts to Follow.

Vince DeSantiago BBG

Highsnobiety is an online publication covering forthcoming trends and news in fashion, art, music, and culture. They have  a huge reach in the Instagram community with nearly 1m followers.

Vince hit the 10k followers mark not too long ago and heads the photography faction of BBG know as MLMTR which launched a few months ago and currently features photography from Vince and fellow BBG’er Alex Sheyn.

Follow them both at @vincedesantiago and @theonlygoodalex.

Chicago Building MLMTR Chicago City Street MLMTR Chicago City Skyline from Below MLMTR

Posted By
Jason Schwartz

New Business: Bright Bright Great Signs On To Revamp UX, Usability and Art Direction with Black Spectacles

Bright Bright Great is excited to continue work with Black Spectacles, an online learning platform for architecture & design.

Black Spectacles was actually one of Bright Bright Great’s first clients in 2007. (View our original branding and design work for Black Spectacles here.) Our team originally focused on branding and initial art direction and are excited to continue to work with the Black Spectacles team, to revamp the design, improve UX (user experience) and usability.

Black Spectacles not only offers educational content produced in-house, but also partners with the American Institute of Architects, architects, and the best design firms in the world to create ARE® practice testing software and tutorials.

black spectacles design, AIA, American Institute of Architecture, ARE Exam, design

“Great design gives you instant credibility. We hear all the time how beautiful our site is, and I can usually tell that whomever says it, thinks we are a few notches bigger, a few notches more profitable and a few notches more successful, because we have a killer site & brand.”

Read full testimonial here.

Marc Teer – CEO and Founder, Black Spectacles

Posted By
Jason Schwartz