Author Archives: Dan Abbate

BSM Rolls Out New Hyde Park Jewelers Web For 2009 Holiday Season

BrainSpark recently teamed up with long-time client and friends Hyde Park Jewelers for a full site redevelopment, completed and launched this week. Hyde Park approached BSM to explore a redesign in late summer and the project was formally initiated by early fall with an aggressive goal for completion in time for the holiday shopping season.

Hyde Park Jewelers Web Site

The first objective for the project was to bring the visual design and messaging up-to-date to coincide with a number of supporting branding initiatives underway for the holidays. Additionally, an evaluation and overhaul of the web site’s information architecture and content presentation was conducted to showcase the wide variety of product collections, better serve the needs of Hyde Park’s target audience and improve overall site usability. Functionality enhancements were also a priority, with a focus being the implementation of a site-wide content management system to empower Hyde Park’s marketing team to manage the majority of graphic and textual content throughout the web site.

We are excited to reintroduce Hyde Park’s new web presence and welcome your feedback. Happy shopping!

Arapahoe Basin Ski Area Mobile Site Launches on Opening Day

It’s been a busy summer and fall on a number of project fronts. This time of year also marks a big push for one of our favorite clients, Arapahoe Basin Ski Area. In the annual “Race to Open“, the folks at the Basin have been working hard in preparation for opening day. In addition to preparations on the mountain, the marketing team along with their AOR, Adrenalin and BSM have been jamming on a few projects in anticipation of the 2009-2010 ski and riding season. First steps included the implementation of a website face-lift. Even more exciting was the release of, a version of the website optimized for mobile devices. | Get Your Snow On The Go | Get Your Snow On The Go

The project was on-track for mid-October, the anticipated target for opening day at both A-Basin and Loveland. When the race escalated following early snow fall and colder conditions in the high country, opening day was moved to October 9th. The night before, final preparations were completed and the mobile site was deployed. Site traffic immediately swamped the mobile site and is increasing by the day; so far so good.

While some aspects of mobile technology are simplified to balance the range of mobile browsers in use, the challenges transparent to most reside behind the scenes. To streamline content management, BSM’s development team integrated the mobile site with a pre-existing content management system (CMS). This resulted in an upgraded CMS that enables A-Basin content owners to manage content in one source, but deliver to both the main and mobile site versions. Another priority in doing this was to add the necessary customization to tailor the delivery of content to mobile device users but not interfere with the user experience for main site users. Pretty slick if you ask me…

Other aspects that few will appreciate is the detection and routing of users to the appropriate site, based on browser. Arapahoe Basin is now promoting a mobile-specific URL,, but has long-standing URL’s that had to be dealt with. All existing domains were re-wired to direct users to the respective site version, based on browser detected. Also cool, in a nerdy sort of way.

In the end, a big win for all involved, including you the next time you’re crawling in I-70 traffic and jonesin’ for pow. In addition to Snow Conditions and Web Cams, the mobile site also features Runs Open, Events, Season Passes, Tickets, Media and Contact information.

We welcome feedback too, so let us know how it works for you or if you have suggestions for future releases.

See you on the slopes.

10 Things You Might Care About

Anything more than 140 characters these days seems to compete with everything else going on.  For this reason, we have a new approach.  We’ll continue to share selective specifics on projects and other happenings under the hood at BSM, but in the spirit of the micro – blog we present 10 recent highlights of potential interest. Since we last met, in chrono order…

  1. Clothes to Kids of Denver: BSM will be providing pro bono  social media consulting and supporting services for our friends at CTK of Denver.  A fairly new entity, they’re doing great things in the Denver community.  Check them out at This may be the inspiration to clean out your closet or storage area and donate some “gently used” clothing to a good cause. Stop kidding yourself, those jeans will never fit you again.
  2. The Thriller’s Gone: perhaps you’ve heard, but since our last update we lost the king of pop.  While the passing of MJ and the details surrounding his lifestyle are more sad with each report that surfaces, is this really all that shocking given what we’ve come to learn about his world? Nonetheless, the world was moved by this man and we take a moment of silence and throw down this tribute to an incredible talent, like him or not.
  3. MHS Conference 2009: BSM recently completed the annual round of enhancements and redeployed this year’s conference registration system for McKesson Health Solutions. Registration is now underway.
  4. RIP, Charlie’s Finest Angel: while the media moon walked right past this story on the same day Jacko died, we want to note that young men who grew up in the 70’s will never be the same. I’m fairly certain I still have my red swimsuit poster tucked away somewhere in storage.  Need to find that, but if not, it’s selling like crazy in re-print now.
  5. Mobile Envy: Erin got an iPhone but I only upgraded my Blackberry. At least I have a camera now…
  6. Speaking of Cameras: BSM is pleased to reunite with PENTAX Imaging for a multi-part packaging design project for 3 new Gameseeker scope products. First layout shipped to printer this week in fact, and two more kick off next week.
  7. Home Field Advantage: once again, the AL defeated the NL in the 2009 MLB All-Star Game. The Cleveland Indians continue to break my heart. Sigh…
  8. Where IT’s At: BrainSpark has partnered with IT experts, Syn Ack Fin, to provide network upgrades and ongoing support services for BSM HQ.  These cats know their stuff and help us sleep better at night.
  9. World Sign Associates: BSM is pleased to kick off a new project for WSA, to design and construct a micro-site for sales promotion focused on membership benefits. Coming soon to a browser near you.
  10. And That’s The Way It Is: Sadly, these things do seem to happen in 3’s. Just today we learned that news legend Walter Cronkite passed away at the age of 93. At least we still have Katie Couric.

In retrospect, the new approach did not make this easier afterall. Until next time, good to catch up.

BrainSpark Media Featured in The Denver Egotist Daily Column

Today we learned that our work was recently featured in The Denver Egotist as a daily column. We are big fans and appreciate the recognition, endless insight and humor and for helping Denver suck less, daily. Thanks y’all.

Smashing Magazine’s “Web Design Industry Jargon: Glossary and Resources”

So I continue to find myself spending a portion of my days on Smashing Magazine since I discovered it via Twitter a while back.  Not sure who they are, but they clearly get it. In a world full of posers and content recyclers (which I’m clearly doing here) this site is a great source of information on all things Web. Among the gazillion Twitter bits, RSS feeds and other industry sources I subscribe to, this site continues to rise to the top of my daily info-intake / skim / delete or read / share routine.

In addition to sharing this great resource, this particular post was of interest to us as a good source of information for our own customers. While we pride ourselves in speaking plain English with our clients, and occasionally poke fun at those who abuse the biz-buzz-word-bingo (shh, don’t tell), there are some fundamental terms that are helpful for any player on a web site project to understand, or at least be familiar with. The folks at Smashing Magazine have done a fine job capturing the basics, and then some, in this post Web Design Industry Jargon: Glossary and Resources.

I learned a few things too and have already bookmarked this URL for future reference when working with new clients.  The process can be overwhelming but this cheat-sheet of sorts can help even the tech-savviest customer.  Understanding the lingo may very well OPTIMIZE your project experience, further help you MONETIZE your project OBJECTIVES or MAXIMIZE your chances for ROI on your next web design project. 🙂

One Long Night for BSM, One Giant Step for BSM Customers

BrainSpark Completes Data Center Migration and Hosting Environment Upgrades

Well nobody said or thought it was going to be easy. All things considered, we’re pleased with how things went down, despite the usual and unanticipated bumps along the way.  This week we completed the last of our site and application migrations to our new data center in north Denver.  While the majority of the move was conducted over the weekend of April 24th, the last site was moved over late this week to accommodate special timing requests for select customers. In total, nearly 50 web sites and applications were moved in a coordinated effort that was planned weeks ahead of time, and required an extensive amount of upgrades, reconfiguration, testing  and troubleshooting during off-hours to complete. A special thanks goes out to Rick Lamb, who led the project for BSM, Erin VanClay whose tenacious testing and troubleshooting enabled us to identify and address issues as they happened, and to our old friend Jim Easterly at HostWorks for the solid systems administration support along the way.

The good news for all is that the recent changes included a major upgrade in server hardware, database and operating system software and enhanced managed services that all clients will benefit from going forward. With this major milestone behind us, we look forward to better serving the hosting needs of our clients and thank them for their patience and support during the transition period.

Happy hosting!

Splish Salon featured on 9 News: “Small business startups in a tough economy”

Greetings y’all.  It’s been a while. 

Adapting like the rest of the world but keeping busy with fun projects and exciting new business opportunities.  We’re pleased to see a steady rise in business activity since the New Year, both internally and outside our immediate world.  Smarter, better, faster…more with less…sharpen pencils…bootstraps or [insert your favorite economic cliché  HERE].  Following the much-anticipated and adequately-hyped business slowdown heading into 2009, we’re still alive, recharged and optimistic as the year progresses.  Dare we say, “excited”? 

Coming up for air presents the opportunity to share some good news about BSM client and friends, Splish Salon.  Splish founder / owner, Matt Walsh, was recently interviewed by 9 News in Denver regarding small businesses operating in tough times.  Good stuff and congrats to Matt and his team.  Watch the video

Until next time…