design Archives - The X Gene

Our Front Page Was Accidentally Sexist

By | Design, Purpose | No Comments

I changed our website front page because it was accidentally sexist. This is what it was:

IMAGE: Our old sexist frontpage, five men in a phlanx, no women.

Notice anything missing? Women. The first thing a visitor to The X Gene would see was a phalanx of dudes. I didn’t even realise I’d made this omission of gender for years. Way back when I arranged the shoot, we got costumes, props, and I asked the camera operators and editors, buddies that I’d been working with for ages to come in and be creative scientists with me. I was quietly proud we had a mix of skin colours. I didn’t mean to exclude women. In fact, I didn’t even think about it. I just got my friends in.

And that, my friends, was a lesson to me in how I imagine the majority of sexism or gender inequality takes place: the insidious nature of not thinking beyond the immediate. I daresay most inequality in our civilised nation – so respectful, so relatively progressive compared to, say, the Congo – isn’t bellowing fat men, their noses bulbous from consumption, barking sexist epithets through teeth clenched around a cigar while they pinch their secretary’s bum. (Though, I know that still happens. I won’t tell you story of the ad men in the pub who thought they were in Mad Men and copped a public serve from a woman who would have none of it.) I think most of the quashing of access for women comes from bone headed decisions like mine. Men who are lovely to their mums, sweet to their girlfriends, but simply don’t take a moment to think beyond their present surrounds.

I saw how easy it was to make the mistake that must happen a thousand times a year per skyscraper floor, each building on the other until the compounding effect is the glass ceiling. More vicious men than us built it, but the charming, inoffensive modern man still maintains its thickness.

This is the homepage now:

IMAGE: Our new less-sexist front page, a pug being tested like the mind reading in Ghostbusters

Still not a woman to be seen. In fact, it’s a dog. Sorry. I only have the photos we took, but at least now there isn’t a military formation of men shot at a slight low angle, accidentally turning away any woman who might think another boys club isn’t worth the time. Now, it’s that most gender neutral delight: an overweight staffy pug!

I changed our front page to better reflect my company’s values. We missed the mark originally, and I look forward to a future rebrand where I can balance the message. For now, enjoy the Ghostbusters homage with my dearly departed old dog, Chubbs, and use my dumb mistake to think a little further out of your immediate zone. Maybe we shouldn’t just go to our mates, and maybe if we do, our mates should be a little more equally distributed.

Effectiveness of video and ads online

Length, Placement & Rolling Over: How Do You Perfect A Video?

By | Advertising, Research, Video | No Comments

We know video is the best one of all the ones. Radio is audio. Design is static images. Copy is reading word. Video combines all of those, and moves! C’mon!

Still, proof is better than jabbering unfounded, so we’re gonna show you some examples not only of the effectiveness of video, but how to achieve the optimum effectiveness. (Hint: it’s half science, half art, just like The X Gene)

The Interactive Advertising Bureau is like our mothership. Their research council undertook a study to see just how long a video should be, and where the best place to pop it is. Here’s a quick overview, but click the link below to see the gritty details:

  • 15 seconds appears to be an optimal length for digital video creative in the pre-roll position. 5-second spots had trouble conveying a message; while 30-second spots risked turning off a viewer waiting to watch something else.
  • 30-second spots do well at conveying a complex or emotionally resonant message, but work best in user-initiated placements (where the user must take an action, like clicking on an ad or rolling over an in-text link, to begin playing the ad) where viewers display more patience for long messages.
  • Pre-roll, in-text, and in-banner video ad placements can all contribute to achieving the goals of a campaign; however, different placements may perform optimally with different creative lengths.

LINK: IAB Digital Video Ad Effectiveness Case Study

examples of geometric patterns and style

Trends in Design, and Why You Should Avoid Them

By | Design | 4 Comments

If you’ve ever worked with designers, you might notice that they love a little thing called trends. There’s nothing inherently evil about a trend. It seems like an element of design just simultaneously catches on, across a spectrum of projects. Following a trend in your branding can be useful: it grounds you in a certain time and place. Especially useful if the thing for which you’re designing is short-lived and now.

If you’re building a brand over a longer period of time, following a trend that lasts literally a year can leave you looking daggy or – for us, the greatest sin – unoriginal. The problem with just moving with trends is that you aren’t really doing what you’re supposed to be doing when branding. You should know what and who your brand is, and its design should match. This insulates you from trends, because as they come and go, people will still look at your brand’s design and say, “Yeah, that’s totally right!”

As such, we can’t help but notice trends in design. Last year it was Sketchblock font.

Right now, it’s geometric shapes with solid gradients. Here’s a handful. See how many you can spot in the wild, and why not post them in the Comments?

Melbourne City Council


Medicare Local




Awesome deer shaped powerlines

Power Lines Just Got Better

By | Design, Inspiration | No Comments

I bet you thought power lines were the best they could be. They get held up by big structures that look like lego technic, and they give us power to give us internet. Well, they just got EVEN BETTER. This is the sort of creativity and extravagant thinking we genetically engineer into our people at The X Gene. (Click the pics to see more)



Stag party.


Bonus: desktop power line wire holders.