Products + Brands
As a product and branding leader, Michael brings a track record of delivering user-centered, award-winning product and creative solutions that add measurable value.
As a design and product professional, Michael has helped build great brands and products for companies ranging from hip downtown businesses to Fortune 500 companies, with work which delights users and has garnered numerous design and creative awards.
From user interface design for intranet directory systems for AT&T and TimeWarner to product management and design for ShadowTV, IAC, Vook and SmartAsset, Michael has taken a holistic and user-centered view of design.
Michael’s work has been called “a game changer” by Publishers Weekly, “one of the best done sites I’ve seen,” by Robert Scoble and praised for ease of use by users.
The site helps users answer life’s big financial decisions by asking only a minimum of questions, then displaying the results with an interactive visualization and information to help the user learn about the process.
The challenge was helping regular people understand complex financial processes and decision making. A lot of effort was put into visualization and interaction to help add both flexibility and increase understanding.
SmartAsset: How Much House Can I Afford?
By answering only six questions, SmartAsset can advise users on how much home they can afford, if it is better to buy or rent, compare tax implications based on location and much more. Michael worked with users to understand their needs and how best to help they understand the decision making process in buying a home, ran usability tests, and provided design from wireframes to final.
eBook publishing is still a lot harder than it should be, usually involving workers with Web-development skills—Michael’s work on Vook helped make this complex task easy. Vook is an end-to-end cloud-based epublishing solution. With Vook, users can create and publish their ebook anywhere; build and style awesome looking ebooks without knowing any code; easily add video, pictures and sound; preview their ebooks quickly and easily on any device; manage metadata simply; watch sales from multiple channels in one dashboard.
Right after Vook’s public launch, Michael began using a combination of web analytics and usability testing to optimize user conversion. The result included a website redesign that led to a 17% lift in traffic from the homepage to the trial sign-up page, as well as changes to the signup process.
One example of the improved signup process is a unified login and signup page—reducing the need to drive users to the correct page. Michael also worked with engineering to remove as much friction as possible, reducing the signup workflow from a five-step process to a single step.
From one dashboard, users can start a new project, quickly see the status of current projects and even get sales data from multiple ebook marketplaces—including Apple’s iBookstore, Barnes & Noble and Amazon.
Vook Style Editor
In addition to an easy user experience and flexible workflow, the Vook Boilerplate and Style Editor are two major contributions Michael personally made to Vook. To learn how ebooks work, Michael learned how to hand code them. During that process, Michael quickly realized an HTML and CSS boilerplate could be devised for rapid development. The boilerplate could also be packed with best practices and allow for graceful degradation. Michael’s work on the initial Vook boilerplate led him to the idea of a graphic user interface that abstracted CSS concepts enough for someone who does not code to be able to style an ebook at the level of someone that can—but still powerful enough for a hand-coding pro. It was great working with Vook engineers to take the initial boilerplate concept to the next level using HTML and CSS precompilers. Even more rewarding is seeing what Vook users can do with the Style Editor Michael designed for them.
Metadata made easy with Vook
Metadata is the lifeblood of ebook marketing and key to the discoverability that leads to ebook sales. Managing all of the data is a huge challenge, as each ebook store has differing requirements—sometimes for the same data. Michael created a streamlined user experience by analyzing all of the data sets and collapsing it down to a unified UI broken into three task clusters.
Push Button Distribution
One of the major promises of Vook is push button distribution to multiple ebook distribution channels. Normally, this action requires organizing files for each platform, gathering and preparing metadata XML files or logging into each channel where the user must retype the same data over and over, while uploading the same files multiple times. The distribution user-flow Michael created for Vook distills all of this down to a single, easy and painless process.
When Michael started at IAC, the go-to custom solution was the microsite, but Michael always felt there was something wrong with that model. You build a microsite for the advertiser, but no one knows the site exists. You try to drive user-traffic to the site with banners, but always end up with tons of optimization (translation, lots of free inventory). The “banner gadget” solved all the above problems by taking the functionality of a microsite and putting it into a banner—this way the functionality was in front of the user. How well did this solution work? Very well, with engagement rates of over 15%, directly contributing to closing more than $2.25 million in advertising sales, plus winning nine creative awards, including an OMMA.
Bacardi Mojito Banner Gadget
This OMMA award-winning banner gadget delivered a dynamic, fully integrated, cross-site experience to users from within an ad unit. When users engaged with content in one of the Evite (host a mojito party) or Citysearch (find the best mojito in your area) tabs, they were sent to those sites, where the landing page was roadblocked with Bacardi Mojito branding. On Evite, users could create Bacardi branded invitations to invite friends to their party, further spreading the word about the original Bacardi Mojito.
Visa Go! Date Location Banner Gadget
Using Citysearch listings, Visa sponsored a custom tool that enables users to find the perfect date spot by selecting their market and type of date (takeout, outdoor dining, martini bar, etc). Once preferences were selected, the gadget displayed the suggested location with name and address. In addition, users could click on a link within the gadget to go to Citysearch for more ideas. This banner gadget ran on Match.com.
Evite Native Ads
Evite Native Ad Unit
The Evite Content Module takes the banner gadget concept and makes it a sponsorable part of the site. Michael was the driving force in developing the Evite Content Module, mapping out functionality, UI and design.
Functionality included: recipes, party tips, party tools such as drink and budget calculators, how-to videos, and product and gift suggestions.
While dated (created in 2001), ShadowTV is another great example of Michael’s product UX work.
ShadowTV is a Web app that creates a searchable recording of televised programming for use of CMOs and PR agencies—think giant DVR on steroids, with a commercial application.
When Michael joined ShadowTV, the product was in need of a full rebrand and product UX overhaul. Michael developed a new brand and redesigned the user interface and user experience of the product from the ground up.
At ShadowTV Michael also worked on pioneering video on demand services, including proposed predecessor to HBO GO and Netflix like streaming service—circa 2000.
Can an album cover be designed with the user in mind? Of course it can.
The label was sure this CD would sell big, so Michael wanted to do something that was simple and loud, something that could be seen the second you walked into a music store; thus the field of bright green and the use of the big grinning baby in the corner—yes it is a manipulated image. Over 7 million copies of the CD were sold in the U.S. and Canada alone.
From an award-winning site for Giant Step/Groove Academy to founding an internal agency at IAC to meet the needs of advertisers looking for integration with IAC websites—just like product design, Michael takes a holistic and user-centered approach to every project.
While at IAC, Michael led ideation and creation of award-winning digital creative, including microsites and banners, for big brands such as Schick, Bacardi, and Visa. Michael not only filled the roles of creative technologist, creative director and business owner, Michael created advertising products that leveraged Citysearch, Match.com, Evite, and other IAC sites.
Film Photography Project
The Film Photography Podcast had grown organically over the course of a year, spanning a podcast, blog, community on Flickr and a storefront—the number of channels had become unwieldy. Michael was challenged with creating a brand identity (including development of the mission statement) and web strategy that united all of the disparate parts under the Film Photography Project umbrella. For the website, Michael was charged with definition, design and project management.
WorldWalk website design for Jasper Design
Open Space Institute
Open Space Institute website design for Jasper Design
Limbo Business Card
Michael wanted to show that paper, with its tactile nature, can be just as interactive as digital. To do this, he started producing self-promotional pieces that showcased what Michael called “interactive paper” designs. Michael continues to create “interactive paper” designs, as well as digital interactive work.
This business card is a great example of Michael’s Interactive Paper design. The business manager of Limbo—a cafe formerly located in the East Village—asked Michael to design a business card that was unique and fun. The result was a business card with both a visual pun and optical illusion wrapped into one. The card went on to win four design awards, including Best in Show in the Strathmore Graphics Gallery.
Every brand or product needs a personality that customers can identify with and relate to. Without a strong brand, even the most innovative company can look like a “me too” player. From a holistic view branding does not end at marketing, but starts at the product level—how users experience a product and connect with the brand need to be considered together.
Building a brand strategy and system is not much different from designing user-centered systems—both require understanding users and their needs while balancing business goals and aspirations.
While his branding work goes much deeper than logo design, following are examples of identities Michael created.
What They Say
Praise for Products Michael Worked on
“Publishers Weekly has been testing the platform and it could indeed be a game changer.” —Craig Morgan Teicher, Publishers Weekly
“Very publisher-friendly.” —Joe Wikert, Chair of Tools of Change/O’Reilly Media
“We talked about making it as easy to build an eBook as write a blog post—I think it delivers.” —Pete Myers, newkindofbook.com
“You guys did it, you created WordPress for ebooks.” —CTO of major news publisher
“This is so user-friendly” —Author and TED speaker
“I really liked the user interface and the process is very intuitive and clear.” —Vook user
“It is one of the best done sites I’ve seen and I wish I had had this site when I purchased my house.” —Robert Scoble
“What is great about the site is its usability. It is simple, looks good and you don’t spend a second trying to figure out where to click” —Thom Rogers, Hoop.com
“Right from the homepage SmartAsset dazzles with its good looks. In fact, while I was using I couldn’t help but think that it looked like an interactive infographic.” —Dean Sherwin, AppStorm.com
“This is a useful website.” —Phil Hill
“Great, simple cap table tool for Startups…” —Tom Nora
“Michael brought strong leadership to both creative and product management at Vook. His thoughtful designs were often recognized for their ease-of-use overcoming the inherent complexities in ebook creation and publishing. Michael was highly respected by the Engineering team because [of] his open, informed, and agile work style. I look forward to when our paths cross again.” —Rob Guttman, VP of Engineering, Vook
“Michael is a strong creative force, consistently able to balance heavy workloads with a high-level of personal attention to crucial details. Nothing escapes his comprehensive understanding of process. He can take a big picture strategic objective and walk through and execute the complicated individual pieces—long-range thought and daily execution in one—a crucial advantage, particularly in a start-up environment. He‘s also very well versed in the history of design and aesthetics, which means he brings a craftsman‘s eye to his work.” —Matthew Cavnar, VP of Business Development, Vook
“He is certainly a pioneer of sorts in eBook creation. He‘s designed a tool that is both easy to use and incredibly useful. I‘ll always remember Michael as someone who powers through obstacles to churn out an excellent product.” —Michelle Thayer, Product Designer, Vook
“He is a great UI/UX designer and creative director, and has been absolutely invaluable in building the Vook platform into a world class product.” —Omar Niazi, Front End Developer, Vook
“Working with Michael was wonderful for two reasons. First he always demonstrated a deep care for the users and the product. This kept us engineers happy as we were building something that was well thought out. Second, he listened and responded/acted as a team player. We were all very confident of the product we put out because of this wonderful collaboration…” —Amanuel Tewolde, Senior Software Architect, Vook
“Michael is an extremely knowledgeable web design professional. While his title is “creative” and there is no question he delivers exceptional ideas and brings strong design sensibilities to the equation, his greatest asset is his ability to quickly synthesize multiple types of information or criteria (marketing need, technological possibilities, user experience, brand integrity, critical metrics, design) and deliver a concept that satisfies all stakeholders in a project. And his grasp of the underlying technologies that make these concepts possible has always been humbling for me.” —Noelle Cleary, Vice President, Marketing & Sales Development, IAC Advertising
“Michael is the most creative and talented person I have had the pleasure to work with in the digital industry. I have worked with over 30 different creative agencies throughout my career and Michael is the best by far. He is a very strategic thinker who is able to deliver amazing creative ideas that meet the client’s objectives. I appreciated his patience and commitment to help implement my ideas when neither of us were sure it was a possibility. He never once let me down and always found a solution. I hope I have the opportunity to work with Michael again in the future.” —Carlyn Morris, Director of Sales Development, Central and Northwest, IAC Advertising
“Michael Calleia is the rare blend of creative talent and savvy business manager. He understands how to balance business objectives with creative desires. Michael’s design style is clean, sophisticated and modern. He is able to translate vague concepts into clear, dynamic and compelling creative executions.” —Sharon Harris, Vice President of Marketing, IAC Advertising
“Michael also developed an entirely new product which could be customized to best meet the needs of the client. This was a popular and versatile product which was sold to a number of advertisers across various verticals.” —Laurie King, Custom Solutions Manager, IAC Advertising
“I’ve worked with Michael for more than 7 years. He has an amazingly creative mind, is always willing to innovate and pushes all possible boundaries, encouraging his team to go further and try new, more effective and professional solutions. Michael never stops when problems arise, he is always involved in every step of the process, helping in the frontline of every project. A true leader, with an ace up his sleeve. He is always up-to-date with new trends and technologies, not only in design but also in advertising, art, photography and web development, we really learned a lot from him. Michael’s work is top-quality, he is such a professional, extremely generous and an exceptionally good person, with great personal values. I look forward to working with Michael for many more years in the future.” —Alberto A. Langton, Founder/Partner, Optima
“Michael embodies elegant and sophisticated design-style, business smarts and sense of urgency that made working with him nothing but terrific and successful.” —Justyn Makarewycz, Marketing Manager, PlanetOut
“During our time together at OUT&ABOUT, I was always impressed with Michael’s design work. He evolved the publication forward using extremely limited resources, and gave it new life.” —Sean Timberlake, Editor, OUT&ABOUT; Senior Producer
- 2010 Midas Awards, Midas Certificate: Visa Go Date Location Banner Gadget
- 16th Annual Communicator Awards, Award of Distinction in Interactive Category 2010: Bacardi Mojito Banner Gadget
- 16th Annual Communicator Awards, Award of Excellence in Interactive Category 2010: Visa Go Date Location Banner Gadget
- Creativity International Awards 40, Media, Silver Award for Banner Advertising 2010: Visa Go Date Location Banner Gadget
- Creativity International Awards 40, Media, Honorable Mention Award for Social Media/Networking 2010: Evite/Hpnotiq Party Countdown
- GDUSA American In-house Design Awards 2010: IAC Network “See Something You Want” Print Ad
- GDUSA American In-house Design Awards 2010: IAC “195 Million” Print Ad
- GDUSA American In-house Design Awards 2010: IAC Network “We’re Closer” Print Ad
- DPAC Awards Finalist for Best Use of Rich Media 2009: Visa Go Date Location Banner Gadget
- OMMA Awards Finalist for Integrated Online Campaign, Finance 2009: Visa Go Campaign
- 39th Creativity Annual Awards Gold Winner for Banner Advertising 2009: Bacardi Mojito Banner Gadget
- 39th Creativity Annual Awards Silver Winner for Banner Advertising 2009: Coors Light Happy Hour Finder Banner
- OMMA Awards Winner for Standard, Flash or Rich Media Banner 2008: Bacardi Mojito Banner Gadget
- GDUSA American In-house Design Awards 2008: IAC Advertising Website
- GDUSA American In-house Design Awards 2008: IAC Advertising Summer Party Invitation
- GDUSA American In-house Design Awards 2008: IAC Advertising Holiday E-card
- OMMA Awards Finalist for Best Advertising/Promotion Website/Microsite campaign 2007: Schick Girls’ Guide to Dating Microsite
- Adobe Site of the Day December 3, 2007: Acura Advance Your Senses Microsite
- GDUSA American Graphic Design Award 2003: Out&About May 2003 Issue
- GDUSA American Graphic Design Award 2003: PlanetOut Partners, Inc. Corporate Sales Kit
- American Center for Design 100 Show: Muler 7″ Single
- AIGA Objects of Design 1995: Trick or Treat Self-Promotion
- AIGA Objects of Design 1995: Good Shootin’ Self-Promotion
- Strathmore Graphics Gallery Best of Show 1995 Q1: Limbo Interactive Business Card
- Print Magazine Regional Design Annual 1995: Anita Liberty Postcard Invitation Series
- Print Magazine Regional Design Annual 1995: Industrial Strength Design Sticker
- Print Magazine Regional Design Annual 1995: Trick or Treat Self-Promotion
- HOW Magazine Mill Milestones 1995: Limbo Interactive Business Card
- HOW Magazine Self-Promotion Annual 1994: Trick or Treat Self-Promotion, Award of Merit
- McKinley Group, Magellan Award, Four Stars (highest rating): Giant Step Website
- Rockport Press 1000 Retail Graphics: Stinky Minky Logo
- Print’s Best of Typography 1995: Anita Liberty Postcard Invitation Series
- North Light Books Fresh Ideas in Letterhead & Business Card Design 3: Limbo Interactive Business Card and Industrial Strength Design Large Business Card
- MediaPost, MediaCreativity
- OMMA Magazine
- Communication Arts
- New York Times
- Allis PR
- An Beal Botch
- Artifact Studio
- The Bar
- Ballantine Books
- Batoto Yetu
- Blue Dingo
- BMG International
- CaveStomp! Records
- Chillcat Productions
- Deep Elm Records
- Della Femina McNamee
- Donath Communications
- Donna Karan
- Edward O’Dell Design
- Ellen Tracy
- Foundation for Academic Standards and Traditions
- Geffen Records
- Giant Step / Groove Academy
- Harper Collins
- Hearst Corporation
- Hungarian American Music Foundation
- Jasper Design
- Jo Malone
- Jon Cisler Design
- JP Morgan Chase
- Krispy Kream Records
- Lakeside Lounge
- Lipman Richmond Greene Advertising
- Manhattan Marketing Ensemble
- MB Interactive
- Morgan Stanley
- National Academy of Sciences
- New York Times
- Oxford Health Plan
- Polo Sport
- Profile Records
- Radio Active Records
- Ralph’s Wines and Spirits
- Random House
- Republic Records
- Rogers-Seidman Design
- Saatchi & Saatchi Budapest
- Saks Fifth Avenue
- Salpeter Design
- The Scratcher
- Sean Michael Edwards Design
- SoHo Interiors
- Solomon Company Dance
- Stinky Minky
- Universal Records
- Universal Studios
- Vera Steiner Design
- Wage Slave
- YAR Communications