Meet the FortyFour Team: Witt Langstaff

Meet Our Solutions Lead

If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like inside the mind of a UX Designer, take a glimpse into the world of Witt Langstaff’s life. From his secret talents to his penchant for dad jokes, read all about our South Carolina-born Solutions Lead!

Where are you from?

Hartsville, South Carolina, USA, Planet Earth. It’s in Darlington County, which has a huge NASCAR speedway – You can do Daytona, you can tackle Talladega, but you can’t tame Darlington (at least that’s what they say.) I was born in a hospital not far from the track.

What brought you to FortyFour?

I was working for a startup, and my good buddy Graydon is the Director of Content here – he mentioned 44 needing some help on the UX team so we made it happen. I really like the folks who work here, and saw it as a good opportunity to learn and grow. It’s been great so far!

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Written by on August 28th, 2018 in Culture

Let’s Get Lit: Celebrating National Book Lovers Day with All Our Favorite Books

Happy National Book Lovers Day!

Is it a real holiday? We’re not the arbiters of real holidays here at FortyFour. We just build great websites and read great books. Here are some books beloved by the folks who work here building those aforementioned great websites.

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
I first played the text-based game when I was 14, and instantly fell in love with the quirky British humor and space escapades. Finding out that it was a book series, BBC radio and TV series was a pleasant surprise!
-Adam Darby, Developer

Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
It encompasses the use of how language can be used to paint pictures of very specific actions vividly, while also making light of incredibly serious topics. That, and the fact that the entire story is a jigsaw puzzle that needs to be read entirely to come close to understanding it as a whole.
-Bret Ausura, Project Manager

Where We Want to Live by Ryan Gravel
Because what kind of Atlantan are you, really, if you haven’t read this?
-Ryan Anderson, Director of Marketing

Tenth of December by George Saunders
I love reading Saunders for his zaniness, humor, and ear for internal dialogue, but in this collection you can tell his writing has become much more humane. It’s great.
-Brian “Bryan” Zirbes, Business Analyst

Animal Dreams by Barbara Kingsolver
Really amazing to read *while* in the western states. I read this during a backpacking trip in Utah and I felt like I was right there with the main character (the book is based in Arizona). #BestSummerReadEver
-Kelsey O’Manion, Project Manager

The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende
This was the first novel I read with strong latina characters! This novel follows 3 generations of Chilean women through their trials and triumphs after WWI. It has magical realism elements as well and is a beautifully written novel!
-Karla Fleming, Business Analyst

The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand 
I love how it encapsulates the practice of architecture in the 1920s and 30s. Howard Roark is a polarizing protagonist who stirs healthy debate about the ethics of design, the role of individual ego, and deviation from collective design values. I also just really appreciate Rand’s command of language.
-Paul Landon, UX Designer

Dune by Frank Herbert
Who knew west vs middle east politics and the world’s utter dependence on oil could be so entertaining when rewritten as the best science fiction novel ever?! Frank Herbert, that’s who.
-Hadi Seyfi, Designer

The Heart of Everything That Is: The Untold Story of Red Cloud, An American Legend by Bob Drury
I first read it a few years ago, but it has stuck with me–especially since I recently went to the Powder River Valley in Wyoming and saw some of the battle sites. The way we teach US history glosses over Native American history and culture, so it was an eye-opening read; I learned a ton. I don’t usually love histories but the writing in this book was really engaging.
-Liz Simms, Copywriter

A Naked Singularity by Sergio De La Pava
A Naked Singularity broke every rule regarding a first novel: It was long, dense, and weird. That’s why it was originally relegated to being self-published. But over time its genius shined through, and it’s now regarded as a classic of early 21st century literature because of its piercing look at the harsh realities of the New York City criminal justice system, its hyper-literate but playful style, and its unexpected use of pulp and noir elements.
-Graydon Gordian, Director of Content

Bluets by Maggie Nelson
It feels a bit odd to call a book of poems my favorite, but there’s no book I’ve returned to as many times in my life as many times as I’ve picked “Bluets” back up, like an old friend. Besides, I’m not even sure I think of it as poetry to begin with so much as I think of it as… a meditation. Nelson begins with, “Suppose I were to begin by saying that I had fallen in love with a color.” From there, “Bluets” falls into a pool of itself, lyrically exploring themes of love and grief and the volatile ways the two coexist in our lives. Nelson’s writing feels like a revelation every time I return to it.
-Rachel Perkins, Copywriter

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Written by on August 9th, 2018 in Culture

Meet the FortyFour Team: Karla Fleming Edition

Meet Our Business Analyst

Business Analyst Karla Fleming from Digital Agency FortyFour

Have you ever wondered what a business analyst does on a day to day basis at a digital agency? Our resident BA, Karla Fleming, is here to explain it to you, while also sharing her thoughts on podcasts, latino food, and the always raging debate here at FortyFour—pineapple on pizza.

Where are you from?

Jefferson, GA

Give us the elevator pitch you have ready when someone asks you to explain what a business analyst does at a digital agency.

As a business analyst, my job is to retrieve business and technical requirements from the client and verify that the solutions we are delivering are in line with the client’s needs. To do this, I am writing user stories and I stay in contact with the developers to make sure that they have all of the information and tools that they need to deliver the solution needed.

What has been your favorite client project so far and why are you proud of it?

Phobio has been one of my favorite projects so far because I have been able to see the project develop and change from the time we won the business until we launched the site.

What’s something you’re really, really good at cooking?

I never enjoyed cooking until just a few years ago. I’m still working to specialize in good everyday meals. But desserts are my favorite type of food to prepare! My specialty is a cranberry apple pie recipe that was passed down from my mother-in-law!

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Written by on June 22nd, 2018 in Culture

Meet the FortyFour Team: T.R. Wilhoit Edition

Meet our senior marketing manager

T.R. Wilhoit

From breaking into the marketing industry to his feelings regarding pineapple on pizza, read on to find out what our senior marketing manager, T.R. Wilhoit, has to say.

What brought you to FortyFour?

I had worked at my prior agency for around 4 years, which makes me ancient in “agency years” so it was about time for a change. Coming from a more strategy and planning background, I was interested in learning E-commerce and developing new programs for clients in this industry.

What has been your favorite client project so far and why are you proud of it?

I really enjoy working on Case-Mate’s ongoing marketing. We’re able to see the results of marketing efforts quickly since we’re focused on the E-commerce site, which is rewarding. Plus the target market is something I’m not as familiar with (more fashion-focused), so I learn something new about their audience almost weekly.

Tell us one of your secret talents.

Not sure how much of a secret it is, but I have been a musician my entire life. I mostly play electric guitar but I also play bass, drums, trombone, and baritone. I’ve also put out electronic music a few times, which is featured in the background of this fun Vietnamese makeup tutorial video.

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Written by on June 7th, 2018 in Culture, Uncategorized

Design We Love: May Edition

This month, our design team was all about good vibes, clean lines, and using colors and shapes in new ways.

A little over a year ago, the design team at FortyFour incorporated “Stumps and Dumps” into our weekly design sync. What are “Stumps and Dumps,” you ask?

“Stumps” are the problems we’re facing with current projects. More importantly, it’s an open invitation for critical feedback and creative insights from our teammates.

“Dumps” are the show-and-tell portion. It’s an opportunity for us to talk all things inspiring, unusual, and thought-provoking within the design world.

We’ve amassed a considerable list of design portfolios, websites, Instagram accounts, films, artists, animations, and design tools over the last year. We come back to this list time and time again for inspiration, so we thought we should share it with the world. Here’s the space where each month we’ll share with you the things we’ve loved lately. Without further ado, here’s a few things we loved in May!

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Written by on May 30th, 2018 in Culture, Design

Meet the FortyFour team: Carson Britt edition

Get to know our senior software engineer

This week we sat down with Carson Britt, our Senior Software Engineer. Hear what this front-end pro has to say about growing up in Georgia, riding his bike through the city, and why you shouldn’t limit your own skillset.

Where are you from?

I’m from Atlanta. I grew up in the ‘burbs and moved to north Georgia at 14, but then I went to Georgia Tech and stayed here since.

What brought you to FortyFour?

Before this I was at 22squared, which handles more traditional advertising, and we weren’t really getting into digital the way I wanted to. I wanted to go into something more digital-focused, where I could feel more challenged. I wanted to do bigger, more intimidating projects from a dev perspective.

What has been your favorite client project so far and why are you proud of it?

I’ve worked on nearly every project here but a favorite has been CREDO Mobile. I got to work on a couple of microsites for them, and I liked the style of it. It’s very front-end heavy stuff which is really interesting on Drupal.

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Written by on May 15th, 2018 in Culture, Work

Meet the FortyFour Team: Katherine Wilmot Edition

An interview with FortyFour's director of project management

This week, we sat down with our director of project management Katherine Wilmot to chat about her agency experience, where she buys horseradish pickles, and what she wants to name her future doggo. Check out her answers below!

Where are you from?

Ridgefield, CT

What brought you to FortyFour?

Thomas, [one of our Managing Partners]. I had been working at larger agencies, but I wanted the opportunity to make a bigger impact. It seemed like the best way to do that was to get in at the ground level of a startup agency, so when Thomas reached out, I went for it. I’ve been here 3 years in May. 

What’s been your favorite client project so far? Why are you proud of it?

Phobio, because they share the same startup mentality that we have. Being a software/tech company, we share a lot of ideals. We’ve helped them with a couple iterations of their website. The first was a re-skin, and now we’re re-platforming them onto a CMS while implementing additional branding and messaging updates. Giving complex technology products a tone and voice that makes you want to work with the people behind them is always a challenge, but working with the Phobio team has been fun.

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Written by on April 9th, 2018 in Culture, Work

We’ve got something to chat about

Why group chat is more efficient and effective for our dev team

Love it or hate it, group chat has a place in the day-to-day life of every agency. No more sitting in a pod with a designer, a UX lead, a project manager, and a developer to make decisions: newly available tools are changing the development process for the better. Group communication tools have increased transparency, improved efficiency, and strengthened collaboration with our clients.

Here at FortyFour, we have group channels for everything: for projects, for teams, for favorite TV shows, for random thoughts (and there are a lot of random thoughts). Catching up daily on the kitten and Nicholas Cage memes can be time consuming, but distractions aside, we’ve found that private and public chat rooms have enabled us to make decisions without losing momentum.

Breaking Concentration

Before we sing the praises of group chat, it’s worth noting that it has its own drawbacks. According to research that I found online (it must be true), every distraction costs somewhere between 20 minutes and 2 hours of productivity. On top of having an open floor plan and a highly collaborative environment at FortyFour, our group chat never goes away. Everyone has to learn to manage the distractions in their own way.

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Written by on March 22nd, 2018 in Culture, Insight, Resources

Meet the FortyFour team: Graydon Gordian edition

Get to know our Director of Content & Editorial

This week we sat down with Graydon Gordian, FortyFour’s director of content & editorial, to talk about his past as an amateur boxer, his love of basketball, and even a little bit about life at the agency.

Where are you from?

Austin, Texas–keep Austin weird!

What brought you to FortyFour, and how long have you been here?

I had been working at Turner, which is where I’d been since I first moved to Atlanta from New York. But I’d always been intrigued by the agency world, so I called a friend of mine who ran an agency, Thomas Frank [Founder and Executive Creative Director of FortyFour]. We talked, and I started as contractor before coming on full time as the Director of Content and Editorial. It’s been almost 2 years to the month.

What’s been your favorite client project so far?

My favorite project has been Phobio. Phobio is a software company that makes device trade-in and workforce communication platforms. We have a close relationship with the executive team–we’re not just their agency, we’re a strategic advisor to their organization, which is what we always seek to be. Our work has included a multi-phase website redesign. A big part of that effort has been developing a broader corporate messaging strategy for the organization. We’re adding value in a lot of ways and framing the future of their business–it’s fun.

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Written by on March 13th, 2018 in Culture, Work

Meet the FortyFour team: Paul Landon edition

Get to know our user experience principal

Was Thomas Jefferson a prototypical UX designer? According to Paul Landon, a user experience principal here at FortyFour, the answer is yes. Read on to learn about his interesting theory–and what else he loves about UX, life at FortyFour, and Atlanta in general.

Where are you from?

Hampton, VA

What brought you to FortyFour?

Before becoming a user experience designer, I worked in architecture for several years. But I’d had a longtime interest in digital, so it seemed like the right trajectory to move out of architecture and into UX. I started working at an agency. One of FortyFour’s managing partners had worked at the same agency, and our networks overlapped. I could see that FortyFour had a great creative team, plus more structure and leadership, which was important to me. So I joined the team, and now I’ve been here two and a half years–Taylor and I started the same day, actually.

What’s been your favorite client project so far and why?

On my first day, we kicked off Exide’s website redesign project. It was a great opportunity to impact their brand globally and tackle a very complex set of website challenges. The architecture had to provide a more organized framework for very diverse business units, appease internal stakeholders, and speak across industries. We created a strong, scalable solution. It was the largest website I’d worked on at that point, too, so it was cool to work on every stage of the process. I learned a lot.

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Written by on February 27th, 2018 in Culture, Insight, Resources

Meet the FortyFour team: Taylor Daniel edition

Get to know our senior designer

We recently sat down with the talented Taylor Daniel, senior designer here at FortyFour, to learn more about what inspires her work, what she loves about Atlanta, and what she drinks at 4:30pm on Fridays.

Where are you from?

Snellville, GA

What brought you to FortyFour, and how long have you been working here?

I heard about FortyFour when I was making a move from Birmingham, and I was wanting to grow my skill set in digital & UI. FortyFour was attractive because it’s independently owned and run–a place where you could get your hands dirty and learn faster because you could work on both large and small accounts. The creative leadership came from big agencies and companies, so I knew I could learn from those experiences on a more personal level. And 2.5 years later, here I am! 

What’s been your favorite client project so far, and why are you proud of it? 

I’ve learned the most and done the most with CREDO Mobile. They came to us for help with digital marketing and e-commerce, but as we’ve built a relationship with them, we’ve helped them with their whole brand. The opportunity to define a brand and create the look feel has been awesome. Then, working on the UI of the donations and e-commerce sites–it feels rewarding to be part of a project from start to end.

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Written by on February 13th, 2018 in Culture, Uncategorized, Work

FortyFour gives back

This holiday, we raised money for three Atlanta charities

This holiday season, we decided to give back to Atlanta, the city that made us. We divided the office into three teams, and each team chose a local charity to support: the Atlanta chapter of the International Rescue Committee, The Giving Kitchen, and The Atlanta Children’s Shelter.

In a little over one month, 57 donors helped our teams raise $2,500 to benefit those charities. But it gets better–the partners at FortyFour generously matched every penny donated to each cause, which brought our grand donation total to $5,000. We announced the final numbers at our belated holiday party, giving everyone that much more reason to celebrate.

We’re thrilled to be a part of this community and thankful for the opportunity to give back. Thank you so much to everyone who helped us make a difference this year!

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Written by on January 30th, 2018 in Culture, News