Bell Social Portrait
Launched 6 years ago
- Front End Development
- Creative Director
- Jeremy Bell
- Art Director
- Duncan Porter
- Chris Tanner
- Back End Developers
- Oliver Nassar, Peter Nitsch
- Laurel Cole
- Project Manager
- Alyssa Belova
About the ClientBell is Canada's largest communications network, offering local, long distance and wireless telephone service, internet, and satellite.
The Bell Social Portrait was a free web app that allowed you to generate typographic portraits (or any images, really) using the content from your social media networks. You’d plugin your Twitter or Facebook handle and all of your tweets or status updates, depending on which social network you chose, would compose the image. Really cool stuff!
This was my first project at Teehan+Lax, and quite honestly, one of the better projects I got to work on there. I’ll admit, I was green. I had worked at agencies before but only for short term contracts. This was my first full time job where I really began my career, and as it happens, I was immediately thrown into the deep end.
The demands were high and there was a lot of pressure on the team to make this thing work. Thankfully, most of that pressure was directed at Pete and Oliver, who built out the actual engine that generated the portraits. I remember them experimenting, tweaking values left, right and centre. I don’t even think they themselves were sure if it would work and I think the whole team thrived off of that. It was thrilling.
Personally, I was responsible for the front end of the basic UI in the app and the marketing site that taught you what the heck this thing was. We also ran a contest on Facebook using Likes, which was quite novel at the time.
A Big Hit
The project was a huge success. Thousands of custom portraits were made using the app and many Bell customers updated their Facebook avatar photo to display their masterpiece. The app also picked up two awards and attracted attention from some major design magazines and blogs. I recall being both relieved and excited to see the app completed, working and successful. I'm very glad to have been a part of it.
What Was Learned
Internet Explorer is the devil. It's so annoying! Not being able to leverage CSS3 border radius proved to be a huge pain in the ass, namely because every button and content section in the Bell brand has rounded corners.
Also, Facebook was... difficult, only because it changed every week, or so it seemed. Those in-page canvases can be finicky and their frequent change in size made building the page somewhat difficult, as responsive design had not yet taken off.