Thursday, December 03, 2015

Digital Advent Calendar for Canadians

Over the past three days on Facebook, I've noticed friends posting about Harrowsmith Now's online Advent Calendar. I finally had a moment to check it out today and was delighted!

I love the idea of taking the concept of an advent calendar, putting it online, and making it enjoyable for adults. For each day in December, one can click the date to see a new interactive experience with a focus on Canada's winters and the holidays. The online advent calendar is much better than waxy chocolate and is guilt-free and made in Canada.

I won't give away the digital treats that await you, but they are fun and reflect the Canadian pastoral culture that Harrowsmith has famously chronicled since the magazine began in 1976. Harrowsmith closed in 2011, but reformed in 2013 as quarterly magazine and website, Harrowsmith Now.

I wanted to share the calendar as I feel we all could use some holiday cheer right now. As a Canadian digital media aficionado, I wanted to find out more about this project, so I contacted the magazine.

Wayne MacPhail, the magazine's digital brand strategist, agreed to answer my questions. I asked him about their new website, Harrowsmith Now which launched last month. He noted that it "is aimed at millennials who share the same concerns we do about sustainability, a love of the country and an appreciation of handmadegoods." The website includes features, blog posts, and, of course, the advent calendar.

MacPhail says his team was motivated to launch the calendar as a way "to give folks a little taste of the season and the holidays (not just Christian ones) during the month. There's enough bad in the world right now, we need something a bit more uplifting and fun".

He describes the development process:
"I started with a rough mockup in Tumult Hype using an existing advent
calendar as a backdrop. I then shared it with Michelle Lydon, a graphic designer I work with. Michelle developed the circular number motif in Illustrator to match the dimensions of a landscape retina iPad Air 2. I brought those graphic elements into Affinity Designer and broke them into the constituent elements and then built the interactive piece in Tumult Hype (HTML 5). I sourced the content partly from Harrowsmith staff and partly from a call I made to my pals on Facebook."
I've seen the first 3 days of the calendar (December 2nd is particularly wonderful). I asked MacPhail what other types of digital treats await us. He notes, "We've created some little interactive amusements, more video links, recipes, and a few other easter eggs and surprises."

Give it the calendar a try. I can't wait to see what Harrowsmith has in store for the 25th!

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