EMJ Construction – Redesign

When construction is the name of the game, no one does it bigger or better than EMJ.

EMJ, founded in 1968, has built over 500 million square feet of space and currently operates out of 5 locations nationwide. Currently, you can see “EMJ’s name as the builder of record on all types of projects including retail, distribution centers and warehouses, office buildings, lifestyle/mixed use development, hotels/multifamily, churches, education, entertainment/sports, medical, parking structures, renovations and wind energy.”

EMJ approached Level2D with the hope of breaking out of the rigid, monolithic style typically associated with construction industry websites. They presented Level2D the challenge of designing a web solution that used a creative, interactive, and usable approach to front our robust, Level2D system architecture. Today, we are excited to announce the launch of our culminated efforts in the form of the newly redesigned EMJ website.

We feel that the website gives new life to the iconic EMJ brand by giving a clear voice to their extensive project portfolio while at the same time remaining mindful of their unique mission and heritage.

The redesign is live here – www.emjcorp.com



The redesign is live here – www.emjcorp.com




The Southside Creative, http://www.southsidecreative.com, project was designed by Southside Creative and developed by Level 2 Design.  It contains the custom, early 2011, Level2D CMS, Content Manipulation System, built with PHP and jQuery, and a Level2d PHP Framework with jQuery as well.  It contains Level2d’s caching system and on-the-fly image manipulation engine as well as other custom features.


Nopone.com – The Future of Building

Humor me for a minute.

Bob’s building a deck. He needs 34 2×4’s, 3″ Galvinized Nails, Deck Fastners, and Stainless Steel Screws. Bob logs on, posts the necessary items. He instantly receives 12 different offers from suppliers who have these items. He clicks accept, and goes to pick up his items.

Where did he go to do this? Nopone.com.

In short, Nopone.com connects Contractors, Builders, and “Do-it-yourselfers” to suppliers. It’s simple. Post the supplies you need, and suppliers who offer what you need place bids on the items. You see the bids instantly, and “accept” them.

Nopone.com has been gaining traction since November of 2010 when the team won the “Will It Float” competition in Chattanooga, TN. After that, they were invited to Tech Stars For a Day in New York City. All of this while programmers were busy coding in their mothers basement getting the site ready for launch. So who is this team?

Nathan Derrick and Level 2 have teamed up to build Nopone.com. While there isn’t actually anybody in their moms basement lighting keyboards on fire with their fingers, the team is a perfect blend of Geeks and Rednecks who together have the knowledge and experience to revolutionize the builder-supplier relationship.

“Like” Nopone on Facebook, then comment here telling us you did. Make sure and use the name that is on your facebook account so we can confirm, and fill out the email field (which will not be posted) so that we can email you. The first 25 people who do will get a $10 gift card to Pie Slingers Pizza.


Working with the FBI – The History Theater

FBI History Theater

The previous post in the Working with the FBI series dealt with the FBI History Page. The History theater was one of the smaller sections we did for the FBI. However, its was one of the most fun to develop.  The guys at the FBI wanted to forgo the traditional media player and go with something a bit more engaging. They requested a traditional theater fell to carry on the Biograph Theater theme that is on the History of the FBI homepage.

FBI History Theater Comp 1

Our first pass at the theater had some elements that worked well, however it did not have enough of a theater feel to it. They requested that we pull the vantage point back a bit so that the user could see more of the theater. Additionally we wanted to make the environment a bit darker to place a greater emphases on the video that was playing.

FBI History Theater - Final LayoutFBI History Theater - Detail 1FBI History Theater - Detail 2

The final version of the history theater does a much better job of engaging the user and making the videos feel like they are part of the environment. Now it was time to take everything into flash and make the videos feel like they were projected onto the screen.

The videos needed to appear to be projected onto a movie screen instead of just living in a media player behind the curtains. This was easily accomplished by placing the videos within a movie clip and setting that movie clips Blending mode to Multiply. In addition to the video there was a flickering light that needed to be added throughout the theater to create the feeling of a movie reel spinning.

FBI History Theater - Light

Above is an example of the light at full opacity and with no effects applied to it. The light gave the illusion of the film being projected onto the screen from behind the users vantage point and cast highlights on the surrounding elements and viewers.

Finally, the only remaining elements were the controls for the video and the information that goes along with each video.

FBI History Theater - Info and ControlsSo, head on over to the FBI History Theater and let us know what you think of the design and check out the awesome videos that the FBI has posted. I’ll highlight the Fun & Games and Kids Pages in the next Working with the FBI post.



To help celebrate our move to St Elmo we have developed a collection of posters for the area. We currently have 3 available and will be adding more soon. Check them out and let us know if you would like one. We will be selling them along with our t-shirts. The posters are $20 for a 10″ x 20″.

Full Size images:



Check out some of our Level 2 t-shirts. Print Trends Inc. printed these for us and they did an awesome job. If you need printing for… anything, they can help.

These bad boys are for sale so get yours while you can. You can get them $20 and we have the following sizes/colors:
Child Small – light blue
Small – tan
Medium – tan
Large – tan
X Large – tan
XX Large – tan

There are 2 designs as well.


Fastest Internet in Merica – Detail
Fastest Internet in Merica – Detail
Fastest Internet in Merica – Detail
Fastest Internet in the USA – Detail
Fastest Internet in the USA – Detail

Level 2 Open House / Christmas Party – Dec 14

Please RSVP below in the comments section if you plan on attending the Level 2 Open House / Christmas Party. We will be giving out gifts and food will be provided by Pie Slingers Pizzeria. Here are some directions to Level 2

Remember to comment below including the number in your party if you plan on attending.


Guaranteed Google Rankings? Be Warned

We often have clients who say that other companies can guarantee them a number 1 ranking on Google. We are always leery of this because even Google says (video to follow) that you can’t guarantee someone a #1 ranking. Here are some bullet points they mention that we try to convey to clients:

  • Try to specify your message and your keyword. You will be more successful targeting a city with your keywords – example: “Chattanooga Billboards” rather than “Billboards”
  • Google outlines the things you need to focus on in this PDF document
  • Figure out what phrases get you conversions, not necessarily what you want to be found for. For example the phrase “chattanooga birthday cakes” might not produce as many sales as “delicious cakes in chattanooga”. However, your intuition would suggest the first. This is where it helps to experiment and follow your website statistics.

Here is the video already:

Thanks to Rob Bettis for the link to the video


Interactive Website-Tip # 3

Tip #3 is best summarized in two simple words: BE FEARLESS.

If you have a new idea or thought, use it. If you have an innovative design idea, give it a shot. If you want to try something new, don’t hesitate.

Your interactive website should convey a personality; it should be current, changing, and responsive, utilizing a user-friendly content management system (CMS) that enables the site administrator to easily edit content, add links, and update graphics. It must engage visitors and encourage a reaction. Much like a conversation between friends, the truly interactive website will be fluid and ever changing.

Too many websites are designed as virtual billboards–they look good, but they’re not really interactive. Sort of like a good-looking date with zero personality. Substance will trump appearance every time (a good balance is key). Do your best to understand the characteristics and desires of people you want visiting your site, and create an interactive environment that reaches out to them. Above all else, don’t be afraid to take a chance.

The best thing about your website is that you can make changes almost immediately. If you learn that something’s not working, change it; if you’re not getting the response or feedback you want, try another approach; if the design is difficult for visitors to navigate, then redesign. It’s not a billboard or a magazine ad. You can make changes.

Above all else, pay attention to your visitor statistics. Try new and different approaches to reach your audience. Develop a Rambo-like approach: shoot now, ask questions later. Successful web strategies come from trial and error. Your biggest mistakes will happen when you don’t allow yourself the freedom to make mistakes.

Don’t be afraid to make changes using your CMS. It’s the mechanism for bringing personality and new information to your site. BE FEARLESS.

If you need help with suggestions or ideas for improving the interactivity of your site, give us a call at 423-509-6637.

sidenote – any post where we can insert Rambo, we are all over.


Working with the FBI – The History of the FBI

In March 2010 we were contacted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and informed they were in the process of redesigning their website. After some discussion we were asked to assist with some of the design and flash work. Of course we thought this was the coolest opportunity ever.

I remember touring the FBI headquarters years ago (probably around 1994) on a family trip to Washington D.C. Ever since, I’ve been fascinated by the work and achievements of the FBI. Being asked to help with the web site was a great honor.

The project was divided into three main parts: (1) The History of the FBI; (2) Fun & Games; and (3) the Kids Pages. Each of these sections include sub-pages and content developed in conjunction with the main pages.

The History page was one of the most exciting and interesting components of the project. The goal was to create an environment that highlights an important event in the FBI’s history. The guys at the Bureau wanted to feature the Biograph Theater in the 1930’s where the FBI took out john Dillinger, one of the best know gangsters of all time, right outside the theater.

We started by collecting images, making sketches, and developing ideas that would represent this important time in history. After a couple rounds of failing to hit the mark, we came up with a layout that fits with the desired historical theme.

FBI - History Step 1 - Initial colors and shapes

FBI - History Step 2 - Adding textures and general layout elements

FBI - History Step 3 - Cropping and additional lighting and textures added

FBI - History Step 4 - Final textures and tones added. finilizing position of elements.

After the environment was fully developed, we produced a series of posters representing the different sections linked to the History page. Each poster was enlarged, enabling the visitor to roll over each element while the poster “pops out,” highlighting the linked section.

FBI History Posters

FBI History Poster - History of the 10 Most Wanted

FBI History Posters

FBI History Poster - A Short History of the FBI

FBI History Posters

FBI History Poster - Directors Then and Now

FBI History Posters

FBI History Poster - FBI Headquarters

FBI History Posters

FBI History Poster - Seal and Motto

FBI History Posters

FBI History Poster - Historic Records

FBI History Posters

FBI History Poster - Field Office Histories

FBI History Posters

FBI History Poster - Hall of Honor

Our goal for the historical time-line was to create an interactive element that would allow visitors to access selections without taking them away from the original page. The guys from the FBI recommended a virtual car or truck-type element that would move across the screen, with the back of the vehicle containing a time-line with clickable options.

FBI Timeline Container

The car drives across the screen when you click the timeline link on the side of it

So check out the site History of the FBI and give us your feedback. In the next post we’ll highlight the FBI history theater.