I’ve had a pretty busy week! On Monday, the redesign of MyGreenlake.com was launched. This blog is a news site for one of Seattle’s most charming neighborhoods and the woman who runs this blog (Amy Duncan) is just awesome!
Amy contacted me a long time ago and expressed interest in having me redo her website. We chatted about her wish list for the site, her community and some of her concerns about the existing layout, I quoted her on the project and immediately got a response telling me that she could not afford me, BUT that she was going to save up and would be in touch again. Well… I don’t want to sound snotty, but I had heard that before and never once had someone actually came back. Well… Amy was the first! A few months later there was a new message from her in my inbox saying she was ready to lay down her deposit and begin work! :)
This was actually a pretty large project, the site has a loyal following, a hefty archive of posts and a number of paying local advertisers. This was truly a project where I worked hard to not only pay attention to the details, but also the BIG PICTURE. I look forward to watching how the site’s re-vamp will help it’s community to better utilize all of the great content Amy provides!
This week I met with a fellow designer who I have done some Illustration and production work for. She has been a print designer in Seattle for over 20 years. After the last few years of slowly downsizing her business more and more, she is closing up shop and had one client left that she had decided to pass off to me. She gave the a run down of the type of work they’ve done together, gave the owners a sparkling review and clued me in on that billings she’s done with them over the last 3 years. I feel honored that she thought of me as someone to hand-down her prized client to! Forming relationships with other designers is so invaluable! Aside from awesome things like this happening, you can learn so much from them!
This week Niki and I released the first Pagebreak Snippet! Basically, we realized that having 3 weeks between each Pagebreak episode was a long stretch, so these snippets are short-format episodes where we take about 10 minutes to discuss a blog post related to design, development, business or marketing. We plan to release snippets at least once a week throughout the month and of course we will continue to do our long-format book review episodes!
Our book for October is “Don’t Make Me Think” by Steve Krug, which is a all about website usability. I just received my copy in the mail yesterday and already am on page 35. I can already tell this will be a great benefit to my design work and I think Niki and I will be able to have a good discussion about it!
Some of your may hear feedback from your clients on a design mock-up you present and want to claw your (or your clients,) eyes out! You worked really hard on this design and you love it, they should too! Well.. that isn’t always how it goes – an sometimes this is a good thing!
I know you think I’m insane, but here is why I say this…
This post is largely inspired by a current project I have going, and the events over the last 2 weeks where I created an initial design mock-up and then after going over it with my client – realized we hadn’t communicated with eachother well enough before the design process started and I had went down the wrong path.
What I ended up creating was something very cool – but, not right for the client – so cool or not, good design or not, if it isn’t right, you have to be willing to scarp it and readjust your focus!
Letting go of an idea can sometimes be really hard. I put a lot of work and passion into my design and when I show something to a client, I feel confident about it – so when I realize it’s not the right fit, it can be difficult to let go of something.. but it’s essential to do this in order to be able to focus in the right direction!
Sometimes the first idea you have isn’t always your strongest, being pushed to look at things in a different way that your first instincts help you to be more creative! Sometimes the obvious solution is the right one, but not always! …Sometimes if you push yourself to be creative you will come upon the solution and thing “Oh duh! Why didn’t I come up with this an hour ago!?”
How did you decide to specialize in wordpress design, and do you charge your clients for any time you spend training them on it?
WordPress isn’t something I decided to specialize in, it just sort of evolved. My first introduction to the software was with putting together this blog. In the months before leaving my old 9to5, I came home every night and spent hours at the computer slowly teaching myself WordPress and building what was version1.0 of the CMD+Shift Design blog. It was late 2007, I was working with WordPress Version 2.3 — which when I think about it now it was pretty primitive compared to what we know as WordPress today!
Time Lapse from Late 2007 of me learning WordPress and building V1.0 of the blog in the hours after my “9to5″ workday was over.
As I worked with the software more and with the big upgrade to features that version 2.5 brought, I was very excited about how vertistile WordPress could be and naturally started selling it to clients. It is not a solution for every type of site, but it is much more than just a blogging platform, for sure!
What I like most about it is how easy it is for my clients to use! Whenever I do a WordPress project I always include a tutorial session at the close of the process. The client has a chance to sit down with the software and get walked through how they will update and maintain their new website. As the software evolves more and more, it has just gotten easier and these sessions rarely last more than a half hour.
Over the last month, I have even opted to make screencast tutorials for my clients — in a 10 minute video I can walk them through all they need to know and they have that to reference back to whenever they need it! There are also some great resources for helping your clients get familiar with the software, like WordPress.tv.
I remember the days when having a content management system was an expensive process that was still not very simple for a casual user to pick up and for the most part — websites were fully static creations, meaning if you wanted to change something, you had to edit the code. I’ve dealt with teaching clients how to do basic HTML editing, it was awful! No client should have to deal with that stuff, they have businesses to run and they shouldnt have to shell out my hourly rate everytime they need some contact info changed.
Content manegement systems put the power into you clients hands so that they can grow their business in an efficient way and it ensures that the integrity of the design you have created with them is not compromised by any code blunders along the way.
WordPress isn’t the only game in town, there is a bunch of great CMS’s out there that can do a variety of unique things for you unique projects! There is Joomla, Drupal, Expression Engine, Movable Type, Magento, CushyCMS, CMS Made Simple and a lot more. Download and install and just try one out, see what it can do and think about how it may benefit your clients and you business!
Sorry for the lull in posting lately. Last week I spent a quick (but very fun) visit down to San Francisco to see my nephew graduate from High School. I was only in town for less than 30 hours, but managed to pack every second with laughs and food consumption (it’s what me and my brothers do best!)
Upon my return to the office it was time to wrap up a project I started a few weeks back with a local non-profit organization called, The Healing Center. I usually don’t post on my blog about client projects, but I’m mixing it up a bit and also this is inspiration for a post I want you guys to help me out with!
It was a great experience working with The Healing Center, they are a grief support community for children, teens and familes in the Seattle area and their founders are a group of creative and hardworking women! Check out their brand spankin’ new site and if you have a little love to share (in the $$$ form, send it their way – they will put it to good use!)
Have you done any work with a non-profit or charity organization (either pro-bono or at a discounted rate.) Send me links or images of the finished project and share with us about the experience!
Submit your responses via this Wufoo form and I will compile them all into a post later this month! :)
Most web designers wouldn’t be so stoked to have something they made featured in a post with a title like “10 Ugliest Websites of the Decade” — but I am not most people.
This site was made earlier this year for a contest hosted by Niki Brown at DesignOBlog, I came in 5th place on her site and this week — that same site was chosen by ABC News as one of the UGLIEST sites of the DECADE! :)
The site is in honor of my (now deceased) kitteh, Cthulhu. This is a fitting tribute to this furry little man who I miss dearly!
Here’s to you Cthulhu! :)
The end of the year is approaching, and many people are taking this time to reflect on the year past and the people in their lives who have made it so memorable.
Whether you’re celebrating a holiday or just celebrating the love in your life, finding a unique gift for that design nerd closest to you just got a little easier — here’s my 2009 gift list!
A new color for each day! These shirts could be fun for any color lover in your life – and on those hectic work weeks — they could come in handy when you can’t remember what day it is!
On sale right now at Cotton Factory for only $65 for the whole 7 T-shirt set!
You don’t even have to be a designer to appreciate these beautiful pop-up cards at PubliqueShop. At $4.50 per card, these may not be something you will want to send out to everyone on your mailing list, but will make a real impression on those who deserve something a little special! These aren’t just cards, they’re tiny works of art!
Coasters are perfect for any designers desk! Looks like a set of 4 will run you $45 for these Bamboo letter jumbles set in Baskerville Semibold.
Would it be over doing it to pair these coasters with the typography coffee table I featured last year?
No gift list for designers would be complete of course without a Helvetica Fan item! This tshirt is specifically for the nerd in your life who has cross over nerdisms for typography and robots! Meet Helbotica!
These shirts are available in sizes for Men, Women and Kids and multiple colors starting at $20.
ShirtsForCoders.com has a whole store of shirts with silly slogans that show off your code nerd status. There are only 14 items on the site right now, but you’re likely to find something there that will make your favorite Web Developer chuckle. Prices start at just $19!
Here’s one that’s sure to make a BANG! (Sorry, I had to say it!) This wooden office ruler shaped like a pistol may not be something you’d put in your kids pencil box, but that special someone in your life who spends their days sketching will get a kick out of having this on their desk! It’s $12.49 from the Paris boutique, Atypyk. Ammunition not included.
This gift will give a whole new meaning to “clean type,” its the Typography Soap from Charles & Marie and since the site is offering FREE shipping this week, I would head over there and pick this up now if you want it. It’s $20 per bar, which is a lot for some soap — but I can’t image anyone would actually USE it, more something you can display on your bookshelf next to your design books! :)
7 gift ideas for you to share with your loved ones, whether you plan to grab one of these for them or you want them to get them for YOU! Is there something amazing I didn’t include? Leave a comment and let me know about it!
You can check out my 2 gift lists posts from 2008 if you are looking for even more nerdy schwag! 7 Gifts for the Design Nerd in your Life and More Gifts for the Design Nerd and Internet Geek in your life
I was really excited to learn about this community, and it is a site I am going to make a point to be active on because I think that it is something that designers giving open critique can be valuable to the industry! Better design out there, happier clients, an all around better world to live in. :)
Concept Feedback is a free professional design review community. You post your website design, logo design, brochure layout, etc. and the community of designers comments with feedback on layout, color, usability, etc.
The service doesn’t require any money to get started. Creating a profile and posting feedback is free. If you would like to post work for the community to critique you have to earn it by giving feedback to other users. Depending on how valuable others find your feedback you get “reputation points,” which help those in the community gauge the value of your comments.
When I first looked over the site, I was expecting to just see comments like “nice job!” or “i don’t like that blue,” but there were some thought out, well reasoned and highly valuable criticisms being made! Don’t take my word for it, go check it out!
Concept Feedback is now offering a “Premium Concept” feature for users who want to get maximum exposure for their concept. Once a premium concept is live, it is featured on our homepage for 1 week, giving users maximum traffic and reviews. We also personally invite our top members (highest reputation scores) to review the concept, ensuring top quality feedback. You can find more details on premium concepts here.
2. Tweet out a link to this Giveaway as follows: “RT @cmdshiftdesign 5 FREE Featured Spots on Concept Feedback, the Design Review Community! http://bit.ly/92FLln”
3. Leave a comment here with your name, email and a link to your tweet and Concept Feedback profile!
You have until Thursday, December 10th at Midnight PST to enter. 5 lucky readers will be chosen at random the following Friday and will be contacted via Twitter!