Growing up, my mom used to say, "Those who have nothing to hide hide nothing", usually right before she'd read my diary. Transparency may not be the best policy when you're 16, but the mentality is well-regarded in the professional world. Corporations make their financial records public too, whether online, in an annual report, or in a press release. Charities are open about sharing their financial information so the public can see where their money is spent. Everybody likes to toot their own horn a little bit, so agencies of all sizes often issue a release when they win a new client or a new piece of work.
Transparency goes beyond financial information and a public client roster. It can mean things such as sharing information about how your business is run - your internal processes, your full client list, the way you work. Most companies have a section of their website dedicated to profiling their team members, perhaps a few images of their office - a little peek inside the doors of an organization, a way to put a face to the names of the people you're working with.
Some companies take it…
I still remember back in design school, one of the very first lessons we learned during a cut paper project was that professional designers are anal-retentive perfectionists. When we mounted work, it had to be perfect. Our mat board couldn't have any tears, our printouts were cut with a metal ruler and exacto blade, our sheets centred perfectly on the board (measured two or three times). No knicks, scratches or glue bubbles were permissible on the project.
This lesson was beaten into us (not literally, most of the time) for a reason: We had to give a shit about our work. If we were that obsessive about just mounting a printout to hand in to our instructors, we should be even more attentive with work that the world would see. The kerning of letters had to be adjusted just so. The spelling had to be accurate. Things that were supposed to align had to align precisely.
If you were to lurch behind a good designer and watch him or her work, you'd probably see him moving objects on the screen pixel by pixel with the arrow key, fine-tuning the typography, or sliding the opacity…
Since its incorporation, Headspace has changed locations a few times. Our office used to be located in downtown Dartmouth, followed by about a year of working remotely. Since the summer, we've been in our new home in the Hydrostone Market in Halifax.
Our team is well versed in the pros and cons of both scenarios.
Working In An Office: The Good
There are obvious benefits to working in an office, which is why probably 99 per cent of people with jobs in any industry don't work from home.
For our team, having an office means there's always a meeting space available to chat with clients - no scrambling to find a coffee shop that isn't too noisy or showing up at our clients' location for every discussion.
Having a central workspace builds a sense of camaraderie amongst the team. It's easier to ask questions and get information from colleagues when you can see them face to face.
I believe it also looks better for potential clients when we have a physical address. While many clients don't care where the work is taking place as long as…
On Monday, Coca-Cola rolled out its new website design, which aims to be more of an online magazine than a brand mouthpiece. Called "The Coca-Cola Journey", the new site is named for a magazine that was published for the company's employees during the 80s and 90s. It features articles, interviews, opinion pieces, videos, and blogs about a variety of topics: sports, history, health, environment.
Sure, it's impossible not to notice that this is indeed a Coca-Cola website, with frequent references to the brand and a subjective favourable slant, but material is presented in a way that's interesting, engaging, relevant and consumer-facing.
Coca-Cola is just the latest corporation to shift their web presence to be more about sharing a story than flat-out hawking a brand. In a New York Times interview, Ashley Brown, director for digital communications and social media with Coca-Cola, explains that his team now operates similarly to an editorial team at a magazine.
While there's definitely a Coke-friendly "point of view" to the content, they're striving to be a credible source, open to things such as accepting opinion columns that don't necessarily jibe with the views of the company. Coca-Cola's…
I returned to work this week after a year's maternity leave and was surprised by how much has changed since I left Headspace last fall to have my munchkin.
Things are different at the office. Our little team of five has grown to nine. We've gone from remote offices to a lovely new spot in the Hydrostone. We have a new process in place, new clients, new projects galore and a new website.
The work we do has changed, too. Last fall we were beginning to test the waters of responsive design and had launched a couple of mobile applications for clients. This year, responsive is almost second nature, and apps and software design and development are a huge part of our business.
It makes me think about how quickly things change, not just in the digital realm, but in the communications industry in general. I started working in advertising in 2006 and looking back on those early days slaving away as an account coordinator, there are tons of differences. Smartphones and tablets didn't exist then. There were no QR codes. Online advertising is no longer an afterthought - in fact,…
I used to think process was an ugly word. Who wants to be neck deep in charts and documentation, wasting time when we could be actually doing the design or dev work? And it’s that kind of thinking that got us screwed over on jobs our first couple of years in business.
Well this year, I think we finally got it right. Sure, there’s always room for improvement, but there are several ways in which we nailed down, perhaps our most efficient, effective process of building websites and applications, and one that actually enhances the fun for us, while also ensuring clients get what they want in the end.
Take a look at this process chart I made a few months ago:
This process shows a more refined way that we go about a project that fits into one of two camps; Either a website built in ExpressionEngine or an application built within the CodeIgniter framework.
Putting the visuals first: UX first
We’ve recently adopted a UX-first approach to most projects. The bigger and more complex the application, the more important this approach is.
So you've often heard clients say: "There's too much on the page, people might not know to scroll. Did I mention, I HATE scrolling on websites?"
Yes, this was the reality of the web a few years ago. But is this direction really relevant now?
I say, no.
First of all, the only time scrolling ever sucked was when you had to physically maneuver your mouse over to the right side of your browser window, click and drag it down. But wheel's on mice have been standard for about 10 years ago, and on Mac laptops, you have to merely use two fingers to scroll instead of clicking and dragging anything.
And of course, touch screens have changed everything. One finger to swipe up or down the page is all it takes.
But mobile devices are the primary reason that having a lot of content on a page is not really a big deal. In fact, I'd argue that it makes for a worse user-experience to limit content to above the (imaginary) fold.
The primary reason is bandwidth. What makes more…
Content marketing, in my opinion, is the last pure form of marketing.
In a world that has become saturated with obnoxious and/or pretentious billboards, radio & TV spots and flashing web banners, the only way to really market to a potential customer is by creating great content,
The format is irrelevant; It could be a podcast, magazine, blog, infographic, mobile app, PDF whitepaper, video or anything else. The point is it is free content that offers value to customers, potential customers or colleagues so that they book mark it, comment, share, or post a link to it on their own websites.
It's also the form of marketing that levels the playing field, letting small companies compete with larger ones, due to the fact that it's not based off of who can spend the most on ads. Anyone can create content, it's just a matter of having the right idea, make it original and focused and execute it professionally.
If you make content at the centre of your web strategy, then it will branch out and affect every other part:
- Social engagement will increase because people…
It used to be that the average person thought of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) as a series of tricks that a professional expert used to trick Google into ranking their site above a competitors'.
And for the most part, that was true. There's the old definition of a SEO being either black hat, someone employing cheap nasty tricks that got huge results for the short term, and white hat, someone focusing on quality content and link building which takes longer but gets long-term results.
In 2011 Google made black hats pretty well redundant for good, and even some strategies that the quality SEO's utilized has become less relevant. Google has updated their search algorithms with something called "Panda" which takes into account ratings from real human beings visiting a website. More than ever, this means that Google's criteria for ranking a website is based off of the following:
- How trustworthy does the site feel?
- How easy is it to use and navigate?
- How engaging is the content?
What has become much less important are things like meta tags, headings and other technical tricks that…
Email is 70% useless.
As someone unfortunately known in our office for writing 'Rackigrams', that is, pointed emails that are specifically designed to let someone know they're an a-hole, I have learned something:
Email should never be used to express anger when you want to preserve a relationship. It causes hurt feelings and needless drama, particularly because to the reader, you sound about 10 times angrier over email than in person (unless you're Steve Jobs apparently).
In an email, writing "I'm disappointed in your services" sounds to the reader like "I'M DISAPPOINTED IN YOUR FACE, YOU S.O.B". Talking in person however, we use inflection in our voice and soften our language with things like "Sort of", "a little bit", "pretty bad". If you aren't worrying about severing the relationship, then great. Go to town.
Now in a lot of cases, email can be great. Particularly when you want to send a message that has multiple components, broken out in headings, in a numbered list, and you want to offer up this soliloquy with no interruptions, no counter-arguments, questions or even expressions of agreement that get in the…