I would guess that 90% of the people you meet deal with the same problems they’ve dealt with their whole life. Maybe they’re workaholics (lifting my own hand). Maybe they have anger issues. Maybe they’re lazy or maybe they lack self esteem.
We all have personality traits and tendencies that we’re not proud of, but that’s no excuse to accept them.
The first step is admitting you have a problem, right? Or maybe in this case becoming aware that you need to change something. Depending on what the problem is, this can be a huge step.
I fired one of our first clients last week. It was messy and no fun for everyone involved. I also managed to get a lecture from the president of that company on how to run my business and better serve the needs of my clients.
While the initial reaction for any of us would probably be thoughts of a Chuck Norris roundhouse to the face (in slow motion, of course), the whole incident made me think hard about what 47m is at it’s core, and what it truly means to serve a client. I think there are two ways to serve a client:
Scenario 1: Blind Serving
In blind serving, you’re always making the logo bigger or adding starbursts because the client says so. Not because it’s better for them, but simply because they demand it. A lot of companies won’t fight this because they’re just trying to make a living. And that’s ok. I think everyone starts out serving blindly. Get the job done ? client happy ? get paycheck.
But at some point, you come to a crossroads. At some point, your experience will tickle the back of your brain and say “That’s a bad idea!” So what happens then?
I would wager that the majority of web designers end up doing work for small to medium-sized businesses. And I’m sure we all have a fantastic story of how ludicrous they can be sometimes. After a few “interesting” experiences, I’ve had this one rolling around in me for a while. Small business people; we love you, but pay attention, alright?
We Understand it’s Your Baby
If anyone can sympathize with a small business owner it’s a small web design shop. We know you busted your tail, working night and day to get this off the ground. So did we. We know you’ve had to wear so many hats it’s not even funny. Salesman, bookkeeper, account manager, marketing guy, the list goes on and on. We do it all, too. It’s exhausting. And so when you bring someone else in to help you visually define what you are; it’s like we’re messing with a part of you. Here’s the thing, though. You’re too close. You need someone with a neutral perspective to help you make decisions for the better. My favorite saying goes, “You can’t read the label when you’re inside the bottle.” You’re so close to the details and emotional attachments that it’s hard to see the big picture.
I’m pleased to announce that I’ll be doing a workshop at the ExpressionEngine and CodeIgniter Conference in Leiden, Netherlands October 22-23, 2009. I’m really excited about this trip because 1.) I’ve never been out of the country and 2.) The group of people at this conference are amazing. Honestly, I’m quite humbled by the lineup. How did I get to be invited again? I can’t even list them all here, but include household names like Leslie Camacho of EllisLab, Veerle Pieters of Duoh!, Brandon Kelly of LEVEL Studios, Leevi Graham of Newism and Ryan Irelan of Happy Cog. Like Veerle laments, I’m not much of an EE coder compared to everyone else, so here’s to hoping I can bring something good to the table. In fact, I’ll be talking about how we take our static HTML/CSS pages and speed up development putting it into EE first and then building out real links and content.
So this little blog popped up a couple of weeks ago called Minimal Mac. Yeah, yeah Macs are minimal; we all know that right? Steve Jobs hates buttons, blah blah blah. Ok, but how about when you’re using them day to day?
As we’ve become more involved in the community I’ve been finding myself more and more distracted as of late. I’m trying to work, but there’s a new RSS feed I need to read. Or a new email that just came in. Twitter just never stops. Ever. There’s something about new stuff that gets us all excited and makes us feel like we need to see it now.
Well, Nate and I made it back from our trek to the sunny St. Petersburg, FL and the Front-End Design Conference where I was a speaker. Let me tell you right now; we both had a great time. Dan Denney (@webdesignfanboy) went all out for his first event and went out of his way to make us feel welcome. From the coffee cups with our cartoon characters printed on it to the swank afterparty, we felt like nerds just might rule the world. We also got to meet a ton of new people and twitter friends face to face; not to mention talk about the things like HTML and CSS without getting the “look.” If you don’t know what that means, you’re probably not married or in a relationship!
Just as we promised, we’re putting this whole design process out for feedback (good and bad!). For those us you just finding us, Scott Schuster of Underdog Solutions, a startup iPhone development shop, won the contest a few months ago. Here’s the list of what he’s winning, but for now we’re finally jumping off here with some initial logo designs.
Scott had talked quite a bit about his dogs, and even went so far to reference them in his company name, so we thought that was a great place to start with his identity. We also tried to put in some references to the iPhone in a fun way. The goal was to make something simple and professional, but with a bit of character. We have a soft spot for the 8-bit version as well
Continuing on our theme of planning and making goals, I want to talk for a minute about why it’s important to write things down. I’ll be the first to say that I have failed miserably at this over the past year. In my never ending attempt to “de-clutter” my life I’ve tried to put everything in the computer and rid my desk of all those pesky pieces of paper. Well, I think I may have been wrong on a number of levels. For now we’ll focus on why you need to write down your goals.
I’ve been trying to come up with something to write about for a couple of days now and just realized that there’s nothing wrong. If you think about it, we usually write when we’re upset about something or when there’s a problem we’re trying to fix. Maybe we like to vent or rant all the time, but I thought it might be nice to take some time and tell you what’s good in my life. Not that my life is better than yours! I’m just finding the good in what I’ve got. I hope you’ll try to do the same.
I have the coolest family. My wife is totally awesome, and we’re expecting our 3rd child in October. She cooks seriously amazing food all the time, does the books for the business, takes care of the kids and manages to find time to clean the house. I could not do that!
Jon and I were talking earlier today about goals and I thought I’d share some of those thoughts with you. Many of us have these vague and vaporous ideas we like to call goals. That’s me included. We call them goals, but really they are just dreams at this point. Why? Because we have no plans to make them reality.
I’m defining a goal this way: “A goal is a desire to achieve a result measurable in concrete terms.”
Fixoutlook.org is a fabulous initiative from our Design Hope sponsors Campaign Monitor and Newism. It sucked bad enough when Microsoft decided to use Word to render HTML emails in Outlook 2007. With one fell swoop they took email designs back 7 years. Now they’re saying Outlook 2010 will do the same. In fact they’re not even going to change the rendering engine at all. It *barely* supports tables, no CSS position and has mounds of bugs and quirks. All to say, if you thought Internet Explorer was the bane of your existence, you haven’t tried designing and coding an HTML email for Outlook. IE’s a walk in the park compared to this. Need a visual?
Just another reason to come to the Front-End Design Conference this year: ExpressionEngine will be giving away 5 EE Packages at my session on “Why ExpressionEngine is Great for Designers.” Each package includes:
It’s crunch time for anyone that wants to submit their new small business for Design Hope! Come May 22, that’s all she wrote!
Be sure to tell any and every new small business owner you know that they could possible get a free website package worth $15,000!
It’s official! Mr. Dan Denny (aka webdesignfanboy) is putting together the Front-End Design Conference, a single day event with a focus on content, presentation and behavior.
I keep hearing this word. Relevant. It seems to be everywhere. It hasn’t yet reached the obnoxious level of say, “extreme,” but it is popping up all over the place. People are suddenly, and desperately trying to be relevant.
There is a very definite line between the drive for excellence and the desire to nit pick something to death. Excellence has the good common sense to recognize itself. Nit picking knows only picking. Doesn’t matter what it picks as long as there is picking.
I like to call this Nit Harvesting.
But let’s face it, picking nits is fun! At least for the person picking them, because it sounds like they know what they are talking about!
The world has changed since I’ve entered the ranks of the employed. You used to be able to show up somewhere, work hard and advance in that business. That is no longer the norm. What now? How are people getting ahead?
I don’t claim to have definitive answers, but I can tell you where there is amazing opportunity for growth. Coding.
Design Hope is ramping up pretty quickly, and we’re excited to announce quite a few huge partnerships. This has grown from an idea I had laying in bed the other night to an internationally supported endeavor from some of the top names in the design business. I am truly blown away by the generosity of all these companies and excited to share them with you. Check it out!
ExpressionEngine is the only CMS we use, period. It’s incredibly flexible and powerful while using a syntax that even I can understand. We’ve tried everything else, and nothing comes close! In addition to providing an EE license, EllisLab has also offered a Forum Module and Multiple Site Manager Expansion if you need it. That’s potentially $500 worth of software for free!
So we’ve been thinking a lot about how the economy is affecting businesses and individuals. What I find truly inspiring is hearing stories of really brave people giving up all that is safe, embracing the unknown and starting a new business in the face of an economic downturn. We know what it’s like to start a business from scratch, but I wonder if we would have the balls to do it in these uncertain times. The more I think about these people who are risking all they have in search of creating something revolutionary and forging a better life for themselves and their families, the more I want to help them out.
And that’s exactly what we’re going to do. We’re going to design and build one lucky new business’ website for FREE. Yep, for free. Not only that, but we’re going to put the whole design process up on this blog as we go and get feedback from the community.