Note - I was going to have this all be one article, but it was too big and I don't want to bore you. So! Part Uno will focus on the design and stragegy while Part Dos will focus on the dirty technical details - from HTML5 & CSS3 to Responsive layouts and ExpressionEngine programming. Part Uno begins now:
Have you ever climbed to the top of a mountain, cooked a whole pound of bacon, ate it, hiked back down and built a mansion with your bare hands? That's what it felt like redesigning the FortySeven Media site.
Version 1 of fortysevenmedia.com was super gray and boring (seriously, it was gray). We were afraid to be ourselves and thought that in order to make it as a design studio we needed to be stuffy, businessy and impersonal.
Next year we sat down and decided that if we were going to have our own company we should darn well act like it. With version 2 we overhauled the identity, made snarky pages like “Don't Hire Us,” created a blog and before we knew it, we were getting business from all over the place.
We had stumbled onto something, and quite frankly re-designing that kind of success is scary, especially when it provides for your family. The Lizard Brain was in full effect. We got talked about quite a bit when we launched the old site and we didn't want miss that magic this time around. Every time I sat down to work on it I just got overwhelmed. Could we make something nearly as iconic as the first go around? Turns out it didn't matter, because after waiting 4 years we were becoming obsolete. Don't get me wrong, the business was doing better than ever, but the jobs coming through the contact form were less interesting than they were a few years ago.
We're very excited to announce today that we're becoming part of the Fusion Ads Network! So many of our heroes are part of this network that it would be foolish to start trying to name one or two. Seriously, just go check out the list. To say we're humbled and honored is an understatement.
We love the ethos behind Fusion - that only ad per page is allowed and that they encourage you to make it fit the style of your site. Plus the products and services they're showing are razor focused towards you guys. Ads that are actually useful! Imagine that.
So, hey! If you see something over there that catches your eye it's ok to click. It helps us keep writing more posts, tutorials and deep (sometimes) thoughts. Thanks for reading!
The ShopTalk show is a live podcast by CSS Tricks/Wufoo master Chris Coyier and Paravel pointman Dave Rupert. Chances are we'll talk about the Kick Awesome Show and maybe even this new website! Send in your questions now or join us live to pick our brains.
Here’s the deal: We’re making 50% more money this year and we want to let you guys (and girls) in on what we’re doing differently. It will of course be done in typical 47m fashion with loads of style and fun, but we need to know if you’re interested.
Do you know when to say no to a new job? I don’t either. But I’m learning.
First of all, why is it so hard to say no? Because we want people to like us? Because it’s easier to say yes? Because it avoids conflict? Probably yes to all of the above. No one likes to be the bad guy, right?
“But I might not get that job and have enough money to keep my lights on!” you say. “My client will get angry and fire me!”“Deep down I want everyone to love me!” A lofty, but unattainable goal. Get over it.
It’s time for the semi-regular year end post from FortySeven Media! 2010 was a nutty year filled with lots of traveling, some great client projects and some even better personal projects. Let’s get started, shall we?
Speaking, Conferencing and Traveling
While we got our first taste of web conferences back in 2009, 2010 took it to a whole other level.
First off was LessConf in Atlanta. With speakers like Jason and David from 37 Signals, Cameron Moll, Chris Wanstrath from GitHub, Dan Martell, Clay Hebert and Peldi Guilizoni of Balsamiq we were energized and encouraged to keep making kick-awesome stuff.
Next was EECI2010 the US Edition in San Francisco. I got to speak at this one and we were reunited with a bunch of our old friends from the Leiden conference back in 2009. The city was fantastic and we even got to meet a few of our long-distance clients while we were there!
We’re a little late to the party, but wanted to give a quick wrap-up on our experience at EECIEU 2010. The ExpressionEngine & CodeIgniter Conference was in it’s third iteration, and I think it was the best. Robert from Whoooz! has been refining the schedule while still taking risks and trying new things. The single channel format this time around was much more enjoyable. At past conferences I kept having to choose certain tracks and felt like I missed things, so the simplification was great. The venue was very cool as well.
Last year Nate and I got to go on a grand adventure. We travelled overseas, saw the beautiful city of Leiden and met a ton of amazing people in the ExpressioneEngine community. EECI was the premier EE conference, pulling in designers and developers from all over the world, and doing it with style to spare.
We have a lot of designers email us and ask for advice. One common thread lately seems to be “How do I get my freelancing career going?” Well, thanks to the Internet there’s lots of ways! First let’s talk about your website. Are you getting traffic? What happens when users get there? Do you even know? If you’re having trouble making your website work for you then read ahead:
A Solid HTML Foundation
Obviously, if you want people to actually find and use your portfolio site it’s got to be built properly. Since most of you reading this build websites for a living I’m assuming you’ve already done this. If not - basically use divs, headers, paragraphs and lists appropriately. Let the search engines know what kind of content each piece is.
Hello everyone! You might have noticed that it has been a little quiet around here the past few months. Despite the fact that I have alerts telling me “Post To the FortySeven Media Weblog!” every Tuesday around lunch time, I have not managed to compose even one post in ages due to a crazy amount of projects we have running. I reflected on this for a moment just now and I realized something. When you don’t give up on your dream, you will most likely succeed. But the even bigger thought that’s riding in the sidecar of this mental motorcycle is this: Are you prepared for the day when your dream starts to become reality?
Our doorbell rang at 10:00 last night. Ashley and I looked at each other. “That’s weird, who in the world would be at our door this late?” I said. We’re not the type to have people over at all hours of the night. Since most of our friends have kids now, everyone packs up at 8 or so to get home before the tantrums begin. But either way, no one shows up on our doorstep this time of night.
I went to the front door and flipped on the outside lights to see our neighbor standing there. We just moved and she’s been very friendly, telling us all that goes on in the neighborhood.
Hey Everyone! How’s it’s going? It’s been a while since we’ve posted as things have been silly crazy awesome busy, but we wanted to let you know about some of the super sweet conferences we are speaking at and/or just going to. Check the video:
Links to things in the video:
We are very excited to be speaking/attending these events and we would absolutely love to meet you there. Let us know in the comments if you’ll be coming to any of these events and we’ll keep an eye out for you!
I’ll admit it. I’m not really a social person. We’ve lived in our neighborhood almost 6 years and I can count the number of times we’ve talked to our neighbors on my hand. And by talk I mean had a full conversation. So yeah, not a lot.
Several weeks ago we put our house on the market. Too many kids, not enough rooms; you know the drill. We’ve outgrown this place, unfortunately. And in preparation to sell it, we needed to finish replacing all the doors and trim we had started a couple of years ago. Since my gifts are in handcrafting pixels, my wife’s dad came to the rescue, taking a week off from work and plowing through our huge list of repairs, updates and so on.
I’ll just come out and say it. DesignHope has taken way too long. What started as a great idea with support from some of the coolest companies out there turned into a long drawn out process that still isn’t finished. Scott, we’re sorry, man. I hope you haven’t minded being the guinea pig. We still have big plans for DesignHope, but obviously we need to get some structural details worked out.
First off, let me say that we’re psyched to finally be able to share this project with you. We believe that side projects don’t work unless you’re passionate about them. Well, guess what? We love music and we love design. They go hand in hand, really. So we decided that there should be a place where designers can find new music recommended by other designers: DesignersMusic
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.