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!
LessConf: The Conference From The Future! | May 21st - 22nd
EECI 2010: ExpressionEngine & CodeIgniter Conference. | May 31st - June 2nd
Front End Design Conference | July 23
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
Go play with it now or read on below for details!
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!