Tag Archives | Rant

The cobbler’s children have no shoes…

White Label

I was speaking to a friend the other day and for some reason or another websites became part of the conversation. I was asked,

“What about your website? Where is it so I can go look and see?”

And I have to admit to them that it is in a horrible state of affairs—it has been over 9 months since I had written anything at all on the site. I told them that I’ve fortunately been too busy to do anything about my own website and they said,

“Ah like the cobbler’s children that have no shoes!”

And I said, “Precisely” and thought to myself how piss-poor an excuse that is.

In that moment I didn’t fully grok what just went down. A day later I get an email referral, they ask me to have a look at my work online, and the conversation above all came back to me.

Really? Had I forgotten about my own website all this time? Was I really too busy to update it, keep things fresh and relevant? No, I would look at it from time to time. I’ve had many things I’ve wanted to share and I’ve hatched multiple “ideas” to update it. I’ve thought about what I want it to be, and so on. However, all this thinking never produced any type of plan, or set of steps to get things going. I’ve never made it a priority really. In fact what is super embarrassing is the post previous to this that is 9 months old that talks about how the website overhaul is underway—well now it is.

I’m going to make this happen. An hour a day (or more if possible) until website is up to date. There, I said it or rather typed it out in black and white (not just a thought in the head). It has been far too long, and an update does need to happen to this website. Blog posts about changes may follow.

For now, I did find this question posted on Quora and thought I would share.

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Time to Reflect. You’re soaking in it.

Madge. "You're soaking in it"

In today’s information overloaded, fast paced, digital lifestyle there can be little opportunity to pause and reflect. The mindset of “just have to keep up” can dominate one’s thinking if your are not careful. Every once and a while I get present to the fact that I spend too little time “reflecting” on things be they family, work, and life in general.

I’m soaking in it.

Like the image above, (I am showing my age and if you know ‘Madge’ you are too), sometimes you may find yourself “soaking in it” and not knowing what is going on, or the benefits of what you are in the middle of doing. Being a married, father of  3 boys, self employed business owner/pixel pusher can impose virtual blinders that, if I let it, will limit what I know, see, and what is possible.

So why am I rambling on about this? Recently I became aware of just how much I am soaking in it. My ‘inner Madge‘ woke up and reminded me of what was going on. And sharing this with others might remind them to stop, look around, and take stock.

I set some measurable goals at the end of 2009. These were goals I mentally planned on completing by the end of  the first quarter of 2010. Well guess what? Today is the start of the second quarter of 2010. And those three goals? Not met. I went through piles of paperwork over the weekend and found them written down. I got them out of my head not just as ideas and things to do, but completely out of my head. I was soaking in it so completely that I lost track of these goals.

What are, or were, the goals?

  • Publish new WordPress/Thesis tutorials based on recently completed projects
  • Design, develop, and publish a visual overhaul to berchman.com
  • Release a free Thesis portfolio theme

I had planned on these three things to be completed yesterday.

So what’s the lesson in all this?

Two things:

  1. Use your systems. These three goals were never put into project tracking systems I use and broken down into smaller, manageable tasks (basic productivity, duh). I am remedying that THIS quarter.
  2. Reflect more often. I failed to check in with myself on personal projects. All things in the client and family world are moving along quite well. I dropped the ball on myself.

Reflection time is over. I will now return to my regularly scheduled program.

Get back to work.

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Paying the price. One way or another.

time-is-money

Today I was reflecting upon a common occurrence among people that I talk to with regard to their website(s).

The people I talk to either want a new website or they have one and want to update/add/delete a design or function of the site. These conversations either happen through email or in person and become a dialogue of  back-and-forth brain picking. They ask how they can do “X, Y, and Z” and I then ask questions relating to strategy, objectives, and outcomes. These are great conversations, and I love having them to figure out what it is people are doing, and how I can help them out. Continue Reading →

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Drowning in Packaging

Peanuts

The things I buy typically have too much packaging. I am usually aware of this and when dealing with one or two items purchased at the store it is not too big a deal. There is a moment that the thought goes through my head…

“Man, this is WAY too much packaging for just this one small item.”

Sometimes I need sharp scissors or pliers to get something open, and then I return to my life and the goings on.

This past Tuesday on Christmas the above thought kept happening over, and over again. I have 3 small children who are very lucky to have grandparents that like to dote on them by purchasing gifts. Granted the amount of gifts this year were more than needed but what really opened my eyes was the amount of packaging waste each and every gift produced. There was ‘tons’ of plastic and paper used on every gift–this does not even include the wrapping paper to hide the gifts. The best though is all the wire twists (like the ones you use to close your trash bags) I had to unwravel so that my kids could get at the toys. When I was a kid ( I sound like someones grandfather talking about walking barefoot to school uphill both ways ) we never had this much packaging and tethers to opening gifts. Hell this year I actually had to get out a screwdriver to remove screws from the feet of one toy to release it from its packaging.

We did produce a fair amount of refuse. Good thing is that we can recycle most of the plastic and paper that the gifts came in. It makes me shiver to think how much energy and resources went into creating the packaging alone. It can make ones mind go numb to think about the waste they produce either singularly or as a family and then take that across the United States. That is a lot of packaging waste. The fact that within the United States its people are not considered ‘citizens’ but rather ‘consumers’ should make you stop and think about whether you really NEED that new widget, or your WANT that new widget… (OK I will get off the soapbox now).

Overall I wonder, does ones good fortune during the holiday season increase their carbon footprint? If so, how many more credits does one need to buy? Or could it all be a scheme?

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Advertising Agencies need to wake up

Wake Up.

A blog post on NussbaumonDesign at Business Week hints that corporations may be beginning to get savvy about the future of marketing and PR on the web. Corporations are realizing they are literally wasting money. It is simply a matter of time for them to wake up and realize they are spending millions on a way of doing business that is dying a slow death and not getting very much ROI.

What do I mean?
The tools to communicate directly to customers and clients are right here on the Internet. The rise of easy, accessible web video, social networking, the blogosphere, the allure of viral marketing all provide the ability to communicate to millions of people for a much lower investment. The Internet of today is very much a do-it-yourself environment (or certainly not very much money). Think of how much bang for the buck you could get for all that Super Bowl advertising money.

A previous blog post I read and commented on at WebInkNow discussed how advertising agencies use their web sites as a form of digital ego stroking. The post goes hand in hand with Nussbaum’s above and should be a warning of things to come for agencies that are not swift to change their ways.

Here are my comments to his post:

 

Digital Ego Stroking is rampant among Ad Agencies, Architects, and Designers web sites. I own a design firm that specializes in website design and development. I can attest that a massive majority of these organizations have the logic of their own websites in reverse.

The focus of their websites should be on answering potential clients questions about their firm and what it can do for the client–giving the client substance. Not stroking their firms ego and trying to make their website look “cooler” than others.

People want content, substance, and answers from websites. They do not want animations, music, and other distractions standing in the way of what they want and need–information.

Don’t get me wrong, art and design have their place but it needs to be tempered with client objectives and goals. It is possible to design great looking websites that are information focused.

Just as the disconnect with their own websites is apparent, so too is their understanding of the power of the Internet. Granted not everyone at every agency or firm has their head in a cloud, I am not saying that. There are plenty of talented and smart people at these organizations that understand the Internet and its power. They just don’t seem to be in positions of power to make the necessary internal changes needed to cause a shift in “the way we’ve always done things around here” mentality.

What is the cause?
Perhaps its a generation gap. There is certainly some arbitrary dividing line between those that have technology integrated within their lives, and those that do not. I would say the 30 year old and under crowd is wired solid. They are using the web daily (if not hourly) for news, information, communication, and entertainment. Once you get above 30 the number tapers off unless you are involved in the worlds of technology in some way. Meaning that the older someone is, the more likely they are going to be separate from what is happening within this medium. That means knowing and understanding the power there is within the Internet. The key word in that previous sentence is understanding plain and simple.

Perhaps, are those in the upper levels of advertising agency management are just too old and out of touch?

I’m not sure, just a thought.

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A million different directions

Directions by compassI find the limitlessness of possibilities to any given situation both exciting and maddening at times. I’m not talking about your run-of-the-mill situation like choosing between gala or granny smith applies at the supermarket. I’m thinking more in terms of running a small business.

I’m talking about making larger decisions such as what form should the company take (LLC, S or C corp, etc)? What direction should you take your business in next year? What type of marketing plan should you employ? Those types of questions.

Being a wary decision maker is not helpful to this predicament. When presented with a myriad of options I typically use investigation, fact gathering, comparison, interviews and the like to whittle down the range of possibilities. This methodology can take time and that introduces, upon reflection, more indecisiveness based on new facts or new input of some form. This can be a crippling plague for a small business owner like me.
So what is the answer?

Does one mull things over and over until the ultimate solution is found? Granted there are deadlines but some things can drag on for a loooonnnnngggg time.

Or does one gather as much information as quickly as possible, read, review, reflect, make a decision, and then get on with life?

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Rock-em Sock-em Information

I have two pieces of conflicting information that are applicable to my business life right now. It’s time for Rock-em Sock-em Information.

Representing the blue robot is this blog post from Tim Ferris author of the 4-Hour Workweek (which incidentally is a great read and comes highly recommended). His post gives this post gives five reasons to be a jack-of-all-trades.

Representing the red robot is a small book I picked up at a conference titled Positioning Yourself: Defining Who You Want to Be by David C. Baker founder and principal of ReCourses Inc. specifically within this book there is an excerpt titled Specialization as a means of attracting clients.

The conflict comes in the form of deciding whether to keep my design firm position as a generalist, meaning designing for print and interactive media and whatever comes my way, or positioning my firm as a specialist solely in interactive media. . My background and skills are certainly in line with the ideals of being a jack-of-all-trades. I do enjoy reading and learning about a variety of things simultaneously. I agree with Tim’s blog post about “diversity of intellectual playgrounds,” and “boredom is failure.” And he makes a qualification in that last point, “over-specialization” guarantees boredom (more on this later). I love art, design and technology and have been immersed within them for the better part of 16 years. I love the intellectual stimulation that comes from the variety.

To reinforce this I went to an AIGA studio tour last night hosted by AIGASB at Studio 2050 with founder Glen Derbyshire. It was a really interesting tour. Glen spoke about the many “re-inventions” he has gone through during his career as a photographer, graphic designer and now in the role of ‘producer.’ Glen thrives on the variety of challenges that come his way. Interesting that I find myself at a point of re-invention with my business. Ah, but the conflicting information…

So now to the excerpt Specialization as a means of attracting clients by David C. Baker. David asserts that the key to attracting the best client is to position your firm the way they (the clients) want to see it. One needs to highlight the key points that are critical in the initial decision making process. Clients want to know that you specialize in what they need. But if you say “I am a plumber, an electrician, and a carpenter” and another guy says “I only do plumbing with 20 years experience” you most likely will pick the specialist. The catch is that by declaring that you are a specialist you will turn away clients and projects that could be fun to work on? Most likely, but by ‘being’ a specialist you may attract more work–more profitable work. And that is where I would like to head.

My thought about the conflict resolves itself this way. I will define my company as a specialist in interactive media. However, I will not turn away any type of traditional graphic design (i.e. ‘print’ work) should it come my way.

It appears as if neither of the robots got their heads popped off. We’ll call this a stalemate.

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A brief rant. Design is an industry dammit!

Initially when I started writing to this blog, my intention was to avoid ranting.

However, today I experienced something while filling out a form online that is a common experience for me. I was on some website filling out a form where they ask you a variety of questions about your occupation, how big is your company, what is your company’s total gross sales, etc.

Now here is where the rant comes in, there is typically a pull down menu titled “What is your industry?”

Inevitably this list of industries that shows up in the pull-down has to be at standard form element somewhere and everyone is using the same damn thing. Seriously, can the world be whittled down to a mere 15 to 20 industries?
What really perturbs me is that the field of design is never available. This could be industrial design, graphic design, information design, landscape design, any number of a variety of design fields. What irks me is that design is not listed as an industry. Advertising/marketing is always listed, but really this is not my specific industry. I don’t produce advertisements and I’m not a marketer in the true sense of the word. Perhaps what I really am is a mash-up artist. Taking disparate elements of computer code and pixels, mashing them all together to create something of value for businesses. I don’t know, sometimes a little thing like that pull-down menu can really set me off.

Okay, I feel much better now and I have a new category called “rant.”

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Most wonderful time of the year, the trifecta.

It really is for me. I have noticed this holiday season that I am truly blessed in so many ways. I have many things to be thankful for (sounds like I’m talking Turkey Day here). The combination of Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s is interesting in what it causes me to do. Continue Reading →

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How to do it all?

To me this is the elusive question. How do you get it all done? Continue Reading →

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