_author archive

Selling Design: Scattered Notes from Web Design World Boston

12/13/07 :: by Patrick

As you all know, I recently attended Web Design World in Boston. Besides being able to geek out for a full two days, I got to hob knob with other contemporaries as well as have an alcohol-lubed conversation or two with some of the luminaries in the business. I won’t go into the nitty gritty details of said confabulations because you likely won’t care, but down below I have highlighted a few golden kernels that Jeffrey Zeldman touched on during his presentation of Selling Design.

  • Happy Cog Studios has it written into every contract that they will answer to ONE decision maker and one decision maker only.
  • Avoid clients who provide reams of paper work, outlines, MS Paint illustrations etc. up front. This could be an early indication that they don’t trust you.
  • Remember that the world at large / clients are very suspicious of design. A client wants to know why choosing a cool font isn’t the end of the logo design process or why you charge more to build a website then his nephew does.
  • Don’t open the door for ‘pixel’ conversations. For example, if you tell a client, ‘I put a 2 pixel border around that image instead of 3,” he might ask why, and then, even worse, he might ask you to try a four pixel border. Sell the meaning of the design, not the technology or nuts and bolts behind it.
  • Happy Cog does a full month of research and conducts usability audits on the client’s current site (if it exists) before beginning ANY design.
  • None of that stuff was meant to commandments etched in stone, just some general things to keep in mind. It is possible to learn from others’ mistakes, I think, without having to go through all the hand wringing and heartache yourself.

    On a funny side note, his company recently designed the AIGA website. He showed off some of the original design prototypes. One of the refinements AIGA asked for? Bigger logo, natch.

CSS - 10 Years Later

10/25/07 :: by Patrick

Now that CSS is just over ten years old, you may be thinking to yourself: when will us designers and developers be able to use fonts on our beautifully designed websites other than Georgia, Helvetica, Arial, Verdana, etc?

Well friends, that day is coming and coming soon. in fact, the idea has been around since 1998: web fonts. Get all the nitty gritty details from the article by HÃ¥kon Wium Lie (the inventor of CSS) on A List Apart.

If you don’t care to thumb through the article, I will give a simplified explanation. Basically, you will be able to import TrueType font faces into your style by linking to the source font file on a web server. This, of course, opens up another can of worms about the licensing issues related to purchased fonts, but hey, the web is built on stealing, right?

Search Google (Through the Eyes of Heather T. Lipner)

10/22/07 :: by Patrick

2007 Web Design Survey

10/19/07 :: by Patrick

A List Apart has published the findings of their web design survey. Yours truly took the survey back in April when it was first announced as I found it to be a very interesting idea — and because I had a few minutes to spare. I recommended flipping through it. The survey asked questions about gender, education, location, salary etc. Take a looksie and see if you make as much as everyone else, and if not, ask Michael for a raise!

Windows 95 - THE Gaming Platform

10/12/07 :: by Patrick

Mildly Ironic

10/09/07 :: by Patrick

Vertical Response recently sent me one of their newsletters. The title of said newsletter is ‘Learn How to Avoid the Junk Folder’. Guess which folder I found the email in?

Continuing to Kick a Dead Horse

10/03/07 :: by Patrick

As many of know, Outlook 2007 has taken great leaps backward in its CSS support for HTML emails. Anti-trust issue? Nope. Enhanced security? Nah. It’s actually an attempt to try and get the emails to look consistent between Word and Outlook. Since so many designers use Word to lay out HTML comps, this is very useful. Oh wait.

So,is there anything that can be done? Well, leaders of the Microsoft/WaSP Task Force encourage you to chime in to this discussion with links to previously working emails that now look like the morning after prom in Outlook 2007. Hopefully, things will change and change fast. But that’s not the nature of MicroSoft. They have still yet to follow several standard conventions as laid down by the W3C for JavaScript - but that’s an entirely different, equally boring, blog post all together.

I am not bashing MS per se, but it’s a shame that business reasons are the basis for technological decisions at times. Oh well. My web mail doesn’t even allow HTML anyway.

Avoiding Pesky Clients

09/20/07 :: by Patrick

Here’s a brief excerpt from the book, The Web Design Business Kit, 2.0. If only it were as easy as the author makes it sound:

Tips & Tricks: Avoiding Pesky Clients

You’ll pick up pesky clients here and there as you grow your client numbers. Pesky clients will drain your energy, money, focus, creativity, morale, and more. So, how can you avoid them?

These are the characteristics of previous clients who have turned out to be less than fun for my business:

  • someone who has zero Internet experience
  • someone who doesn’t know what they want beyond “I want a web site”
  • someone who has completely unrealistic expectations
  • someone who’s aggressive
  • someone who suggests paying us from the profits that their new web site — the one that we’ll be developing — will make
  • someone who doesn’t trust us from the very start

Once we’ve identified a client as potentially pesky using these criteria, we perform a risk assessment in order to ascertain what benefit our business will receive for the amount of resources we’ll need to invest in them. Our risk assessment involves four factors:

  • our gut feeling
  • the profitability of the project
  • the likelihood of payment
  • the potential for ongoing work with the client

By reviewing the red flags I mentioned above, and undertaking this simple four-step risk assessment, you’ll have a clear picture of whether a client will be a dream or a nightmare.

Don’t hesitate to reject the person or company you identify as a potential pesky client. You know exactly what a pesky client can do to your business!


09/20/07 :: by Patrick

Seriously, WTF?


Fancy Formatting, Fancy Words = Looks Like a Promotion = Ignored

09/06/07 :: by Patrick

So when our clients tell us they need something to ’stand out’ more, and suggest big, bold, bright colored type - we can point them to this Jakob Nielsen article.