Category Archives: Design

5 Signs of a Bad Client

Got problems with bad clients? The Freelance Switch has a list of 5 tell-tale signs of those time-suckers that offers quite a bit of insight.

Try this: read this post as if YOU might be the bad client. Chances are, esp. as a marketer, that you often request the services of freelancers and third parties to help you accomplish what needs to be accomplished. Are you bad about scope creep? Do you require lots of meetings? Do you talk big but do nothing?

I’ve definitely been guilty of being a bad client, which just shows how easy it is to fall into a pitfall like this. It usually has to do with a lack of organization and direction at the onset. I would daresay the #1 underlying characteristic of bad clients is poor communication.

Think of what your freelancers need from you to help them get you what you want, and then do it. It just might put you on the Good Client list.

p.s., check out the site of the author. It’s simple, clean and you have no doubt what he offers. I just can’t help but point that out.

Great Webpage Design

Chris found the WebDesignerWall’s 50 Best CSS Sites in terms of design. Take a look. My favorite is this one by Freelance Switch.

Strength in Revision

It’s not too often that you see a designer really take major changes to a design, or better, direction, and really answer the challenge.

Thanks to Dennis for pointing the way to Brand New. This post discusses how VSA Partners designed a great logo for Chicago’s big for the 2016 . . . then had the rules completely changed on them and had to almost start from scratch. The result? Something even better.

Designers love to complain when direction changes. I don’t blame them. It’s frustrating, time-consuming and can suck the wind right out of you. But it’s the process. I think most designers would admit that it happens more times than it doesn’t. And while there are tons of reasons for it happening, the fact remains it is the rule, not the exception.

But sometimes, running free creatively within very rigid, even unreasonable, boundaries can be amazingly fruitful.

Love Thy Customer

The way you feel about your customers says a lot about how you feel about your current niche. Simplicity Rules says it much better than I can here.

It’s easy to think your clients don’t know what’s hip, what’s acceptable, what’s “real” design, what’s “real” marketing.

It’s easy to think down on them for not knowing these things.

But that’s a bad move, cuz they’ve asked you to help them figure it out. That doesn’t mean they’re just going to hand over the keys to the mansion and sit back and watch. Too many design firms and consultants think that’s what will happen.

But it won’t. And because it won’t, maybe part of your job is to hold their hand and guide them in the direction you think they should go. Gradually, and incrementally.

Maybe along the way, you’ll learn a thing or two about them, too.

7 Great Designers I Know

Since design has been a popular topic on this blog for the past week or two, it hit me that I’ve had the privilege of working with quite a few great designers myself, and then I know many other great designers that I haven’t worked with. And with the onset of online portfolios and blogs, it makes checking out and admiring someone’s work very accessible.

When you understand how important a piece design is to your job as a marketer, and then you realize your role in it personally, and then you realize you can’t personally design, and then you meet someone who can, then you really, really, really appreciate these guys and what they do. And they appreciate you, if you’re doing your job.

Without further rambling, here are 7 designers you should check out:

  1. I’ve never actually done a project with Dennis, but my wife does on a regular basis. Be sure to check out his blog, too – he’s a great writer on top of being a great artist. I really like his logo design.
  2. Again, I’ve never done a design project with Jeff Rogers, but I think his site speaks for itself. I have, however, played in a band with him – he’s a great drummer on top of being a great designer. And I’ve helped him move, and that’s always endearing, right? I don’t know how to explain his work – you just need to see it for yourself. I just know it’s good. Extremely original, refreshing, sketchy and organic. And good, again. I love this album cover.
  3. Raesea aren’t just designers, but cover the whole ‘using the web to help your business’ thing. Design is part of that, but so is navigation, search engine optimization, email marketing, back-end architecture and programming and e-commerce. And they do all of that, and do it well.
  4. Brian Larney: I worked with Brian at AdvoCare. His designs are great, and the best thing about Brian is he always wanted to dig deeper, ask questions about the project, and pull information out of you that would help him. Which I loved. So many designers think they should just take the direction that’s given to them make due, but Brian knows when to ask for more. And it made everything easier for both of us. Here’s a product of one such conversation that I feel really hit the nail on the head (scroll down to the Alaskan Adventure pages).
  5. Darren Chorley and I worked on countless web projects. He’s a wonderfully gifted designer, and he knows how to work in a time crunch (and trust me, he was tested on that front more than once). I can’t sing his praises enough, and I can’t be more impressed with the work at this site.
  6. Worked with Daniel for a brief time at AdvoCare. I can remember checking out his original work from his resume, and it blew me away. Daniel takes a lot of pride in what he produces, and it is always something you simply can’t simply glance at. It captures you. And his work with animation is unbelievable.
  7. Like Dennis above, I’ve never worked on a project with Ron, but my wife works with him all the time. I have played poker and eaten fondue with the man, so that should count for something. I love how he lays out his approach on his site. If you’re interested in content management, particularly TYPO3, Ron seems to be the local guru.

So, for the other great designers I know that aren’t on the list, like Josh and Benny and many others – Sorry, but I don’t have your portfolio address. Send it along if I worked with you before – just leave it in the comments. That goes for anyone, for that matter.

Battle of the Grocery Store Websites

I was browsing grocery store websites, and I was shocked by the differences between the Kroger website and the Albertson’s website. One of these looks a lot more professional than the other. The other looks like a college kid threw it together, and some marketing guy said “let’s throw as many resources on the home page as possible, so that people will be sure to visit the site every day, just for the education.”

I’m a Kroger fan as far as grocery stores go, and Albertson’s has been through a lot lately from a business standpoint. But if I had nothing but the website to go off of, I’d pick Albertson’s everytime.

The importance of design can be summed up in comparing these two sites.

Weekend Reading, Aug. 3-5

Interesting links from my browsing this weekend:

  • Viruses in web ads? Say it ain’t so, Joe. Magnosticism points out that now you’ve got to think twice before you click on that sponsored banner on the side of your favorite website. What does this do for pay per click advertising (an already diminishing advertising tactic)?
  • Life improvements: Here are 10 general but pretty effective ways to improve your life. My favorite quote: “Most people, even your friends and colleagues, aren’t talking about you, thinking about you, or concerned with you at all for 99% of the time.”
  • Tips on web design: Jim has some simple ways to help your design suck less. Pretty practical tips – I don’t really incorporate many of them, but then again, I’m the low man on the totem pole when it comes to designing.
  • More news on bottled water: The AdvoCare blog has more to share on recent developments with bottled water, specifically the crap that Aquafina (Pepsi) and Dasani (Coke) are trying to sell. Makes you wonder why we’re paying for it . . . .
  • Hilarious O.J. Simpson Video: Frank shows us the recent phone calls that bombarded OJ on a recent web video show. Can someone say bad idea?

12 Types of Advertisements

Brand New has a concise listing of The Dirty Dozen, the 12 basic types of advertising. Pretty good resource.

When you read through something like this, it’s easy to think that it’s all common sense, something you already know. So you move on. I challenge you to read it in terms of your company, or a particular product or service that you market, and figure out a) which ones you currently use, and b) how you could possibly use the ones that you aren’t currently using. It’s much easier to brainstorm when you can think in terms of a specific product or company.

Weekend Reading, July 13- July 15

Some nice links I ran across over the weekend. In no particular order, of course:

  • Will work for tattoos: The Happs has a nice set of links here, including an interesting read on tattoos and your job hunt. I wonder if it would help your chances to tattoo your potential boss’s name?
  • Lost producer making a movie: My man Frank seems a bit obsessed with JJ Abrams’ upcoming movie, apparently due out in January. I’m a little behind on all the buzz, but Frank’s not. Here are all the posts he’s written on it so far.
  • The most promising Presidential candidate yet: Have you heard of Ray Hopewood yet? You will. He’s got a lot of money and he’s making a beeline to the election polls, as you can see here on My 2 Cents.
  • Stop counting Page Views: Nielsen is scrapping page views as a key measurement for a website’s popularity and giving more weight to time spent on a site. Thanks to both Steve and Raesea for pointing the way here. If getting people to spend more time on your website is the new goal, how will that change design? I guess the first question to ask, though, is do you care what Nielsen thinks? What is has done is miraculously made AOL a bigger website than Google, which you can see here at the Marketing Hipster.
  • Homemade Light Saber: Good friend and frequent commenter John Harris has figured out how to make his own light-saber. Pretty dang impressive – and entertaining.
  • Great new design blog: Here’s a great designer who has started a new blog that I think is going to be pretty cool. The lead-off post contains “Maxi Pad” in it, so you know you’ve found something fresh (pun intended).

Branding, Design, Blah Blah Blah

London 2012 Olympics logoThis is what happens when well-meaning designers go bad. Real bad.

Thanks to Gary for his interesting take (which is far too forgiving), and for pointing the way to Seth’s post on it, which is a bit more on-point, I think.

This is a logo, believe it or not. Probably the worst one I’ve ever seen. And someone was paid a lot of money to come up with it.

And it’s for the 2012 Olympics.

I honestly get confused when reading through all the mushy quotes in this article about it’s release. I understand how designers can appreicate certain creative elements that the rest of us don’t completely understand. But someone has to put their foot down and scream “This is crap – do better!”

Prediction: the logo changes before 2012. It sucks too bad to ignore.