Choose a Web CMS (WordPress, Drupal, or Joomla!)

Published by | Wednesday, April 23rd, 2014

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Can’t decide which content management system (CMS) suits your needs? It’s not an easy task. But by clearly defining what you want it to do—and being aware of your technical skill limits—you can identify the best CMS for your purpose.

Let’s start with the basics. A CMS is a software program that makes it easy for you to create and publish digital content on a digital device. WordPress, Drupal, and Joomla are the most popular and used worldwide. They’re in open-source format—which means they’re regularly updated by a massive global community to ensure they can support developing online technology. You can download them immediately for free but you have the option to pay for additional premium features.

Managing in Bureaucracies

Published by | Wednesday, April 23rd, 2014

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There’s some irony in the life of an organization. One the one hand, success leads to necessary growth in the organizational hierarchy and the overall amount of bureaucracy. On the other hand, that fact often erodes managers’ ability to feel empowered to make decisions.

Reclaiming your decision-making ability when needed is in many ways about fighting bureaucracy. The first tip this week addresses this challenge. Let’s be clear, no wildly successful person achieves success without locking horns with a few bureaucrats over policies. Not all tape is red, nor do all bureaucrats create roadblocks–but successful leaders see the difference and effectively manage tricky bureaucratic situations.

5 Online Job Search Strategies

Published by | Tuesday, April 22nd, 2014

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Believe it or not, searching for a job doesn’t have to be overwhelming and stressful.

If you feel like your job search has you treading water, follow these five tips to get organized, visible, connected—and headed down the path to employment.

Auto-Hiding Iconic Panels in Photoshop

Published by | Tuesday, April 22nd, 2014

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Photoshop’s interface is highly customizable; you can rearrange panels, hide them, and pop panels in and out of your dock at will. Once you open a panel, though, it doesn’t automatically close after you’ve “done your business.” That can get annoying—fast. Luckily, Deke has a remedy for this minor irritation. In today’s free episode of Deke’s Techniques, he reveals the preference that enables you to collapse iconic panels quickly, by simply clicking anywhere else in Photoshop. (Iconic panels are the ones represented by icons in the secondary panel bar, like Properties, Brushes, etc.) Plus, get a bonus tip on moving around the fields in a panel straight from the keyboard.

Siri, Your iPhone Assistant

Published by | Monday, April 21st, 2014

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In this week’s Monday Productivity Pointers, I’ll be covering in detail one of my favorite features of my iPhone: Siri, Apple’s automated voice control. Touted as your personal digital assistant, Siri really is just that—and a whole lot more!

A Brief Introduction to Font Management

Published by | Sunday, April 20th, 2014

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In this article, I’ll review some of the basic information about fonts and how to manage them for best results, with information from my course Font Management Essential Training.

Many of us think of fonts as simply the text-styling tools in our font menu—things like Helvetica Light, Cooper Black, Arial Narrow, and Zapf Dingbats. But fonts are much more than choices in a menu.

Ellen Lupton said, “Typography is what language looks like.” If this is true, then fonts are the tools we use to make language visible and enhance its meaning in type. And what amazing tools they are!

Six tips to manage your web design business

Published by | Sunday, April 20th, 2014

6 tips for running your web design business

Running your web design agency demands more than excellent design and technical skills. Until you can hire professionals, you need to manage the marketing, accounting, HR, sales negotiating and peacekeeping—for those rocky moments with unhappy clients or disgruntled staff. You can learn more about the responsibilities of being “the boss” in the Defining realities and roles tutorial from the lynda.com course Running a Design Business: Starting Small.

Meanwhile, here are six tips for running your agency:

1. FINANCE
Keep up to date with your accounting and invoicing procedures. Cash flow is the lifeblood of a small business and lack of management in this key area is often why a business fails.

It’s especially important that everyone working on a client’s web project, including freelancers, log their time. Include time spent by admin staff chasing clients for digital content or payment.

Invoice clients as soon as a project has ended, according to the payment terms you agreed on. Hiring a bookkeeper, even part time, is a worthwhile investment for any web design agency and can mean the difference between getting paid and losing money. Bookkeepers can monitor invoices, chase late payments with reminders, and alert you to any defaulters. Clients can be late making payment for many reasons, so by offering creative financing options most situations can be resolved amicably, keeping your business relationship intact. Good financial practices contribute to good client management.

2. ESTIMATING & PRICING
Establish a clear fee rate table for estimating and pricing web design projects. Make sure it includes a percentage of all your overhead costs and has a profit margin built into it.

Your rate table gives a starting point for pricing a client’s web project and fees can be modified depending on the volume of work. For more advice, watch the lynda.com course Running a Design Business.

3. MARKETING
Your web design business needs a steady flow of work to keep it in good health. Creating a marketing strategy helps you identify your target market and plan how you’re going to connect with and win clients. It should include the budget you’re allocating to marketing activities and you should review your strategy regularly.

Make it a rule that you ask every happy client for a referral when your project ends. This simple request can generate a lot of business.

One source of potential business is your list of previous (hopefully satisfied) clients. This list is often overlooked, but well-planned client management can generate repeat business and referrals to new clients. Make time to stay in touch with your list and keep those business relationships active.

4. CLIENT CONTRACTS
Once your client agrees to give you a project, a contract should be created covering all essential points discussed during initial meetings. You can have an attorney create a contract template suitable for a web design business. You then customize it by adding the client’s unique project details plus any contingency clauses you need. It often needs several revisions until everyone agrees to the content and the client signs on the dotted line.

This contract can be very detailed, depending on the size of the project, and should be used as a working document that describes each party’s obligations and responsibilities throughout the web project. It can be amended at any time if the scope of the project changes.

5. MENTOR
Having a mentor can prove to be a valuable asset because it allows you to
• See a situation through more experienced eyes
• Learn a lot
• Become better at managing your web design business and your staff, too
• Expand your support network and business contacts
• Your mentor may suggest routes and ideas you haven’t considered
• You become accountable to your mentor
• A mentor can often see bigger pictures (or problems) that you can’t because you’re too involved in the business

6. NEVER STOP LEARNING.
Technology changes all the time, as does the software used in web design, so nurture your creative team and encourage them to take advanced learning courses to become certified professionals in web design techniques or programming.

Managing a web design business takes a lot of time, but with the help of several online courses, you, too, can work on your professional development at your own pace.

Stabilizing video footage in post

Published by | Friday, April 18th, 2014

Stabilizing video footage in post

Getting stable shots while you’re in production is ideal—but it doesn’t always work out that way. When faced with shaky footage, there are different techniques you can use to stabilize it during post-production. Join Rich and me this week as we share our insight into stabilizing video footage using both Final Cut Pro X and Adobe Premiere Pro.