Happy New Year, 2016! Using Dada instead of Data for a Successful Business

It has been a successful year for Schildbach Design. I reached some personal goals for the business in 2015. And, while data continues to perfect the answers to our business questions, I’d like to credit my personal success to welcoming a touch of Dada (not data) into my business plan.

For those of you who don’t know what Dada (or Dadaism) is, it is many things, but is summed up on Art Factory as a “form of artistic anarchy born out of disgust for the social, political and cultural values of the time. It embraced elements of art, music, poetry, theatre, dance and politics. Dada was not so much a style of art like Cubism or Fauvism; it was more a protest movement with an anti-establishment manifesto.”

Adding Dada to large companies would probably take that company down, but the beauty of working for oneself is you can write some of your own rules, and have flexibility to use more unconventional tactics to find your personal successes. Below are 12 tips I’d like to share.

12 Dada Business Tactics: How To Get Web Design Work, Graphic Design Work, and The Secret To One Freelancer’s Success

  1. Eat honey instead of sugar. Let’s face it, sugar is crack. Switch to honey and you will feel your body chemistry change, and suddenly honey businesses like Urban Bee will need you for your specialties. Even businesses that have a bee in their logo will need you, including orthodontists. These orthodontists will also be attracted to the fact that you have gotten off the sugar drug, and ask you to help design the collateral for their Halloween Candy Buy Back Program.
  2. Reminisce often about how much you enjoyed college. Dada has shown that 937% of people who went to collage were happier overall than they were in their 40’s while doing dishes, filing their taxes, or changing diapers. Sentimentalism about your 20’s and collage will guarantee some college or university will contact you. In my case, it was repeated calls from the Pathology Department at the University of Washington. Although, with this opportunity to relive your college years, be prepared to have to remember acronyms like MMTP, CPDx and PANUC, and be required to memorize and understand them.
  3. Become fascinated with your clients psychologically. Clients are not good clients or bad clients, their minds are simply fascinating! Once you see it this way, psychologists and therapists will now trust that you can do their business identities, as Solstice NYC and CBT Westport requested I do theirs.
  4. Do yoga regularly. Yoga not only flexes the muscles, it flexes the mind. After one hundred sun salutations, yoga studios like Richmond Beach Yoga and yoga practitioners like Cosetta Romani will call you for your specialty.
  5. Thank your mother. My mother is entering her last years of her life. Panorama Library, Speaking of Dying and others, know how difficult this can be, and want to make the last years of our mother’s life as pleasant as possible.
  6. Talk to the crows and raccoons. Stop criticizing animals that eat your trash. They are smarter and more like you than you think. Once I started talking to them, they agreed to get me website work with Bird Ally X.
  7. Raise a child or act like one. Children take up a lot of our personal time, but schools and PTA associations will thank you with web design work, for the time you spend with your child, just as Broadview Thomson K-8 PTA did for me.
  8. Meditate regularly. Then, the Northwest Dharma Association will ask you to rebuild their site, and produce quarterly newsletters. Also, more Buddhist non-profits like Dongyu Gatsal Ling Initiatives will ask you to work with them in 2016.
  9. Curse the companies and nations that disregard the environment due to their greed and apathy. While your thoughts are stewing, the ghost of Seattle’s past (or a ghost from your home town) will come to you to show you how much worse it was at the turn of the 20th century. At the same time, this ghost will lead you to people who are working on projects like The Lake Washington Ship Canal Centennial and Miles Lost Miles Gained to bring awareness to the past, and in turn, our environmental future.
  10. Marry a harpist. One harpist is a doorway to the whole Seattle music scene. A foolproof tactic to getting web design work with music schools, music organizations, and musicians.
  11. Obsess about traveling to other countries. As the character and ethics of our nation unravel, dream about the countries you want to travel to and possibly live in. For me it is Italy, India and Poland (among others). In return, you will start working for clients who where born in those countries. Don’t be disappointed if they tell you they left your dream country for good reason.
  12. Read a book that takes place in Africa. While reading the novel, “What is the What“, Seattle City of Literature thanked me with web maintenance work for expanding my horizons beyond the western world and my rides to the airport conveniently provided by Hayat Town Car Service.

Now that I have given you my secrets to freelance business success, this hopefully inspires you to create your own. Have a successful and prosperous 2016! But, be careful what you think about, and who you talk to. Because, your thoughts may come back to you in the form of a mustache on the Mona Lisa or a murdering airplane.

Top 10 Website Maintenance and Troubleshooting Needs

Over the course of my 8 year career as a web designer, my client’s needs have changed. Although, website maintenance is still a large need for new and repeat clients alike. Now, as we wrap up the 2015 year, below are the top 10 tasks I’m asked to do and can do for my clients. Hopefully, this top 10 list will inspire you contact a web designer that can make improvements on your existing site. See the website maintenance plan packages that Schildbach Design offers.

1. Website Maintenance to your Content

While entering your own content, sometimes formatting issues arise. All of your your paragraph text becomes title text for example. Or, the content your are typing in the dashboard does not appear as you envisioned in the site. Sometimes you need a web designer to fix these inconsistencies and explain to you how to avoid these problems in the future.

2. Content Management

You can enter your own content yourself, but we are all busy and often have more than we can possibly do. If the content on your site is outdated, have someone else do it for you. Often web designers will have the writing skills to write content for you, Schildbach Design does, but if you need a specialist in your field, pay someone who can write the content for you and have the writer or web designer enter the content. Along with content management comes upgrading and plugins or the core of your WordPress site (if you have a WP site).

3. Design Tweaks to an Existing Design

Adding content to your website may be going fine in the beginning, but then you decide to put an image in a different place and the design falls apart. New design elements can either break your website’s design or not be easy to add without making design changes. My specialty is CSS coding which handles the design of your site. If you have modifications that need to be made to an existing template, I can change the style sheet or html so that it allows for a newly introduced element.

4. WordPress Troubleshooting

Upgrades to the core and plugins and WordPress go smoothly for the most part. Much smoother than the original CMS I used to work in. But, still sometimes a plugin might conflict with some custom elements to your site, or the WP core. Rather than making matters worse, you may want to call a web designer who knows WordPress to go through the site and pinpoint the locations that the conflicts are present.

5. Extending Your Site

Maybe there is not a problem with your site, instead you just want to add something to it. After having a brochure site for some time, many of my clients just want to add a blog, some new pages, a contact form or some 3rd party features—such as linking to PayPal.

6. Image Manipulation

If you have an image heavy site, but don’t have the image editing software that a designer has, you may want to contact a designer to improve on the raw state of the images you are using. Sure, you can do basic editing with your photo application on your computer, or online services. But, often we don’t have the time to work on what we are not good at. Almost all designers have Photoshop and they can improve the basic appearance of your photos by lightening dark photos, cropping and sizing. More complex tasks are at a designers fingertips like using filters that can do such things as change the mood of the photo. I am first an foremost a designer with call the current Adobe CC applications for advanced image manipulation.

7. Website Migration

Maybe you have an old html site or outdated CMS and don’t know what to do next. Ask 10 web designers and you may get 5 different answers. Schildbach Design offers consulting on “what to do next” or “I don’t know where to begin”. We can go over your broken site and decide whether it is worth fixing and staying with the old platform, or migrating to a new one.

When it is clear that the present platform is not working for you, it is time to move to another content management system. In 2010 or earlier, the common migration was from an html site to a content management system. Now, most sites are already built in a content management system, and you simply need to move from the inferior system to the most appropriate CMS for your needs. The number one choice is often WordPress. But, drag and drop website editors like Squarespace are grabbing a lot of independent sole proprietors and small businesses. Migrations are quite clumsy, tedious and time consuming. So, be prepared for the work to be costly, averaging around $2,000, only half the cost of building a new website.

8. 3rd Party Elements, Plugins or Features

Even though it is not literally website maintenance, our websites often are associated with 3rd party services like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Mailchimp, or PayPal. Sometimes these third party elements disconnect and stop “talking” to our site due to upgrades or changes to the coding. Or, maybe you just need to add one of these elements and are not sure of the best way to do so. Web Designers will link and design these third party services in to your site.

9. I Can’t Get in to My Website or Hosting Account

Still, one of the the most common problems I get calls on is “I can’t get in to my site’s content management system, my hosting account or some other password protected account”. Fortunately, there are solutions. The simple solution is often calling or emailing the web host. But, if it is the content management system you can’t get in to, and you have already tried “Forgot my password”,  accessing the database to your site is the more complex solution. And, that is where Schildbach Design or another web designer can help. My most common CMS I work on is WordPress, but this can be done with any CMS. I will access the database, find out the email that “Forgot my password” is accessing, or change the password to my password, then return to “Forgot my password” to complete the task. All of this is done with permission from the client of course.

10. Website Security

Most all sites I build have no problems with security. And, without buying any additional software, your website is safe. But, occasionally, a hacker breaks in to your site when you have a CMS. The result is more of an annoyance than it is actual damage to your site. They might add files that store something they are hiding, or add a script that adds links to your site to improve on SEO for their other sites. I work with small business and you are most often not a target. Fortunately, when it does happen, I get multiple warnings from Google Webmaster Tools and your hosting plan. I then go in and weed out the files and scripts. Thank you spammers and hackers for wasting other people’s time, when all you get back is bad karma.

 

Being A Graphic Designer and Web Designer in Seattle

When you hear about a web designer also claiming to be a graphic designer, you my question whether they are spreading themselves out too thin, or you may want someone who specializes in graphic design. For business identities, often you are going to need a web designer and a graphic designer. If you are a small business, you may not be able to afford a team from a design firm. Schildbach Design is the perfect fit when you are a small business, a non-profit, a department of an institution, or an individual with a creative project.

It is a small disappointment when I am hired to develop a client’s website only, and I am handed a design for the website, or the logo, from another designer. Sometimes new clients will not know my background is in graphic design and illustration. Sometimes they find another graphic designer first, have them do the design, then realize they need a web developer, and hire me for the web development. I can understand why this would happen.

When a new client recognizes I do both design and code, often I find myself merging the two skills. Both my Seattle clients and national clients who run small businesses will call me for a package of abilities. The graphic design skills are utilized for both the website and print. I have several clients who have asked me to design their logo, business card, brochure, print ads and other print collateral, while at the same time designing and developing the website. When I say designing and developing, this means I’m coding the website in WordPress, and using HTML, CSS, jQuery and PHP. I work “under the hood” when I develop your website. I don’t use cookie cutter templates. This is what separates me from someone who is a graphic designer only. I merge my design skills with my coding skills.

But, if you are simply needing a graphic designer for print design or other design projects, don’t hesitate to request a quote. I’m available for most graphic design projects.