Monthly Archives: July 2006

A Little Tied Up

Just wanted to let you all know I’m a little tied up at the moment, so posting will slow down for a short while.

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Filed under blog, Miscellany

Redbox – The Greatest Thing Since Sliced Bread

Today was a pretty boring day. I sat around the house all day looking for something to do. AIM conversations were uneventful and overall I was in a bad mood, so a quick trip to the store was put in motion to get me out of the house. Upon realizing there wasn’t a single skate magazine in the entire store my bad mood quickly returned and all was dark again.

At least until I stumbled upon what may be the single greatest thing ever, Redbox, a simple small machine that allows you to rent new movies for the small price of $1 plus some tax. How great is this? A brand new movies for a night for a buck, if they had these in Florida Blockbuster would lose at least one customer.

So as we finished checking out we made our way over to the strange red machine, a large man stood in front of us flying through the rental process like a pro. I was the first to ask about the machine, and after learning how simple a process it was I proceeded to rent two movies, Madea’s Family Reunion and Failure to Launch. Unfortunately Ultraviolet was unavailable.

Again, this has to be the greatest thing to happen since sliced bread. If anyone of high power in Florida reads this, please get a Redbox in my area. I’d be eternally grateful.

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Filed under Elsewhere, Family, holiday, Miscellany, Movies, Skateboarding, Skating, Technology

The 10-Step Design Process

Not every designer is the same; some begin designing a website by laying out the content, while others start in a fresh Photoshop document. Each has their own way of dealing with clients and each charges different rates. While it’s hard to say what you should charge, it’s rather easy to find a pattern and stick to it.

I personally begin in Photoshop, but there’s a lot that comes before that.

1. Initial Contact. Your initial meeting with your client is very important. It’s important that you pay close attention to the way the client speaks and presents his or herself. It’ll help you get a feel for what they’re trying to do with their website.

2. Planning. Before you begin any drafting you need to ask your client some essential questions concerning materials, payment, colors, logo, content, etc. Everything you need to know prior to doing any actual work should be gathered in this stage. It’s also a good idea to get a down payment to prevent the client from dropping out of the deal after you’ve done all your work. This money should also be used for materials like fonts, brushes, any outsourcing, etc. All contracts should be signed and even notarized in this stage.

3. Drafting. Based on the information you’ve gathered you should now begin drafting a sample website for the client. Start with a simple grid you’d like to follow and from there add colors, effects and any other specialties you’d like to add to give life to the design. Fill in any content areas with Lorem Ipsum text as well.

4. Variations and Client Approval. After you’ve created multiple variations of the same basic design present them to the client. To prevent ripping you may wish to watermark your images. At this point no coding should have been done. Once the design has been selected and approved you should discuss a final website launch and payment date, along with any other services you may offer. Now is a great time to tell your clients about copy writing if they haven’t already provided content, and telling them about Search Engine Optimization is very important. Make sure they know it is the key to the success of their website.

5. Coding. Now that you’ve gotten approval on the design it’s time to chop up the design and begin coding it in your favorite editor, preferably in CSS, but to each his own.

6. Presentation. Present the design once more to the client now that it’s been fully coded and see if they’d like any minor changes such as width, colors, etc. Make sure your launch date is finalized by this point.

7. Launch Preparation. Now that the website is complete make sure the server and all other components are ready, such as Content Management Systems, Flash Applications, JavaScript’s, etc. Also begin optimizing the website for search engines and get it listed on any design directories and news websites that will help with the promotion process.

8. Launch. Launch the website by removing the holder or teaser page on the date you agreed upon.

9. Payment. Shortly after the launch or on the same day you should receive final payment from the client. To get on their good side it may be a good idea to throw a tiny party for the website launch (if dealing with a large or medium sized company) or purchase a tiny gift like a cake (when dealing with small companies)

10. Gather References. As I’ve mentioned, it’s important that you gather any references or quotes now that the project is complete. Make sure you add all this to your portfolio.

Follow this simple set of steps from start to finish and you should be able to easily and effectively complete a website and deal with your clients too. Like I said, everyone has their own methods, but I find this way to be extremely easy to follow.

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Filed under business, Design, Graphic Design, Media, Web Design

Adventures in Skating – Carpenter’s

Since I’ve started skating pretty much 24/7 I’ve had a million exciting little adventures around town, things I never want to forget, and so it’s time to record some of them. While I may not remember that date, the time, or even the day, I remember what happened and where.Carpenter’s Home Church (Without Walls) – It was about 10PM and the Wednesday Night Mass had just exited the two story church notorious for its sick stair sets. It’s been featured in many pro videos, and no wonder why, there’s an 8 stair, two seven stairs, two fives, a four, and a three, not to mention a ton of handrails, ledges, and hills.

My friends and I, on a normal night of skating, usually hit up the church at least once or twice, but because it’s illegal to skate there we don’t go until about midnight, after the 5-0 have left. But for some odd reason we decided to go early that Wednesday night. There were about five or ten people left in the whole building, and we were drenched in sweat from the 20 minute cruise over there. Thankfully they let us inside to get some water, not so unusual. And then the first “sign” hit us. We found a party-sized back of Mike and Ikes on the way out and nicked it for ourselves, a sign that somebody must want us to skate there, somebody wants us to have the energy to skate that night.

As the night went on we went back and forth through the building and all the surrounding spots, waiting for the church to clear out. Nearly an hour into skating we were all tired again, and the front door had been left open. One by one we filed into the building, most of the lights were out by now and there were only two people left inside, not including ourselves.

Hoping to stay inside and skate the massive, carpeted, untouched stairs, we ducked into a little broom closet and turned off the lights, hiding like little children in a game of hide and go seek. All together there were five of us (Me, Bryan, Tyler, Billy, and Spencer), three inside the closet, one crouched behind the main fountain, and the final crawling slowly up the stairs. We could see the lights in the auditorium flicker off and in an exhibition of panic and quick nerves we took off to some unknown destination. All the other doors were now locked and the final staff member was now leaving the auditorium.

Some quick thinking on Bryan’s part and 20 seconds later we were all crammed inside the elevator, riding it slowly to the second story. It was like something straight out of a James Bond movie. Before I knew it there were two more staff members in the building and we were down on our stomachs, crawling around the second story like the worms we were. Luckily we hadn’t been seen, at least not until Spencer panicked and stood up, running towards the nearest door. They spotted us, it was all over now, and we all knew what was coming. We dashed to the elevator and arrived downstairs in no time at all. With the coast clear and not a singe soul in our way we did a 180 and attempted to exit through the side doors, only to be shoved back inside by the bouncer-esque man who greeted us with an angered “Not so fast guys, get back in there!”

As we sat down on the fountain ledge the man dialed the police on his cell phone, and about ten minutes later we were filling out our trespassing warrants, not uncommon to skaters. I’m not exactly sure when this was, but at the time is was extremely fun and very exciting, and I’d do it again if I wasn’t banned from the church now. Now that I think of it, we should have just knocked the bouncer looking guy out of the way. I mean, come on, five kids with large pieces of wood and metal against a muscular bald guy? We could’ve taken him.

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Filed under Friends, Skateboarding, Skating, teen, teenager

Happy 4th of July

For all of the Americans out there reading this, happy Independence Day. Today’s a day to enjoy the time you get to spend with your family and friends. Go outside and enjoy nature, light off some fireworks, and just have fun. Now I’m not gonna go on some huge rant about the independence of our nation and how you should celebrate it, so I’ll leave you with this, enjoy it while it lasts.

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Filed under Family, Friends, holiday, Nature

Word of Mouth

No matter who you ask, word of mouth is still, and always will be, the strongest form of promotion you’ll ever come across. The key to embarking on your own business venture is having not only financial support, but moral support from family, friends, past clients, and generally anyone you’ve ever worked with.

In the freelance web design world this is especially true. There are so many other designers to compete with, and having a fully loaded portfolio isn’t necessarily going to put you at the top. It’s a good idea to gather client references and testimonials at the end of each project and immediately add them to your portfolio.

If you venture into advertising your business through print media, and if space permits, it may be a good idea to include a quotation or two to help reinforce the point your trying to get across. Testimonials, combined with a good design and meaningful copy, can keep you or your business fresh in a potential clients mind.

How do you receive good testimonials? Do good work. Treat your clients like family, and not your little sister, but like the older brother you respect, or the parents you look up to. Go above and beyond the call of duty and make sure the work you provide is top quality, even if the payment you receive is not. Throw in some extras here and there and make the client want to come back to you in the future. Their reference will help push your business, and chances are they’ll tell their friends and colleagues about you too.

Again, treat your clients with respect and they’ll have nothing but kind words to pass around, but treat them like they’re just another paycheck and you’ll get nothing at all.

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Filed under business, Design, Elsewhere, Miscellany

An Unwanted Trip becomes a Vacation – A Simple Justification for 2000 Miles of Boredom

To justify this extremely long and sure to be boring trip, it is now being called a vacation. Dates have been set, plans have been made, and the only thing I can look forward to is meeting some of the people I’ve associated with online in the past. I’ll be leaving on July 8th when I’ll make the 850 mile trip to Maryland, where I’ll stay with a friend for a few days. From there we embark on the second part of our trip which brings us to the New Bedford / Fair Haven area of Massachusetts.

I can only hope that I come across a solid wireless card before I leave, or it truly will be an extremely boring ride. And so I dont fall out of the loop of things even more than I already have I’ll be catching up in the design world so I actually have something of use for my design-inclined readers upon my return.

If anyone’s interested in meeting up along the way leave me a comment with your email or AIM screen name and I’ll get in contact with you as soon as I can.

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Filed under blog, Design, Elsewhere, Family, teenager