Recommended Reading – The $100 Startup.

It’s a pretty common thing around here to swap reviews about books we’re reading, or have read. Now we’re passing those reviews on to you in the hopes you’ll find them as helpful as we did. Have a book you’d like to share with us? Let us know!

This Week’s Recommended Reading: “The $100 Startup” by Chris Guillebeau

The actionable content in “The $100 Startup” can be applied to your personal life or your business – you choose. If you’re fed up with naysayers who harp that you can’t possibly spend your days what you love, it’s time to shut them up for good. We love this book because it throws all the rules out the window. Particularly helpful for the younger generation who refuses to conform to those pesky rules anyway, this book gives real world examples of those who are making a living having turned their passion into income. But even better, the book proves that hard work and a unique spin is really all it takes to make it.

If you read it, we’d love to hear your take on it!

Buy it online. >

We Care About Your Business. Not Just Your Website.

On the surface, we design websites. We make something pretty, and put it out there for the world to see. Then maybe we complement that pretty thing with business cards, letterhead, correspondence cards, and an email newsletter. One simple, pretty little package. That’s what all those template websites do, too.

But design, real design, is so much more. It’s a process. It’s problem solving. It’s a challenge. It’s not a template. Custom design is taking business goals and turning them into tangible things no one else in the world has. Truly powerful design provides tools to propel the business forward, giving it every chance to succeed. Those who live and breathe custom work can honestly say they care about your business, not just your website.

Design is Problem Solving.

You can’t do design the right way without understanding the problem you’re trying to solve. The first question to ask at a project’s kickoff is: “What are our goals, here?” There are business goals behind every door, but to identify the issues you have to actually turn the knob and make those hinges work (i.e.: OPEN THE DOOR). And that’s a process. It takes time, discussion, cultivation and a lot of TLC; no template could ever come close to achieving business goals the same way a custom design does. You see? A template is already set before you put your name on it. It solves a problem, but probably not your problem.

Each Goal is Unique.

No two companies are exactly the same. For example, we work with several Direct Primary Care clinics around the country on their brands. They all have basically the same business model, but each clinic has different goals. One might be focused on getting brand new patients while the other is focused on explaining their transition to Direct Primary care to existing patients. One clinic might choose to speak more to physicians looking to join the practice, while another’s primary audience is patients. One might want an edgy, modern feel while the other prefers a style reminiscent of olden days. And if we do our jobs right, each clinic’s website is approached with a clean slate, even though we know the drill like the back of our hand. They each tell a different story. Their story. (more…)

Marketing Team, Make Your Boss Proud.

Let’s pretend you work for an internal marketing department. Your responsibilities range far and wide, and it’s possible you’re not super-human enough to be an expert at everything. In a dream world, you’d have an extra set of hands (or five!) to help you pull together projects when the only other option is to tell your boss it can’t be done. You’d have a secret weapon of sorts…

Small design studios like us are perfectly positioned to be your secret weapon. We work with a lot of small business owners, but we also work with marketing departments of bigger companies. Our sole job is to help make you look amazing. Let’s look at how we do it, why we do it, and why we don’t care who gets the credit.

How We Do It.

There are lots of situations where having a standby studio can help save the day. Here are a few we see quite often:

Quick Turnaround

It’s Monday, and you just found out you have a deadline of Friday to put together an entire campaign, social media integration and all. Your usual turnaround time for something like this is three weeks, and you’re not sure how you’ll make it out alive. So you work your tail off: through lunch, nights, the works. It’s starting to look possible, but you don’t want to sacrifice quality because you’re working at twice your natural speed.

You call your design studio and explain your situation. After all, web design is what they specialize in, and they already handle most of your website. You need help with the landing page, so you send them the specs, and graphics you already have. What would have taken your team several hours to put together only takes the studio a couple, and you already know the quality is going to meet your standards. Plus, because you have a good relationship with them, they’re willing to squeeze you into their workflow. Suddenly your deadline doesn’t seem like the end of the world, and you’re not worried about putting out subpar material because you were under duress… (more…)

Welcome to the Responsive Age: Contech USA

One of our longstanding clients came to us and asked what they could do to improve their site. We were bubbling over with ideas – not because the site was bad, but because improvement is an ongoing thing, and we wanted to see them keep up with their competitors.

So we just started talking it out. Did they have any new goals? Had their services changed? Were they trying to reach a new target audience? After discussing with our client how their business has shifted, adapted and grown over the past few years, our conversation landed in an expected spot: mobile accessibility. They’d been noticing more and more of their customers and potential customers attempting to access the site on a cell phone or iPad. That was all well and good because we built the site to perform on a mobile device. But the fact was, technology had advanced since we first launched, and it was time to be brutally honest. Their customers’ mobile experience could be better.

And so we decided to do the thing that would bring Contech into the mobile age faster than anything else. We’d make the site responsive.

Healthy Websites Address Edge Cases Early On


Are you focusing on edge cases? If so, don’t tell that to Paul Boag because he’ll tell you to stop. If you’re building a reasonably large website there might be hundreds of tasks that a user could be trying to complete. But you cannot, and should not, try to accommodate all of them.