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Ask good questions and get better answers

Seems like another no-brainer. But when you are first starting to meet with clients, you may be asking their favorite color when you should be asking their business objectives. On the other end, you as a client needs to know what is expected of them as a client during a web development project. So, here are just a few examples to think about. For Clients: Ask about the timeline to keep things on track. Ask about all the features so that you know what you’re getting. Ask about hosting so you know where your content is. And ask for a contract to be sure everyone is on the same page. For Web Pros: Ask all of the same questions… but also, ask for a content audit. One of the worst parts of  a project is getting 98% finished with the project only to find there is 120 documents in a PDF library that needs to be added, tagged, and coded and it was never mentioned. Ask. Ask. Ask.

Design Basics: Always carry a notebook

I often get the questions from younger designers, “What is the one thing I can do to improve my work?” My response, “Carry a notebook.” You never know where inpiration may strike, so having a notebook handy is a must. And even if it’s not an “inspirational” moment, it could be that you just plain old need to write down what the client in front of you is saying to you. For all client meeting, I carry an iPad Pro with a Pencil. There are tons of great note-taking apps out there. These days I push even further past notes. I use some Adobe apps to capture colors, texture and patterns. The key to using an iPad as a notebook is to Keep It Simple. What is being said to you is the most important part of making better work.

Elementor: Build Anything?

JinxUOme is mainly a WordPress shop. But first, we are a branding/design shop. To this end, working without limitations is a big plus. Anyone that has worked in WordPress knows that there are limits to the WP, to the Theme… to so many things. At Jinx we have been working with the Avada Theme for a very long time.  It’s super powerful and flexible, but it can be a bit slow and bloated and not always intuitive for you, our customers, to manage Welcome Elementor! It’s a plug-in that will work with ANY THEME to create a visual site builder right in WordPress. It’s lite, fast, extensible, cheap and intuitive. We have used Elementor off and on for the last couple of years and followed the improvements that they have made. But the newest build is amazing. We finished and posted our site just a few weeks ago. Then decided we wanted to see how fast we could build a site… so… Bam! 2 days and the site was completely re-built in the new format. Speed is up. Usability is up… It’s just all so cool. Now sure, I’m going to add and configure Yoast for SEO, and maybe JetPack and a few other cool back-end goodies to help the site run even better… But I love having only a few key plug-ins running the whole site. Contact JinxUOme for your next WordPress Project!

Every Day I call hosting Support!

Seriously, nearly everyday there is an issue with something to do with a hosting problem for one of our clients. And since Jinx doesn't host sites, we just help clients manage their sites with various hosting companies, its part of our job to fight with the hosting companies for them. It used to be, a call for set up, and maybe later a call for an outage, but these days, it's everyday that someone is; exceeding space limitations, exceeding usage limitations, email routing issues, spam issues, back-ups failing and SSL!!!! Anyone that has run a WordPress site knows that in addition to making back-ups, managing posts, updating plug-ins, updating themes, you still need to manage hosting. It's a lot!! and on top of all of that you still need to run your own business. Enter the hosted Solution! Wix, SquareSpace and many other services offer a contained, hosted solution. It's not right for everyone, but it's a much better idea that you might think. CONS: In the past we all saw these systems as closed systems. All your content was in one spot and if you wanted to move your content you were pretty much out of luck. I have manually cut-n-past entire sites out of a closed system and into Wordpress and had to manually download every image, PDF and form database then rebuild in a new system. Well, those days have pretty much past, most modern hosted solutions let you export, back-up and migrate. Another objection has been that these systems are limited in their abilities or functions...Well, everything has it's limitations but these days most of these systems can be extended with plug-ins, add-ons and widgets. The up-side is these closed systems only allow plug-ins and widgets that have been fully tested in the system vs the Open Source world where anyone can make a plug-in and share it with their community. PROS : As I mentioned, a closed system only allows extensions that are verified and will auto update as the system updates, so you, the site manage doesnt need to update plug-ins and such or if they do, it's a one button update that you can feel confident in pushing it. Back-ups, most of these systems are making daily or monthly back-ups. One bill!!! there is no separate bill for hosting, web tools, themes and so on.... some thing may have additional costs to add on to your basic plan, but it all comes through in one bill for the most part. Why WIX? Speed of set up. Speed of design/development. Ease of adding functions. Integrations with external tools. Additional tools in WIX to run your business! There is really so much here. It's easy to think, "oh their CRM cant be as good as SalesForce, well, it's not as powerful, but it takes 15 min to set it up to handle 90% of what most users/businesses need, vs hiring a Salesforce expert to spend 2 weeks setting up Salesforce... time and money thrown out the window in my opinion. SquareSpace, WIx, Shopify... they are all really good and have their own strengths. But a modern WIX site is really super powerful. If you are a small company or a one man shop, you can drag and drop items onto your screen and they will show u just the way you want. Yes, there are some layout-limitations that are easy to work around. But for the most park WIX is really about making your whole small business integrate into your website and vice versa. Making a form integrate with your CRM or using the WIX CRM, galleries, and so much more. I also have to say, I don't even know if WIX has a support call line because I have never had to call them! (I'm sure they must). But like anything, learning a tool takes time. Making design decisions can be tough. Organizing content can be confusing. This is where JinxUOMe comes in. Even when building a site with a tool like WIX, unless your company's focus is on making website, this may not be what you want to do with your time. JinxUOMe can build your site and set it up for real success and make it work with your business processes.

Finding the assets you need

Start with discovery. Spend some time on it. Find what you really need. Content, content, content. Finding the assets you need starts with content. Having the right message. Finding the descriptions of your services. Finding the reason why your clients are at your site. Content is king. Photography. A picture is worth a thousand words. Finding the right image is so important. Developing accurate graphics to explain you business objectives. Choosing a CMS that you can actually update (WordPress). Finding the people that know how to design, develop and maintain your online presence is so important. So, discovery, content audit, and real pros to put it all together.

Forming client relationships

All design shops want to say we have the best long-lasting relationships with our clients, when in reality, most clients think of their design shop as “their graphics vendor.” On the other side, designer think that they are partners with their clients… working together to elevate their brand. So, how should this work? What is the optimal relationship? How should it work? At Jinx, our goal is to work with our clients as equals. We bring value to our clients. And with out our clients, we are a bunch of folks designing websites for ourselves with no income. Our goal is to deliver a product of such high quality that our clients feel great about what they are getting for their money. We strive to deliver above and beyond the basic level of work. And to establish ongoing relationships that benefit both Jinx and our clients.

I have WIX, why do I need a designer?

Why indeed? In reality, you should be able to design, build and maintain your site with no issue on WIX. But in reality, it's a bit like saying, "Here are some paints, here is a canvas, here are the brushes, now paint the masterpiece that you have always wanted." Just because you have easy to use tools and an idea of what you want, doesn't mean you will be able to make a masterpiece. And there should be no shame in that. After all, unless your site is all about what a great WIX website designer you are... designing is not really not your business. Now, where do I start? First. Get a WIX account. You dont need to attach your URL and all of that, but if you know enough to do that, follow the set-up steps and get your account in order. Next, upload and organize as much of your digital assets as you can, photos, graphics, pdfs, video or audio files. Next, take a look through the templates. Now, changing templates after a WIX site has been started is not easy. So if you are sure you want to turn this over to a designer, stop right there. Gather your content together, word docs and so on. Now, find your designer. Not that easy, word of-moth and a personal recommendation is best, but WIX has plenty of resources for finding a great WIX design. Now, go into your WIX account and set up a Web Design account and add their email. You'll be able to watch their progress and add notes and fully collaborate. Once the site is done, it's best to get a few lesson on maintaining and updating your site. If you are ending your relationship with this designer, just turn off their account.

Is Web Design still a thing?

Social media is everything these days. You have to be constantly updating your social platforms and pushing out content to let you clients/users know that you are still a vital and valid company. Most people will go to your social media before going to your website. And these days, you can sell, communicate and disseminate information to the world, so why still have a website? Anyone that has ever tried to register on a form or find detailed info on an event knows that social media falls short of being a full delivery system. It's promotion, its communications, but it's not a full client service system. If your online presence is less than you feel it should be, contact us and we'll help you develop a site that is more than just functional, it'll be Awesome.

Is a website still needed?

That's a pretty good question for a web design company to ask. In this age of social media, mobile apps and on-demand content, the web site can seem like a bit of a dinosaur. But it doesnt have to be that way. Lets first look at what a website really does for you: Validation Having a website with a recognizable, related URL is the modern-day equivalent of having a physical store/business/product. It only takes a few minutes to set up an Etsy shop, or RedBubble or Facebook page. But stetting up a Website takes considerably more time, work and cost. This says to your user, "Yeah, we are real!" You have gone through the hassle of getting a name, developing a brand, writing the content that states clearly what you are about and why. This lets your users know that you are more than just a shiny advertisement on Instagram. Expanded Content Stories are compelling. This is you place to expand your brand message from an elevator pitch to a full history of the how and why that makes you/your company/brand what it is. This is the beginning of creating a community, (nobody wants to be associated with something they really dont know much about, and you can only get so much from a Twitter stream.) Integration A good site should bring it all together in one place. A "Central Hub" for your brand and outreach. Sometimes it's as simple as putting the Social media links on your site so that users know they are checking out the right company (there is probably more than one social media account out there with your name on it.) But sometimes you need even more, maybe your Instagram is your main product or marketing channel, make sure that feed is in your top menu and displays and functions inside of your will still be out they on the 'Gram, just now in more places where you can enhance your brand. Or you could turn your site's blog into a stream of it's own...publish a post on your blog and have it instantly feed to your FaceBook, Linked-In, Twitter, even pull the image for Instagram. Control Every free/paid service out there has limitations, restrictions, and frustrations. Maybe your store app cant take sales outside of your country? Maybe you want to further curate your gallery... the list is long of things you might want/need. Having a website lets you do it your way, then point that social media back to your home to give your users/clients/followers/friends the real experience.

Is the traditional office a thing of the past?

There was a time when not having an office meant you were not a real company. This is no longer that case. In fact, not having a physical office means you, the client, are not paying for my office, my parking, and my commute. Clients these days are aware that when they see a bill, they are seeing all the costs associated with running a business. Low overhead saves them money. Jinx is a virtual design and development shop. Yes, our primary location is Washington, DC, but our group of marketers, developers, copywriters and photographers are all across the area and in some cases, across the country. We like to use an Agile development process to build teams around projects as needed. With video conferencing, Slack, Asante, and so many other tools, keeping a project on track is a breeze. But yes, you will always have a real person to contact throughout and beyond the project.

The best creative tools to use!

WordPress! Ok, a man with a hammer sees every problem as a nail. But this is not really the case here. Jinx does design and development for Webflow, Wix, Squarespace, Drupal and WordPress. So, if you come to us in need of design that sticks with a platform other than WordPress, no problem. But if you are not totally sold on one of these, Jinx will always say WordPress. And there is good reason for that. WordPress is one of the most used by all websites and by the top sites on the web. It’s open source so it’s free (there are still costs associated with it.) WordPress is used by 59.9% of all the websites whose content management system we know. This is 31.0% of all websites. The tools that Jinx prefers are; Bluehost for web hosting. WordPress as a CMS. And Avada and Oxygen theme, and Elementor for the builder framework that will allow us and you build any kind of page layout you need. Of course we run the full Adobe CC suite to do your graphics work. We are always looking for best in class and best for you.

Welcome Back to Editor X

It's really amazing how much work it is to manage a website. Jinx has always been a WordPress shop, and we still are...WordPress is a powerful tool fr sure. But we listen to our clients and feel their pain. The constant management of multiple plugins and services, plus hosting and all the issues that are associated with it. Then, there is the question of who is responsible for what, updates, design, content, forms, databases. Managing a company website, or even a personal page is not so easy, unless you choose the right tools and partners to make it all work. Jinx works with many all-in-one solutions like; SquareSpace, WebFlow, Duda, Wix and EditorX. We can help upgrade your old legacy site and we won't force you to move to an unfamiliar platform if you dont need to. But, if you are here, reading this site, you know that Jinx is excited about EditorX and Wix. I never thought I'd be a Wix guy, I come from the world of hand coding, and databases and high-design. Wix was a toy for many years. But as technology advances, so did Wix and all of the suite of Wix tools, functions and options. But the Web Design/developer in us was still locked out of hand writing code if the need came up. Welcome to EditorX. It's Wix's Pro-level site design and development tool. It's like using Webflow with all of the CRM tools that Wix offers, or Using WordPRess with Elementor, but without all the plug-ins and hosting hassle. Over the next few months, We'll be developing new sites with Wix and/or EditorX. We'd love your site to be one of them!

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