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 JinxUOme.com 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!
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.
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 website...it 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!
When is creative too creative?
As a creative, I usually want to say “more is better.” But as a businessman, I know I must serve my clients needs first. Often we designers think of clever ways to hide menus, re-name sections in a way that makes it hard to understand what content the page will contain, or add a variety of cool little things that can sometimes engage, and sometimes distract. We always hear, ‘think outside the box.’ and we love that, but that box may have a solid reason for existing. Designing for the box Most websites have a lot of the same pieces, sections and blocks. In fact, in order for a site to work responsively on multiple platforms, adhere to good SEO and not confuse the end user, it needs to have some common rules. When I was first faced with this issue of designing ‘inside’ the box”, I realized; TVs are pretty much the same size ratio, billboards are pretty much all the same size and so are magazines… I think you see the point, I mean the literal box. Creative thinking should be more a function of the content, And Content first should be what we all strive for…but that’s usually the last thing delivered. Focus on The User So yes, focus on the user. The user, for the most part has used the internet before and is most likely here to learn about you and wants to know specific things about you. So, providing the user with clear navigation that is easy to find, contact information that is clear and easy to access. And content organized in a manor that makes sense. Well, this is what is now expected. What is not always expected is clean, consistent typography, images and graphics that set the proper tone for the content and consistent with your brand. So, while JinxUOme is all about creativity, we are also all about making your site a fully optimized experience for your users.
Why Write a Blog Post?
Why indeed. If you look though our little blog here at JinxUOme, you’ll see little blurbs that are written for other designers and developers, you’ll see post written for clients, and some just to satisfy our own need to spout-off an idea. Our Jinx Blog is not a good example of what you, a potential customer should be doing with your site. You should have a clear voice and be able to focus on your defined audience. A blog can be about showing off your company’s culture or help set you up as a “thought leader” in your field. Or it can be a great News/Announcements section or about a dozen other things. Our Jinx blog is really just here to show potential customer what your blog could look like, We even change up the style sometime to show potential or new customers what is possible in design. But what the Jinx blog does well… it provided new and relevant content that help SEO to keep our site showing up on search engines. And that’s big. When you build your site, even in a CMS your content can go static quickly. You dont change your mission statement or products or whatever you do monthly. Once built you site may not need to change for months or years. This means you become old and irrelevant quickly. Something as simple as a blog post on a weekly or monthly basis can help your company to at least seem relevant and up-to-date. Like most of our customers, We here at Jinx are just to busy building good stuff for other people, and thank you all for your support, to keep our site as up-to-date as we would like. But we are working on it and we would love to hear from your about what you would like us to write about.
Work to live, don’t live to work
It’s a cliche of course, but for a good reason. Work should not be your everything. Family, fun, love… there is so much more to the world. It can be hard to remember that. It gets even harder when your office is in your home. It can become all to easy to stay at your desk, or have your laptop open at dinner. Your work can become so consuming that you may not see how the lines blur. Work is important. Work is what this site is about. Well, that’s true, but a big part of what Jinx does is to set up systems, automations and processes to help make our business, and our client’s business run smoothly so that we can all enjoy our lives so much more.