Overdue for an update

Well life has changed a bit around here and this woman has decided that she is not super woman and since she can (thanks so much to her amazing man) she will be a stay at home mum (that does not work in every other spare minute allowed to her). I now have a very deep respect for all those freelance type people coupling work with parenting. When I get a nap time I genrally catch up on emails then thats it… the little man is awake and I am being Mum again! I stay far saner if I admit it’s too hard and shelve working until it makes sense again! I just love being present for the little guy even if its taking the time to watch him play. He has already grown more than I can cope with… I know he is still little but seriously from tiny baby to bouncy fun mad little baby in what seems like weeks is actually 9 months! Time flys when your a parent! Wooooosh.

So, no working for me – which means changes to the website again. Might flick it into a standard wordpress template with some adjustments, import the posts from other blog and just make it all one blog again until some other scheme means it morphs into something else!

A new Website : Mhor

Mhor web design clothing store
click image to see the site!

Mhor is a women’s clothing shop based in Hanmer. They sell lovely fashionable clothes you would expect in a big city boutique – but in Hanmer so you can shop while on holiday! Perfect! Soon to open another store they needed a website to showcase their huge selection of top notch labels and designers, giving people the opportunity to check where their stores are located and if they wanted something in particular to give them a call.

I set them up with my WordPress 5 page package – that allows them to edit their content, change featured images and even have an enquiry form on every page. Simple but easy to alter as they grow and change their online requirements! It was a fun project to do and I enjoyed creating a design that reflected the experience you should inspect in-store.

When your next in town you should pop by and admire the lovely threads.

One does prefer pretty packaging…

FORWARD. Just letting you know – I am the sort of person who if offered online “free giftwrapping” will get the gift wrapping even if its for me. I am also the type of person that upon receiving my iphone I unwrapped it slowly – then re-wrapped it, only to unwrap it again a bit later. I get odd looks from some people about this – however there are other that know exactly what I mean.

wrapping

I do quite a bit of online shopping. More so now that Christchurch’s shops are mainly in malls. I also am a bargain hunter – the web lets you do this without inconveniencing any sales clerk and asking about prices, without buying. Not to forget that in NZ we don’t really have huge amounts of selection nor I am afraid, when it comes to things like fabric and books, do we have the best prices. You could say I buy a bit online.

It quite common for the eagrly anticipated parcel to arrive in a standard box or postal bag, the product is then wrapped in transparent plastic and the invoice is somewhere in there. Bit of a buzz kill – but acceptable. Lately I have found the shops I brought things at have appeared to put a little more care in their product’s presentation.

Fabric wrapped in tissue paper and string, the invoice has a hand written note on it to say thanks.

A wrought iron recipe rack wrapped protectively then wrapped up again in brown paper and string with a stamped swing tag with the shops logo on it (I love swing tags – so this does not get chucked!) I also love brown paper. So old school.

Craft supplies arrived in a little box with a chocolate and notepad. I love chocolate… a bit too much!

Now I realize they are clever online shop owners who know all about their target market – people like me! Whom buy these things with the excitement of future projects or decorating their nest. To help the process along the company is making sure they are remembered fondly and possibly brought from again. Anyone that offers this sort of service has me talking about them and thinking nice things.

So my point? Online shop owners – look at your customer base, look at how they might be emotionally attached to the product you are sending to them, how can you enhance that experience? Wrapping? Chocolates? Handwritten notes? Nice postcards slipped in there, a voucher even. Have fun with it, change it up a bit try new things and see if you get better returning customer results or customer growth. A happy customer is a chatty customer afterall.

Has anyone else out there had great online shopping experience? What was it? OR how would you like to see your products delivered?

I like list’s

now panic and freak out

You know, I keep a list. Well many lists actually, but I have this one list in my “things” application. This list has 20, yes 20 blog post ideas. TWENTY. And yet as you can see I have not really blogged much at all recently. In fact I have not done alot of blogging over at my new blog yet either. I have been busy, which is good, but not busy enough to be such a neglectful blog mother.

So here it is, I have started a blog post. Today I am going to write about things people might want to know about your business. So that you (and I) can get over that writers block and blog more. Or for some of my clients, write it up as “news”. Why you may ask, do we want to blog? Well I say (thinking to myself I am awfully good at talking the talk) showing publishing little bits of news shows:

1. your business is ticking along nicely and looks solid and reliable.
2. you share stories about your business that personalises what you are about therefore embedding your business into future customers minds
3. providing an online presence people can relate to.
4. you get to show off your knowledge of important subjects (like blogging, or not in my case).

There are of course many more, one is, once you are on a roll its actually quite fun. So some tricks on finding topics to write about. Keep a way to note down ideas close by so that you can squiggle them down when a moment of genius flashes through your brain. Use your bookmark function on your browser to catalogue ideas online aswell.

Here is a quick list of things that you might consider – I believe every  type of customer group you have, will relate to certain things, so you wrack your brains to see what you could come up with that people may like to read about that relates in some way to your business.

-Book reviews
-Event reviews
-Movie reviews
-Industry news (news like what the fashion shows in Paris are up to, or whats happening to the building codes now that we have had a major earthquake)
-Business news and events (eg, new staff member or a new product range)
-Whats inspiring you at the moment (if your in that sort of industry!)

Ok so there is a plethora of things to write about out there, how on earth do you find the time to write?!

Habits I have seen that might help you.

– Choose a time each day that you can clear some time to write!
– Start your posts in the morning and finish them off throughout the day in snippets you get available or when need a break
– When you get a chunk of time and inspiration hits you write several posts at once and use WordPress’s excellent timed publication feature that lets you pick the time the new post goes live…. So that you can effectively have an active looking blog but only have worked a chunk on it the week before.

Of course I assume you blog because you have already established its a great way to reach your customer base. However not everyone’s business suits a blog. Its incredible how amazing facebook has been for so many business to reach their client base. But of course thats something else to write about next time….

I am scared but determined. I will make a promise to blog everyday for the next two weeks (not on weekend though!) I have lots going on and have alot to share. I intend to write up a post here every other day and another on the the opposing days over on my personal blog. If i fail – then no cake. If I succeed, then I get to make cake – and I will share the recipe on my other little blog. The idea of this is get back into the habit of blogging – I used to enjoy it rather alot!

Feed the designer : Inspiring the 31 year old

Seriously I’m 31 already? WHEN did that happen? Last month was a little busy and this month looks to be shaping up pretty similar. For my birthday I brought myself a wee album off itunes and luckily the cats can’t talk because I have listened to it ‘like’ a hundred times already – actually its 6 times according my “plays” in itunes. What is it? Well they are the decemberists and the Album is called “the king is dead” if you like folksy, country-ish rocky music I would have a listen. Thanks to soulemama for mentioning these guys.

I have signed up for a pinterest account and thus far I rather like it. There hasn’t been massive amounts of time to play with it, but I do like getting an email each week with what other people are pinning in the categories I am interested in. It’s going to be fabulous to use creating online moodboards for decorating when we finally get a house to decorate. Not to mention using it to help inspire website designs!graphics to inspire website design

Get your website ready for Christmas!

Christmas website promotion hints and tipsAvoiding all the cliches on how fast time is flying by I will jump right into it today. Its Christmas people! That means alot of different things to different people, to me it means avoiding town, malls and Christmas music. I have yet to get sick of decorating for Christmas though – I love decorating for the sake of it – it must be the designer in me.

Some of you may not know but I grew up in retail. Because of that I know how big Christmas is – how it can make the rest of year possible and how it is definitely not a holiday. If the conversations on facebook are anything to go by online shops these days are really coming into their own. People will buy the all their presents online to avoid traffic (the vehicle kind) and the Christmas shopping madness – and the awful Christmas music that comes out EVERY year (scroooge). For this reason if you have an online shop you need to be looking at what your customers may be wanting out of it – and how you can introduce products to them that suit their needs, making the money you need to get through the rest of the year.

Here is a list of things you can do right now:

*Go through your products and segment them into groups – example groups could be: Budgets, sports, hobby, father, daughter ect. Create a page that recommends a list of products for each segment, link to it from your home page, your newsletter, facebook page, twitter account ect.

*Use your “related products” the part of the site. When your in the backend of your site within the product details page and you can often choose what other products people may like – that then appear on the product details page on the front-end of your site. Start relating them by your segments – be it price, sport, craft type and the like. Keep the ideas flowing for your customers, they will appreciate it.

* There is a little less money being splashed around these days. People becoming more careful with what they spend.  They still want to buy gifts but now its more important to get something the recipient will actually want – not a gift that will go straight to the Salvation army in the New Year or be used to be given back to you the following year! Vouchers are getting pretty popular for this very reason. So promote them on the homepage and throughout the site.

* Email Newsletters – Nothing annoys me more than newsletters that offer me no value whatsoever – its just news about the company when really right now I have shopping to do, work to finish and BBQ’s to go to. In this busy time Newsletters can be useful or a hindrance. Giving away information and special offers make a difference in how many people will open and actually read your newsletter without hitting delete.  Its here you can help by giving ideas on what to get people – offer them rewards, list gift ideas give them the odd discount code, let them know your Christmas opening hours and wish them a Merry Christmas. To coin a phrase think “outside in”. Make the time they took aside to read your newsletter count!

* On the blog. Use your blog to create not only news about your company, new products or product reviews but news about the season and whats going on over Christmas. Even create gift idea lists for “the father in law”, “the sister who lives far away” not only linking to your products but even other sites that have products that compliment yours, this is not only good to your reader and the other company – but will create goodwill that may end up in links back to your site – which is all good for google! The point is to create a buzzing festive atmosphere on your sites with great content.

* Buying local. For all sorts of reasons people are doing this more and more. If you have local products, organic products, free range – anything thats a buzz word being used and people care about – make sure you more that just mention it in the small print. Its a BIG selling point.

* Social Networks – If you have a Facebook page or Twitter thing going on. Use them! A few ideas: Post one day only specials, facebook competitions, ideas for gifts, cool links to anything online your customers might like… the point is to get them seeing your logo on their feed so they remember you when its time to shop. Its a fine line, but be careful not to overdo it so they don’t hide your updates! Outside in, outside in!

* Seasonal changes to the site. Every site does something different to promote the season. Banners, specials, Merry Christmas’s at the end of auto emails. Anything like this is awesome and gets people in the mood to shop. Just make sure you write yourself up a list of exactly whats been changed and when its all over take it down – remind your web designer to take it down, make sure that stuff is not up halfway through January…. even worse November the following year!

Alright I have bombarded you with enough tasks to do! Have a great Christmas. If there is anything I can help with let me know!

Website Design : Snowpool.org

Snowpool
snowpool.org

Snowpool is a website for people who are taking a vehicle to mountains for a ski or snowboard to post their plans and offer space up for those needing a ride. Its a custom built system by Patrick Davey back when he was a carless student that loved a day skiing on New Zealand ski fields.  I finally got my paws on the site to give it a wee face-lift. Its now setup to be able to work in Australia, US and Canada. So help save the planet and share car space to your favorite mountain at the same time!

This is also where you can order your Christchurch Earthquake tea-shirt – get in before 3rd of December for the last order. Tea-shirts designed by me! 🙂

Feed the designer : Online Resources and things to read

The online world is a MAD one. Things change overnight and the ways to market yourself online are growing everyday. There is so much out there sometimes I just want to, one – plug myself in Matrix style and have all that knowledge right there to fly my SEO helicopter in and save the day, or, two – bury my head in the sand and deny that the nothing changes and eat chocolate. Lets just say since neither one is an option.

Today while I write up some little posts on the latest sites to come out of the QDM web design studio I wanted to share with you where I pickup my tid bits to help myself and my clients along when it comes to marketing.

Newsletters
Join up and unsubscribe if you don’t like them!

  • Campaign Monitor – Newsletters on email marketing.
  • Etsy – Joining up as a “seller” will get you the emails aimed at marketing your business.

Blogs

  • SeoMoz – Search engine stuff
  • Google webmaster Central – Search engine news and important info.
  • Seth Godin’s blog Awesome author who writes about marketing and business anthropological style and is funny too.
  • One Woman Marketing – One woman who does it all and talks about it. Great place to get ideas on workflow and general marketing.

Books and Online Guides

Podcast to listen too

Right thats it, I don’t want to bombard you too much. Flick around have a look and subscribe to the ones that appeal. Off to eat some chocolate.

Website Design : The Entomological Society of New Zealand

The Entomological Society of New Zealand
The Entomological Society of New Zealand

The Entomological Society of New Zealand is run voluntarily by a group of people passionate about bugs. “Bugs” or rather the study of them, “Entomology” to those in the know, is a rather important and fascinating field, there are numerous types out there who need to know what’s going on in the smaller eco systems that exist around us. This society brings these people and what they write and talk about together for conferences and publish their work into journals.

I had the honor of getting to design the latest website update. Pretty happy about it really, how often does one get to design with bug pictures and earthy colours and get away with it? Due to its academic nature I went with the stretchy layout, favored by those who read alot. Despite the fact many designers do not like designing sites that stretch, I do quite like it.

Ento.org.nz is built using WordPress and various plugins that do the job nicely. I also have almost finished integrating the design into their own existing journal distribution systems. Go and have a look around…

Website Design: Kiwi PyCon 2010

KiwiPyCon 2010 is ” is an event for the community that uses and develops the open source Python programming language.” On this weekend for all the programmer peoples.

Kiwi PyCon 2010

Since these guys have many talented programmers and web types in their midst all they needed me for was some design work. For this job I started out with a briefing followed by a wireframe then the design.

This design was handed over to them in Photoshop and they cut it up and got it working by themselves. I helped out a bit later with a bit of CSS trickery. But it was all their hard work really. Hope the conference goes well guys!