SEO is Science, Not Magic

Search engine optimization can be an esoteric, mysterious subject for the average website owner, but the fundamentals of SEO are not wizardry. On the contrary, it’s easy to learn the basics or even learn to make site improvements on your own. While reputable SEO companies are certainly capable of delivering results, the industry is also home to snake oil salesmen that use ‘black hat’ SEO methods or exploit the public’s naïveté on the subject. That’s why demystifying SEO in layman’s terms can be the first step towards empowering you – and causing an upwards spike in your number of daily visitors. Search engine optimization is the process of improving the way your site interacts with search engines in the hopes of ultimately advancing its ranking in organic (unpaid) search results. Optimization efforts …

By: Dan Redding
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Non-Profit Web Design: Acumen Fund

After Hurricane Sandy tore through Brooklyn a few weeks ago, we’re more aware than ever of how much we need the helpful companies out there who are doing everything they can to help the world. This month we’re taking a look at some companies who are doing just that – and backing it up with awesome web design and UI/UX. Acumen Fund is a NYC based non-profit that has been working to combat poverty on a global scale. Their investment of time, energy and resources has continued to create awareness and generate funds to better the lives of millions of people around the world. One of the best ways an organization can reach new audiences and celebrate a cause is by having a beautiful and easy-to-use website that clearly defines their identity …

By: Mary Barbour
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Need Tech Support After Hurricane Sandy

No matter what people try to say about New Yorkers, residents of this city know the importance of helping each other out, especially in hard times. Hurricane Sandy tore up much of the Northeastern coastline and has left many people in need of help. I feel so inspired every time I glance at Twitter and Facebook and see the newsfeeds buzzing with info on volunteer opportunities from both individuals and big organizations. If you haven’t already, hop on Twitter and search #sandy to see for yourself. In addition to the thousands of folks who continue to donate money, food, blood, supplies, water and medical help, the generosity extends even further, to people who might be in danger of a more gradual harm to their income and well-being. Companies are now offering free …

By: Mary Barbour
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Engaging a Design Firm: Step by Step

We hear a lot of stories from people who have searched and searched for a design firm to work with, only to end up having a crap experience that leaves them disappointed.  We want to save you the time and money wasted in this process by clarifying what exactly is important to look for in a designer and how to make sure you find a client/designer relationship that really works. Step 1: Don’t jump into a relationship too soon. This is possibly the most frequent mistake people make,  and it’s a big one.  You don’t decide to get married on the first date (I hope), so why would you get involved with a design firm before getting to know them? The relationship should be long and fruitful and, if handled well on …

By: Mary Barbour
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Sites We’re Itching to Redesign: The...

We’re well into the 2012 Summer Olympics and the internet is buzzing with up-to-the-second reports on everything from fashion to bottle throwing incidents. One thing that has caught a lot of slack on Twitter is the design fail of the Olympic Ticketing Website. Nick Donnelly already posted a play-by-play of his hellish ticket purchasing experience, so we will spare you the gory details and touch on a few basic things the site designers could have done to spare their users a whole lot of agony. The first, overarching problem with the whole thing is the complete lack of Information Heirarchy. Logically, a ticketing website would make it easy for a user to find tickets. The “call to action” for ticket sales should overpower everything else on the page.  Not the case with the Olympic …

By: Mary Barbour
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UI vs. UX: What’s the Difference

Although the terms UI and UX do have some overlap, it’s important to understand why they are not the same thing. Yes, they both start with the letter “U.” And yes, both disciplines involve some of the same skill sets. But despite their similarities, the fields are substantially different in objective and scope – and both are incredibly important to the presentation of your product or service on the web. User Interface is the part of the product that faces the user when they look at the site, and the User Experience is how they feel when they look at the site. In other words: UI is what people use to interact with the product.  UX is how it feels to have this interaction. Many people have questioned what feelings have to …

By: Mary Barbour
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Teamwork

It’s kind of a glorious thing, being an independent creative.  No one to report to, no one to monitor, no other opinions to consider, just you and, if you’re lucky, the client.  This is great if your business is as specific as your talent: you devise logos, or make letterpress stationery, or code sites. For web designers, things can get a bit stickier. There’s a very real possibility that as your business expands and your client list grows, you’ll be asked to do more.  Maybe you’ll start by farming out odd-jobs to freelancers here and there, and that might work for a while, but if you’re built to last, you’ll outgrow that model and need a more reliable structure. Then it’ll be time to put together a team. They can be independent …

By: lucia martinez
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Recruiting New Clients: Do’s and Don...

As Head of New Business, reaching out to prospective clients is (duh) a major part of my job description.  For a boutique web design firm like Command C, mass generic emails just aren’t part of the game plan, ever.  There’s a lot of preliminary research involved on this end since we’re pretty picky about our clients—I like to get a feel for their communication style and what their businesses entail before making contact.  This kills two birds with one stone: I can make an initial assessment of who the company is and how their web presence could be improved, and my introduction email is tailored to them.  There is nothing more unappealing than the generic “Dear Command C – We really like your work.  We would like to see if you are …

By: lucia martinez
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Networking Basics (And Then Some

Networking is my personal nightmare.  There’s something about putting yourself forward, about self-promotion, that really makes me uncomfortable.  What if you’re annoying?  Too pushy?  What if the other person is just listening politely and can’t wait to get out of there?  What if everybody hates you? Bad news first: if you want to make it in web design–or in almost any field–you’re going to have to network.  The more competition you have, the harder you’ll have to do it.  Yes, the first step is producing good work that you’re proud of, but if no one is aware of it, you’re never going to excel at what you do.  (Of course, sitting around waiting to be discovered is an option, but there are only so many Mariah Careys out there.)  There are two …

By: lucia martinez
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The Web Design Process: Critiques and Edits

Critiques and editing are two absolutely essential steps of any creative process. They are also potentially the most difficult ones. Critiques—actual critiques, not just positive reinforcement—involve feelings and egos, whether they’re yours or those of someone else.  Editing requires cutting, and cutting your baby brainchild is never easy. (At least not for most of us.)  We’re closely tied to the work we produce, and accepting that it needs to change and that other people see flaws that we’re unable (or unwilling) to see is really, really hard.  Unfortunately, most of the things we produce as professional web designers (or musicians, or artists, or writers, whatever) rely on public appeal for their success or failure: it’s better to account for other points of view before, not after, you launch. So how to get …

By: lucia martinez
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Creatively parched: Brainstorming tips and tricks

For many people (myself included), the most difficult part of any creative process is taking that first step.  Whether you’ve been asked to redesign a website from top to bottom or devise a logo from scratch, you have to start with an idea.  A fresh idea. How to find it? Here are some things that might help: 1. Go 1.0 and use pen and paper. Even better, use index cards and a Sharpie. Write out all the keywords relevant to your project in big, clear print. (Your client will have probably given a list of what they’re looking for. Start with that.)  Spread them out on the floor or a large table and start arranging and rearranging with the most important words at the top or in the middle, with everything else …

By: lucia martinez
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Using the Right Tools

The early days of entrepreneurship are often exciting, but insanely taxing and chaotic. I admit it’s nice to be a few years in, to have some core systems in place and to have learned my lesson about the difference the right tools can make. I’ve also learned that the tools and systems I’m using today, might not be right or functional next year. So staying up-to-date on the best and latest technology has become a priority for me. One of the (many) benefits to having a coworking space has been the information share that goes on here about what tools and systems other small business owners use. The tools we employ are the foundation of our businesses. They underlie the manner in which every task gets done around here, they are the bones to …

By: Sara Bacon
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