April 11, 2017 - No Comments!

The one thing your designer should do for you

In a previous post, I wrote about how to focus your design budget. In this post, I want to zero in on a difficult piece of any project - what to look for in a freelance designer, developer or creative shop to help you build what you need.

“Well that’s some bullshit,” you say to yourself.

You just spent 2 hours in a staff meeting, going around in circles talking about what improvements should be made, and how much should be spent on redesigning the company website. Only nobody at the table was a designer or developer. The current website hasn’t been touched in 3 years. One person had a nephew who was "pretty good at the internet.” A lot of them used the words “good design” but weren't really sure how it integrated within the day-to-day aspects of the company.

And then, they handed you their features wishlist, along with the task of collecting bids and hiring someone to redesign the entire website.

Great. You mentioned the need for a marketing person in the meeting. Apparently they heard you.

But you are awesome, and a hustler. So you put a post on Craigslist for the project, and get a bunch of responses. Half the responder’s clearly didn’t read your project description. Some can’t write complete sentences, and a few aren’t even from the same hemisphere. After checking out some portfolios, and narrowing it down to a few that seemed solid, you still feel a little uneasy. They all seem to use the same terms in different ways. Some offer more visual design chops. Others focus on the technical side of things. They offer similar-yet-different services, but call themselves different names:

  • Freelancer
  • Interactive agency
  • Web designer
  • Programmer
  • Coder or Developer
  • Front-end designer
  • Engineer
  • Product designer

All of them do websites. Some only do websites. Some make apps. Some do UX/UI design and make logos as well. Some talk about SEO and PPC advertising. Some talk about branding. WordPress, Drupal, CSS, Squarespace, Php, Ghost, Ruby, Weebly, Python, AUGH!

I get it. It’s pretty annoying. Even for everyone on that list.

You need to deliver some answers though. The team is counting on you. You want to be the smartest person in the room. The lynchpin. The tech/design savvy one.

You exchange some emails, and narrow down the list. Your site is built on a specific platform, so follow up with the folks who namecheck what you are familiar with. Maybe you check LinkedIn for good references. You will be inclined to provide a list of problems your team outlined, along with a request for estimates or hourly rates from your leads. You might get numbers, but each will be different than the next. Someone may bid $40,000, but some asshole low-baller may tell you they can do it for $950.

The one thing your designer should do

Wait, so what is the one thing? It’s this:

The real value of your designer or developer comes in their ability to get to know you and your company beyond the website itself.

Of course this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to hiring creatives. But as a rule for any project, anyone offering you a price based on an emailed description of your site's needs and no phone conversation, will probably not deliver the kind of value your team is wanting. Good designers and developers ask a lot of questions, and offer new ideas you hadn’t thought of. They should ask about every single item on your request list.

“Why do you want this?”
“Who will be updating the images?”
“What will you give them in exchange for email signups?”
“Will someone in your company be responsible for ongoing content creation?"

Your new favorite collaborator will ask about your company goals, it’s mission, and values. They should even ask questions about the individual roles within the organization. Because nothing sinks a brand new website like complicated workflows and new features no one is tasked with maintaining.

Good listeners

Most importantly, they should listen carefully. You need to feel like they own the project and can think and make decisions with your best interest in mind. You aren't supposed to know everything, but you should look like a damn genius to your team.

This is not to say your company needs to spend a ton of money. Rather, any money should be well spent. A good designer will ask up front what your budget is - not so they can get all of it - but so they know where your team's expectations lie, and how to approach developing a proposal with you. Even if you have a small budget, they should be able to pitch you a few key fixes that deliver value, and keep things efficient. Conversely, you may get hit with a price much larger than what you were hoping for. It should come with high value solutions, and make sense given the conversations you’ve already had with them. If this is the case, and your project has really complex needs, a smart designer will also pitch an initial discovery phase in order to help you develop a project built on clear objectives. This allows better project planning, so there are fewer surprises. It also creates an easy out for you, if by the end of the discovery phase, you know enough to pivot and change focus, or not proceed at all.

Again, the one thing you should be looking for is someone who wants to dig deeper than just your web presence. Your company should view the resources it puts towards a web project (or any design project) as an investment in the company itself. You’re not simply “buying a website”. Instead, think of your site as an employee with a job description. Just like good employees need ongoing investment and support to do their best (like free coffee, snacks! gym membership, health insurance, high fives), your site-as-employee needs ongoing resources and support to do it’s job. If it can’t meet expectations, it needs to be kicked to the curb - or at least be given a disappointed head shake and stuck buying everyone’s drinks on a Wednesday night.

Your web presence is a reflection of the motivations within the organization. Your new designer should be willing to dig deep and find out what makes your company tick, and connect the dots during the discovery phase through to the final product and launch. This approach is our goal for every project. We like to think big so we can be precise with the small details. If you are on the hunt for a designer or team to collaborate with, we’d love a chance to ask you a billion and one questions, so we can build you a site that reflects the organization behind it.

Use our contact form and introduce yourself, or even better, schedule a 15 minute call and tell us about your project.

November 10, 2016 - No Comments!

Design does good, and we can’t just sit around.

design-for-good-banner

Welp. That sucked.

Like a lot of our colleagues and peers in the design world (and everyone else who contributed to the popular vote), we are all picking our selves up and dusting ourselves off after an exhausting election cycle and disappointing results. We are not one's to mope around in our shop, and need to feel proactive in how we step into the future. For designer's, solving problems are what define our work, and get us out of bed in the morning. So, here's the first iteration of what we'd like to do:

Artsdigital is offering free design consulting for any individual or group working in the areas of social justice, art, culture or education.

We'd like to hear from you and tweak our process as we go. The easiest way to start is for interested parties to fill out our simple inquiry form below, and tell us a bit about what you are doing and what you might need.

To be clear, we aren't yet able to freely offer our complete services creating websites, apps, developing strategy, or identity packages (though we would like to in the future). We are a small shop, and have kids to feed at home. For now, we want to help by offering our time, expertise and guidance to those who want to make our country a better place for everyone. We really believe that change doesn't just happen with the election of a new president - it happens locally and nationally at the grass roots level. Vote locally. Help locally. Advocate in ways that show those in charge what we care about most. Look out for each other.

If you are interested, hit the link below and fill out our form. We'll get back in touch with more questions as soon as we can.


C'mon America. We can do this.

August 25, 2016 - No Comments!

New 20x21EUG Identity Project

20x21EUG Street Drip

We just finished a recent identity project for the City of Eugene's new street mural project called 20x21EUG. Check our our case study to learn more about it. You can follow 20x21EUG on Instagram, and if you live in the Eugene area, watch the walls over the next few years. New art will be popping up all the time.

Do you need a new logo or identity system for your business or organization? We'd love to hear about it! Shoot us an email via our contact page and let's talk.

July 14, 2016 - No Comments!

Give Shop 2015 Gets an Award

ABAE Award for Give Shop 2015

This past June, Amy Baker of Threadbarepress.com and Artsdigital's creative director Courtney Stubbert were one of three recipients of the 2016 Outstanding Partnership in Arts & Business Award given by our local Arts and Business Alliance of Eugene (ABAE). Check out the short interview with Amy and Courtney, shot and edited by Jay Jones of Squiddl Media.

Thanks to ABAE Director John Barry and his board and the work they do. We really value opportunities to work within our community, and any chance we get to think outside the box and throw a party with friends is time worth spent. Besides, there is nothing better than something you designed getting the screen-printing treatment.

You can read more about how this project came together here. We plan on doing this event again at the end of 2016. Stay tuned.

December 16, 2015 - No Comments!

Give Shop 2015 video recap

If you missed our Give Shop event on December 4th, we put together a short video capturing the energy of the night. It was pretty hectic for a little while, pulling screens, drying, cutting, packaging... hanging out with friends and drinking free beverages donated by Wildcraft Ciderhouse. We pulled in a solid amount to donate to CASA, including a matching grant from Imagination International, Inc.

Thanks to Jay Jones at Squiddl for shooting and editing this video recap, and to Mckenzie Stubbert for the original track. We're looking forward to doing more film projects with them in 2016.

If you are still interested in a print, we have a few left. Get over to our Gumroad page and see if you can nab one. We will continue to donate all proceeds from these prints to CASA of Lane County.

 

December 2, 2015 - 1 comment.

Recent Logo and Web Design work for Eugenetech.org

EugeneTech_feat

Earlier this year we donated a bit of branding for our tech community switchboard, which had become an extension of an already existing social media outlet, and short run of podcast episodes. Since the local tech scene has grown in leaps in bounds the last few years, Eugenetech.org wanted to have a better visual identity to tie it's online outposts together, and help stage the upcoming season of the podcast.

EUG_TECH_switchlogo_circle500We put together a simple logomark, initially for the switchboard and it's related Twitter and Facebook pages, back in the winter of 2015, and most recently designed a landing page for the MVP relaunch of the domain. It's exciting to be involved with this community, and we look forward to helping grow our hub for startup innovation and design thinking.

Read more about the identity development in our portfolio.

If you are interested in what is happening in our startup scene, go sign up for the announcement of Eugenetech.org's next podcast season!

November 15, 2015 - No Comments!

Give Shop Event

Giveshop_2015_FBevent

UPDATE: We've got some prints left and they are available on our Shop page until they run out. Also check out our recap video.

A pop-up benefit for CASA of Lane County

We are really excited to announce “Give Shop" coming up in December. It will be a benefit for CASA Lane County sponsored by Threadbarepress.com, Artsdigital.co, and Eugenecontemporaryart.com.

"Give Shop" will be the 3rd pop-up event we've had in our space in recent months. A poster event based on the word "give" for charity has been an idea I've had bouncing around in my head for a few years now, and December seemed like a good time to do it. We've teamed up with our favorite print shop in town, Threadbare Press, and will be featuring their PrintCycle so we can print “Give” posters on the spot! On top of all that, Wildcraft brewery has donated some of their delicious cider to the event.

We are only doing a limited run of 100 prints, so don't miss out. They will be a 11" x 14", and cost a minimum of $35 or pay what you want.

All proceeds will go to help local kids via CASA of Lane County. Everyone who purchases a poster print will also get an additional postcard-sized version to “give" to someone else.

If you don't know who CASA is:

Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) provides a powerful voice for abused and neglected children in Lane County. CASA volunteers work to prevent children from being re-abused by facilitating their move through the court and child protective services systems as quickly as possible into safe, permanent homes.

Learn more about CASA at http://www.casa-lane.org/.

So please join us for "Give Shop" at our design studio during the December First Friday Art Walk. See prints get made, and give to a child.

5:30 - 9pm
First Friday, December 4th
at the Artsdigital.co design studio
945 Olive, in Broadway Alley (map)
Eugene, OR,97401

On Facebook? See a preview of the final print design on the event page: https://www.facebook.com/events/974691345908087/ (via Eugene Contemporary Art)

 

September 21, 2015 - No Comments!

Two Pop-up shows hosted in our studio

Pushphin Ephemera posters in the window of Artsdigital's studio.

Pushpin Ephemera at Artsdigital.co

During First Friday this month we hosted a pop-up show for Eugene Contemporary Art (a side project of Artsdigital co-founder Courtney Stubbert). We have a really small space, but it was a great chance to move some furniture around and re-envision our design studio for another use. It was a group show featuring the studio "ephemera" of 6 local artists. It was a cool mix of sketches, notes, collages, figure studies, screen printing tests, photocopy reference materials. All of it represented the studio practice as an exploration, but revealed the items rarely shown by artists. Mostly because they don't tend to think about the stuff that collects to the sides of their "real work".

 

Pushpin Ephemera group show main wall

Paths of Resistance - October 2nd

We are trying it again this coming October 2nd, with another show, this time of a single artists work. "Paths of Resistance" by Josh Sands will have a mix of paintings and objects up for one night. We may have to move our desks and shelving into the hallway for the evening, but that's fine with us. It also gives us a chance to make some posters for an art event... which is why we got into design in the first place.

Read more about it on ECA's website.

 

Paths of Resistance pop-up show banner

 

If you live in sunny and warm Eugene, Oregon, sign up for ECA's email list to get updates on future shows.

March 18, 2015 - 1 comment.

Launch day for Touchsense.com

Touchsense_mobile_screens

A new custom theme for TouchSense® Technology

Update: This site has since been absorbed by Immersion.com - the parent site we also built. Read about this project here.

We are always stoked to launch a new client site, and this week we are eager to share the new site for Immersion Corp's TouchSense Technology. We've got a few images up on our work page, or you can just motor on over to their new site and check out what TouchSense has to offer.

January 13, 2015 - 1 comment.

Interviews and Essays on Tools, Design and Process

Courtney Stubbert is interviewed at Apple Seeds.

Our illustrious designer Courtney Stubbert was interviewed for the new blog Apple Seeds. From their about page:

"Apple Seeds is a site dedicated to sowing seeds of inspiration for artists who use Apple products.  From Writers to Filmmakers, Illustrators to Musicians — we'll profile a different artist every week making cool things with Apple tech.

Though Courtney hasn't given 'actual' blood to the Apple corp, his devotion is understandable given the amount of hours he spends glued to his tools. Paul on the other hand just scoffs at him, relishing in the dollars he saves on his multiple PC or Linux laptops that are "just as powerful, and 2/3 the price."

He's right. But then again, he prefers the command line.

Good luck to the site creator Micah Moss, and thanks for the conversation. Read the interview here.

More Reading:

If you like reading about the creative process and designing book covers, Courtney waxes poetic on both subjects elsewhere. Check out "Interview with a book designer" and "How I discovered process".