Risingline Marketing strategy / design / development / management
(208) 352.0775

Contact Form

design & marketing blog

Marketing, design, and technical resources for making your digital and print communications more effective.

How to Have a Successful Web Design Project (Part 2)

September 8th, 2009

What determines the success (or failure) of a Web development project?

While there are many important factors (both on the client and developer side) there are two all-powerful prime lynchpins that will make or break even the most qualified participants: Perspective and expectations. Some time ago I made a blog post on perspective, in this second of two posts I’ll discuss expectations.

Expectations

Without . . . a set of shared exceptions we risk orchestrating an iPod dance party”

Success in almost any transaction or relationship is determined by establishing and meeting a set of shared expectations between parties. A $3 meal at a McDonalds can be just as successful as a $200 meal at a Smith & Wollensky Steakhouse. The same degree of success can be realized at both regardless of the vast difference between a dedicated waiter serving dry-aged prime beef and a mass produced sandwich handed to us in a crumpled paper bag. It’s all about us getting what we expect.

When a client and developer view a project from a shared perspective, setting expectations is the natural progress of collaboration. Without the collaborative systematic development of a set of shared exceptions we risk orchestrating an iPod dance party. Both parties may participate but they’ll each be in their own world and when the music stops they will have completely different perspectives from which to determine success.

Developing a shared perspective is the responsibility of the developer and starts with listening, interrogating really (in a nice way, without the light), to the client and extracting the core business goals of a project, the details of the client’s unique value proposition, the needs and profile of their customers and other such vital information.

Provocative and challenging questions should be presented to the client in this stage to help them gain an outside perspective and the developer needs to be willing to adjust their biases so that in the end there is an unambiguous meeting of the minds about the project goals. In addition to the primary goals, there are many technical parameters that need to be discussed and agreed upon including development environments, creative parameters, branding continuity, etc.

After goals and requirements have been collaboratively determined, the developer is responsible for drafting a formal systematic development process that articulates the specific developer tasks that will be provided to meet those goals, and establishes a work-flow time frame for project completion.

All of this is not that profound or new. It’s really just common sense. But from my observation, the temptation is often great to gloss over a formal development of a shared perspective and expectations. It’s usually in the context where the client and developer develop good initial rapport and feel confident that they’re “on the same page.” Feelings are great but Web development projects are too complex and expensive to rely on luck for success.

Cutting and Pasting from MS Word to your Blog or CMS

August 7th, 2009
TinyMCE Text Editor

TinyMCE Text Editor

Blog and Content Management platforms such as WordPress, TypePad, Blogger, Drupal and CMS Made Simple all offer great WYSIWYG text editors that allow site owners and authorized users the ability to login to their Website and add text and photo content themselves.

These text editors are suburb, but there is one very common frustration that manifests when users  cut and paste content from MS Word. When content is pasted directly from MS Word to your blog a bunch of “bad” code often gets carrying over in the process. This proprietary Word styling code is veyr likely to mess up the HTML/CSS styling of your Webpage .  Some CMS editors offer additional features for “cleaning” word code while pasting which work to varring degrees. Regardless of what other options you might have, following is a fail safe method for cleaing MS Word content on paste for any blog/CMS system:

  1. Don’t paste Word content that includes photos other embedded elements. To include those elements in your blog or CMS you’ll want to upload and position them individually using the upload and layout capabilities of your Website.
  2. For Windows users, open Note Pad (NOT Word Pad) then cut and paste your content from Word to Note Pad, and then from Note Pad to your blog/CMS text editor.For Mac users you’ll need to get a free text editor (I recommend Text Wrangler) and do the same cut and paste routine as mentioned above.
  3. After you cut and paste the cleaned text content, you’ll need to go through and add paragraph or line breaks. Just go to the end of your first paragraph text and hit enter/return, repeat for all remaining paragraphs. If your Word content had other styling (bold text, italic text, lists, etc.) you’ll need to go through and use the CMS text editors styling features.

The best way to avoid the hassle of restyling content after a cut and paste from Word is to get into the habit of creating your content in your blog .  If you need to send that content in a Word document or email cutting and pasting the other direction, from your blog’s text editor directly to Word, usually carries over styling and paragraph breaks with no adjustments necessary.

Graphic Design, Web Development & Writing Services for Boise

July 3rd, 2009

Boise Writing ServicesTell the receptionist not to hold your calls! Now you’ll have more time to devote to whatever it is you do, because RisingLine, your Boise based graphic design and Web development specialist, now offers writing and editing.

That’s right—you can stop struggling through your brochure, flyer, or Web content, and let us take care of it. We’ve teamed up with Gemstone Media, Inc., to create an unstoppable marketing resource.

What do you get?

  • Fantastic digital & print graphic design
  • Expert Web development
  • Crisp writing and editing
  • Savvy marketing ideas
  • Single point of contact
  • Comprehensive services from a local Boise-based team

So stop worrying about your next marketing project, and start working. Or take a longer lunch. You choose.

Gemstone Media’s clients include:

  • AT&T
  • Cisco
  • HP
  • Microsoft Office
  • Office Depot
  • T-Moblie
  • Tully Associates
  • UW Business School
  • Microsoft Windows
  • Seattle’s Visitors Bureau

Contact us for more information and get started on your next project.

How to Have a Successful Web Design Project (Part 1)

May 6th, 2009

What determines the success (or failure) of a Web development project?

While there are many important factors (both on the client and developer side) there are two all-powerful prime lynchpins that will make or break even the most qualified participants: Perspective and expectations. In this first of two posts I’ll touch on perspective.

Perspective

A Website, even when built with cutting-edge technology and top-tier design, can at best only reflect the real value that your business offers.”

Unfortunately many Web development request for proposals I see are in reality an afterthought or addendum to an already established business model. A common misconception is that a Website or application is some sort of magic accessory that will improve the effectiveness of any business to which it is applied. Revenues down?  Slap up a new ecommerce storefront and watch the numbers climb. New customers declining?  Have your existing Website optimized for search engines and all will change. We refer to this as the Field of Dreams syndrome or the “If you build it, they will come” mentality and it is probably the number one cause of failure and lost effectiveness for Web development projects.

The most essential key to a successful Web development project is not about the Web at all. It’s about defining a competent strategic perspective and then determining the optimal role a Web asset should play within a business’s overall strategic business plan.

A Website, even when built with cutting-edge technology and top-tier design, can at best only reflect the real value that your business offers. Conversely, a high value solution, even when wrapped in subpar quality design and development, can be wildly successful. There’s no better example of this than plentyoffish.com which serves up an antiquated template design, a blurry logo with a tagline too small to read, and a site full of distorted images — all while earning over $10 million of year with only a staff of a few people. Plentyoffish.com focused on the essentials of business and has proved its truly unique value proposition to its market space.  (see And the Money Comes Rolling in, Inc Magazine)

Don’t get the impression that quality graphic design and Web development aren’t important . . . they’re critically important. They just have to be backed up by legitimate value. Very few sites, even those offering stellar value, can get away with sub-par design and features; sites like plentyoffish.com and craigslist.org might but they are definitely an exception. In fact Stanford University reports almost 1/2 of the new visitors to your Website will make an immediate judgment call about the credibility based on your Website’s presentation alone. So, the optimal approach is to first develop a business plan that delivers unambiguously unique value and, second, deliver that value proposition professionally including quality design and Web applications.

So for a client and developer to position a project for success, they need to both commit to intense reality therapy so they can view the project from the same, or very similar, high-level and objective perspective. This can be tough for a number of reasons. On the client side it’s often more than they bargained for and they’re not prepared to invest the time and effort into delving so deep into the soul of their business just for a Web development requirement. They may agree intellectually that it requires a thoughtful strategic approach, but succumb to the “just get it done and off my plate” urgency while fooling themselves into thinking they’ll come back and fix it later.

On the developer side of the coin, it requires a commitment to a deeper type of relationship than that of just a self-interested transactional service provider. The developer needs to define themselves first as a business advisor and secondly a service provider and then only for those services in which the developer can represent themselves as an established expert. It’s only if the developer can truly be objective, and not threatened about recommending 3rd party involvement, that a genuine shared strategic perspective with the client can be reached.

To be continued . . .

Top

↑ Top