Tag: design

screenshot of document filled with mark-ups and track changes
AccountabilityBooksGoalsPlanning

Track Changes – capturing the fine-tuning of creation

My book is just 1/2 way there. I write about habits, goals, planning and the like …and I missed my own August 2014 deadline. It wasn’t for lack of trying or regular writing. The ideas just needed to get clearer, the “killing the darlings” process is mentally tiring, and overcoming the lizard brain (quoting Seth Godin – “the part of you that controls you, makes you afraid, and pushes you because it says you’re a failure”) was surprisingly difficult. After all, who would want to read what I write?

As a non-writer person (lots of ideas and stories, but not great at explaining them), this is quite the process!screenshot of document filled with mark-ups and track changes

I’m worried about deleting all of these thoughts and ideas. What if I leave out something that was the main point? What if the life changing phrase is mistakenly deleted?

This is where the beauty of “tracking changes” comes in to play. I can save the tracked changes daily and start the next day with a new draft called “accepted changes.” Sure, I’ve now got 35 files stacking up in the My Documents folder, but it is a relief to track this mental and physical process of re-arranging, refining, and refreshing the content. 

Aren’t we lucky that we can change? And, that we can track it? The use of apps to track calories, bike riding, running, and debt reduction is a major signal to the power of tracking the changes we make in our lives. We get to see where we were, where we are going and get excited about where we may end up. It’s about growth, adventure, and new horizons while capturing the junky-ness of the journey.

Also helpful, is a morgue file of sorts – a document that I can copy/paste my unused quotes and notes just in case I need them later or …for another book. If anything, it provides mental relief to my non-writer soul. The thought is preserved.

There are quite a few writing gurus out there that have a lot to share about the writing process – what tools to use, what process to go through, and how to become a millionaire eBook creator. I’ll learn what I can from them more in due time.

For now, I’ve got to write, to change, to modify and to morph. And, I’m going to track it!

Screenshot of the current Nudge Village site template
Nudge Blog

4 Tips to overcome template mania

How many times have we changed our site template?

Screenshot of the current Nudge Village site template

Nudge Village – December 2012 theme – how long will it last?

I’ve tried Posterous, Blogger, Squarespace, WordPress, Squarespace, WordPress, Squarespace.

It may even get changed before you have a chance to see the template in the screenshot above!

Sigh.

After spending hours and hours and hours this week, I finally have a template that I think I can live with for a while and perhaps even grow with over time.

Want some of my lessons learned?

Tip #1 – Stick to your requirements!

There are so many awesome designs out there. It is easy to get caught up in the different options available. But, just like buying a house or a car, it is important to keep a list of the functionality you know you need next to you while you search. Otherwise it is easy to leave out something that you at first thought was highly important. The mind can’t handle too much information at once. So, don’t make it memorize. (Note: when I bought my condo, it was late at night. I forgot to check to see if it had a deck. It doesn’t. Big miss.)

No need for anything fancy. Just write your requirements down.

Create a checklist.

I even put mine on my desktop sticky note.

photo of a list of requirements

Nudge Village Requirements List on computer sticky notes

Tip #2 – Experiment with content, categories, and tags

Sometimes you can’t see the full capabilities that a template has available because you are testing with no content. If possible, import some content into a test account and start previewing templates. I’ve discarded many a template only to come back and test it with content and happily found out  that the template did have the functionality that I needed.

Note – some of the newer templates available for free are starting to have the “less is more” or “white space” approach to design. That is ok, but be sure you check out widget/gadget options in templates to make sure that they are enabled for those particular templates. It may be too simplified for what you are trying to accomplish.

Tip #3 – WordPress is popular – which one are you using?

WordPress is really popular. Make sure that you know the difference between wordpress.org and wordpress.com. WordPress.com is completely online and allows you to use FREE templates or purchased templates without downloading the site to your own computer. WordPress.org allows you to download a WordPress site to your computer and there are a lot of companies that build templates for this option. However, you’ve gotta know some stuff to attempt this option. Or, you need to get someone to take care of your web presence for you.

I purchased Elegant Themes (awesome site by the way) last year only to find out that it supported the wordpress.org site and I have wordpress.com

Tip #4 – Try a few FREE options before you buy

You may be anxious to have the most awesome site out there, but design can be a bit finicky. Oh, and so can you! Most templates cost substantially over $20. So, why not spend some time leveraging free templates before you break out the pocket book.

It’s easy to switch out free templates as much as you want, but what if you fall out of love with your current purchased template after a month?

Best to use a few free options until you are sure what kind of look and feel and functionality you really need.

Good luck! Let’s see how long our new free template from WordPress lasts!

Book cover of the In Pursuit of Elegance book
BooksDesignNudge Blog

Elegance – may be something missing

Book cover of the In Pursuit of Elegance book

I’m just halfway through this book and am so excited about it that I have to post this right now!

This is a must for anyone that wants to convey a message, catch people off guard, make something truly remarkable – all of us, right?

He talks at length (but in an engaging way) about what he conveys in the tagline – “why the best ideas have something missing.” There is something about minimizing, removing, and simplifying that sometimes brings the most amazing results. Unexpected results. He calls this elegance.

As an example, he shares the Laweiplein experiment. Dratchen, a Dutch city, has a junction/busy intersection referred to as Laweiplein. Hans Monderman, a Dutch traffic investigator turned engineeer, designed this intersection. Basically, he took away all the signs, stoplights and sidewalks.

What…..

Yep, took them all away. And, in taking them away created what Matthew May (the author) states “great safety in danger.”

The awareness of the drivers went up. The awareness of the walkers went up. The awareness of the bikers went up.

Did anything go down?

Yes. Accidents!

There was something about having less, that forced drivers, walkers, and bikers to be more aware. They couldn’t rely on all the usual suspects (signs, lights and lines on the road). They had to rely on their own mind and judgement. They had to act smart and use their brain!

He shares another example where participants in a study were given a new camera ad in three forms:

  • Picture with no words
  • Picture with a few key pieces of info
  • Picture with lots of detailed information

What did people respond to best? The middle option – the one with just enough information. Many people call this the “goldilocks effect.” Not too hot, not too cold, but just right.

Do I dare share one more example?

Did you watch the last episode of The Sopranos? I didn’t, but apparently it caught everyone off guard. The screen went blank at the end of the hour and everyone assumed it was a temporary blackout or other issue. It wasn’t. It was just an unexpected ending. At first people were mad, but then they started talking about it, trying to find the meaning and starting online discussions about all the implications.

What does this mean for you – a producer of ideas, products and services?

The psychology of elegance is an interesting thing. You must appeal to people. You must get them to select you over someone else, or in addition to another product. You must stimulate their interest.

So, here are three points made by Soman and Menon (researchers that performed the picture test above):

  1. Arouse curiosity by demonstrating a moderate gap in the observer’s knowledge.
  2. Provide just enough information to make them want to resolve their curiosity.
  3. Give them time to try to resolve their curiosity on their own.

This book goes into all kinds of topics related to elegance, psychology, marketing, engineering, painting, fractals, etc. Like I’m not even done with the book yet and so I’m sure that there are far more topics.

My summary isn’t elegant, but I’m hoping that I’ve accomplished #1 and #2 above and that you’ll go read the rest of the book – or at least go off and read a better review. (-:

Follow-Up

Just finished the book! The four main principles are:

  • Symetry
  • Seduction
  • Subtraction
  • Sustainability

Check out the book to learn the details!

Graphic of Mary Kay's face
DesignVideo

Villager Mary Kay – In-Brief Video

Mary Kay Alegre 

Graphic of Mary Kay's face

Artwork by Mary Kay

Website: www.inbriefvideos.com
YouTube: youtube.com/inbriefvideos
Facebook: Search “In-Brief Videos”

 

What motivated you to start your own business?

A couple years ago I saw an instructional video that I loved. It was different from anything I had ever seen.  I wanted to make something like it. After letting the idea simmer, my husband and I tried making our first video in 2009.  We got out an old video camera, learned about lighting and sound among other new things, and found a topic. When the video turned out to our liking, we thought we’d try making a business out of it.

When did you realize you had talent in this area?

This is my dream job. I wanted to be a graphic designer when I grew up, but pursued a career in international studies and adult education instead, which I love too. So, now, sitting at my kitchen table drawing paper cut-outs that will educate and entertain audiences on topics of importance, like trade with China, and public health issues-I’m living the dream!

Do you do this full-time or part-time?

Part time, it is a perfect part time job—with morning and afternoon school pickups. If I (cross my fingers) get too much work, I’ll find people to work with me-and remain part-time.

What lessons have you learned along the way?

I worked in an office for about 10 years. When the little ones came along it was great to work online, from home. Recently, once the kids were off to school, I had to decide whether to go to work full time (job security, but in a “cube”) or try to launch the business (flexibility, creativity, no job security!). My practical side often wins out on decisions like this, but this time I didn’t let it. I concentrated on my priorities of a work/life balance, and told my husband to hang in there while we lived on only his income.

artwork from the InBrief videos

Artwork from the InBrief videos

We told all our friends and family about our first video via email. We posted it on YouTube. Everyone liked it. Friends shared it. The word was spreading. I prepared for an onslaught of contracts. It didn’t happen like that.  But, I’m very happy with our long “start-up mode”.  I’ve learned a lot, read a lot, and have had time to envision the company focus.

At first I did everything on my own. Created my own very basic website, tried to design a logo, etc.  I read a lot about marketing through social media and business development, but had a hard time knowing when and where to start when it came to my own business.  After getting some contracts last year, we felt we could invest in an outside company to help us. It was a great decision.

How do you market your business?

We’re using online social media and social networking as much as possible to spread the word about our videos and our company–Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn. We plan to add meaningful content to our blog on a regular basis, and to create a new video for public viewing every several months. Also, we’re looking into get involved with local organizations whose members might have an interest in videos like ours.

Any special offers to share with our readers?

Find us a new client, and get your video made for half price through 2011.

Can we come back and interview you again in a few months to find out what “next steps” you’ve taken in your business adventures?

Of course.

Welcome to Nudge Village Mary Kay!

Sand pail and scope
DesignInspiration

Sandbox

Did you have a sandbox when you were little? Where you tried out your skills at making castles surrounded by little lakes, rivers and moats?

Sand pail and scopeWhen did you stop playing in the sand?

And, do you know why?

A sandbox is a wonderful place where you can build something from the imagination, make mistakes, and quickly start right over again on the same idea or something different.

Do you have a sandbox right now for the book you are writing, the business you are starting or for the company you are already running?

A safe place to brainstorm ideas, test out possibilities, capture lessons learned from mistakes?

Programmers often have a “test server” to make sure that files work right before going to a “production server” where the public actually sees the results. Graphic artists might have a special file where they save all their examples or collect ideas for future projects. Photographers might have a secret site where they upload pictures to see how they look on the screen before displaying them in their portfolio. Podcasters record their voices and go back and manipulate, cut seconds, add music and play around with different speeds all behind the scenes before you see the final version in iTunes. In the simplest form, a Word document (or blog entry) is in a sandbox when you review it, correct spelling, add all the formatting and get it the way you want it before you hit “send” or “post.”

Here at Nudge Village we’ve started a blog to act as a kind of sandbox. We are going to capture the journey of building this site – lessons learned, experiments and ideas along the way. We’ll share our mistakes and some of the surprises. We’ll open it up to the readers at some point. Sandcastle

Heck, maybe we’ll even do it now – check out http://nudgevillage.blogspot.com! It is sparsely populated because we are just getting started, but perhaps you’d like to take a look and make something similar (in concept) for yourself.

Each of you will have a different place and approach to try out and test your ideas. It isn’t really important how or where, but that you have that place (virtually or physically) and that you like going there. A safe place to practice and improve your skill or product.

Take a look at this sandbox!

As a side note, here’s a talented young woman who actually “plays in a sandbox” and has developed an amazing talent. Enjoy it and take a look at the other YouTube videos that are related. Beautiful!

ArtCraftsCrochet

Villager Shirley – Swirleys on Etsy

Website:  http://www.etsy.com/shop/Swirleys?ref=top_trail

swirleys_flowers

In our entry  a few weeks ago, we talked about using Etsy to display and sell product.

Shirley has a passion for crocheting and has turned that passion into an online business through Etsy.com.

She’s just starting out, but has a lot of products available and continues to grow the variety of products she offers.

We’ll follow Shirley as she applies different marketing strategies, figures out if Etsy is truly the place to offer her product and other lessons that she learns along the way.

In the meantime, if you’ve got kids or grandkids that need Christmas gifts, take a look at her store at http://www.etsy.com/shop/Swirleys?ref=top_trail .