Tag: web design

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!

Screenshot of the Sanity Health Challenge site
HealthWeb Design

Site Upgrades – check out Heidi’s new look

We love when villagers continue to change, upgrade, revise and improve their sites!

When I was out on Twitter tonight, someone I’m connected to tweeted about the new look of Heidi’s site and so I took a look.

Wow! Constant improvement. Simple. Straightforward. Elegant Design. White space.

Here’s a screenshot for your viewing pleasure.

 

Why don’t you go take a look?

http://www.sanityhealthchallenge.com/#!STARTING LINE/mainPage

 

Screenshot of the Sanity Health Challenge site

Sanity Health Challenge by Heidi Totten

Danalyn
DesignTeachingTraining and Development

Villager Danalyn – E-learning and Performance Solutions

Website: http://www.breakthrulearn.com Danalyn

LinkedInhttp://www.linkedin.com/pub/danalyn-robinson/0/29/4ba

What motivated you to start Breakthru Learning Solutions, LLC? I started Breakthru Learning Solutions, LLC because I desired more flexibility and greater control over my finances. I was determine to start my own business after realizing an employer was billing me out at 5 times my compensation. A few years after that decision, the business was established.

 

When did you start your business? 1996

Break Thru Learning

When did you realize you had a talent/interest in your particular area? In 2003, I found out about, and eventually enrolled in, a graduate program for instructional technology. Although I had a technical background, I was always drawn to education. I was very excited to find a program that combined education and technology.

Do you do this full-time or part-time? I’m currently working PT. With additional assignments, I plan to work FT.

What lessons have you learned along the way? Building your business takes constant effort. Don’t become complacent with your present clientele.

How do you market your business? Any particular ideas that worked best for you? Networking works. I would like to step up efforts in Marketing.

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!

DesignPaintingTraining and Development

Villager Kim – Design on and off the web

Illustration of kids playing on the back of a truck

Summer on the truck

Primary Website: www.kimjolly.com(for professional elearning development, communication graphics, presentations, web design/dev)

Additional Website:  www.freewebs.com/interiorreflections/ (for decorative painting – murals and faux finishing)

Notes from Kim

 I’ve started and stopped multiple businesses over the past 10 years.  Why did I keep stopping? Two primary, but related, reasons:

  • Kids – I have kids…no time for work, building my skills, attending industry events (and no money to attend for that matter)
  •  Time and Money – As an entrepreneur, unless you have some sort of stockpile of money that you can pull from, it’s very difficult to start/maintain the business unless you have a full-time job.  But there-in lies the “catch”…because you have a full-time job, you have little to no time to invest in your businesses.

For now (since I have a full-time job), I take on projects that I know I can handle in a weekend or in the evenings from home. For now, it will have to do…

What motivated you to start your own business? Being my own boss/setting my own schedule/flexibility between work and family… outlet for my creativity (keeps me more “grounded”)

When did you first start your own business? My first business was in fashion design (in 1997)…didn’t make enough money; too much time and overhead.  My second business was in web design/development (2002), called “OKAYwebs”.  Third business was in decorative painting  (2004).  Last, with Kim Jolly (2009)..

 

What motivated you to start your own business, or in your case, multiple businesses? When I realized how quickly I was able to learn and then execute a finished product…coupled with all the positive feedback and encouragement I received…not just from friends and family, but from those in the actual profession(s).  Seemed “natural” (corny, I know)

Do you do this full or part-time? Part-time for now…would love to do any of my businesses full time.  Timing seems to be everything

Any lessons learned that you’d like to share? Practice, learn as much as you can, network, don’t underestimate word-of-mouth…don’t let you baby crawl around your computer while you’re working (mine just pushed the Power button and I had to restart this email…HA!).  When you’re first starting out…you may want to consider doing some things for “free” to build your portfolio quickly and get the “word-of-mouth” going.  Also, in the beginning, have “Promotions” as incentives to potential customers.  Get your website up and business cards done as quickly as possible…keep your cards ON HAND AT ALL TIMES…you may never know who you’ll run into in the grocery store.

How do you market your business?  Through my website (utilizing SEO), business cards (hand-in-hand), portfolio, networking, word of mouth. I used to do some direct mail pieces…too costly and old-school – email marketing is better.  If your work isn’t conducive to a “portfolio” have some sort of Customer/Client package that you can give to the customer – brochure(s), fliers, info about your business, testimonials, etc…

Can we talk to you in a few months to find out where you are at? Progress? I’m open for interviewing…I don’t know what I can share as I seriously doubt I will have done much work within my businesses anytime soon.

 Thanks for this opportunity!!

See some of the murals Kim has designed and painted here.