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Goodbye 2009

Filed under: Blogs,Thoughts — Andy @ 4:24 pm

January 7, 2010

As Martin’s just pretty much covered everything about the design side of 2009 in his last post I thought I’d add some thoughts about what went on business-wise.

2009 was a bit of a yin and yang year for us. We began by bucking the recession due to the fact we were building online shops and other non-print projects. However the print design side also saw an increase, although the jobs were smaller and mostly relating to clients’ websites. For example, short run flyers promoting web offers or corporate IDs for new businesses who were wanting a web presence over anything else. Businesses seem to be retreating to the web due to the flexibility and ease of updating what they are offering.

The later part of the year saw a massive increase in late and non-payment from clients – even ones we have worked for for years and considered friends. It seems that when times are hard loyalty becomes a casualty. My own role became more of a credit controller than a designer which had a knock-on effect on the time available to spend with our “good” clients and developing new business. We felt that by giving┬ámassively increased credit (although not out of choice) we were suddenly doing the job of the banks, who were in retreat from lending.

However, on the upside, in terms of new business, 2009 must go down as a record year for increasing our client base with a surprising amount of startups coming to us and also established companies looking for a change, or for better value from their creative partners.

I’d be interested to hear some feedback from others in the creative industries to see if we had similar experiences.

As for our direction in 2010, 2009 has laid the foundations for a slight shift in our approach to website building. Every site we built had some sort of content management element. It’s something you can’t escape from now. Unfortunately this makes it difficult to add sites to your portfolio as you’re never quite sure what the client has done to the site after you’ve “handed over the keys”. The majority of sites were based on WordPress (including this one) which has now matured from a blog system into something that can transparently run a normal-looking site…but with the added advantage of a massive amount of control for the owner.

We also built several online shops based on the Zen Cart and X-Cart systems as well as creating a couple of totally bespoke systems ourselves in-house for clients with specific needs. A significant development here has been the wider acceptance of PayPal as a payment gateway. As it can also process standard credit and debit cards it allows the site owner to avoid having to jump through the hoops of the banks and also to avoid the nightmare (and often prohibitive cost) of PCI compliance. The surge of online shopping is something we hope to continue taking advantage of, and I think I’m going to have to just bite the bullet and start using the words “cart” and “store” instead of “shopping basket” and “shop” to save time when customising (or should that be “customizing”) these American systems.

Final thoughts:

We got to love:

We got to hate:

  • Rouge clients
  • The continued existence of IE 6
  • Courses on how to use Social Media to increase sales

Glad to see the back of:

  • That crappy swirly / spirally / flowery illustration style that everyone likened to Art Nouveau but clearly wasn’t
  • The paint-splat / run effect

Today I learned…

Filed under: Tech,Thoughts — Tags: , , , — Martin @ 1:59 pm

Hello and Happy new year! It’s been a while since I’ve managed to post anything new on here, we’ve were very busy during the run up to Christmas and I couldn’t find the time to write. Still we will have some new work to add to our portfolio very soon.

Design and in particular, web design are fields which require practitioners to keep constantly up to date on what’s going on within their chosen field. In the case of design, its important to keep up with the latest trends, themes and motifs, while trying to figure out where to go next. In the case of web design you also have to keep up with technology, APIs, frameworks and a whole host of other technobabble that occasionally fills me with dread.

Recently I’ve recently been learning the intricacies of x-cart. X Cart is a solution for building safe and robust e-commerce sites and supports all the sort of features that you’d expect to see in an online shop, by using it we can offer our clients a powerful shopping solution that should cover almost all their needs for a nominal charge. We’ll be adding a couple of shopfronts we’ve been building to our portfolio soon.

I’ve also been burying my head in the innards of WordPress to allow us to build ever more complex blogs and websites, I’ve also been working my first custom widget for the Sensora 2010 website.

I’ve also been busying myself with learning Action Script 3. To be fair, I’ve been learning bits of it since it was released, but I seriously knuckled down to it in 2009 and can now use it – together with away3d to deliver fully interactive 3d experiences straight to the user’s browser. Working with Flash and AS3 is a bit of a weird one for me personally, I used to hate it, then I had what I guess you could call an epiphany and everything seemed to fit together in my head. Now its an area I actually enjoy working with – go figure.

Ok… so I kinda revel in the technobabble, but when you can use it to actually come up with something it’s sort of seductive.

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