James Wynne is Director of User Experience for Sandstorm and has been in digital product development since 1996. He has worked as a UX designer for a myriad of clients including large eCommerce brands, mobile device manufacturers and integrated marketing agencies.
We're so honored! Our web design firm won a web design award for the National Association of Realtors Green Designation web site. It's a green industry site, an association and in real estate - three of our favorite industries to work in. As Holly would say, we heart winning!
When you are talking about informal usability testing, it doesn't have to be complicated nor time intensive. Think simple, think as Homer Simpson would say "duh?". When you take a look at the web site navigation and the initial web design concepts, think about the questions you have about what something means or what the section is about - and you can see if others run into the same questions. It's simple, it's quick and it's a good start to get out the easy problems (mostly terminology). Then you can dive deeper into more formal usability testing to really get ahead of your competition.
To the average google researcher, the two key word phrases 'web design chicago' and 'web design firm chicago' may seem like the same thing so you would assume you would get the same results, but it's not entirely true. Interestingly enough, google considers Sandstorm Design an incredible find for a web design firm (maybe because we're a full service interactive agency?), but for the average web design search, we're not. In my next life I would enjoy being a google algorithm strategist.
We just recommitted to writing our employee manual (thanks Janna!). It's been 10 years since we've been in business, and we have started on this project multiple times. But as we're back in growth mode and on the rise for a few more hires this summer and fall, we've decided that we're going to actually complete it this time. Ok, Janna decided it is really way overdue and we need to get this done.
Our approach? An employee-centric model of course! Our plan is to have Mike get the rough draft done, then let the rest of the staff read, edit and add so that the employee manual is truly ours, not another boring corporate book. Wish us luck!
As a growing marketing firm, it feels like we're always adding new services, new staff, new processes, new clients and new creative ideas on how we can integrate marketing across all media. Social media marketing is no different. A company really needs to have a strategic plan, a well positioned message, and an appropriate voice and tone before they start chasing their customers and prospects to become their friend, fan or follower. Social media can really help define a company's personality unlike any type of media we've had in the past - so use it wisely my friend, fan and follower...
This weekend is the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer in Chicago. Volunteers walk along the lakefront 26.2 miles on Saturday, and 13.1 miles on Sunday. Part of our efforts to give back to the community include our sponsorship of local events (like this weekend). In addition, we're always in the midst of an annual report design for one of our favorite local non profits. :) I am really proud of the difference we have made over the years - humbled and proud.
A non profit client of ours recently asked for a list of internet marketing tactics to consider while building her online marketing strategy. Here's where our user experience design firm started with our list:
- SEO (organic search engine optimization) and linking campaigns
- PPC (pay per click)
- Affiliate marketing (think amazon.com’s books)
- HTML Emails and Auto-responders
- Conversion Concepts (getting people to do what you want them to do on your site)
- Web Analytics and Testing
- Online Video
- Blogs and Social Media (facebook, twitter)
- Banner ads
- Article writing
Does anyone else have more to add?
Sandstorm Design officially has over 1,000 followers on Twitter now! From wishing one of our employees a happy birthday (go Alma!), sharing the latest words we've added on Marketing Addictionary and random social networking tips, people are following Sandstorm and getting to know who our web design company is from the inside out. Now I owe Holly Potbelly - her social media goal has been achieved with 1,000 followers :)
I got a text today that read "Your VISA account is closed due to unusual activity, call us at 1-(888) 568-2788." After doing a quick search online I came across 800notes.com that shows a string of other people like me who have gotten these texts but with a different 800 number.
It's fraud, but it made me second guess that maybe we did have an issue with our company credit card. I have mixed feelings about mobile marketing as I don't like having to pay for someone's ad to me, but this is even worse - paying for spam and fraud. Ug.
Sandstorm Design is pleased to announce the launch of MissionGetHired.com, a new CareerBuilder.com site that helps U.S. Veterans find jobs. Sandstorm Design proudly developed the new brand name, information architecture, experiential design and messaging for the site, adapting the CareerBuilder.com brand to cater to U.S. Veterans. "We wanted to create an online experience that spoke directly to Veterans," creative director, Janna Fiester, said regarding the brand strategy.
The site launched in April of 2009 and instantly received recognition. Pentagon correspondent, Barbara Starr, mentioned the site on CNN's Road to the Rescue segment – the only feature thus far with a positive spin on unemployment. Veteran employment is currently at 8.1%, compared to the 8.8% overall United States unemployment rate.