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.
I had a creative block for today's blog entry, but I really wanted to write. Alma popped into my office, so I asked her for some ideas (this is a very common scenario here at Sandstorm... I have an idea, or at a loss for one, and the staff member in the closest proximity to me gets "chosen" to help brainstorm the solution). She jumped right in and rattled off like 5 ideas, and the one that struck me the most was her perspective about how unique we are in how we openly share ideas here - and that anyone can add insight and make a contribution. Some may say this is an inefficient use of time... these random unplanned idea-dreaming water-cooler conversations, or is it really one of the perks about working for a boutique?
Last night we had our 3rd class in our 8 month program where we had a pretty interactive discussion about the five stages of business growth. We broke out into teams that were in the same growth mode, and shared personal stories on how we each got there. My favorite part of this SBA e200 group so far is hearing the personal stories of each CEO - how they got started, what factors motivated them, and what risks they took to get here.
Each CEO has their own story of courage, recognized opportunity and personal growth. I bet this group would make a great twitter novel... (hmm, note to self). But I wonder how much time that novel would take away from me working on building our web design company.
Sandstorm Design has been selected by the Small Business Administration (SBA) to participate in their Emerging 200 (E200) initiative. The purpose of the initiative is to provide 200 nationwide businesses with the network and resources to build a sustainable business and create more jobs. Candidates for the program are emerging small businesses that have a high potential for growth, are headquartered in an inner city and are at least 3 years old.
CEOs from the 200 selected emerging small businesses take part in an 8-month intensive curriculum focused on developing an expansion strategy, and participate in a graduation ceremony upon completion. "The SBA Chicago group is like having our own Board of Directors. Each CEO is bringing a wealth of information to the table, along with experience doing business in a variety of private industries and public sectors. It's an amazing learning and growing experience." principal, Sandy Marsico said regarding her involvement.
Fourteen cities across the country were selected to participate in the initiative (out of 55 eligible cities), including: Detroit, Milwaukee, Chicago, Atlanta, Denver, Dallas, Philadelphia, Boston, Baltimore, New Orleans, Memphis, Portland, Albuquerque, Jacksonville, and Des Moines.
Why small businesses? According to SBA’s Office of Advocacy, small businesses are the greatest source of new employment in inner cities and account for 80 percent of total employment. The SBA hopes to expand the E200 program in the future to more cities and businesses.
Sandstorm Design has launched a new web site for the National Association of REALTORS® to promote the Green REsource Council and NAR's Green Designation. The designation is the first of it's kind from NAR and offers specialized green real estate training for residential, commercial and property management professionals.
Filled with up-to-date news and resources, the site educates users on green building products and practices, reveals the numerous advantages to going green, and helps distinguish green goers from greenwashers.
Sandstorm Design was responsible for the design, writing, development and marketing of the site. "We wanted to make green seem accessible and help users start the conversation," Creative Director, Janna Fiester, said regarding the strategy behind the look, feel and tone of the site.
Non-members are able to connect with green designees and professionals, and members have access to exclusive webinars and marketing materials, an online community and more.
Established in early 2008, the Green REsource Council works to make green real estate knowledge available to everyone. They're accomplishing this by advocating for a greener MLS, building NAR’s Green Directory for green industry vendors, and developing resources and partnerships to keep their members at the forefront of the industry.
Learn more about the Green REsource Council and NAR's Green Designation.
Our tweeting has generated a new business lead for us today! At 500 followers and counting (Holly has a personal goal of getting us 1000) our web design firm has hit a point where we can track our tweeting to a lead. And it is a good qualified lead - perfectly matched for our usability expertise and in the green industry. Stay posted as we continue to build our social media strategy and track the results.
It was a green day for us! (not the band Green Day, even though I do like their music) Our web design firm launched a new web site for the National Association of REALTORS® to promote the Green REsource Council and NAR’s Green Designation. This designation is the first of it’s kind from NAR and offers specialized green real estate training for residential, commercial and property management professionals. How cool is that? Check out their "green" web site.
The Small Business Administration (SBA) was searching for 200 companies across the country with a high potential for growth to become part of their Emerging 200 program. The e200 would provide education, networking and resources to help CEOs scale and grow their businesses, create more jobs, and expand into new markets. It sounded like an interesting concept, so I applied.
I was in Colorado on a snowboarding trip when I got the call that Sandstorm Design was 1 of 16 companies chosen from Chicago. More to come...
Our twittering is driving web site traffic to our web design company. This week twitter made it into our top 10 referral sources according to our web analytics. And the great news is that our twitter traffic is staying longer on our web site than traffic from other referral sources. Today we plan to add twitter as a referral option on our request a quote and contact us forms to start to track if twitter traffic turns into qualified leads.
So I just read a snippet from the middle of a twitter novel, and I am still getting my head wrapped around the concept. I read about 50 posts, and I feel like I jumped into a movie part way through. All weekend this twitter novel storyline has been popping up in my mind, but I can't decide if it's the storyline that is strong or is it my intrigue and curiosity on the medium selected? Could a twitter novelist make it on Oprah? Or could our web design firm build a novel about our company?
So our web analytics consistently show a decline in unique visitors on Fridays, but on a month to month basis, Fridays drive the most leads verse any other day of the week for our web design firm. Why is that? Is everyone so tired of putting out fires all week that by Friday all they want to do is some browsing on the web? Or do they finally get a few minutes to themselves to get to that 'to do' on their list of finding a new interactive agency? Or is Friday subconsciously the most creative day (and fun) day of the week? Any insight would be great!