Web Design: A Little About This Portfolio

I realized today that I never wrote about post about making this web site.

Obviously, every designer worth her/his grain of salt is going to have an online portfolio. My original one was not me. While I consider myself to have to a strong design-oriented eye, I am my hardest client. I am never happy with it, and it will never be perfect enough.

My inspiration for Sliver of Ice Design is actually my oil paintings. When I do oil painting, I tend to use bright colors, colors a lot brighter than I would ever use on the web. Here are three of my favorite oil paintings I did, which hang in my home:

I wanted to show off my art, my eclectics tastes, and have a little fun. A lot of time, when I’m designing professionally, I have to tone it down or take cues from branding because that’s the job, that’s what pleases the client, and makes everyone happy. Having rabbits surfing on carrots is often not appropriate.

The inspiration for the layout of my splash page was my love of comics. Comic artists like David Mack, Pia Guerra, and David Aja are very innovative and one of the many reasons I love comics as an artist. Their art has made me excited to explore new techniques and layouts. I did all the line drawings and took all the photos I used in the art, wanting to use this site to authentically show who I am.

Of course, what everyone really wants to know is: What’s up the bunnies surfing carrots? Well, I’ve always doodled them and in my painting, Universal Library Card, I used it as my signature and they kind of stuck. They’re wacky and memorable.

I do make changes here and there all the time. And I’m sure this site will morph. It’s still not up to this client’s perfect standards.

The Green Pope, not a new superhero movie

Pope Benedict XVI said Thursday that mankind’s “insatiable consumption” has scarred the Earth and squandered its resources, telling followers that taking care of the planet is vital to humanity.

You can read the rest of the article here.

I think this is beyond wonderful for the Pope to address environmental destruction. While Catholicism may be losing ground in the United States, it is still huge in other countries, especially say down in South America where rain forests are being bulldozed by the acre. I also think it’s a great move for Catholicism back to the social justice-type movements it started doing in Vatican II and were somewhat halted by the more conservative Pope John Paul II.

The social justice movement was always something I greatly admire about Catholicism and while, despite my disagreements with some of the church’s doctrine, I’m more likely to be okay with helping clean a kitchen at my maternal grandparents’ Catholic church when they were getting ready to house the homeless than say hanging decorations for a church social at my father’s Lutheran one.

I think environmentalism is a great topic for them to take as well in that it’s very PR-friendly and not as controversial for them to take on, since I don’t expect the Catholic church to stand up for gay marriage any time soon.

Plus, churches have such a great power to install morals and ethics into people, making the old learn new tricks and young children gain them, and it’s nice to see a truly worthwhile cause of our planet. Instead of just telling followers that life will be better in heaven, it’s time to start making Earth a little more heavenly.

Flickr Or Not

I’ve been considering upgrading my Flickr account. Upgrading lets me make as many folders for pictures I want and lets me upload more than the current free monthly allotment. For me, it’s not so much the allotment, but the folders. I am an organizer, and I haven’t really uploaded any new photos to Flickr because I can’t stand not making more folders.

But I really love this code written for a Flickr feed: Admarket’s flickrSLiDR

These are the photos from my Canada vacation earlier this year. All photography, except the photos with me in them, were taken by me. Go Flames.

Prosumer Goals: Analyzing the Walk

I want to put my words into actions and make prosumer goals. Things that I care about include supporting local businesses, supporting small businesses, buying products which last, buying online to support my industry, and buying “healthy” products for both the Earth and my body. Eventually, I want to try to make every purchase I make have at least two of those qualifiers.

I want to start with looking into buying from local small independent businesses. Small steps for big changes. Continue reading “Prosumer Goals: Analyzing the Walk”

A Little Fun in the Summer

Spring and summer always put me in the mood to clean. I know, cliche. I clean out my closet, my computer files, and whatever else ends up in my warpath.

A few years, some friends of mine and I got together and did a clothing swap. Basically, we cleaned out our closets, brought our clothing together, and swapped. Everything left over ended up at a charity shop.

I figured that we work at a clothing company, which means all of us women probably have four times as much clothing in our closets. So we had a fun late, Friday afternoon clothing swap and donated a lot of clothing. Remember, just say no to velor overalls.

Here’s the e-mail image I made for it:

women's clothing swap e-mail

One of Those Days

I’m having one of those where I feel light-years behind in web development and like I’m not going anywhere. So I wrote a haiku about Donna Noble, who’s by far my favorite companion on Dr. Who. We have similar self-worth issues.

Donna Noble rules/Most efficient companion/Finally someone saw

And I made Tofu and Broccoli Chinese Stir-Fry and have pie. Perhaps I need some sleep too.

Free Shipping, Even If You’re a Beaver

There are lots of theories and data on how free shipping effects e-commerce sales. The only constant is that the faster an item ships to a customer, the happier s/he is and that offering free shipping often affects sales in a positive manner.

Free shipping image designed by me

My cheeky direct e-mail image illustrates the happy little beaver whom got free shipping on his/her $75 or more order. Wood has become a prosumer product ever since the realization of globalization and environmental impact hit the beavers. They want to order from Green Bee Wood’s web site with wood that’s been fairly traded and a company commitment to wood as a renewable resource instead of clear-cutting rain forests in Brazil. Because of this, the beaver has committed himself/herself to a higher price point and free shipping is helping to offset the sting on his/her wallet. Because even as a prosumer, the beaver still budgets.

On the business and marketing side, Green Bee Wood knows that their products are targeted at the prosumer and can accept that quality of product and other good business practices do drive up their prices compared to Wood-4-Cheap. Beavers make up 75% of Green Bee Wood’s demographic. In the realm of free shipping, Green Bee Wood has a lot of options. They can offer free shipping across the board, at a certain price point based on their average order, for a limited time only, to offset sale tax charges, at a flat rate instead of free, etc.

Green Bee Wood has decided to offer free shipping slightly higher than their average order to bring average order sales a little higher, and they think it’s a urgency incentive for their customers to buy. Since they want to create a demand, they’ve decided that free shipping is only going to be offered for a limited time, approximately two weeks, to drive up sales in a traditionally slow winter season when beavers stay lodged down with their families and conserve energy.

This free shipping campaign is very successful for Green Bee Wood as they understand their demographics’ buying patterns and how free shipping can affect them. Free shipping helped a few more beavers make the final click to buy.

To use free shipping or not really depends on the company and their target demographic. As a huge company and largely consumer-based, I think it’s brilliant that Amazon.com offers it on all orders over $25 year round. However, for smaller companies targeting prosumers, there are pitfalls in that constantly running free shipping can flatten out sales. People don’t think they need to order then because it will still be on months later. There’s no urgency. Free shipping can be a useful tool, but like all tools, there’s an appropriate time to use it. The prosumer appreciates free shipping, but will appreciate it more if it’s not there all the time.

Give Me Wal-Mart or Give Me Death? Death: Life as a Prosumer and a Prosumer Marketer.

A friend recently linked an article, Identifying, Knowing and Retaining Your Customers, which talks about marketing towards the prosumer, not the consumer. The person who cares about what s/he’s buying, how its impacted the Earth, where it comes from, the company’s ethics, etc. I’d describe myself as a prosumer and in my daily job, I marketed online to the prosumer, instead of consumer.

Prosumer marketing is interesting as it’s almost the opposite of consumer. It’s specialization vs Wal-Martization.

The consumer wants a pack of 24 women’s athletic socks for $15 at Wal-Mart. S/he cares about prices and quantity. There also might be some attachment to jingles, logos, and brilliantly worked tag lines to cue up the buying instinct. I see the consumer as two different types of people:

The self-server consumer who straight up doesn’t care as long as s/he is getting the best deal. This is the mindless consumer who sometimes buys just to have stuff and has the income or credit lines to do it. The ones who buy disposable diapers and is never going to think twice; it’s convenient, cheap, easy, and always available.

The low-income consumer who’s more concerned about keeping food on the table and a roof over his/her family’s head than fair trade, being green, or shopping locally. This is not just the person buying from Wal-Mart, but likely the one who works for Wal -Mart too. At the current federal minimum wage, the low-income consumer must work 2.5 hours to buy that pack of women’s athletic socks.

On the other hand, the prosumer is the one who looks into the quality of the product, how it’s going to be use, where it’s made, and/or who made it being concerned about fair trade, being green, being organic, and/or shopping local. Different prosumers have different ideals and may mix and match. Lifestyle marketing works wonders on this crowd. A prosumer is usually willing to pay a higher price tag in order to achieve some quality of product.

For instance, when I went to buy an mp3 player, instead of buying a 2 MB generic one for $60, I bought the 160 GB video iPod for around $360 as I knew I would be using it a lot, needed a lot of space, possibly to watch video if flying somewhere, and know Apple not only pioneered the technology, but has good customer support. I’m a web designer, a geek, of course, my tech is going to match my lifestyle.

As a prosumer, I’m a big fan of specialization in the marketing and how e-commerce has greatly helped it out. If I want to know anything about any company, I get online. I look at the company’s web site, product information, and what other people are saying about that company. It’s way more exciting and hopeful than the Wal-Martization of everything.

I might work for a company, which is owned by another one that utilizes Wal-Martization to the extreme, but I can comfort myself with knowing that my job is to market to the person who perhaps cares about something besides bulk pricing and convenience. It’s more creative and stimulating than sticking giant yellow stars with new markdown prices on every graphic I make. (Been here, done that.)

Personally, I want to invest in a product that lasts. I want a product that’s being sold locally or manufactured by a smaller company. I want something that’s green and maybe recycled. I don’t want to feel dirty for what I prosume . I want something that speaks to me. I have no interest in 24 pairs of athletic socks; I would never use them or want them around. They’d end up in my Goodwill donation bag.

I haven’t bought something from a Wal-Mart in something like 7 years, even if my mother, who’s a bit of mix of the self-server and low-income consumer currently, likes to drag me into one when I visit her. I hope as globalization expands and more people have access to free trade and the prosumer voices will be loud enough to equality the marketplace.

I Love You, ToDoist

Organization is one of the most important things for me to keep on top of my job, especially that since June 2007, I am the web team. (Now I have half-a-manager, hopefully a full-time manager soonish.) I’ve tried lots of things to keep on track, from handwritten lists to whiteboards to Excel spreed sheets to Outlook tasks to BaseCamp. But so far, the best I’ve come across is ToDoist.

ToDoist is simple to use and so far the few kinks I’ve run into have been fixed or added. You can even add it to your Gmail or check it on tiny screens of phones. (I don’t use either feature so you’ll have to tell me how it does.) After the initial set-up of mass to-do-ing, I find it easy to update automatically when I get an e-mail or find a new task.

Every day, I open it up and there are the things I need to accomplish. In my Work tasks, I currently have 198 tasks, which is down from 238 in May. I tend not to forget anything on my plate. Even those things someone mentioned months ago and for various reasons, couldn’t be completed until today. It has a neat feature for reoccurring events that allows you to see how many times you’ve gone. It’s easy to move tasks around if I don’t have enough time to finish something I’d planned on working on. And it’s even easier to click the “done” button.

ToDoist is a wonderful tool for keeping track of the never-ending tasks list. As a work application, I find it essential. Though sometimes I wish I could say the same thing about it when it comes to my Personal tasks because I tend to leave it alone once I’m away from work. Maybe I need two accounts…