Procrastinating? 5 Things To Do When You Can’t Get Anything Done

Posted by Katelyn Weber on September 4, 2014. Tagged: best practices, strategy

desk

Procrastination, noun: the action of delaying or postponing something. 

Imagine - it’s Tuesday morning, the day after Labor Day and an amazing 3-day weekend. On your ride to work, your checklist for the day combats your thoughts about your kayaking trip and you already know that shifting into work mode isn’t going to be as easy as you thought. You get into the office, sit at your desk, write down your mental checklist and head to your email. You answer a few, archive a bunch and cross some things off your list. Then it hits – procrastination. 

Your mouse guides you to some news articles and the most recent celebrity scandals; you just can’t seem to get yourself to tackle that checklist. Before you know it, it’s 5:00pm and your checklist is still staring at you, begging to be completed. You leave the office feeling deflated but hopeful that Wednesday will bring productivity…

It’s never easy coming back to work from a long weekend, a vacation or even a sleepless night. Your mind is somewhere else and tackling that checklist might as well be climbing Mt. Everest. If you find yourself battling procrastination, here are 5 things to do when you can’t get anything done:

1. Start with your inbox

If you find yourself unable to focus, head to your inbox. Clearing out some emails, unsubscribing from that newsletter and even answering a few are always a good start.

2. Clean your desk

There’s nothing better than a clean workspace. Clear your desk off, wipe it down and organize those folders you’ve been meaning to sort. Clearing your workspace helps to clear your mind and will help you stay focused, longer.

3. Organize your desktop

Documents, folders and drives – oh my! Like your desk, there’s nothing better than an organized desktop. Compiling your documents into folders, renaming them and sorting are great for right now and for long-term.

4. Research blogs to follow

Some of the best advice comes from other professionals in your industry. Do some Google searching; find the best blogs and start following them! Their perspective and insight will not only help you in the future but will inspire you to get things done now.

5. Meditate

Though it’s not for everyone, sometimes the best way to focus is to stop doing anything at all. Closing your eyes and clearing your head will help you to forget about that kayaking trip (though it was unforgettable) and start focusing on the work at hand (If meditation isn’t for you, head outside and go for a walk!).

Getting back into the swing of things is never easy. Try not to postpone that meeting or put off that email, but if you can’t help it, these 5 things will certainly help.

Must-Have Elements for a Modern B2B Website

Posted by Allison Boyajian and on August 28, 2014. Tagged: best practices

This post was also published on OpenView Venture Partners Labs blog. OpenView is a Boston-based venture capital firm specializing in expansion stage B2B SaaS companies, and a recent collaborator with iMarc. Check out their blog to see the full post.

website

So you’re a B2B company and you’re redoing your website. What’s most important? Here are five critical elements that will ensure your website gets clicks.

1) Content

I recently attended a wedding in Long Island. I had a bit of culture shock, because yes, they really do talk that way! Clichés become clichés because they are true.

On the web, the cliché is “Content is King”. And it’s the literal truth. There is no other reason for anyone to visit your website. Good content generates traffic, establishes thought leadership, and gives value to your customers.

Your content should be concise, relevant, shareable, and valuable. (Accuracy helps, too.) Your visitors will pick it up—think about it, talk about it, and quite possibly even share it—and soon enough, Google will too.

Photos and video are content, too. Studies show that 90% of information transmitted to the brain is visual. There’s a reason infographics get so much attention.

Pro Tip: Be short. No fluff. Terminate functionless words with extreme prejudice.

Hubspot is a great example of an excellent content curator. Their blog consistently features concise headlines, crisp images and stimulating content.

hubspot

hubspot

2) Responsive Web Design

Quick: How many screens are within ten feet of you? I’ll bet you have at least three from this list: phone, laptop, iPad, Kindle or Nook, TV.

Next question: When you want to get some info online, which do you use? If you’re like most people, whichever is closest to hand. We expect any screen to work with any website.

What is the best solution to make your website flexible enough to fit on all of them? Three words: responsive web design. It’s not a panacea, but for B2B, it’s pretty close.

So what exactly is it? Open this article on a desktop browser, grab the corner of the window, and make the page bigger and then smaller. Taller, thinner, wider, slimmer: it won’t matter. You’ll see the layout magically adjust itself comfortably fit the new width of the browser—or screen. Whether you view it on a small iPod screen, a fat Samsung phablet, or a 65” HDTV, it will look right and work well. That is responsive web design.

Here’s an example of our website working flawlessly on five different screens:

responsive

Responsive design is the most important development in web design in the past five years. One site, one set of content, for all people. It’s so effective that Google recommends it as a best practice over mobile-specific sites.

I’ll give you three reasons your next site should be responsive:

  1. Mobile. If your site isn’t phone-friendly and tablet-accessible, your customers will bounce right off your site and give their business to your competition. And did I mention that 61%­­­­ of users own a smartphone?
  2. SEO. Having one single URL, instead of an extra mobile site, consolidates your search juice. Responsive sites are better Google performers.
  3. User experience. Nobody likes wasting time trying to zoom and tap tiny links, and squinting at postage-stamp sized images. Happy customers=happy business.

Pro Tip: If you can’t make your site fully responsive, at least ensure it has views designed for phone screens and PC screens.

3) Social Media

You are a Facebook fanatic, a talented Tweeter, and an Instagram celebrity. But does that help your business? Your website and social identities should be symbiotic.

Potential clients will check out your website, then check your social media profiles to vet you. If it’s too hard to find, they give up, and your effort was wasted.

To fix, make sure your website has at least a little social media integration. That means a button for respective platforms, sharing buttons on your blogs, and maybe a bit of Twitter.

Social media buttons should be displayed in an easily accessible location on your website; the top, bottom, or along the side of your homepage are recommended.

Pro tip: Don’t neglect LinkedIn. It’s the social network for business and usage rates are astoundingly high.

The website iMarc designed for RSA Conference is a great example that demonstrates seamless social media integration. The conference site has easily accessible buttons, as well as live feed of their Tweets. Users are able to effortlessly connect and engage with the brand.

rsa

4) SEO

Your site is great: interesting content, beautiful pictures, the occasional video and shiny new social media buttons. You built it. Will they come?

Search engine optimization is tuning the content of your site to encourage free traffic from “organic” listings on search results. You know, the ones in the main column that people actually look at.

There are a lot of resources available to aid improving your SEO. Annexcore has compiled an excellent list of tools to give you great SEO results.

Pro Tip: Set up Google Webmaster Tools for your site for more insight into what content is drawing people to your site. It’s free.

Rapid7 is a strong example of what successful SEO looks like. Rapid7 is a leading provider of IT security risk management solutions. Upon doing a Google search for “Boston vulnerability testing” and “Boston security penetration”, they come up at the top of page one.

rapid7

5) User Centric Design

People want interesting content, beautiful images, and entertaining videos, and theyabsolutely will not do work to get it. User-centric design means the user is more important than you are. The design should help them. Nothing should slow them down.

You’ll have to take into consideration some complex cultural and psychological tendencies. Where does the eye hit a page? What kinds of buttons do users actually push? Which emotions do your colors elicit?

Look at your site. Does it make sense to someone who isn’t you? Does it serve their needs? If the answer is yes, good job. You are already a step closer to creating a positive user experience!

Pro Tip: Spend fifty bucks to test your site at usertesting.com. You’ll be shocked at how much you learn from watching a video of just one person trying to use your site.

iMarc recently designed and developed Quaero’s website, which features strong emphasis on UX. The design is clean, lively, engaging and straightforward. Users simply scroll down to view all of the information they need on one page.

quaero

Go Forth, Be fruitful, and Multiply Your ROI

With these five tips, you should be on your way to an effective B2B website design. Your users will associate your brand with the positive experience they had on your site, and keep coming back for more.

How NOT To Be Late Delivering Your Website Content

Posted by Robert Mohns on August 28, 2014. Tagged: content, strategy

So, you're responsible for doing a whole new website? I'll tell you why it will be late: Content.

Writing the content for a new or redesigned website is the most underestimated part of any project. Odds are you will spend more hours writing than your production team does designing and programming.

Here's a way to calculate a realistic time requirement for the hard, hard work of writing. I'll use a fictitious B2B client, ClientCo, to illustrate.

1. Quick and Dirty Content Audit

Pull out your sitemap. (You've got one, right?) Count up the pages that need content. Use common sense; ignore old news, events and blogs. Just focus on what's new!

Here's the sitemap for ClientCo:

Generic Site Map for fictitious client

ClientCo has 18 product pages, 12 solutions pages, 5 major about pages (plus a handful of leadership bios to write), and 3 major Careers pages. We're assuming that the News, Blog and Contact pages only need a sentence or two at most, and that we are migrating existing Articles, Resources, Events and Press Releases from the old site and don't need to re-write them. We'll also ignore the home page for now; it's a task unto itself.

18+12+5+3=38, plus let's assume 5 bios to write for the executive team. Call it 43 pages total.

2. Know Your Workflow

Someone has to provide the content, and someone has to write it – and they probably shouldn't be the same person. (Sorry, but Subject Matter Experts are often the worst web writers—it's easy to get into the weeds when you know so much!)

If you're optimizing for SEO, your SEO analyst will need to help as well. And, of course, someone has to slug it into the website's content management system. It probably looks something like this:

Page Content Authoring Workflow and Time Requirements

Each task needs a time estimate. (I've provided some good starting points above.) Note also that your SEO analyst will need a bunch of hours for basic research before any of this page-level stuff, and your writer will need time to become familiar with your company's brand and voice, market positioning, offerings, and audiences.

3. Add 'em up!

Take the median time required for each task, add them up, and then multiply that by the number of pages you have to create. Here's how ClientCo's sitemap and workflow add up for each role and in total:

Content time estimates

If that made you break out in a cold sweat, congratulations—you did it correctly!

The hard part

My fictitious ClientCo project calculates out at 371 hours of effort. That's 9 weeks and 2 days at 40 hours/week.

It's a lot of work, but when you break it back down by role, and realize that you will be dividing up work across Subject Matter Experts and possibly a couple of writers to share the load, it's not quite as overwhelming.

(And your web developer will handle the task of slugging your content into the site and adding all the supporting graphic design.)

Still, it's a lot of time. Talk to your team about their availability, huddle up with your producer, and adjust your project schedule if you have to—better now than later.

Now you have the tools. Get to it!

Special Thanks

I'd like to extend a special thanks to Kristina Halvorson, Karen McGrane, and Liam King, for their for invaluable writings and fantastic presentations over the years. I've learned a ton from you!

Timeless Design: Creating A Modern, Yet Classic Website

Posted by Christian Keyes on August 18, 2014. Tagged: design

As a creative team, we attend design kickoffs on a regular basis as part of our creative process. During these meetings and calls, we solicit feedback from our clients regarding a number of popular and attractive websites. In addition to looking at the most trendy and cutting-edge designs, we like to revisit successful designs that have aged particularly well. We often hear that designs we create should feel "timeless" for obvious business and aesthetic reasons. It's always a shame when you come across a site that is only a few years old and has no functional issues, but sports a design that was clearly rooted in a passing trend. More and more frequently we're asked to create "timeless" work that somehow remains "contemporary" and "modern". We strive to always produce clean and cohesive designs, so as seasoned pros, we generally don't fret. However, this raises an important question: what exactly makes a site look and feel timeless?

I polled the creative team and asked how best to achieve a look that is not only contemporary, but timeless.

Focus on content and readability

As we've said incessantly for years; content is king. Design in a manner that doesn't detract from the message and you'll be on the right track. Similarly, legibility is always in fashion. Paying close attention to contrast and using an appropriate typeface goes a long way towards constructing a solid design.

Great alignment

It's no secret that solid alignment of elements will make almost anything look cohesive and professional. While there are a million great books and articles about grid systems and their merits, I find that people tend to rely very heavily on such systems, treating them like a visual panacea. Know when to break out of the mold and create your own rules. Be consistent and have a plan, but don't feel obligated to copy a system older than your parents, or one invented by a bored developer last month. This leads well into our next suggestion.

Avoid relying on gimmicks or plug-ins

As designers, we're constantly inundated with new tools, frameworks, presets and libraries that aim to make our jobs easier. When Photoshop first introduced layer styles, it was difficult to find a website that didn't have some kind of beveled glossy button on it, or a thick drop shadow dangling from some glowing text. We all get anxious to try fun new techniques and technology, but always question how it fits into the grand scheme of your site. Another danger here is that if you're using a popular tool to create your work, chances are that your contemporaries are as well.

Add accents judiciously

Absence of design is not design. However, don't feel like you have to add elements for the sake of it. Design is art with purpose, so if something needs to be present, have fun with it and use design to solve problems for your users. A good design should delight viewers visually, so I always try to fight to keep quirky elements present when they add life to a page. The challenge here is to keep out of trend territory.

Don't be a follower

Every designer worth his or her salt should keep a constant finger on the pulse of new trends and best practices. Contemporary design arises from the culmination of hive mind design thinking and steadily advances the norm. However, it's important not to be swept up in any one trend, no matter how wide spread or solid it may seem. We could be chuckling about flat design next year the same way we currently scoff at bevels and rounded corners. Be sensible and let your content and audience guide your decisions. The same amazing network that connects us and let's us show off our trendy new work can be less than open to unconventional ideas. Truly timeless designs originate from sincere and appropriate work.

An exercise in defining timeless design

To witness all of this firsthand, I've devised this task. Visit one of the following Web design galleries:

http://www.cssdsgn.com/

http://www.siteinspire.com/

http://unmatchedstyle.com/

Have a look around the few newest pages. You’ll no doubt see trends emerge that feel very “now”, but look also for designs that seem like they could have existed 40 years ago, or will not look absurd 10 years in the future. Next, use the paginator to journey back in time by choosing the last possible page. Work your way from oldest to present day and you’ll no doubt see designs that not only succeed in looking clean and “modern”, but that would still pass as a beautiful site today.

What do you think defines a "timeless" design?

Top 5 Reasons I Won't Buy Anything From Your Ecommerce Site

Posted by Allison Boyajian on August 13, 2014. Tagged: best practices, strategy, user experience

Ecommerce

If there’s one thing I know and love, it’s online shopping. In fact, if it weren’t for the delicious pretzels and the oh-so-entertaining people watching, I would probably be okay never setting foot in a mall again.

Online shopping is great. I can peruse a multitude of different stores, read what other people have to say about the products, easily check out and have all of my shiny new purchases shipped right to my door (because who really needs to fresh air, anyways?).

But not all Ecommerce experiences are that pleasant. Often times, I know within the first two minutes of browsing a website if I’ll actually buy anything. Here are the top five factors that turn me away from an online store and make me a lot less likely to buy.

 1. No reviews

This is a personal preference, but I’m 99.9% more likely to buy a product that has reviews. Not even good reviews necessarily, just reviews. Why? Because subconsciously, this says Other people have tried this. It’s not weird. It’s not sketchy. You should try it too. Obviously, good reviews help tremendously, and bad reviews hurt. But sometimes, just having reviews and knowing that other people have tried the product makes me want to try it for myself.

That being said, good reviews work some sort of voodoo magic on me. Before I know it, I’m ordering a ceramic garlic roaster (I don’t even like garlic) solely because it had outstanding reviews. People love peer affirmation. And I don’t know about you, but when I do a Google search for a product, my eyes skip over the links without reviews, and go straight for ones with stars.

 2. Bad pictures

It’s simple. The pictures need to be big, clear and should multiple views and angles. And most importantly you need to be able to zoom. If I don’t have enough information about the product from the picture, and there aren’t any reviews, I probably won’t take the chance on buying it. After all, I’m not in-store, so I can’t touch it, hold it, or try it on; all I have is the picture and the description. However, if I can zoom in, and check out the side angle, I might say, “Hey, the shape of that couch will fit perfectly in my living room, and the color looks like it’ll match, too.” $600 later, you’ll have my new business, and I’ll have my new couch.

 3. No saved shopping cart

 We’ve all been there. You put ten things in your shopping cart, and expect to buy at least two of those items. You accidentally close the page. You go back, hoping to find your shopping cart full of all your soon-to-be-purchases. Alas, “Your Shopping Cart Is Empty.”

Most-likely outcome? You turn around, and give up. Unless you were 100% set on buying those, there’s a strong chance you’re not going to go back and search for them all again. So, that company just lost some of your business, simply because they didn’t have a function to save your shopping cart.

 4. “Subscribe now!” pop ups

In an effort to grab your info, a lot of sites have a pop-up asking you to subscribe before they let you enter. Sometimes they hide the “x” so it’s difficult to escape. Sometimes, there is no escape unless you enter your information. In my books, this is an automatic “back button.” Rarely do I want to give my name, number, and email just to access your site, especially if it’s not a well-known one. And even more so if I’m not sure that I’ll like your site, since I haven’t even entered it. If that pop up hadn’t have been there, I may have stuck around and actually purchased something. By trying to attract customers, you’re actually pushing them away. Next time, just try to get their info at the end of their positive shopping experience. If you’ve done your job right, they’ll want to sign up.

 5. Not mobile-friendly

Last week I was shopping for a blender at a kitchen supply store. In the store, they were selling for $29.99. I was just about ready to check out, when I decided to do a quick price check online. Amazon’s mobile-friendly site had the same one for $10 less. After a few clicks my order was placed. Now more than ever, we are on the go. We read on the go, we listen to music on the go, and yes, we even shop on the go. If your website isn’t mobile-friendly, and it takes me a year just to find my shopping cart, there’s a strong chance I’ll give up. Be sure to spend the extra time today to check out your site on a phone and put yourself in the shoes of a prospective customer.

If you’re building a B2C website, be sure to keep these all of points in mind. They certainly don’t apply to everyone (after all, most people don’t buy unnecessary garlic roasters), but overall, they’re crucial elements that can make or break a users shopping experience on your site.

Static Classes, Singletons, and Dependency Injection

Posted by Kevin Hamer on August 12, 2014. Tagged: engineering

The PHP community is thrashing its way into more and more object-oriented territory, but in the process, understanding where conventions are coming from is easy to lose track of for the every day developers who just use libraries instead of writing them.

Static classes, singletons, and dependency injection are all solving the same problem: letting code access code I've configured and written elsewhere. In other languages, this may be more about accessing the same object in memory for PHP  that's pretty much irrelevant. Nearly all PHP is executed on demand, 'run and done', and everything is being initialized every request anyway. However, these approaches have other pros and cons as well that do matter to PHP.

For my example, I used the simplest database class I could. A database class is a good example of a piece of code I may have written elsewhere and may want to keep in a library. In a given page, I may need to access the database in multiple places or I might never need to access it at all.

Static Classes

Above is a simple example using all static stuff. Here, the class represents a database. This works fine, but has a few drawbacks:

  • You need to remember to call ExampleDatabase::connect() before ::query().
  • If you call ::connect() twice, it’ll create another connection to the database instead of using the existing one.
  • You can only use ExampleDatabase to connect to a single database.
  • Every time we referencing ExampleDatabase, it is by its exact classname, making it impossible to extend. While it might not seem likely you'll be extending your classes offhand, if you have any plans of writing any automated tests, it's nearly necessary for mock objects.

Of these three, the first two leading to the most problems. If you don’t have a ‘configuration’ or ‘initialization’ PHP file that get runs only once off the bat, you risk either calling ::query() before ::connect() or calling ::connect() just before every time you call ::query(), both of which aren’t good.

Singleton Classes

This is a simple singleton. Here, an instance of the class represents a database, but the class makes sure there’s never more than one instance.

  • We still need to remember to ->connect() before we can ->query().
  • Calling ->connect() twice would still create another connection to the database instead of using the existing one.
  • You can still only use ExampleDatabase to connect to a single database.
  • We’re still referencing ExampleDatabase directly, although not every time.
  • We still can't easily extend ExampleDatabase which still means, whether for child classes or for testing, its going to be rough.

So what did we gain?

  • Because there’s an instance now, we can pass that instance around. That means there’s less places we’re refencing ExampleDatabase directly.
  • Any function or method that is passed an ExampleDatabase instance should be able to assume its configured. This is a big deal because it allows us to make it easy when one bit of code depends on on ExampleDatabase.
  • Also, any place we don’t reference ExmapleDatabase can now work with any class that extends ExampleDatabase too.

Still there’s a lot we’re left wanting. Ideally, we’d have a way to move all the logic of tracking the ExampleDatabase instance and whether its configured into another class or library where we can reuse it easily.

Enter dependency injection containers.

Dependency Injection

For my example, I used Pimple, though there’s plenty of different container out there. Conceptually, I’m going to use Pimple to just do two things:

  • Store a closure referenced by ‘database’ which will construct and configure an instance of ExampleDatabase.
  • Retrieve (constructing and configuring if necessary) an instance of ExampleDatabase referenced by ‘database’.

Pimple is a dependency injection container. Like the singleton example, an instance represents the database, but instead of using static methods in ExampleDatabase to keep track of that instance, Pimple does it instead.

  • Pimple handles remembering whether an instance is constructed and configured already, so I don’t need to worry about calling ->connect() at all.
  • We could store different instances of ExampleDatabase under different keys.
  • All other code only references ‘database’ instead of ExampleDatabase, which means if I want to extend or replace ExampleDatabase, I don’t need to change all my code.
  • Another plus is that if I want to swap out ExampleDatabase either for testing or for a new version, I'm in great shape. Pimple doesn't care at all, as long as it acts just like ExampleDatabase did.

Conclusion

There are ways to improve the static class and singleton class examples, but using a container

  1. Separates the logic keeping track of whether ExampleDatabase is needed and configured and
  2. Avoids creating hard coded dependencies on ExampleDatabase every time it is used.

Sometimes all you need is a static class or a singleton, however, this progression – static class to singleton to dependency injection – is how I can best explain why dependency injection containers like Pimple can improve our code's flexibility and robustness while also simplifying the code we need to write.

Phone Etiquette 101: 6 Do's and Don’ts of Leaving an Amazing Voicemail

Posted by Katelyn Weber on August 12, 2014. Tagged: strategy

voicemailVoicemails are easy. Or, so I thought.

Someone recently told me that I leave an amazing voicemail and I thought to myself, “Is there such thing as a bad voicemail?” Whether you’re leaving a voicemail for your Mom, your boss, or more importantly a prospect – you should always be sure to leave your best.

After analyzing some of the voicemails I’ve received recently, my own best practices and even a listening ear around my own office, I’ve put together a list of the 6 must-dos when leaving a voicemail (and some don’t-dos, as well):

 1. Say the person’s name

Voicemails aren’t very long, so it doesn’t give you a lot of time to make it personal. Saying the person’s name is going to reassure them that they’re not the 50th person on your calling list and that you’re making an effort when reaching out.

2. State your name and where you’re calling from

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve received a voicemail and not gotten the person’s name or where they’re calling from. Stating your name and where you’re calling from will let them know who’s calling immediately and they’ll be more apt to listen to the entirety of your voicemail.

3. The reason for my call is…

Tell them why you’re calling! Whether you’re following up on an e-mail or trying to schedule 15 minutes of their time, stating why you’re calling is going to help them decide how to follow up with you (e-mail or call back) best. 

 4. I will be available on Monday at 4:30 or Tuesday at 10:30

Phone tag is one of the biggest turn-offs for a prospect and one of the biggest reasons why you don’t end up getting in touch. Providing them with a few times that work for you will allow them to look at their calendar, decide if they’re available and allow you to be prepared for their response.

5. Restate who you are and how you can be reached (SLOWLY)

The prospect knows who you are and why you’re calling; now they’re interested in how they can get back in touch with you. SLOWLY restating your name and how you can be reached is crucial. People forget that when you leave your phone number, it needs to be slow enough for the receiver to write it down!

6. Don’t leave a novel

The most important rule when leaving a voicemail is limiting it to 30 seconds or less (I know, it’s short). But your prospect probably has a lot going on and isn’t going to have time to listen to your life story over a voicemail. Limiting your voicemail to 30 seconds or less will allow you to provide the essential information while allowing your prospect to get back to their day and reach back out accordingly.

Here’s a sample voicemail: 

Hi John, this is Katelyn Weber calling from iMarc – I hope all is well! I’m following up on the email I sent you earlier this week, feel free to give me a call back when you get a chance, I will be available today at 3:00 PM EST or Monday, at 10:00 AM EST. Again this is Katelyn Weber calling from iMarc, you can reach me at 978-462-8848. Look forward to hearing from you, have a great day!

 Happy calling!

iMarc Announces Leadership Changes

Posted by Nick Grant on August 11, 2014.

Our President and founder, Nils Menten is retiring. As a company founder, Nils’ contributions to iMarc over the last 17 years have been immeasurable.

While we will miss Nils, we are looking forward to the company’s next chapter, and Nils’ departure completes a transition in leadership that was actually initiated over a year ago. iMarc partner Nick Grant will now serve as iMarc’s CEO and partner Dave Tufts will be the agency’s CTO. Senior managers Katie Desmond and Patrick McPhail will also be joining iMarc’s leadership team.

Nothing will change with our account team structure or our client engagement model. Our clients will continue to receive the same high level of service and commitment they have come to expect from iMarc.

When reflecting on the transition, Nils remarked, “The company is on a firm financial footing, our client list is growing by leaps and bounds, and if I may be immodest for just a moment, the work is the best it's ever been.”  We couldn’t agree more. We wish Nils the very best as he retires to Arizona to pursue his passion for the outdoors.

Since its inception in 1997, iMarc has grown to be a premier full service digital agency with revenue and headcount increasing at a steady and sustainable rate. The company is in the midst of one of the most successful years in its history, added new services and capabilities, and continues to attract top talent. We will provide the same web and mobile development, strategy and user experience design, engineering, and branding services to our roster of more than 300 clients.

iMarc continues to grow; we are taking on new clients and projects in the airline industry, high technology and the business-to-consumer sector. To support our existing clients and services and our new clients, we are adding staff in all areas.

Nick Grant commented, “We're extremely excited to be working with such fantastic clients and look forward to producing more award winning work with the support of our talented staff. Nils' contributions to our culture serves as a reminder to all of us that commitment, collaboration and honesty are the underpinnings of a healthy business and great client relationships.“

If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to us at nick@imarc.net or dave@imarc.net

Why Every Designer Should Have a Pet Project

Posted by Jared Laham on July 31, 2014.

pet_project

Designers are always helping others with their goals, abiding by their timelines, and adhering to their restrictions. This fast paced environment we work in is exciting, poses unique challenges daily and will help you grow as a professional, but like any balanced diet, needs to be complemented with “free range" work. 

It’s time to stop for a second, focus on your own goals and how they can help you grow. A personal pet project is a great opportunity to go all in without any of the restrictions or snares normally associated in client work. Leaving your comfort zone as a designer always leads to growth and sharpening of existing skills.

Top Reasons Why You Need A Pet Project.

1) Create something for what you are passionate about

Pet projects are always hard to make time for, but when you chose something you are passionate about you will find a way. These types of projects don’t even have to be rooted in your area of expertise. If you are an developer, try your hand at photography. If you are a digital designer build furniture. Chose something that will challenge and enrich your skills. youtube.com and skillshare.com/ are jam packed with tutorials and expertise that will get you headed in the right direction. The work that feels the most authentic and resonates the best is work formed with passion. 

 2) Explore trends

This is a great opportunity to experiment with new trends without sweating about how timeless it will be or if dilutes a brand's visual identity. This should be a playground where you are free to get weird with it and take a concept where ever you feel it needs to go. I like to scan dribbble.comdesignspiration.net, and siteinspire.net for fresh unique styles other designers are exploring. When I see a style that really resonates with me, I make it a goal to try to not only recreate it, but to take it to new heights in context of my project.

3) Dive into the unknown. Fail hard. Learn harder.

"Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore." - Andre Gide

The best designers are chameleons that can reserve their natural predisposed style in favor of aligning perfectly to a brands visual identity. The beauty of these pet projects is that you can be in the driver's seat for the whole aesthetic. This is a great opportunity to push the limits of your abilities. Go big. Fail hard. Learn from those mistakes, quickly recover and produce something even better and amazing.

4) Stop. Collaborate. And listen.

These types of projects are a great opportunity to collaborate and work with people you normally wouldn’t have the chance to. I have collaborated with my brother, neighbor, and friends on several pet projects in the past. When I start on a project, I like to collaborate with people I respect and are as excited about the concept as I am. If you get to the point where you really want to reach out, but don't know who else would be down; bring your idea to twitter.com or dribbble.com and see how much interest it sparks. 

5) Lock down a real deadline and stick to it

If there isn’t a real deadline on your calendar, you will never be finished. Having that (gentle) heel on your back is a good thing (most times) and will motivate you to work harder, faster and help you make a realistic plan to accomplish everything. My pet projects usually last around 1 month.

6) Try new mediums and tools

As a digital designer, I love getting offline and working with my hands to create things in the physical world where there isn’t crtl+z. When you can't undo a mistake, you learn to work around it, or better yet, incorporate it into your design. The perspective this gives me always has a positive effect on my digital work and keeps my raw creative mind engaged and happy. When my pet projects are digital, I like to explore new frameworks, workflows and resources that I normally wouldn’t in my day to day work. This is a great time to explore what works and what doesn’t without the pressure of a real project.

Sounds great. Now What?

So if you are wondering how to get going and figure out your next pet project, here is my advice on where to start:

  • Grab your sketch book and write down the top 10 dream projects you currently have. You are going to have a ton, but I tend to wait a day or so after writing them all down to see which ones keep me excited. Ideas that have been on your mind for a while and keeps getting pushed off.
  • Quickly google search your idea and see if it’s been done to death. "What?! The Snuggie is a thing? Dang it!" 
  • Estimate how much time you can devote to it. Be honest with yourself. If you have under an hour every week, I suggest using that time to sketch out your ideas until you have larger pockets of time to start really fleshing them out.
  • Select the one project that gets you the most excited and is doable with your available time.
  • If you fear you can't do it all on your own; this is a great time to pull in other skilled awesome people to help and collaborate.
  • Make sure you are having fun and your inner child is entertained.

So whatever your pet project is, make sure to share it with the world. Can't wait to see what you all make.