Responsive Web Design – Do it NOW

You’ve probably heard of responsive web design, but why does it matter? Imagine sitting on the subway, fighting off boredom. Naturally you grab your smart phone and start browsing the Internet. You’re thinking, “This is a great time for me to learn how to give my pet giraffe a makeover,” so you Google “pet-friendly giraffe toenail polish.” Luckily for you there are a ton of sites to help guide you in your quest for giraffe beautification.

The first site you click on immediately redirects you to a mobile–friendly site, but the loading process takes so long, that you lose interest and click away. Why waste your precious mobile data on a site that takes 30 seconds to load?. Nope. Next.

The second site looks promising. The home page loads quickly, but you have to zoom in and out just to read text and navigate. The buttons are so small that you keep accidentally tapping the wrong thing. This process continues until you’re so frustrated you give up. Besides, your stop is up next. You leave the subway feeling irritated.

If any of those sites had been optimized and responsive, the outcome could have been much different. The website’s content, buttons, layout, and images would be optimized for mobile viewing, loaded quickly, and the user would have gotten what they needed quickly and efficiently.

But who cares? Can’t they just wait and search on a desktop computer? A few years ago that may have been a reasonable expectation, but statistics are showing that mobile users are quickly becoming the majority for web searches. Don’t you want to capture the fastest growing web browsing audience out there? Take a look at this nifty infographic from 2013 (http://www.digitalbuzzblog.com/infographic-2013-mobile-growth-statistics/). It clearly shows where the trends are heading.

So what’s the point? The point is if you have a website that hasn’t been updated since 2010 (technology changes fast…doesn’t it?), it’s time to make the leap and update. If you want to keep up with the competition, you need to go responsive. NOW.

So don’t wait. Capture an entirely new audience by optimizing your website and making it responsive today. And to “toot-toot” our own horn, WMS totally can help.

Thanks for reading!

How to Behave After an Internship Concludes

The time is now coming where your internship is coming to its conclusion. You’ve learned a lot and hopefully made some new friends (*cough cough* References *cough cough* ). Here are some tips to consider just before your last day and beyond.

Part 5: How to behave after an internship concludes:

Be gracious – On your last day before leaving, thank your employer/mentor for their time. Internships usually mean an extra time commitment from your mentor, and sometimes it’s not paid. Look them in the eye, shake their hand, and sincerely thank them (just don’t be creepy about it…).

Ask for constructive criticism – What went well? What didn’t go so well? This is your chance to get some really good last advice. When you finish school you’ll have a leg-up on other graduates who don’t have that professional office experience.

Ask if you can use your boss or co-workers references – It looks great on a resume! Help beat that catch 22 that fresh grads often struggle with. Show potential employers that you do have some professional experience.

Send a thank you letter, or emailPlease please please do this! It’s just polite to do so. There’s nothing more professional than an extra thank you. You don’t have to drool over them, but everyone appreciates being thanked and recognized for their time. Remember, they took the time to mentor you… Plus, who knows?! Maybe you’ll have a chance to interview with them for a full time job someday. Better safe than sorry.

Thanks for reading!

How to Behave During an Internship

You’ve successfully found an internship, applied, interviewed, and have been offered the position (FINALLY!). The hard part is over, right? NOPE! Sorry intern, it’s just beginning. But don’t be afraid: this is also when all the cool fun stuff happens too. Here are some helpful tips to consider during your internship.

Part 4: How to behave during an internship

  1. Be on time – For the love of Bob, and I can’t even believe I have to say this, but ALWAYS be one time. These people have generously hired you as an intern; please show them gratefulness and respect by showing up on time. Plan for traffic and “oops” time so that you’re never late. If, for some reason, you are unavoidably delayed, make sure you call and explain where you are. Some offices have a policy in place for this, so make sure you learn what that is and follow their protocol.
  2. Continue to dress professionally – Remember, you’re not a full time employee: you are low-man on totem pole. Make sure you’re put-together, ironed (i.e. NOT WRINKLY!!), and you’re following the office dress code.
  3. Hygiene – This may seem like a no-brainer, but sadly it isn’t for some. Always shower. Everyday. Please, I’m begging you. It’s just polite. And sanitary. Slap a little deodorant on yourself as well.
  4. Learn – Learn as much as you can! This is your chance to soak it all in. Be a sponge and absorb your surroundings. This is such a wonderful opportunity to get your hands on a ton of different projects. And don’t be afraid to ask questions. These people know you’re a student. They know you’re greener than grass. They’re expecting you to ask questions. Take advantage of that.

Thanks for reading!

How to Behave After an Interview

Okay, so you’ve totally rocked the interview, but now you’re waiting to hear whether or not you got the internship. Believe it or not, there are a couple of things you should do while you’re waiting.

Part 3: How to behave after an Interview

  1. Follow-up – Email your interviewer immediately after the interview. This is not only polite, but it keeps your name fresh and in the front of their mind.
  2. Give Them What They Want – If they call up and ask you for more examples of your work, give it to them! If they have more questions, answer them! Don’t be offended if they keep asking your for more information: they’re just trying to get to know you.

Thanks for reading!

How to Behave During an Internship Interview

Welcome to part 2 of “How To Get An Internship.” So now that you’ve found your prefect internship and been offered an interview, what do you next? I’m so glad you asked!

Part 2: How to behave during an internship interview (or any interview really…)

  1. Dress professionally – While expressing your personality as a designer is important, let your work do the talking. Generally it’s safer to dress business casual and professionally, even if the office dress code is more casual. Dress for success!
  2. Answer honestly – Interviewers can tell a fake and canned answer when they hear it. By now they’ve interviewed enough to spot it right away. So always tell the truth! Do a quick Google search about the most common interview questions to help you prepare so you’re not stumbling around (TIP: practice in the mirror or with a friend and do a dry-run).
  3. Prepare Questions for the Interview – In my own experience, at the close of most interviews you’re going to be asked if you have any questions for them. Show your thoughtfulness and ask relevant and meaningful questions about the company, and about the internship in particular. One thing I always like to ask is when you should expected to hear from them about the job. Two days? Two weeks? Make sure you clarify so that you’re not waiting for a call that might never come. If the contact deadline passes, politely call and inquire, but don’t be pushy if they don’t have an answer for you. My first design job took me four months to hear about (but hey, I got hired so it was worth the wait!).
  4. Research – Know about the company you’re interviewing for! Become intimately familiar with their company website and social sites. Know everything!
  5. Thank Your Interviewer – A simple “thank you” goes a long way. Let them know that you appreciate their time.

Thanks for reading!

How To Get An Internship

I love working with students. If I hadn’t pursued web design, I probably would have been happy staying at WWU and working with Resident Life forever. But, since that didn’t happen, my hope is that I can help to inspire and motivate young students interested in the graphic design (print and web). I first realized that web design was the path for me my junior year in high school. I had always had a passion for art, but I also loved working with computers. Web design was a natural next step.

Before entering my junior year at WWU (Go Vikings!) I had almost no experience in designing, let alone using any of the software that graphic designers usually work with. I was starting from scratch, which was scary considering most of my classmates had at least some experience.

One thing that I regret about my time at WWU was that I didn’t participate in an internship. Internships are a great way for young designers to get their feet wet and get a taste of the professional workplace. It’s not always easy to find, or get, an internship. Fret not! Here are a few tips to help you through your journey to professional office experience!

Please keep in mind that these are just my opinions from my past experiences. There are a ton a great resources out there filled with to help you out. These suggestions are just some of many. Go out and search around as well.

Part 1: How to get an internship:

  1. Do a quick search – First check the design firms that you’re most interested in. Check their website if they offer internships, and especially pay attention if they don’t. If they expressly don’t offer mentorship/internship opportunities, move on. However, not every firm is so specific, if you’re not sure, you may want to call and inquire.
  2. Email the design firm – Craft a short, but descriptive email letter to the firm inquiring about their internship program. Make sure you tell them how you heard about the internship, and include a cover letter, resume, and link to your online portfolio. If you don’t have an online portfolio, make one, or send in hard copy examples of your work. If you do send in hard copies, make sure to specify whether or not you’d like them returned. If you’d like your work returned, make sure to provide appropriate packaging and postage. WARNING: there is absolutely no guarantee that you’ll get your portfolio examples back; what’s more, the pieces might get damaged in transit, or at their office. Make sure that you’re prepared to lose anything you send. DO NOT send anything you absolutely cannot part with.
  3. Return calls! – If you provide your phone number, make sure you always check your voicemail. Don’t leave a potential employer hang’n!
  4. Be persistent – Make sure you keep your name fresh in their minds. Don’t pester them, but after sending in your application, call and make sure they received it. After a week or so, inquire again; ask if they need anything else from you. Wait another two weeks or so, and call again.
  5. Be Patient – Sometimes it takes awhile for a company to make a decision. Don’t get too panicky if you don’t hear back right away.

Biggest Challenge for Web Design Firms

I’ve been asked: “What will be the biggest challenge for web design and hosting firms in the next few years, and why?” Well, here’s my answer:

The Biggest Challenge

The biggest challenge will be keeping up with the new devices, experiences, and how users interact with them. Touch screens, HTML 5, CSS3, and (do I dare say?) holographic interactive websites are just going to keep advancing at a breakneck speed. Today’s Samsung Galaxy and iPhone UI isn’t tomorrow’s immersive website experience.

The advancements in touch screen technology and mobile phones transformed the way we see the web. I believe the next big jump in experiencing (and designing) the web will involve 3D and holographic immersion. We already experience 3D in theaters (and sometimes even at home), what’s to stop us from taking a page out of Minority Report, Ender’s Game, and pretty much every other Sci-Fi movie and actually “touch” the web in front of us? When that happens, web designers are going to have to step up and design for this new environment.

Thanks for reading!

How Has the Design Industry Changed?

That’s a huge question. You could write entire books about how the design industry has changed and continues to shape and mold our society (and a lot of smart people have!). But let’s just suppose about the last five years or so. How has our industry changed over the last 5 years or so?

Desktop vs Mobile

I would say the biggest change faced by our industry is the movement from desktop-viewed websites to mobile-viewed websites. Just a few years ago it was accepted that you had one version of your website, and then a separately designed and built mobile site. This presented a few problems: increased cost and duplicate content updates.

CSS Media Queries & Responsive Design

CSS media queries have totally reinvigorated how we build websites and spurred the responsive website revolution. Responsive design is quickly becoming the new standard, if it isn’t already. There’s already talk that responsive sites stand (or will stand) higher in Google’s search algorithm.

UI & UX

The way users use the Web is rapidly changing. Users are now using their mobile devices for traditionally desktop-central tasks like word processing, working with spreadsheets, research, etc. That presents a great challenge for web designers to design websites that are easily navigable for touch screens, providing a seamless user-experience from desktop, tablet, and mobile devices.

Qualities of a Successful Design Firm

You know, there’s a lot of “noise” out there and sometimes it’s hard to figure out what works and what doesn’t. So, what makes a successful (and consequently an easy-to-work-with) design firm? Well, in my humble opinion, here are three traits that successful graphic design firms employ:

Listen to the client.

This may seem like a no-brainer, but it is so easy to get carried away and phase out after a client shares a few details about a project. It’s always exciting to be presented with a new challenge and sometimes designers get distracted really fast. I can’t tell you how many times my mind turns inward and I start building the site right then and there while they’re still talking. A designer should always remain present before beginning to plan.

Know your client.

This harkens back to the first point. In order to design effectively for a client, designers must first know whom they’re designing for. Before meeting with a client, do some research; find out what they’re all about (existing color theme, logo, business model, their clients, etc.). You probably wouldn’t design a bright and colorful website with loud music and large headline fonts for a funeral home. Chances are you’d go for something more subdued and professional.

Stay up-to-date.

Continually educate yourself!!! While Web 2.0 and clip art was “hip-to-the-now” a few years ago, web design is tending more towards flat UI that is content-focused and highly adaptable to mobile environments. Design trends change so rapidly that it is easy to fall behind; it’s important to always be reading and researching what’s new. Clients are smart…they can spot who isn’t keeping up.

Affordable Graphic Design Services

It’s shameless “self-promotion-of-our-company” time! Sit back, relax, and read about how Washington Media Services can provide amazing and affordable graphic design services at a fraction of the cost of big-city companies. Here are a few advantages of working with WMS:

We are local.

Our clients are usually close enough that they can come meet with us face-to-face. It saves our clients money to work with a company who is close and responds quickly to requests. As a part of our design process, we establish a project contact with each of our clients. By working with one person, we cut out a lot of back-and-forth client-ordered changes, which saves our clients a ton of money. We also make sure to create a project schedule. This keeps the workflow efficient and effective.

We actually answer our phone.

I can’t tell you how many clients have hired us just because we picked up the phone and talked to them. It’s surprising how many companies have an impersonal answering service, communicate only through emails, or simply let the call go to voicemail. At WMS, clients have direct access to talk to our designers and discuss their project. This cuts down on a lot of miss-communication and frustration (of course, we’re also available via email and face-to-face meetings, whichever is more convenient for the client).

We do it all!

Clients aren’t restricted to working on just one type of project with us. Washington Media Services has been a full service public relations, graphic design, and web design agency since 1988. Not only do we design and develop websites, we do print design, branding, logo identity, media buys, advertising, etc. It helps keep costs down and branding consistent. Plus, it removes the headache of trying to find another designer. If you can think it, we can do it!