Responsive Web, Inverted Pyramids and Door County, Wisconsin

Cave Point, Door County, Wisconsin

If there’s anything that reinforces the need for good web design, it’s a 4-day weekend in the boondocks. Think about it: If you’ve got the who, what, where, when and why right in front of you, you’re pretty much good to go no matter where you happen to be.

Like Door County, Wisconsin. In February.

Door County is an almost 500-square-mile jut of land between the Green Bay and Lake Michigan. My husband and I were there last weekend for our anniversary. We love going at this time of year because it’s the quiet season. We can snowshoe in the many parks, find miles and miles of diverse shoreline and visit cozy, lakeside villages, all free of the crowds that make them a hot spot in summer.

That’s Cave Point in the picture. Isn’t it stunning? Often, the crashing Lake Michigan waves cover the rocks with sprays of water. This day everything—I mean, everything— was so very still. With temperatures well below zero, the water was a frigid wonder of clarity.

But Door County Wi-Fi? Understandably, not so clear.

Even though Door County is  more commercially developed than it was decades ago (sadly so, in my opinion), it’s still rather remote, especially when it comes to the internet. As we randomly zig-zagged the peninsula on country backroads, I perused my iPhone in search of the next cool place to stop. One minute there was reception, the next there wasn’t. Knowing it could give out at any time, I really appreciated a well-designed website.

I appreciated responsive websites even more.

Nowadays, a responsive website is a necessity for good business. Responsive web design is like the inverted pyramid of the old journalism days; it puts the most important information up front for optimal viewing no matter what device is being used.

Here are three sites I found helpful while in Door County. Two are simply well-designed and put the necessary information where it needs to be. The third is a fully responsive site that properly rearranges itself according to the order of importance and size of the device.

Wild Tomato Pizza, Fish Creek, WI

Here’s the Wild Tomato Restaurant and how it appears on my iPhone. Mmmm, this looks good, doesn’t it?

Many Door County businesses are closed for the winter. Yet when I googled “Door County pizza,” I found right here on Wild Tomato’s home page that they are open, where they’re located and their phone number. The fact that they link to a beer menu tells me they have artisan beers even if I don’t take the time to click into it.

Good business? You bet. The restaurant was super fun and the food was delicious!

St. John Lutheran Church, Door County, WI

Most churches don’t think of themselves as a business. Yet sometimes they need to act like one; for example, when they want to reach out to the tourists of their unique vacation community.

St. John does just that with its website. Right there on the home page I found the 5 W’s needed for knowing about the congregation and how we could attend its services. And yes, the members of this beautiful church in the country were as warm and welcoming as their website!

Door County, WIsconsin

So here’s the fully responsive site: The Door County Visitor Bureau. Check it out on your computer, then check it out on your iPod or smartphone. Notice how it’s packed full of interesting information and rather than proportionately shrinking it en masse for small devices, which would make it way too small to read, its responsiveness vertically rearranges the contents into segments in order of their importance.

That, my dears, is responsive web design and that’s what brings people to Door County, even in the dead of winter!

What about your website? How does it look on a smartphone? Can viewers clearly find what they need to know? Here’s a completely responsive website Adunate did for a Donny’s Girl Supper Club. Contact me if you’d like the same exposure for your business.


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Monopoly Isn’t Always a Game

Adobe and Monopoly: Is there more to this than we know?

Whether you’re a solo entrepreneur or a multi-designer agency, one of the biggest expenses for anyone in visual communications is the ever-updating Adobe software. Adobe produces a collection of applications that professional print, web, interactive and mobile designers use to produce their wares. Since 2005, when it acquired Macromedia—the only thing that came close to being competitive—Adobe’s held a major share of the creative market.

As a graphic and web designer, I use Adobe apps every day. At any given time my screen is showing Acrobat, Bridge, InDesign, Illustrator, Photoshop, Dreamweaver or Flash, all of which are part of Adobe’s Creative Suite (CS), currently priced at a not-so-sweet $1800. So you can understand why I, a little one-horse operation, tend to run a version or two behind, hoping to squeeze out every last dollar I can.

Last week someone posted a LinkedIn question about Adobe’s relatively new Creative Cloud. She wants to know if people think it’s worth the cost. Wow, did she get a response! But first, let me try to explain this collection of applications. I hope I get it right, because it sure evokes a lot of questions.

Creative Cloud (CC) is an online version of CS. Adobe wowed us with its premier in 2011 and offered it via a monthly subscription service. This seems to be the direction many software companies are going; for example, Intuit has offered its bookkeeping programs as an online option for quite some time. Instead of purchasing the license and installing software on their computers, users essentially pay a rental fee to use it. If they stop paying, they lose use of the application (and access to their files if they failed to save them in a versatile format on their own computers).

Here’s where Adobe may have put designers into what’s tantamount to Monopoly’s Community Chest: Last year it announced CS6 would be its final ownable version. All future versions would only be available via their online CC subscription service. Adobe even went so far as to pull CS6 copies off its online store (although they’re still available from its website and other retailers). Needless to say, LinkedIn commenters and much of the online world is in an uproar.

Many argue that Adobe, a publicly-traded company posting revenues of $1.04 billion in 2013, has become a monopoly (legally it is not). Some designers fear they will lose access to their work if they unsubscribe. Others are upset about Adobe’s recent password security blunders.

I’m certainly not opposed to Creative Cloud. At $49.99/month, it’s an intriguing opportunity to access all Adobe’s newest applications while not having to commit a huge outlay of money. Think of, say, design students who want to test their waters of interest for just a few months. Or tech junkies who always want the latest and greatest?

I don’t, however, like the idea of being forced to subscribe to CC. For thousands of small business owners who, like me, have supported Adobe every workday for years, this is contemptuous. It reeks of shameless greed while holding an advantageous market dominance. It completely disregards the little guy (and interestingly, in this age of self-employment, that’s what more and more designers have become).

So $49.99/month (for now—Jake, the Adobe sales rep who so patiently answered my questions, said this subscription price is subject to change). That’s $600 a year. 

What do you think? Do you think it’s worth the cost?


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Congrats to My Earth Day Client!

JWR Inc, Johnson Creek, WI

It’s been online for a while, but there’s no better time than the week of Earth Day to congratulate JWR Inc. on their new website! And how fitting, considering JWR and its sister company NewWay Global are innovative leaders in the waste and recycling industry. They are my 2013 Earth Day clients!

Last year, the JWR marketing team came to me wanting an updated website. I did their site five years ago and it has served them well. It’s helped them earn recognition and they’ve built a reputation based on their quality products and reliable service. With this company image well established, JWR now wants to emphasize its forward thinking. As owner Dave Wolf says “JWR has always been successful with niche products. We’re always trying to be a year or two ahead of the game.”

What better way to communicate such eco-moxiness than a new website!

JWR’s team had a list of ideas of “must-haves” for their site. Earlier this year they were featured on The Environmental Report so they wanted a way to showcase this and any future videos. They wanted a responsive layout for a variety of communication devices. And they wanted to maintain their own content. Thanks to Ben Seigel, of Versa Studios, we came up with a great Expression Engine framework that allows easy CMS capabilities. JWR is doing a super job with it.

So congratulations JWR! And happy Earth Day to you!

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Expanding Into New Lines of Communication

close stitching of quilt by Chris Kirsch

Sometimes it’s hard to decide whether to be enthusiastic or envious. Like now…I pass along social media marketing advise to my client Chris Kirsch and she successfully runs away with it in ways that far surpass my own marketing.

I’m just kidding, of course. I’m so proud of Chris’ business savvy and I’m itching to pass it along. And because Marketing Mentor’s Ilise Benun extols the benefits of podcasting, I’ve decided an interview with Chris will spread her success and introduce a new communication tool for myself.

There’s just one problem: I sound like a dork.

In Marketing Mentor’s podcasts, Ilise always comes across as intriguingly poised. In our podcast together, Chris sounds delightful and I, well, let’s just say I’ve left myself room for lots of improvement. But that’s okay. This was so fun to do and there are so many interesting people out there to interview, I’m anxious to try it again.

So, here it is. The first of my audio podcast series, rough as it is. And let me introduce to you—Chris Kirsch!

Chris, to me, is foremost my friend and neighbor. We enjoy walking together several mornings a week, where we discuss business, faith in God and lots of other things. Hey, we’re talented, multi-tasking women—we can both walk and talk pretty doggone fast!

Chris is also one of my clients. A couple years ago I suggested she try blogging as a means of reaching out to her target audience. The tricky thing is, her audience generally is not considered to be users of social media.

No problem!

Here’s how Chris gets around that and uses blogging to bring further success to her business.

PS. The photo above is a closeup of one of Chris’ quilts. Okay, yes, I admit; I am envious.

PPS: I know so little about this podcasting. I’m looking for suggestions; so please, do share!

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Check Out the New Digs!

A new look for Adunate!

Well, what do you think? My blog has an all new look!

I’ve been working on this for, oooh, I’m embarrassed to admit. Let’s just say I’ve been squeezing it in between my client’s important projects and it’s taken a very long time.

Speeding the process along was John Sawyer, a WordPress guru from The Small Business Website Guy. I really liked the features of WordPress’s Twenty Eleven theme but I also wanted some customized design elements. So John did the foundation work and I tweaked, and tweaked, and tweaked and tweaked.

Anyway, here it is—Adunate’s customized WordPress theme, complete with three columns and a maximized content area. It’s coordinated to match my Adunate business site, yet comes with unique accommodations for photography, Twitter feeds, and other cool media stuff.

What about you? Does your blog need an new look? Want to start blogging to promote your business? Let me help with a theme specifically designed to fit your needs!

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