Announcing the release of Office 2010 Beta

Now is your chance to discover firsthand how the beta releases of Office 2010, SharePoint Server 2010, Project 2010, and Visio 2010 deliver collaboration and productivity enhancements to provide a superior user experience, whether it’s on a PC, a Web browser, or a Windows phone.

Download the betas today to get critical hands-on experience-and get ready to help your customers increase efficiency and streamline business processes by making the most of their existing resources. You’ll also want to provide input to help us refine the products before they’re released to manufacturing.

New features make working together easier than ever before.

. New or enhanced customizable templates, photo editing, and co-authoring capabilities in Office 2010
. Quick and easy access to resources and knowledge-in a familiar environment-with SharePoint Server 2010
. New collaboration tools in Project 2010 that provide even better visibility into projects at all levels
. Visual tools and templates, and Web-sharing capabilities in Visio 2010 that bring real-time data together from multiple sources

AIGA – how to get creative results

Unlike so much in today’s business world, graphic design is not a commodity. It is the highly individualized result of people coming together to do something they couldn’t do alone. When the collaboration is creative, the results usually are, too.

The value position
Design—good design—is not cheap. You would be better served to spend your money on something else if you don’t place a high value on what it can achieve. There’s a view in Buddhism that there’s no “good” karma and no”bad” karma, there’s just karma. The same can’t be said for design. Karma is a universal condition. Design is a human act (which often affects conditions) and, therefore, subject to many variables. When the word “design” is used here, it is always in the context of good design.

A lot of famous people have written many famous books on the importance of design and creativity. The subject matter ranges from using design and creativity to gain a strategic advantage or make the world a more livable place—and more. Much more. The focus here is on how to make the process of design work in the business environment so that the end product lives up to its potential.

We live in a time of sensory assault. Competing for “eyeballs”— which is to say, customers—is more than just an internet phenomenon. The challenge for companies everywhere is to attract consumers to their products and services and keep them in the face of fickle markets.
Download full version of AIGA “A CLIENT’S GUIDE TO DESIGN” publication

How Much Does a Web Page Cost?

Most clients would look at this and say, “Hey, it’s just a page! That should take about five hours to build, right?” Not even close. Here’s why. The team that builds this page is made up of the usual suspects:

  • A “Web strategist” who might be an owner-level person offering strategic guidance: $80,000 a year
  • A “senior producer” who’s the account manager: $54,000 per year
  • A “creative director” who leads the creative development: $80,000 per year
  • An “art director ” who does the heavy design lifting; $61,000 per year
  • A “Web designer” who puts the page together: $48,000 per year
  • A “Web developer” who’s really the programmer who makes the form work and integrates it with the database: $60,000 per year
  • A “copywriter” who writes the copy for the page: $65,000 per year.

Those numbers come from the AIGA, and the team seems like a reasonable mix to get the job done. The salaries seem low to me but represent median salaries across the country for these positions. Your mileage may vary.

How much do these people need to be billed out at to make a decent profit? If we assume the average reasonable billable time for people is 1,428 hours per year (the Tortorella article offers detail), agency overhead amounts to about 67 percent of salary (again, a reasonable number according to Tortorella), and a 25 percent profit is reasonable (an assumption, but a percentage many of us shoot for), then following billing rates make sense for the positions above:

  • Web strategist: $107.56 per hour
  • Senior producer: $49.85 per hour
  • Creative director: $73.85 per hour
  • Art director: $56.31 per hour
  • Web designer: $44.31 per hour
  • Web developer: $55.38 per hour
  • Copywriter: $60.00 per hour

These numbers seem conservative, but they’re what we’ve got for this exercise. We’ll assume an average hourly rate of $63.89, just to keep things simple and conservative.

Now let’s look at the tasks necessary to get this single page completed. There’s the concept phase, when the page is planned. We need account management of the project, page design, page production/layout, copywriting for the page, inquiry form production, and the programming that goes into the form. Makes sense, right?

There’s not enough space here to go into all the details of individual tasks and hours, but let’s assume these are reasonable numbers for the tasks if you include client meetings, a couple revisions, and the usual back-and-forth that always takes place:

  • 5 hours of creating the concept = $319.47
  • 5 hours of account management = $319.47
  • 6 hours of design = $383.36
  • 7 hours of production/layout = $447.26
  • 12 hours of copywriting = $766.72
  • 7.5 hours of form production = $479.20
  • 4 hours of form programming = $255.57
  • 46.5 total hours x $63.89/hour = $2,971.05

There you go. Nearly $3,000 for a page and about nine times the number of hours the client assumed when they first heard about the project. Amazing, huh? You may quibble with some assumptions, but I’ve tried to be pretty conservative. The hourly rates are probably about half of what most companies I’ve encountered actually charge. Heck, when’s the last time you ran into a creative director at a midsized to large agency who only makes $80,000? If you have, please have him contact me. I may have a job for him.

The bottom line is Web development is expensive, involves lots of people, lots of management, and lots of back-and-forth with the client. Except in the rarest of cases, none of us ever builds just pages but complicated applications and Web presences that often involve hundreds of pages, databases, multimedia, tons of content, multiple forms, and lots and lots of client meetings and approvals. Unfortunately, few of us walk our clients through really understanding the process (and the hours) that make it all happen

The next time you encounter someone with sticker shock when handing him an estimate, don’t dismiss him. Walk him through what needs to be done and see if he still thinks that page can be whipped out in a couple of hours. It’s an educational opportunity that shouldn’t be missed.

By Sean Carton

Google SketchUp 7 – professional 3D modeling program for interior designers and architects

3D modeling free software
Whether you want to design a dream home, the world’s tallest building or just a new backyard deck, Google SketchUp makes visualizing and communicating your design ideas easy.

Google SketchUp 6 is a free, easy-to-learn 3D modeling tool that enables you to explore the world in 3D. With just a few simple tools, you can create 3D models of houses, sheds, decks, home additions, woodworking projects – even space ships. And once you’ve built your models, you can place them in Google Earth , post them to the 3D Warehouse.


Search Engine Marketing Proposal

Developing SEM online presence:

  • Creation of RSS feeds for the dissemination and syndication of news;
  • Submission of articles to high-value article sites;
  • Updates to the meta information, including adjusting copy where appropriate to target specific key phrases;
  • Creation of a presence in the Facebook community;
  • Setting up a Twitter account to post weekly news as well as breaking news;
  • Development of an on-site blog with regular updates, linking the headline from the home page so the search engines see movement;
  • Writing and submitting to blogs related to their industry;
  • Where circumstances permit, post regular podcasts, including YouTube and Google videos.

To sum up, we need to create a method, typically via case studies, by which companies not only see the value in SEM but, more importantly, how they ought to be participating in it.

Our suggestion for Search Engine Marketing (SEM) beginner:

  • become the SEM professional writer!
  • become registered editor!

Industry insiders’ advice on how to secure a job in the current economic climate

  • Obfuscation. I like this word for two reasons. First, more than is the case for many words, it needs to be spelt properly. Clear communication. Attention to detail. Second, its existence is almost an oxymoron. Nobody expects you to be a one-person design machine – evidence of teamwork is good. Many CVs I receive are as convincing (and illuminating) as that wonderful combo of alcohol and breath fresheners. Oh yes, and know your design history. I once interviewed someone who explained that they’d gone for a ‘Punky feel’, but couldn’t tell me why, or what Punk was about. Not good.
    Ian Allison, Creative director, Bell Design
  • The main issue with the number of design candidates applying for each design vacancy is one of quality. As the grip tightens on our industry the demand for excellence will be paramount. The jobs available will be given to the top idea-generators who can immediately have an impact on your clients’ business. Clearly, there are more designers out there looking because of the economic climate, especially freelances who want to secure fixed-term contracts. But, regardless of the downturn, it’s the same old story – there will always be work for great people.
    Glenn Tutssel, Executive creative director, The Brand Union
  • We all respond well to the unusual. Beyond proven experience, I look for personality, inventiveness and even a touch of humour. Good recent examples include someone pretending to write to us from his prison cell and a young creative introducing herself with a rejection letter to us. Nice twist. Mature candidates have to be knowing, friendly and confident, turning contact into conversation. Juniors should be inventive, honest and grounded. Gut reaction still cuts HR techniques, and a more relaxed approach to trial periods benefits both parties.
    It’s a good time to play with casual relationships while yearning for a happy marriage.
    Tim Elliott, Creative director, Jack Morton Worldwide
  • Finding work in the creative industries always requires determination, and it’s important not to be overwhelmed. Stay practical – not everyone will be maximising their chances, so make sure you maximise yours. There are fewer jobs and more competition.
    Simple maths says you need to apply more, spread the net wider. Job mobility and recruitment often rely on your address book. In a recession many of your contacts will move around more. Establish connections with people outside of their office so you don’t lose them (but not by stalking on Facebook). Be flexible and persevere. Recessions end.
    Laura Woodroffe, Education and professional development director, D&AD
  • At entry level, every design group needs fresh blood. The design industry thrives on new and different ways of thinking, especially in the digital age. [As a junior designer], your energy and enthusiasm should motivate and inspire everyone around you. That’s why you can offer value for money, even in these difficult times. At senior levels, all consultancies are looking to cut costs. Try to demonstrate that you will bring a level of creativity and experience. That will mean cracking the brief quicker, with fabulous, technically achievable design.
    Mano Manoharan, Joint managing director, LFH
  • There are still chances during the credit crunch. For the senior, it’s freelance work. It’s not unusual for those who have been made redundant to end up in the same jobs on a freelance basis, earning more. It’s ‘human recycling’. Target the types of organisations you’re used to. If you’re young, get in there with an amazing CV: a nice, simple, leave-behind idea. Target those you really want to work for, read up on the groups before you turn up and don’t give up on those who are making cuts – they will be recruiting again. And quit smoking and start cycling. You’ll feel less stressed. And it makes you really happy.
    Marksteen Adamson, Founding partner, Arthur Steen Horne AdamsonKey trends

    • Salary takes priority over non-salary benefits
    • In demand/ Digital, brand identity, packaging and fmcg, TV and graphics, client services, new business developers and corporate communications
    • Going down: Print specialists, corporate branding, retail interiors, graduates (designers and account handlers), and account executives
    • Freelance rates are already coming down, and recruiters are predicting further drops in rates of up to 20%. But freelances might lead the vanguard of recovery
    • Permanent salaries are expected to remain frozen over the next 12 months

    Design Week Magazine

Online Shopping

Shopping over the Internet has become a common activity for many consumers. Although it can be a fast, easy and convenient way to make a purchase, it is also becoming easier for scam artists to take your money. Auction rip-offs, purchase scams, spam (unsolicited emails) and phishing (an unsolicited email trying to ‘phish’ personal information from you) are all popular methods used by scam artists.

Following the basic rules for smart in-store shopping will serve you well when shopping over the Internet. The extra challenge the Internet presents is that some of the clues you use, perhaps even unconsciously, when shopping in person are missing when you shop online. Since the electronic merchant you deal with may be in another town or province, or even on a different continent, you cannot walk around the premises and get a feel for the place, its products or personnel.

Link Analysis Tools

  • Link Harvester – unique linking domains, their IP addresses & unique c block addresses of the links
  • Top Web Directories – Rated by ILQ (Inbound Link Quality) – This list of Top Web Directories contains the Top Directories rated by the quality of inbound links each directory has.
  • Free Reciprocal Link Checking Tool Reciprocal links have become one of the MOST popular methods of getting backlinks for your website. Although we don’t really recommend them, a lot of SEO’s have found success with their 2-way / 3-way reciprocal link exchanges.
  • Link Suggestion Tool – helps to find locations you may want to get links from for the keyword entered. Enter the keyword on the field, and click on GET SUGGESTED LINKS to generate Google and Yahoo searches for the keyword.
  • Link Popularity Comparison Tool – allows you to quickly and easily compare your link popularity scores to other websites.
  • Internal PageRank flow Calculator – allows you to see how your internal link structure flows PageRank throughout your site ( the source code)

Link Research From the Search Engines

  • Yahoo! Site Explorer – allows you to see what pages you have indexed as well as the backlinks to those pages
  • Google Webmaster Central – allows you to sign up for Google Sitemaps, shows some crawling errors, broken links, and a fairly comprehensive view of your backlinks. You can also add anchor text checking to Google Webmaster Central by using this free Greasemonkey script.

Other Free Link Analysis Tools

  • Xenu Link Sleuth – Downloadable software which makes it fast and easy to find broken links on your site.
  • Backlink Watch – shows backlinks and anchor text used in the backlinks

Paid Backlink Analysis Tools

  • Advanced Link Manager – downloadable software in combination with Advanced Web Ranking for $149.
  • LinkScape – similar to Majestic SEO, with a few more features, but limits your search depth to 500 results.
  • Majestic SEO – link anchor index that allows you to download an in depth link profile for any site.