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SitePoint Tribune

Issue 436: March 5th, 2009  News, Rants and Case Studies for Web Design Professionals

Introduction

Miles BurkeIn a recent issue of the Tribune, I wrote about low and no-cost marketing tactics, focused around Facebook. In this issue, we'll go offline, and meet a very clever English lad -- he recently spent a small fortune to travel over 11,000 miles wearing his message on a T-shirt. You'll want to hear this story.

We'll then discuss what the lesson is for the rest of us, and how we could tweak his message to suit our own purposes.

Involved in the design of web sites? If the answer's yes, you need to have a business card that does your design work justice. We'll discuss a few rules with business card design, before checking out some fantastic examples of this medium.

Finally, we'll have a look at an oft-overlooked promotional opportunity -- web design galleries. There are a number of reasons why being listed on them can work for your clients, your company, and your staff -- and we'll discuss these various merits before diving into some great gallery lists.

I hope you enjoy the read!

Miles Burke
tribune@sitepoint.com

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Summary

Interview with Chris Winchester

Two weeks ago, I made the journey to New Zealand to attend the well-known web conference, Webstock. On my first day there, I spotted a man wearing a bright yellow T-shirt which read: Remember me? I met you at Webstock looking for a job.

What a great idea! Here he is, wearing a T-shirt promoting himself in a fun way, looking for a web industry job in the perfect environment -- a web conference. Little did I realize, until speaking with Chris, that there was more to the story.

You see, Chris heard about the conference only two weeks beforehand, and traveled from the other end of the globe -- the UK -- to spend a few days in Wellington looking for a job.

Here's the story in Chris's own words:

Hi Chris, thanks for speaking with me. Tell us some background as to your decision to quit your job and travel over 11,000 miles across the world to NZ.

My great-grandfather's brother, Tom Garratt, who like me was from Liverpool, jumped ship in Wellington and set up a printing business in the 1930s -- a business that, I believe, is still run by the Garratt family today. In his way he was a facilitator of mass communication and, I guess, so am I but in a 21st century context; so it feels like there's a resonance there.

I've had family and friends in NZ all my life, and spent a year in Christchurch as a little kid, but I rediscovered the country for myself when my wife and I came over a few years ago on our honeymoon. It might sound a bit cheesy to say we fell in love with the place and the people -- but we did, so I will!

Then a couple of years ago, after our daughter was born, we were looking at what we could do if we sold our two-bedroom flat in London. We considered buying a small three-bedroom house a bit further out of London, but then we realized we might be able to come over to NZ and have some real space.

It's a long way to move -- about as far as you can go (the moon's yet to open for business) -- but we thought if we let the opportunity slip by, we'd always wonder about what we missed.

So, you told me that you only heard about the conference two weeks ago -- how did you prepare?

We'd been waiting in a queue with the NZ immigration service for quite a while, and knew that if one of us got a job offer over here that should speed things up. So we were just starting to research potential opportunities. My wife, Nikky was surfing around and said, "Ah, it's a shame you missed that." She'd found the Webstock site. I realized there were still two weeks to go and therefore it was possible to come over and meet everyone. So I threw together a bit of a personal marketing campaign.

I went straight online and ordered a bunch of T-shirts from spreadshirt.net that read, Remember me? I met you at Webstock looking for a job. As soon as they arrived a couple of days later, I went into my parent's back garden (as we'd sold our flat!) to take photos of me in the shirts. I was balancing a camera on top of a snowman as I didn't have a tripod; wish I had a picture of the snowman taking the picture of me! Ah well ...

So, once I'd taken the pictures I fired up Photoshop and put together a set of business cards saying, Web monkey seeks job with my T-shirt photos and web address. Then I ordered a big pile of them through moo.com by special delivery. It was getting a bit tight for time by this stage, as I needed to be on a plane a couple of days later. I even had to order myself a new laptop bag and suitcase, as the ones I had were unsuitable for the flight. Fortunately everything arrived just in time.

I had to retrieve my passport from NZ House in London as it was with the immigration authorities and I was up in Liverpool. So I had a mate pick it up and I met him at Euston Station for a Cold War-style handover, on the way to Heathrow on the Friday morning before Webstock. I spent Valentine's Day in the air and arrived in Wellington looking (and feeling) a bit bemused on Sunday afternoon.

Fantastic! So what inspired your T-shirt and business cards campaign?

I have absolutely no idea! It just popped into my head. The four colors of the cards were chosen because they were the only colors that Spreadshirt had in organic cotton for the T-shirts, and I was trying to be vaguely green.

Although, how I can say that and justify the carbon hit of flying halfway round the world I'm unsure -- I'll have to think that one over. I really wanted bamboo shirts as they're so comfy, but the European Spreadshirt site has yet to produce them, which is a bit of a shame.

Come to think of it, icebreaker shirts would be the ultimate ... maybe one day!

Once I knew I had four different colors I had a quick think about what I could do to tie the card set together. I had a copy of the Beatles' Help! album with them doing semaphore flag signalling in the snow, and I thought maybe I could do that. I tried to copy their poses, but a friend tells me the cards actually spell "NUJD", not "HELP" at all!

You've been in Wellington for a few days now -- how do you feel you've been received?

Everyone's been great! They are really welcoming and encouraging, apart from one lady who said, "I don't think people are really doing business cards any more." But hey, fair enough, each to their own. I've had a really warm reception, including the weather!

I'd like to say a really big thank-you to the local web community -- it's been a real pleasure to meet you all, and I hope we'll be working together soon!

Thanks for your time, Chris, and I hope you'll keep us up to date in your adventures towards landing that job.

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I Want to Build Your Next Web Site!

You might look at Chris's adventure above and think to yourself, what a geeky but once-only stunt he pulled; however, there's a lesson in there for all of us.

Suppose you're a web designer, and your target clients were small business owners. Imagine attending a small business trade show or conference with a T-shirt that said, I want to build your next web site! That's sure to gain a positive reaction.

Let's look at trade shows. Most trade shows and exhibitions cost a small fortune to have a display stand, and if you're a developer, what do you have to really show? Perhaps a few computer screens showing your portfolio as a slideshow? Boring!

A better (and considerably cheaper) idea here would be to attend as a normal visitor, but carry a stack of your business cards. Then go from booth to booth enquiring about the products and services on display, and politely hand them your card at an appropriate time.

You could even print a short run of special cards just for that event, which could potentially state, We met at the XYZ Expo, and I want to build your next web site! on one side, and your contact details on the other. This is cheap, and definitely memorable.

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Create a Killer Business Card

If you want to impress, you'll want to have a clever business card. Especially if you do any design work, your business card needs to speak volumes about your ability, as well as provide those useful contact details.

A friend of mine uses old cereal boxes, which he cuts into the standard shape. Then he uses a rubber stamp on the unprinted side with his details. Every card is therefore different, and it sends a great recycling message.

Another friend has a square business card; I've recently seen a card utilizing Braille, and another which looks like a playing card.

Gimmicks aside, you still need to include those details, and my only word of warning is to ensure that your card fits in a standard business card wallet or binder easily, as well as your pocket.

For some great inspiration on what others have done manipulating the traditional business card, have a look at the recently launched gallery site, cardobserver.com or Art of the Business Card. There's also Inspiration: Business Card Designs, and finally the humorously named ItEvenHasAWatermark.com.

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Submit Your Work to Gallery Sites

Last week I spoke to a client of ours, who was quick to mention that the web site we built for them recently appeared on a CSS gallery site. They were glad to have been listed, because it confirms that he made the right decision choosing my company. He also said that he's already received an enquiry for their services, which he directly attributes to a link from this gallery.

It's great for me because I have a very happy client, but more importantly, we also have prospects enquire about our service as a result of being on such gallery sites. Additionally, there are the obvious SEO benefits of more inbound links. Finally, the team who works on the featured web site are pleased because they effectively are being judged by their peers, and so we all win.

So where do you find these galleries? Well, there are a few sites that come to your rescue:

  • CSSGalleryList.com list 50 of the larger galleries and their Alexa rank, and link directly to their submission pages.
  • This blog post from Web Design Beach has an exhaustive list of more than 250 gallery sites, complete with Alexa Rank, PageRank, Google, and Yahoo inbound links.
  • Finally, if you haven't already had your share of lists, here's another list of 212 galleries, over at Web Gallery List.

You'll soon filter your preferred list down to a dozen or so galleries, and will be submitting away in no time at all. Good luck!

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Thanks so much for reading another issue of the SitePoint Tribune. I look forward to touching base in two weeks time!

Miles Burke
tribune@sitepoint.com
Editor, SitePoint Tribune

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