This year for our holiday party, we had an amazing and festive time with good people at The Ritz Carlton in Marina del Rey. We had a Christmas boat parade, St. Jude’s Toy Drive, buffet, sweet treats, and a photo booth that everyone, including our CEOs, got to let loose and be silly in. Check out some of the fun we had in our Facebook photo album.
The majority of our customers at InMotion Hosting are small companies or startups with a strong vision and desire to build a solid foundation to grow their business on. Like many of our customers, InMotion Hosting started off small and worked its way up to be the successful company it is today. What every company should try to keep in mind is how they first started off and what specifically accelerated their initial growth spurt. What’s most amazing about a lot of startups is how quickly they are able to get things done, how well they stay focused, and how they maintain the passion and motivation that drive it all. That is the envy of most major companies today.
When you start off small, you have some great advantages. Communication is easier and tasks are done more effectively and efficiently because there are less people to reach out to or wait on. Keeping this process strong is the hardest part when a company begins to grow. Waiting on people seems to be the biggest obstacle when communication isn’t fully there. Being aware of this and making sure you have a good system in place for getting things done, no matter how big your company becomes, will save you a lot of time and headache, and make a world of difference.
With our team still growing, we’ve had to try to adjust and figure out the best way to manage our projects. At first, we had hit some obstacles that we had to overcome with trial and error. Then we looked back at old processes and tried new ones instead. Finally we realized that using different channels to reiterate the same things can get confusing and messy. You want to go along with what your team feels more comfortable using, instead of using just one solution for the sake of simplifying. When processes begin to become a struggle, reassess them and find out why; Find a different solution. Don’t keep doing something because that’s how it was done before.
Use a Project Management Tool
We’ve come to rely on Basecamp as a project management tool to assign projects, refer to message threads, check out the project calendar, and add people to projects or reassign them. It helps to visually see what’s going on, what’s been done, and what still needs to get done. Being able to easily reference interactions among everyone within a team makes a tool like Basecamp a great resource.
Daily Stand-Up Meetings
Another good way of keeping the communication strong and everyone in the loop are daily stand-up meetings. Everyone literally stands up and moves away from their desks. The benefit of this is that it allows for participation from all team members and frees them from distraction. You can customize these to your liking of how often you’d like to do them, and which departments you want to include.
For our marketing team, every morning everyone stands up and tells the team what they’ve been working on, what they plan to work on, and if they have any obstacles that someone else within the team can help out with. This way, everyone is aware of what’s going on and it keeps all the processes clear. If you have multiple teams within a team, a representative from each team informs the group as to what’s going on. The total amount of time of the meeting should be limited to about 15 minutes. If more meetings are needed to discuss specific projects, then these can be arranged during the stand-up meeting and taken away from the group.
And don’t ever forget about the good ol’ face to face interactions. It’s great for team building and a lot of small things won’t fall through the cracks as they often do in communicating through technology channels. It can also save a lot of time when you’re waiting on responses and going through a bunch of email threads. If you need to have a record of what was discussed in a conversation, write one quick email to reiterate what was just said and use that as your reference.
This type of communication may lead to more interruptions, so you need to be approachable and open to face-to-face conversation. However, these interruptions are worth it since you don’t have to deal with going back and spending more time clarifying an issue again. You can always block out time and find a quiet space in the office to be interruption free and stay focused once a week or for a few hours in the day if you do begin to get interrupted too frequently. In the end, you will save a lot of time and everything will be crystal clear.
Smooth and clear communication has to be a priority of the company and it has to be optimized to keep it going strong, no matter how quickly or big your business grows.
InMotion Hosting continues to support the Open Source Community and Joomla! users everywhere by once again sponsoring the Joomla! World Conference this year. The event was held in Boston, MA this past weekend.
With a one-click install process, it’s easy to host your Joomla! site with InMotion Hosting. Latest versions of MySQL5 and PHP5, high grade software, max speed zones and suPHP are just some of the hosting features that keep your Joomla! site secure and deliver content at blazing fast speeds. We also make it easy to transfer your Joomla! site from other hosts. Our technical support has specific Joomla! expertise and is available round the clock.
As a Power Sponsor of the Joomla! World Conference 2013, we had a booth and provided conference visitors with special hosting offers geared towards the Joomla! user base. Check out some of the pictures below.
We even gave away free Joomla! hosting to event attendees! Didn’t make it to the event? Click here to take advantage of the same limited time offer for FREE. This includes a FREE new domain for the first year. Go on, try us out and find out why InMotion Hosting is the way to go for your Joomla! sites.
I was fortunate enough to fly out to New York City last month to attend the first ever 99U Pop-Up School held by Behance. Behance, which is huge in the design industry, is an online portfolio platform widely used by creative professionals. The purpose of the pop-up school was to enhance people’s skill sets and ideas for their personal or business development.
The event was broken up into 3 days; career development, entrepreneurship, and brand & digital strategy. The attendees consisted not only of designers, but of marketers and entrepreneurs as well. It was a great mix of people that all had the same values and passion, and they were either there to better themselves or impact their current or future companies.
Not only did I get a chance to listen to many leaders from within the creative industry, as well as those who have become successful entrepreneurs, but I had an opportunity to interact with them. I joined round-table discussions with other people on topics such as how to launch your start-up. I got involved with mentor sessions and portfolio reviews with the people from Behance. And I watched their side stage where people in the audience would go up and practice building skills like pitching ideas to clients.
These were my biggest takeaways from the speakers of the event:
1. Self-awareness is the only sustainable competitive advantage.
Scott Belsky, Co-Founder & Head of Behance, discussed some interesting points about competitive advantages by asking two questions: 1) what do you want to be good at? and 2) what are you willing to be bad at? If you’re focusing on being good at everything, you’re not focusing on anything. For example, he brought up how Southwest Airlines decided to re-evaluate and change their focuses, and as a result they chose the opposite values of their competitors. They chose to focus on service and price, and gave the amount of routes and free snacks the back seat. Southwest Airlines is now the world’s largest low-cost carrier. In the past with the computer industry, design wasn’t important and variety was optimal. But then Apple decided to sacrifice the variety of choices and amount of distribution, and focus on quality, design, and fewer options. By valuing the opposites of their competitors, Apple captured their market.
2. If you look out for the people around you, you’re a true leader and you’ll inevitably be successful.
Simon Sinuk, Author of “Start With Why” & Leadership Expert, said “We put a premium on people who give us their time vs. money, because you can’t get time back. Good leaders are the ones who give us their time and energy.” If you want to accomplish great things, such as a successful start-up business, great leadership is required of you. You have to be empathetic, inclusive, open-minded, and help the people around you reach their highest potential. If you do this from day one, your company will thrive with loyal, happy employees and A-players. And you have to know the ‘why’ of your company. Great leaders can inspire movements by knowing the ‘why’ of what they’re doing. What is your cause and what is your purpose, and it has nothing to do with making a profit.
3. Building an impressionable brand and personality starts with the founders.
The best companies that are innovative, remarkable, and memorable, are the ones that stand for something, which is what keeps people loyal to them. The companies that are crystal clear about who they are and are consistent with their beliefs attract people who trust them. And that sense of trust comes from sharing common beliefs. Simon talked about how every decision we make is a piece of communication and a symbol of who we are. You have to say and do the things that you actually believe. This is why authenticity is so important. It’s how trust is formed. And with trust, we’re more willing to take risks and experiment. Sincerity is vital to building a brand. Customers can recognize fakeness immediately and become hesitant when they do. That’s why it’s so important to build a strong relationship with your customers from the get-go. A solid fan base is what makes successful start-ups grow so fast. Simon also mentioned how companies focus too much on themselves and not about what they are willing to do for the people. People don’t gravitate towards companies with a list of things they offer or are. They gravitate towards companies that value the same things they do. They don’t buy what you sell. They buy what you believe. Apple was just a computer company, but then they started selling mp3 players and phones. Why do we buy an mp3 player or phone from a computer company? It’s because we believe what they believe.
4. You win people’s loyalty with the little things.
Alexis Ohanian, Co-Founder of Reddit, said take advantage of opportunities on the most mundane parts of your website to surprise people, like the 404 page. Reddit lets users design these for them. People hit a low when they hit a 404 page, so take that opportunity to brighten their day instead. On Hipmunk, a travel website which is a sister company of Reddit, if people get the dates mixed up and enter for instance March 9 to March 5, the error message will say “We don’t yet support time travel.” Or if you search for a flight to Las Vegas on Hipmunk, it’ll say “Vegas, Baby!” Just that little bit of humor when people don’t expect it, catches them off guard and delights them. You make people feel like they’re a part of something bigger rather than just a website they type into their web browser. People are more drawn to things they feel a connection with. It’s human.
A web form building company called Wufoo built a strong connection with their customers the old-school way. Every Friday, everyone one in the Wufoo team, including the CEOs next to the interns and new hires, sits down and writes a hand-written note to its paying customers as a team building exercise. One customer took a photo of their note because they were so surprised by it and they uploaded it to Flickr. People want to share this stuff because it’s so novel and they can really appreciate it. A personal touch, like hand signing a letter at least, goes a long way. Be grateful and helpful without selling yourself. That’s how you build genuine relationships with people.
5. Not everything has to have a business objective.
Jonathan Perelman, VP of Agency Strategy of BuzzFeed, said we need to engage, bring value, be human, and give real storytelling. We don’t have to correlate everything with making money. You have to give before you can expect something in return. Create content that people want and will share, and that you are proud to share, because content which is essentially storytelling, is part of your identity. Be authentic. A product can be copied, but a story can’t be. Neil Blumenthal, Co-Founder of Warby Parker, said, “If someone is copying you, they’re always going to be two steps behind.”
With all this in mind, you should be on the right track for a successful personal brand, a new start-up, or even a current business you’re looking to turn around. Remember your ultimate goal is to make your customers and the people you affect happy. So make everything about them, not about you.
There are a number of color palette generators out there, all with their own perks and special features. These are my top ones to go to because to me they’re the simplest ones to experiment with and I get what I want the quickest.
When I need a good palette quickly, I mainly use Kuler to browse through ones created by others. I choose a few color palettes that stand out to me or fit my needs and then I just change them around a bit until I get what I want. You can also create your own color palette by selecting a color off the color wheel, and then choose from a list of categories to select what type of palette you want, like monochromatic or complementary. And if you want to mess with the colors, you can use the color sliders to adjust them.
I like Color Scheme Designer because I feel like it gives you more flexibility. You can choose a color, it will give you colors that go well with the one you’ve chosen based on how many you want in your palette, and then you can adjust the hue, saturation, lightness, and darkness of all the colors at once or just pick one to adjust that specific one. It will give you more variations of color too within that palette. And plus, it’ll give you an example of how the color palette would appear on a light or dark website.
Color Blender is probably the simplest of the three. You choose one color such as maybe one from your logo and it will give you a six color palette that you can tweak to your liking. You get some flexibility with color sliders, and hue, saturation, and value options. They also have blends you can browse through too. It provides a quick and easy color generating experience.
All these color generators provide great usable palettes and they allow you to customize them in their own way. You can play around with them to see which one allows you to have the amount of freedom that you need.
The hardest part of starting a new business is figuring out where to begin, let alone the design of your company website. For inspiration, I get my feet wet by going to TheBestDesigns.com. It helps you get familiar with what the current standards of design are and it spurs up ideas that may work for you. Even if you’re not a designer, you can get ideas of what you want and what direction you want your company to go. Not all of the examples are standard business websites. They cover an array of websites, but it’s interesting to see what concepts people come up with when they’re not restricted by basic business type restrictions.
I mainly go to Webneel.com when I need some good freebies. It’s a blog website mainly for graphic inspiration but they have a lot of good resources too. I come across some good quality typefaces and icon sets on here.
You can also find some Photoshop and Illustrator tutorials, and free downloads for brushes, layer styles, vector illustrations, and so on. They provide a lot of examples of work to get you thinking about your next project for things such as logo designs, website designs, and type treatments.
Besides being a good source for designers, the blog is also geared towards other fine art professionals such as illustrators and 3D animators, so you’ll find a lot of artsy imagery on here too.
It’s no secret that infographics have become a big craze for the past couple of years. More and more people want visual presentations of complex information that are enjoyable and easy to digest.
To accommodate this thirst for fun information, Visual.ly has developed a new platform that allows you to effortlessly create your own data visualizations. You simply browse a gallery of templates and themes, and select one to customize and tweak. Not only is it designed for you, but it draws in data such as demographics and statistics for you from Facebook and Twitter too.
Because infographics are becoming more valuable and desirable, prices for them are going up as well, so this tool ends up being a great alternative for those who need a quick and easy graphic. It’s a free service to everyone, and companies can even connect with any of the designers who contribute to the website. Premium accounts, which they charge for, are also available for those who wish to have something a lot more specific designed for them. They simply reach out to one of the designers to provide that special attention.
Visual.ly will be adding more datasets to pull from in the future, so there will be no need to only rely on Facebook and Twitter. There will also be a lot more modifiable themes and graphics to choose from in the next few months.
We have great news for all you HTML5 web developers and designers out there. We created three HTML5 cheat sheets to help you with stay on top of the following:
- Event Handler Attributes
- Browser Supported Features