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Laura Renner

Labour Day 2014

 

REM Web Solutions will be closed on Monday, September 1, 2014 for the Labour Day holiday.

 

We will resume regular business hours on Tuesday, September 2, 2014.

 

We wish everyone a safe and happy long weekend!

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Sean Sanderson

Design Quotes

 

Sometimes when I'm in a design rut I like to look at some inspiring quotes. Design quotes can make you think outside the box and even inspire you with ideas.

 

Below are just some of my favorites. 

 

“Design is the method of putting form and content together. Design just as art, has multiple definitions; there is no single definition. Design can be art. Design can be aesthetics. Design is so simple, that’s why it is so complicated.”

- Paul Rand

 

"The Secret to CREATIVITY is knowing how to hide your SOURCES."

- Albert Einstein

 

"Everything is designed. Few things are designed well."

- Brian Reed

 

"Design should never say, Look at me.? It should always say, Look at this."

- David Craib

 

"Being a famous designer is like being a famous dentist."

- Noreen Morioka

 

"Good design is all about making other designers feel like idiots because that idea wasn’t theirs."

- Frank Chimero

 

I hope some of these can inspire and can even make you laugh. They sure do for me.

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Ryan Covert

Music To Code To

Disclaimer: For those of you who know me personally, this will not come as a surprise.  However, most of you will probably get a good chuckle while reading this blog post.

 

I personally love music.  I know that sounds very clichéd, but it's true!  I listen to many genres of music, but my favourites tend to lean into the electronic and orchestral arrangements.  I'm one of those odd ducks who, while trudging through an 8 hour marathon of work, will load up my favourite audio player on my PC (WinAmp ftw!) and I'll put on a play list of orchestrated movie or game soundtracks.

 

That's right!  My work day tends to be filled with emotionally charged music of epic proportions. I can't seem to get enough of it!

 

Here are a few examples of albums I've been listening to lately, along with links to download them from iTunes if you are so inclined!

 

Music To Code To:

  • Oblivion - Original Motion Picture Soundtrack - iTunes Link
     
  • Pompeii - Original Motion Picture Soundtrack - iTunes Link
     
  • Evil Dead - Original Motion Picture Soundtrack - iTunes Link
  • Dead Space 3 - Original Video Game Soundtrack - iTunes Link

I hope you enjoyed this list!  Please feel free to leave your suggestions in the comments.  I always enjoy discovering new music to code to.  Let me know what you listen to!

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Joe Labrie

Everybody needs a face lift sometimes!

 

Maybe it was Joan Rivers or someone else who originated the title of this article. Either way, I am not referring to cosmetic surgery but instead to getting a design update for your website. There is no hard and fast rule as to how long you should take to update the design of your site but there are several factors for you to consider:

 

- Does it look outdated?

- Have your other marketing materials and/or logo been updated recently?

- Are you just sick of the same old design?

- Does it no longer properly represent the image of your organization?

- Have your products, service or overall messaging changed and is this not properly reflected in the site's overall look and feel?

 

Really, any one of these items could be reason enough to make a change and prompt a redesign/update/face lift for your site. That being said, we recently updated a client's website that we had originally designed almost 10 years ago. The design was appropriate and cutting edge at the time but an update was definitely warranted in this case. Have a look at the before and after shots below and feel free to browse the site for some great travel deals!

 

Before:

 

 

 

After:

 

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Jillian McBurney

Reaching Out To Clients

 

Part of my job responsibility is to reach out to our clients to see how things are going.  It is a time consuming process considering how many clients we have, but it is certainly worth while.

 

The individual conversations don't tend to take too long (unless the customer is particularly chatty) but a lot can be learned within a short amount of time.

 

Sometimes our clients tell me, "Everything is just fine. Thanks for the call."  Sometimes I answer questions.  Sometimes I simply listen to our clients feedback.  In all scenarios the conversation is extremely valuable.

 

I feel that my phone calls strengthen REM's relationship with our customers and allows our clients to be candid and get their questions answered without them having to initiate the conversation.

 

One of our clients sent this lovely message to me after we had an opportunity to talk.

 

"I have to tell you that I truly appreciated your phone call as to how things were going with our web site. It is certainly these personal touches that set REM apart from other web design companies; super people doing a super  job!"

 

In a society where email, texting and automated sales associates are so prominent, it is incredibly nice to be able to speak to someone, isn't it?

 

 

 

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Jamie McBurney

New Mobile Code Foundation Started

 

Well... I'm not really allowed to talk about too much on the mobile front, but I can say that code has been started and we have a working model of our new mobile design tools!  

 

We're in the pre-alpha stage here folks... but man am I excited.  This next iteration is so exciting that Ryan and I had to fork our code base to keep our playground separate from all non-essential staff!  I'll leak out more information as it becomes available.

 

Keep Calm and Code On.

 

Photo provided by Ian L

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Rob Matlow

Team Building at REM

 

At REM we believe that having fun is an important part to a productive work environment allowing us to design and build better websites.  I enjoy spending time with the REM team.  We plan quarterly meetings allowing us to discuss things as an entire company.  This is where we  take the time to look at how we can be better at what we do and take input from everyone.  After a day of meetings we plan something fun.  Some of the things we have done in the past are; Mini Golf, Mohawk Raceway, Tubing, Comedy Club, Laser Quest and Bowling.  Each event is followed by dinner.

 

This past May our quarterly meeting was followed by Bowling at Kingpin Bowling and a ridiculous amount of food from Boston Pizza.  We had an extremely serious game considering we were all fairly bad bowlers.  We decided to split into 2 teams.

 

You can see below how serious we ended up getting with a picture of Jillian taking her aim to a whole new level to get the spare. 

 

Jill Bowling

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Laura Renner

Civic Holiday Hours


REM will be closed for the Civic Holiday on Monday, August 4.

 

We will re-open again on Tuesday, August 5 for our regular business hours.

 

We wish everyone a safe and happy long weekend!

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Sean Sanderson

Design Tips

Web design is a tricky thing. Although it has progressed with technology, trends, and the veteran designers themselves - a sure fire design is not always guaranteed.

 

I am my own worst critic. I have to make a design functional, yet still visually appealing. Although I am always happy with the final outcomes, I sometimes feel an uncertainty if the client will be blown away and if they think the design will accomplish the goals they were looking for.

 

Below are a couple rules I like to follow to ensure these thoughts do not creep into my head:


Use of Color
This has to match the clients corporate colours and still work and flow properly. One of the first and most important aspects I think about.

 

Imagery
Every picture tells a thousand words and this is still true with web design. Picking the right images helps your website explain its message, products and emotion its trying to convey.

 

Typography

The words you put on your website are carefully thought out. And so should be the way in which you stylize them. The styles need to be readable but also work with the design.


I don’t limit myself to these tips but definitely always keep them in mind when designing websites.

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Ryan Covert

Iterative Design In WebWiz@rd

"Iterative Design"

 

You may have heard of this term before, especially if you frequent the social circles of graphic designers and user interface developers.  Here at REM, we apply the iterative design process to our work on WebWiz@rd.  I'll spend the next couple of paragraphs explaining what exactly iterative design is, and then I'll explain how this benefits our customers who use WebWiz@rd.

 

Since I don't believe in reinventing the wheel [It just works! Right?], I'll quote a bit of Wikipedia's entry on iterative design:

"Iterative design is a design methodology based on a cyclic process of prototyping, testing, analyzing, and refining a product or process. Based on the results of testing the most recent iteration of a design, changes and refinements are made. This process is intended to ultimately improve the quality and functionality of a design. In iterative design, interaction with the designed system is used as a form of research for informing and evolving a project, as successive versions, or iterations of a design are implemented." -- Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iterative_design)

 

That seems pretty straight forward, right?  Maybe not.  The problem with the term right from the start is that it includes the word "design".  Most people will immediately shift to thinking about artwork or graphics.  These people aren't entirely wrong, but the word is still misleading.  The "design" in iterative design both implies the look and feel (the user interface) of a system as well as how the system is intended to respond when that look and feel is interacted with.  In other words: the iterative design process can be applied to not only the colour of a button or its position on the screen, but also to the conveyed purpose of that button to the end-user.

 

An Example

 

A web page has two buttons on the screen.  One button starts an operation such as a stop watch counter. Another button stops the operation that the first button started.  The first button is red (the start button) and the second button is green (the stop button).

 

 

 

Do you see the problem?  Maybe it isn't a problem at all to you?  If the developers of this web page were to present the page to a set of unbiased users, some might complain that the colours of the buttons are misleading. "Red for go?  Green for stop?  That's ridiculous!" some of them might cry.  Of course, some of the users might enjoy clicking a bigger, red button to start the operation because they dream of flying a space ship.  Okay -- I hear you -- this explanation is getting a little silly, but you can see what I'm getting at here.  The red and green colours themselves are good choices, but their application is the problem in this scenario.  The majority of people might expect "start" or "go" operations to be coloured in green, and the related stop operations to be coloured in red.  The iterative design process would catch these complaints from users and would help the developers create a system (a web page, in this example) that fits the expectations of the majority of their users.

 

Iterative Design at REM

 

At REM, we practice the iterative design process without ever having to speak of the term itself.  Our development and design culture at REM forces us to use this process every time we create something new for WebWiz@rd.  New modules are put in front of our customers almost immediately after exiting the beta stage and we almost always get instant feedback on how these modules behave for our customers. Our support team sends us bug reports and usability concerns the moment things break down for anyone, giving us the ability to quickly fix problems and get the updates in front of our customers right away so that they can keep working and continue to provide feedback on the usefulness of our changes.

 

This isn't to say our customers are the first human beings to interact with new parts of WebWiz@rd.  Our support team is tasked with hammering our new systems with every possible scenario they can think of.  They do their best to try to break down our systems so that our customers don't come across major flaws in their own work flow.  Our support team does an amazing job of unearthing both the smallest and largest of design flaws in our systems. The developers, in turn, fix those problems right away and get the changes back in the hands of the support team so they can continue to hammer away.  It works, and it works well.  I'd hazard to say 99% of bugs and confusing interface problems are removed from our system before our customers ever see a single, new screen.  That's saying something!

 

Time To Reflect

 

I'm very proud of our team at REM.  We work really well as a team, but we also know how to approach our own work with an outsider's perspective. This definitely helps us improve our products through the iterative design process and we have an amazing set of technology to show for it.


Do you work for a company that practices iterative design?  We'd love to hear about it in the comments or feel free to drop us a line any time.

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Blog  Bloggers


Laura Renner
38
August 27, 2014
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Sean Sanderson
33
August 25, 2014
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Ryan Covert
29
August 20, 2014
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Joe Labrie
34
August 18, 2014
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Jillian McBurney
33
August 13, 2014
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Jamie McBurney
34
August 11, 2014
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Rob Matlow
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August 6, 2014
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2014

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