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This is a headshot of Joe Labrie.

 

I have to admit that the concept of this post was given to me by my colleague here at REM - Sean. I had been talking to him about how our new vehicle came with a perk that I had not previously experienced, but now love - a free trial of SiriusXM Satellite radio service.

 

That being said, I do work from home regularly so I don't require in car entertainment these days all that much but then they also offered me a free trial of their online service. This includes both being able to stream it from their website (using a supplied username and password) or even better in my case - via an app for my phone and other mobile devices.

 

I won't go on and on about the specific stations or entertainers I frequent with the service, the actual point of this post is to discuss one thing - smart marketing. I honestly would have never gone and registered for this service on my own, but I enjoyed the 3 month trial service so much that I have already signed on for another 3 month discounted trial term with the intention of keeping the subscription.

 

So, what should be taken from this post is if you have a product or service that you can offer for a free trial, do it! First off, it tells your potential customers that you are confident in the quality/content of the service/product - so much so that you will let people try it for free!

 

And just as important, it's a great way to get a hot lead. There is no hotter lead than someone already using and enjoying your product or service. Give it, or rather, others a trial, it might be some of the best marketing you've ever done! 

 

 

 

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This is a headshot of Joe Labrie.

 

 

It's a dilemma any/every designer encounters at least once (or in my case, constantly) in their design career - how to create a design that is not too trendy yet still appeals to the current market. At REM we strive to ensure every design we do is custom and best represents the personality of the organization and message they wish to convey, but obviously, there is a lot more thought/strategy "stylistically" that goes into every design we create.

 

If you look at Apple for example, their software updates seem to give a clue of current trends (although as of recent I am unsure whether they are helping define new trends or are just lucky to jump on the bandwagon early enough for us to not notice). Early releases of their mobile based IOS software had the softer 3-dimensional gradient icons.

 

This has changed (along with recent trends) to the "flat" style graphic for their icons. This is all well and good for them as they can make software updates as often as they like and affect the look of all user devices to keep them at or ahead of trends stylistically but this isn't realistic for the average website.

 

An organization can't possibly budget or for that matter, justify updating/redesigning the look of their website bi-yearly to keep with trends. That being said, I can in confidence say that this is just one of the many considerations we think about when designing a client's site. It's a struggle but it guarantees reasonable longevity of the designs we create.

 

 

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This is a headshot of Joe Labrie.

 

I have always loved running. I played competitive soccer as a youth, I was on my high school cross country team and also ran the 2500m for my school's track and field team. Of course as life progresses we get busy with other things (work, kids, leisure time) which puts us off track of hobbies and in some cases even consideration of our health.

 

So, after I hit 40 (I still can't believe it!) I thought it was time to start getting back in shape and it has taken a long time! It all started with the purchase of a treadmill where I struggled for several months to try and be able to run 5k all in one shot. The treadmill was a great way to get my confidence up so when the weather improved I was able to start running outdoors.

 

The only problem I had was that I didn't have any way to track my pace/progress until I discovered software called Runkeeper that works both with my iPhone and my Pebble watch. I am able to track my pace, top speed, distance, etc. and see whether I am improving over time. I have now gotten to the point where I am averaging under 7:30/mile for 5k (3.2 miles) at a comfortable pace (which is a vast improvement over the 10 minutes per mile I was doing when I started).

 

So, no more cheating! Also when someone tells me to "pick up the pace" I am able to actually track whether I am or not!

 

 

 

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This is a headshot of Joe Labrie.

 

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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This is a headshot of Joe Labrie.

 

As mentioned in previous posts, being in the web business has its advantages as we get to work with pretty much every industry out there! We recently moved to a new house with a pool and, with two small children, we were concerned about the kids having access to the pool while playing in the backyard,

 

The solution was simple - put up a fence. However, I didn't want to ruin the layout/look of the backyard (I am a designer after all!) so we decided to put a wrought iron fence in. This way, it would have the safety factor, longevity and it looks a lot better than standard chain link.

 

We just happened to be finishing up a site for a great company called New Trend Fencing. I had a very tight time line to put in the fence so, I called our client Joe Pozeg (the president of New Trend) and not only did he help me out with ensuring it was delivered on time, but he delivered it himself which is quite a task as I live almost 2 hours from their location.

 

The fence arrived and the quality and look is amazing! Unfortunately, the new website we are developing for New Trend isn't 100% complete yet but stay tuned as it will be launched shortly. If you're looking for a wrought iron/decorative fence or even their patented "Fencerts" don't hesitate to get in touch with New Trend, you won't regret it!

 

 

 

 

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This is a headshot of Joe Labrie.

 

Graphic art and fine art exist on completely opposite spectrums. While most fine artists will typically rely upon a specific style (regardless of art medium) it is important for graphic artists/designers to be open and define the style based on the industry and brand associated with a project.

 

Although we always try and create contemporary designs for our clients we are also careful to not jump on the bandwagon of latest design trends as they can sometimes go out of style fast. So, the key for our design team is to not have a particular style but again, to express our creativity and redefine our style based on each project we do.

 

That being said, below are some interesting designs we have created over the last year that show the variety of looks, feels and styles we draw upon to make sure every custom design we create is distinct and displays the client's brand in a contemporary and sophisticated way.

 

The look or style we go with is also somewhat dependant upon the industry/type of business the client is in. For example, for real estate or home builders like Ross Minor Construction, photos are of upmost importance to show the type of work and there had to be a mix of traditional and contemporary feels to appeal to the tastes of their clientele. The overall design keeps a contemporary feel while the simple use of serif fonts lends it a more traditional flavor.

 

In the case of a new site we just completed for a Bryan Stevanus of Bud Racing, the important aspects of the site were 1) giving people access to the race schedule via a cool countdown clock and 2) acknowledgement of sponsors so the design had to integrate these two important elements prominently into the design.

 

For a Tattoo/Piercing studio like Thrive display of artwork via photographs was important but a clean, almost sterile look helps accentuate the fact that the studio has high standards as far as health and safety are concerned. Not all tattoo shop websites need to be dark/black and menacing, the target market is too vast nowadays - everyone from teenagers to senior citizens are now sporting ink!

 

One last design I wanted to mention is the one we created for CAS Marine. In this case we used some soft edges and rounded corners as opposed to straight/hard lines and rectangles to piece together the design. This not only fits in with the fluid nature of water but it also matches up with  the flowing aerodynamic construction of the boats they sell.

 

Again, the style of the websites we design is not dependent upon our personal preferences as designers, it varies based on both the industry and feeling the client needs to convey. This is what makes being a web designer fun, as every project is distinct and different from the last..variety is the spice of life as they say!

 

 

 

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This is a headshot of Joe Labrie.

 

Moving can be a stressful event. Although it is exciting there is a lot of work to do, especially when you have kids! I cannot believe the quantity of items including toys, clothes, and just overall junk that has piled up over the last few years.

 

That being said, part of the process of putting our home on the market was the purging of all this "stuff". So, after removal and sorting of these items I called upon a local junk pickup/recycling service to come and get it all. It turned  out that we had gathered together a whole bin's worth - that's a lot of junk!

 

We are fortunate in our industry that we deal with and create websites for everybody and anybody so I happen to know a few good junk pickup companies. As a matter of fact, we are currently working on sites for two great companies.

 

Their sites are still in their early/preliminary stages of design/development (the links below do NOT link to sites we have created, these are their old sites which are being upgraded) but maybe that's not such a bad thing as you can see a before and after of sorts.

 

Please feel free to contact either of these great companies whether you are moving or you just need to clear out some rubbish and recycling, you'll be glad  you did!

 

 

http://www.junkbgone.ca

 

http://www.thejunkbusters.ca

 

 

 

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This is a headshot of Joe Labrie.

 

While watching the news the other night I heard them describing a new way in which Pizza Hut is empowering customers to order their food - using interactive tables! I was blown away by this idea as 1) I am a big fan of pizza and 2) I have placed orders and been the victim of "wrong-topping syndrome" on more than one occasion.

 

Obviously this is a brand new concept and I doubt your local Pizza Hut will have this available for use for at least a few years (if ever) but what a cool idea! For more information and to see a video demonstration of how it works please go here.

 

So, while this a pretty cool idea in the works for the future, we have developed a simple cool online ordering system for local deli called Vincenzo's that you can use now! We have created a "Sandwich Builder" system for them.

 

Basically, you go to their site, see the specials/available items for the day, then design/build your own sandwich! I love this idea again because 1) I am also a big fan of sandwiches and 2) I am very particular about how my sandwiches are made.

 

Next time 11:45 rolls around and your stomach starts making those noises, go check out Vincenzo's and build your own sandwich! www.vincenzosonline.com/sandwichBuilder.cfm

 

 

 

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This is a headshot of Joe Labrie.

 

I have to admit, after working all day, spending time with my kids and going to the gym, there is nothing I'd rather do than put my feet up and enjoy being entertained via television. I actually don't watch many regular aired/scheduled TV shows these days as the digital age has sunk in deep.

 

Beyond our trusty DVR and digital cable I really enjoy digital streaming via our AppleTv. If you're not familiar with AppleTv I can give you a brief summary of what it is and what it does. Basically, it gets hooked up to your television via an HDMI cable then connected to your network either wirelessly (wifi) or wired using an Ethernet cord.

 

Beyond the capabilities of YouTube and Netflix to stream video to the television we also enjoy the fact that it hooks up to icloud and a file server we have so that we can browse our library of photos, home movies and also stream videos from our library of ripped DVDs and Blurays.

 

 

 

 

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This is a headshot of Joe Labrie.

 

 

It's inevitable, as you get older (and especially once you have kids) Christmas and birthdays become less about what you want and more about making your kids/family happy (Christmas) and trying to forget you're getting old (birthdays).

 

Well, this year for a change, there was something I really wanted for Christmas. I gave the subtle hint here and there and my wife was listening (much appreciated) and got me a new watch for Christmas. It's not just a watch, its a "smart" watch called a Pebble.

 

I love and depend on my iPhone so anything that integrates with it (including my car multimedia system, home entertainment system - I'll discuss this more in a future post, etc.) excites me. Not only that but I love watches, can't stand wearing jewellery but I always loved cool watches so the Pebble is a home run for me in many aspects.

 

So, why am I so enthralled by this device? Here are a few reasons:

 

- It looks nice and the watch faces are customizable/swappable.

 

- As mentioned, it integrates with my phone, alerts of texts, emails and phone calls including a brief summary of those items.

 

- There are some cool apps for it. Everything from fitness apps (7-minute workout), Cool watch faces, and integrated multifunction apps that allow you to view the weather, gps coordinates, control your phone's camera and music, calendar, and my favorite - Find My Phone! When activated, it commands your phone to shout a sonar type noise quite loudly.

 

 

 
     
 

 

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