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A former client came to us and asked a favor—could we look at a website for him and see if we could help? Sure, we can always take a look.
It soon became clear that we could do more than help a little—we could take our expertise and help a lot. Not just help this one organization, but help the hundreds of people they help. Sometimes we get wrapped up in the code and graphics and we have to wonder if what we do matters. We always try to find projects that give us a ‘yes, this matters’. From helping people find jobs to advancing the science of human genomes—we do work that matters. And this project hit me right in the heart.
As some of you know my cousin passed away unexpectedly a few years ago leaving behind a widow and a child. I wrote a blog post explaining how to set up a memorial fund—the only thing we knew how to do that might help at a time like that. The blog post became one of our most popular posts ever and I’ve had emails, comments and even a few phone calls from people all across the country thanking us and asking for advice on this or that. One simple blog post has helped so many people that once we were offered the chance to take that to the next level by working with this organization we were 100% on board.
The organization that is asking for help is Hope for Widows. They support widows through the grieving process. This is a big job and it comes with a lot of emotions. When we met Gwen Peterson, the Founder, President and Chairperson, we were blown away that she can take this job and greet it with so much enthusiasm, passion and positive energy. Compared to what she does every day for these women, writing a few thousand lines of code an easy thing to agree to.
We need a little extra help though. If you have skills or a few dollars you can share with this project it will make a difference to someone who has lost their whole world. Sawaya Consulting is donating a membership-based website to Hope for Widows (including design, WordPress development, stock photography and web fonts). More info on that below. Hope for Widows still needs the following items to help with the website project:
- Cash for WordPress plugins. We need to raise about $500 to cover spam protection, a theme purchase and other extras for the site. This is our first and most pressing need. Can you kick in $10 or $20? Does your organization have a budget for nonprofits and do you want to sweep up the entire $500 (or more)? Hope for Widows is a 501c3 organization and is willing to discuss sponsorship levels for any amount over $500. In the event that we raise more money than is needed for the WordPress pieces the money will stay with Hope for Widows and go towards their other tech spending needs.
- Someone to do the leg work contacting companies about donations. Google Apps for Business needs to be configured and has a 501(c)3 offering; HFW is working on some widow packets and needs composition notebooks donated by Mead; etc. These are targeted requests, not calling potential donors.
- Copywriting. The new site will have some great features, like the ability to request a widow reach out to another widow, emails from the organization on important dates that are often forgotten by friends and family, and the list goes on. These need some really good copy and some really good titles. Widow Notifier 3000™ is funny, but this isn’t really a funny subject, so we need someone to help craft the message.
- Video editing. The main HFW video on their current homepage is really long and could use some editing. We’d like someone to help condense it to help share the mission for HFW more concisely. (Get the tissues out if you watch it, I worked with HFW for at least a month before I could bring myself to finally watch it).
- Marketing/Social Media. Once the new site goes live it will work for many groups: widows, supporters, and donors/sponsors. That’s great, but we need to get the word out. If you can help with PR, social media, media training or anything else that is related we’d love to have you share your expertise.
- Something else. Do you look at this and see a way you could help that we didn’t list? Let us know. It’s a big project with big goals and many hands make light work.
The New Website
The current Hope for Widows site (hopeforwidows.org) was a great start. It allowed them to start spreading their message and start holding monthly meetings and conferences. Now it’s time for a workhorse.
The new site will:
- Have a new design that’s more welcoming and flexible.
- A way for someone to request the help of the organization on behalf of a widow. Information is verified and must meet strict criteria before someone is allowed access. This is for safety and to protect the integrity of the organization’s mission.
- A great mailing list with separate categories for widows, supports and donors. This will also support event-based emails from the organization.
- Resources for widows (obviously) but just as important there will be resources for supports. The rest of us that just don’t know what to do when someone we love has just lost their partner.
- Login functionality so that many areas of the site can be protected and are only available to approved members.
- A forum with moderated discussions to allow widows to help each other and grieve together.
- A blog for their ongoing messaging. They are incredibly active on Facebook now and have the content to support an active blog.
- A lot of other new pages and features.
We are excited to be part of the next phase for Hope for Widows and appreciate any resources you can share. If you are donating cash please go here. If you have expertise and time to share please contact me (Amber) directly so we can chat. Everyone that contributes will be listed on the new site under a section about ‘this site made possible by the contributions of…’.
It’s been a big week at Sawaya Consulting. Actually it’s been a big year and this is just the final point of several projects. We’ve been busting out work like nobody’s business and we launched *THREE* websites in the last week.
Sometimes when we get busy our online portfolio doesn’t always stay updated, or we don’t stay on top of blogging. We have to remind ourselves that is ok sometimes—current clients always come first.
So what have we been up to?
Boart Longyear Website
We launched a newly redesigned and redeveloped website for our long-time client Boart Longyear. This website is built on WordPress and is responsive between mobile and desktop. One of the greatest things about this project happened behind the scenes—a 7 month project plan with ZERO VARIANCE. Not one missed deadline, slipped date or feature creep that blew out the end date. This is pretty typical for us, but it’s especially noteworthy on a site that is so large (300+ pages and more than 500 tables of specification information on rigs), and has so many moving pieces and players.
Big thanks to Kira for the design work and Val for the content migration (hours of making tables!).
Bruges Waffles & Frites
Nom, nom, nom. Waffles. Nom. Seriously, go get some waffles and frites with mayo. This was a pretty long project, but the end results speak for themselves. We were able to combine the owners’ personalities (why yes, that is a dancing waffle monster at the bottom), incredible food photography, history and images from Belgium and wrap that all into a clean, cozy, friendly website. This site is built on WordPress and has a separate mobile site that uses the same content as the main site. This is how we opt to build restaurant websites.
Big thanks to Kira for the design work and Amanda Nelson Photography for the photography.
Salt Lake Culinary Center
We are thrilled to work with Diane and Rich Sheya as they transform what has been the Viking Cooking School into Salt Lake Culinary Center. Why this happened is an interesting story. How fast this happened is part of our story. They called us in a rush a few weeks ago and we put up a quick little stop-gap website for them overnight. We didn’t have the bandwidth to take on the large site at that exact moment (see above!) but they were patient and the moment Boart Longyear launched we hopped on Salt Lake Culinary Center and released the site in just a few days. This site has lots of things to be added over the next few weeks but it’s already light years ahead of what they were working with. We can’t wait to share how this site grows!
Well, a whole lot more Salt Lake Culinary Center (some incredible classes and private events and new ways to book those); we have taken a slew of new business calls and have our fingers crossed for a couple of them to land; a trip to Costa Rica and on the horizon a new site for us. Oh, and Amber owes someone a list of her favorite WP plugins, so that’s coming up next week. For now it’s time to celebrate!
We are so thrilled to announce that our branding work for Red Queen Book Arts has earned an award of merit in the AIGA 100 Show. The show is run by the Salt Lake City chapter of AIGA, the professional association for design, and is the region’s most prestigious juried design competition.
The Winning Entry
Logo for the specialty book arts gallery, Red Queen Book Arts.
The gallery draws its name from Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland. Located in Salt Lake City, the gallery carries a large collection of both modern and antique collector’s editions. Red Queen Book Arts seeks to introduce the new collector to the world of book arts as well as support established collectors find rare treasures.
Thoughts on the Design, the Award and the Show
Steve, Kira and I were in New York City the night of the awards ceremony and so Karen accompanied the client to the show—thus marking the second time someone has attended a show and picked up my award in my absence (ask me about this after a drink sometime). I interviewed each key player on the project and think the answers are really interesting for someone considering a branding project with us or with another firm.
Thank you and congratulations to everyone that worked on this project!
Melissa (the client):
What did you enjoy most about the logo design process?
Firstly, the communication. I sincerely appreciated that everyone took time to get on the same page. Then, the beginning and the end! I loved the beginning, when creative juices were flowing and lots of possibilities were floating around. It helped to know that I was working with talented professionals and could trust the process, and then once we settled on a direction, it was absolutely delightful to see the end result!
What did you find the most surprising or difficult?
The biggest surprise for me was that no one expected me to suddenly become visually literate. I worried heading in that the design process would require me to have a lot of informed opinions about design, and that wasn’t at all the case, thank goodness.
The only difficult thing was settling on the final design as it meant closing the door to some other great ideas.
What did you learn about the logo design experience that you would like to share with other clients?
Be clear, and don’t be afraid to ask for what you want. I found it helpful to be upfront about how I communicate, and when I asked for time to briefly consider a decision it was given gracefully.
Amber, as an aside, I want you to know that I am just blown away by what you, Steve, and Kira have delivered. The branding you guys came up with is incredible, and I don’t take it for granted. I know that you all put in a lot of work on my behalf, and I’d like to thank you once again.
Congrats on your well-deserved award!
Kira (the designer):
We’ve done a lot of logos together, what made this one stand out as something we should enter into an award show?
There was a lot of freedom with this project and I spent a lot of time. Those two things generally result in great design.
It was nice that the client was given two very different directions she had a strong feeling for one. And its awesome to have an art director that also has strong opinions and gives direct and constructive feedback (and design therapy)—and takes the time to give it to you even though she is very busy.
Other things that played in to it: the name was great and the store concept was interesting and unique. The project benefits someone I really like (and someone who supports and believes in my abilities as a designer). Creating a strong logo and identity system around a cool company makes the process much more enjoyable and easier.
Walk us through your logo design process, how long does it normally take both an effort and duration?
I think just the logo process took two months. That is a luxury! People always want to rush this process and often get a logo that they have to spend more time and money fixing later.
Once the mark was finalized the rest of the identity formed organically as small projects for the company came up. Again, not such a rush to lock everything down.
Having time to think about the project, play with it and come back to it allows me to come up with something more refined and less obvious. Most of my design drafts and concepts happen in my head when I have a minute in the shower, or in line, or before I fall asleep (or while I shop)—it’s impossible to know how much time is spent there, but it’s vastly more than time spent physically drawing or drafting it.
Karen (the copywriter):
What did you think about attending the event?
I thought the identity for the event was pretty fab and the letterpress work for it was gorgeous.
I was surprised by how “sponsored” the event was–I don’t think anyone on the board who spoke didn’t mention a sponsor, and the sponsors themselves presented the ingots and had a change to further promote themselves there. (I really wished they’d been briefed on how to pronounce the winners’ names, too.)
But I was very pleasantly surprised the wine for the event was free, and that was a result of a sponsorship, so maybe I shouldn’t complain too much!
What did you think of the work this year?
Hand-drawn type was everywhere, and I saw a trend towards work with an “artisanal” feel. The student work was really, really strong–I think a lot of professionals were jealous! As a copywriter, I was a little disappointed, as there weren’t that many really striking uses of copy (other than that for Red Queen Book Arts, of course).
Nilauro (the client’s husband):
AS: I thought it would be interesting to also get the opinion of someone who wasn’t involved in the project or the industry, but attended the event.
Overall this was a great event. The Leonardo was an excellent venue, and it was a pleasure to see so much amazing work from local artists and designers.
The look and feel of the event from posters to the logo were top notch.
Free wine. Thanks!
The display of award winning work was put together well and had a nice flow.
Things to work on:
Ensure ahead of time that everyone who will be getting up to speak is familiar with their script and has a chance to rehearse as necessary.
More diversity in the Copper Ingot winners. The winning entries were great, but several were extremely similar.
The silent auction organization needs work. People need to be more aware of the auction and to be given more time to actually look and bid, and there needs to be outreach about how it works and when the auction will close. Giving people bidder numbers is a great way to increase participation.
In closing, it was eye-opening to see work by such talented artists and I enjoyed attending.
Some pictures of the event
Side note, I freaking love the long shot of Karen, Melissa & Nilauro.
Thanks for taking pictures for us, Nilauro! See more of his amazing work here ›
Here are three shady things that I’m currently annoyed with. Thanks internet!
1. Favorited Tweets are the new Twitter Spam
We’ve had a rash of favorited tweets lately. If you go to the profile they contain spammy links to grow your followers. Which could really be another point—places that allow you to buy followers.
2. Click this extra email so I’ll get your email
People, stop doing this. I’ve received a few of these lately from business contacts — people that have requested things from me, or clients have requested I send things to people on their behalf. Learn how to better manage your email. Please quit subconsciously promoting messages like, “my email inbox is more important than yours, so I must spam you this extra step and clutter up your inbox if you wish me to see your precious message” and, “I can’t manage my own stuff so I’m putting the burden on you.”
FTLOG – their tagline is “End Email Overload” and they are a service that multiplies the work of using email.
3. LinkedIn Website Stalking
Apparently there is a way to hide a LinkedIn profile box on your website and get visitors names, titles and company names. There is a little part of me that thinks things like, “man, I wish I knew who was on my website.” How great would that be in my line of work? Someone from a large company looks at our site — and then magically I send them a capabilities brochure. Sure, that sounds awesome, I’d love to know, but wait… it’s insidious.
Oh, and here is a 4th bonus one.
Dan Graham is a cousin of mine that passed away, his Facebook profile is still active.
Thanks Facebook! When will Facebook finally allow profiles to be changed to memorial profiles* and quit promoting that you invite the deceased to your events?
*Facebook Memorial Profiles aren’t really a thing, I just wish they were and I think they should be.
[UPDATE: 5/31/13] Our friend Mike let us know that you can now memorialize a Facebook account. Information here.
I made the best cake yet. Now to understand this you probably need to know that I don’t cook anything. We’re not sure how I lived alone for so long. Over the years Steve (who is a fantastic chef) has coaxed a few things out of me. I did start baking a little while ago, a few things from scratch, lots of boxed cakes. If you are short on time or cash, by all means go with a box. However, if you have an afternoon and some extra scrilla, go the scratch route.
This cake that I made, it’s a dream. I didn’t know yellow cake could be this good. It’s the cake that’s in the current edition of Martha Stewart Living and I went with all-organic ingredients. As I was putting in the ingredients I kept asking myself if the organic and pricier versions were worth it. These are my findings:
|Cake Ingredients||Worth It?|
|1 Stick Unsalted Butter||Not the stuff we bought, organic butter yes, but the super grass-fed cow butter no.We bought the Supernatural butter that the Paleos love—it was $10 for a pound at our local little gourmet food store. You can get it cheaper at Whole Foods, but it’s still pricy.|
|1/2 teaspoon fine salt||—|
|1 1/2 cups granulated sugar||We used raw/organic sugar. The jury is still out on worth it or not.|
|3 large eggs,
|Yes! Organic, local eggs will make all the difference. We get the Clifford Farms ones.|
|1 cup whole milk||Yes — organic dairy, happy cows, no hormones, etc is important to us.|
|1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract||Probably not, tasted about the same, cost a whole lot more.|
|Frosting Ingredients||Worth It?|
|1 stick unsalted butter, softened||See above.|
|4 ounces cream cheese, room temperature||Yes! The organic cream cheese was a transcendent experience.|
|5 cups confectioner’s sugar||No! Expensive, tastes the same and there isn’t enough in one bag to frost a cake. The trifecta of fail.|
|1/4 cup whole milk||See above.|
|1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract||See above.|
Cake Ingredients & Design
All of this got me thinking about what was worth the time and cost and what wasn’t. I’m often asked the same questions when it comes to design and building apps and websites. So here is a short rundown.
The caveat here is cost — if you have a larger budget, by all means get the best of the best, everything will be exponentially better.
|Design Ingredients||Worth It?|
|Logo||This is the cream cheese. A cheap logo won’t kill you, it’s better than nothing and if you are just starting out it’s not the place to drop serious cash. However, if you can afford it (and a good logo/branding is going to run you $6,000–$10,000 or more) it’s a transcendent experience.|
|Website||This is the eggs. The eggs, for us, are non-negotiable when looking at organic/non-organic. A website is the same, you must have a good site. However, you can have the mass-market organic egg of sites (build it on WordPress now, make it good, you can always take that and upgrade later). Eventually, when you can afford it, you want the Clifford Farms of local/organic egg websites.|
|Fancy Business Cards||This is the organic confectioners sugar. As in, not worth it unless you have money to burn. We have some cheap (but nice) cards, because if you are doing a lot of business, you are handing out a lot of cards—and those cards shouldn’t be costing you $1+ each to hand out.|
|Custom Photography||This is the grass-fed butter. You must have good photos on your site, and even good stock photos don’t come cheap. However, if you are very particular (like you eat a Paleo diet) you want to spring for the custom photography.|
|Mobile App||This is the organic vanilla. Only when all other things are covered should you even think about doing this. It might not move the needle at all, or it might be the greatest finishing touch.|
What do you think?
Do you agree or disagree? What is worth it to you when you bake? What is worth it to you in your business communications?