Comments on Erskine Design Redesign

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  1. Great read. Really love reading the process of others. Makes it much more worthwhile to hear the story behind the story.

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  2. Great article ! I know you from the Agile Record website for the upcoming Expression Engine 2 and I love your style and the clean & great job you’re doing.

    I think I’m going to suggest this physical project area thing to my boss, it’s such a great idea !

    I also saw that you had nice relationships for the “key people” blocks on your website and I understand now why it was useless to crawl the web to find this plugin. You’ve been developping yours :) Is there a way I could get my hands on it ?

    Anyway, keep it up, Erskine rocks !

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  3. Great article.

    The Erskine Design introduction statement reads, “*Erskine Design* passionately *build* accessible, dynamic and stylish websites without cutting corners.”

    That’s an interesting collective noun. I expected to see _builds_, the singular form, rather than _build_. But, given the right context and goal, it may be desirable.

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  4. This point keeps cropping up, and I agree its confusing, but apparently the copy on the site (that part at least) is correct. To think I have A-grades at English and still don’t know. Oh dear.

    We (especially our admin/proofer Vicky) double-checked when we first relaunched, and we’ve had quite a few emails about it, so naturally we triple-checked since. I suppose that because Erskine Design is a collective or group of people, it helps to think of it as “we build”, rather than “we builds”.

    I still wouldn’t bet my house on it though.

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  5. In reference to a comment about this above, I’ve been chatting with our man Glen, who built that plugin. We did have plans to release it as we often release our plugins and modules. Mind you, our Jamie suggests that similar functionality can be achieved with Brandon Kelly’s FieldFrame or Leevi Graham’s LG Data Matrix, or one of those. Sorry to be fuzzy - we will write a Labs post about it. Its on our list.

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  6. Thanks a lot for your very fast answer ! Too bad Playa can’t do such a thing, maybe in the 3rd version :) I’ll take a deeper look at FieldFrame and LG Data Matrix waiting for your post on Erskine Labs.

    Thanks again !

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  7. Wild guess: That Ewan McGregor thing refers to his saying “Hello there!” in _Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith_. Am I right?

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  8. @Reverend Duck: Wrong! If I was ever going to use a Star Wars line it’d be the oft used “I have a bad feeling about this”.

    However, it is a film reference. In _Trainspotting_ when he’s kipping on a settee in a hallway, somebody walks by and - dazed - he says “Hellooo” in a friendly, confused way.

    Since I saw that in 1994 I’ve always preferred to say “Hello” rather than “Hi” or “Alright?” as it just seems infinitely more friendly, more approachable. This was my argument for “Hello” when designing our homepage.

    Long story for a tiny detail, but there you go.

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  9. @Simon: In that case, here’s hoping we’ll get to see “Hello there!” in your _next_ redesign! ;)

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  10. Thanks for this timely article. We’re in the process of redesigning our own website, and if there’s one thing to take from this (as the PM) it’s to run it like any other client project.

    Oh, and the concensus here is build not builds, in the same way that Amazon sell books, rather than sells books, but this could be a US/UK thing.

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  11. It’s funny to see how this article about redesigning websites differs from Lea Alcantara’s. That means there is no always-fitting solution—you can treat your redesign in the same way as you treat projects for clients, like this article describes. Another possibility—presented by Lea Alcantara—is to set one’s own personality as the initial point. But in both cases there is the same intent: to create something exceptional.

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  12. I thought “Hello” followed by a brief summary of the website was simply a mandatory addition to all newly made websites these days? =)

    “We design and build” is a statement about each individual group member. “Erskin Design passionately build accessible…” is a statement about the collective entity, and thus should have an “s”.

    Erskine Design members build websites, Erskine Design as a collective builds websites.

    If you think of “Hells Angels” instead of “Erskine Design”, it would be “Hells Angels builds websites” when referring to the group. However, if we’re referring to individual members of Hells Angels, we would say “Hells Angels build websites that are generally about motorcycles”. Right?

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  13. I absolutely love that you labored over the content so considerably. The design and verbiage are so intrinsically linked. It would be insulting to assume (as so many do) that we should spend infinitely more time on the design, than the content. Obviously the design takes more technical time to implement. But getting the words “just right” can be a laborious process as well!


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  14. @Bjorn: “Hello” certainly isn’t unique, but I’m pleased we can justify its use in terms of it representing our own friendliness, our attitude and so on. Many others use “Hello”. We think we use it well. Its funny that we actually analyzed it, and then went with something so obvious, but why avoid something so natural? Maybe it wa sa mistake to write about it, but I value that first impression so so much. Some agencies have extremely awkward introductory text, which we were keen to avoid at all costs.

    That said, many are keenly pointing fingers at our introduction. In the Guardian today, we have David Mitchell (UK comedian) bemoaning the casual use of “passion” or passionate” in today’s society - such as the “we have a passion for cleaning drains” over-usage we see everywhere. We of course declare that we build websites “passionately” - and we stand by that too. We’re very bloody passionate about it. Honest.

    More potent for us is this kerfuffle about “build” versus “builds”, which is getting me down a bit after a monsoon of tweets, emails, DMs and comments. I’ve already explained it a little on the previous page of comments, and I explained that we had double-checked our usage eight months ago, and triple-checked our standpoint after initial feedback from the grammar police. Today, many more people have waded into the argument.

    Bjorn, your last paragraph seems to see it from our viewpoint, which is comforting. Now, I am not angry with the wider feedback, but more fatigued by this. So, this is no rant. It is another opportunity to work this whole thing out. So…

    One person said in our defense “Strictly speaking we’re talking a singular noun here. But it ain’t life and death. Modern conversational vernacular often matches singular nouns with the plural verb form.” Others agreed that it is now a choice rather than an exact rule. Many have been quick to launch themselves in to urge us to stand our ground as they believe we are correct

    That’s us, you see. We are _The Modern Conversational Vernacularists_ - a very dangerous, free-thinking gang of radicals.

    Another Twitterer said “You do need to start conjugating your verbs the Amehrkun (sic) way”, and plenty agree that we are wrong to use “build”.

    There you are. I think we English use this more liberally, depending on how a sentence might read. Its fair to say that there is “English” and the “American English” variant (as proven by Adobe, Apple, our education systems, and many other examples) and the differences cause many an argument over exact usage of words or phrases, or spelling of course.

    To expand upon your example regarding us, we’d say that Erskine Design isn’t singular. Erskine Design is a team of people. That is how we’re constructing that introduction. We are thinking about ourselves as a group of individuals who act as a team/collective to do what we do. We are autonomous, free-thinking beings, not one singular brain.

    As my colleague Glen stated, “I build, he builds, we build, they build. They and we don’t builds. At least I don’t think they do, and I know we don’t.”

    We think of “Erskine Design” as “we”, and thus “we builds” is a bit odd. Perhaps that is the wrong way to look at it. I keep thinking, “Amazon _sell_ books”. You might prefer that “Amazon _sells_ books”. Personally, I prefer the former.

    It is telling that the ALA editorial team have - I failed to notice at preview stage - added the “s” in the article. I trust them a great deal, so certainly for an American audience, I shall accept that “builds” is correct. However, they were OK with our screenshots and our usage on our site (I think) and as I say there should be an understanding of how we English construct our sentences in a common sense fashion.

    Ultimately, I’m getting hammered about one missing “s” and its doing my head in. I have to consider that although we can justify our usage of “build”, and that many people support that, we could be turning away grammar-minded potential clients who perceive this as a lazy mistake. Thus, as a businessman I am considering the idea of adding a bloody “s”, at least for some peace and quiet. But then many think the “s” feels wrong. Aaaaarrrgghhh!!!

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  15. Hi, Simon,

    I was the one who made the “Amehrkun” crack, so I wanted to clarify that I think the people telling you to add an _s_ to _build_ are wrong to do so. (And not just because they wish to impose US grammatical “rules” on you.)

    I love the English English treatment of singular nouns that represent plural concepts—especially when it comes to organizations. Using a plural verb with a singular name more effectively conveys the idea that an organization isn’t some monolith, but instead a reflection of the many individuals that allow/cause it to exist. As far as I can tell, this usage is especially appropriate in the case of Erskine Design.

    “Erskine build” and the like are a noun-verb combination that make(s) me wish it felt more natural to me (and to my fellow US English-speakers).

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  16. Great article!

    Re: the _build versus builds_ issue: _build_ seems much more natural to me (I’m in the UK, by the way). Anyway, who cares, really??!! The trouble with discussions online is that they always descend into ridiculous triviality.

    Oh, and thanks for clearing up the Ewan McGregor thing: when I first read it I took it to mean that you _literally_ discussed the issue with Ewan McGregor (as the saying goes: if I had a brain, I’d be dangerous!).

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  17. @Jordan: I absolutely agree. That, and tones can be hard to read. :)

    @Simon: It was a great article that I enjoyed reading, especially as I am currently working on the next version of my personal site. I am too pleased that you can explain and justify your usage of “Hello”, etc. and hope that my attempted pleasantry was not taken the wrong way.

    I hadn’t realized the scale of this build/builds debate and certainly only intended to help, rather than further frustrate you!

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  18. This is a fantastic article - I love that it nails home the fact that it’s something you labored for that you could be really proud of.

    Just out of curiousity - how did the name, “Erskine”, come about?

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  19. Thanks everyone for your comments over the last couple of days.

    @Bjorn: No worries my friend. Your comment was just a reminder for me to address it in more detail.

    @boon: There is a note about the name on our “About”: page. To summarise:

    “Erskine is, amongst many other references, a town in Scotland. The name comes from “˜Eriskyne’, a contraction of the Gaelic “˜air an sgian’, meaning “upon the knife”. Feel free to draw your own conclusions as to why we chose that name.”

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  20. And when it is British English versus American English it is doubly so.

    Thanks for the great article. We have gone through a few site revisions here and it is hard to get a rediegn in as a project. THe new site looks great!

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  21. Love the approach you took from the beginning. I know how hard it can be when you design and develop something for “yourself”.
    Great read nevertheless.
    May I suggest you create a Mac version of your Project sheet. Maybe just a pdf version or something.

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  22. Sorry to raise the build/builds issue again. For me, “build” clashes, but for others it clearly doesn’t. The problem is that the name Erskine Design will conjure different images for different readers. Some will picture a single entity, others a group of people. Thus you can’t win, whichever way you go.

    In this circumstance, I always prefer to rephrase. For what it’s worth, here’s my take:

    “At Erskine Design, we passionately build accessible, dynamic and stylish websites without cutting corners.”

    It’s not perfect, but clears the confusion.

    It’s worth noting that the name Erskine is sometimes used as a singular and sometimes as a plural noun across the site, as in:

    “making Erskine a unique partner”
    “Erskine look to protect the investment you make”

    Sorry for ths pedantry. I should also say thanks for an informative, open-hearted and engaging article!

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  23. @segen: Thanks for your comments, and the note about a PDF project sheet. It is a good idea that has already been discussed and something we may well provide. Despite what a lot of people think though, we will continue to provide a Word version as this is important for numerous UK sectors and companies under the evil regimes of outdated IT teams who enforce Word and IE6, still acting as though it is 1999.

    @Ralph: I might surprise you here, but I have decided to use your suggestion! Your compromise still allows us to describe Erskine as a group of people rather than one single-brained entity, and still allows us to use “build”.  Ultimately, I have to make a change for fear of turning away possible clients who think we’re lazy with grammar, especially in the States.

    I feel like I gave in, but still won. Result!

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  24. I’m glad the suggestion was useful!

    Albeit with some trepidation, I feel I should point out that the background image on your About page also presents the same issue.

    Good luck with all your wonderful web design work. I realize this is really a side issue!

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  25. I really enjoyed reading that in treating your organization like a client, you focused on the content first. “With the content written, projects chosen, and approaches solidified, we began to sketch, wireframe, and prototype.” Yes, yes, yes! It’s such a simple thing, to consider what one should say before figuring out how to package that communication, but all too often clients ask us to redesign without first addressing _what_ they’re designing and communicating—and many agencies happily comply.

    Kudos for forcing Erskine to be a role model of the kind of process and behavior you promote with your clients.

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  26. I love the idea of developing a questionnaire for prospects to complete before they ever contact you. It’s a great way to get them thinking about their site in terms of your work, and I’m sure it leads to better conversations from the start.

    I work for a small agency, and we’ve been trying to implement something like this for a while. But our account managers always argue that visitors won’t fill out long web forms, much less a 5 page word doc.

    Do you have any insight on how many people take the time to complete your worksheet? Or value judgments on the quality of the responses you’ve received so far?

    Thanks for a great article!

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  27. Sorry, commenting is closed on this article.