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Topic: Business

  • Agreements = Expectations

    by Greg Hoy · Issue 354 ·

    Every client/vendor relationship is based on a set of expectations, whether they're stated or not. A lot can go unsaid or unspecified for any project, large and small. Not being specific can lead to disagreements, quarrels, and high blood pressure. But, it doesn't have to be this way. Greg Hoy says that while due diligence is important, being vague is a must. Yes, you read that right.

  • Publication Standards Part 2: A Standard Future

    by Nick Disabato · Issue 352 ·

    The internet is disrupting many content-focused industries, and the publishing landscape is beginning its own transformation in response. Tools haven’t yet been developed to properly, semantically export long-form writing. Most books are encumbered by Digital Rights Management (DRM), a piracy-encouraging practice long since abandoned by the music industry. In the second article of a two-part series in this issue, Nick Disabato discusses the ramifications of these practices for various publishers and proposes a way forward, so we can all continue sharing information openly, in a way that benefits publishers, writers, and readers alike.

  • Publication Standards Part 1: The Fragmented Present

    by Nick Disabato · Issue 352 ·

    ebooks are a new frontier, but they look a lot like the old web frontier, with HTML, CSS, and XML underpinning the main ebook standard, ePub. Yet there are key distinctions between ebook publishing's current problems and what the web standards movement faced. The web was founded without an intent to disrupt any particular industry; it had no precedent, no analogy. E-reading antagonizes a large, powerful industry that's scared of what this new way of reading brings, and they're either actively fighting open standards or simply ignoring them. In part one of a two-part series in this issue, Nick Disabato examines the explosion in reading, explores how content is freeing itself from context, and mines the broken ebook landscape in search of business logic and a way out of the present mess.

  • Getting Clients

    by Mike Monteiro · Issue 348 ·

    Co-founder of Mule Design and raconteur Mike Monteiro wants to help you do your job better. From contracts to selling design, from working with clients to working with each other, his new book from A Book Apart, released today, is packed with knowledge you can't afford not to know. A List Apart is pleased to present an exclusive excerpt from Chapter 2 of Design Is a Job.

  • Pricing Strategy for Creatives

    by Jason Blumer · Issue 343 ·

    Strategic pricing helps your brand and helps you to make more money. Issuing a price is like handing out a business card—it’s a great branding tool, but be careful about what it says to your market. Beginning relationships with customers at a high price makes the statement: “we’re good at what we do and we know it.” Fighting with a competitor over a low price says “I’m uncertain about my abilities, so I’ll take what I can get.” Failing to use a considered pricing policy will leave you treading water in a sea of design mediocrity, allowing you to just stay afloat while you sell commodities. Jason Blumer explains how to become strategic about your pricing—including three things you can do immediately to kick-start your journey toward strategic pricing.

  • Marry Your Clients

    by Shane Pearlman · Issue 334 ·

    Do you consistently work to stay engaged, or do you get comfortable with clients? With new projects, it's easy to make the extra effort. The longer you work together, the easier it becomes to feel satisfied with the status quo, while giving your best energy to the shiny new client. Rather than pretend this won't happen, prepare for it and create a strategy to combat it. Shane Pearlman shows us how.

  • Being Human is Good Business

    by Kristin Smaby · Issue 334 ·

    Customers aren't shy about shouting their experiences, good and bad, to the world via Twitter and Facebook. When you see customer service as a cost center, you risk treating customers as a liability. Yet, customers are a valuable resource: their feedback is integral to shaping your product and building your brand. Customer service, by definition, is about serving people; it should be genuine, personalized, and compassionate, or, simply put, human.

  • A Modest Proposal

    by Nathan Peretic · Issue 330 ·

    Comedy is easy, proposals are hard. Even the toughest creative pros cringe when it’s time to put one together. Yet doing so is essential if you want to keep your doors open. A compelling proposal requires more than a jumble of clichés and a nervous estimate of costs. It needs structure, organization, and joie de vivre. Fortunately, you can provide that structure, no matter how complicated the final proposal needs to be. Learn the key questions every client needs answered, and how to use them as the basis of a proposal that convinces your client you’re the right team for the job.

  • RFPs: The Least Creative Way to Hire People

    by Greg Hoy · Issue 330 ·

    If you work in any kind of service industry you've undoubtedly come across the Request For Proposal, or “RFP.” The RFP process has become a standard by which organizations solicit competitive bids. It attempts to level the playing field and minimize bias by holding everyone to the same requirements, no special treatment, no rule bending. In return, the organization issuing the RFP is able to select a vendor by comparing apples to apples. Alas, in practice, RFPs are the least creative way to hire creative people. The rigidity of the process, and the lack of meaningful dialogue makes this little more than a game of roulette. How can we successfully navigate the heartburn-inducing RFP process? And what can we as an industry do to turn RFPs into the exception rather than the default means of hiring an agency?

  • Conversation is the New Attention

    by Timothy Meaney, Christopher Fahey · Issue 326 ·

    Baby's got backchannel! If everybody at the conference is staring at their Twitter stream instead of at the person who's doing the speaking, maybe the speaker should meet them halfway. Migrating speaker presentations to the backchannel can empower the audience while enabling the speaker to listen carefully to their responses. The broadcast model of presentations is dead! Long live the conversation model.

  • Kick Ass Kickoff Meetings

    by Kevin M. Hoffman · Issue 311 ·

    Too many kickoff meetings squander the busiest, most expensive people's time reiterating what everyone already knows. If every meeting is an opportunity, why waste your first one? By asking stakeholders tough questions before the kick-off, and using the meeting itself to explore ideas and build relationships, you can turn a room of mutually suspicious turf battlers into an energetic team with shared ownership of the end-product and the kind of bond that can sustain the group through the challenges ahead.

  • No One Nos: Learning to Say No to Bad Ideas

    by Whitney Hess · Issue 311 ·

    You can't create what clients need when you're too busy saying yes to everything they want. As a user experience designer, it's your job to say no to bad ideas and pointless practices. But getting to no is never easy. Proven techniques that can turn vocal negatives into positive experiences for you, the client, and most importantly, the end-user include citing best practices and simple but powerful business cases; proving your point with numbers; shifting focus from what to who; using the "positive no"; and, when necessary, pricing yourself out.

  • Training the Butterflies: Interview with Scott Berkun

    by Scott Berkun, Liz Danzico · Issue 301 ·

    Whether it’s in front of a huge audience or a handful of executives, smooth public speaking is essential to a successful web design career. Yet most of us are more afraid of speaking in public than we are of death. In a lively give-and-take, Liz Danzico interviews Scott Berkun, author of Confessions of a Public Speaker, for tips on how to prepare for public speaking, how to perfect your timing, and what to do when bad things happen.

  • Letting Go of John Hancock

    by Bjørn Enki · Issue 297 ·

    Because clients expect everything to be faster, better, and simpler, web professionals must take an instant, foolproof, paperless, modern approach to how clients approve proposals and sign contracts. Implementing an instantaneous contract agreement helps to get projects off the ground, attract clients on tight timelines, and prevent potential delays. All it takes is a little PHP and some PDF magic.

  • Can You Say That in English? Explaining UX Research to Clients

    by David Sherwin · Issue 295 ·

    It's hard for clients to understand the true value of user experience research. As much as you'd like to tell your clients to go read The Elements of User Experience and call you back when they're done, that won't cut it in a professional services environment. David Sherwin creates a cheat sheet to help you pitch UX research using plain, client-friendly language that focuses on the business value of each exercise.

  • Getting to No

    by Greg Hoy · Issue 294 ·

    A bad client relationship is like a bad marriage without the benefits. To avoid such relationships, or to fix the one you're in, learn the five classic signs of trouble. Recognizing the never-ending contract revisionist, the giant project team, the vanishing boss and other warning signs can help you run successful, angst-free projects.

  • Erskine Design Redesign

    by Simon Collison · Issue 289 ·

    In a mere two years, Erskine Design grew from two people working at home into a full-fledged agency of eight, working with major clients. Their website needed to better reflect their achievements, abilities, and team strengths. They also sought to improve the quality of data collected during client inquiries. Simon Collison explores the agency’s thought processes, and the decisions they made as their own client.

  • Filling Your Dance Card in Hard Economic Times

    by Pepi Ronalds · Issue 278 ·

    In space no one can hear you scream, and in a global economic meltdown, no industry, not even web design, is safe. But as a web designer, your skills and products are suited to ride out hard times, as long as you stay busy. Learn the seven steps to (relative) security in good times or bad: 1. Keep clients happy. 2. Know your goals. 3. Use your initiative wisely. 4. Communicate. 5. Put in a full day's work. 6. Do it right. 7. Find the love.

  • The Details That Matter

    by Kevin Potts · Issue 277 ·

    We no longer lay out pages with composing sticks and straight edges, and design is no longer a trade position requiring a lengthy apprenticeship, but an eye for details is every bit as important today as it was in the early days of graphic arts. Learn the habits of successful designers, who think critically as well as creatively, and who see the forest while never losing sight of the trees.

  • Getting Real About Agile Design

    by Cennydd Bowles · Issue 273 ·

    Agile development was made for tough economic times, but does not fit comfortably into the research-heavy, iteration-focused process designers trust to deliver user- and brand-based sites. How can we update our thinking and methods to take advantage of what agile offers?

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