Armadillo Studios Inc.

Celebrating 9 Years of Business

9 years of web design goodness

August 31st, 2015 is the nine year anniversary of Armadillo Studios Inc., so it’s time for a little reflection and celebration. Over the past nine years the Web Design world and Social Media landscape has evolved at a dramatic pace.

Here are some interesting tid-bits about when Armadillo Studios first launched:

  • Facebook was still only available for College Students and didn’t have Fan Pages, Business Pages, etc.,
  • Twitter wasn’t in existence.
  • Other tools such as Foursquare/Swarm, Groupon, Instagram, Snapchat hadn’t launched and wouldn’t launch for a couple more years.
  • WordPress was a still in version 1.5 and was considered solely a blogging platform.
  • Mailchimp wasn’t available to the public for E-mail newsletter creation.
  • Obama was still a state senator and the upcoming social media revolution in politics was barely an afterthought. Nationbuiler wouldn’t appear as an online tool for another 5 years.
  • Flash was one of the dominant methods of developing web sites.
  • The Web 2.0 phase was just kicking off and the concept of Mobile Responsive web sites wasn’t even on the communities radar.
  • … and most importantly, nobody knew who the Kadashians were at the time.

A lot has changed since Armadillo Studios was incorporated in the summer of 2007, but the commitment to quality web services and customer relations still stands. It has been a pleasure to work on a variety of exciting projects and to collaborate with a fantastic roster of great clients.

So here’s to another 9 wonderful years of web design goodness.

Eating S’Mores At Calgary’s CAMP Festival

Earlier this month, I had the chance to attend the inaugural “CAMP Festival”:http://campfestival.ca/ at Theatre Junction GRAND in my home town of Calgary. In conjunction with “FITC”:http://fitc.ca/, this conference was an intense two-day sprint session revolving around the fusion of art, technology, creativity and new media.

CAMP Festival 2014

Throughout the two days, attendees were bombarded with traditional sessions and intimate studios conversations revolving around the emergence of art within the technology and creative sectors. Talks touched upon topics such as _Design and Happiness_, _Big Redesigns, Tough Clients and a Lot of Work!_, _Designing the Future of Augmented Reality_, _Rich Web Experiences and the Future of the Web_.

It was a mind melting two days of uplifting discussion and idea generating conversations about the direction of Web Design and the Internet. Artists such as _GMUNK_, _James White_, and _Sarah Blake_ delved in to their own personal style influences and how they create unique work for clients and their own personal pet projects that have driven their artistic voice. While creative agency veterans such as _Anton Repponen_, _Irene Pereyena_, and _Kim Alpert_ shared their collective experiences dealing with the business side of the creative industry; discussion such topics as client relations, project budgeting, the art of the pitch and team planning and resource management.

CAMP Festival was a fantastic two days and a breath of fresh air into an otherwise stagnant local conference scene. The fusion of internationally renowned speakers and industry shakers with some of Calgary’s own local success stories, really created a unique experience. As an event it was fantastic opportunity to catch-up with every single one of our local friends from the the Calgary design community, meet some new friends and to hang out and discuss the topics that were shown throughout the day.

If CAMP Festival’s goals were to challenge and inspire the growing Calgary tech and creative industry, then mission accomplished. It goes without saying that pretty much all of the 330 people who attended this conference left with something inspiring or challenging to incorporate into their own business models or creative endeavours. For a first run conference of this magnitude, it was a pleasant and energizing surprise. So a massive thank you to all who was involved in the planning and organizing of CAMP Fest.

Plus they had S’Mores. Nothing beats a conference with Beer and S’Mores.

Check out the Social Media Stream



Armadillo Studios is Officially NationBuilder Architect Approved

It is with great pleasure I get announce that after a year long courtship, Armadillo Studios Inc., is an approved member of the NationBuilder Architect program.

NationBuilder Architect Approved

For those unfamiliar, NationBuilder is one of the fastest growing and most popular Content Management Systems to hit the market in the past few years. Developed off the backs of members of Obama’s highly touted technical team, NationBuilder is an incredibly powerful web site platform for political and non-profits looking to raise money, connect with volunteers and actively engage with their user base.

NationBuilder is a software platform that combines your people database, website, and communication tools like email, text messaging, and social media—all in one. Accessible and affordable, NationBuilder helps people all over the world create more meaningful relationships. Whether you’re an author, activist, small business owner, or politician, we provide the tools to build a community around whatever it is you were meant to do.

As you can imagine the NaitonBuilder platform is a powerful tool to help candidates and organizations connect beyond the typical methods found on a normal CMS. As one can see from the work with did with Alberta MLA Steve Young, our first NationBuilder web site, the system is a powerful way to transform your site into something other than a one-way broadcasting tool.

I’m excited to add NationBuilder to the growing list of services that Armadillo Studios provides for our Business, Not-For-Profit and Political customers. If you feel that NationBuilder is a tool that might interest, send me a note at cturner@armadillostudios.ca and I’d love to chat with you about the pros and cons.

Also, I would like to give a shout out to Brendan Mulvihill of EDAHelp for his guidance with working with the NationBuilder System.

Some Thoughts on The Canadian Ant-Spam Legislation (CASL)

Some Thoughts on CASL

Before I start, please read this:

As a web designer and e-mail marketer, these comments and thoughts are based on my interpretation of Canada’s new Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL) based on my research and conversations. Since key components of CASL kick in on July 1st of this year it is best to consult professional legal consul for clarifications on the various elements of this legislation and how it will affect your marketing operations.

For the past month I have been attending a variety of talks and having conversations with legal acquaintances on “The Canadian Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL)”:http://fightspam.gc.ca/eic/site/030.nsf/eng/home. Since this legislation posses to severely disrupt the marketing plans of many businesses and non-profit organizations, I felt it was time to jot down a few thoughts regarding the legislation and why people should pay attention.

1. What is CASL

You can read about CASL on “the government’s web site”:http://fightspam.gc.ca/eic/site/030.nsf/eng/home, but as with any legal document and government document for the average citizen the information within isn’t as clear as could be. So if you’re looking for resources in a more plain language you may want to check out these resource:

* “MillerThompson’s CASL information”:http://www.millerthomson.com/en/our-services/anti-spam-casl and “one-pager”:http://millerthomson.com/assets/files/article_attachments3/CASL-on-a-page.pdf.
* “Stephen King’s Blog Post”:http://stephdokin.com/10-tips-to-prepare-for-canadas-new-anti-spam-law-casl-starting-july-1-2014/?utm_content=buffer08bda&utm_medium=social&utm_source=facebook.com&utm_campaign=buffer
* “Elite Email’s guide to CASL”:http://www.eliteemail.com/learning-center/casl/page6.html and “CASL in plain language”:http://blog.eliteemail.com/2013/05/16/all-about-casl-canadas-anti-spam-legislation/.

There are elements of CASL that make a tonne of sense, such as rules about subscribe buttons, adding physical mailing addresses and properly representing your organization in e-mail communications. Where CASL really gets confusing is in the definition of expressed and implied consent.

2. I’ve Heard a Lot of People Talking About It, But Is CASL Really That Bad?

From an e-mail marketing and small business owner perspective, my interpretation is that CASL is bad. Really bad.

One of the most confusing elements of CASL is that by *July 1st, 2014* all senders of commercial emails (i.e. email newsletters, advertising emails, anything to do with E-Mail Marketing lists) must have received expressed consent from receivers *and* be able to prove that they received “expressed consent”:http://www.eliteemail.com/learning-center/casl/page5.html to continue sending out e-mail messages to existing subscribers. _After_ July 1st, they will not be able to ask for expressed consent for existing e-mail marketing lists.

In laman’s terms, what this means is that businesses and organizations who have spent year’s building an e-mail marketing list *need* to sent a note out to all their users and request them to send an email back of written consent saying that they agree to receive e-mails from the business or non-profit moving forward. And this has to be done by *July 1st, 2014*. After that you’re not allowed to ask for expressed consent from those lists.

Now, as any e-mail marketer knows, the average good open rate for emails is about 20-30% for a single email blast, with a click through rate between 10-15%. So knowing those numbers the likely hood of 100% of your current e-mail marketing list replying back with expressed consent will be far less. In my opinion, this will be the biggest damage that CASL imposes on to organizations, by essentially making their existing marketing lists useless.

3. No seriously, is CASL really this Bad?

Yes and in my opinion, it should be taken very seriously. I maybe just an e-mail marketer, but there are two key reactionary signs by other groups to help understand how serious this law _actually_ is.

The first indicator, is the reaction by many legal firms to CASL. For the past few weeks, many people have started receiving emails from Legal firms requesting *expressed consent* for e-mail marketing subscriptions. Given that it’s the job of legal firms to understand and abide by all aspects of the law, their serious reaction is a telltale sign about how important CASL compliance is.

The second indicator, is actually one of the key exemptions of the law. It also has to be the most comical aspect of the legislation. There is actually one group of organizations that is completely exempt from CASL and that’s *political parties*. Not to sound like a conspiracy theory nutjob, but if CASL _wasn’t a big deal and wasn’t disruptive_, I doubt a genre of organizations that rely solely on e-marketing for funding wouldn’t be exempt from CASL’s rule.

4. But I’m Using Constant Contact, Mailchimp, etc., I should be fine with CASL.

Unfortunately not. Since many of the top e-mail marketing tools out there are American based, many of them haven’t taken the proper steps to become CASL compliant. (Although, many of their existing features do cover some elements of CASL) When you factor in how small of a market Canadian subscribers are to their bottom lines and the fact that compliance with CASL rolled out within 6 months, it’s easy to understand why these top companies don’t have the proper tools in place to help Canadian marketers.

In addition, it’s also not the responsibility of Third Party providers to receive consent for e-mail marketers, that responsibility rests solely on the heads of *the sender*. So in the end hiding behind a third party provider won’t be good enough under CASL.


In the two talks I’ve attended, the most fascinating aspect of CASL has been watching the audience reaction upon understanding the key elements of the legislation. Most people’s reaction, and my own included, swayed from intense rage to out right denial.

For a legislation designed to help consumers and prevent SPAM, CASL appears to be doing more harm to business owners and non-profits than good. The fines for “CASL are pretty extensive”:http://www.davis.ca/uploads/files/CASL-Penalties.pdf and it opens the door for private litigation against companies that don’t comply, so it would be wise to make these changes. CASL should be taken seriously by all businesses and non-profits, if you have questions do your research and contact legal consul.

But do it quick, as many of the key elements of this legislation kick in just over a month.

Welcoming Cody Thompson To Team Armadillo

Welcome To Cody Thompson

It’s with great pleasure I get announce that SAIT student Cody Thompson will be joining Team Armadillo Studios for the next two months. Cody is a great young and upcoming talent, who will be working with myself on a weekly basis to help complete the Practicum portion of his program. Over the next few weeks Cody will be working along side myself on a handful of projects, but mainly on corporate branding, WordPress theme development and mobile responsive site design.

Here’s Cody’s bio if you are looking to learn about him and his work.

Starting in elementary with basic typing and computer skills, then multimedia in junior high and senior high, and now into post-secondary with NMPD; technology has always been a huge part of my life. What made me want to aspire for a career on computers was simply the fact that I loved being on them so much to begin with. I remember when I was younger I would constantly view web page’s source code trying to decipher what all the mumbo jumbo meant and did. Thus it’s only natural that my chosen path would be a developer or designer of some kind. Coffee filled coding nights keep me happy it seems. And knowing that I am by no means an expert keeps me motivated and eager to learn. My interests don’t only lie within web however, although it will almost always influence what I do. I’m also incredibly fascinated with mobile design, and business, and one day hope to embark on both of those. I have a dream of owning my own business, and constantly find myself writing down ideas, reading articles, etc, all in attempt to achieve that goal. When I was in high school I partook in a leadership camp, and although strange at first, I personally feel it has made me realize what I really desire, and also made me stronger in the process. I am very passionate and dedicated when it comes to what I enjoy and what I want. I’m confident in my skills and what I know, yet am not ashamed to admit when I don’t know something yet. Learning and staying up to date, in this field especially, is essential, and I devote myself to that every day. In the end, I love design, I love developing, I basically just love technology and computers in general, it’s what I’m good at, and it’s what I’m aspiring to specialize in as a profession.

So in addition to welcoming him to the team for the next couple of months, I’d also strongly suggest connecting with Cody on Twitter, LinkedIn and Behance.

Improving the Online Experience for The Mission Possible Foundation

Last summer the City of Calgary was hit by the worst flooding of the Bow and Elbow rivers in over a 100 years. At the epicentre of this devastation was the Mission neighbourhood, an area of the city that I grew up in as a wee lad. to say that the devastation to the area was heart breaking would be a bit of an understatement.

Mission Possible Foundation

Out of this disaster the people of Calgary banded together to rebuild the various communities along the two rivers. During this time period, The Mission Possible Foundation was formed. Tirelessly throughout the weeks and months after the floods, the foundation worked to help organize volunteers to help rebuild flood ravaged homes of the Mission and Fourth street area.

So it is with great pleasure that I had the opportunity to work with the Mission Possible Board to launch the redesign of the foundation’s WordPress powered web site. Using the ever popular flat ui design aesthetic, this mobile responsive site provides a simple yet fluid online foundation to advertise and promote the group’s ongoing work in the community. Since the site is leveraging the always powerful WordPress CMS, volunteers and board members can easily keep supporters up to speed on the latest news, events and fundraising campaigns.

missionpossible2

While building a web site is only a minor cog in the ongoing task of rebuilding these neighbourhoods, it was an absolute pleasure to work with such a great group of passionate people. I wish the foundation all the best in the upcoming months as they continue to help the flood ravished communities of Southern Alberta and Calgary get back on track.

Revamped and Ready To Go!

Oh, Hello! Welcome to the revamped Armadillo Studios Inc.

Some of you may have noticed the soft launch of the site in late November, but now that 2014 has crept upon us I felt it was time to make the new redesign official.

Armadillo Studios Redesign v.3

Yes, this new redesign is a massive change for the company and only the third switch up since I started this outfit way back in 2007. The new look is designed to showcase the evolution of Armadillo Studios from a broad and idealistic multi-contractor shop to a focused and specialized WordPress, Social Media and E-mail marketing outfit. The added benefit of this new redesign, is not only does Armadillo have a brand spanking new look, but also a more specialized business direction.

Armadillo Studios’ new mantra is to help Businesses. Non-profits and Political Organizations achieve their online goals through customized WordPress and NationBuilder web sites, grass roots based Social Media campaigns and personalized E-mail Marketing Campaigns. IF you haven’t noticed, it’s plastered all over the new site and branding. While I won’t pretend that these three areas of services are ground breaking by any stretch of the imagination, I do hope that by focusing on these three avenues, I can further improve upon the great service Armadillo Studios’ has been providing over the past few years.

Armadillo Studios Version 3

And while you’re browsing around the site, you may also note that the new site better reflects Armadillo’s true structure. The site now acts as more of a professional portfolio site for myself and my two and a half compadres. You can read the new bios on the about page to find out more about Armadillo Studios or check out the long standing corporate blog for the most recent projects and articles.

Oh, and in addition to a brand new web site and redesign, I have also launched Armadillo’s first new email newsletter. This new monthly newsletter will focus on the latest web sites launches and blog posts. It’s a simple way to keep our clients, friends and unsuspecting family members up to date with the latest adventures.

I hope you enjoy the new vibe and I welcome any feedback you may have. Feel free to sign up for the newsletter below or follow armadillo on Facebook and Twitter. Over the next few weeks there will be even more changes to the site as the second phase of the redesign takes place. The first order of business is to add some mobile responsive magic and to also provide a new level of detail for Armadillo’s Services.

Thanks for taking the time to catch up with Armadiilo.

Cheers,

Connor Turner