Armadillo Studios Inc.

Armadillo Studios Is Proud To Sponsor The Calgary Seniors Walk

Armadillo Studios Inc., is very proud to announce that we are not only a major sponsor, but acting as the online technical support for the “1st Annual Calgary Seniors Walk”:http://www.calgaryseniorswalk.com. The Calgary Seniors Walk is being put on by our good friends at the “Canadian Legacy Project”:http://www.canadianlegacyproject.org, a great Calgary based non-profit that we have been working with for a few years. As you can see from the event’s web site, it’s sure to be an exciting event:

The Calgary Seniors Walk - 2012

The 1st Annual Calgary Seniors Walk will take place on Thursday, August 30th on Stephen Avenue Mall in support of the Golden Age Club (“www.thegoldenageclub.com”:http://www.thegoldenageclub.com). This unique walk event will take place during the lunch hour and will cover the four blocks on Stephen Avenue Mall in downtown Calgary with the goal to raise awareness and much needed funds for The Golden Age Club. The Golden Age Club offers a variety of social, recreational, health and outreach programs for Calgary’s seniors population.

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The Big Switch From Written Manuals To Video Tutorials

*Armadillo Studios* has always prided ourselves in creating great personal relationships with all our clients. Our philosophy is to view our clients not as customer, but as members of a big warm happy family. One of the techniques we have used to build that type of relationship is to provide a fantastic suite of personalized support with all our products. One of our key elements has been the creation of customized manuals to accompany all our web sites.

When we first started creating these manuals, things were a bit simpler. WordPress was a very standard tool and our client pool was much more manageable. But as our sites have became more complex and our client base has grown, it has become more difficult to provide comprehensive instruction manuals that cover all aspects of our clients products.

So like any good company we have chosen to grow and adapt. Since the beginning of September we’ve taken the bold step towards *developing customized video tutorials*.

The Big Switch From Paper To Video Tutorials

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The Music-Critic Podcast

If you’re a lover of new music, one of our long-standing clients “Music-critic.ca”:http://www.music-critic.ca/wp/, is probably one of the best places to find out the latest bands. Over the past five years, Armadillo Studios has been constantly working with Nathan Atnikov (the owner and editor) to improve the web site and help spread the word about their fantastic reviews.

This week, Music-critic took another giant leap into the digital realm with the launch of it’s own weekly Podcast.

Hosted by Nathan, this new weekly podcast will highlight some of the best new tracks being released from well known and undiscovered artists. So if you’re looking for some new music to fill your iPods and iPhones, make sure you go to “iTunes and subscribe to the new and a 100% fresh Music-critic.ca podcast”:http://itunes.apple.com/podcast/music-critic-ca-podcast/id370841312.

Twitter For the Calgary Market

The buzz about twitter in Calgary is starting to take off. Over the past few days twitter has been a feature cover story on “FFWD”:http://www.ffwdweekly.com/article/news-views/news/digital-dialogue-3399/, “The Calgary Herald”:http://www.calgaryherald.com/technology/Twitter+giving+life+quips/1356810/story.html , “The MetroNews”:http://www.metronews.ca/calgary/local/article/192234
and started to hit a breaking point with a segment on “CFCN’s evening broadcast”:http://calgary.ctv.ca/servlet/an/local/CTVNews/20090305/CGY_twitter_calgary_090305/20090305?hub=CalgaryHome. With local media outfits like “CTV”:http://twitter.com/ctvcalgary, “CBC”:http://twitter.com/cbccalgary and the “City of Calgary”:http://twitter.com/cityofcalgary embracing the platform Calgary is about to become overwhelmed by the Twitter movement.

So how can your business take advantage of the wealth of new users based in Calgary?

Tips Before you Start

Your first impression on Twitter is *far more important* than any other first impression online.

When a follow notification is sent to a user, the *first thing people judge is your home page* – the look of your homepage, the types of tweets you’ve published and the ratio of followers to following. This combination of information will provide users with the justification on whether to add you to their following stream.

The thing to remember is that unless “people follow your twitter account, your tweets are going to fall on deaf ears”:http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123638550095558381.html?mod=googlenews_wsj. Noise and tweet pollution are becoming a pet peeve with most users at the moment and as the community grows this is going to become a stronger issue for many. So your first impression is critical to the success of your Twitter venture.

Simple Tips To Get You Started

Our first bit of advise is to take your time with the process. Do not rush into creating an account.

Really think about why you want to use Twitter to connect with potential customers and what you hope to get out this account. Before you start searching and connecting with local Calgary twitters *post 5-7 tweets with valuable information*. Provide users a welcome message, an introduction, a link to features about your company in the local media, maybe even a couple of specials discounts, or even photos of “your storefront on flickr”:http://www.flickr.com/photos/28465177@N00/3245465405/. Just make sure you have some interesting content for people to look at when they first land on your homepage.

The next bit of advice is to *be patient and persistent*. Tweet regularly and engage in conversations with your followers. Don’t expect the community to embrace your business and grow without putting in some effort.

So how can you use your Twitter account to help your business in Calgary?

Twitter Consulting Sessions For The Calgary Market

Members of the Armadillo Studios Team have been early adapters of Twitter. Over the past two years we have been following and watching the trends. With the media attention given to Twitter in the Calgary Market, we’ve decided to share our experience with local businesses to help them make the most out of Twitter and to bring something to the local Calgary Twitter community.

It is because of this that we are offering *Twitter Consultation Sessions*.

These sessions provide the following:

* *1 hour Twitter Consultation Session* with your company to brainstorm the goals for setting up an account.
* We’ll provide training (on etiquette and proper usage), tips on how to find customers and help create a list of specific ideas on how to interact with your potential audience.
* Information regarding the *Latest Tools and Applications* to enhance your businesses’ Twitter Account.
* Customized graphics package for your Twitter Account. (includes a customized *Background Image* with detailed information, *A customized Avatar* and *Matching Layout Color Scheme*)
* A customized *Tip Sheet* for your own reference.
* Tips on how to integrate your Tweets into your Corporate Web Site. (Integration with your current site is an additional cost.)
* Follow-up 20 minute session (2 months later) to see how we can better utilize your account.

A *Twitter Consultation Session* costs $135 (+GST) for the full package. If you are interested in this offer please email us at info@armadillostudios.ca, call us at *403.467.2914* or of course contact us on twitter: “@armadillostudio”:http://twitter.com/armadillostudio

WordPress 2.7 Integration

As a quick note to our customers.

After testing the latest WordPress for the past month, Armadillo Studios will be upgrading all of our CMS-based web sites to latest 2.7 release.

As the CMS of choice for all of our projects, the newest version of WordPress is a far more intuitive upgrade to it’s predecessor. (To be honest, we really “thought 2.5 and 2.6 were pretty dramatic improvement over the previous versions”:http://blog.armadillostudios.ca/article/wordpress-25 )

You can watch this video from WordPress.org for a little bit of a walk through for the changes or you can skip below and read some of our initial reasons that you’ll love the new system.

* *Stronger Security Features* – The New WordPress 2.7 fixes many of the security vulnerabilities found in WordPress 2.6 or 2.5. Which is essentially a roundabout way of noting that your site will be less susceptible to being spammed.
* *A More Intuitive Interface* – 2.7 has a far more intuitive design, which allows users to edit pages and create posts with less clicks.
* *QuickView Function* – This is a new addition to the WordPress Interface and essentially allows you to toggle comments, pings and other information straight from the list of posts/page. Again this is an element of a more intuitive Interface, but it is a quicker way to edit your posts.

If you have any questions regarding this upgrade, feel free to contact us at any time. We’ll be happy to answer questions you may have.

Armadillo Goes Paypal

Armadillo Studios is excited to announce we have now adopted “Paypal”:https://www.paypal.com as a new form of payment for all of our client transactions.

Not that this is a relatively new concept, but in effort to improve our clients bottom line and our own; we are excited to give our clients this avenue of payment. While, we will still accept the tradition methods or payment; here are some of the benefits to our clients by using Paypal.

# *Convenience and Speed* – Instead of mailing or arranging a time for a drop off, you can now pay the remainder of your invoice online through any major bank account or credit card.
# *Take Advantage of your Credit Card* – We understand that finances with small businesses or start-ups can be a rocky road, but with Paypal you can now clear your invoice instantly through your Credit Card. Even better you can use this transaction to gain some valuable Business Reward points for Travel or other expenditures.
# *Paperless Transaction* – In this green age, sometime it’s nice to do all that we can for the environment. While this won’t dramatically change the world, this is something we can do to limit the amount of Paper used in a transaction. Because Paypal is an online transaction, you will receive an email detailing the entire transaction.
# *Security* – Paypal is an “industry leader”:https://www.paypal.com/ca/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=xpt/Merchant/popup/WaxAboutPaypal-outside and an internationally renowned client for secure transactions.

Starting February 1st, Armadillo Studios will be implementing Paypal as a new method of payment. If you would like to move forward with this form of payment for all transaction, please contact us.

Shopping For a Web Site? Part 3

Welcome to the final installment of our “Shopping for a Web Site? Series”:http://blog.armadillostudios.ca/article/shopping-for-a-web-site-part-1.

This week, we’re finally getting down to the quantitative issues of Web Site building. We’re going to be talking about potential time lines for building Web Sites and also ‘other’ costs associated with building a Web Site.

So let’s get started.

5. How Long Does it take to Build a Web Site? I Need Mine Up Tomorrow!

Again, we’re going to be very vague with our answer, but on average it’s going to take a few weeks or a couple of months to go live with a web site.

We understand your outrage at the moment, but hear us out.

The reason the process takes so long is two fold.

First, _web design_ is a complex art. Building a web site is never as simple as _I need five pages and I want it to be green_. The smallest error or set of changes can take hours of troubleshooting to resolve. The layout design process alone takes hours. There are dozens of aspects that need to be considered with every design decision. Far more than you’ll probably expect. Things like font size, the color of links, and compatibility with older browsers.

Secondly, a good designer will include their client’s opinions and suggestions into the design process. This whole process of feedback, drafts, alterations and meetings unfortunately takes time. Not that it is anyone’s fault; setting up meetings, writing content, making revisions are all time consuming activities.

We suggest that when you start the process of looking to build a web site keep these two items in mind. It will greatly help with the process and also allow for a good working relationship with your web designer.

Just understand that the entire process takes time and that being prepared before hand will speed things up.

*Armadillo Tip*: _Some companies will have a RFP (Request For Proposal) that will provide you with an idea of the information and questions that your web designer will need to get started. It’s a good idea to use this tool before your first meeting._

_If you want to get an idea of what a designer may ask you feel free to “download and use our RFP”:http://blog.armadillostudios.ca/file_download/7. It will provide a basic understanding of the types of questions a web designer/studio is going to ask you._


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6. What Other Costs Should I Plan For?

There are four major costs associated with a building a web site.

1) Web Domain Registration. _$10-15 per year per address_
2) Web Hosting _$100-$250 a year for basic packages_
3) Web Site Development and Design _See our first tip in “part 1”:http://blog.armadillostudios.ca/article/shopping-for-a-web-site-part-1 for more info_
4) Stock images, extra fonts and potentially copywriting services.

Now, some studios and some designers include registration and hosting in their initial set-up fees. While smaller ones, like Armadillo Studios, do not.

The reason for this is that Web Hosting is a completely different animal that straight Web Design. So, many smaller companies will stay away from this venture. Web Hosting involves far more technical, security and database support than most companies are willing to take on.

In our experience we highly recommend two companies for all your hosting and domain registration needs:

1) “Domainsatcost.ca”:http://www.domainsatcost.ca for Canadian and General Domain registration.
2) “Dreamhost.com”:http://www.dreamhost.com/rewards.cgi?conturner for all Web Site hosting. (Plus Dreamhost includes “free customized Gmail support”:)

You might also need to be aware of the potential cost of *Stock Photography*, *Custom Fonts* or even the services of a *Copywriter*.

Now, we understand that these are costs which most people won’t even think about, but they are critical to the entire process. If you want to make your web site standout above your competition, you will need to use all the tools at your disposable. That includes the best fonts and the best images.

A perfect font or a perfect photo that encompasses the vibrancy of your business will push your web site into a different stratosphere. Unfortunately, most designers will only have a limited collection of fonts and photos at their disposal. So they might have to add an additional cost for purchasing a font for your web site. In addition, that perfect photo might have to come from a stock photography company (i.e. Veer.com or Istockphotos.com) while these costs are some what unexpected, using these images will cost far less than hiring a professional photographer to capture that exact same image.

The final cost that might appear during the process is the services of a Copywriter.

Copywriters are professional writers that provide custom content for your site. While we all would love to believe we can eloquently write our own content, sometimes your content is better left for the professionals. In those instances a Copywriter is the best solution.

*Armadillo Tip*: _Copywriters are a good investment._

_Hiring a Copywriter will save you valuable man hours and it will give you that extra bit of professionalism. In our experience, for every page of text a client needs, they will probably spend 5-6 hours writing and editing. On the other hand a Copywriter will be able to churn out the same (if not better) content in a quarter of the time. While the cost might be a little more than you expect, the stress and time savings are far greater._

… And with that we conclude our three part *Shopping For a Web Site Series*. We hope you’ve enjoyed our tips. If you have further questions feel free to contact us. We would love to hear some feedback and even ideas for future articles.

Contact us at info@armadillostudios.ca if you have any questions.

Cheers,

The Armadillo Team.