Armadillo Studios Inc.

Shopping For a Web Site? Part 1

We’re pretty sure that there are dozens upon, dozens of articles dedicated to this topic. And we’re sure advice on building and purchasing a web site has been covered at nausea by “dozens of companies”:http://www.cairril.com/articles/webdesigner.html. But we here at Armadillo Studios thought we’d provide our own little spin on the topic. So here is the first part of our three part series:


*Shopping For a Web Site? Six Useful Tips for Businesses Looking to Set-Up a Web Site.*

1. What Should You Look for in a Designer/Studio?

First and foremost when looking to hire a Web Designer/Studio, you have to remember that you are not paying for the Web Site itself, but for your _Design Studio (or Designer’s) experience and time_.

This is probably the biggest conceptual block we run across when people inquire about our services.

It is a given that most of our economy functions by paying for physical products. For example, a basic white T-shirt has universally accepted cost of about $15 dollars, so you expect to pay anywhere between $10-20 dollars for your basic run of the mill white T-Shirt. If you pay $1.50 for the T-shirt you know its bad quality and you would only pay $200 for a white T-shirt if it was something really, really special.

Unfortunately, Web Site Design is *a service* rather than a product based industry. Sure your Web Designer/Studio will produce a product (_A Web Site, Business Cards, Banners, etc.,_), but the price you’ll be paying is for the _service the company provides_, rather than the web site itself. While that might appear to be the same thing as the T-Shirt examples, the truth is that they are two different ideas.

So with that in mind, a web site from a large established design firm is going to cost you far more than the same web site from a struggling freelancer. It could be the same amount of pages, content and functionality, but again you’re paying for *their* experience, expertise and time.

It’s best to find a studio/designer that you feel comfortable with. Explore their portfolio and previous work. Visit the sites they have previously built. Look to see how active these sites are? Are the current customers using these sites on a constant basis? Search the designer/studio’s name in your favorite Search Engine. Do they have any published articles or blog posts that explain some of their philosophies?

*Armadillo Tip*: _The business cards of any potential studio/designer are a great gauge of the type of product you can expect._

_The swankier and more detail orientated the appearance of the business cards the greater likely hood of a decent product. Rounded corners, imaginative colors, a good stock quality, and a nice finish will demonstrate their commitment to detail. Also be sure to check their email address. Is it a generic email address (hotmail.com, gmail.com, or yahoo.com) or is it a company email address. A studio/designer with their own domain and email address is more likely to provide you with a great product. Plus, if they can’t even create-up their own email account, what makes you think they’ll be able to set-up an account for you?_

2. So How Much Should You Spend on a Web Site?

The first thing you’ll notice about every _studio/agency web site_ is that they *never* reveal their rates and or have a *fixed price for a web site*.

It may seem like that we only do this to be elitist and mysterious; but the truth of the matter is you can’t put a standard quantitative price on our industries services.

For example a four page web site can potentially require far more billable hours than a 10-15 page web site. It all depends on the features, layout, requirements and design. Therefore most reputable companies won’t provide a flat rate, but will charge a hourly rate based on the requirements.

Does that answer the question? Not really? Okay.

So if your looking for a good quality web site, one that will let you standout above your competition, expect to pay somewhere in the *thousands rather than hundreds*. Be very weary of any company that promises a site and hosting for $500. It will be a waste of money, a major headache and you’ll eventually have to contact a more established studio/designer in a few months.

Trust us on this we’ve rescued a few clients in the two years that we’ve been operational.

*Armadillo Tip*: _If you need a web site and you don’t have that much money to spend, we suggest that you stake out your nearest Art College/Graphic Design school._

_Hey! Art school is expensive and those plus those kids are dying for experience. They’ll be able to provide you with some high quality work for a little bit of cash and another piece to bump up their portfolio_.

The 2nd article in this series will discuss “The Difference between Flash & HTML web sites and What Trends you need to know about”:https://www.armadillostudios.ca/shopping-for-a-web-site-part-2/.

CalgaryPuck Revamped

With the aid of various members of their online community, Armadillo Studios is very proud to release to the world a new revamped version of the popular “CalgaryPuck.com”:http://www.calgarypuck.com.

As the largest online community for Calgary Flames Fans, “CalgaryPuck.com”:http://www.calgarypuck.com is a critical resource for many. On any given moment, thousands of loyal and dedicated hockey fans are utilizing their “extensive forums”:http://forum.calgarypuck.com to discuss a variety of topics and reading about the latest Flames game or draft pick on their news feed.

As a volunteer driven site, CalgaryPuck.com was in desperate need of a dramatic overhaul and web 2.0 update. With the help of the owners and members of the community; The Armadillo Team developed a customized WordPress theme which enhanced the readability of the site, while enabling a more natural navigation. This new theme also incorporates a snapshot of the activity on the popular forums and better integrates the site’s advertising demands. In addition, the Content Management System has simplified article publishing, while creating a usable RSS feed for frequent readers.

Armadillo Studios was proud to work with CalgaryPuck and is happy to contribute to this engaging community.

SpeedSpecialists.com Officially Launched

So after a few months as a temporary splash page, “speedspecialists.com”:http://www.speedspecialists.com is now officially live.

As mentioned previously, Speedspecialists.com is the new home of Concept 3 & Stefan Dalberg. This new site is designed to showcase the upcoming projects of Concept 3 (Commercials Production, Ice Boat Construction, & Upcoming Events) and the talents of Stefan Dalberg. It’s was built as a dynamic personal/corporate blog which incorporates embedded video clips of Concept 3’s commercial ice boating work and an easy to use picture gallery of their custom built iceboats.

Powered by the WordPress CMS, speedspecialists.com allows Stefan and the Concept 3 group to post news blurbs, add photos, and embed the latest video with ease. We’ve also added an RSS feed, a feature clip image and also a AJAX based Contact Us form.

We are proud to launch Speedspecialists.com and include it in our growing family of web sites.

iPhone Arrives in Canada

Here’s a quick question for small businesses to consider; why is the news of “Roger’s decision to finally support the iPhone in Canada”:http://www.reportonbusiness.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20080429.wrogersstaff0429/BNStory/Business/?page=rss&id=RTGAM.20080429.wrogersstaff0429 important news for your business?

Well, ponder this. Apple’s iPod popularity over the past few years has been well document and it’s dominance on the portable music market in Canada is undeniable. With Roger’s decision to finally support the iPhone in Canada, Apple seems poised to once again alter the dynamics of the prosperous Cellular phone market. But more importantly for the iPhone to work, there needs to be a major shift in wireless cell phone data rates in Canada; thereby making it cheaper and easier for people to surf the web on the their cell phones.

It is this element of Rogers’ announcement that is critical news for your business. As data rates decreases and the technology for cell phone based web browsing grows; users will be doing more surfing away from the comforts of home or their office. Instead, users will be surfing the net waiting for flights or on their daily commute. Heck they could be checking their email while at a concert or twittering their friends about the night’s activities.

With one of the highest rates of broadband usage in the world, Canadians already spend a majority of their time surfing the net. Whether it’s at work or at home. Simply put – we are a wired nation. Now with reduced cell phone data rates, the ability to surf the net from any location will allow users more time to browse the internet. That’s where it be comes imperative that your web site is designed with cell phone browsers in mind.

No mater what type of business you run, your web site needs to be compatible with all browsers. More importantly *your web site* must be compatible with Safari and Opera browsers (The common iPhone browsers) and mobile devices in general. The best way to ensure your site is compatible is to have it developed in Web Standards or in an HTML/CSS combo. A complicated Flash web site will not function as well in mobile browser and will not provide users with the information they need. While a CSS/Web Standards based site will still provide both regular desktop users and mobile users with the information they both need.

Armadillo Studios already builds our web sites with mobile devices in mind. But as the demand for the iPhone increases we will be moving towards “enhancing our sites”:http://www.bittbox.com/general-web-design/have-a-website-its-time-to-add-a-webclip-icon/ to fully embrace mobile technology. If you are interested in adapting your web site for the mobile web, give us an email at info@armadillostudios.ca.

SXSW08: Blame Canada

Two years ago, South By Southwest was sparsely attended by only a handful of Canadians. Even worse there was only a mere three attendees from Calgary and the Southern Alberta region. This year there was an encouraging boost in the number of Canadians at the conference. Even more encouraging was the dramatic increase in the number of Calgarians and viable Calgary centric corporations. Companies like “istockphoto”:http://www.istockphotos.com, “veer”:http://www.veer.com, “DigitalArts Alberta”:http://www.digitalalberta.com/, and “Cambrian House”:http://cambrianhouse.com had a strong presence at the conference.

One of the most explosive and interesting panels from Monday’s SXSW session was the “Blame Canada Panel”:http://2008.sxsw.com/interactive/programming/panels_schedule/?action=show&id=IAP060310 which explored the 7 reasons Canada is ahead in New Media Development. Containing five, top new media experts in Canada, the panel spoke to the largely Canadian audience about the advantages and disadvantages of startups in Canada. It explored the dynamics of a small population base, spread out over a large landmass. It also explored the many benefits of our strong government supported initiatives. Including the important S.R.E.D fund.

But the real fireworks came at the end of the session, when a challenge regarding Canada’s _actual industry presence_ was brought fourth. Which brought up some valid points on Canada’s percentile representation at SXSW and our representation in the Industry as a success. Many valid points were presented on both sides. By the end of the session a strong sense of accomplishment and _we can do more_ was really explored.

As a company based in Southern Alberta, it was very interesting to connect and see some of the strong activity occurring in Calgary. It was a great opportunity to meet with the people from “Digital Alberta”:http://www.digitalalberta.com and see the strong work they are doing to promote the industry in Southern Alberta.

Music-Critic.ca

Armadillo Studios is pleased to release “the fourth version”:http://www.music-critic.ca/wp/ of the *Music-critic.ca web site*.

Building on the growing popularity of *Music-critic.ca*, this new layout incorporates many of the latest trends in the Web 2.0 market. Including:

*A Tag Cloud* – For easier category navigation.
*Social Book Marking* – To allow users to save their favorite reviews or share them with their friends.
*A stronger WordPress integration* – For simpler publishing and control over the various elements of the site.
*AJAX* – A stronger AJAX based contest system to provide greater security.

Here at the studio we are extremely proud of the newest redesign and the exciting elements that are embedded in this latest update. We look forward to taking the lessons learned from this large undertaking and incorporating them into our latest services.

If you like to learn more about the newest features to the Music-critic site, feel free to contact us at info@armadillostudios.ca and we’d be happy to share our experiences.

The University of Calgary’s SESAH Lab

Armadillo Studios and the University of Calgary’s SESAH (Spatial Analysis of Environment, Society and Healthcare Lab) are “proud to launch their newest web site.”:http://webapps2.ucalgary.ca/~sesah/

“The SESAH Lab”:http://webapps2.ucalgary.ca/~sesah/ (formerly the SPARCS Lab) contacted Armadillo to help develop a brand new site; which would be easy to update and would allow the graduate students the ability to collaborate on collected data information.

Collaborating with the SESAH Lab, we constructed a new site which integrated a new Content Management System for easy updating. In addition, we developed a separate student login area. This area allows students and professors the ability to collaborate and comment on collected data sets. They can store files and discuss the changes to the data.

Additionally, this new site gives the SESAH Lab a unique and sophisticated presence on the University of Calgary’s web site. A web site which showcases the progressive nature of the lab and its work within the world of Spatial Analysis.