Armadillo Studios Inc.

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.

Holiday Cheer! New Wallpaper For All

To celebrate the upcoming Holiday season, Armadillo Studios is releasing a new festive wallpaper for your desktop.

Yes, feel free to celebrate Christmas with Milo (Our playful Armadillo mascot) and the Armadillo Team, by sprucing up your “Windows XP or Mac desktop”:http://www.flickr.com/photos/ctoverdrive/3068031565/ or even one of the lucky few with the “Bumptop Desktop Application”:http://www.flickr.com/photos/ctoverdrive/3068868934/in/photostream/.

!http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3213/3068868934_9c661546d7.jpg?v=0!

So feel free join us in the holiday spirit and download our latest desktop.

Download: 1920 × 1200
Download: 1600 × 1200

With that we wish you and yours all the best over the Holiday Season and a fantastic 2009.

The Armadillo Team.

LinkedIn – Should You be Using it on Your Consulting Site?

Do you know what “LinkedIn”:http://www.linkedin.com is?

Our guess is that you’ve probably never heard of it. Which is definitely fine?

At first glance, LinkedIn looks like another run of the mill social networking web site, albeit a professional version of Facebook. Just another Social Networking tool to post a profile, update for a couple of months and then ignore once the next fad comes around.

Unfortunately, that assumption would mean that you are missing out on a very powerful self-promotional and connection tool, especially if you’re a freelance consultant.

First and foremost, over 30 million users are currently utilizing the LinkedIn Social Network and that number is growing daily. Secondly, when used correctly, it is one of the most powerful tools to increase your professional online presence. (For a list of ideas on how to use LinkedIn, “read Guy Kawasaki ‘s post on the ten ways you can use Linkedin to enhance your connections”:http://blog.guykawasaki.com/2007/01/ten_ways_to_use.html ) Using LinkedIn’s connection matrix can garnish you dozens of new connections within any given Industry. In addition, you can utilize LinkedIn’s profile links to increase your search engine strength for your own personal web site. But more importantly the Discussion threads and Industry groups on LinkedIn can provide you a means to demonstrate your expertise.

And it is this final reason that we truly believe is LinkedIn’s greatest benefit and why, for our clients in the Southern Alberta region, *now is the time to get on the Linkedin bandwagon*.

We believe that establishing yourself within your key industry on LinkedIn or providing thoughtful comments to open discussions is a great way to increase your profile’s views. And the more profile views you can garner, the more likely you’re going to appear in a project managers or HR representatives search on _Industry Specific Consultants_.

One of the trends we’ve noticed is that the Oil & Gas and Energy Industries is one of the most poorly under representative groups in the LinkedIn network. Couple that observation with the growing popularity of LinkedIn within the Calgary/Southern Alberta region and this is a perfect time to start marketing yourself as an expert in _Oil & Gas Mineral and Contract Administration_ or as an _Energy Sector Consultant_. In particular to start curtailing your profile to attract people in this underrepresented market. (You can “view one of our profiles here”:http://www.linkedin.com/in/connorturner)

With an estimated value of close to “1 Billion dollars, LinkedIn”:http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/10/22/linkedin-announces-227-million-follow-on-round-from-sap-goldman-sachs-and-mcgraw-hill/
is a Social Networking Tool that appears to be establishing itself for the long run and a key Human Resources tool. So now is the time to set-up an account, link it to your web site, and get involved with your professional community.

Who knows where it will take you.

EmilNath.com

One of the first projects Armadillo Studios launched was for the Corporate Entertainment site “Empower Entertainment”:http://www.empowerentertainment.com. Almost two years later we are proud to launch our second project for Emil Nath.

With that we proud to release “EmilNath.com”:http://www.emilnath.com – The new home for Corporate Entertainer and illusionist Emil Nath.

This new corporate web site incorporates the floral design elements from the original Empower Entertainment web site, with personal headshot of Emil and Veer’s wonderful “DF Egret”:http://www.veer.com/products/typedetail.aspx?image=DET0000191&WT.ac=home.081001.1.txt_img.luxury font to create a enticing atmosphere.

Our goal with this design was to provide a minimalist web site, which would focus on Emil as a performer while also providing potential clients a glimpse into his unique performance. We feel the subtleties of the fonts and layouts combine to really showcase his professionalism and his unique performance.

Shopping For a Web Site? Part 2

Welcome to the third and fourth tips in our “Shopping for a Web Site? Series”:http://blog.armadillostudios.ca/article/shopping-for-a-web-site-part-1. The final installment will come next week sometime, but in the meantime enjoy.

This week, we’re talking about Flash vs. HTML web sites and also which Web 2.0 terms are important for your business.

3. Why is a Flash based web site cheaper than a HTML/CSS/CMS site? What’s the difference?

We’re extremely biased when it comes to this question, but we advise our clients to stay away from _Flash Based web sites_. It’s a heated debate in the world of Web Design, but the majority of the industry has moved away from web sites solely based in Flash design towards HTML/CSS design.

In a nut shell, _Flash_ is a web program that is installed on your home page that acts as a web site. The benefits of Flash sites are easy that they are easy to build, relatively inexpensive and allow you to create some very cool effects. (big spirally intros, flashing lights, cool sound effects, etc,) In essence they are extremely flashy… _Yes, that pun was intended_.

BUT, Flash based web sites are filled with draw backs. First, they have a really weak relationship with search engines (a low SEO). Second, unless you own a copy of Adobe Flash (retails for $700 US) it is impossible to update. This means that any adjustments or updates to your site’s content will need to be done through your designer … and really who wants to be handcuffed to pay for the smallest change.

Third, Flash based web sites are not the most compatible with handheld devices (Blackberries, iPhones), older Internet Browsers and even web readers for disabled users. So while your site will look very pretty, you’re probably going to alienate a good section of your potential clients.

All in all, the cool little gimmicks of Flash based web design do not make up for the glaring holes.

*Armadillo Tip*: _All the gimmicks and cool little gizmos of Flash based design can be emulated in a HTML design. There are dozens of java scripts and AJAX plugins, which allow Web Designers far more flexibility with standard HTML design. So stick with HTML design._

_Now we are not advocating ignoring Flash altogether, as there are dozens of flash based apps and plug-ins, which can dramatically enhance your site’s overall appearance. What we are advocating is that instead of taking the easy and inexpensive way out with a full Flash based web site, look at making the investment in a straight HTML/CSS site._

4. What Are All These Web 2.0 Terms? And Do You Need to Understand SEO, CMS, SMS, Web 2.0 & Social Networking?

Yes and no.

Like every industry, the Web Design Indsutry has its trends and it’s catch phrases. These just happen to be the ones being bantered about our industry at the moment. It may seem that every designer you contact will be regurgitating these phrases at a horrific rate. _So, what do these terms really mean_?

SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is the most important term you’ll need to know at the moment. In a nut shell it just means how strongly your web site will rank on the first page of Search Engine Results. The stronger your SEO rating the greater likelihood that your web site will be on the front page of Google or Yahoo.

Web 2.0 & Social Networking are terms used to “describe a new way of looking at the Internet”:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Web_2.0. Before 2004, web sites were very informational and very static. Since then, web sites have evolved to become more interactive and community orientated. Having a web site that takes advantages of the worlds of Web 2.0 & Social Networking will increase your reach and will probably connect you to more customers.

BUT, you’ll only want to involve yourself with networks or communities that appeal to your clientele. If you’re a photographer, you’ll want to incorporate your work into photo sharing sites like “Flickr”:http://www.flickr.com. If you’re a Rockabilly Country Act, you’ll want to create a “MySpace page”:http://www.myspace.com, create a “Facebook fan page”:http://www.facebook.com and even embed some music on your web site. On the other hand, an Oil & Gas Consulting firm probably won’t start contributing video footage to “YouTube”:http://www.youtube.com or “Vimeo”:http://www.vimeo.com. And they probably won’t set-up a Facebook fan page, _but a consulting firm_ might develop a corporate blog and start showcasing their industry expertise for free.

CMS (Content Management Systems) are fantastic tools. We recommend anyone even thinking of building a web site to pay the extra money to have these included in their design.

A CMS is a basic application installed on your web site that essentially allows you to control the content of your site. Most can be accessed via the internet and most will allow you to change information on your web site in a jiffy. Depending on the features of the design you can even great news articles, stories or updates for your web site.

The big benefit here is that it gives the power to you – the customers. With a tradition HTML or Flash based web site, if you need to change your company’s phone number you’ll have to pay your web design an hour or two for them to go in and make that small change. But with a CMS, you can log in and make the change yourself.

SMS simple stands for “Short Messaging Service”:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Short_message_service, is a technical way to describe Text Messaging.

Many web apps and Social networking sites are incorporating SMS elements in to their structure. The micro blogging web site Twitter allows users to receive and send updates via SMS on a constant basis. While the mobile version of Facebook allows users to update and add pictures to their profile via SMS technology.

It’s an interesting component of that is taking Web Design an the internet mobile.

*Armadillo Tip*: _Take advantage of the ability of sites such as Flickr, Vimeo, Revver and Facebook, that have created API (“Application Program Interface:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/API) which allows integration between these Social networking sites and your own web site. Utilizing API’s is a solid way to increase your web site’s traffic and increase its exposure._

The “3rd article”:https://www.armadillostudios.ca/shopping-for-a-web-site-part-3/ in this series will discuss the potential costs and the time it takes to build a web site.

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/.

Stampede Wallpapers 2008: YEE-HAW!

Well, since it is the first week in July and we just happen to be proud Calgarians; we here at Armadillo thought it would be a good idea to spread some of Alberta’s famous western hospitality.

So for everyone’s enjoyment here is our free Calgary Stampede wallpaper, which features “Veer’s custom Calgary Font”:http://www.veer.com/products/typedetail.aspx?image=UMT0000326 and “GoMedia’s Western Vector Pack”:http://gomedia.us/arsenal/#set9.

Download: 1920 x 1200 version
Download: 1600 x 1200
Download Both in a Zip File