Armadillo Studios Inc.

The Enermatix Inc. Redesign

In 2007, Armadillo Studios was approached by the Enermatix consulting firm to develop an online identity and corporate brand. Within a couple of months we had provided a functional web site, a unique logo and the company’s promotional products.

Fast forward to 2009 and Armadillo Studios is happy to continue our relationship with Enermatix Inc. with the “release of their new redesign”:http://www.enermatix.ca.

The initial branding and corporate web site for Enermatix Inc. embraced a vibrant color scheme and a simple navigation, but after a few years it became apparent that the identity needed a small tweak; something to improve the web site’s usability and overall feel.

By inverting the color scheme of the initial web site, the new Enermatix Inc. site embraces a softer and more open feel. By enlarging the text and removing the boxy layout, this new design showcases a more approachable Enermatix Inc.

In addition, we have improved the navigation and placed key informational elements (recent articles, team profiles and contact information) on each page to allow potential clients easier access to the company. Elements of the Enermatix philosophy have also been showcased with graphical blurbs to grab the readers attention. Armadillo Studios has also improved the Search Engine Optimization to garnish a stronger audience for the company.

Armadillo Studios is once again proud to team-up with Enermatix Inc. to help improve the company’s image and to help enhance their bottom line.

SXSW09: Pictures and Diagrams in Thoughts – Monday Wrap-up

Monday’s panels took on a very visual tint.

Opening the day was the arrival of the Texas Sun and a panel called “Shift Happens: Moving from Pictures to Words”:http://www.sxsw.com/interactive/talks/panels?action=show&id=IAP0900080. The panel featured some of the core brains behind the great “CommonCraft”:http://www.commoncraft.com/ explanation videos and “VizTalk”:http://www.vizthink.com/blog/ , two companies that are transforming how we explain complex issues and concepts by utilizing our basic need for visualization.

The entire talk resided around how corporations can utilize simple drawings and images to covey the complexity of ideas. Whether it is a brainstorming session on a company vision or to define a complex set of corporate strategies, the companies featured in this panel are aligning themselves with corporate companies to produce visual elements that make it easier for their customers or employees to understand.

A great example of this concept from the work that “Sunni Brown”:http://sunnibrown.com/ is doing via VizTalk. I’ve embedded a couple pieces of her work to give an example.

!http://sunnibrown.com/wp-content/themes/sunni/images/vois-thumbnail-sketch-1-440×338.jpg!

!http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_D3qn1sofjqM/SPUqX4lAnxI/AAAAAAAAATo/xqNuVrvG-D8/s400/Virtuous+and+Vicious+Cycles.JPG!

The second panel of note was the final panel of the day called “Color Angels: It’s Not Just Black & White”:http://www.sxsw.com/interactive/talks/panels?action=show&id=IAP0900201 featuring three of the top Women Designers in the world. Of note was “Veerle”:http://veerle.duoh.com/blog/about/ one of the most brilliant designers in the industry and an inspiration to Armadillo Studios.

This panel discussed the use of Color in Web Design to help usability, resolve culture color difference and to enhance a corporation’s branding. The discussion touched upon ideas regarding the cultural differences in colour recognition and techniques to allow color blind users to read your web site.

As a designer these colour issues are sometimes forgotten. An example that was given was the difference in color layouts for a Chinese Wedding web site where Red means fortune, while the color white tends to represent death. Which is counter intuitive to North American tradition. Then the panel wrapped up by examining some case studies in colour design and the latest trends in the industry.

And with that the third day of panels was closed. With the sun shinning and the annual “Big British Meet-up”:http://sxsw.com/interactive/parties_and_lounges and the “NXNW”:http://raincitystudios.com/taxonomy/term/477 SXSW really kicked off.

SXSW09: Saturday Wrap-Up

Saturday’s adventure in SXSW started off with two interesting talks, well it actually started with a trip to “Taco Shack down the street”:http://www.tacoshack.com/subframes/locations.html for breakfast tacos.

The first session dealt with “speed times and how to improve web site loading issues”:http://www.sxsw.com/interactive/talks/schedule?action=show&id=IAP0901285. While the second panel of the day “dealt with the difference between print content and how the speed of the web has lost some of the design of print technology”:http://www.sxsw.com/interactive/talks/schedule?action=show&id=IAP0900291. Neither one was a show stopper, but both provided some great ideas on how to technically improve web site loading times and some neat ideas of transposing the beauty of magazine design in to blog posts.

The Keynote by Tony Hsieh was a one of the best opening day remark sessions in recent memory.

For those unfamiliar with Tony, he is the CEO and brain trust behind “Zappos.com”:http://www.zappos.com/ a large online shoe company that has built and banked its reputation on exceptional customer service.

“Tony’s keynote was widely entertaining and enthralling”:http://www.sxsw.com/interactive/talks/schedule?action=show&id=IAP0901393. It was a great conversation on how to balance the pressures of becoming a large business and answering to the balance sheets with building a great company based on a strong principal of great company culture. It was interesting to hear about their $2,000 offer to quit during training and concepts like using “Twitter to foster an internal corporate community”:http://twitter.zappos.com/.

If your curious a graphical representation of Tony’s Talk can be found on “the main interactive site.”:http://sxsw.com/files/u5/Tony-Hsieh-at-SXSW-09-Sunni-Brown.jpg

!http://sxsw.com/files/u5/Tony-Hsieh_SXSW-09_Sunni-Brown-sm.jpg!

The final conversation of the afternoon was hosted by Jeffery Zeldman on “the transition from Freelance to an Agency”:http://www.sxsw.com/interactive/talks/schedule?action=show&id=IAP0900593. This was an inspirational session filed with great tips for companies in the middle of the transition from a small freelance agency to a big 5-10 person agency.

SXSWisEASY Experiment

And finally what would a SXSW conference be with out a bit of a Social experiment?

Well, the SXSWisEASY collective spent our free time on “Saturday launching out own little experiment.”:http://sxswiseasy.com/2009/03/what-do-you-see-at-sxsw/ we’ve handed out 8 disposable cameras to random people at SXSW and we are asking them to take five-six photos and then passing the camera on to completely random SXSW stranger. Once the camera is finished people will return them to us and we’ll post their images online for people to use.

We’re pretty excited about the idea and think we’ll have some interesting photos from people.

SXSW09: Armadillo Studios At SXSW’09

For the second time in 2 years Armadillo Studios Inc. is taking on Austin for SXSW 2009.

We’ll be down there working the conference circuit, meeting old friends and “promoting SXSWisEASY”:http://sxswiseasy.com. Armadillo will also be posting updates and information on a regular basis throughout the conference. Please follow along here on our corporate web site or with our corporate twitter account at “www.twitter.com/armadillostudio”:http://www.twitter.com/armadillostudio We will be learning what is new and emergent in the web design industry and would like to pass that wealth of knowledge on to our valued clientele.

If your at SXSW this year, check out “our schedule”:http://sxsw2009.sched.org/ctoverdrive and come up to us and say hi.

*Update:* Highlights of each day of the conference are now posted.
# Saturday: “Saturday Wrap-Up”:https://www.armadillostudios.ca/sxsw09-saturday-wrap-up/
# Sunday: “Sunday’s Core Conversations & The Future of Blogging”:https://www.armadillostudios.ca/sxsw09-core-conversation-sunday-blogging-and-its-future/
# Monday: “Pictures & Diagrams – Monday’s Wrap-up”:https://www.armadillostudios.ca/sxsw09-pictures-and-diagrams-in-thoughts-monday-wrap-up/
# Tuesday: Coming Shortly

Social Media Experts: Two Bits of Advice

If you’re looking for the hot catch phrase for 2009, look no further than the term _Social Media Expert_ or _Social Media Marketing_.

The Internet and the Web Design Industry is a buzz with this new term. While a select few are championing themselves as leaders in the Social Media field, many predominate members of the Web Design Industry are shunning the two terms and working to create a compressive definition.

We’ve been following “Roger Kondrat’s twitter feed”:http://twitter.com/roger for the past little while as he explores the topic and has dug up some interesting links. These articles have got the proverbial hamster wheel spinning a bit for the Armadillo Team and we would like to point out two extremely important ideas (or warnings) about Social Media from articles that Roger has posted.

So have a quick look over these two tidbits of cautionary advice and insight before looking at Social Media Marketing for your business.

What _Truly_ Defines someone as a Social Media Expert?

Enrique Guiterrez’s article on “Social Media Marketing don’ts and do’s”:http://enrique-gutierrez.com/2008/11/social-media-marketing-donts-and-dos/ has a series of important points to consider when approached by a Social Media Marketer, but the most important seems to be that a _true Social Media Marketer is not just an avid user of Social Media, but someone that will be able to explain how they will utilize Social Media to get your customers engaged_.

Many so-called Social Media Experts seem to be championing their followers, links or the size of their own audience as proof of their Social Media expertise. But this is alone odes not qualify some one as a true _Social Media Expert_. Instead these so-called experts should be detailing and justifying the various campaigns they have launched, the successful reinterpretations of brands for social media they have created and the business effects on their client’s campaigns.

As Enrique puts it, an expert who champions their audience will do nothing more than create an _Echo Effect_ in regards to your product. What you need to find is someone who understands Social Media and can think out side of the box. This individual must be able to look at a product and find ways to manipulate the most popular Social Media applications or sites to increase a products brand.

They should be able to explain your audience and then dissect what sort of applications or sites that audience utilizes that you could benefit from by having a presence.

Can Your Company Take advantage of Social Media?

Our answer is a resounding *Yes!*.

We here at Armadillo Studios believe there is great potential in Social Media Marketing; especially in the undeserved Southern Albertan market.

But as pointed out on Traacker’s list of “10 simple rules to tell who you are talking to”:http://traackr.com/blog/?p=36, it takes some understanding and patience to get true value out of Social Media Marketing.

As the article mentions, Social Media Marketing should be _a relatively inexpensive_ venue for promoting your business’ services. You do not need a large budget to get involved in Social Media Marketing; instead you need time, commitment and the persistence to let it grow. Many _So-called_ Social Media Markters are championing large advertising budgets and fast ROI on their campaigns.

In reality, these campaigns are relatively inexpensive and require a little bit of time to foster to fruition.

For example a Niche Bakery could set-up a _free_ “Twitter account”:http://twitter.com/about to update clients on the specials for that week. Or create a _free_ fan page on Facebook to notify their subscribers of specials, products or even some home made recipes. The only investment the bakery truly needs to create a community is a *small amount of dedicated time to constantly update* their Twitter/Facebook accounts, *some energy* to reach out to potential clients and *a web site as a focal point* for the community. As you can see this sort of campaign is relatively inexpensive (As signing up for most Social Media Networks requires zero investment costs), but it does require time and patience to foster a loyal community.

While it seems relatively easy for a Bakery to take advantage of Social Media, what about a legal firm? Facebook, YouTube and Twitter are all great communities, but none of them necessarily fit the professional image of a Legal Firm. But a true successful Social Media Marketer will still be able to leverage other tools such as a Published Professional Article feed, LinkedIn Company page or other legal related communities to help showcase the Legal Firms Expertise.

While both examples are on different ends of the business spectrum; both campaigns require minimum monetary investment and time.

Are Social Media Campaigns Worth it?

We here at the old Armadillo Studios believe and champion Social Media and the tangible benefits that it can potentially bring to our clients. We have been working to launch integrated campaigns, but are not ready to call our selves fully-fledged Social Media Experts. We put together this little article to caution others before they get caught up in the excitement of social media and provide some information for potential clients.

If this topic interests you, please read “Aaron Roe Fulkerson”:http://www.oblogn.com/2009/02/01/social-media-expert/ list of Quantitative metrics for determining a Social Media expert or Mark Havenner’s article on “Measuring ROI of Social Media – Another Perspective”:http://seowizardry.ca/The_Wizards_Blog/measuring-roi-of-social-media-another-perspective/

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.

Armadillo + SXSW ’09 + National New Media Day

Armadillo Studios is proud to announce that we will be participating in two very important Industry events in the 08-09 calendar.

First and foremost, Armadillo Studios is heading back to Austin for “SXSW Interactive 2009”:http://sxsw.com/interactive. This will be our second straight SXSW and third overall. We’re looking forward to seeing some old friends and getting involved in the international Interactive Community.

Secondly, we will be attending the Calgary Events for “National Media Digital Day”:http://www.irefreshforcontent.com/learn-more.html this Thursday. This includes a meet and greet hosted by “Digital Alberta”:http://www.digitalalberta.com/national-digital-media-day-september-25 and also the “10th Edition of DemoCamp”:http://barcampcalgary.com/2008/09/23/democampcalgary-10-this-thursday/. It should be a great evening and hopefully it brings some much need exposure to our growing local industry.

So if you happen to be in Austin in March of next year or better yet happen to be at Melrose this Thursday, pop by and say hello. We’ll be glad to see have a chat.