Friday, December 16

Looking after your Mac

I really do love my Mac, if anyone ever criticises it, I honestly get in a mood. I find myself personally offended is people don't use Mac, and when I have to use a PC I go out of my way to make it as big-a-deal as possible. But this isn't an Apple brand message, this is about looking after your Mac.

My set up is relatively simple, I've got a Time Machine back up running constantly to an external hard drive, and an Archive Drive that I backup to each month. At the end of every month I'll copy all my completed work across to my Archive and delete them from my laptop hard drive. This means I've got 2 copies of everything from the let 6 months across both drives.

If you want to make this process even more robust then it's possible to to use BackUp to run an automated process to back your files up to a remote server, if you set this up to mirror your Archive or TimeMachine you'd have a safety net if your house burnt down, and assuming you didn't die, and were ready to work the next day, then you'd be OK. It's always been my personal policy that if I die I'm taking the week off.

Once that process is done I'll run Disk Utility and Verify Permissions on the drive and make sure everything is running properly, then I'll use Mac Keeper to remove any unwanted files that have crept onto the drive, and check all my applications for updates. This little routine keeps everything neat, and tidy and up to date, ready for the next month.

I'm taking some time off for Christmas and will be back in the New Year.

Or call 07738 175 614

Wednesday, December 14

Project of the year...

It's been a busy year for me, I've worked on loads of different things for a whole host of different clients, but one project stood out for me, and that was the relaunching of the Torygraph.

I've already written about this in a previous post, but in the interests of wrapping things up as the year ends, it's worth another mention. The site is brilliant, running since 2009 and has an archive you would not believe, actually take a minute here and check it out.....

See what I mean? Amazing, and this was all hidden away on a Tumblr site, getting about 30 hits a day, when we saw it and the potential we instantly knew what needed to be done. We relocated the site to a Wordpress site, and set up a suite of social media channels to exploit the content and reach a whole new audience.

The results were amazing, using Twitter we managed to crash the site in the first week as Telegraph journalists started to pass the link around. Once we'd upgraded the server and launched the Facebook advertising we started to see a steady flow of traffic and the realisation of the strategy had started to pay off.

The two hooded manics behind the site were great to work with, giving us a free reign over the planning and development and continuously keeping the site up to date with new content, which is a daily job.

The project bought with it a steep learning curve, and an opportunity to put into practice a lot of the theories that a everywhere in this Social Market age, it's meant we can now confidentially go to clients and offer this as a service. It's a great project to be involved in and has help Citizen to grow this year.

Or call 07738 175 614

Monday, December 12

Looking for more App-eal

If I could find the statistic I'd tell you that loads of people buy Apps because they have really nice icons. I know that I do, so from my surveyed group of 1, that's 100%, wait a minute, I'm with my friend Colin, I'll ask him. Yup still 100% if not 200%.

The thing is Smartphones are normally really pretty, and you don't want a home screen full of shitty looking apps, so why spend all that time and money developing an app, get it to market and then do nothing on the design and branding side, it makes no sense, there's 6 Million out there, how are you going to make yours stand out?

An App's icon needs to be as eye catching as the idea itself, it's your album cover, you need to make sure it's selling the idea off the page. Great icons will take a sense or idea from the functionality of the app and showcase this in a bold and beautiful way.

And yes, I designed all of the above icon.

Here’s some simple tips to creating your App icon

1 Keep it simple, avoid wording or being too descriptive
2 Keep it consistant with the look and feel of your App UI
3 It has to work internationally, use a clear visual language

So give us a call and speak to Citizen about

• App icon Design
• Branding for your App
• App Microsites
• App feature panels and web banners
• App Social Media Strategies

Get in touch
Or call 07738 175 614

Friday, December 9

Citizen at One: 3 Things I've learnt this year. Pt. 3

When the clock hits 5.30, or 5 on a Friday you have to immediately get drunk. It's the only way to clear your mind ready for the challenge of the next day.

OK, that's a joke, but you have to find ways of doing it. Working from home really means you're always in the office, so you need to compartmentalise your working and home life and make sure bits of each don't slip into either side.

If you spend all of your days working, then your evenings thinking about working you will eventually turn into a boring zombie, I've seen it happen, in the end I had to kill him with a snooker cue, it wasn't nice.

Sure, one of the big benefits of this big step you've taken is the freedom, nobody can tell you what to do now, but the reality is different. It's an old saying, but instead of having 1 boss now, you have 20, they're all your clients and they expect a certain level of service from you. Yes, this means you can never totally switch off, but you are still entitled to a family life.

I'm lucky my wife loves to hear me moan about my work, she put up with it for years at my old job. Many an evening we'd sit around the fire and she'd press me for stories about how someone at work had asked for 47 data sheets designing, only to realise at the end of the day they only needed 3. I think deep down she misses those long, angst ridden stories, and perhaps wants me to be unhappy so I can entertain her with them again.

I've learnt that doing something like playing football (which I'm shit at), playing in a band (which I'm shit at), or even playing Call of Duty (which I'm shit at), even though you might be shit at those things (and I am), can really help you concentrate on something else and dispel the stresses of the day.

So Don't be frightened to switch off is the message, or I will come around your house and stick a snooker cue through your unbleeding heart.

Or call 07738 175 614

Wednesday, December 7

Citizen at One: 3 Things I've learnt this year. Pt. 2

Clients are amazing. All of them all the time.

OK, that might not be true, but that's how it has to look. I've been lucky, I've had nearly all good people to work with, a couple of non and late payers, but on the whole they've been very cool.

It hasn't been all amazing though, I've learnt that you have to adapt yourself to who you're dealing with, some people want to work with an artist, others, a professional designer, some people want 'The Funny' and others think you're weird.

The most valuable client lesson I learnt this year was working a potential new client. They rang me to talk about some new branding, we discussed their current site, and how we could improve on this. We got on well, it was a Friday so a few funnies were flying around, it all felt like it was going well. A week later I hadn't heard anything, so I dropped them a line to catch up, and got a nice reply, everything looking good.

A week later the project was still stalling, I figured  that this probably wasn't going to happen. So I replied back with an email along the lines of;

"So I guess this isn't going to happen, I'm pretty sad about it, you should see my face".

OK, looking back, it was a but unprofessional, and the client hit me back with;

"I'm not sure how to take that email".

And from here, I was a bit embarrassed, clearly I'd over stepped the mark, assumed we were on the same wavelength, become too friendly too quickly and ultimately made myself look like a bell end.

It's the kind of thing Alan Partridge might have done, and it taught me a valuable lesson, you can make a client your friend though hard work and getting to know them over a series of projects, but life isn't Facebook, you don't pick up the phone to someone and they're instantly your friend.

Just remember, however lonely you get in the office and whatever mood you're in, always be professional.

Or call 07738 17

Monday, December 5

Citizen at One: 3 Things I've learnt this year. Pt. 1


There are going to be times when work seems to have dried up, I've been lucky I've only really had this twice in the first year, but on those two occasions I may or may not have acted like a bit of a baby. My wife will testify to this, she's always the one that tells me something's going to turn up, and so far it always has, but in those moments of downtime you need to be the one that makes the next thing happen.

Crying (I didn't actually cry) is not going to help, there's always something you can do, and really you need these moments to fertilise your company, (don't actually take a shit on your company, that would be bad). Here's some of the things I do to bulk out those free periods;

• Write Blog posts, I write 2-3 at a time and schedule them to drop throughout the week.
• Linked In Fishing, see my  LinkedIn post from last month
PPH prospecting, always worth bidding on anything, you never know where it might lead
• Contact hitting up, don't be annoying, but don't let them forget
• Favours, do a record sleeve for someone for free, get the juices flowing
• Web updates, keep your site fresh, get some new work on there

The thing is, if you have the right frame of mind, it's going to work for you. Managing your time and energy is really important, and when you're given some downtime you have to look on it as a opportunity to get some of the internal stuff done that you've been putting off and not spend the day watching Cash in the Attic, and then going into your attic and putting your foot through the roof, for example.

So I've learnt this, don't panic, and don't annoy your wife by saying you've got nothing to do one day, and then 2 days later crying (I didn't cry) to her because you're too busy. It's all about not being a baby at the end of the day, something that I'm getting better at. I'm only 35 after all.

Or call 07738 175 614

Friday, December 2

Simple Social Strategy: Linked In

I've read several explanations of Linked In, they always go;

If Facebook is you at a crazy party, and Twitter is you running around in the street in your pants shouting through a Megaphone, then LinkedIn is you, at your day job, behind a desk, with a tie and sock braces on... Personally I like to think that if Facebook is you at a crazy party, and Twitter is you running around in the street in your pants shouting through a Megaphone, then LinkedIn is you, at your day job, behind a desk, with a tie and sock braces on.

LinkedIn For Professionals

LinkedIn I suppose is a professional network, what really started as an online CV and resumé has now become a professional networking group, linking you with people you've worked with, for and arranging potential contacts through shared industries and colleagues.

With a potential pool of 100Million contacts, LinkedIn is like being at the world's worst, or best Morning Coffee Networking group, depending on how you like those thing. Personally I've never gone to one as the idea of a room full of strangers dressed in suits scares me, I'd rather die than stand in a room with 100 Million of them. So that's the great thing about LinkedIn, from the comfort of your desk, you can reach out, and discover new like minded professional for a chat or second opinion, or hit up new contacts and point them to your LinkedIn Company page.

LinkedIn is a little more complicated than Facebook and Twitter but it's relatively easy to set up a profile and get your experience and company details on there. The basic account is free and this will give you more than enough usability to start with, upgrading gives you access to directly contacting contacts, but really it's something you don't need when you first set up.

Like Facebook and Twitter, it's not going to work for you if you just use it as a noticeboard, you need to make everything engaging, from your profile to your status updates, you need to supply your profile with real and meaningful content, join groups based on your profession, and contribute insightful and helpful information to these. It's the same old story, be interesting, clever and helpful and you'll build a nice group of valuable contacts. Be a boring arsehole, and you'll probably end up with a contact list of boring arseholes.

Unlike Facebook, you can see the people who have been looking at your profile, which is interesting, for example I can see that you've looked at my profile everyday for the last 6 weeks, no wait that's a just a bit weird.

QUICK TIP: This might not work forever, so get in there quickly, but if you download the app for iPhone, go to the 'People You May Know' tab, and you can quickly invite anyone in that list to become a Contact. This seems to negate the need to have some connection with them you need to link on the main site.

Please get in touch to talk through your Social Media Strategy ask any questions and see what Citizen can do for you.

Or call 07738 175 614