The Farm Report: Markets Are Up!

I read with pleasure that small specialty farms are a growing business in Maine. There were three reasons this story interested me: first I’m a foodie; secondly, any business news that’s upbeat is welcome; and finally, I thought there were good lessons for all types of small business owners. Highlights of the report The story I read in the Portland Press Herald was a re-cap of The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s five-year Census of Agriculture. And the statistics for Maine are showing growth and an optimistic future. Some highlights include: The number of farms in Maine increased by 13 percent, to 8,136, from 2002 to 2007 Maine farms recorded $617 million in sales in 2007, up 33 percent from 2002 More farmers are selling directly to consumers, via farm stands and farmers’ markets, and direct to restaurants—these numbers increased by 17 percent These direct-to-consumer sales totaled $18 million, up 50 percent when adjusted for inflation What is driving this change?… Continue Reading »

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All Hail Georgia

The font that is. If you haven’t noticed, it’s the hip new font on the block. Suddenly designers have a serif typeface option that is actually decent. The traditional serif / sans serif split As designers we are all schooled in the traditions of typesetting, and by this I mean print-based typesetting. In design school or in our early career we learn that serif faces are more readable for long blocks of type and sans serif is better for headlines and subheads. This is because the serifs on fonts help the readers eyes follow each line of type horizontally across the page. On the other hand, when serif type is made bold the serifs fill in and lose their shape so sans serif types are better for bold applications such as headlines. Serif / sans serif on screen In the early days of the web we were given very limited fonts choices. For a while it seemed like we had… Continue Reading »

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Bring Some Quality to your Web Site

“85% of people believe the quality of a business owner’s website is an important factor in earning the consumer’s trust.” —Nielsen//NetRatings, 2007 Obviously, quality is an important element to infuse into your web site. But what exactly determines quality? What is high quality? This is a tougher question to answer than may be initially thought. After working for years with clients who hold little or no design training, I’m amazed at how accurately they can spot quality, but how poorly they can describe and quantify it. Frequently, I have clients who recognize that one web site is more appealing, or easier to use, but they don’t understand why. Often they see that one photo looks better, but they don’t realize it’s because it is properly lit and uses professional models. Or they sense that one site is easier to read than another but know don’t know that it both the style of the writing and the layout of the type…. Continue Reading »

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A Recession is the Perfect Time to Start a Business

Seems like we’re in a recession. We’ve probably been in it for longer than we realize and may stay in this down cycle for longer than any of us would prefer. But we’ve gone through it before, and the economy will grow again. The story of Visible Logic It was during the last recession of 2001 that I started Visible Logic. In the summer of 2001 I was working at Smith Design. The dot-com bubble was bursting and we could feel things slowing down. I was laid off. I had been thinking about starting my own design firm “someday.” Once I had enough experience. After assessing the economic landscape I realized I was not going to be finding a full time design job in the near future. So, I could either freelance for other studios or start my own. Great timing I finally decided to pull the trigger. In fact, after having a few weeks to decompress, I told everyone… Continue Reading »

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The Emotional Rollercoaster of a Web Site Launch

It seems that every web site launch—whether it’s a brand new site, a redesign, a blog launch or just adding new sections, content or features—goes through the very emotional, but somewhat predictable series of ups & downs. Getting beyond denial As with most self-improvement projects, we often have to sink really low before we decide to make a change for a better. This is often the case with web sites that have outlived their original organizational set up, or have content jammed into an out-dated navigational hierarchy. I know with my own site, which I redesigned in the fall of 2008, I had started to absolutely hate it. It used a flash-based navigation system which seemed really cool when I developed it several years prior, but I loathed by late 2008. Also, my publishing work had grown significantly and the book work was hidden within the other print work. Honestly, I was beginning to cringe inside whenever I gave out… Continue Reading »

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