The Story of The Baker

A story we often tell when we get asked what Project House is all about, is one about a Baker who loves to bake pies.  We’ll call him The Baker.  The Baker made pies all of the time.  His pies were well-loved by his family, who demanded pies for every conceivable occasion.  His pies were delicious and better than anything available in a shop.  Over time,  The Baker started making pies for his kids’ fundraising events, for his friends and their friends, and before he knew it, his pies were in such high demand that he had a business on his hands and he needed to hire some helpers and find a community kitchen space several days a week just to keep up with the orders.

Read more

Project Spotlight: Catherine Falkner’s New Website

This month’s project spotlight focuses on the new website of Catherine Falkner, a local performance artist and good friend. We collaborated with Catherine to bring her unique style to life, using our “Basic” web package. Catherine Falkner is a multi-disciplined artist who predominantly works in performance with a bent toward camp and absurdism, and specializes in theatre, film, video and photography.

Working on the project was so much fun! The idea behind every creative decision was to show off Catherine’s personality and creativity: we incorporated many unique elements such as using her handwritten signature as a logo, bright and unique retro-style patterns and colour schemes, and a performance-based photoshoot that produced some amazing shots of Catherine to show off her personality on every page of her site.  Catherine was a pleasure to work with – her blend of creativity, collaboration, theatricality, sense of humour, and trust in our process really brought out the best in each of us, and resulted in an original and effective site.

Catherine’s goal for her website was to showcase her personality and her work, as well as to provide a point of contact for potential collaborations and opportunities for work.  We needed to turn her desires into reality and stick within a pre-set budget. Catherine Falkner’s site is a great example of how much customization our “Basic” package offers and how you don’t need to break the bank to make it really special.

We are so lucky to have a talented and generous photographer who always adds his talent and expertise to all of our client and Project House shoots, and manages to get the absolute best photo of each person by creating an atmosphere of kindness, trust, and fun. Thank you Kevin Shoesmith!

If you are looking to bring your business onto the web, or to take your existing site to the next level, you’ve come to the right place! Please send us an email at hello@projecthouse.ca and let’s talk about how we can help.

Project Spotlight: the RNFBC launches their new brand!

We are so excited as we have just launched a whole new brand and website for the Registered Nurses Association of BC.  It was a really great process working alongside a positive and collaborative group of people at the RNFBC, and we couldn’t be more proud of the results.

The Registered Nurses Foundation of BC helps address some of the financial costs associated with nursing education through the provision of bursaries. They help alleviate some of the pressures on nurses and the health care system.

The demand for nurses is rising. Currently, on any given day in BC there are at least 1,000 nursing vacancies. These shortages mean the needed care that requires nursing support – such as surgical procedures, homecare, and mental health care services – get delayed or postponed.

With the aging of both the population and of nurses themselves, more new nurses will be needed to fill this gap as a person’s health care needs generally increase with age and as nurses reach retirement age.

The need to help educate new nurses and provide a higher level of education for current nurses has arguably never been greater.

The RNFBC’s website and logo were out of date and they needed something new and fresh that would acknowledge the history of the foundation, while at the same time demonstrate the forward-thinking and innovative nature of the nursing profession.

We started with a creative “charrette” style process where we brought in a group of stakeholders to dive into the message and story the RNFBC wanted their brand to convey…who were they, who are they now, how is their organization evolving, how do they want to be perceived.  Through discussion, visioning, and tough questions we were able to come away with a great understanding of the overall design direction we needed to consider. Then we retreated to our offices to continue our research and continue the creative process.

After pursuing a few brand options, we kept coming back to the idea of the nightingale.  We just loved the symbolism:  it’s active and alive, its body and shape represent movement, and it has a wonderful and fitting historical significance.  We combined the nightingale image with unique, fresh, and beautiful colours to really make it stand apart.

With our branding solution in hand, we could move into the creation of a beautiful and responsive new website. It needed to be easy to navigate, bright and colourful, modern yet professional. It had to appeal to a wide range of users, as visitors to the site might be young nurses applying for a bursary, or older donors looking to make a contribution.  We are so pleased with the overall results and we look forward to continuing to help the RNFBC grow its brand recognition through their website and additional print materials.  We have already created donation forms, posters, and some exciting materials for an upcoming event.

The process of working with the RNFBC is very rewarding.  They are a client who understands where they need help and values the external services of a company like us.  Not only can we provide them with graphics and web design, but we also support them with online donation systems, event planning, hiring, and more.  Combining our expertise and services to help clients grow their business to the next level is what Project House is all about.

 

computer virus graphic

Website Pest Control

computer virus graphic

Recently one of our clients had their websites hacked.  This was a very stressful experience for everyone involved. As part of our website development process, we load a software on our client websites to alert us if a suspicious file has been identified, however this infection was already widespread before we had time to react.

 

We moved quickly to find the infected files and remove them, however once we got that site cleaned up, the infection had hopped to another site hosted in the same directory. We cleaned up the second site and then, to our amazement, discovered that a third site had been affected before we were finally able to put a stop to it. Thankfully we then stopped the spread before any of their other 4 websites were infected.

 

Once we had the infection under control, we brought in our security experts to do a thorough clean of all the files, find the infection source, and remove any “backdoors” that may have been installed.  The final piece of our clean-up was changing all user passwords, notifying Google that the site was clean, and having all users run scans to ensure that no malware remained on their computers that could cause future infections.

 

The culprit in these security breaches is often as simple as your website requiring a theme or plugin update. The damage, however, can be catastrophic.  Besides having your website down with a big red screen saying “SITE INFECTION” – a major turn off to your clients, if your core website files are ruined during an infection – you can potentially lose your entire website. This is why having a website backup is so important! Another major issue is that Google doesn’t like infected websites, which can have a major impact on your SEO. Finally, of course, is the issue of cost associated with a website infection. There are costs for cleaning the infected files, hiring security experts, re-building your website should core elements be lost, and of course the opportunity cost of any lost business while your website is down, all of which can quickly and easily lead to having to spend thousands of dollars or more to get back on track.

 

Malware developers are constantly trying to find ways to infiltrate people’s websites…so plugin and theme developers are constantly working on improving their products in order to keep them out. This is why it’s so important to install website updates from the plugin and/or theme developers, especially anything security-related, as soon as possible.

 

We take website security very seriously and we continue to take additional precautions internally to do our utmost to protect the security of our client’s websites. While we cannot guarantee that a website hack won’t happen to you, we can offer solutions to minimize risk.

End of Summer Sale!

Project House web sale

It’s Web Design Christmas!! Our Project House End of Summer Sale is starting. Get 15% off our your new site or 3 months of web maintenance for FREE!

Read more

Project Spotlight: Uegama Architecture

Uegama Architecture Website

 

Web design, brand identity and business stationery? Lots of fun! This month’s project spotlight focuses on our friend and client, Jen Uegama and her business, Uegama Architecture. We worked with Uegama Architecture to create new branding, business stationery and a website for their company. Uegama Architecture specializes in creating custom architectural solutions for residential and commercial projects. Client-centred design is a core tenet of the Uegama Architecture brand and Uegama Architecture’s participation focused design approach was evident in our process. Having worked with Jen on projects before we knew her collaborative style would allow us to create branding that felt true to her and her business.

We created a logo to be used across online and print collateral. This logo was used for business stationery (including a business card), an email signature and a new website. Uegama Architecture’s website reflects their preferred design style – clean and simple.

Uegama Architecture Business Cards

Our goal was to create branding that reflected the Uegama Architecture brand while still providing a site that was functional and recognizable. Having an easy to navigate site will allow an increase of traffic and attract more potential customers. We created a layout that was intuitive and user-friendly, with splashes of bright orange and pictures of Uegama Architecture’s work. The site is personal, yet professional.

Are you looking for a brand refresh but still want to keep it true-to-you? Send us an email at hello(at)projecthouse.ca and lets chat about how we can develop YOU and YOUR brand.

The Point of No Return

Etch-a-sketch day got us thinking about the point of no return when working on a project.

This week was Etch-a Sketch Day…do you remember those?  While we posted that as a fun little “throw back” to the toy, we got to thinking about the idea of working on something really hard and then having to wipe it clean, and how that might actually relate to our business! While much of what we do and the projects we work on certainly have much more permanence than the artwork on an Etch-a-Sketch, the idea of starting something and having the ability to wipe it clean is quite refreshing. How practical is that though? Is there a point of no return? If a project is not going the way you want or isn’t going to result in the desired outcome, is it realistic to “shake things up” and just start fresh?

 

This question brings to mind a project that we worked on earlier this year, which was a branding and website project for a new company. We went through our discovery phase where we asked all the relevant questions about client needs, target market + demographics, marketing objectives, etc. Once we received approval of our mockups for the client’s new materials and website, we began site development work.  About a week or so into the project, the client had a significant change of heart and asked us to redesign the logo and website again –  the bottom line was that the design we had been working on was not a fit with who they were as a company. The client had always felt a little bit conflicted about their new brand and struggled (as many companies do) to identify their target market, as well as how to best present themselves to potential clients. This had all come bubbling up in a variety of ways.  With the company now “open for business,” there was a pressing need to get the site up and running as quickly as possible, and with new and prospective clients coming through their door, they had realized that the target market they had imagined they were trying to reach no longer made sense. This meant that the edgy, modern vibe we had been going for no longer seemed appropriate.

 

The project came to a halt, and we went back to the drawing board, presenting a variety of new ideas to our clients to help them really dive into what they were looking for, and we ended up landing on an entirely new brand and web design. While this was a potentially frustrating process for everyone, as hours and hours of work had already gone into the original design and website development… we ended up with a design that is far, far better, meets their true needs and company vision, and represents their brand more harmoniously than the previous version.

 

Did this restart take more time? Absolutely! Did it cost more money… Yes it did:   double the design time and double the efforts does cost more money. Was it worth it in the end?? Without question! I have no doubt in my mind that pulling the plug and starting over was the right course of action, and our client wholeheartedly agrees.

 

The question that I’ve been mulling over, however, is this:  at what point would it have been too late…or is there ever such a thing? I suppose if we had launched the website, designed marketing brochures, and printed business cards, that would have probably been too late – pulling the plug at that stage is confusing for clients and customers, can be perceived as a lack of organization and professionalism, and so on.  Once you present your brand to the world it’s pretty hard to go back a month later and launch something altogether different. That being said, if something just doesn’t work, no matter what stage, is it better to just shake the canvas clean and start over?

 

As with any major decision like this, there are always a multitude of factors that need to be weighed and reviewed, such as:

1. Time of course is an obvious one – sometimes you just have to get the job done and you have a schedule to meet, so “good enough” might just have to be acceptable.

2. Costs are most certainly a factor. If you’ve already budgeted for what you can afford, and have invested a whole bunch of money into a project, sometimes you just don’t have the option to stop and start all over again and incur new fees .

Once you order custom furniture and it’s on its way, you can’t send it back. If there are mistakes, or if the client has a change of heart, it can mean having to get rid of one set of expensive furniture and reordering new pieces, which can be an extraordinary cost.  If you’ve signed a contract for a new piece of software and you are locked in for 2 years, you may not be able to walk away from that investment. In addition to the hard costs initially, if we just run with this software example above, future costs and operating costs also need to be considered. If your current solution will lead to wasted hours and hours of additional resources, then perhaps in the long run it’s better to cut your losses now. It’s good to run the numbers for a few potential scenarios ahead of time, in order to make sure you are making a sound decision.

3. Importance and priority should certainly be a factor in deciding whether to start over again or not. I am inherently a perfectionist, so for me most of the time “good” just doesn’t cut it. That being said, there are projects where you just don’t have the ability (or time, money, staff) to start all over again and you need to see your idea through. You might not think it’s perfect, but how important is this particular item, and how important is the distance between “good” and “great”? Does it warrant the necessary time, energy, or resources that it will take to start again from scratch? Is your current solution good enough and will it get the job done and not cause undue hardship for anyone? If yes, then maybe it’s best to leave it alone.

 

So in the end, while the idea of just shaking that etch-a-sketch and starting fresh is certainly appealing, and is absolutely warranted in some cases, be sure to “think before you shake”…lol!   Do this by factoring costs, time, and importance into your decision. Talk to your colleagues and get their opinion; maybe you are missing a piece of the puzzle. Run your numbers, look at your business goals, ask your clients or customers.  And trust your gut.  After all is said and done, however, don’t be afraid to start something over. If your gut is telling you that something isn’t right and that in the long run you are going to have to spend more time and energy to dig yourself out after taking the wrong road, then pull the plug, wipe the slate clean, and start a new sketch!

Celebrating on Social Media

Did you know that next month is National Salad Month AND National Burger Month? Or that Duran Duran Appreciation Day is August 10th?

Celebrating fun holidays on social media can help your business show some personality and create content to be shared across all social media platforms.

At Project House, we try to celebrate a few holidays every month that reflect us as a team. Since January, we have celebrated a number of holidays, including Drink Wine Day (pretty much our Christmas), Dress Your Pet Day and yesterday we celebrated Tell A Story Day.

 

National Hug Day January 21

National Hug Day – January 21

 

Duran Duran appreciation day august 10

Duran Duran Appreciation Day – August 10

 

Dress Your Pet Day January 14

Dress Your Pet Day – January 14

 

Beyond just the funny holidays, we also share best wishes on the usual days – Christmas, BC Day, Halloween and more. Creating custom posts is a great way to show off your brand and create more original content to share on social media.

 

Christmas tree december 25

Christmas – December 25

 

BC Day British Columbia August 1

British Columbia Day – August 1

 

Halloween haunted house

Halloween – October 31

If you are looking for a way to celebrate holidays and show off your brand, let us know! We can work with you to create custom holiday posts for all of your social media platforms. Connect with us on social media and see more posts – @ProjectHouseBiz on Twitter, @ProjectHouseBiz on Instagram and Project House on Facebook!

Client Spotlight: Birdseye Office Inc.

Birdseye office inc web design layout

S.E.O, web design, brand identity, oh my! Our project spotlight this month is on our good friends over at Birdseye Office Inc. who asked for our help with all three of these services. Birdseye sells commercial grade furniture, built and designed to stand the test of time in a busy office environment, with over 97% of it made right here in Canada. We have worked with Birdseye on space planning projects for our clients in the past, and because of this partnership we have seen first hand what Birdseye is capable of. We trust Birdseye with our projects; so imagine our delight when we were given the opportunity to work on a project for them. Read more

Client Spotlight: Connect Family Law

connect-mockup

Branding, web design and web development are some of the projects we most love to dig into! This month’s spotlight is on Connect Family Law, a Vancouver-based boutique family law firm. Connect approached us with the task of designing a corporate identity and website that would set them apart from average law firm branding, allow them to resonate with their desired clients, and reflect their extensive expertise in all areas of family law. Read more