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Web Design: A Jack of all Trades?

So we’re nearly a month into 2011 and about time I posted my first blog of the year. As the year arrived, one made resolutions to break and, in the process, thoughts of previous resolution failures/successes come back to mind.

One aspect that every year this author makes [apart from maybe competing in the l'Étape], is a list of various web design aspects to learn, handpicked from the maze of new technologies/applications out there. I won’t list these as only my dog and I discuss this [the only one that listens]. But yes, 2011 has been no different in that the list contains a variety of new applications to learn and divulge into the working day.

All are new hurdles to conquer. But one thing that I found myself asking over the past six months and again with the turning of the new year, is, will web design as a profession become specialised?

As a web designer, we continually vie with many roles and tasks. What used to be just HTML, CSS and designing static brochure sites for the world wide web [on desktops] has now extended to designing web-enabled solutions for mobile devices, web apps, rich internet application (RIA) interfaces, content management systems (CMS) and much more. Our task is to produce compatible designs that carry a website’s brand across all platforms and situations, establishing a company’s brand whether it’s being viewed on an Android smartphone, iPad or the plain old desktop monitor.

So in 2011 will we need to distribute these duties so that we can specialise and exceed in definite area? In the future, there will be greater configuration of the role of web designer. Right now a web designer can be a jack of all trades, ranging from the traditional website designer, to multimedia design, to apps and mobile apps, to social media producer -  all congregated under the same umbrella.

Just as the profession of being a doctor and the field of medicine are branched out into sub-fields such as pharmacology or pediatrics, we may see a similar division in the field of web design, an evolution of this sector.

To me, specialisation roles such as mobile web design, CMS design (such as WordPress/Drupal/Joomla) and RIA design (specifically for social medias) will become a reality and be in demand as we move forward in 2011.

Business Networking : Is it a waste of time?

Let’s be honest, when we join any business networking group we ultimately have selfish motivations at heart . . . we want people to give us work because we think we are great, but on the other hand we never want to give anything back!

I can honestly say that around six or seven months ago that was my game plan. To say that I have changed my mindset somewhat over the last couple of months would be an understatement. Back in July of 2010 we rebranded and I thought what better way to get the new identity out there, but to head along to some of these events and pick up a bit of business. Funny thing was, the very first event I headed to I actually managed to get two new customers . . . worst thing that could have happened to me! My ego went sky high and I thought this networking lark is easy. I would stand there holding court talking away to my hearts content about all the brilliant things we were doing. The funny thing was I started to realise that my circle of interested people began to get smaller.

Luckily for me I was guided towards the Dublin Chamber of Commerce by a colleague who raved about the events that they ran. Using my LinkedIn profile, which had now grown expodontially due to handing out business cards like there was no tomorrow, I managed to track down a chap called Donal Milton who kindly invited me along to one of the events. With my trustee batch of cards in hand, I headed to an event in the O2 Arena for my first Dublin Chamber event. Hence my education began . . .

So, is business networking a waste of time?
In my opinion the answer to that depends really on what you want to get from it! But in my case I can honestly say ‘No, it is not!’ but it is also fair to say that I have changed my opinion about what I want to get out of them! So what did I take from them so far:

  • I have learned how to listen to other people and about their businesses
  • This has in some way helped us shape some of our service offerings
  • I am no longer intimidated by large crowds of people I don’t know
  • I have learnt how to break in and out of groups of people politely
  • I am more informed about the business community as a whole
  • Public speaking, while still daunting, is a lot easier
  • I have learned how to get up at the crack of dawn a couple of days a week

So with that in mind what do I want to gain from the events I attend this year? Lets be honest, one still wants business, but I am a lot happier with my new approach. At a recent event I returned having only given out three business cards, yet I spoke to in excess of twenty people. I now find myself in a position of relationship building and whilst I may not be able to do something for fellow members, I have no doubt that, in time we will be working on their referrals. For anybody who ever saw the film Pay it Forward then it is of a similar ilk but in a business context.

As a final thank you to some of the individuals who have enlightened me en route to fame and fortune, I would like to give them a quick mention:

Thanks guys!!

lets focus on the positives

Ireland Inc. will live on and why?

Because of its people . . . It is not going to be the bankers, politicians or semi-state bodies that are going to lift us out of the current position that we find ourselves in!! It will be the likes of you and me . . . the people with the passion and the determination to strive, achieve and move forward. I believe that this is the age of the social revolution where if you hit the right chord anything is possible and it can be instant.

For too long now we have been going around with a doom and gloom attitude and we need to shake free and evolve from the rut we are in and realise all the good we are doing and focus on the positives so we can achieve even greater heights.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eA6iBKc0O0E&w=620&h=373]

bank of ireland : business enterprise week

A whole new world was opened up to both Noel and myself yesterday afternoon as we were guests in the Bank of Ireland, Marino for the Business Enterprise Week. Basically it’s as simple as this: If you are an SME and have a product you need to sell to the market place, well then the bank is opening up its doors to you to let you meet and greet the footfall that come into the premises within a given timeframe. Oh boy! did we meet some colourful characters, from the salivating child (which was basically every child who entered the bank and saw our little pot of lolly’s) to the intrepid traveller who thrilled us with his exploits to the four corners of the world. Before you ask the question – yes, somewhere in the middle was the mix of local businessmen and woman going about their weekly banking duties.

So, what was our pitch, Free Lolly’s . . . not quite, but everybody admitted they were a nice touch. Plain and simple we just asked a question “Does your website work for you?”. Too many companies have (or in some cases as we found out, have not) a presence on the web, but is a presence good enough in todays market coupled with the fence that everybody seems to be sitting on when it comes to the topic of social media and how it might work for them?

Basically, in our opinion, it’s not good enough to have a website or a facebook account if you cannot manage or find out if you are gleaming any benefit from it. If you are going to put time and effort into managing an online presence, and lets be honest that comes with a cost, then you need to know that you are getting more value back. That’s where we come in! Before we start any web project we drill down to find out exactly what you need and from this we can guarantee profitable results.

In conjunction with the bank we are now offering start up packs to new SME’s and working with existing, established companies to turn the online presence they have into real quantifiable cash.

Finally a thanks to the guys in the bank at Marino for letting us have the space for the afternoon to sell our wares! Pictured below along side our stand is Damien Osbourne, our business advisor in the bank.

 

Soup Week : Day Five & Results!

So the final day of Soup Week beckoned, with the baton for the last lap handed to our Gráinne. And she did not disappoint [apart from the mess in the kitchen]! Serving up a Thai Prawn Laksa, served with vine leaves, filled with risotto rice mint and citrus juice and lemongrass crackers.

Thai Prawn Laksa
150g of Udon noodles OR fine rice noodles
2 tbsp Groundnut oil
3 tbsp Thai Red Curry Paste
2.5 Tins of Coconut milk
6ooml Vegetable stock
2 tbsp Fish sauce
100g Mangetout, thinly sliced
50g bean sprouts
600g King Prawns
Mint, coriander & chili for flavour
Decorate with thinly sliced cucumber

Served with vine leaves (filled with risotto rice mint and citrus juice) and lemongrass crackers.

5 empty bowls. Well and truly hit the spot, warmed bellies all round.

Final results at the end of the week:
Gráinne – 37/40
Mick – 34.5/40
Noel – 34/40
Declan – 33.5/40
Alan – 29/40

A well deserved top spot for Gráinne. Congrats!

With the week of weather we’ve had, the daily soup dose has helped make the cold and wind a little more tolerable. Thoughts have again turned to another lunch week [maybe a pie/hotpot week], any ideas out there feel free to share.

Soup Week : Day Four

Creamy Seafood Chowder infused with garden herbs and a Lobster Bisque DONE!!

nom . . . nom . . . nom . . .

We couldn’t have picked a better week to have a soup week! With 140kmh winds expected during the day it was nice to cuddle into the snug for a tasty bowl of seafood chowder or two!!

If you want to get the full recipe for todays mighty feast then click here. Alternatively you can scan the QR Code below and it will bring you directly there.

 

Soup Week: Day Three

Its day 3 of our “Come Dine with me: Soup week” and it’s Mick’s turn on the saucepans. Mick has been in training for this contest since August 2010 when he took Gold at the evolve “Come Dine with me: Sandwich week”. Mick’s preparatory schedule has been a rigorous routine of whisking, chopping and blending 5 hours a day with an intensive herbs and spices workout twice a week.

It seems the hard work has paid off as Mick presented us with a delicious Chicken Ramen Udon Soup and Nutty bread (served with humus, caramelised onion and tomato dips) at bang on 1pm today. The broth was light and salty with a chili kick, the chicken and noodles were perfectly cooked and the veggies were delicious. The bread was the perfect accompaniment, the dips were a nice touch and there was plenty of requests for seconds too. Nice work Mick, you could retain your title yet!

If you would like to recreate Mick’s soup masterpiece, here are the ingredients;

2.5 litres chicken stock
5 chicken breasts
fresh root ginger
3 garlic cloves
8 spring onions
4 tbsp soy sauce
4 tbsp sake [or any other concoction in your drinks press]
1.5 tsp of sesame seed oil
450g udon noodles
4 small heads of pak choi
1 fresh chilli, seeded and sliced
60g beansprouts and ground black pepper
2 large carrots
6 large mushrooms

Soup Week: Day Two

Day two and Dr. Greene is up. After a lot of banging and clattering in the evolve kitchen, the gang are called out to the snug for the second day of soup delights.

Being particularly hungry on a miserable, wet and cold Tuesday, we are greeted by Noel’s ‘Spicy Beef and Noodle Soup’, accompanied by some ‘home-made’ Prawn Crackers and two generous slices of brown bread to soak it all up. With a nice spicy kick off the soup and just the right amount of noodles to fill some hungry bellies, Noel’s Asian speciality went down a treat and all that was left was a few prawn cracker crumbs and 5 empty bowls.

For those of you who want to try out Noel’s Asian delight:

Ingredients:
Roast Fillet of Beef
Beef Stock
Shallots
Peppers
Garlic
Root Ginger
Chili
Green Curry Paste
Soy Sauce
Fish Sauce
Peanut Oil
Vermicelli Noodles

Served with Prawn Crackers & Wholemeal Loaf. YUM!

Well done Noel, now get your darts out for a quick game !

Soup Week: Day One

Yes, evolve – the graphic design company with the insatiable appetite are back in the kitchen!  The evolve company culture as you can see is based on one of life’s great constants, food!  The epic Sandwich week back earlier this year is still regularly spoken about in the Snug due to the mystery 9 score? has kicked off again, with a new offering on the menu.

It’s cold and there’s a winter breeze in the air so it makes sense to put some of natures best in a bowl and serve it up good and hot! Spoons to the ready, It’s Soup week!

First up was Alan eager and ready to impress as always with a Sweet Potato and Chorizo Soup! Served up with the style and panache of high tea at the Ritz, shortly after and a little less civilized there were 5 empty bowls licked clean! First class Al, still have a little fire in the belly to get me through the afternoon!

For all you salivating out there, Alan (Big Al) unlike other great chef’s of this world has kindly shared his secret’s. For free home demonstrations contact Alan direct.

Big Al’s Sweet Potato & Chorizo Soup

Ingredients:

2 chicken stock
olive oil
2 large carrots, peeled
2 celery stalks, sliced evenly
2 medium onions, peeled and rough chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
1¾ pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and rough chopped
7 ounces chorizo sausage, sliced
small bunch fresh parsley, fine chopped
1 heaped teaspoon Madras curry powder
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 fresh red chili, fine diced

Chilli Brown Bread on the side to dunk into the soup !

oh! ambassador you do spoil us . . .

Dublin Chamber of Commerce : Business After Hours Event
Ambassador’s Residence, American Embassy, “Deerfield”, Phoenix Park

Last night I had the rare privilege of attending an event in none other than the American Ambassador’s residence up in the Phoenix Park. This Georgian mansion, which the Americans have used since 1927, has been redecorated several times . . . chandeliers have been restored, large mirrors placed over the fireplaces, security camera towers moved out of sight, rhododendrons blocking views of the house removed, and White House-style up-lighting has been installed. All in all it is a splendid show piece and a building everybody should see if they ever get a chance.

The event that brought me there in the first place was part of the Business After Hours events that are run by the Dublin Chamber of Commerce. While I have been to a lot of well organised and well run events for similar groupings I have to admit they really roll out the red carpet when it comes to clinching a prestigious venue. As with all the other events that the Dublin Chamber of Commerce have run for the Business After Hours the event began with a number of short brief introductions to fellow business colleagues where we spent an hour broken into slots of five minutes. Each introduction brings with it a variety of possibilities from an insight into other peoples businesses to developing potential sales or indeed finding somebody that can service a need for your own company. Generally not for the shy or faint hearted but once you get over the initial hump you really get into the idea.

The second half of the evening is a little more formal with a brief talk from the Chamber President, followed by Ambassador Daniel Rooney. A quick tour generally ensues while you get to chat more informally to the other attendees.

Sure what else would you be doing of a cold Wednesday evening . . .