Willoughby’s New Web Look

willoughby

While many people think of Word Wizards, Inc. as just a transcription and post-production company, we also have a very accomplished graphic design and website wing that’s responsible for some very impressive work around the web. Our latest project had us working with the The Willoughby of Chevy Chase Condominium and designing a brand new totally re-designed website for them. The Willoughby is a large luxury condominium apartment complex near the Friendship Heights Metro. The attractive and sophisticated new website design shares information about the building with the public, such as a list of amenities, services, local neighborhood information, floor plans of apartments, and an extensive photo gallery.

Aimed at Residents

screenshot of the Residents Home Page

The most important goal of the site makeover was to facilitate The Willoughby residents’ requests for building services and their interactions with building management. Residents can login to an exclusive residents-only section of the site. Here they can fill out forms for various needs, including creating a work order request for building services, updating their resident records, registering a vehicle, and even renting The Willoughby Party Room for a special occasion. Other exclusive special features include The Willoughby calendar, building announcements, important documents with emergency procedures and bylaws, and a monthly newsletter.

The new Willoughby website works in conjunction with a building database management system by All-PC Applications LLC . The joint efforts of Word Wizards, Inc. and All-PC Applications created an easy transition for Willoughby management between the new online data collection and the existing database management system.

Other Word Wizard’s Web Work

This lastest project joins a list of other web work we’ve done over the past decade. Some other projects include website design and work for organizations such as the Hollywood Ballroom Dance Center in Silver Spring,  International Green Energy, and Air Stream Air Conditioning Corp. Our team at Word Wizards Inc. starts each perspective web job by talking with the client to find out exactly what they want from their website and ensure everyone is on the same page. We then create a customized website for the client, one that will set that company or organization apart from the pack to make them truly stand out. Since our team has over 30 years of experience in the design realm, they are comfortable working with a wide range of budgets and industries.




How Not To Promote Your Work in the Digital and Social Media Realm

images

 

In making any kind of media, there are two main stages. The first is actually making the thing which involves pre-producton, shooting it and then having it transcribed and put into post production. That’s where Word Wizards comes in, we’re happy to work with you on the transcription and conversion side. We want to make sure your work is the best it can be but the part that comes after is one that people just don’t think about as much as they should. That would be marketing and getting your work out there. This process has changed drastically thanks to facebook, youtube, twitter and the fast moving realm of social media. In the old days, you could just send it a few websites, put up a posting or two, send it to a few boards and you would not have to work on maintaining as much of an online persona. Boy howdy, has that gone the way of the dinosaurs, today you need to be constantly staying in touch with your audience and always reaching out or else just get left behind. Follow these steps to ensure that your audience stays small and your work unknown.

 

1. Not utilizing your social links: If you have twitter or facebook accounts, etc.. Do Not Let Them Lie Dormant. If you do this, not only is there no point in having, it also makes you like you just don’t care about communicating with your audience and are just too lazy to give a darn. You should be constantly putting new things on these sites at all times.

2. Never updating your site or blog: One of my biggest pet peeves is going to companies site and seeing that they haven’t updated it in several months or even, gasp, a year. Automatically this makes me think the company just is not paying attention or is very slow. Even if  you don’t have any big projects going on, put something up there almost daily even if it’s something as trivial as some new photo’s related to your work or blogging about news related to your industry.

3. Unwilling to take feedback: Don’t put you video’s or any of your work online if your not willing to take feedback or comments from visitors, even if its criticism. The entire point of a good website and social media in general is that you can actually get instantaneous communication and can interact with people in a way that no other mediums allow. So pay attention to that comment section since people are often giving constructive advice that may just improve the project your working on. In fact you should be asking for feedback when you publish anything online so you can get a good idea of what the industry thinks.

4. Having a negative attitude: While this one may sound silly, it’s quite vital to your site becoming popular and a place people want to visit. While  it’s fine to discuss serious issues people face, don’t dwell or focus on these issues. Yes, people may not agree with what you put on you’re site and can be vocal about it but do not let that drag you down. Not only is engaging them a waste of your time it, also makes you look bad, unprofessional and not some place people would want to visit. Try to maintain a more up beat tone or voice to your site and not get drawn into trivial arguments with trollish followers.

5. Not caring about relationships: Do not abuse or ignore your followers, if you want to get comments and feedback from those who visit your site. You need to respond to the messages or comments you get and try to do it fairly promptly. One of the highlights about social media in general is the fact you get to build these great relationships and can really give your company that human touch. If you can get a regular repertoire going with online visitors, that means repeat traffic to your site and more business as well!!! Do not just let those comments or questions pile you up, it makes people feel like they being ignored and will not want to come back to your site.

 

 

 

 




Getting Started in your Media Career

 

Ready set go

Last night at American Universities School of Communications,  several media professionals gathered with TIVA to give out

some very valuable information about how to get your foot in the media industry whether your a college student or a seasoned professional

looking to switch careers. The panelists included:

 

Jason Villemez, Production Assistant at PBS Newshour

http://www.linkedin.com/pub/jason-villemez/10/a27/594

Kristen Edgell, Marketing Assistant at National Geographic

http://www.linkedin.com/pub/kristen-edgell/31/13b/b88

Laura Mateus, Campus Recruiter at Discovery Communications

http://www.zoominfo.com/#!search/profile/person?personId=1770693696&targetid=profile

Julia Beyer, Career Advisor for SOC Students

http://www.american.edu/profiles/staff/juliab.cfm

 

A variety of issues were discussed which included networking, resumes,

social media and linkedin, age and experience, reaching out and internships.

 

 

  • Networking, As Kristen pointed out networking is very much the name of the game. She very smartly made time to talk to every person she worked with, grabbing a cup of coffee and picking their brains. After these meetings she would inquire about other contacts that person might have that would be a good fit for her to talk to and then sought out those individuals. Another point that all the panelists agreed on was the value of a mentor and really getting to know an individual who will work with you and even advocate on your behalf.  Also, its key to stay in touch with those connections you make and to stay on their radar. They might be looking to fill a spot in an afternoon and if you stay fresh on their radar, you may just be getting that call.

 

  • Internships, the panel unanimously agreed that having at least one internship college is a great way to get some real world work skills outside of the classroom. Make sure that you really assert yourself in the role trying to learn as much as possible about the work your doing and present yourself well. Employers and companies respond well to someone who is eager to learn and want additional responsibilities instead of that person who’s just waiting to go. Many internships are now paying but even those that aren’t are still a valuable way for people to focus on their interests by getting to practice them in an adult setting.

 

  • Social Media, Obviously this is a huge facet of the media and business worlds and will only continue to grow. The best social media to present in terms of professionalism is Linkedin. The panelists all agreed that not only is it the preferred way to present yourself to new business contacts, its a great way to scout out potential employers and new relationships as well. A surprising note came from Laura who pointed that just because someone’s young and of the “plugged in” generation, that’s not a guarantee that they themselves are tech savvy or fluent in the art of social media. Twitter and facebook are also good venues to reach out to contacts, just be weary of  what they may see when they look at your profile. It’s smart to put your website and social media links under the header of your resume to show just how connected and tech able you are.

 

  • Resumes, one of the most important topics discussed was resumes and presentation. As Julia reminded everyone,  the basic look for a resume should be a header with your name, address, contact info and any links to your website or social media. This should be followed by education and most recent or appropriate work depending on the job your applying for. After this should come other work experiences and then your skills.  Unless you have more than ten years experience in the field, resume length should be one page. Grammar, punctation and spelling are also key since many people overlook these and will send resumes carelessly riddled with such mistakes. Also don’t put things that aren’t true, if your not familiar with software or a technical skill don’t put it on your resume. You may be questioned about it during your interview and not knowing anything will immediately make you look unprofessional.

 

  • Age and Media as a second career, Jason pointed out that in his position as a production assistant, one of his duties is to review candidates for internships and job openings. While there are the typical college students and recent graduates in that mix, Jason is also seeing lots of people in their late 20’s, 30’s and some who are doctors or lawyers looking to switch careers and that’s not a bad thing. Jason, who himself started in his job at the age of 27, says age is not an issue and what really matters is the desire to work your way up from the bottom. As long as the drive, willingness to learn, punctuality and professionalism are present, than people will notice your hard work and take you very seriously.

 

 

A huge thank you to the School of Communications for hosting this event and to TIVA for holding it.
SOC
TIVA
Further highlights of the event will soon be up on TIVA’s website at http://www.tivadc.org/



Website Design – Developing The Back End

The back end is a mysterious and dangerous place. Well, only if you don’t know the landscape or the language. Doing work on the back end of a website without proper training can feel like traveling to a new country without a guide or translator. Things may look familiar, but you don’t know where your going, nothing makes sense, and you can get into trouble very quickly. That’s exactly why companies like ours have highly skilled web developers. When free cookie cutter templates won’t cut it, real back end developers are the only ones who can connect the zeros and ones in just the right way.
The virtual city-scape from Tron Legacy.

 

E-Commerce Systems: A Tale of User Experience

Back end functionality can take a website from average, to exceptional, if implemented correctly. Often, people try to set up e-commerce systems on their own. Just as often, this leads to a nightmare for their online business and their web team. With e-commerce, you MUST get it right, the first time. Internet users are particularly notorious for identifying bad systems, finding seemingly unnoticeable problems, and forming long lasting opinions based on very short experiences. The buzz word in the world of e-commerce right now is User Experience! Anyone can read tutorials online and set up basic back end systems, but it takes a highly trained web developer to integrate e-commerce systems fluidly into a website’s overall user experience, and that why we are here!

An "e" in a basket, just a visual metaphor for e-commerce.

Back End Basics: Payment and Data Collection

We are often surprised about how little consumers generally know about the difficulties behind back end website programming. In an age of PayPal, Constant Contact, and Hub Spot, all of this simple back end stuff should be easy right? WRONG!

Payment Integration – Setting up online payment capabilities for your website is not simple as 1,2,3. Sure you can make a basic “Buy It Now” button using PayPal for practically nothing, but as I mentioned above, seamless integration with the user experience of your website is not as easy as one would think. More importantly, if you want tracking of orders, special criteria, dynamic calculations, itemized sales capabilities or anything else of that nature, your talking about back end development. People who try to do this without the proper training end up wasting a lot of time, and even worse, can loose customers from a batched e-payment system. Nothing turns off a client more that a scary error or misstep during the online payment process. Get it right, or people will run for the hills and call your website a scam.

Data Collection – Keeping track of data collected online is one of the most amazing things about the modern internet. Simple lists and tables are not too complicated, but the more information you start collecting, the more complex the system on the back end must be. Once you start to collect data of a complicated nature, back end development is a must. Remember, the point of all of this digital hulabaloo is to make things easier and efficient, not to cause confusion or hassles. Once again its the back end developers to the rescue. Never trust someone to collect, store, and organize data from an online system unless they know what they’re doing.

Classic scene from Jurassic Park - Newman Takes Control of The System
Never let this guy have your administrator’s password.  Jurassic Park

Advanced Back End Systems: A Labyrinth of Code

When it comes to modern e-commerce, things are getting really cool, and really confusing. It takes a special type of mind to design, develop, and maintain a complicated back end system. For example, we had a client that wanted a calendar widget for their website. Most of the features they wanted come right out of the box in a free plug-in. However, the client wanted some very special scheduling and e-commerce capabilities for this calendar. Their only hope was our back end development expert. The simple fact is that their is a X/Y spectrum of customization and complexity. The more customized a client wishes their website to be, the more complicated the system will become. (Thanks captain obvious…)

A big green labyrinth of hedges

The point I have been trying to make is that when it comes to web development, there are many options out there. More importantly, when it comes to delivering a customized, seamless, and intuitive user experience, the old adage holds true, “You get what you pay for!”

Make sure to leave us a comment if you want to share anything. Also, don’t forget to sign up for our newsletter for more interesting articles like this one. Our website development team is standing by and ready to help you get you back end in order, so give us a call today!




New Website Launch – WordWizardsInc.com Gets a Facelift

Just about a year ago, we launched a completely new design for our website. Our website development team decided to take wordwizardsinc.com and spice it up a bit,  focusing on ease of use, cleanliness, and simple functionality. Most of the structure and features are the same, but this time, our graphics design team has perfected the colors, graphic elements, fonts, and other visual aspect to deliver a much improved facelift.

The Old Word Wizards Website
The Old Word Wizards Website

Contrast and Color

The Site as of November 2011
WWInc.com 2.0 (November 2011)

One of our objectives since we launched wwinc.com 2.0, was to deliver our content with a bit more pop, while improving the overall contrast of background, text, and visual elements. What we came up with is nothing short of, well, sexy. Our lead designer, Andy LaGow, has over 30 years of experience with graphic design for professional media, in both the print and digital medium. We gave him the task of choosing the right mix of visual elements to deliver our content more clearly, while enabling us to call attention to any element of critical importance to improve the overall flow of our site.

Scribey’s Last Stand

Since our founding in 1982, we have use an etching of a 16th century scribe, lovingly known as “Old Scribey,” to represent our logo to the world. In WWInc.com 2.0 we x-rayed his colors in an attempt to give him some new life. At that time we liked it, but as we cleaned up our design we realized that the time had come for Old Scribey to end his exuberant mid-life crisis and return to his black and white roots. Contrast is the key! As you can see while browsing our site, or by the screenshot of the homepage below, this most recent iteration of our website is much more readable because of the contrast between background and text, with a splash of color in key areas for pop. Please leave a comment if you have anything to tell us about the new design, and remember, we can do one just as good for you too!

Word Wizards, Inc. New Website
WWINC.com Most Recent Website Version



Call Today for 20% Off Graphic Design Services!

Hello, my name is Ilana Gordon and I am the President and Creative Director at Word Wizards, Inc. Our company has been producing professional quality print and digital-media design for over 30 years. We are located in Silver Spring, Maryland and serve many government and private-sector clients in the DC metro area and beyond. The following is a short list of some of our specialties that we feel may fit the needs of your organization.

Print Media

Magazines
Brochures
Corporate reports and internal documents
Logos and “brand specific” printed materials
Conference collateral

Digital Media

eBooks/ePubs
Website design
Online marketing materials
Newsletters/eZines
Internet advertisements

Word Wizards is currently offering a 20% discount off of our normal hourly rate of $70/hr on all design services. We invite you to take a look at our online portfolio to review some examples of our work.

Please contact me directly or give our team a call if you are interested in discussing your next graphic design project. Thank you for your time and have a great day.

Best Regards,
Ilana Gordon
President, Creative Director
Word Wizards, Inc.
8555 16th Street, Suite 711
Silver Spring, MD 20910
301-986-0808
wordwizardsinc.com/design

* This offer expires November 15, 2012, so call today!

 




CloudScript: The Future of Transcription Workflow

Word Wizards is proud to present our newest service, CloudScript!

Over 30 years of working in the media transcription industry has provided our team with rare and valuable insight into how and why people need our transcription services. We have noticed an important trend in the past few years, the name of the game these days is speed, convenience, and price. Production teams must to be able to work faster, more efficiently, and at lower operating costs than ever before to survive. Well, we have designed CloudScript to answer the call for a new solution.

Stated simply, CloudScript lets you click on any time code in your transcript and jump to that point in the audio or video file. Using a simple online form you can instantly convert any transcript with time code into a “media-synced” transcript. CloudScript is intended to make your workflow easier while writing, editing, producing or otherwise working with transcripts.

Watch our short video below for a quick demonstration!

Visit the CloudScript Home Page and Sign Up for your free trial Today!

 




Hollywood Ballroom Dance Center: New Custom Calendar

One of our favorite web clients, the Hollywood Ballroom Dance Center, LLC, has become very creative with the WordPress Ajax Event Calendar plugin.  This plugin is beautifully written and allows detailed entry of color-coded events.  It allows links, images, and maps in the event detail, which show in a modal window.   But because the Hollywood Ballroom Dance Center’s calendar is jam-packed, they needed an adjustment for their clientele.

 

Test Link

Hollywood Ballroom Dance Center using Ajax Event Calendar
hollywoodballroomDC.com uses Ajax Event Calendar

There is always something happening at the Hollywood Ballroom Dance Center.  On any particular day, the calendar may have six or seven entries.  That means that their calendar extends far down on the web page.   And when you are in the middle of the calendar, it’s easy to lose track of where you are.

To improve their user experience, Hollywood Ballroom Dance Center has created a header category to show the day of the week as well as the day number. We suppressed the date numbers that would show in the grid by default to avoid redundancy.  The result is a kinder cleaner experience for their dancers.

Take a glace at this Ajax Event Calendar.  With the color-coded categories, the extensive detail available for each event, and the clarity of presentation, the calendar is working well for the  Hollywood Ballroom Dance Center.  And their customers are so pleased they are doing the happy dance.

 




Graphic Design For The Web: Bridging The Gap

Graphic design has been a specialty of Word Wizards, Inc. since day one. Before we even had our own office, we were offering professional desktop publishing and graphics design for clients. Our team of graphic designers are experts in the latest graphic design technology. As the tools of graphic design have evolved, so has the pool of competition in the graphics design industry. With the dawn of the internet age, finding a good graphics artist is easier than ever, and the fine line between graphic designer and web designer is blurring.

Word Wizards Inc Home Page

Graphics for the Web

Composing graphics for the web is an entirely different animal than traditional graphics design. Graphic design for websites must covey a specific message to a non-specific audience. The balance between quality, detail and data size is always an issue, especially with page speed as a critical factor in modern SEO ratings. Graphic images must be tested for clarity and color in multiple browsers due to discrepancies in the way different software displays images. Possibly the most important factor is the layout and optimization constraints of a website, meaning, the way one organizes graphic information on the web makes all the difference when users are navigating through a website.

A synthesis between graphic arts and web design.
Click to see an example of the perfect fusion between graphic design and web design.

Bridge The Gap

With progress comes new challenges and new opportunities. The world of graphic design and web design is now forever intertwined. It is up to firms like ours to maintain the highest level of quality in our graphic design efforts as the capabilities of design software and the expectations of our clients continue to increase in complexity. Just remember, you always get what you pay for, especially when it comes to graphics. Yes, graphic designers and web designers are now overly common services offered cheaply and globally via the internet. However, an intimate knowledge of how to integrate graphic elements on the web only comes from years of experience and a deep understanding of how users work with the internet.




New Website Launch: Hollywood Ballroom Dance Center

The Word Wizards website design team proudly launched http://hollywoodballroomDC.com/ last week.

Screenshot taken from Hollywood Ballroom Dance Center website designed by Word Wizards, Inc.

Nothing is more satisfying to our team of web developers than the launch of a new website. Just as with our graphic design services, our website design efforts are original and customized each time. Translating business objectives into a functional, optimized, and graphically organized website is a unique challenge each time. It requires a meticulous attention to detail and the requirements of the client. It further requires our web developers to think outside the box and come up with effective solutions to seemingly impossible problems.

Some of the web design challenges we faced and overcame in this project include:

  • Organizing a website with many different components
  • Creating an easy to use navigation bar without sacrificing design or functionality
  • Designing stimulating graphics that convey the message intended by the client
  • Coding of advanced custom features, i.e. a calendar that can be easily modified, and a side bar that “floats”
  • Making sure the website functions properly on several different browsers

Word Wizards would like to congratulate our client on the successful new launch of this website. We invite you to explore this web page as an example of our extensive capabilities as a website development firm. If you reside in the DC metro area and you would like to learn how to dance, or rent a big space to host an event, we strongly recommend that you stop by The Hollywood Ballroom Dance Center and take a look around.




Web Design: There’s No I in Team

Web design in its various forms has become big business around the world. From the most basic amateur pages to complex multilevel corporate projects, producing a website always depends on the resources, requirements, and time constraints of the individual. The lower end web design projects are moving increasingly towards automatic content management systems; where users can pick a template, customize and in a very short time create a functional website. At Word Wizards we focus more on custom solutions for our clients, nothing we do here is “cookie cutter” and each project we take on results in a professional quality, fully integrated, web solution.

Sounds cool, right?… But what does it take to design and implement a professional grade website? It takes a team effort, and specifically, it requires a team of unique individuals, each with their own expertise in various aspects of web design. We have noticed that there are usually three “gurus” required to make a web design project effective. These three flavors of design experts each focus on a different critical aspect of the web design process, and work together to ensure that the three top priorities of website development are handled with expert care.

The three main things to manage when creating a new website are, functionality, appearance, and implementation. Functionality is responsible for making sure that the structural design effectively satisfies the intended function of the website and creates an effective, non-confusing user experience. Appearance takes structure and functional organization and translates it into a graphic design that is visually appealing to the users and consistent with the brand and intended purpose of the client. Implementation is the back-end guts of the website; which includes all the coding, hosting, domain support, CMS workflow, and database support.

The Functional Expert

Generally, this is a person who really understands the way individuals use the internet for different purposes. This individual is responsible for creating a structure that provides easy access to all the important information. In addition, this web expert must understand and manage the constraints of SEO and weave them into the fabric of the page from the beginning. Possibly the most important role of the functional web designer is the creation of a user friendly workflow, providing a user experience that works for the intended purpose of the website and doesn’t confuse any less than savvy internet users.

The Appearance Expert

To transform conceptual structure and theoretical workflow into visual form takes the expertise of a master graphic designer. This expert must know how to utilize advanced graphic design software and create visual components from scratch that will be used to create the physical appearance of a web page. It is the responsibility of this person to come up with an exciting and effective visual experience for the users, making sure that everything is in plain sight, and being creative with the way everything will look, while still maintaining functional integrity.

The Implementation Expert

Sometimes known as the “webmaster” or, in our office, “the code warrior!” This individual is gifted with an intimate knowledge of the ever evolving world of programming languages. The functional and visual elements of a website are mute if you can not host it, integrate it, and keep it working smoothly. When designing a new website, this person holds the reigns, because all of the work your team produces will reflect their level of talent and proficiency. It is this person’s responsibility to put your plans into action, keep the web page updated, and hard code any interactive or data driven elements into a functional machine known as a web page.

Thus, we have created a trifecta of experts, but there is still one person missing from the team…

The beloved SUPERVISOR. Yes, its is the supervisor that truly brings it all together. This person doesn’t need to be an expert at any one function, but the they must have a working knowledge of all of components of the website and coordinate between the various members of the design team. This person is responsible for organization, cross coordination, and managing the needs of the client as reflected by the design and capabilities of the team.

So now you know what it takes, and if you don’t think you can squeeze it all by yourself, the Word Wizards Web Design Team is here to give you a helping hand!




Word Wizards Inc: New Website Launch

After over a year of development, Word Wizards Inc. is prepared to launch our brand new website. 100% of this website has been developed in-house by our highly skilled web design team. New design, new content, and new services are just some of the highlights of this important step for our organization’s future. We invite our clients and interested readers to explore our site and let us know what you think.

 


After!

 

Enjoy, and remember, we can do the same for your business too!