Web Design and SEO Blog

Oct201628

Working With a Remote Designer

by Mira Brody in Design, Tools & Tips

Working with a remote designer.
A torrential downpour in the Pacific North West left our office down a designer today, despite the fact that our offices are in Bozeman, MT. His absence is one of the few challenges we sometimes experience with a remote employee, particularly one who lives on an Island-bound farm. It isn’t all bad. In fact, our office has found a variety of ways to make it a productive, positive experience and eliminate collaboration challenges. Here are a few ways we work with our designer digitally, so that even though physically he is a thousand miles due-west, it is often as though he is sitting at a desk in the room with us.

Open Skype connection — Because we are a small team, it is possible for us to keep a computer in the office with an open Skype connection with our designer in Washington. Website projects can be easily discussed by rolling our chairs around his screen. That way, we can talk through artwork as it is being created in front of us. It is also easy to pull his Skype connection over to our own computers for quick input.

Chat — Another great office communication device is a chat application, such as iMessage or Adium. Through chat, we can communicate small details quickly without interruption, no matter if the person is across the room, or in our case, across the country. If he is away from the computer, our remote employee also posts a message that includes the time of his return so we know when to expect him back at his desk.

Morning meetings — Our office holds a daily morning meeting, called Stand Up, a part of the Scrum process (learn more about productivity in web development with Scrum). This 15 minute meeting is especially helpful with a remote worker as we can check progress in congruence with the rest of the team.

Task management — Another attribute of Scrum is our use of Jira, a task management program which allows us to organize and view our progress as we complete websites. Having the team collaboration documented digitally helps us to keep track of individual employees’ work, even though working remotely.

In the end, it’s all about clear and immediate communication amongst team members, including those working remotely. Having a designer in a different state has not been a huge burden on our office because we’ve found ways to make it work.

Do you have an employee working remotely? If so, how has your business benefitted or adapted to the challenges that come with it?
Oct201626

Bozeman Airport Gets an Online Makeover

by Mira Brody in Announcements, Design, Development

Bozeman Airport gets new website.
We are excited to announce that we are once again working with the Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport to rebuild their website. A longtime client, we built their current website which has been serving travelers since 2007, but needs an update in both style and functionality.

The busiest airport in the state of Montana, Bozeman Airport’s website serves a variety of users: Gallatin Valley residents, tourists traveling to Yellowstone National Park, Big Sky and Bridger Bowl, students of Montana State University as well as airport employees and pilots in need of general aviation services. By designing a responsive website that organizes concession information, arrivals and departure information, weather reports, maps and a space specifically for general aviation, we can serve all of these groups well. Another important aspect of website building is making sure it reflects the character of the business. In the airport’s case, we feature imagery of commercial airplanes and the surrounding mountains.

We are looking forward to finishing their exciting new site.
Oct201624

JTech's Newest Designer

by Mira Brody in Announcements, Design

We are very excited to announce the addition of a new Graphic Designer to our team — Brooke Benson!

Brooke is a Montana State University graduate who comes to us with a background in print/advertising design from the Bozeman Daily Chronicle. Originally from Cando, North Dakota, she is happy to call Bozeman her home and eager to work with the JTech team to grow her skills. Brooke believes that, “while graphic design is an art, it’s also very analytical and it serves a function. It’s about solving your clients' problems in a meaningful, visual way.”

When she’s not designing websites, Brooke is out enjoying Bozeman’s beautiful landscape with her husband and their Corgi, Batman.
Oct201619

Liberty Portal — an information station for libertarians

by Mira Brody in Announcements, Design, Development

Liberty Portal is a brand-new website providing resources for libertarians, anarcho-capitalists and other free-market minded people. It will host a variety of articles, podcasts, videos and literature that explore the history, philosophy and free market economics of personal liberty. Our team of designers are going to build single-page scrolling website that will serve the needs of Liberty Portal’s visitors.

We are excited to work on such a unique project and produce a one-of-a-kind source for those interested in starting or continuing their education in libertarian values.
Oct201617

How to Engage Followers With Facebook Live

by Mira Brody in Industry News, Social Media, Tools & Tips

Facebook live for your business.
Earlier this year, Facebook launched a feature called Facebook Live, which allows users to post video in real-time to their newsfeed. Followers can then leave comments and reactions to the livestream as it plays, allowing for more timely conversation and immediate feedback. Mark Zuckerberg said of Facebook Live, “This is a big shift in how we communicate, and it’s going to create new opportunities for people to come together.”

Here are a few examples of ways businesses have successfully found a new marketing outlet through Facebook Live to engage more of their social media followers:
  • Famed Food Network chef, Alton Brown wows fans by posting what he claims to be “the first live cooking demo on Facebook” with 20 Second Scrambled Eggs. More entertaining than simply posting a text recipe, especially with Alton’s well-known antics, the 15-minute video got likes, shares and comments in the ten-thousands.
  • Bozeman, MT’s local news station uses the feature often to broadcast events around town, such as the opening day of a new bike path, a ribbon cutting ceremony for the city’s new solar panels, or funny behind-the-scenes moments with staff members. Without the studio, stage lights and teleprompter, these social media video clips make the news, and the people broadcasting it, more personable. Using Facebook Live at the scene of a fender bender can deliver news in a timely manner and engage newsfeed browsers more than a status update.
  • The Centennial celebration at Yellowstone National Park included a sold-out concert at the Roosevelt Arch. So more people at home could enjoy the festivities, the National Park service used Facebook Live to stream this historic event.
  • From NASA astronaut Scott Kelly to Presidential Debates to discussions about HBO’s newest show, Westworld, Q&A sessions have been hugely popular on Facebook Live, captivating people straight from their phones and computers. Streaming interviews straight on a user’s social newsfeed boosts viewership because they don’t have to schedule any time around it; they just view it as they’re browsing Facebook.
Hopefully this helps spark ideas about how your organization can utilize this new Facebook feature to your advantage! To learn more about Facebook Live, check out their interactive Live map, or talk to our marketing team to learning more about how you might put it to use.
Oct201614

Best on Board Online Training and Testing System — Completed!

by Mira Brody in Announcements, Design, Development

Best on Board
Best on Board
Our team recently completed work on an online education and testing system for longtime client, Montana Health Network, who recently acquired the organization Best on Board. Best on Board provides governance education, testing and certification to healthcare board members. Having recently completed the public-facing portion of the site, they hired us to build a new, custom training and testing system into the site as well to make for a seamless experience for users.

This new education and testing system includes video tutorials with concluding quizzes and a dashboard where users can view their progress and retake a quiz if needed. Quiz scores are stored for administration to determine if a user has earned their certification and a demo is available to allow new visitors a sneak-peak of courses.

We are pleased with how this project turned out and believe the site has a much improved experience for Best on Board’s many customers.
Oct201612

Tips for Small Business Hiring

by Mira Brody in Tools & Tips

Hiring tips for small businesses.
Choosing someone to add to your team is an important decision — especially for a small business. If you’re a team of nine, for example, that new person and the qualities they bring to the table will make up 10% of your office.

As we grow, making choices about finding the right people to add to our office here in Bozeman has been a topic on our minds. While hiring someone who is qualified and capable of the skill set at hand is important, here are three less-traditional qualities that we pay attention to when hiring.

Enthusiasm — There’s nothing worse than someone who hates what they do 40 hours a week. Having an office full of employees who actually enjoy what they do makes a huge difference, not only in overall attitude, but in the quality of the work they produce. People who love what they do, for the most part, are going to produce better quality work, which promises better return for everyone at the company. We look for people who are passionate about the subject for which they are applying.

Integrity — Although sometimes it might seem tempting to swoop up the candidate with the most skills on their resume, you should weigh these qualifications against their personal integrity. During the interview, we make an effort to get to know the potential employee on a personal level. Skills can be taught; integrity cannot.

Candor — Sometimes admitting you are unsure of something, rather than pretending, is the road take. We try and look for people are are willing to admit to a lack of knowledge or their mistakes, rather than trying to fabricate something.

Although there are many more attributes to look for when hiring, these skills are a great foundation for building a team who will work in cohesion for long-term success.
Oct201610

Talking out code…with a duck.

by Mira Brody in Development, Tools & Tips

Rubber Ducky, you're the one...
Rubber Ducky, you're the one...
In many instances, talking to yourself is portrayed as a sign of mental instability. In web development, however, it is considered a healthy daily exercise, better known as Rubber Ducking.

Rubber Ducking is a term coined by Andrew Hunt and David Thomas in their book The Pragmatic Programmer. It refers to a process in which a developer talks through their code out loud line by line in order to uncover a bug. Much like therapy, speaking aloud to someone — or in this case, something — can help you discover issues that were unapparent while trapped in your own head.

Here’s why it works so well:
Taking a step back — In order to explain something to an outsider, you have to take a step back and structure your understanding in more depth than if you go over it internally. You also have to properly identify your questions and clearly state them aloud.

Silent encouragement — In the case that you have access to a a live person, their silence allows your thoughts to continue uninterrupted and signs of encouragement, such as nodding, is helpful in moving the thinking process along.

Arriving at a conclusion — Having a silent listener, whether human or inanimate, allows you to arrive at solutions yourself, which helps with memory retention.

Although it is ideal to grab a live person to act as your Rubber Duck, sometimes it is not always possible. Some programmers keep an actual duck or toy on their desk, while resources such as Rubber Duck Debugging and Duckie are useful on a whim.

Rubber Ducking may be a programming term, but it is a technique widely applicable. So, if you’re stuck, in website code — in a line of poetry, or in life — grab a buddy and talk it out.