Moxie Design Studios

Care for a beverage? A Warm Wino’s Weekend

Moxie and the City

We're working our tuchuses off to get our clients squared away and ourselves beautified and organized for the most popular blog conference of the year, BlogHer '12.  Heads up to our clients and anyone contacting us the first week of August: we'll be out of the office August 1 - 6, returning Tuesday, August 7th.  We'll share our experiences when we return and any great blogging tips we picked up along the way. Promise!

BlogHer attendees, clients, friends or total strangers: we'll be flitting about the Hilton New York on Thursday, August 2nd, leaving Sunday, August 5th, so if you see us, hollahhhh!  We look like this:

But that's only most of the time. Sometimes, we look like this:

Only with booze. We hope you say hi!

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BlogHer ‘12 is Coming! Will We See You?

Well, the BlogHer '12 conference season is almost upon us. I say "season" because despite the conference lasting a mere three days, the chatter around it usually starts 2 months ahead and extends about a month or two beyond. So, I figured I'd help kick things off by letting everyone know that Kathy and I both will be in attendence this year in New York City.

We missed last year in my hometown of San Diego due to my 20 year high school reunion scheduled for the same weekend. But this year, we'll be hitting New York in all our glory, ready to absorb the city, it's sights (people watching is awesome), it's delicious tastes (pizza!) and scary scents (hot garbage in August, anyone?).  We had a blast last time and this year, we're smarter and decided to stay at the Hilton with the rest of you fine people. Last time we stayed at the Empire Hotel (yes, of Gossip Girl fame) and it was like sleeping on a slab of granite while kitten-heeled reindeer danced on our heads to Lisa Lisa and the Cult Jam.  Never again.

We'll also be attendig some of the many parties. We love to be social and let's not kid ourselves, we love drink tickets. These are some of the ones on our list. Will you be here?

People's Party - I'm Going! VOTY - I'm Going!
CheeseburgHer - I'm Going! Blogalicious Brunch

If you can't find us there, in a panel or at the buffet, try the hotel bar. ;-)

Hope to see you there! 

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How to Be Awesome on Pinterest

While browsing Pinterest yesterday, I realized that I know a lot of people on there, but not that many people actually use it.  I'm not sure if that's because they just don't have time or if they aren't sure what it's for or if they just plain got bored by it.  These things happen.

I, on the other hand, think Pinterest can be a lot of fun when it doesn't suck your day into a vortex of quinoa recipes and thinspirational quotes about your thighs.  There's a lot of other inspiration to be had on Pinterest, be it fashion or colors, food or fitness, art, photography, home decor, whatever blows your dress up. Sadly, like any hot new thing, Pinterest is both under and over-used by it's pinners, so I thought I'd prepare some helpful tips to new Pinterest users and for clients who may be interested in creating a Pinterest account for their brand.

For those who haven't heard, Pinterest is the hottest new social sharing network online. Or maybe it's in a tie with Instagram, either way, it's popular. (Both are popular enough someone made an internet lovechild called Pinstagram so you can pin Instragram photos, so clearly, there's something to it.)  

Pinterest, according to their website:

Pinterest lets you organize and share all the beautiful things you find on the web. People use pinboards to plan their weddings, decorate their homes, and organize their favorite recipes. Best of all, you can browse pinboards created by other people. Browsing pinboards is a fun way to discover new things and get inspiration from people who share your interests.

So, what's the point?

You can use it for just about anything you like. Do you collect elephants? Start a pinboard for elephant stuff or if you're into owls, start one of those -- or follow other people's boards about owls.  You have no idea how many owl pinboards I've seen. Owls are the new black.

Are you rennovating your house?  Start a board to save fabric or wallpaper swatches, dog-ear that chic sofa you saw on that style blog, flag your favorite paint colors.

Are you watching your weight? Do you want to be inspired to roll your tuchus off the couch?  There are hundreds of pinboards for delicious healthy cooking and fitness regimens, everything from "you go girl, run the bejeezus out of that race"-type quotes to grain-less cooking to recommended training gear.

Getting hitched?  Then Pinterest is for you -- create boards for the big day, for your favorite dresses, for food, invitationand decor ideas. The possibilties are really limitless.

Pinterest sounds swell! What could go wrong?

As with anything awesome, there's always something that threatens it's cool factor. True Blood -- one of my  favorite shows -- it was so awesome and then...? Werepanthers.  Coca-Cola was doing just fine for 81 years, and then New Coke had to screw it all up.  Love Boat was a Saturday night staple and then Ted McGinley happened.  Someone always has to throw a monkey wrench in the awesome, so here are a few "do's and don'ts" to keep Pinterest on the upswing:

DON'T over-pin.

I follow about 75-100 people on Pinterest, but I only see pins from about 10-20 users because my screen often taken up with 20-30 pins in a row from just a handful of users.  This in itself isn't awful, but when it's all nail art or all paleo recipes or six rows of nothing but gladiator sandals, my instinct is to unfollow that board... if not all the boards from that person.  (Gladiator sandals are grounds for social divorce.)

It's understandable to "get on a kick" when you're surfing online -- you're looking for something specific, so you just start pinning one pair of Ugg Boots after another.  That is totally your prerogative -- we're proponents of "do what you want" (though not so much Ugg Boots) -- but if follows are important to you, then consider mixing it up.  

If you're are on a kick, it's understandable -- we're all human and I get on them, too.  But, perhaps only pin a few "salad in a jar" recipes at a time. Or, if you do post 20 pins in a row, mix it up -- post things from different genres.  One of my favorite things to do is go into the "Everything" section -- I often find a nice mix of things that strike my fancy so my pins aren't a wall of LOL Cats and bunny photos (which, I'll admit, is a slippery slope --  I love bunnies!).

DO re-pin.

People love to be re-pinned.  If you see something you like from a friend or even a stranger, feel free to re-pin it. That's what Pinterest is for!  It also encourages those you pinned to come check out your stuff, as it sends them a notification when you've pinned someting of theirs. Maybe they'll re-pin your stuff or otherwise connect you with someone else that's into what you're into. You just never know and being social is what social networking is all about.

DON'T Over-pimp.

This is specifically for brands, but applies to personal websites, too.  Pinterest has a policy about pinning and sharing your own content on Pinterest, but they really don't enforce it which causes some brands and even owners of personal websites to do a lot of self-promotion.  This means if you're a company that sells Whatzits, don't pin every Whatzit you sell on your boards.  It's not an online store or your own personal portfolio, it's meant to share things that interest you. If all that interests you is yourself, then Pinterest is not the place for you.

I've followed a few brands that I've since had to unfollow because they pinned every promotional item in their own stream. If I wanted to know what they sold, I'd look at their website. I'm following, say, World Market (*cough*), because I like to shop there and I wonder what inspires the people at World Market... what do they like?  I realize that most companies aren't going to want to direct you anywhere but to their own stuff, but again, if that's the case, they shouldn't be using Pinterest.

Look, I realize brands want to market to us -- and I don't mind if I see one or two items from their latest collection in my stream. But when I see 3-6 rows of nothing but outdoor umbrellas and votive candle holders from India, with little price tags in the corner, I am no longer inspired, I'm being sold to. And I, personally, don't use Pinterest for that.

Whole Foods is another that shills a lot of their own stuff, but the way they are doing it right is that they share recipes. They're actually pinning  things you can make from products in their store, not just "Buy this olive oil, it's squeezed from rare olives picked on the solstice by nubile Mediterraneans".

DO or DON'T share boards.

I have mixed feelings on this.  On one hand, I love the idea of sharing boards  with someone else. Kathy and I share two boards: Moxie Dream House and Cocktail Hour.  She contributes, I contribute, it's a very tra-la-la experience. However, when brands you follow make a board a "group board", a couple things can happen:

  1. You end up some stranger in your Pinterest stream and if you're not privvy to the group-ness of the board, you may find yourself saying, "Who is the person? Why are they in my stream? I don't even know them. WHAT IS HAPPENING HERE?" Not that I've said that exact phrase or anything. 
  2. Your stream ends up bombarded with strangers. This happened when Sephora opened up some "color wash" board that allowed their followers to add as many pins as they wanted to that board. Cut to my stream, which because I followed Sephora, was awash with photos of gold and tangerine items from people I'd never heard of.  

Like I said, Pinterest is a social network, so I don't mind discovering new people, but if I wanted to see hoards of pins from strangers, I'd go look at that "Everything" stream or go look at that board directly.

DO link the source.

I can't emphasize this one enough. It's positively maddening to click a photo of a great pair of shoes or a lovely dress only to be taken to:

  1. A pin-dump  (there are lots of those now, Pinterest aggregators that promise "more re-pins" for you if you pin through them)
  2. A Tumblr homepage where you'll be lucky if you can find your soul once you've scrolled through pages upon pages of miscellany.  (If you're pinning something from Tumblr, please, please find the permalink to that direct item before pinning. Please. I beg of you on behalf of the internet.)
  3. No link at all -- often found if the person uploads the photo directly to Pinterest. But if it's not your OWN work, if you found the image elsewhere, even if you uploaded it yourself, you really should credit the original link. You are not the creator of that content, you're simply sharing it.

DO read the terms of service.

There are probably always going to be copyright and privacy issues swirling with Pinterest.  They recently changed it due to some outcry from the community, so I encourage you to read the terms of service and to read it again whenever they update it.  If you are concerned at all with things like copyrights or people using your images without your permission (say you're a photographer), do not pin them to Pinterest. 

Finally, Pinterest is really about the people who use it. It's only as good as we make it, for now anyway. So I encourage you to also read Pinterest Etiquette and their Acceptable Use policies.

Happy Pinning!

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Watermelon Mimosas and Remedial Bubbly

I don't know that much about champagne, to be honest. It's really Kathy's "thing", but I do love a glass when offered and occasionally will buy a bottle on a whim. I know that Champagne is a region in France and that technically any "champagnes" that come from anywhere else are sparkling wines, not true champagne. Or so I've heard.

I know Dom Perignon is good, but I think Cristal is better? I've had the former and lo, it was good, but I've never had an occasion to "make it rain", so I've never tried that Cristal the rappers love so much.  I know Prosecco is a sparkling wine, but isn't champagne, but I see the terms use interchangeably.

Since I clearly don't know my arse from my Korbel, I thought I'd do some research and put together some links that might help. 

I'm certainly glad I didn't name this post Champagne 101... There are roughly 29 million results for that title... so I shall assume these cover enough of the basics.

It wouldn't be Champagne Thursday if we didn't include a recipe, so I bring you this simple, delectable morsel plucked from Pinterest, courtesy of watermelon.org:

Watermelon Mimosa

Ingredients

  • 3 cups watermelon juice (puree, strained)
  • 1 1/2 cups light champagne (not Brut, but Asti or similar)

Instructions

Divide watermelon juice among 2 to 3 champagne flutes. Fill with champagne and enjoy!

I tripled this recipe because, let's not kid ourselves, 2-3 flutes is not going to be enough, especially if you have guests.  Besides, if you're going to go through all the trouble of buying a watermelon and pureeing it, you might as well do it up!  These would probably be fabulous for a spring or summer brunch and pair well with some eggs benedict or some lighter fruit crepes... mmm....

 
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Email: A Prospective Client’s Guide to Not Being a Jerk

Given the nature of our business, it's probably no surprise that we, like most web professionals, are Email People™. We have our smartphones attached to us all the time, we eschew actually speaking on the phone and handle 99.9% of our business via email.  But, as the internet grows, and more and more previously "unconnected" people join the ranks of users, we realize that some people are just not Email People. I wouldn't call them ludites, per se, but some people feel that the phone is faster -- and it can be, but can also result in unfocused chats, miscommunication or overlooked tasks because it wasn't discussed in the conference call. 

So, we like email: it leaves a paper trail, allows us to reference your comments verbatim and like most creative or development professionals, it allows us to focus on work and prioritize communications for specific times during the day. Does this mean we'll never talk to you on the phone? Of course not. If a client wants to talk over the phone, we're more than happy to do so, but email is our preferrred method of communication.

That said, some folks aren't Email People™ because, well, they're simply bad at email. Their emails can be lacking in nuance, tone and common courtesy.  We do our best here at Moxie to open emails with a kind greeting, to thank the emailer for their inquiry (should it be their first), to use full sentences and proper punctuation and to show respect for your clients with professional grammar and a writing style that conveys our warm and jovial personalities. We're not dry and we don't expect our clients to be.

But some emails we receive are quite terse, without any pleasantries. It's understood that email is meant to be a "speedy" method of communication, but you don't have to be a jerk about it.  We don't need you to sugarcoat it, but it is possible to get your point across in a professional and cordial manner while still maintaining brevity.

We appreciate respectful communication.  No need to be overly prim, just please remember that we are business owners and skilled professionals, just like you're a professional at whatever you do.  We are not your kid, your neighbor, or, despite some misconceptions, your employee. We are experts in what we do or you wouldn't have hired us.  We will never accept verbal abuse, unrealistic demands or blatant rudeness.

But we also don't love overly familiar interactions, either. If you're emailing us for the first time, please don't call us "honey" or  "sweetums".  That actually happened. SWEETUMS.  We're not on the pole here, sir.

Of course, none of our clients are like that -- our clients are awesome.  Why? Because we will usually ignore emails that are condescending, grossly undervalue our skillset or use netspeak, grammar and punctuation appalling enough to shock a teenager.

What we love in our emails:

  • Greetings -- At least for the first one. Say hello,for pete's sake!  We're nice!
  • Thank yous -- If you ask us to do something and we do it, especially if we do it tout de suite, please respond.  We don't need you to pen us a sonnet via skywriter, just a simple "Thanks!" will suffice. It can even be on Twitter.  
  • Acknowledgement -- To that same end, if we take the time to reply to your inquiry, please hit us back with a "yay" or "nay".  We put aside client work and time with our families to read your request, to do preliminary research on your website and to formulate a thoughtful reply. We understand that we aren't going to be the designers for everyone and that perhaps our timeline/budget/moons don't align, but at the very least acknowledge our reply.  Don't leave us proverbially hangin'. 
  • Spellcheck -- We realized typos happen, we make them, too. But when your email is laden with abbreviations, netspeak or misspelled words, we are  less inclined to reply or even try to figure out what you're talking about.
  • Hours -- We want things to be convenient for our clients, so we don't really mind if you email us on the weekends or on national holidays. But please know that we're likely not going to reply until the next available business day. We work on the internet, we aren't open 24 hours -- so please don't send email after email after email on a Saturday night expecting a reply.  We have families and lives and need downtime to regenerate our mojo.  You wouldn't like it if someone called your house 6-8 times over the weekend , would you? For us, it's the same kind of thing.

This post was inspired by a great article I read this morning called Professional Communication 101 by Mike at BoyInk!  He breaks it down much more specifically.

In conclusion, we love email. And we probably will love working with you, too.

So be nice, would ya? 

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