The Importance of Side Projects
Filed Under: Design, Lifestyle
Employee side projects have always been a bit of a contentious issue for business owners as the inherent worry is that employees will be drawn away from focusing on their regular tasks. This worry makes sense on the surface, but we (and many more before us) think this is the wrong way to approach it, especially while working in a creative field.
So why do we encourage side projects? To be honest they just serve as an outlet that so many creative people need to have, it gives them freedom to explore ideas that may be too “out there” for clients, and above all else it helps good employees realize you care about their life and interests, not just how they can make you more money. And even then, by allowing your employees to explore their own unique ideas we believe they can learn and leverage these new skills when working on in-house projects. This helps everyone, boosts office morale, and helps fight off burnout.
So now it’s time to see what encouraging employees to pursue side projects looks like in action, not just theory.
Meet Howard & Lloyd
Our designer, Cody Schumacher, has been working on a Made-in-Canada clothing company, and it’s launching at the end of the month. His idea is to deliver the best products he can, while keeping the company simple from the get-go:
- design what he wants – no one providing direction
- how he wants – no rules, remember it’s not putting food on the table
- work with as many other creatives/artists – learn from peers
- while working with manufacturers across Canada – Why not? No financial pressure to reduce costs by ordering from overseas
If you are interested in learning more about Howard and Lloyd, visit them online at howardandlloyd.ca. Also for you YXE folk, we are sponsoring the launch party, and it is set for September 28th & 29th at our favourite neighbourhood brewery 9 Mile. Check out his event on Facebook.
Our New Year’s Resolutions
Filed Under: Business, Design, Development, Lifestyle
1. Drop the bad habits
We all have them. When you’ve been building websites, or doing anything for a number of years, you’re bound to pick up some bad habits. The first step in dropping a bad habit is to identify it. That’s why we’re always doing code reviews, and reviewing each others work on a regular basis. We also have a formal review session every week, and after the launch of each website. These “retrospectives” focus around one question: what can we do better?
2. Shed some weight
Every website we build, we want to be as lightweight as possible. This keeps webpages loading fast so your users don’t get frustrated and move on to the next site. We accomplish this by minifying our code, and optimizing images based on your user’s screen size. In addition to this, we’ll continue to follow our “less is more” approach, keeping our designs light with white space, and organizing sitemaps in a simplified manner.
3. Learn something new
One of our core values is humility, which means we are never done learning. In 2017 we’re setting aside specific time for self-improvement. This means we’re taking online classes through websites like Skillshare and Treehouse. We’ll also be bringing back our knowledge sharing sessions called “Island Talks”. This is an opportunity for any of our staff to present to the team about anything related to websites, design, marketing, or anything else relevant to our work. Keep an eye out as we’ll post them to our website as they happen.
4. Sleep more
For the past couple of months we’ve been working with Sleepwell Consulting, providing them with a redesigned website and new branding. We’re fortunate enough to learn from every client we work with, and the value of quality sleep was a lesson I for one needed to learn. The tradeoff in productivity, quality, and efficiency during daytime hours far outweighs any work done after the fifth cup of coffee late at night.
Website Developer Needed
Filed Under: Business, Development, Lifestyle
Island is looking for a website developer to join our team. The ideal candidate is a self-starter who cares more about blowing clients away than the bottom line. If you’re looking for a position with room for learning, growth, and the ability to contribute in all aspects of a business, then drop us a line.
Top 5 Horror Movies
Filed Under: Lifestyle
When I’m not building websites, I like to relax by watching a good horror flick. So in the spirit of Hallowe’en I thought I’d share my list of top 5 horror movies.
Island Treasures Saskatoon Edition
Filed Under: Business, Lifestyle
For this edition of Island Treasures, we thought we would share some of our favourite finds in Saskatoon. The good news is that we thought of a lot of ideas, so look forward to more editions featuring the amazing things Saskatoon has to offer, from food, to coffee, to business solutions!
Road Coffee: Mixtape Espresso
Alisha Esmail started Road Coffee and the company’s mission is to “become an influential innovator in coffee culture, known for our focus on relationships and inspiring people to pursue their dreams”.
A few of the Island crew have bumped into Alisha from time to time at Drift Cafe and really love what she’s doing, and of course the beans Road is making. Although we haven’t made our way through the whole product line yet, our personal favourite thus far has been the Mixtape espresso. Click here to pickup a bag for yourself!
UNA Pizzeria: The Broadway
A couple of nights ago Andrew decided that for his birthday he wanted to head to UNA for a pizza. In the past he’s seen “The Broadway” on the menu and been intrigued, yet ended up opting for a safer bet. This was not the case this time around and he decided that he would wonder no more what the mystical Broadway would taste like. Very stoically Andrew described his experience as “Maple Syrup on a Pizza…..It works.” Click here to checkout UNA’s menu, and next time you’re wondering where to eat, just take our word for it and go to UNA.
Ideas Inc: Launchpad
We’ve been tenants of Ideas inc for a little while now and have enjoyed our time here in Riversdale immensely. Recently with SREDA they put together a new program called the Launch Pad that provides super affordable workspace for startups. The spaces start at $99/month and give you everything from a mailbox, to coaching, to boardroom access. Also being here you have the luxury of being attached to the Farmers Market! Click here to learn more about the Launch Pad.
Tune in next time for more Saskatoon treasures!
Hello There Mainlanders!
Filed Under: Development, Lifestyle
Hello there mainlanders! My name is Chase and I’ve recently joined Island as a Jr.Developer. I graduated last year and was looking for the best route to turn my passion for web design into a career, so I began my search. I reached out to Island a few months back and lo and behold they welcomed me aboard! They told me it was because of my passion and drive, but I think Kate just didn’t wanna be the newbie in the office anymore.
Over the past few years I’ve become enthralled with the world of web development and although I don’t have any formal training at this point, I’ve spent many late nights watching Youtube videos and sifting through Google to help me learn the craft. The prospect of joining Island felt like the perfect opportunity for me to learn more about the industry on the job and round out my knowledge with the help of a great team.
On a more personal note I enjoy things like playing video games, adding to my record collection (right now I can’t stop listening to Smash by The Offspring), and playing sports. I’d also love to travel more after getting the chance to head across the pond with 23 other students to Hong Kong, China, Korea, and Japan a few years ago. That trip was a once in a lifetime experience that I won’t soon forget. I also used to play lacrosse competitively and was lucky enough to travel throughout Canada and into the U.S doing that.
Anyways that’s a little bit about me! Unfortunately I can’t grab a beer with you yet (maybe next July) but I look forward to working with you on your next web design project!
Global Indigenous Runway
Filed Under: Business, Lifestyle
We have some pretty great clients here at Island. Not only are they great to work with, but they are involved in some amazing projects that we think you should know about. The Global Indigenous Runway takes place this Saturday and is being put together by some incredible people.
This fashion show features talented Indigenous designers, models, and production talent from around the world. Additionally, the event serves as a kick off for the Indigenous Runway Project Leadership Program, which seeks to build the confidence and self-esteem of First Nations and Native American youth.
Alexandra Jarrett, our partner at Lift Accounting, is working with Her 4 Directions as a collaborator on the Indigenous Runway Leadership Program. Her 4 Directions, a Saskatoon-based collective, promotes Indigenous designers and creates awareness about important issues.
The show is being hosted by our friends at Wanuskewin Heritage Park, at 7pm on Saturday, September 24th.
So there you have it- an event where you are not only supporting beautiful collections of clothing by Indigenous people from around the world- you are also supporting local Saskatoon organizations and programs to build a better future for First Nations youth.
Learn more and buy tickets here.
Hi, my name is Kate.
Filed Under: Business, Lifestyle, Marketing
Hi, my name is Kate. Nice to meet you. I have recently moored my boat at Island and I am pretty excited about it. I am the new Account Manager, which essentially means I get to talk to people and make sure things get done – my forte. I have my B.Comm, with a major in Marketing, so I will also be applying some of those skills to contribute to marketing strategy and tactics both internally and for clients.
On a more personal level, I grew up in small town, but I didn’t stick around long. I did my undergrad in Saskatoon, and before starting at Island I spent several months travelling through Southeast Asia. Although living out of a backpack has its perks (like upper body strength), I am ready to unpack and settle down back in Saskatoon for a while. I enjoy cooking for my friends over a nice bottle of wine (typically of the $11.00 variety), and I will play almost any sport recreationally even though I am sub-par at best.
Getting back to business, or rather, why did I choose marketing and communications as my career path? Marketing has always been a natural draw for me as I have a lot of creative tendencies but I am also driven by organization and strategy. I usually cycle through different creative outlets like drawing, painting, writing, and playing the guitar. Although I have not necessarily mastered any creative skill (I’m no Jimi Hendrix) I enjoy growing and developing all of them. On the other hand, my organization and strategy development skills lend themselves nicely to the implementation aspects of marketing.
But for the most part, I really just enjoy working with people. Now pair my personable attitude with written and verbal communication skills and Account Manager seems like the perfect fit. Although I do love to socialize and have fun, I am a runaway train when there is work to be done- just hand me a large cappuccino and some good music and I will be hard to stop.
I look forward to working with you!
Parade of Homes Starts Tonight!
Filed Under: Design, Development, Launch, Lifestyle
Back in April, Island was approached by the Saskatoon & Region Home Builders Association (SRHBA) to create a project unlike anything we have done in recent memory. What they needed was a company that could help them re-launch their Parade of Homes that had been on hiatus for two years. This meant updating the branding, creating a new website with an interactive map, and tonnes of other supporting materials.
The Parade itself is designed to showcase the high quality work you can expect from SRHBA builder members. This year’s Parade features 24 homes located in Saskatoon, Corman Park, Warman, and Martensville and the homes themselves are easy to find thanks to the mobile-friendly map built into the website. The theme of this year’s Parade is choice, so whether you’re looking for condo downtown, an acreage outside the city, or just for new ideas, there is something for everyone.
Every step of this project has been a blast for us and we’re excited to see the parade officially get started tonight. Event projects like this are always cool for us because we get the opportunity to go out and take part in the festivities ourselves.
The Parade runs Monday – Thursday 7-9pm and Saturday, Sunday and Holidays 2-5pm until October 2nd. You can find all the details you need at paradeofhomesonline.ca. If you’re out and about at the Parade you might just bump into the Island crew; if you do be sure to let us know what you think of our work!
Free/Almost Free Design Resources
Filed Under: Design, Lifestyle, Marketing
As a designer I am always on the lookout for great resources to help me with my day to day workflow and projects. Whether that’s new mockups to help me pitch a new logo design, or simply just adding another great font to our collection here at Island.
Here at Island we feel everyone deserves great design, and any way that we can help people get better at their craft we will. Likewise, we recognize that not everyone is going to have a massive design budget, so we wanted to share some super affordable resources (mostly free) that can help designers of any skill level take their projects to another level — without having to sell a body part in the process.
This is a free tool I just came across recently and have to say I find myself playing on it quite a bit. Whether I’m trying to come up with some colour options for a new website, or even recently I used it to help me come up with a palette for my future home office. It’s super easy to use and keeps things interesting for the times when you may be having trouble coming up with a great palette for a project.
I know how hard it is for designers first starting out to find great fonts that are affordable for commercial use. Someone put me onto Font Squirrel a few years back and they offer a ton of great fonts free for commercial use and even more at a low cost.
I can not tell you how much I enjoy finding and using great mockups. I came across Graphic Burger a few years back and couldn’t believe how much great stuff they were giving away from free. From UI kits, icons, textures, and mockups they have a little bit of everything. Take a look and I promise you will find something you can use in the future.
While DesignCuts is not technically free, the price at which they put their bundles is so discounted that it’s basically free. At discounts usually in excess of 90% I have never been unsatisfied when I have decided to purchase something from the site. They usually mix together a wide range of things to give you a great bundle of resources to work with.
Thanks for taking a look through and If there is any other great resources you have come across lately I would love to hear about them in the comment section!