On an Island with Kolten, Linear Design House

This month we met up with Kolten Altrogge of Linear Design House. We first worked with Kolten while building a new website for KSA Group back in 2016. He was employed there as an Architectural Technologist before branching off on his own to start Linear. So sit back, grab a beer (and one for Kolten), and learn a thing or two about 3D renderings.

Kristen Pawson   |   September 11, 2019

Wonder-site for Wonderhub

Part of our favourite thing about working on websites, is the range of businesses we get to learn about. And every now and then a site will come along that makes us feel like kids again.

Andrew Scott   |   August 27, 2019

Job Posting: Website Developer

Deadline: August 30, 2019

Island is looking for a web developer to join our team. If you’re a self-starter with experience in both front-end and back-end website development, then you’re the perfect fit for this position. We offer a competitive pay, truly flexible hours, opportunity for growth and learning, and a work environment like you’ve never experienced.

Andrew Scott   |   August 19, 2019

On An Island with Nathan Hursh, MOTIF

We headed out to the Island with Nathan from MOTIF. We first met way back when we were newbies at Ideas Inc. We love collaborating with these guys and we are so excited to see their continued growth as THE place to go for promotional marketing. So sit back, relax, and learn a little with Nathan from MOTIF.

Andrew Scott   |   August 14, 2019

On an Island with Jess Reimer, Paper Plane Communications

For the second instalment we headed out to the Island with Jess Reimer of Paper Plane Communications. We’re often collaborating with Jess on projects when clients are looking for in-depth content strategy and writing for their audience. So sit back, relax, and learn a little about content strategy for websites. And if you notice any grammatical errors…don’t hold that against Jess, that’s on us… 🙄

ISLAND: Tell us about Paper Plane?

Jess Reimer: Paper Plane is a communications consultancy based here in Saskatoon. Last December Paper Plane celebrated its 5th birthday, which was an exciting milestone to hit.

The “fancy” version of what I do is psychology-driven brand and content strategy. What that actually means is I do a lot of research, ask a lot of questions, and write a lot of words so my clients speak directly to their customers in a way that is honest, authentic, and delivers big impact. “Fluff” and “filler” are my least favourite F-words. I coach companies through the process of finding their voice, understanding their audiences, and communicating what they know and what they’ve learned. And I love it.

My training in developmental psychology, professional writing, and user experience helps me help organizations—particularly those in the arts, culture, and tourism sectors—do well by doing good. And while I work primarily with websites, I also help out with things like white papers, award applications, scripting… you name it, I’ve probably written it.

“A few years ago I was asked to draft letters of authenticity for a collection of didgeridoos in rural Australia, so… there’s that.”

I: Where does your website and digital presence fit within the success of your business?

JR: Confession: for too long I was the shoemaker without shoes. No website, no business cards… nada. Writing about yourself and your business is tough stuff, and I’m saying this as someone whose “thing” is words! But ultimately I had to take my own advice and remember that working without a website can cost you clients, cash, and credibility. No, thank you.

“When it comes to a digital presence, authenticity is a non-negotiable; people can spot a fraud from a mile away. Who I am online is who I am in person—for better or for worse.”

I: Copyediting versus copywriting. What’s the difference and what do you wish people knew?

JR: Rather than reinvent the wheel, I’m going to share a homebuilding analogy I’ve heard (and used) many times before. A copywriter is the builder who takes you from an empty lot to a well-designed, well-constructed home. A copyeditor is the interior decorator you hire to apply finishing touches to a space—a place for everything, and everything in its place.

What do I wish people knew? How much time quality copywriting and copyediting take. Just like building a home, it’s not an overnight process. Living in a gig economy has its perks, but the whole “race to the bottom” when it comes to pricing has negatively affected expectations about the investment and effort necessary to produce content that is both usable and useful. You get what you pay for!

I: What is the biggest mistake you see businesses making when it comes to content strategy?

JR: Other than not having a content strategy? Forgetting to invite the most important people to the table: your customers. Designing a website without involving or at least considering the folks who will be accessing whatever it is that you offer is as much a disservice to you as it is to them.

“Your brand might be the bones of your business, but your customers are its heartbeat.”

I: How does a good content strategy set your website apart?

JR: It’s probably worth mentioning here that content is more than words (cue 90s banger ballad). Content is images, videos, and other multimedia, too. Sure, you can grab stock photos or fill your website with the same old, same old copy (please don’t), but with a content strategy you are showing up for yourself, your brand, and—most importantly— your customers by creating, structuring, and publishing with intention. From a psychological standpoint, acting with intention communicates purpose, which is both powerful and memorable.

I: If you could give one piece of advice to someone thinking about creating or revamping their website, what would it be?

JR: Know thyself well, thy brand better, and thy customers best. To go back to the homebuilding analogy, these three things provide the foundation from which to build or rebuild a home or, in this case, a website.

I: If you were stranded on an island, what is the one thing you couldn’t live without?

JR: This one’s a toss-up between books (I always have at least three on the go) and lip chap (I also always have at least three on the go).

Andrew Scott   |   July 3, 2019

Wonderbikes for Wonderhub

We love working with our clients, and when it’s something as fun as the Children’s Discovery Museum – recently rebranded as Wonderhub – we love to do everything we can to support them. Last week they held their annual “What’s for Dinner” gala and we were happy to sign on as a Curiosity Sponsor. In addition to the sponsorship, we had the opportunity to donate an item for the silent auction, which we saw as the perfect opportunity to have some creative fun.

Andrew Scott   |   June 10, 2019

On an Island with Depesh Parmer, Ideas Inc.

At Island, we work with a lot of small businesses. Usually we’re helping them build a website, or coming up with a digital marketing strategy, but we often find ourselves lending our own advice as to what has (and hasn’t) worked as a small business. After eight years in operation, we’ve made some great connections from who we learned a lot, so we wanted to share some of this knowledge with others who may be in the same spot we were eight years ago: scared s**tless, but full of unharness-able ambition and creativity.

This month we chatted with Depesh Parmar, Executive Director of Ideas Inc. We had office space in Ideas for three years and being there had a significant impact on our success and growth. As a small business trying to get started in Saskatoon, we’d definitely recommend checking out Ideas, even if you’re not in need of space, they offer guidance and information on wherever you want to to take your business.

ISLAND: What does your organization offer for small businesses and startups?

Depesh Parmer: As Saskatchewan’s largest business incubator, Ideas Inc provides entrepreneurs and small business owner’s access to affordable space (retail, office and co-working), mentorship, and a great community of over 100 like-minded individuals.

I: Before we moved into Ideas we weren’t completely aware of the mentorship and community aspect, can you expand on that?

DP: Our diverse mentorship roster of over 20 individuals are available to help guide new business owners as they work to launch and scale their new venture. All our members have access to these established business owners to ask questions, or just chat with over a beer.

In addition to this, we offer a workplace that is super inspiring, and which hosts great events where we bring in thought-leaders to transfer knowledge and talk about various topics. We also host epic socials where you naturally develop lifelong relationships with other entrepreneurs, and a building full of valuable amenities to help your business grow.

I: What makes you different from other co-working spaces?

DP: First and foremost, Ideas Inc is an NPO. We are not in the business of real estate or moving space. Our purpose is to help startups achieve success and ultimately exit our incubator when they’re ready to expand (or leave the “nest”). We achieve this by nurturing entrepreneurs to make meaningful business decisions as they go through the journey of building their startup, and by providing a solid platform to launch and scale their business.

I: So you’ve seen a lot of businesses succeed, and others fail…what do you see as the biggest challenge those starting out might face?

DP: The challenge for any startup or new business is simply making money. From my perspective, not enough emphasis is placed on strategies to generate revenue and sales. Instead, too much time is focused on other areas that don’t necessarily generate income. Sales, sales and sales should be the #1 focus for any new startup.

Another huge challenge is the entrepreneur limiting his/herself. If he or she isn’t willing to test assumptions, constantly learn, adapt, build relationships and simply work hard – they’re likely going to fall flat on their face and fail.

I: When it comes to your website and online presence, how does that impact the success of your business?

DP: Let’s face it, technology is moving at a rapid pace and millions of people are hanging out online. Your digital presence online will have a profound impact on the success of your business, and it’s absolutely critical that you have a clear cut digital strategy in place.

I: We couldn’t agree more. Do you have any key advice for anyone thinking about starting a business?

DP: Here’s the thing. Entrepreneurship is not black and white. It can be very grey. It’s not 9am to 5pm. It’s 9am to 9am. It’s not easy sh*t. It’s fn’ hard. It’s not a race. It’s a marathon. It’s not about feelings. It’s about flow.

If you share the same mentality and this speaks to you, I would strongly suggest that you just dive in and enjoy the wild ride. That moment when you make your first sale will be a pretty magical feeling.

 

Andrew Scott   |   May 16, 2019

Unplugging from Social Media

At Island, we like to do things differently. So although we preach the value of social media in the work that we do, we also recognize the impact it has on one’s mental health. Since today kicks off Canadian Mental Health Week we thought we would look a little closer at social media.

There are a ton of benefits of social media:

  • it allows us to stay connected with friends and family all over the world
  • Business can connect directly with customers and expand their reach in a cost-effective way
  • It’s a great way to find a support network for like-minded people

But there are just as many drawbacks:

  • Focusing on “likes” can lower one’s self-esteem when likes aren’t received
  • Only seeing other people’s social highlights can make people feel depressed that they are missing out or not living their own life so spectacularly
  • Social media is designed to be addictive, which can lead to less time spent on things that matter, like work, school, sleep, relationships, etc.

It’s that last point that has motivated us to get creative and design a series we like to call #socialdifferent. Island has partnered with artist Matthew Chrones Scott (@bleedingheartproductions) to create illustrations showing how we at Island intend to “unplug” over the weekend. For those of you who follow us on Instagram, you may have noticed the first illustration last week.

And for those of you not following us, what are you waiting for: https://www.instagram.com/weareisland/

We’ll be posting a new illustration at the end of the day every Friday. This post wraps up our week in the office and kicks us into weekend mode. Our hope is that they can serve as a reminder to put your phone away and connect with people, pets, nature, awesome local events happening in Saskatoon, or just some good old fashioned ME time. Plugging back in on Monday morning will be a whole lot easier when you have a weekend off doing all of the other things you like to do.

Andrew Scott   |   May 7, 2019

Website Developer Wanted

Deadline: April 12, 2019

Island is looking for a web developer to join our team. If you’re a self-starter with experience in both front-end and back-end website development, then you’re the perfect fit for this position. We offer a competitive pay, truly flexible hours, and a work environment like you’ve never experienced.

Andrew Scott   |   March 28, 2019

Newest addition to Island, Caitlin.

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Hey, I’m Caitlin, I am the newest addition to team Island! I don’t really have a title, because we sort of do a bit of everything, but I guess you could say, developer, designer, photographer?! Or you know, “Floater”.

I grew up playing Steel Tip Darts, but after years of practice and tournaments, I got 3rd in provincials. It wasn’t a high enough placement to go to Nationals, so I decided I better choose a new career path. I started getting an interest for design and photography in 2008 and was hooked! I went to SBC but decided I needed to learn more. I then moved to San Francisco, California with my Aunt and that’s where my interest in development started! There I spent 4 years studying and working as a designer and developer.

I recently moved back to Saskatoon, just in time for this awful winter! To force myself to socialize and step away from my computer, I spend my spare time playing dodgeball and slo-pitch. I am a huge sports fan which includes Hockey, Baseball, and Football but I haven’t cracked the roster on any of those sports yet.

I am excited to be on the Island team and can’t wait to put my skills to use! Hope to create for you soon!

Caitlin McRae   |   March 1, 2019