Our New Year’s Resolutions

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.

Andrew Scott   |   January 4, 2017

A Website Designer’s Advent Calendar

uxmas-website

It’s December 1st, otherwise known as Advent Calendar day. Check out this website we stumbled across that delivers UX designers a digital treat each day.

UXmas.com

Andrew Scott   |   December 1, 2016

Website Developer Needed

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.

Andrew Scott   |   November 22, 2016

SREDA Website Wins Award

blog_sreda

Our week just got a whole lot better because our partners and clients at SREDA won EDAC’s (the Economic Developers Association of Canada) Marketing Canada Award! SREDA was recognized for their newly developed website and was judged across 12 categories related to marketing. We also want to shoutout Townfolio for developing the regional profiles included within the site.

Not only are we thrilled for our partners, we are also excited that we had the chance to contribute our expertise to the web redesign. When we first met with SREDA, they expressed concern that their site was outdated and didn’t appeal to their target audience. As we collaborated with them we were able to develop a unique homepage which highlighted SREDA’s six pillars and gave a small preview of each. The unique design of the website allows it to stand out against similar organizations while creating greater engagement throughout the entire website.

This award means more to us than just a well designed website- it also highlights the potential impact SREDA’s site can have on promoting Saskatoon as a great place to live and work. We are thrilled to have worked with a meaningful organization that has the ability to bring people, investments, and change to the Saskatoon area!

Congratulations SREDA and we look forward to working with you again!

Kate Rawlyk   |   November 1, 2016

Top 5 Horror Movies

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.

Andrew Scott   |   October 31, 2016

Small Business Tips

It’s small business week- which is a great excuse for us, as a small business, to share some tools, resources, and other businesses that we find really helpful.

This week Square One Saskatoon is offering a variety of different business seminars to share some valuable information with entrepreneurs and small business owners. Although they are hosting some awesome information sessions this week, Square One provides valuable resources all year long. Be sure to check out their small business checklist.

As we mentioned in our Island Treasures: Saskatoon Edition, Ideas Inc. is a great affordable workspace– especially for budding entrepreneurs, as they offer so much more than just a place to set up your laptop. Ideas Inc. offers a lot of helpful information to its tenants to help drive their success.

Another fellow resident of Ideas Inc., and one of our partner/collaborators is Lift Accounting. They are a small business that helps other small businesses by handling all of their accounting needs. Getting started on a new business is hard enough, let the accounting professionals handle your expenses and taxes.

Another way to help get your small business organized, is to get set up with the right productivity and project management tools. Luckily- the interweb is a great place to find these. At Island, we use Trello, which is a task management system that is great for laying out tasks into different stages of completion. You can determine task priority, comment on specific tasks, and add team members to tasks. But the best part is- it’s free!

In case you’ve never heard of it, this little company called Google offers GSuite as a great option for business owners to manage email, shared documents, spreadsheets, and presentations. For a small fee per month you can have access to all of Google’s online apps and set up personalized emails for your business.

This day and age it’s rare to have a home, or even an office phone if your business is small enough. But sometimes you don’t want to be handing your cell phone number out like free candy on Halloween. We recommend a virtual phone system, which can assign either a 1-800 or a local number to your business and the calls will come through to your cell phone. You can add multiple users, and choose between a variety of plans to find the most cost effective option for you. We use Evoice, it is low cost and offers the features we need!

For any small business whose focus isn’t marketing, learning basic strategies and lingo can be a little overwhelming. Skillshare is a great website that helps with that basic knowledge and will give you the marketing foundations you need to properly promote your business.

From one small business to another- we hope this helps!

 

Kate Rawlyk   |   October 19, 2016

Island Treasures Saskatoon Edition

islandtreasures-01

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

mixtape

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

una-2

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

ideas

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!

Kate Rawlyk   |   September 29, 2016

Hello There Mainlanders!

chase_bloggraphic

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!

Chase Milligan   |   September 22, 2016

Global Indigenous Runway

gir-1

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.

 

Kate Rawlyk   |   September 20, 2016

Hi, my name is Kate.

Kate_Graphic

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!

Kate Rawlyk   |   September 6, 2016