Opinions and ideas on various topics.

Creating a design, selling an experience

Creating a design, selling an experience

Some people think of design as strictly an artistic process where the primary goal is to make things look attractive. Design however, is as much about usability as it is about aesthetics. Designers use the various tools at their disposal to solve their client’s problems while creating solutions that look good. This could include creating compelling graphics or designing a website that meets a business objective. It could also be the creation of intriguing package design to encourage sales. While it ‘s easy to focus on aesthetics, creating the ideal experience through design is more complicated and more important.

Books In An Internet Age

Why books are still needed in an internet age

Books may  seem outdated for some due to the power and reach of the internet. For others, however, the physical copy of a well thought out and organized collection of ideas is irreplaceable. Throughout history knowledge has been transferred through writing via books, scrolls or even paintings on cave walls. Has the internet made the traditional book obsolete though? Do we still need books if information can be found in abundance online? Here are a few reasons why I think we do.

Book Personal PreferencePersonal preference

Some people just prefer books than reading from screens. It may be more convenient or reduce eye strain. Books are also portable and do not need electricity or the internet to work. Traditionalists may also enjoy the experience of reading a book as opposed to being surrounded by electronic devices all the time. It provides a sort of escape from a constantly connected world.

Book ConsistencyThe consistency of content

Once a book is published its content is finalized and the same content will be available in that book for years to come. Blog posts and articles online can be modified, taken offline or get hundreds of comments appended to the content that you are not interested in. There is obviously the argument that a book’s content can be outdated, but some of the most popular books, such as the Bible, have  stood the test of time. Some types of books such as biographies or documentation of events do not suffer from obsolescence.

Book No InternetNot everyone is online

In developed countries with high internet penetration constant connectivity is taken for granted. Because you can access the internet at home, work or on your mobile does not mean everyone can do so. Not everyone has the ability to use the internet as an alternative to books. This may also become apparent if you have to travel and find it difficult to get an internet connection.

Book SentimentalBooks can have sentimental value

It is not uncommon for a reader to get attached to a book or for a book to be shared or even passed down from generation to generation. In these cases the value of the book is much more than its contents. The preservation, the memories associated with the book and even its look and feel can evoke emotions from the reader.

E-bookBooks can also be distributed online

Books are no longer limited to a physical form. They can be released exclusively as electronic books (e-books), exclusively as physical books or in both paper and electronic form. This offers options to both publishers and consumers. E-books may mitigate many of the concerns people have with physical books as well. You can read them on your computer, tablet or mobile devices and do not need internet access once the book is downloaded. You can carry many books around in electronic form without having to worry about physical weight and other logistics.

I am by no means against finding information online and using electronic devices to read. In fact, I think this is a wonderful way to find and share information. The internet has exponentially increased our access to information and is an essential tool for many businesses. Books, however, should not be discredited simply because of new technology. The relationship between the internet and publishing only makes books that much better since more and more people can publish their own content.



Why reliable Internet Service Providers matter

The internet is an important tool that is easy to take for granted when you are constantly connected. You may have internet access at work and at home as well. You can probably also subscribe to a mobile data plan on your phone. The more access we have to the internet the more we tend to depend on it for work, entertainment or education. This makes it all the more difficult when connectivity issues creep up.

No WirelessMy problem

Over the past few weeks I have been having issues with my internet connection either working intermittently or not at all. As someone who develops and maintains websites and social media pages this affects me not only on a personal level but more importantly on a business level. While I can do a certain level of work offline, the workflow is different and it limits the accessibility that clients have to me via email, Skype, or social media. It also limits my access to information on many useful sites on the internet. Obviously without an internet connection I also can’t publish any content for myself or my clients.

Our problem

Shopping CartI am not the only one affected by poor connectivity to the internet due to the unreliability of an ISP. This also affects anyone trying to set up or run an internet related business. If you or your customers are likely to experience internet connectivity issues which are not quickly resolved it devalues the whole online experience. Imagine you are in the middle of making a purchase and your connection drops. Did the transaction go through? Will reloading the page make you do a double purchase? Will a potential customer remember to check your website when the internet starts working properly again?

The reality of the situation

Speed and cost are often touted as selling points by Internet Service Providers but reliability is also very important. What’s the point of having the fastest download speeds if you can only use it half the time? Occasionally problems will occur and ISPs are expected to upgrade their networks which may cause some connectivity issues. They are however, also expected to be committed to their customers and not charge for services that are not provided. Good communication can diffuse many tense situations while lack of communication can make it much worst. The more reliable and ubiquitous access to the internet becomes the more opportunities that open up for entrepreneurs. Internet Service Providers have a pivotal role to play in this equation – one they should not take lightly.

Keeping It Simple

Clean and simple designs

PortfolioIf you follow my work or explore my portfolio you will notice that I like simple and clean designs. This is not a cop out from designing more complex works, but rather a decision based both on personal preference and usability. It is  actually often  more difficult to keep it simple than to just utilize all concepts that come to mind. Imagine a magazine where pictures of all the stories in the issue are considered for the cover page. Due to limited space and the desire to make maximum impact a simple design featuring one main picture is usually used as opposed to a montage of all images from the magazine. Here are a few reasons why  I prefer to keep my work simple.

Simple PacmanSimple is more memorable

It is easier to remember something simple than something complex and this concept is as true for design as anything else. You may not know all the lyrics for the most popular song out right now but you probably remember a few of the  nursery rhymes you learned as a child. Without a doubt simplicity helps you to remember because there are less details to process. Simple information can also be processed much faster which means there is less chance of you being distracted while processing simple details.

Simple BloatSimple reduces bloat

Unnecessary elements can actually distract from the message and diminish the effectiveness of a design. Simplistic design strategy involves eliminating this bloat and concentrating on the important parts of the design. Why use a paragraph to describe something that could be said better in one picture.? People are busy and may not appreciate having to spend a lot of time to get the gist of your message.

Simple SmileSimple is less intimidating

Simple designs tend to have a psychological impact on the viewer. It  is not as overwhelming as complex designs and that can make the viewer more comfortable. Some people may just skim over complex designs that look hard to understand (even if they are not). This is especially true with websites which only have a few seconds to impress visitors before they leave.

Clean and simple designs are easy on the eyes and clients usually like them. There are times when a more elaborate design is appropriate and I get a chance to splash my creativity around. These opportunities are also fun once they do not defeat the purpose of the design. The ultimate goal is to appeal to the target audience and most times a simple approach will do the trick.


Dominica SWOT ICT

Small Country, Large Opportunities

Dominica LaptopDominica is a small beautiful island in the Caribbean known better for its lush ecosystem than its infrastructure and technology developments. With a population of about 70000 people there are many challenges as well as unique opportunities for this developing island state. The mountainous topography of the island along with efforts to preserve its natural heritage have no doubt contributed to its slower pace of development than its neighbouring islands but this by no means should be used as an excuse for taking advantage of the opportunities a continuously more globalized world has provided. There are in fact many investment opportunities in Dominica. Since I am involved in information technology as a certified computer technician and run an internet based business I see opportunities to leverage the power of the internet to improve the country’s other industries.

The Nature Island

Dominica is a beautiful country renowned for it’s rainforests, rivers, waterfalls and hot springs. All these natural resources can be and are promoted on the internet. Tourism is one of the main industries on which the country is focussed and there are opportunities to create websites and mobile apps targeted directly at tourists and visitors to the island.

Small Population

The small population of Dominica is often cited as a hindrance to development. This small population can be a strategic advantage for  various projects. All communities are with driving distance of at most a few hours making accessibility to a target audience a easier than in larger countries The internet penetration of over 50% and mobile penetration of over 100% the population is internet savvy and accustomed to using mobile phones. This fact has been identified for ambitious projects such as the island-wide Bit Drop.

Potential in Technology Sector

Information and Communication Technology (ICT) has long been promoted in schools and there are many qualified IT professionals on island and in the diaspora. Integrating this knowledge with other industries could prove very beneficial. The manufacturing and agriculture industry could benefit from using latest technology for both production and marketing activities.

There is no magic solution to developing Dominica or other economies like it. The internet and technology however help even the playing field since the main requirement is knowledge and internet access. Hopefully more investment in this sector will see more jobs and opportunities opening up for such small economies.

Related Links

Discover Dominica Authority

Invest Dominica Authority

Internet World Stats

The Freelancer’s Pricing Dilemma

One of the toughest decisions for a freelancer is how to price  products and services. Obviously you want to make a decent profit, but you also have to consider factors such as expenses and your desired salary when making pricing decisions. You may be tempted to use lower prices to gain a competitive advantage but this could greatly limit your profitability. As a website and graphic designer the question of how to charge clients is very common and there is no one answer that satisfies every situation. Here are a view factors I take into consideration when creating my prices.

Billable Hours

Billable HoursThe concept of billable hours is based on how you value an hour of your work. Do you  do  $5,  $30  or $50 worth of work in an hour? This is a personal figure you decide based on your personal ability and preference. You can then use this hourly figure along with an estimation of the time it will take to complete the job to get an idea of the price of a project. If you are charging a client by the hour you should ensure that they are aware of this so that they recognize the longer the job takes and the more changes they make the more expensive it will be. You should also log your hours carefully and have documentation ready to justify your price if necessary. You can use a strict hourly rate or use this as a guide in addition with other pricing systems.

Overhead Costs

Overhead CostsIf your price does not generate enough money to cover overhead costs  you will be operating at a loss. As a freelancer you will need to ensure that you at least break even by generating income greater than expenses. This is more difficult at the early stages of a business due to the large investment costs. As the business matures though it should become profitable and self sustainable. Therefore your prices should be high enough to cover your overhead costs, including your salary. Failure to consider these costs can quickly see your business making money but still not surviving. You can also try to reduce overhead costs in order to offer customers lower prices or make larger profits.

Type of Project

Project TypeEvery job is not the same and cannot be charged at the same rate. A logo for a local club would cost significantly less than a logo for an internationally recognized  sports club. The factors that influence the price are not so much the budget of the client but the scope and complexity of the project. Larger projects usually require more detailed research and require a deeper understanding of the client’s vision. This may include multiple meetings and even travel. The longevity and range of uses of the logo will also vary by the popularity of the client. This would invariably also influence the price of the job.

Rights and Licensing

CopyrightAnother thing to consider in pricing services is who retains rights to the work and for how long. If the customer retains all rights to the work and can use it however they please then the cost of the design would be higher than if I retain rights to the project. A situation may also arise where the customer has exclusive rights to the design for a fixed period of time after which I have full rights once again. In this situation the price would be higher in consideration of the period of exclusive rights.


SeizerStyle Designs Partnerships & Affiliations

SeizerStyle Designs Partners & AffiliatesAs I mentioned in the SeizerStyle Designs July 2014 Newsletter, I am looking for business partners to help improve the efficiency of the website design, graphic design and marketing ventures of SeizerStyle Designs. I am currently looking for independent business partners with complementary services to those that my company offers. In addition I am looking to make affiliations with positive groups and organizations whose goals and visions align with those of the company.

Business Partners

SeizerStyle Designs serves a large variety of clients and each client has their own criteria that they look for when deciding whether or not our design services satisfy their needs. Some  are more concerned with price while others are more concerned with quality. An active list of trustworthy and reliable businesses whose services I can use would help speed up the process and accuracy of providing quotations to these clients.

SeizerStyle Designs would also be able to offer a similar relationship to our partners. They can refer clients to us and be sure of the quality and type of service these clients will receive. In this mutually beneficial relationship both partners can increase their leads and conversions with no unethical practices such as collusion. This not only helps the businesses involved but also the clients who are referred to  the right companies that can satisfy their needs from another reputable business.

For an example of how this would work consider a couple who  just started a small business and would like a website to promote their business and build awareness of its existence. SeizerStyle Designs would be able to create the website but I might outsource the photography to a business partner that specializes in photography. If the couple wants brochures printed SeizerStyle Designs could again design them but might outsource the printing to a business partner at a printing company that can print in volume for a cheaper price per brochure than could be printed in-house.


Affiliates are independent groups or organizations with visions and goals similar to those of SeizerStyle Designs. A formal affiliation allows us to show that we endorse certain causes and brands. In turn affiliates can show that they are connected to SeizerStyle Designs. Affiliates may be non-profit organizations or projects that we sponsor. Ambitious individuals may also be affiliates including anyone who does work on behalf of SeizerStyle Designs.

The whole point of establishing these formal associations is to improve networking and ultimately the customer experience. I understand that it is a competitive business environment and having a direct competitor as a business partner may be counter-productive if you fear they will “steal” your clients. However,  I believe that there are certain businesses that are naturally suited to work together and it is these businesses that can benefit the most from such partnerships. If you are interested in becoming a partner or affiliate please contact SeizerStyle Designs.



Google Chrome 64 bit

Google Chrome 64-bit

Chrome 64-bitLast month Google released the 64-bit version of Chrome which would take advantage of speed optimizations and improve stability on 64-bit computers. Despite the emergence of 64-bit computing for some years now, most popular  versions of browsers are still generally 32-bit applications. Upon trying the 64-bit version of Chrome for some weeks I was a bit disappointed. Despite its promises to be more stable and faster than its predecessors I found this version of Chrome to be less stable than its 32-bit counterpart and it may not entirely be Chrome’s fault.

The problem, as far as I could tell, was not with Chrome itself but with plugins that I use regularly. The Flash player would crash a lot and the Unity player would not install on the 64-bit version of Chrome. Due to these annoyances I reverted back to the 32- bit version of Chrome by uninstalling and reinstalling from the Google Chrome page. It is difficult for me to give the browser a fair analysis if the plugins I use with it won’t work well. Hopefully as time goes by, and the plugins and browser continue to improve in compatibility, 64-bit browsing will really be a better experience. For now I look forward to more improvements in Chrome and other browsers as well as in the plugins for them.

If you have tried the 64-bit version of Google Chrome please share your experience in the comments.

Gaming & Productivity

Gaming and productivity

Miniclip GamesGames can be much more than a fun way of passing time on a boring day. They can actually serve a very important purpose of reducing stress and preventing burn out. I often find that taking a break from a stressful project to play a game can put me in a better mood and allow me to tackle the project more effectively later. The drudgery of a difficult task or project can depress  you and make you feel that you are failing. Gaming can help alleviate some of these feelings and can relax you in much of the same way a recess from schoolwork helps students get refreshed .

The Little Achievements

The little victories that we achieve when playing games give us joy and confidence. The tiny virtual achievements may help us feel better about ourselves and our situation. It shows us that we can do what we put our mind to and this emotional state can be translated to more practical real world circumstances.

Strategizing and teamwork

Many games require some form of strategy or tactic in order to win. This is true for puzzle, action or even sports games. The player has to think about the moves as well as the repurcussions if a mistake is made. There are obvious parallels between this and life where planning is essential to projects. The more social games also require some form of interaction with friends in other to achieve objectives quicker. This encourages teamwork by emphasizing the increased power of a collective group over that of a single player.

Escape from uncomfortable situations

Sometimes reality can be harsh and ruthless. While we all have to accept this, gaming can be a brief distraction from the trials and tribulations of life. By escaping into another world you can temporarily shift your focus from your own shortcomings and problems and focus on something else. This distraction can be helpful if you are overwhelmed by the harsh realities of life and can help you keep it together.

Don’t overdo it

Like everything in life, moderation is a key factor. Despite the many benefits of gaming, playing too much can have negative side effects. Some games are very addictive and can distract you from work or other responsibilities. You need to be aware of the circumstances under which you can play  and when it would be inappropriate to do so.

So the next time you play a game and feel like you are wasting time remember all the benefits of gaming. Also remember the consequences of playing too much. Games are successful when they are popular and they become popular when they are addictive. Game on responsibly.

World Cup Controversial Start

Controversial start to the 2014 World Cup

World Cup 2014 BrasilAs a football fan the World Cup is undoubtedly the most anticipated football tournament of them all. Every 4 years the best of the best star studded national sides face each other in a competition that highlights not only their pedigree but their country. As the most popular single sport event in the world I can only imagine the pressure on all those involved in organizing, officiating and playing in the tournament. There is a large sense of national pride associated with this competition and the 2014 World Cup has provided a few controversial decisions in its opening 2 days. From “soft” penalties to erroneous offside decisions, human error has once again been the major talking point of a football tournament.

Accusations of favoritism for the home side, Brazil, have already been made after their encounter with Croatia on opening day. The repercussions of refereeing decisions are obviously amplified on such a grand world stage. I would like to see these errors eliminated and would rather see teams score goals on merit rather than poor decisions or, in the case of Mexico on day 2, having goals disallowed for questionable offside calls. I also recognize that these referees and their assistants are human and mistakes will be made occasionally.  Unfortunately for the players who have worked so hard to represent their countries these mistakes can be devastating.

I hope these early controversies help to make the remainder of the competition better. The Netherlands had a remarkable display against World Cup holders Spain which exemplified the beauty and unpredictability of the game. Do not let these early poor decisions ruin the tournament for you ad enjoy the rest of the 2014 World Cup. I know I will.