Choosing a name for your business and things to watch out for

Choosing a name for your business is an important, fun, and sometimes very difficult task when setting up a business. Iain Cameron Design and Illustration couldn’t be more practical or dull. But my company very nearly had a whole different name, with some other very interesting connotations, that involve sex and animals. I’ll get to that story later…

It is interesting to look at company names, and how they work for a business. Should it be memorable, or descriptive, or visually appealing, or trustworthy? Does it even matter? The word will take on the meaning of the brand. For some people the word ‘virgin’ implies an older man with a beard who wants to go into outer space. For others it implies Richard Branson.

Aka Spiderman

A number of freelance designer/illustrators brand themselves with a different name. They do this to stand out, be memorable, and to grab the URL (web address). Designing around a brand that isn’t actually your name is also a lot easier than designing for yourself. When starting my business I considered this a good direction to follow, but ultimately couldn’t live with the idea that other people would think I was giving myself a nickname.

Business naming cartoon

Look at the little monkey with the letter!

Which brings me to a company with a great name. I love Mailchimp, the email marketing service provider. I love the name. It’s simple, it’s sweet, it’s warm and cuddly like a monkey that delivers emails. Their website is also very well designed which will always give me a warm glow brand wise. I have a poor memory for names, but am very good at remembering important stuff in a round about way. I once said during a meeting in a previous design job, ‘why don’t we use the monkey email company’. They laughed at me, but they knew who I meant…

Mail chimp cartoon

Dog gone it

Before I finally went with my company name being ‘My Name and what I do’. I very nearly gave it another name. I searched for weeks for a company name. I combined colours and animals, various other random words, significant words, references to song titles, bands, lyrics, clever stuff, stupid stuff, surreal stuff, but ultimately nothing I could live with. Or someone got there first, or the URL wasn’t available.

Until I came up with ‘Bad Puppy Design’. With an image etched in my head of a sweet puppy dog with a guilty look on it’s face. And the URL was available!!

Bingo, I’d found it! But just before buying the domain name, I thought I’ll just see what’s on BadPuppy.com, might turn out to be another design company. Well apparently not. It’s one of the world’s largest gay porn websites.

Business name outing

So a lucky escape. Although from what I’m not sure. I’m not homophobic, so it’s the porn bit that is the issue. But somehow ‘gay porn’ made it even funnier. The thing is it may well have generated traffic. On telling another designer this story he replied, with his head slanted to one side, ‘but would that be the sort of traffic you were after?’. Which is a point. But if none of us wanted traffic that at some point was on their way into or out of porn sites, none of us would have any traffic… Although predictive text on Chrome made for interesting reading typing in the address.

As of right now the domain name is still available. You can have my ‘Bad Puppy Design’ company name suggestion for free!

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Choosing a web host for small or large businesses

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As a web designer the issue of web hosting is a regular concern. When I began ten years ago I started with a quite small Danish company call B-One. I chose them as, they advertised to me, they were cheap and I had nothing to measure them against, so I took a punt. A few years later they changed their name to One.com and now have their headquarters in Dubai, and have very large Danish offices at Kalvebod Brygge (See picture above) where WordPress Copenhagen held their conference a couple of years ago. I think it’s safe to say they have come along way in the last ten years.

As clients often have a different hosting company, I have come to learn how good a decision using One.com as a web host has been. The number of web hosts who insist that the Ftp client is FileZilla, and FileZilla only. My ftp preference is Dreamweaver from the Adobe Suite. I can use FileZilla, but for my work flow I want to use my preferred client. Then there is 24 hour chat support, with pretty much never more than a two minute wait on One.com. I have used a client’s very expensive WordPress specific hosting company where I have had to wait for San Francisco to wake up before I could get answers to a problem, and with a forty minute wait for an answer every time. And a whole number of other web hosting companies whereby the quality of support has been at best erratic, and often woeful.

I am no expert in hosting, or the issue of backend development, but from my experience if you are starting out with a website, or looking to move to a better one (or just to try another one) I strongly recommend One.com. A good quality, consistent service at a good price. Their support and website is available in Danish or English, and just having had a quick look at their site, quite a few other languages too.

Here is my affiliate link. You are of course under no obligation to use it, but if you click it I get a small amount of money, and you get a small amount of money reduction (the same amount) from your first purchase.

My One.com affiliate link

If this is all new to you, and you are just getting started, on clicking the link, put the name of the website you wish to purchase (domain name) into the search engine, keep trying until you find one available you like/can live with, then choose the cheapest option for hosting to get started. You can always upgrade later once your website is more popular. One.com will tell you when you have to upgrade it due to a large amount of traffic.

You may also like:

My web design portfolio page

 

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Why designers should never work for free

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Listen to The Joker

Working for free is a discussion subject that comes up way too often in the design world sadly. As the late Heath Ledger’s Joker character says in the film The Dark Knight above, “If you are good at something, never do it for free.”

There are a number of reasons for this, and a quick Google will find many other reasons not to work for free from other designers. But from my experience, it’s all about respect.

If you work for free, or offer to work for free, you may be liked by that person for doing it, but you will never be respected. And when you are not respected, your work and ideas are not respected. So that piece of work that you do for free, partly for experience, partly for your portfolio, will almost certainly be ruined by the client. Effectively becoming useless as an example of your work, and can’t be shown to future clients or employers.

Avoid business sharks

The other reason I strongly recommend not working for free, is the type of people who accept free work. They are generally awful. They are not a client for the future, and will never pay you for work at a later date, as they will just look for another ‘sucker’ to work for them for free. I saw a young designer post on a freelancers’ Facebook group offering to work for free. The people responding were like sharks circling wounded prey. Avoid these types at all costs.

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Back to work after a relaxing summer

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Back to school work

With August about to turn into September, I find myself happily going up through the gears back into proper work mode. I’ve had a great summer, my first real break in many years. My batteries are recharged, and I’m raring to go from my base in Copenhagen.

One of the best aspects of living in Copenhagen is the work, life balance. The business side of the city clearly winds down a bit during the peak summer months, but then cranks back to life with everyone refreshed, with ideas and eager to explore possibilities.

We are three!

My design business will shortly be three years old. I am very proud of what I’ve achieved, and grateful to all the clients I have been lucky enough to meet and work with. Here’s to the next three years!

So if you want to see some of my work, here is web design.

This is for graphic design, specialising in logo design.

And my other core area Illustration.

Skål, Slangevar, Cheers!

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Famous brands using WordPress

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There are many famous brands using WordPress. Sony Music, Renault, Vogue, Facebook, The New York Times and the BBC. There is an excellent Showcase page on the WordPress site that features many of the great sites using WordPress.

A favourite of mine is Facebook’s Company info page, in which Mark Zuckerberg is just another humble CEO, on just another humble About Us page on the internet. Sheryl Sandberg even mentions her fish.

So with around 20% of the internet, and 70% of the CMS market, and growing, if you are not already using WordPress, you really ought to, come your next new website.

Adding plugins in WordPress

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Plug from The Beano, who is copyright D.C. Thomsen, and just holding this space until I get an illustration drawn…

Adding plugins

There are some great plugins that can improve your site. Here is how to add one to your WordPress site.

In the back end > plugins > add new, put the plugin you are looking for into the search box, install and activate it. Easy. Some work immediately on activation, some need certain aspects set up on their set up page. Somewhere in the backend left hand sidebar, will be the set up page for the plugin. Look under ‘Settings’ if you can’t see it.

A word of warning on plugins. They can cause problems on your site. Don’t bring in too many (I’d ay about 5 max, less is better). Check to see if a plugin is popular by downloads, or has lots of complaints in their forum before bringing it in.

Dealing with plugin issues

If something goes wrong with your site in WordPress it is almost always a plugin that is responsible. Not necessarily a bad plugin, it can be two plugins are conflicting with each other, or with your theme. If something goes wrong with your site, start by de-activating your plugins one by one, and checking if the problem is resolved. If that doesn’t solve it, deactivate them all together. If that doesn’t solve it, change your theme to one of the default WordPress themes you got with the install. Between those steps, almost all issues will be solves. You should be able to isolate, what will almost always be a problem plugin, and then delete it.

Update your plugin

Whenever the red symbol appears that a plugin needs updating, update it. This also goes for WordPress, keep it updated, and your theme.

Recommended WordPress plugin

I recommend you  should have WordPress SEO by Yoast. Adds a box below each article in the back end of your site for you to fill out for SEO. It teaches you how to SEO each article or page through choosing a key phrase for that page or article, then adding it to the Title, description and in the content. It effectively teaches you to write better SEO content.

I also recommend Disqus plugin for comments. At the bottom of this article you can see my comments section is with Disqus. It allows visitors to log in with social media, or Disqus itself, and can interact with other blogs. You occasionally meet it on large scale sites such as The Daily Telegraph.

You may also like:

My WordPress portfolio page.

Working on The Dental Trauma Guide website

A number of years ago I had the privilege to work for The Odontologist Videncenter (Department of Rare Oral Diseases), a research department within Rigshospital (University Hospital), Copenhagen’s main hospital.

I worked under the legendary dentist Jens Ove Andreasen, known as the Father of dental traumatology, and also department head Jette Daugaard-Jensen, and Søren Steno Ahrensburg Christensen. Working with other animators, graphic artists, and illustrators, we worked on The Dental Trauma Guide website which is a non-profit website dedicated to optimising worldwide treatment of dental trauma.

Their work in research and treatment of patients was fascinating and incredibly inspiring to see.

 

 

And what do you do?

My job title is something of an issue/mouthful. Web designer, graphic designer and illustrator. Depending on the context, I’ll generally respond to the question of what I do, as ‘I make websites’. In most situations it is just polite smalltalk and no-one could care less. But as a freelancer, you never know who might be a potential customer.

The Web designer title is a particularly confusing one, as it seems from my experience to imply I’m a developer. A techy. Someone who can help fix computers, set up email accounts, get broken printers to work. Oh no I can’t. I belong to the designer tribe, which buys a mac because a. it looks pretty, and b. I get it home, plug it in, and it pretty much works. How it does this, how much kilobytes of download upload processing capability, I neither care about, nor wish to waste valuable brain RAM understanding.

There is the title Digital designer. However along with Multi-media designer, it’s a bit yeuch. In Danish there is a job title of Webgrafiker. Web graphic designer, effectively. A nice term which explains the job function well.

Illustrator is also a job title I dislike. On being further pressed the conversation often develops to ‘aah you do cartoons!’ with a deeply patronising smile. Cartoonist is an awful job title. Cartoonist illustrator, nope, doesn’t work. Again in Danish, there is a lovely job title for this, Tegner. At tegne is the verb to draw. Tegner, someone who draws. Covers pretty much all fields of illustration, without the pretention implied in Illustrator or heaven forbid, Artist(e).

Graphic designer I have no problems with. Although others in similar fields to me use the term Art director. That to me implies a person who sits around all day in a design agency doing precious little, appearing for the last five minutes of a project to change everything and/or take all the credit/apportion blame.

Potential art director clients. I’m. Just. Kidding.