Business Card Design: Help Me Decide And Cast Your Vote

It’s time to reprint my business cards, and being a designer, that means it’s time for a new business card design.

I’ve settled on the basic layout of the design, the typography, and the overall color scheme, but I’m stuck on something.

I’m not sure which background design I like best. Clean, lightly textured, or heavily textured?

I can make an argument for all three. I have a favorite, but I’m curious what you guys think.

So, what do you think? Please take a look and vote for your favorite PHDS business card design below.

I have comments enabled on this post, so if you like, you can leave a comment telling me what’s what.

Business Card Design

Business Card Design

Business Card Design

Which Background Design Do You Prefer?

  • Clean Background #1 (28%, 13 Votes)
  • Lightly Textured Background #2 (6%, 3 Votes)
  • Heavily Textured Background #3 (66%, 31 Votes)

Total Voters: 47

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New Website Launched: TAC Energy

TAC Energy Website

I am super excited about this new site and new client: TAC Energy.

 

TAC Energy chose the Patrick Houston Design Studio to redesign and rebuild their website.

The requirements were to improve the SEO, update the site to a modern CMS platform (WordPress), upgrade the visual appeal, and it was very important to the client that the site performed and behaved perfectly on mobile.

And the entire project had to be brought in on a budget that ad agencies or web firms wouldn’t touch.

The responsiveness of the design means that a separate mobile interface isn’t necessary. It resizes to fit any screen on the fly – notably, even a vertically oriented phone, all done with CSS. Please take a look at how it behaves on the phone. I’m really pleased with what we’ve done.

Another big part of the project was to integrate a stand alone blog into the site – one that had a lot of content and a lot of daily readers – without losing any SEO juice or followers. Pulling the content in from the blog site, integrating it with the updated content from the existing site, and making it responsive to different screen sizes was a challenge that is right in my wheelhouse. I adore these kinds of projects.

The SEO is an ongoing process. Because the old site had basically no SEO done, and what was there was an abject disaster, we’re going to let it simmer for 30 days before we get really serious about the SEO, so we’ll have some baselines to measure against.

There will be added functionality added over the next few weeks as well. A good form generator is in order, and a searchable map function is being worked on as well.

I really am proud of this one. I hope you’ll take a moment to take a look, and think of me when you get ready to redesign your site.

TAC Energy is a division of the Truman Arnold Companies, and one of their other business units is TAC Air, is a long-time client of the Patrick Houston Design Studio.

For reference, this is what the old site looked like.

Old-TAC-Energy-Website

New Project Completed: Keystone Aviation

Keystone Aviation

Keystone Aviation is an aircraft charter, aircraft sales & brokerage, private aircraft management and aviation maintenance company headquartered in Salt Lake City, Utah.

 

Keystone Aviation Mobile

I’m super proud of this one. One of the coolest things about the Keystone Aviation site is the mobile version. Take a look on your phone.

In addition to the responsive site design and the very slick mobile version of the website, one of the neatest things about the site is the way we’ve used a shopping cart to display the Charter Fleet and the Aircraft For Sale listings.

The purchasing functionality has been stripped out of the shopping cart, so you can’t actually purchase an airplane or charter a flight from the site, but it displays the Charter Fleet and Aircraft For Sale beautifully.

Quote requests, sales staff contact information, complete details on the company, social sharing functions and much more are available on the site.

The site is of course, built on WordPress. Based on an existing theme, it is nevertheless, highly customized with a lot of look-and-feel modifications and enhanced functionality.

Ove the coming weeks, there will be additions and enhancements to the site.

It will be bristling with carefully thought out SEO to expand their footprint on the web.

If you need to charter a flight to or from anywhere in the world, or are looking to purchase and aircraft, Keystone Aviation is your man.

Keystone Aviation is a TAC Air company. TAC Air is a long-time client of the Patrick Houston Design Studio.

Razorback Game Day

Razorback Game Day, Finally.

After 8 long months, College Football has returned, and with it, Razorback Game Day.

Razorback Game Day Helmet

I can’t remember a longer off-season waiting for Razorback Game Day than this one has been. It’s been agonizing.

I suppose that part of the reason that it seems to have been such a long time since the last Razorback Game Day is because of Sporting Life Arkansas, a website I run with my friend Simon.

It’s been both a blessing and a curse in ways.

I’m so plugged into the minutae, and pay such close attention to every little thing now, that it’s made the months between the end of the horrifying season last year seem to stretch out forever. That’s the curse part.

The blessing parts far outweigh the cursed parts.

I’ve been so fortunate to work with Simon on bringing our little vision to life. From its humble launch on Thanksgiving weekend last year, through the long, cold, football-less months between January and September, Sporting Life Arkansas has been a joy to work on.

Working with such a talented group of writers – guys like Jim Harris, Doc Harper, Chris Bahn, Evin Demirel, Stacey Margaret Jones, Rex Nelson, Chris Murray and so many others – has been an absolute joy as well.

They bring us sports and sporting lifestyle stories from every corner the state. With original news, topical analysis, game break-downs, fun and funny observations, and even some historical perspective on teams from across the state of Arkansas, Sporting Life Arkansas covers the state in ways that no one else does. I’m incredibly proud to have been part of offering the platform to our readers across the state, across the nation and across the world.

And that’s not an exaggeration. We really do have dedicated readers in places like Poland, Germany, Australia, Canada, UK, France and more.

Another great part of this is that I’ve gotten some pretty cool perks.

Razorback Game Day

I was able to attend my first Razorback Media Day this year. I visited the new Football Operations Center, saw the new Locker Room and Player Lounge, and got to see the Razorbacks program from an angle that most people never get to see.

I met and talked with the players, had conversations with the coaches, and met guys like Rick Schaeffer, Steve Sullivan, Justin Acri, and so many more great guys who are as passionate about Razorback Game Day as I am.

I didn’t get to meet Wally Hall, but I did see him. He looked like the loneliest guy in the building that day. I guess that is a by-product of telling it “Like It Is”.

I sat and watched Jim Harris tell Razorback kicker Zach Hocker the story of Steve Little, and saw with my own eyes his reaction.

Shortly thereafter, word came down from The Hill that Hocker would be handling ALL the kicking duties on Razorback Game Day this year. How cool is that?

Razorback Game Day

Kyran got autographs from some Razorback Game Day greats. David Bazzel was not on that list.

Through our association with 103.7 The Buzz, I was able to send Kyran and her friend Sarabeth to an event purporting to teach ‘Football 101’ to ‘the Ladies’. The results weren’t what anyone expected. Clearly, we football fans have some work to do in sharing our love of the game with “The Ladies”.

Those are just a few of the cool things I’ve gotten to do since we started this thing. The list goes on and on.

One of my absolute favorite things about this is how it has reconnected me with my Alma Mater in Jonesboro.

Red Wolves HelmetI am as excited about the Arkansas State Red Wolves football season as I have ever been.

The response with A-State fans to what Sporting Life Arkansas is doing has been nothing short of astounding. They have embraced us, supported us and loved us.

We’ve had extensive coverage of the Red Wolves over the past few months, and I would bet the breadth and depth of it far exceeds any other statewide media outlet with the possible exception of the Jonesboro Sun.

The Arkansas State fans have been starved for coverage of the Red Wolves by most of the statewide media, and it has been our sincere pleasure to help alleviate some of that.

Thank you Red Wolves Fan. We are so grateful for your support.

One of my favorite things to do is to design infographics.

Infographics – 2013 Red Wolves Schedule Wallpaper

I designed a desktop wallpaper/background image for the 2013 Red Wolves football season. Sometime over the summer, we got a request from new Red Wolves head coach Bryan Harsin to use the graphic as an official part of his presentation to alumni and recruits. It genuinely is one of my proudest moments.

The excitement of football season in Arkansas is unlike anything else in the state. The Razorbacks, Red Wolves, Bears and all the other proud football programs generate a unique energy on Saturdays for me and so many others.

To have been a small part of bringing some of that excitement to Arkansas sports fans has been a real joy.

And as good a job as I believe we’ve done, we still have so much more that we would love to do.

Our coverage of high school sports, biking, hunting and fishing, soccer, baseball and many others isn’t where we want it to be. If anyone reading this would like to contribute, please get in touch. We’re eager to talk to you.

The traffic on the site has been consistently solid throughout the long dry spell between January and August. But the numbers over the past month have gone through the roof – exceeding our expectations by a pretty wide margin – and show no sign of slowing down.

We have several scalable and attractive packages to offer someone who would like to market their business or service to a dedicated Arkansas audience. If you would like to reach the very best demographic that Arkansas has to offer an advertiser, let us know.

We’ll be happy to come by and visit.

Exile In Guyville

Exile In Guyville Is 20 Years Old

Exile In Guyville

Exile In Guyville was released in June 1993.

My first awareness of Exile in Guyville was Phillip Martin’s review in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette later that year. I can’t find that review online – for free anyway – but I remember it drawing parallels to the Rolling Stones classic album Exile On Main Street, which happens to be the GREATEST RECORDING OF ALL TIME.

On that recommendation I bought it. I was immediately drawn in by the honest, frank lyrics and the lo-fi production sensibility. Exile in Guyville, in a very real way, is a revolutionary record that sounds as fresh and as shocking now as it did then. It was a huge critical success.

The Chicago Tribune catches up with the record in this 20 year anniversary interview with Ms. Phair and others. If you are a fan, it’s an interesting read.

They thought it was just confessional. They thought that there was no sort of self-editing process. My favorite thing is to be really brilliant while like just off the cuff. That’s my aesthetic, high-low. The fact that they didn’t think that I could be intelligent enough or artistically formal enough to intend things to be the way they were deflated me a little bit.

But I’m not here to talk about the record or Ms. Phair, but to document how the discovery of Exile In Guyville completely altered the course of my life.


In late 1993 when I started listening to it, my first marriage was in the final stages of disintegration. I remember listening to The Divorce Song from Exile in Guyville over and over and over. Even at one point begging my then-wife to “Listen. Really listen.” I would tell her. As if there were some message she was supposed to be getting from it.

When 1993 rolled over into 1994, I changed jobs, going from a stressful and unhappy ad agency job to a corporate marketing job where I was very happy. The then-wife and I also bought a house out in the country that spring.

Early that summer, the wife moved out. The divorce was final in late December.

I lived by myself in the big country house for a while. My best friend lived with me for a short time. My crazy meth-addicted cousin moved in for a while and then moved out. Eventually, I had the place to myself.

I picked up the guitar again. My nephew would come over and I would show him a few chords. He introduced me to Nirvana.

I was lost and lonely, but not really sad or unhappy. I was mostly directionless. I drank a lot.

I listened to Exile in Guyville constantly. Tom Petty’s Wildflowers was also in heavy rotation. Due to the nephew, Nirvana became an obsession. If I wasn’t working or sleeping, I was playing guitar.

My corporate marketing job provided me with my first non-AOL connection to the internet. I remember Netscape being released very early 1995, providing a graphical interface to the nascent World Wide Web. There wasn’t much on the internet in those days, but Netscape proved the potential of the concept for universal access and usability.

In early March, I discovered the Liz Phair listserve. For those of you unfamiliar with listserve, it was basically a way to have a group discussion with folks via email. A precursor to chat rooms, message boards and discussion forums.

The Liz Phair listserve had maybe a couple hundred dedicated fans. It was about as inane as you would expect, and I grew bored with it pretty quickly, but didn’t unsubscribe. Most days a few postings would come through. Some days, nothing.

And then one day an interesting question came in. It questioned and expressed surprise at how men could relate to what was essentially a feminist statement. Grrrrl Power and all that. The post ended with “You can answer via email if you want, so as not to clog up the list.”

I don’t really remember what I said. Probably something along the lines of “I’m a huge fan of Exile on Main Street and that was my entry to the record, but I love the raw musicianship and the smart lyrics and besides you don’t have to be a girl to be a feminist.”

I’m sure Kyran would remember my reply differently, but that started a correspondence between she and I.

At first it was all light and fun, but we started sharing details of our lives and getting more personal about things. We would both spend hours each day composing long emails to one another, Exile in Guyville long forgotten. It was intoxicating. We began connecting in a deep and profound way over the internet.

Kyran lived in St. John’s, Newfoundland, Canada and I lived 3,000 miles away in Little Rock, Arkansas.

After a few weeks of this very intense pen pal relationship, I learned that my creative partner at the corporate marking job was leaving for an ad agency job, and suddenly I was without a very close friend and work partner, just as the correspondence with Kyran was ramping up considerably. We were actually talking about meeting. In person.

But here’s the thing. The raw honesty that I perceived in Exile in Guyville sort of set a template for the correspondence between Kyran and I.

I remember making a decision early on, that I would simply be honest about who and what I was. I told some little exaggerations here and there about the external things, but I was completely honest about the internal things – what I thought, how I felt, what I believed and who I was.

Unbeknownst to me, she had decided to do the exact same thing.

Kyran and I did meet in person that June, and again in September. Shortly after that second meeting, I resigned from my corporate marketing job and moved to Mexico. She joined me in January. A few months later, we came to Little Rock. Although our plan was for this to be a short layover to somewhere else, we’ve been here ever since.

Since those first emails between us, that’s what has the meant the most to me over the years – the honesty between us. She knows all of me. The good, the bad, the in-between. Kyran loves me for exactly who I am.

In a very real way, I have Phillip Martin and Exile in Guyville to thank for that.

I’m Speaking At Wordcamp Fayetteville 2013

Wordcamp Fayetteville 2013

My topic at Wordcamp Fayeteville 2013 will be Finding and Choosing A WordPress Theme

I’m not quite sure what I’ve gotten myself into here in volunteering to present at Wordcamp Fayetteville 2013, but it is sure to be interesting.

My session, called Finding and Choosing a WordPress Theme, is in the beginners section.

I’ll walk attendees through the process of finding and choosing an appropriate WordPress Theme for your blog or website.

I’ll be covering free themes available through the WordPress CMS, and premium themes available on the web, with hints and tips on what to look for when evaluating themes.

The session will be appropriate for beginning bloggers wanting to set up their own blog, or existing website owners who want to move their site over to WordPress to take advantage of the WordPress CMS (Content Management System) for site management and development.

The power of WordPress for site owners lies in its overall ease-of-use, its ability to design on the fly, and the extensive plugin availability that allows functionality enhancements without knowing how to write code.

Hiring A Web Designer

Friend, author, blogger and all around dynamo, Lela Davidson, put up an interesting post about hiring a web designer.

 

Hiring A Web Designer

Lela’s 3 Things You Must Discuss When Hiring A Web Designer outlined three critical points of up-front discussion in working with a web designer.

It’s an excellent post on Hiring A Web Designer from a client-side perspective that hits three major points: Customization, Responsiveness and Branding Aesthetics. The post is specifically about web development in WordPress and I thought that to complete the circle, I would respond from a designers perspective.

Content Is King

The biggest issue that I encounter is that clients first begin thinking about what they want the website to look like, without putting much thought into what they want it to say.

So my #1 question is always “Do you have content or are we starting from scratch?

For clients with existing websites are looking at hiring a web designer that want a redevelopment job, this isn’t an issue. It is far easier to plan the navigational structure and begin working on a design if there is good content available.

If we are starting from scratch however, good planning is essential. A proposed site map is where we would begin. We’ll discuss the various pages you’ll want and how to configure the navigational structure so that your readers can easily find what they are looking for. Most begin as a simple flow chart or organizational chart. A good web designer/developer can provide guidance and keep you from making rookie mistakes.

A site map will provide your web designer with critical information to begin the design process, reduce development time, and give focus for everyone involved.

Once the site map is in hand, I tell my clients “Start writing“.

Form Follows Function

The #2 issue to discuss is “What do we want the website to do?

WordPress was originally designed as a blogging platform and that is still at the core of what it can do. However, it has evolved into a dynamic Content Management System (CMS) that is stable, powerful and easy to use. The WordPress software is 100% free.

In addition, virtually any feature or functionality that you could want for your website is available as a WordPress plug-in. Most of them are absolutely free. There are instances when a premium plug-in is needed, but deciding on these features and functions up front allows a designer/developer to include those costs in the quote.

Features and functionality questions like “Do you want custom forms, in-line video or audio, a shopping cart, live-blogging, events calendars, social media integration, etc., etc.” should be answered up front before any design or development work begins.

A complete list of features and functions your website needs allows everyone to be on the same page with expectations and costs.

Your Hard-Working Website

The #3 question that should be discussed is “What happens once the site goes live?

Managing a working website takes time and work. Making sure that everything is working, monitoring web servers and web hosting, managing database optimization and backups, updating themes and plug-ins, and a host of other un-glamorous tasks on a regular schedule are necessary.

The days of putting up a website and expecting anyone to see it are long gone. Some degree of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is critical. Social media integration is an important part of website management. Keeping content fresh is crucial. Your website has to be worked on constantly or it simply gets buried under a mountain of similar sites.

Web designers and developers have a couple of ways to price on-going web maintenance. Monthly maintenance agreements are the norm, but a by-the-hour approach is an option.

Anyone with good basic computer skills can add content to a WordPress site. I have had a lot of success in teaching clients how to do the majority of the work themselves if they wish. This allows them to pay me on an as-needed basis rather than setting up a maintenance agreement. My web design and development friends think I’m insane for favoring this approach, because a maintenance agreement is good for cash flow. But I find that it improves client loyalty and fosters an agreeable long-term relationship.

Hiring A Web Designer

I hope that this post has been helpful if you are thinking about hiring a web designer, and that it compliments Lela’s excellent advice for those considering hiring a web designer.

Having a conversation about these topics can lead to a happy web development experience where expectations are harmonious, a firm price is agreed upon, and the end result is one that all parties are proud of.

I also hope that you will give me a call if you are looking for a web designer or a web developer. I have lots of happy, long-term clients who would be happy to vouch for my services.

Seafarer Exploration Corp

Working with the good people at Seafarer Exploration Corp has been a super fun project to be involved in.

Seafarer Exploration Corp

It’s a long story, but it turns out that the State of Florida hadn’t granted any shipwreck recovery permits in many years until Seafarer Exploration Corp came along and forced the issue. Seafarer has been granted the first two recovery permits in basically forever, and have begun exploring the sites.

If you’ll remember your history of the exploration of the new world, you’ll remember that lots of gold was carried across the sea from the new world to the old world.

And, it turns out that there were shipwrecks. Lots and lots of shipwrecks.

Sooooo…

With the advances in technology, and the fact that most of those shipwreck sites have lain undisturbed since the date of the wreck, there is a mountain of recoverable artifacts and treasure sitting off the coast of Florida, just waiting to be picked up.

Seafarer is a publicly traded company (SFRX) and I own a small bit of it. When they start pulling treasure up off the floor, I’m going to go sit on the beach for a very long time.

Infographic - 2013 Razorback Recruiting Map

Infographics

I love doing infographics.

I love making infographics. I also love the Razorbacks. And the Red Wolves. And maps. And cool wallpaper images. And background images. And whatnot.

These are totally for fun. Click on the links below each one for a full sized, suitable for wallpaper/desktop background images, and feel free to share them around.

Infographic – 2013 Razorback Recruiting Map

Infographic - 2013 Razorback Recruiting Map
Wallpaper/Desktop Background Image.

Infographics – Red Wolves Schedule Wallpaper

Infographics - Red Wolves Schedule Wallpaper
Wallpaper/Desktop Background Image.

Infographics – Razorbacks Schedule Wallpaper

Infographic - Razorback Schedule Wallpaper 2013
Wallpaper/Desktop Background Image.

 

Bonus Time!

Here are a couple of background images designed specifically for Twitter. If you are a fan of Twitter, the Razorbacks or the Red Wolves, feel free to grab them and use them.

Razorback Twitter Page Background

Razorback Twitter Page Background
Razorbacks Twitter Background Image.

Red Wolves Twitter Page Background

Red Wolves Twitter Page Background
Red Wolves Twitter Background Image.