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In today’s digital world, your online presence is more important than ever. Having a fully-functional, professional website can make a huge difference between an average business and a highly successful one. We know creating a website can be daunting, but here at Wheelhouse Creative we take the guesswork out for you. Let us handle all the nitty-gritty details and we’ll walk you through the process step-by-step.
In order to streamline things, there’s a lot of ground work, or homework, that needs to be done. This preparation ensures you understand your goals and that we have all of the things we need in order to start designing your website.
Items we need from you:
Domain & Hosting
Your domain is the URL or address that people will use to access your website. For example, the domain for Wheelhouse Creative is www.wheelhousecreativellc.com. You will also need a hosting service, which is where your website will be housed online. If you aren’t sure where to start, no problem. We can help you acquire a domain and a hosting service for your website. If you already have both of these – great! We will simply need access to them so that we can link them to your new site.
Having a clear idea about who you are and what you do as a business is important for the success of your website. Is your goal to educate, to promote services, to sell products, to produce leads, to recruit? It’s crucial you understand your purpose before you start a website. If you don’t, your website won’t help you reach your goals and you’ll waste a lot of time and resources figuring out why.
When it comes to branding, consistency is key. Having your company’s logos, colors, and fonts allows us to style your website so it is consistent with your branding across all platforms. This ensures your viewers recognize that your website belongs to your company.
What websites have you visited that you liked? What really stood out to you? Was is the layout, the use of color, the functionality? We obviously don’t want to copy your favorite sites exactly, but knowing what you like or dislike about certain sites really helps us understand what you want in a final product. We recommend giving at least 3 sites as inspiration and indicating what you like and dislike about them. Be specific! Simply saying “I just like it” doesn’t help us understand what attributes we should apply to your website.
Consider your navigation to be your website blueprint. It adds structure and gives us a plan to follow when building your website. What information will be most prominent and what can be a little more hidden? Navigation is crucial because you want your viewers to easily find information on your website. It also helps guide your audience to content you want them to see first, second, and so on. Navigation is traditionally located at the top of most websites, in a bar with links listed side-by-side, in a dropdown menu, or a combination of the two.
If your navigation is the blueprint, then your content is the materials you need to build the house. Content makes up the body of your website — your text, images, videos, etc. Your content will influence how your layout will look and how many pages your site will ultimately have. It’s important to have a rough draft of your content ready before building.
What are your expectations when it comes to functionality? Do you want online forms, image galleries, image sliders, an ecommerce shop, social media feeds, a blog? We need to know all of this before we can start because it allows us to properly understand the scope of work and how long it may take to complete your website. Functionality also plays a huge roll in how the final product will look. It’s much easier to know what functionality you expect so we can build it in from the start, rather than incorporating it later to find it doesn’t work the way you expected.
We at Wheelhouse specialize in website design and development and can help you with all things web – from planning, design and development to securing domains and hosting services. We can also help you with site animations, custom site programming, site launch, and website maintenance. Let us help you build your online presence by building a professional website for your business. Visit www.wheelhousecreativellc.com to learn more.
What does a designer need to survive in an agency? We really don’t need much, really — maybe some snacks, a non-regimented workspace. But we do need direction.
No, not the north-south type of direction, although, OK, at times we need that as well.
But I’ve been asked many times to create billboards. Industry code words such as “poster” or “bulletin” fall into my lap and sit there, peering up at me like those kids from a Margaret Keane painting, begging me to begin.
I’m asked to create logos. All the time. I in turn ask such questions as “What colors are preferred?” or “Are there preconceived notions of what’s desired?”
I then get those big eyes again. They’ll say things like “Make it look luxurious” or “Make it look friendly” or I’ll hear “We’ll know it when we see it.” My personal favorite, though, is to “Make it hip; you know, jazz it up a little!” If I were to direct someone doing house construction to “jazz it up a little,” I’d expect the same blank stare I give to an Account Executive.
I’ve been asked to create brochures or magazines. I’ll ask, “Do we have all of the copy and photos to complete this task?” The response is usually to “just mock something up and we’ll get you copy later.” I’m told to “put some placeholder text in.” Nine times out of 10 when I do this, the copy I expect to be a paragraph or two comes back 10,000 words over.
I like to look at designers as chefs. The account executive, on the other hand, is the waiter, the most important member of any restaurant. They talk to the client, ask what they want, get a feel for their every desire. So, when a waiter comes back, he or she can’t simply say, “The client is so hungry!” The Account Executive needs to tell the designer/chef exactly what they the client would like to eat. You don’t want the chef to “just fix something, put some stuff together.”
So work closely with the Account Executive. Put time and thought into your strategy – so the Account Executive can place a specific order.
See, designers are simple to understand. And designing is simple for us when pointed in the right direction. So forget asking us to make something nice. Ask for that steak – medium rare – with the side of scalloped potatoes.
I promise it’ll be delicious.
Massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPGs, mercifully) get a bad rap for being life-sucking parallel universes. However, games like World of Warcraft are a microcosm of many real-life experiences. No, really.
For those who are unaware of how World of Warcraft works, here’s the gist: you start out mostly broke, you have no skills, very little sense of where you are in a gigantic world, and most living things are out to kill you. Kind of like real life. Between level grinding, learning virtual professions, exploring new territory, learning how your particular skill set works, and selling and trading with other players, World of Warcraft can quite unexpectedly teach us things about real life. Here’s a few things I picked up in the years I played.
The Default Way of Doing Something is Rarely the Most Efficient
The first time I fired up World of Warcraft, I was overwhelmed. There was a huge array of buttons, docks, and keyboard shortcuts that I had to learn and I didn’t know where to start.
The interface in World of Warcraft is blissfully customizable which is good because the nature of the game is complex. At any given moment, you have around a dozen or more abilities you may need to invoke at a half second’s notice. When I began playing, I could activate around four, maybe five abilities without moving a finger.
That habit of customizing layouts ended up spilling over into the rest of my work. I’d always been a fan of keyboard shortcuts. I didn’t realize it at first, but I’d transferred that skill directly over to real life.
Back to Basics: Learn to Use Keyboard Shortcuts Like a Ninja
Keyboard shortcuts are the easiest way to do things faster, but with the wide variety of software interfaces are designed for the masses, not you specifically. The instruction manual shows you the safest way to do something, but there’s typically a better way. Conventional wisdom gets you in the door, but exceptional wisdom moves you up the ladder.
Sometimes Starting Over is Easier Than You Think
Many of us have a pretty deep-seated fear of starting over. Whether it’s moving to a new city, changing careers, or starting a new unfamiliar project.
The risk of starting over in an MMO is much lower. All it costs is time, though that can be a hefty price itself. Yet, I still didn’t want to. By the time I reached level cap, I could buy just about anything, I wasn’t worried about getting one-shotted by people forty levels above me while questions, and to top it all off, I could fly. Why would I go back to hoofing it across Kalimdor on foot? I was comfortable in my experience and status even though I’d grown bored of this character and wanted something new.
There’s one very big advantage to starting over, though: now you have more experience. I spent considerably less time building a new character because I knew the ropes. It wasn’t as scary to start over as I thought because I knew how to get by now. Similarly, starting anew in real life may mean gaining new skills, but you know already how to impress clients!
Learn When to Let Go
Eventually, I stopped playing World of Warcraft. A few times, in fact. That’s not to say I would never return, but eventually, I had to stop. There was nothing wrong with it. I enjoyed the grind and I liked exploring the world. There was just one problem. The eating of precious time! Any thing can be immersive…a video game, a hobby or the endless hours spent catching up on the latest episodes on Netflix. Letting go in design is a little more difficult. People place their hearts on their sleeves when they create. It is a rewarding but painful experience. But it has to be done at times.
To sum it up, my time in the World of Warcraft has taught me a few things, not the least of which is treat those around you how you wish to be treated, and NEVER trust a rogue!
For those who did not know, Amazon’s iconic Prime Day was on Monday, July 16. Amazon Prime Day is a one-day only global shopping event exclusively for Amazon Prime members. This day is like Black Friday in July for Amazon, they more than likely spend months, weeks and days preparing for everything to be perfect for consumers on this one day. Unfortunately, the company’s website crashed just as the event began.
What are the results for a crashed website? A PR nightmare? Yes. Angry customers? Of course. But once you get over those bumps, you get most successful Amazon Prime Day in the history of the annual event. Moving on from the fact that you may have missed out on the air fryer you wanted to give your grandma for her birthday, you learn to see that not all mistakes lead to absolute failures. This lesson is especially true in the marketing and advertising industry.
Account executives are responsible for handling multiple accounts. With this comes wearing a different hat throughout each and every day. My favorite part about the industry is the creative meetings. Sometimes this process is long and frustrating, other times everything is right in the world and an idea comes together within the first five minutes. What I have learned the most out of these meetings is that sometimes you can say something funny and off topic that leads to an idea, you can be looking at an image upside down and the lightbulb goes off in your head. Ultimately you can turn something, yes even mistakes, into greatness. While it is nice to find the silver lining in situations, there are times when the mistake is a mistake and you learn from it. In the end it helps you pay very close attention to all of the details.
One of my first experiences in the advertising field was my stint at Stone & Thomas in Wheeling. I was the stat camera operator. My job was to make “PMTs” of any paste-up the designers put together. Seems archaic compared to the super-fast layout we now have on computers. Cutting and pasting with a “waxer,” using a roller to make sure the art was flat enough so shadows didn’t appear when the camera shot. Oh, those were the days.
As I said, I cut my teeth on the camera as I slowly worked my way into the design department. One of my first projects was to do one of the store’s “Wednesday Specials” – an ad we ran, believe it or not, every Wednesday featuring a product bought especially for a deep discount.
I got to work with Larry Cooper, the small electronics/kitchen buyer. A fun guy who, as I remember, dyed his hair deep black every three months and ate tuna and pineapple every morning.
That particular Wednesday, Larry had a special buy on Dirt Devil sweepers. A great price at $99.99. I liked Larry, so I took my time and produced what I thought was a great ad. I took the old feel of the Wednesday Special and reworked it. Crafting with my heart an ad that would go down in history at Stone & Thomas…one to be hung in the break room and admired for generations. It was my turning point. The ad, when presented to my colleagues, was highly praised.
“This guy is going somewhere!”
“This ad may be the best thing we have done all year!”
I was bathed in praise. I reveled in this and knew I had found my calling. I felt like a rock star when we called Larry to present this masterpiece to him. He sauntered into the office his usually contagious smile and looked at my Rembrandt.
“This is a beautiful ad!” he spouted. “A truly beautiful piece of work. I think this is one of the best ads I’ve seen come out of this department!”
I beamed in the corner. I had done it…I had created the greatest ad ever.
And then…it happened.
“A beautiful ad.” Larry continued. “It won’t sell any (expletive) sweepers…but it is a beautiful ad.”
The room went silent. A cold shiver ran the length of my spine. My ad…my beautiful ad…how could it not sell any sweepers?!
Larry argued his point with the head of the department while I sat numb in the corner. It was decided that the ad, the masterpiece of the sixth floor, would run as is.
Not one sweeper sold that Wednesday. The ad, though a thing of beauty, wasn’t on point. I didn’t emphasize the price point enough. The following week, we ran it again as Mr. Cooper wanted. The result – a sellout.
The lesson I learned that day…just because it looks good, it may not be on point.
My favorite season has finally arrived. Yes, the first day of fall is upon us once again. I’m ready for comfy sweaters, maroon skinny jeans and boots. I’m also ready to burn my at least 20 Bath and Body Works fall candles and consume anything and everything pumpkin-flavored. However, I really don’t feel like doing any of that today as the temperature has soared to near 90 degrees. It’s officially fall, what’s this all about? This sweltering heat has once again made me question something I wrestle with frequently during these transitional weeks and months – should I dress for the weather or the season?
Let me paint this picture for you. I roll out of bed in just enough time to brush my teeth, poorly apply my makeup and shoddily straighten my hair, leaving between three and five minutes to pick out an outfit for work. One would think that this close to the first day of fall, I’d be donning dress pants paired with a tasteful three-quarter length blouse, maybe even a scarf if I’m feeling really festive. But, alas, it’s already 70 degrees outside and getting warmer. Therefore, I’m left deciding between practically cooking myself alive in a lightweight sweater in a building that has most likely turned the AC off OR wearing a brightly-colored tank top at the end of September when the leaves have already started changing. I don’t have time for these decisions.
I digress for just one second. Does anyone recall the weather we had last Christmas Eve? It was at least 65 degrees that day. I wrapped presents in shorts with my window open. How bizarre is that? It really bums me out when the temperature doesn’t coincide with the season. It’s truly amazing what global warming has done to this earth, but this blog isn’t about politics.
Back to the topic at hand. Olivia and I discuss this dilemma all the time, and given the choice between dressing for the season or the weather, I tend to favor the latter option. I’d rather be comfortable than fashionable. I say that with an asterisk, though, because I’m wearing that three-quarter length blouse and nearly sweating to death in my office today. I did nix the scarf because it’s too hot outside for that.
Happy fall, ya’ll! May your outfit decisions be made more easily than mine this season and always!
WHEELING, W.VA. – Wheelhouse Creative LLC, Wheeling’s premier advertising and public relations agency, is pleased to support West Liberty University’s upcoming 48-Hour Film Festival slated for Sept. 16-18. The festival is open to all WLU students along with high school students from Brooke, Ohio and Marshall counties. The festival will conclude with a public screening and awards ceremony at Marquee Cinemas located at the Highlands.
Don Feenerty, creative director at Wheelhouse, said sponsoring this community event is important to the agency.
“WLU’s 48-Hour Film Festival is a lot like what we do here at Wheelhouse. The students are given a set of parameters, and they have a deadline to produce a finished product. This is what we do daily,” he said. “A client will give us a vague request, we flesh it out and explore all our avenues. Then we provide a finished product in the form of an ad, a design or as often is the case, a video. I think the 48-Hour Film Festival is a great training ground for these young film makers to gain real life experience. We are proud to be able to support such a project.”
The event begins on Friday, Sept. 16 when participants will randomly draw the name of the genre, character, prop and line of dialogue that must be used in some way in their film. The participants will then have a total of 48 hours to fully write, shoot and edit a six to 10-minute short film. Participants may work in teams of one to three persons, and are solely responsible for their own cast, crew, equipment and locations. Registration will be limited to 12 teams.
Final submissions will be received at 7 p.m., Sunday, Sept. 18 at the public screening. Students will compete for cash prizes for the top three places. Other prizes will be awarded in a variety of categories. Those wishing to view the screenings will be admitted to the theater at no cost, but donations will be accepted at the door. Proceeds will be used for future WLU film festival projects.
In addition to Wheelhouse Creative and West Liberty University, the film festival is presented by The Highlands and Marquee Cinemas.
Jared Thompson, director of the 48-hour film festival and WLU adjunct instructor, said this is the second year for the WLU 48-Hour film festival.
“I participated in a similar type of film festival in 2008 in the Wheeling area and loved the concept, and I wanted to bring that to West Liberty students today. Ironically, Josh Jenkins and Rob Hibbs, who are employed with Wheelhouse and are WLU grads, were participants in the same 2008 film festival, so it’s cool to see it come full circle where Wheelhouse is helping to make this event happen,” he said. “I’m extremely excited about the partnership that we are forming with Wheelhouse and the possibilities that it will inevitably create for the students here at WLU. The 48-Hour Film Festival is just one way for students to showcase their talent to not only the Ohio Valley, but to future employers as well.”
Thompson noted that film festival participants are still being sought. For more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or visit westliberty.edu/filmfest. Team pre-registration is encouraged and all teams must be present at the kick-off on Sept. 16.
“I also encourage anyone from the community to attend the FREE premiere event at the Highlands Marquee Cinemas. I don’t think there is a better way to spend a Sunday evening than to watch the hard work of independent film makers for no cost in a cozy theater,” he said.
Wheelhouse Creative LLC is a full service advertising and public relations agency with offices in Wheeling and Pittsburgh.
Sometimes it’s hard to come up with blog topics. I inquired with Carrie Scanlon, the resident crazy idea lady, when she informed me of the unthinkable: bubble wrap is being discontinued. Wait, what? Bubble wrap is being discontinued? Say it ain’t so! A quick Google search debunked Carrie’s theory (of course), but it did get me thinking about a bubble wrap-related story that happened to me this Christmas season.
It was Dec. 5 at Macy’s in Downtown Philadelphia. I was having a minor meltdown amidst the massive amount of shoppers crowding every nook and cranny of the housewares department when I saw the perfect gift for my older sister, Tara: a Kate Spade teakettle. It was white with black polka dots and probably the most adorable kitchen utensil I’d ever seen. I was ready to stand in the checkout line for what I assumed would be about five hours when my fiancé, being as supportive as ever, said, “She doesn’t need that. She can make her tea in her Keurig.” Deflated, dejected and very much not in the Christmas spirit, I put the teakettle back.
I thought about the teakettle all night. I looked at pictures of it on my phone while Jade watched football in the hotel. I had to have it.
As luck would have it, there was a Macy’s on our way back to Ohio that had the teakettle in stock. We pulled into the parking lot and I promised we would only be in there for a few minutes.
You shouldn’t lie at Christmas.
We walked into the housewares department and, lo and behold, no teakettle. “We have three in stock,” one employee told me. “They’re probably in the back,” said another. Would you believe we didn’t find a single teakettle that day? If you don’t, you better start believing. All was well that Sunday afternoon, though, as the manager ordered me the teakettle and waived the expedited shipping fee. It was set to arrive a few days later. I was pleased.
The teakettle turned up on my front porch in a box way bigger than necessary the following Wednesday. Upon lifting it, I could hear and feel the enameled beauty moving around. Not giving it a second thought, I tore open package and was stunned at what was inside.
One piece of bubble wrap. One. Not even the heavy-duty kind and not even wrapped around the teakettle. Really?
It was the saddest thing I’ve ever seen. The beautiful teakettle was scratched, dented, chipped, literally falling apart. I popped open the spout and a spring and a screw flew off. I clearly couldn’t let Tara open this on Christmas morning.
A few days later, I returned the severely damaged item to my local Macy’s. They were very apologetic and accommodating and ordered me another teakettle, waiving the expedited shipping fee once again. I was told to expect it within three to four days.
This Christmas season, I learned never to expect anything.
I received an email from Macy’s the day the teakettle was to be delivered. “Your item is no longer available.” Excuse me? You mean to tell me that not a single Macy’s in the entire world has that Kate Spade teakettle with the black and white polka dots? Yeah, right, that’s not gonna fly. Since Jade is the mean one, he was on the phone giving Macy’s Corporate a stern talking-to within a few minutes. As luck would have it, they located a teakettle for him. Guess where it was from?
The place I had originally seen and was an inch away from purchasing it two weeks prior.
Life is funny like that.
The order was placed on the Friday before Christmas and arrived promptly two days later in an appropriately sized box. I didn’t hear any initial clinking or clanking around when I shook it. I opened the box and, good Lord, I’ve never seen so much bubble wrap in my life. They used the heavy-duty kind this time and even threw in some packing peanuts. Now that’s the Macy’s customer service I know and love. Tara opened her Kate Spade Teakettle on Christmas morning and adored it just like I knew she would. She also informed me that she already had the matching hand towel hanging in her kitchen. How perfect!
In the end, it was all worth it. After all, I probably would’ve never come up with a blog topic had it not been for the most irritating, rewarding and bubble wrap-laden (or lack thereof) Christmas shopping experience of my life.