Clear Thinking and Fresh Perspectives — — part 1 — Inception & Diving In

      it takes an adven­ture to see where you want to be.

change in the air

We choose to see what we’ve seen for so long,
we could choose to see that was wait­ing to be found.
We may not have noticed, but sud­denly details and nuance appear, beg­ging to be tried on for size to get per­spec­tive on what was already there,…

                    For me, it made for an inter­est­ing sum­mer, to say the least.  IMG_0242 Follow Me on Pinterest

Exam­in­ing and clar­i­fy­ing per­spec­tives often starts with the gen­eral feel­ing that some­thing isn’t right, and some ‘fresh air’ is needed.
(badly — of course no one acts until then, do we?)

fresh air Follow Me on Pinterest
Here was the basic plan;

  the plan we started with was more amor­phous than this,                                       but I’ll jump right to the plan that was.

~ We rented out our house for the sum­mer — 3 months — and ven­tured into parts both known and unknown.

The mis­sion: To see what was miss­ing and make life richer and fuller. Vague, I know,  but there you go.

The sub­text was always the ques­tion of start­ing a new chap­ter for our lives, what it meant, what we wanted and where that would lead us. Always, and urgently, on our minds.

~ To start, a trip, to see some of the rest of the world. Maybe they’re not all just sit­ting around wor­ry­ing about their kids and tend­ing to the old folks.
~~ So, West coast of Ire­land, a cas­tle sounded good (it was grand),
… a train across to Dublin
then a boat and another train to Lon­don. (Oh, what a sight!)
A few pics:
castle in Ireland Follow Me on Pinterest bridge in Dublin Follow Me on Pinterest windows of London Follow Me on Pinterest

~ Quite some­thing! Upon being trans­ported lit­er­ally, we were trans­ported our­selves, anew, adven­ture­some in our way, pac­ing our­selves to take it in and enjoy each breath and view.
~We put aside any thoughts of plan­ning for this or tak­ing care of whomever (mostly) and  dug in to the moment — and the good food, of course! We walked a lot, and laughed I think quite a lot.
~The fog started to lift…

Learning to See

Can you really learn to See?

pulling out the weeds of winter Follow Me on Pinterest Of course.
Sounds like it’s some­thing we know nat­u­rally, doesn’t it?
Open your eyes, take it in, and we see. If that’s all it is, we lose an impor­tant part of the picture.

The part that can reveal some sub­stance is uncov­er­ing the intri­ca­cies, decid­ing what’s impor­tant, and what’s periph­eral.
So, if you’re want­ing develop a web pres­ence — your over­all web pic­ture — web­site, blog, social media, what­ever else that applies — it helps to know what your’re look­ing at, and what you want to see, before you begin.

How to see. To a cer­tain degree, it comes down to care­ful obser­va­tion, some­thing we can eas­ily for­get to prac­tice. Although, it goes deeper than that. Learn­ing to really see takes obser­va­tion into exam­i­na­tion, maybe into rev­e­la­tion. There’s an adven­tur­ous open­ness to expe­ri­ence, and even an expec­ta­tion of a mys­tery revealed.

Would you mind if I tell a quick story here? .…. I was teach­ing draw­ing to a class at a local museum. Any­one could sign up. (and did) One day we had a model, and we were doing basic ‘head’ draw­ing. As stu­dents were draw­ing and I was walk­ing around point­ing out things to look for (pro­por­tions, etc,..) I came to one man, and he had truly ‘drawn’ what he saw. In this order, hor­i­zon­tally, one eye, the other eye, and a nose to the right. I said to him, (gen­tly, with humor) “It’s good to remem­ber that the nose goes between the eyes.” He hadn’t seen it. He was so caught up in cap­tur­ing the details, he’d lost sight of what he was sup­posed to be doing – draw­ing a face. I love this story because it brings me back to that sweet man, and the rev­e­la­tion I has that day about how crit­i­cal ‘see­ing’ is some­thing tored_2Droses learn. Learn­ing to see by unrav­el­ing the lay­ers and exam­in­ing what we see at each point, until the whole pic­ture emerges.

On see­ing and obser­va­tion,..
And the other pieces to this puzzle:

  • See­ing the lit­eral surface
    • It’s so easy to look quickly and assume that what we saw in that glimpse is all that there is. white rose, concept of layers Follow Me on Pinterest
    • So, look quickly. What do you see first?
        • a white rose.
          good start, but you can see how sur­face that is.
        • So, look again, and you start to see the petals, each open to a dif­fer­ent degree.
        • Look away, start again and see what hap­pens when you drill down fur­ther. choosing the right path Follow Me on Pinterest
        • Color and Light
          • Now you’ve started to unfold the mystery.
          • With­out light, there is no color,  with­out color there is no real inter­est. If they’re not in har­mony, there is no point — no mes­sage — at all.
        • Find­ing the Gems
          • This is where you sep­a­rate the good from the inspir­ing. Iden­ti­fy­ing what is the most impor­tant thing you want to com­mu­ni­cate, and make all your visu­als res­onate from that.
        • Sim­plic­ity Makes it Shine
          • Sim­plic­ity isn’t just about less­en­ing the infor­ma­tion, or dumb­ing things down. It’s about ele­gance, and specif­i­cally about communication.
          • Keep­ing things pared to their essence really gets your point across, and then your vis­i­tors know if they want to stick around for more.

There are 2 generic say­ings, “can’t see the for­est for the trees”, and oh, what’s the other one? It’s easy to get caught up in see­ing details to the point where there is no whole, or see­ing the whole with­out nuance.

Work­ing on the web, cre­at­ing some­thing — a state­ment for your busi­ness, per­haps — your start­ing con­cept can be visu­al­ized in pieces, and it won’t hold together ter­ri­bly well. Worse than that, you’re not giv­ing your vis­i­tors very much, and that’s really what web com­mu­ni­ca­tion is about.

Bet­ter to plan it, from the inside out, so that every nuance is avail­able to those who seek it.

tree-canopy Follow Me on Pinterest So, go have a look.

And look again.
… at famil­iar places or mun­dane objects
… at some­thing you wouldn’t have looked at before, just wouldn’t have both­ered with.

Now, start to uncover the lay­ers, the pieces you don’t see at first glance, or maybe even after that.

Get the full pic­ture.
Take it inside as a new way to see.
Use this when­ever you find your­self mak­ing a quick assess­ment where there is more to the story.

In the com­ments sec­tion below, share some obser­va­tions or insights — or what I’ve undoubt­edly over­looked -
I’d love to hear what you think, and I’m sure that oth­ers could gain from your thoughts as well.

47% of Small Businesses don’t have Websites!

47% ?  Really?

Actu­ally I don’t know the exact num­ber, but I did read recently (and have some anec­do­tal evi­dence) that about half of all small busi­nesses don’t have websites.

Follow Me on Pinterest Seems quite hard to believe. 

Yet, I can tell you why.
In the 15 years I’ve been design­ing web­sites, the most com­mon theme has been the over­whelm. At first I thought it was the medium — peo­ple new to it, learn­ing their way around, etc. – but as time went on, I found no dif­fer­ence. It didn’t mat­ter how long they’d been in busi­ness, or what kind of busi­ness it was, there was the imme­di­ate freeze.

That’s quite enough for a lot of busi­nesses to put it off for ‘later’, or ratio­nal­ize not need­ing one at all.

For Some,

That can suf­fice. A very small local busi­ness, great word of mouth, own­ers close to retirement,…

When was the last time you wanted to know about some­thing – restau­rant hours/reviews/menus, movies, plan a trip, research any­thing, and oh, what was that song that has lyrics run­ning around in my head nonstop?

Follow Me on Pinterest
A friend calls and wants to go see a show. What is your first response? Dig­ging under the couch for the phone book? (do they still make those?)

Of course not!
We grab our cell phones, our iPads, lap­tops, etc. because we ASSUME the answer  will be there.

And, it usu­ally is.

3 Ways to START to put things in motion:

1. Decide to do it. Give your­self a man­age­able time­line — just for the plan­ning stage

2.  Make 2 –3 sub­stan­tial, attain­able goals for your site.

This may take some research — on the com­puter — See what oth­ers are doing, who they’re address­ing them­selves to, how that might apply to you. Goals will vary from busi­ness to busi­ness. You may want a pres­ence on the web to lend a legit­i­macy, give direc­tions, get peo­ple talk­ing, give an impres­sion that makes peo­ple want to know you bet­ter, set up an online store,… You get the picture.

3. Then find 2 — 5 sites that have some visual ele­ments (an over­all feel­ing you get when you get to the site, or a spe­cific detail) Take note of what it is that you like about them in rela­tion to what you want for yours, and,..

You’re on the road. (for now — gotta start somewhere)

til next time,
the heart of the matter 

Visual Impact

 What did it LOOK like?

Visual Impact of an image Follow Me on Pinterest

That’s what we want to know, isn’t it?

Not just because it defines so much, but it’s our first impres­sion, and from there we extrap­o­late every­thing else, as we come to learn what every­thing else actu­ally is.

Stand on your tippy toes and look through the win­dow, just to get a glimpse. It’s that important.

We don’t want a descrip­tion, even if we know what we’ll be look­ing at.

When you go to a lec­ture, and there’s one per­son stand­ing and talk­ing. Even when the speak­ing is par­tic­u­larly engag­ing, the dif­fer­ence between a per­son on a plain stage and a slide show behind, illus­trat­ing the points being made is huge. It could be the dif­fer­ence between learn­ing some­thing new, and tak­ing an unex­pected nap. It’s not just because the images help our under­stand, though they may. But the visual, espe­cially when done well, engages our most pri­mary sense.

What does it look like?

Pretty much, the only thing you won’t be ask­ing that about is a symphony.

What’s the first thing that you see when you look at some­thing for the first time?

What about when you look at some­thing familiar?

I Wish I had Known That!

Web knowledge

I should know that, shouldn’t I?

I read some­thing yes­ter­day that said that 50-something per­cent of small busi­nesses still don’t have web­sites.

Where do I start?Where do I start?

It’s the over­whelm that can get you!
So, What do you need to know to get this started — with some comfort?Find a designer? Con­sult with an expert? What kind of expert? What about branding,social media and peo­ple find­ing me?

The first thing to know is the obvi­ous thing that we often for­get in the midst of any kind of over­whelm –– Be your­self!

The Best & Most Rel­e­vant parts of your­self.
When I say being your­self, remem­ber who you are as a busi­ness per­son, what your busi­ness is about, who you like doing busi­ness with and how you nat­u­rally feel when this is going well. Who do your client’s see? What voice to they hear from you? Assum­ing you’re happy with this and you’re not try­ing to change your iden­tity, this is the main fea­ture of find­ing your voice online: Doing what comes nat­u­rally. Well, being aware of what comes naturally.

That’s why I refer to the give and take that hap­pens online as a con­ver­sa­tion. Because that’s what you’re start­ing when some­one lands on your site, and because that’s a word we’re used to using. We’ve been hav­ing con­ver­sa­tions our whole lives, haven’t we?

Now, just trans­fer that to the web.

Not as sim­ple as it sounds, but keep­ing that in mind is a good start­ing point.

your visual voice online

The Web…

… is a visual expe­ri­ence.
We turn on our com­put­ers, and LOOK at the screen. What you see speaks to you before you even real­ize it.

Helpful Web TipsYour Visual Voice is You, Com­mu­ni­cat­ing Visually.

Find­ing your visual voice still sound daunting?


Start with One. Just One.
Don’t think about the col­ors you’ve used before nec­es­sar­ily, or what’s the pret­ti­est. Focus on your busi­ness, the impres­sion you want to make, the way you want to say wel­come, and  write down the first thing that comes to mind. See if it rings true.

Now draw it out — a patch of color with a col­ored pen­cil, or on the com­puter,.. and then go lighter and darker with­out adding other colors.

This will give you a bet­ter idea of where you’re going than you may think.

Helpful Web TipsHelpful Web Tips

It’s a Conversation,

The first time I taught a class (in web design) I was very ner­vous. Speak­ing in front of large groups is not nat­ural to me. When I told this to a friend, she reminded me that I love to host par­ties. She told me to pre­tend they were com­ing to my party. I should wel­come them in, let them know what the plan is, feed them, etc.

I actu­ally did exactly that. It felt nat­ural because I took a sit­u­a­tion that felt uncom­fort­able, and re-framed my think­ing into some­thing that felt more familiar.

Not a Brochure.

Helpful Web Tips … and here’s the difference:   Helpful Web Tips

A brochure is all about you.
A brochure says, “Here’s who I am and what I do.”

Your Web­site is about your vis­i­tor.
What are they look­ing for? What do they want from you? Can your solve their problem?

So, first you have a color iden­tity. Then you real­ize that you’re just talk­ing with your cus­tomers, ful­fill­ing their requests as always. (a bit dif­fer­ently, but same intention)

Your visual voice is how you let your vis­i­tors know, instantly, visu­ally –  that they’ve come to the right place – or not.

to be con­tin­ued,…
Your ques­tions and com­ments are help­ful to both of us!

~ Margie


Soul Boards – a true story

A birth­day present,…

Grateful Dead Soul Board

was requested, a very spe­cific item. That’s how my son was (still is).

My son’s birth­day was com­ing up, and he had gone online and found exactly the skate­board he wanted, and par­tic­u­lar shape and design. Both the company’s name, and its pre­sen­ta­tion indi­cated a very large oper­a­tion. I was pic­tur­ing a ware­house! Every­thing about it, the large inven­tory, vari­ety of boards, even the design of the site (just the facts, ma’am)
It was called Soul Boards. Sounds sub­stan­tial, right?

I called to order the board, and got Mike Soul, who was water­ing his lawn when he picked up his cell phone, answer­ing with a very pro­fes­sional, “Mike here. Can you hold on while I turn off the hose and take off my shirt. It’s really hot here?” No kidding.

I go on and on, and will con­tinue to — about how the design of your site gives your first impres­sion, and this is either the excep­tion or a case in point. But I thought it was pretty amaz­ing how he was putting him­self out as one kind of busi­ness, where he was some­thing else altogether.

But, we got the skate­board, the exact one desired, and in time for the birth­day. Turns out, you call Mike and he finds you what you want.

It works, but I would still quite rec­om­mend show­ing your true self on your website.

Unless you’re Mike Soul.


It all started with Crayons

crayon explosion Follow Me on Pinterest Crayons,.. Where My Story Begins

Kinder­garten. Sit­ting at a long table with white paper and buck­ets of crayons. Sound famil­iar?
That’s always how it is. An ordi­nary moment becomes a defin­ing moment
Once you’ve been there, your life is changed.

I lived for mak­ing pic­tures. I would have my girl­friends to my house after school, and we’d draw. I kind of assumed every­one else wanted to since I was lov­ing it so much.

It’s not just about the pic­tures.
Follow Me on Pinterest It’s the activ­ity of ‘Mak­ing Marks’ as we called it in grad­u­ate school. (Once you’re in grad. school it’s got to be called some­thing a lit­tle fancier than ‘col­or­ing’, which is what my mom called it, even after I was mak­ing a liv­ing doing it!)

Mak­ing Marks
.… Mak­ing Your Mark
.….… Mak­ing a Painting

Mak­ing a Statement

So, the medium is the massage?

Of course, in part.  (not a typo, by the way — think about it)

It became a love affair, and like most love affairs, there were ebbs and flows, but always I was fas­ci­nated by light hit­ting a sur­face and color that can touch your heart.

I had an art teacher in high school who was much more arty than most pub­lic school art teach­ers at the time — and she was young and pretty. The boys all decided to take art that year and all of us girls fol­lowed suit. Sim­ple, but sad equa­tion — sad for the boys any­way, who all mad asses out of them­selves try­ing to ask the teacher Follow Me on Pinterest out — and a turn­ing point moment for me. She and I clicked. She encour­aged me to go to Art School, going so far as to come to my house to talk with my par­ents — who didn’t believe that art was some­thing you went to col­lege for.

Art School it was, and I was in heaven.

Col­lege was, as you might expect, a direct route to the museum of Mod­ern Art. (You never heard of me from there? Don’t admit to it.)
It was, like the song says, “Glory Days”

When I wasn’t doing my time as a wait­ress, I pro­duced some nice draw­ing, was in some shows and even a cou­ple of museum collections.

That’s it for now.
To be continued,…