Our Clients & FriendsBlue Dozen Design Clients & Friends

Sharing the joy of knowing some of the great people we’re blessed to work with. Seriously – we work with some of the better human beings on the planet.

The folks we call friends – well, they’re the heart and soul of what keeps us rolling.

The people we call family – they’re just the heart and soul of Blue Dozen Design. They’re the real reason behind the work, the toil, the sweat and the tears. They’re who make it all worth while.

We Left Asheville. Here’s Why.

We left our beloved Asheville. In a Dolphin. Six of the seven of us.

Why? Because it was the best thing we could do. It was silly, but it was absolutely necessary.

With all the health shenanigans and strange family issues we’ve been cartwheeling through, we’ve all suffered to one extent or another. It’s been a trying, exhausting spell. But – Life™ has a tendency to come in spells. Good spells, bad spells. But nothing really lasts forever. That’s good and bad. The bad stuff doesn’t last. Thankfully.

Through all of it, though – we have these kids. 5 amazing people. 5 wonderful, funny, crazy, creative, beautiful kids who have rolled with the punches and kept on smiling. Thankfully, we have a family that has a wonderful time all the time. That’s always helped us through. But, when things go sideways, they suffer along with us. And, with all the goings-on and day-to-day stresses in our lives, we’ve missed a lot of opportunities to connect and enjoy our kids and each other (Beth and I.) We also miss a lot of opportunities to just have fun.

With everything that had been going down, we needed to escape. Not work, not responsibility – but we needed to escape our routine of worry and stress and chores and errands and reconnect. We knew if we planned and waited for the right opportunity to make that escape, it might not come for a long time – if at all. Work and bills and household duties and the stress of the day will always be here – but our kids are getting older every day. We’ll eventually lose them all to the dreaded teen years when they REALLY think we’re uncool. Time is precious. Family is preciouser. It was time to do something silly and make some memories and grow closer to our kids before they grow further away. Since they rolled with us through all the trials, we thought it was time to roll with those precious little souls – literally.

"Sadie," Our 1987 Toyota Dolphin.

“Sadie,” Our 1987 Toyota Dolphin*.

So, we left Asheville in a 1987 Toyota Dolphin. We didn’t know where we were going, but had a faint idea of seeing Niagara Falls. We packed some food, some clothes and an axe. We’d never done anything like this before. Heck, we’ve only camped a few times in our 23 years of marriage.

We’d seen some YouTube videos, and figured that was all the training you could possibly need on how to live in an RV.

We didn’t have a plan. We didn’t have a map. We just hopped in and ran.

We stayed in WalMart parking lots. We ate cereal (a LOT,) and we swam in bodies of water I don’t recall the name of. We saw Niagara, DC, Gettysburg and Chincoteague Island. We stunk. We were hungry. We got on each other’s nerves. The RV leaked. We did laundry in several states. We laughed and sang and hollered and got to stand in awe of a lot of amazing things. With each other.

It was simply wonderful. I don’t regret one damned second of it. I feel better now. A deep down soul better. I don’t know what tomorrow holds. I don’t have a map for that, either.

Click for a few photos of the first of many adventures

Click for a few photos of the first of many adventures

Now, granted – I had planned on working more than I did. But, that didn’t happen thanks to spotty electricity and spottier cell coverage (I’m looking at YOU, US Cellular.) Probably not a good thing, but in a way – a really good thing. I’m recharged. I’m excited. We’re all excited.

We’re going to renovate the RV now. We’re going to turn it into the ultimate adventure machine, and we’re going to cart our kids as far as that bucket of bolts can take us – and we’re going to see some amazing things and have some amazing times. Because time is always running. And you never know when it’s going to stop.

There – that’s why we left. We’re back. We will leave again. In the meantime – we’re going to kick ass on some projects, we’re going to dream. We’re still going to laugh and fool around with the kids. We’ll cherish our memories, and we’ll grow increasingly excited to make more.

So, where am I going with this? Life is short. Kids grow so fast. Health ebbs and flows. Families do crazy shit. You never know what’s going to happen. But, dammit – you can MAKE something good happen. Now. One way or another – take the time you have and make something great. Make it great with the people you love.

Tomorrow, God willing, it’ll be back to your normal bloggy goodness about web design, SEO and logos and such. But, today – this was what I felt I should write. I’m exhausted and looking forward to sleeping in a real bed. Now, go forth and create something.

*for the record, I wanted to call it the Millennium Dolphin, but was voted down.
OUROBOROS CASSETTE DESIGN

Quick Cassette Design for Ouroboros Boys

OUROBOROS_CASSETTE_DESIGN

We had the pleasure of doing some quick design for Asheville’s own Ouroboros Boys. To build these very simple 2-sided j-card designs, Nick sat down and helped pick some bizarre images, we threw them together in Photoshop, and we wound up with a couple of cassettes that fit right in to the feel of the Ouroboros Boys music – strange, uncomfortable, loud, but ultimately cool.

If you’re down for some trippy, surfy punk with a little bit of rag time thrown in, check out Ouroboros Boys. You’ll be glad you did.

 

Wordpress Site Design for Penny Cup Coffee Company

PennyCup Coffee Co – Check ‘Em Out!

Photo: Katie Bailey/bkbailey@citizen-times.com

Photo: Katie Bailey/bkbailey@citizen-times.com

Bill and Amber are the King and Queen of Coffee in West Asheville, as far as I’m concerned. Not only do they roast and brew a damned fine cup of coffee, they’re damned fine people to boot.

We’ve had the pleasure of working with PennyCup on their site (BattleCat’s, too,) and each step of the way, they’ve supplied us with killer beans and countless cups of coffee. Now THAT’S our kind of client.

Here’s a little write-up and interview with Bill about all things roasting.

And here’s a Mountain X article about the opening of their Cafe.

They’ve recently opened up a roasting & tasting room in the River Arts District – right in the middle of Depot Street. Click to get a map – and then go get a terrific cup of coffee, roasted and brewed right here in good old Asheville, and have a chat with a few truly sterling people.

Wordpress Site Design for Penny Cup Coffee CompanyWe built a simple, elegant WordPress site using Woocommerce for the ecommerce portion of the site. With a custom design and a super-simple interface, the site’s easy to look at and easy to use.

As I write this, I’m finishing off my third cup of a custom roast from PennyCup. Delicious. If you come by the office, you won’t get any. It’s my home stash. That’ll tell you all you need to know about how good it can be to have friends in West Asheville!

PennyCup Coffee Co., at 362 Depot St., is open 8 a.m.-1 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m.-3 p.m. on Saturday.

crying baby

WordPress Security Issue – SUPER IMPORTANT!

WordPress XSS VulnerabilityAccording to Sucuri, there’s an XSS vulnerability that affects a large number of WordPress plugins. Now, what does that mean for you and your site? Not a whole lot, really – but it DOES mean that your site might have a hole that could be exploited by ne’er do wells. Most likely, though – your site is fine. But, to be cautious and stay out in front of stuff, your site and your plugins needs to be updated.

How?

Well, you can call us – we’d be happy to help out.

Or, you can take the DIY route and update your site and plugins yourself. It’s really very easy! Check out our video for super-easy instructions.

We also suggest using Sucuri’s security scanning plugin. Installing is easy – watch the video below.

Here’s a partial list of major plugins known to be affected by “The Hole.”

There are bound to be others – but the main takeaway here is this:

UPDATE YOUR SITE AND PLUGINS!

It’s a good idea to update things fairly often. WordPress developers and the community as a whole are a pretty proactive bunch, and you can bet your bottom dollar that plugin and theme developers are staying on top of this breach – and other breaches and snafus that nobody is really aware of. They stay on top of things – but to keep your site as safe as humanly possible, keep updated.

We try VERY hard to never touch core files or modify things to a point where you can’t update things. If we’ve developed your site, you should be able to update EVERYTHING at will without worrying about overwriting work we’ve done. Unless we’ve specifically let you know that you shouldn’t update something, get after the updates.

Keep it fresh, keep it updated, keep it clean!

HITCH HIKERS GUIDE TO THE GALAXY LOGO

Mobilegeddon – Should YOU Worry About Google’s Mobile Update?

Mobile Site Update? Don't Panic!Is your site mobile responsive? Does it have a mobile-only version? How much does it matter? Is it time to panic?

Depends on your traffic. Depends on your site. Depends on a lot of things.

But the main thing here is: DON’T PANIC. (towel optional.)

Here’s the nuts & bolts: Google released a new algorithm on April 21, and it favors sites with a mobile responsive or mobile-specific architecture – but only on mobile searches. Searches from desktop machines (and laptops) won’t be affected. That’s sort of good news to the majority (~70%) of searches. But, if you’ve got a site that relies heavily on mobile/tablet users and traffic from mobile sources, you really need to pay attention to Google’s latest update and get your site in order.

See, with 30% of ALL internet traffic using solely mobile devices, you stand the chance of being ranked lower in (not eliminated from) searches from those devices. How much lower? Google doesn’t really say – but a couple of spots can make or break a search. If you were #8 and still on the first page of Google searches, and you drop to #11, you wind up on the second page – and your click-through rates will die off. Second page listings get about 5% of clicks – distributed amongst the whole of the second page. If you were already on the second page, we need to talk – but that’s a conversation for another day.

So – is it worth panicking over? Well, maybe…

Go to Google’s Mobile Friendly Test. If you run your site through and the tool says you’re mobile-friendly, you’re in the clear. Kick back and relax.

If the tool tells you that you’re not mobile friendly, it’s still not time to freak out. Check out your site stats – if you’re not getting a lot of mobile traffic, you might not need to be too concerned about the rankings hit. If your primary traffic isn’t using mobile devices, you can wait and deal with it later – although not catering to 30% of potential users probably isn’t a great idea. If, however, your stats show that you’re getting a high percentage of users coming in on mobile devices, NOW is the time for action…

Step 1: Give us a shout. We can help your site be mobile-friendly. If you’re still not sure of how Google’s latest shenanigans will affect you, reach out and we will help ease your fears (or help whip you into a proper panic.) We can take a look at your audience and your traffic. It might be less painful than you think. We’ll shoot straight with you – and if you need a hand, we’re happy to help.

Step 2: Relax. It’s really not the biggest deal in the world. Yes, you might see your rankings suffer a bit in mobile-only searches. But, if you’ve got a good, functional and well-optimized site that just happens to be afoul of Google’s newest birthing, you can recover. All things considered, the numbers of even worst-case scenario “penalty” just don’t add up to a massive freak out. It’s a percentage of a percentage of a percentage – it’s not like your site is going to disappear from the rankings. Small hit – possibly. Big hit – highly unlikely. But, still – it’s worth paying attention to. Get responsive, get happy, get back, JoJo, to where you once belonged.

Now, the “don’t panic” mantra comes with a warning: Any time Google rolls out a major change in how they rank sites, you really need to pay attention. It might not affect you in a major way at the time of the roll-out, but you can rest assured that these changes will at some point come back to bite you. If it’s a small problem, it can wait – but there’s a cumulative effect with minor problems. It can snowball, and you can wind up in trouble. If you’ve got red flags with Google, you don’t know when it’ll add up to a legitimate penalty. Staying “clean” with Google is never a bad thing. If you find a gap in your site, how it’s constructed and how it looks to Google, it’s best to stay in front of it. Fix it BEFORE it has a chance to make a massive impact on your rankings/SERPs. Playing catch-up after a penalty from Big G is not a winning proposition.

So – carry on, good people. It’s not the end. The world has survived massive shakeups at Google, and we’ll all be on the other side of this one soon enough. Until then, enjoy a little music with your coffee. We are…

PATH WAY THROUGH FORREST

Love. Now.

Asheville NC

As some of you know, it’s been a tumultuous summer here at Blue Dozen. We’ve had some family issues crop up in our (well, MY) life that have been painful, un-fun and downright distracting. We’ve kept a stiff upper lip in spite of all that’s gone on, and it’s looking like sunnier days are ahead. We’re all back in the office and we’re all ready to kick ass and take names in the manner which we’ve grown accustomed. Projects have still been rolling in and rolling out – and they’ll keep rolling. Since design and development and coffee-drinking is part of our DNA, there’s a great solace in the workaday world here. But, it’s been rough. The creative wells run dry faster when there’s an outside stressor. Then again, we can use the stress to create great things – and we feel like we have. Take THAT, issues!

Through all the garbage that’s been going on, one thing has kept ringing true – love the people around you. When things go haywire and life is cold and hard, you’re going to want to know that you have a group of folks who are in your corner, and you’re going to need to have peace and comfort in knowing that you’ve done your level best to love them, cherish them and show them how important they are in your life.

Friends, family and, yes, clients are all part of that. Spread love to those around you, and when the storms of life arrive, that love will be showered back onto you. We spread love – daily. We love what we do, we love who we do it for (that’s the client stuff,) but our family is, and will always be, priority one. We make no excuses for that – it’s been our modus operandi since we first opened our doors. Love of family – it’s the thing that really gets us through the rough patches.

So, what am I really saying here? I don’t know, really – just wanted to pop in and let you all know that while things have been rough, it’s love that has sustained us. We thank our family for that, and we thank YOU for that.

If you haven’t yet, take a moment and hug those that are important to you. Call someone just to say “I love you.” Be good to those around you and be good to yourself. This world is too big and too complicated to go it alone. We all need support, and we all need warmth and hugs and shoulders to cry on. Reach out to those that are close to you. They’ll be your shelter.

Thanks to our clients. Thanks to our families. Thanks to love.

Have a great week. I know we will.

2 More Web Sites Launched…

We’ve been developing sites at a furious pace, and we’ve recently launched a couple of sites using WordPress and WooThemes. The sites use the same back bone (Canvas by WooThemes,) but have totally different uses. This is an abject demonstration of the power and versatility of WordPress as a web development platform.

First, Choose Your Company. We’ve worked with Eli on a number of projects, but he never had a site for his development company. He contracted with us to develop an easy, quick site that he can use to display his Yahoo! stores development and custom coding ability. We developed his sweet new logo and then moved on to build a great, flexible site with a portfolio segment that makes it simple to display his great and diverse work. Check ’em out!

Choose Your Company Website Design

Next up is Stylish Minx. This is a simple blog-style website for a style blog (see what we did there?) MaryAnn has a great fashion sense and a real passion for sharing her budget-conscious tips and outfits. Simple, gorgeous and super-functional. Built using Canvas by WooThemes, this site is easy to use and super search engine friendly. Go by and get some tips to beautify your grungy self…

Canvas by WooThemes Development

Help! I’m Getting Arrested!

JAILBIRDYep. I’m getting arrested on June 26, and I need to raise bail. Do you have any idea how hard it is to smuggle a McGriddles into jail? I’ll wither.

Am I getting arrested for insanely great design? Nope. Building excellent websites? Nuh-uh. I’m getting arrested to help raise some brass for muscular dystrophy. They’re coming by my office, putting me in shackles and taking me downtown. I might get beaten, water boarded or tickled profusely. No matter what happens, it won’t be pretty. Mainly because I’m pretty unattractive*, and most everything I do isn’t pretty because of it.

How can you stop this? How can you assure that I will make it out alive? How about a little help in raising bail to keep my carcass out of the county jail? Please? I’m begging – don’t let them take me away.

Muscular dystrophy isn’t funny, and I certainly don’t want to make light of the need here. I have a healthy family, and for that, I am truly blessed. But MD is very real, and it affects many folks in many different ways. If we can raise some coin to help fund research, summer camps for kids with MD, purchase medical equipment or keep a clinic open, I’m happy to go to the klink.

My bail has been set at $2400. You can help by donating any amount. Little, small, giant, extra-large – anything helps.

MDALOGOTo donate towards my bail, click here. You’ll be taken to MDA’s donation site, and your donation will be applied towards my bail. All donations are tax-deductible, plus you’ll get that warm feeling knowing that you helped a great cause. Of course, keeping me off the streets might seem like a good cause, but helping those with MD is an even better cause.

So – donate to my bail. I’d appreciate it, and you’d be doing a really, really good thing.

*I’m gorgeous. Just trying to be humble to raise a few shekels for charity.