Keys to Success: CMW’s New Website Design Process Infographic

Hello once more! CMW here again. When we shared with you our Website Beta Testing Checklist, we discussed the impact that the explosion of the Internet had on our company after its founding in 1989, when the first commercial dialup Internet service provider was just being opened. Since then, of course, web design has become one of our featured services. From KOL/speaker portals to slide libraries to video production, we’ve seen it all, which is why we’re giving you a look at our website design process.

It goes without saying that a lot of layers are involved when creating the perfect website. But even if you have an idea of everything that needs to be done, keeping track of it in an orderly way can be difficult. We’ve broken down the process into 6 simple stages: Develop Project Plan, Planning and Research, Design, Development, Deployment, and Maintenance. Following this formula can solve common problems of disorganization, rushed or missed work, and unneeded stress. Our infographic also includes tips on user preferences to optimize the effectiveness of your site — as well as a handful of other helpful references and statistics. Know the territory! Use it all to your advantage.

Your website is one of the most important reflections of your company. Streamline its design with our Website Design Process Infographic. These critical phases of website development will help you manage your next website project with authority.

Keys to Success: Beta Testing that New Website of Yours!

Hey there! It’s CMW again. A lot’s changed since CMW started back in 1989 – we found our industry niche in life sciences, for instance. But the most significant development wasn’t in our own company – but in the world: the Internet, of course. Adapting to the new frontier, we learned how to optimize our clients’ online experience, as well as offer them our own web design service to optimize their clients’! Because this area is so important to us, and is essential to everybody today, we offer you our best tips to keep in mind when website beta testing.

One of the best tests of your customer service quality is the “blind shopping” simulation; a third party stands in for a potential client and you watch how efficiently they’re able find what they need to find on your site, to make sure they’re not jumping through hoops to get answers, or giving up before they do. This is basically the same logic as a website beta test, only this beta test goes deeper. Every functionality of your website needs to be checked and double-checked; its web browser compatibility needs to be seamless. At a base level of design and coding, your site needs to be airtight. Beta testing can avert a lot of risks: audience confusion, company misrepresentation, and even security failure. You can solve these problems before they become problems.

In a brave new world, make sure your online presence is up to the task, any task. Use this Website Beta Testing Checklist to cover all your bases – from assembling the right review team to avoiding dangerous security breaches.

Keys to Success: FedEx (Deadline) Shipping Tips

Hello! CMW again, checking in with another tip sheet. As you know, during our 30 years of experience, we have endured trial and error, figuring out what and what not to do – so it’s only fair that we share with you some of what we’ve learned. Today, we pull from that pool with information on FedEx shipping.

Have you ever gotten a birthday card two months after your actual birthday? It’s…appreciated –but it doesn’t quite cut it. Now up the stakes. Deadline maintenance is one of the most important aspects of our service. And when it comes to shipping, that can get very stressful. Timelines, human error and delays, unexpected costs. Best case scenario, you’re worried over nothing but you’ve still got a headache. Worst case scenario, a deadline’s actually missed. Not only is it aggravating – it’s a poor reflection on your company too. Unprofessionalism and missed deadlines won’t be a hassle if you know your stuff. That’s where we can help!

You can avoid a mentally and financially taxing shipping situation by having all the information. Meet your deadlines with minimal stress or concern with these best practices for timeline and package preparation on our FedEx Shipping Tip Sheet.

How Can We Help? Four Ways to Improve Your Customer Service

The customer is always right…but sometimes they need help. Sometimes that’s a question about a product – but it’s also making sure that product is exactly what it needs to be in the first place. See, here at CMW, quality is key, and that means that good customer service includes not only being there for a client after the service, but also before and during. They should never be in the dark – and, critically, you shouldn’t either. Here are four simple steps that have worked for CMW to turn on the light and improve our customer service.

  1. Access (Before). Great customer service starts with access. Can they find your great customer service – or even just you – in the first place? It might seem like a given, but you’d be surprised at how many businesses needlessly complicate access to their services without even realizing it. One great way to solve this, that we really believe in, is a “blind shopping” test. Basically, have a third party that isn’t familiar with your company act as a potential client and run them through some simulations. How quickly, easily, efficiently, can they find what they need to find? You don’t want your customers to have to jump through hoops to find answers or worse, never find them or give up before they do.
  2. Clarity (Before & During). What’s the difference between a client’s needs and a kitten? A client’s needs can never, ever be fuzzy. Fuzzy details are the greatest enemy of good customer service. What does your client want? Really…what does your client actually want? Specifically, logistically, step-by-step. Make sure your team is persistent and insistent in understanding their every requirement to a T; never assume what a client wants, never begin work based on what you think they want.
  3. Expectations (During). This step can be a challenge, but – believe me – it’s essential. Customer service is critically empowered by realistic expectation-setting. If you know you can’t get a project done by Wednesday, you shouldn’t promise to get a project done by Wednesday; request more time. Yes, the client may be disgruntled. And yes, maybe, worst case scenario – they cancel. However, losing one client is better than compromising your reputation and integrity by missing a deadline without letting the customer know. Be honest and straightforward. It can be difficult, but whether they seem like it or not…your client will at least appreciate that.
  4. Follow-up (After). Finally, the best customer service doesn’t end after the service is complete. Reach out to your client to follow up, rather than waiting for them to call you. Check in and make sure that they received everything they expected, that they are satisfied with the result; ask if there is anything else that you can do for them. If you wait too long, you risk…the water cooler. The water cooler is what happens if your client stews on a perceived production issue for days before contacting your customer service about it, and in that time, they talk. They spread their dissatisfaction to their colleagues – spread something that may very well be their issue, not yours. Practicing proactive follow-up is the best preventative measure for a potential soiling of your reputation.

Customer service can be tough. It can mean telling a client something they don’t want to hear. It can mean asking again, and again, at the sake of sounding repetitive, exactly what they do want. And it can mean trying to politely explain to a client something they might be doing – well – wrong. But excellent customer service is key in forming strong relationships with your clients, maintaining a positive reputation, and – perhaps most importantly here at CMW – never letting quality suffer. It, supported by the right processes, becomes a point of differentiation that, if you’re committed, will continue to create a gap between you and your competitors. Even when customers try out a competitor, they’ll come back when they realize your customer service is unmatched. Alright, so…any questions? How can we help?

Keys to Success: PowerPoints that REALLY Communicate!

Hey! It’s CMW here again, and we want to share another sheet we’ve created to help you improve your process. PowerPoint presentations are something we see so often here at CMW, and we know that each one has important specifications that need to be taken into account. Luckily for you, we’ve put them all in one place!

Much like a great logo, or a eye-catching email, your PowerPoint presentation needs to stand out among the others — because it communicates something important. Its design, slide size, transitions, animations ˆ and more – are all considerations to keep in mind when crafting your perfect presentation. A boring PowerPoint risks losing interest. Even worse, a confusing PowerPoint risks miscommunicating essential ideas. What if you only have so much time to brief a group on an important project with a narrow deadline, and the requirements were lost in translation? This simple sheet of elements for your slick and effective PowerPoint presentation will bypass all of those costly problems.

Don’t overlook the small stuff; take a minute to thoroughly review your presentation so you won’t regret it later when it’s too late. This checklist includes critical details that can be used to streamline project details, reduce back-and-forth communication and help ensure your project is completed perfectly the first time.

If “Quality is Free”…Why Isn’t There More of It?

Years ago, I read a book — a 1979 business classic — called Quality is Free, in which author Philip B. Crosby said that the solution to a quality crisis is just “doing it right the first time.”

I always liked the simple sound of that. I was thinking about Crosby’s book recently after one of our clients told us how appreciative they were that we able to deliver on a pretty difficult project for them. And I say that not because I’m tooting our own horn, but because it made me look out at today’s marketplace, at how other companies get things done and what I deal with on a day-to-day basis…and realize that not everything is the highest quality it could be. Sometimes, far from it. Now if forty years ago, millions of businessmen and women had a book on their shelf telling them that they could produce top-quality material for their clients for free — why haven’t they all done it?

Here are five reasons why I think quality isn’t consistently available, whether you’re ordering a large pizza just for yourself, or buying a new hybrid for the whole family.

  1. A lack of a clear mission for quality. Quality needs to be a top priority, plain and simple. At the end of the day, nothing brings clients and customers back more reliably than having their needs met. When businesses let that fall to the wayside in favor of another priority — like saving money — they suffer for it.
  2. Improper checks and balances. Spell check is your friend. Okay — obviously that’s a minor example. But not an inaccurate or unimportant one. Commas and colons in the right place make for strong, professional written materials, while wipers and windshields designed to the sleekest perfection make for an outstanding car. If work isn’t being double, triple, and quadruple checked, quality will deteriorate — fats. Sorry — fast.
  3. Poor communication with the client or customer. If you don’t know what you’re making, you don’t know how to make it great. Whatever service you’re providing, you need to know exactly what’s required — not wanted, but needed — by whoever you’re providing it for. Lose track of the vision, skip ahead until you’re not on the same page, and you’re going to end up with an unsatisfactory result — neither party benefits.
  4. Shoddy work ethic. Thinking about the bigger picture of how your company runs can distract from smaller, devilish details on the ground level: laziness and carelessness. It may seem to go without saying, but without a person-to-person dedication to top-tier work, the smallest mediocrities bring overall quality down.
  5. Unwillingness to invest in quality. One of the key points of Crosby’s book is that obviously quality is not literally free. Managing, perfecting, and investing in quality so as to get everything right the first time (saving money) and creating a result that is sure to to impress (building lasting relationships with clients and customers) is how spending a little extra on resources to ensure quality ultimately leads to spectacular return on investment. Being stingy when it comes to creating a great product is just one step forward, three steps back.

But enough negativity. Knowing what to avoid isn’t so productive as having an active plan to improve. Here are five things I find really work to make quality happen.

  1. Focus on quality in every project. You can include quality in everything! Operational expert Rebecca A. Morgan says, “Constancy of purpose means that quality decisions are not situational.” From graphic design (which is what we work on) to a new MRI machine for a hospital, it doesn’t matter whether the result needs to be safe, fast, pretty, or pink — attention to making it the best it can be will always make for a strong return on investment.
  2. Encourage effective leadership. A strong, competent, and invested leader is beneficial for improving a number of areas. Good leaders facilitate communication, have high expectations for the work being done, recognize the individual strengths of their staff, and overall catalyze productivity and quality.
  3. Make quality charts. Your definition of “quality” can’t be vague. Visualize it in distinct categories: production process, workforce, adherence to requirements — pay due attention to each individual facet of what makes the larger clockwork of quality run. Keep track of shortcomings, and what is in place to correct them. Make your mission for quality precise, deliberate, and targeted. And make your charts colorful! Honestly, nothing boosts morale like a colorful pie chart.
  4. Provide strong after-sales service. Sometimes you get your wifi router to work. Sometimes you don’t, and the times when you don’t are when the guy in the Netflix rom-com you’re watching is about to propose, and the site starts to buffer. It’s not always the product’s fault — with technical products, not every user is a tech whiz. Providing a high-quality service is one thing, but continuing to be available for assistance long after the transaction is made builds customer trust and extended quality assurance.
  5. Listen to feedback. Don’t let the office become an echo chamber. Even after you’ve followed a client’s requirements to a T, double and triple-checked your work, and put your heart and soul into a quality result, it’s still to an extent based on your own standards. For well-rounded results, feedback is an excellent tool. This can vary from business to business — for tech enterprises, it can roll out in the form of beta and test products. But whatever shape it takes, feedback provides fresh perspective on how to improve quality in ways you’d never thought of.

So, if Quality is Free…why isn’t there more of it? You can never stop revisiting quality. It’s something we believe is an utmost priority at CMW, and there is always more you can do to make it one of your own company’s strengths. Crosby said it before, and it rings true: produce great work, and you’ll get great results. You, and the people you serve, deserve nothing less!

Keys to Success: CMW’s Guide to Scientific Poster Media Options

Chicago, IL – 2016 ASCO Annual Meeting – General views during Gastrointestinal (Colorectal) Cancer Poster Session at the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Annual Meeting. (Credit: © ASCO/Zach Boyden-Holmes 2016)

Hey! It’s CMW again. We want to tell you about one of the many services we offer for our clients — and pass on this list to help you take full advantage of that service in whatever way best suits your project What are we talking about? Scientific posters.

We know how important a high-quality scientific poster is: the accuracy of specific data, effective communication of important information, a balance between stylish and educational. But what a lot of people don’t even think about is one of the most basic components of the poster: what’s it made of? There are a lot of questions coupled with that: Where will your poster be featured? What kinds of conditions and transportation will it need to withstand? What are the most important visual elements of your poster that need to pop? You’ve got answers, we’ve got options. From glare, to durability, to coloring, picking the right printing for your poster is what makes it a poster — not just a piece of wallpaper.

We know needs differ from project to project, and you need to be able to tailor that.

When printing your scientific poster there are a number of material options; download this Media List, and it will explain the high-quality media offered by Creative MediaWorks.

Keys to Success: CMW’s Guide to Email Design

Keys to Success: CMW’s Guide to Email Design

Hello! It’s CMW here again, with something we think you’ll appreciate. As you probably know, we have been working in the design/production space for life sciences for a long time. Along the way, we’ve found many processes and problem-solvers that have improved the way we do business – and the way we deliver quality, on-time and to spec. Drawing from that pool, we’ve put together a series of tip sheets with our best tricks and suggestions to better your work. Today’s advice is on email design.

We’ve found leveraging email to communicate with our clients incredibly effective at CMW, and in a digital world, we think you should too. People get a lot of emails on a daily basis — a lot. Spam, subscriptions, spamming subscriptions — and that’s before you even get to the hundred important things. You want to circumvent short attention spans and the bumpy bus rides where people are checking email on their phone. Slick, professional, and functional email design – with something valuable for the reader – is how you won’t get lost in the shuffle. It solves miscommunication, losing a reader’s interest, and — the nail in the coffin — winding up with a lapsed subscriber or in somebody’s spam folder.

Don’t let those problems weigh you down or hurt your business. From images to fonts to layout, make your email pop, and say exactly what you need to say. For email design tips that will help you optimize user experience and ensure compatibility with multiple devices and email applications, download our Email Design Tip Sheet today.

Keys to Success: CMW’s Guide to Power Proofreading

Hey! It’s CMW, and we have something we want to share with you. In our years of experience, we have endured trial and error, learning what and what not to do — and drawing from that, we have compiled a series of tip sheets with our best tricks and suggestions to improve your work. First up? Proofreading!

Misplaced commas and mistaken line breaks may seem petty, but a bad typo’s your poker tell. And proofreading isn’t just spelling and grammar either — it’s your visuals, your display, your data! The difference between 1,000 and 100,000. If a simple slip-up happens because someone didn’t double check, it can vastly misrepresent a point or purpose, and small errors like that have a domino effect. There are several problems that excellent proofreading can solve: miscommunication, disorganization, inconsistency and, of course, unprofessionalism. Proofreading is the most basic layer of professionalism, but that means it’s one of the most important. Your content can be spectacular, but unless it’s presented in a way that can be understood, it’ll hurt more than help.

Let a polished proofread product distinguish you, and make your clients, your patrons, or your colleagues know that your business means business. Proofreading requires patience, concentration and time. For helpful suggestions to improve your process, download this tip sheet.

Scientific Poster Review – Simplified

Take Your Time Back and Reduce the Back and Forth.

Congratulations, your abstract has been accepted! You are ready to translate those results into a scientific poster to captivate and inform your peers. Your complex statistical results are carefully translated into a concise format with charts, tables, and bulleted text to your relay findings and results. Your vision and efforts are transformed into a poster that will generate discussion, additional interest and allow you to disseminate the content of your study. And now the review process begins! Read More »

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