Updates: November '17

December 14, 2017

Time for the December Hustle!

A chill has settled on the North Carolina air. It's perfect weather for hunkering down in the office and working hard. We are heading into the end of the year and we are heads-down on a number of site builds, building some new internal tools, and planning our end of year office party.

Pour some hot cocoa and enjoy this month's round of updates!

Featured Blog Post | Recent Projects | In Production | Awards and Recognition | Tools and Technology | Conferences | Professional Development | Community Involvement | Featured Client | Around Town | Anything Else

Featured Blog Post

Hiring a web designer: measuring success

Finding a web designer is easy. Finding a good web designer that will deliver results is more difficult. Even tougher is contracting a great agency. The best are in demand and selective in who they choose to work with. Since reputation is everything in our industry, the best will only consider projects that have a high likelihood of success.

Recent Projects

Investors Title "Meet our Team" Feature Update

Investors Title Insurance Company is one of our biggest clients. We’ve helped them with a variety of sites, ranging from their main site to individual agent sites. Recently, we completed rebuilding the functionality of the Meet Our Team feature on their primary website (invtitle.com) to include additional functionality and clean up the code. As always, it was a pleasure working with Chris to complete this feature rebuild.

In Production

Durham Crimestoppesr Beta Delivery

We’ve written before about our work with Durham CrimeStoppers to build them a new website. We’ve delivered the beta site for their review, and excited about the work that we have done to create a responsive website. Hopefully we’ll be able to help them better engage the community and serve the city of Durham!

Awards and Recognition

DH Takes Home Two Davey Awards for Blake Archive

The William Blake Archive continues to receive accolades from the judges, this time with Silver Awards in the Arts and Education website categories from the 13th Annual Davey Awards. The announcement from the Davey Awards, an award that honors the best work from small agencies worldwide, come on the heels of last month's similar recognition from the W3 Awards. The website, a collaboration between the editors, the Institute for Advanced Technology in the Humanities (IATH), and the Carolina Digital Library and Archives (CDLA), is an international public resource dedicated to the prints, paintings, and poems of William Blake (1757–1827).

Tools and Technology

MXToolBox SuperTool

Troubleshooting complex DNS and mail deliverability problems can be a daunting task. One of my goto tools is the MXToolBox SuperTool, a meta tool capable of running thirty-five different individual tests. The tests range from the simple such as MX lookup, to more complex test such as DMARC and SPF parsing and validation. While many are Unix commands that can be run from a CLI, I find the input and output much easier to work with, plus I can see a transcript of the underlying CLI if need be.

The tool is free to use, and is a gateway to their premium services, many of which are real-time monitors of the individual tests. We use some of these, such as blacklist monitoring, so we can stay ahead of problem, rather than reacting to complaints of email deliverability.

As would be expected, having at least a passing understanding will go a long way in understanding the output, as the results often won’t solve your problem, but may give you a better idea of where to look.


AENC Annual Showcase and Exhibits

DesignHammer will be exhibiting at the 2017 Association Executives of North Carolina (AENC) 36th Annual Showcase and Exhibits at the Raleigh Convention Center on Thursday, December 14th. We are looking forward to meeting the leaders and staff of associations from across North Carolina during our first trip to this conference.

Professional Development

TriUXPA World Usability Day Event

Triangle UXPA hosted a fantastic event for World Usability Day 2017 at the SAS campus, with the theme “Inclusion through User Experience (UX)." The main speaker, Jay Dawkins of PublincInput, focused on ways that the changing technology and political landscape can work better together. By creating less confusing systems of soliciting public feedback, more people can participate and be more satisfied.

Community Involvement

Daily Tar Heel Annual Conference

2018 will mark a big year for the Daily Tar Heel, the student newspaper of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Founded in 1893, the nationally renowned publication will be marking the milestone with a conference: Celebrating 125 Years of Independent Student Journalism. The DTH provided me a great opportunity to learn and practice journalism, as well as meet people who would go on to do great things. I was honored to be invited to serve on a panel at the conference, tentatively titled "Beyond the DTH: How Skills Learned in Journalism Translate to Other Careers." I am looking forward to sharing what I have learned over the last twenty-five years to both my contemporaries, as well as to the next generation of student journalists.

Qualyst Transporter Solutions, LLC Phase 2

A few months ago, we launched a new site for Qualyst Transporter Solutions, LLC to help them manage their content, keep it current and interesting, and show a more mature design and brand to the world. With the help of Graham Dyck (our primary point of contact at Qualyst), we launched a site that has helped them communicate the advantages of Transporter function in hepatic models, as well as their specific Transporter Certified Hepatocytes. Shortly after the launch of the new site, Qualyst Transporter Solutions, LLC was acquired by BioIVT. Here at DesignHammer we looking forward to the opportunity to work on phase 2 for qualyst.com with both the Qualyst and BioIVT teams!

Around Town

Clouds Brewing

While Cloud's Brewing is a little off the beaten path for us in SW Durham, we occasionally find ourselves looking for lunch or dinner around trips to clients or meetings downtown. Though there are many similar brew pubs with solid food and beer selection around (extra points to any, such as Clouds Brewing, that actually ask how you want your burger cooked), there is a feature here that sets it apart for the techie in us. In addition to a fully stocked bar with forty craft beers (including some of their own) professionally poured, Clouds Brewing offers “The Downpour,” a set of ten self-service taps tied to an RFID bracelet you purchase from your server. Bracelet activated, you can pour your own samples or whatever size you like, debited from your account (at around 30 to 50 cents per ounce).

Anything Else

Black Friday Fencing

While the savvy shoppers are battling it out in the stores for good deals, and the smarter ones grabbing deals online, three of us from DesignHammer decided time was better spent fencing. David, Stephen, and Michael participated in the Mixed Sabre event at the Mid-South Fencers Black Friday Tournament. In the fifteen-person, low-key event, Stephen took bronze, David unfortunately was upset in the round of 8 and finished fifth, with Michael (not really a sabre fencer) making a very respectable seventh place finish. A good time was had by all, and attempt was made to work off Thursday’s feast.

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