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Web Developer Needed

I am sad to say that this will be my last post at X.Y.Zag—starting next week, I will begin a new adventure in Houston. Because this is my last post, I thought it would be appropriate to write about my experiences at Zag IMC and encourage Web designers who are just starting out and looking for experience to try and join the Zag team.

When Zag first opened its doors in May, I presumed my time here would be spent in the stereotypical intern manner—fetching coffee, making copies, running errands, etc. I was caught off-guard when I came to my first day of work and immediately began working on our Web site. From that day on, I realized that Zag is a gold mine when it comes to internships.

To be honest, I wouldn’t even call this opportunity an internship; working at Zag gives you real-world experience first and foremost while also allowing you to learn in the process. A lot is expected of you, but you also have the opportunity to be guided by wonderful the people at GCG and Site Smart Interactive.

As an Interactive/Web Designer for Zag, I have developed seven Web sites. That’s seven Web sites for my portfolio, and that’s not including the many other projects I’ve worked on. When you are starting out in this business, that’s exactly what you need, experience and portfolio items. 

If you already know how to build basic Web sites and are looking for an opportunity to learn and grow, I encourage you to apply to Zag IMC. Working here has been one of the best experiences of my life. I cannot stress to you enough what a great opportunity this is and you’ll get a chance to work with fun, ambitious people who will only make you better.

Read the following job description and if you, or anybody you know, are interested, contact Kelsey Mize at 817-529-5558 or email us at hello@zagimc.com.

Looking for a hard-working, talented individual with an interest in Web design and development. Must be a junior- to senior-level student with all of the basic skill sets required for the Web (i.e. Adobe Dreamweaver and Flash, HTML, CSS, FTP, basic JavaScript, etc.). Will be responsible for outlining a Web site’s structural content, creating/editing images for Web use, determining all coding requirements for site creation, coding Web sites using HTML, posting completed Web sites to an internet server using FTP software, etc. You must be able to work a minimum of 15 hours per week. Please contact Kelsey Mize at 817-529-5558 with any questions.

 P.S. Become a fan of Zag IMC on Facebook and/or follow us on Twitter.

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03/23/2010 at 3:13 PM Leave a comment

Coca-Cola: A Different Kind of Brand

I remember hearing that the most commonly recognized word in the world is “okay,” and in second, “Coca-Cola.” I’m not sure if that’s true or not, but it wouldn’t be hard to believe. Coca-Cola is “a 67 billion dollar empire that sells its products in 206 countries and in the farthest reaches of the globe.”

I started thinking about the brand earlier this week when I ran across a documentary on CNBC titled Coca-Cola: The Real Story Behind the Real Thing.  If you ever get a chance to catch this documentary, I would definitely recommend it. Among many topics, it chronicled the company’s marketing history—including the iconic Santa Clause ads and the sheer chaos that followed the decision to change drink’s formula and name it “New Coke.”

The program got me thinking that although many brands have a long history, not many have a storied past when it comes to marketing. Since the early days, Coca-Cola has been trying to establish a relationship with consumers. One of the first initiatives was to create a uniquely shaped bottle with the intent that people would know that it was a Coke simply by touch.  Now, the brand will go as far as building top-secret labs that mimic shopper environments to research and test the motivations behind a purchase.

Personally, I consider Coca-Cola a lovemark of the world. A lovemark is so much more than “liking” a product—it’s a loving relationship with the brand.

Coca-Cola is one of the few brands that transcend global boundaries—the brand is a product all on its own.

In your opinion, what are other lovemarks of the world?

03/04/2010 at 4:23 PM Leave a comment

Be a smart shopper this season

It wouldn’t be the holidays without family, lights, gifts, and of course, massive sales.  The second that Halloween and Thanksgiving are over, we are bombarded by an unbelievable amount of specials — just look at Black Friday. Retailers know that consumers are on a mission to do most of their shopping during the month of December, so they will flash as many signs and ads as needed to lure you into their store.

Once you’re in, it’s going to be difficult to walk past the “2-for-1” or “75% off” signage without grabbing something — no matter how trivial it may seem. Through this process, are we really saving money? The answer is, most likely, no.

Holiday sales give us the illusion of saving and we end up overspending on items we don’t need. The trick is not to get into the competitive shopping mode; that’s where you would sidekick anyone who is in the way of those boots you already have in black, but since they are on sale, it would only be fair to get them in gray.

The point is to always be a smart shopper. No matter what sale is going on you have to ask yourself  “Do I really need this, or can it wait?” If you really are honest with yourself, you’ll find that you can live another day without the boots, or that fabulous new jacket that just got marked down.

Although you’ll leave that store empty-handed and thinking to yourself “I would look so good if I had that right now,” you’ll soon feel proud of the money you saved. In these tough economic times — though they are looking brighter everyday — saving a few dollars here and there can make a big difference.

12/16/2009 at 4:41 PM Leave a comment

Lessons Learned, Part 4

LigiaSix months ago, I graduated from TCU and jumped right into this internship; I didn’t know what to expect, and I definitely did not anticipate how much I would learn.

Working here at Zag is not like your typical internship. It’s a real job and everyday is a learning opportunity, and more importantly, a chance to get better at what you do.

Here are a few of the many things I have learned at Zag:

Control your stress, don’t let it control you. As a designer, some days the stress can be overwhelming.  You have to meet a deadline by a certain time, and your design ideas don’t seem to work. These days, stress can start to control you. Once that happens, you’re not focused anymore and your work suffers. So even on those high-pressure days, take a moment to step away and take a deep breath. Give yourself a pep talk or take a short walk. I’ve learned that just 5 minutes is enough to calm down and get back to work.

Inspiration is everywhere. Sometimes, your mind is exhausted and it’s hard to come up with ideas and/or designs. You feel like you hit a wall and a project suddenly starts to seem impossible. I have learned that ideas and designs don’t always spontaneously appear — sometimes you have to look for them. Talk to people around the office; look at books; browse the Internet or just stare outside the window (my favorite). If you give it a little bit of time, one of those things will trigger a good idea instead of settling for a mediocre one that you forced out of yourself.

Lastly, I’ve learned that it’s okay to ask for help. Here at Zag we are very lucky to have GCG and Site Smart Interactive employees as resources. Their opinions and guidance have been crucial to our success, because we are all very young, and most importantly, we are all still learning about this business. I’m the kind of person that when I run into a problem, especially in web design, I want to figure it out by myself no matter how long it takes so that I can truly learn how to fix it. Unfortunately, I don’t always have the time to do that, so instead of spending over an hour figuring out a code, I can just walk down the hall and ask someone from Site Smart Interactive in a matter of minutes.

Don’t forget to come back tomorrow to see what my fellow designer Rolando has to say!

11/13/2009 at 2:15 AM Leave a comment

The other side

LigiaLast time I wrote about a photo shoot, I was behind the scenes watching how a photographer worked with a camera and interacted with his subjects. Last week, I was given the opportunity to participate in another photo shoot, this time as the subject.

I was asked, along with Kelsey and Kalyn and Megan of GCG to be part of a back-to-school photo shoot for one of GCG’s clients. I immediately said yes, and my secret fantasies of being on billboards all over the Metroplex ran wild.

The day of the shoot, we arrived bright and early at Geno Loro’s photography studio with all of our wardrobe and makeup in hand.  After deciding who wears what, what colors look best and applying an insane amount of make up, we were prepared to shine.

During the first 30 minutes it was all good and fun. We were fake-smiling our heads off, laughing at non-existent jokes and pretending to walk around a location that only existed in Photoshop.

But after several hours of basically doing the same thing over and over, the glamour faded and we became exhausted. Who knew? Posing and modeling is tiring. We were only there for about three hours and were about to fall over; I can’t imagine doing photo shoots that are about 12+ hours long like the pros. That made me realize that I was not meant to be famous, and so I put those dreams to rest…for now.

One of the perks of working at Zag IMC is getting the chance to participate in these kinds of experiences. It was definitely something new to the four of us and really gave us an inside look into photography.

In our line of business, it is important to be knowledgeable in as many aspects as possible, photography included. Now that I’ve been on both sides, the photographer and the subject, I feel like I have a better understanding of how it works and that will probably be beneficial at one point in my career.

(Don’t worry, photos are on the way!)

11/06/2009 at 2:29 PM Leave a comment

SEO is the way to go!

LigiaWhat is SEO? No, it’s not internet chat lingo that makes you feel “uncool” because you don’t know what it means (ROFL     anyone?).  SEO means Search Engine Optimization, and it’s a very simple tool that is often overlooked. When used correctly, it can do wonders for your Web site and business.

The best way to define it is, “SEO is the business of getting found, even if the users did not know that they were looking for you all along.”

Unless you are a recognized brand, like Nike, people are usually not going to search specifically for your business. Let’s say I create a Web site for my dog-walking business called “Walk & Bark” (hold your applause for my creative business name).  When somebody goes to search for a dog walking business in Fort Worth, that’s exactly what they are going to type into the search engine, “Dog Walking in Fort Worth”. Unless they specifically have my business name, they are most likely to use generic search terms and click on whatever comes up in the first page of the results. If those generic key terms aren’t built into your Web site, the chances of you being found are slim to none.

It takes a while to get onto the front page of search engines but you can increase your chances by utilizing SEO. So here are a couple of tips to get you started on SEO ASAP:

» Add in meta tags into your HTML code. To learn how to do this, check out this article, “How to Use HTML  Meta Tags for SEO.”

» Keywords and SEO are best friends. Incorporate them into your written content in order to increase your chances of being found. Need help with keywords? This article is a good resource, “How to Pick Your Keywords.”

» Fresh and updated content attracts search engine spiders to your site, so keep it updated often. An easy way to do this is by having a news section or a blog section that gets updated regularly.

» Get other sites to link back to you. It lets the search engines know that your site is relevant since people are linking to it.

» Google Business Solutions offers useful features such as keywords suggestions, analytics, Google maps, and much more that help with SEO.

» There are countless articles, books and professionals that can help you with SEO. Remember, you can have the best web site in the world but if nobody can find it, then what’s the point?

TTYL! (This one took me a while to figure out too)

09/21/2009 at 2:37 PM Leave a comment

Shootin’ the breeze

LigiaRecently, I went to my first on-location photo shoot for our client Equine Sports Medicine and Surgery. I was a little apprehensive at first because it was a muggy and rainy Monday morning, and we had to drive about 30 minutes to their Weatherford location.

Did I mention I was wearing three-and-a-half inch heels that day? Not a good look when you are following a photographer around a horse ranch.

Nonetheless, I decided to tag along with Doug, GCG Marketing photographer, and Rolando, our art director.

Despite my apprehension, it turned out to be a very fun and rewarding experience. We were on location at ESMS for about three hours shooting pictures of their lab equipment, facilities and some of the horses.

It was fascinating to see how a photographer doesn’t use a camera as a piece of equipment; it’s more like an extension of them, a second pair of eyes. Dough would look out and take a mental picture of the scene in front of him, and with one look he would know exactly what lens he needed to make that shot work.

Photography is really a beautiful craft that requires special attention to details and care about what you are doing. There is just so much that goes into it that we “non-photographers” sometimes overlook. Someone who simply knows how to press the button on a camera is not a photographer. A photographer is much more than that, they know about lighting, angles, colors, layout and lenses, and how all of those elements come together to make one perfect shot.

Check out some of my favorite pictures from the photo shoot below:

08/14/2009 at 12:41 PM Leave a comment

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