.design Success: Mimo.design

Greeted with an explosion of color when entering their website, creating cool stuff is what Mimo.design does. Based out of Canada, this marketing and design firm has a strong expertise in branding (including corporate identity, product packaging, website and app design, and marketing materials), content creation, and digital marketing.  

Mimo’s mission? To help clients create strong brands and products that are creative, engaging, and fun. 

Having worked with high-exposure brands like Walmart, Volkswagen, and Coca-Cola, it comes as no surprise that Mimo has been in business for over 15 years. Their attention to detail, quality, and craft brings a bold and unique offering to their clients, which keeps them coming back for more.  

“One of the hardest parts of starting a creative business is building new and consistent relationships with clients,” said Michael Kirlew, owner and founder of Mimo. “From getting your first customer, to keeping them coming back, is something that takes time. Our key to success has been quality. Both in the service we provide and the work we produce, quality is always at the top of the list. It impresses your clients. It keeps them coming back. And more importantly, it generates organics referrals. As you grow your business, you start to create a reputation, and that reputation is what starts a snowball effect of new business.” 

As the saying goes, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, and Mimo.design has experienced those growing pains alongside the ebbs and flows of global economic struggles throughout the course of their business.  

“After operating our business for almost 15 years, the most challenging part in our journey has been the most recent Covid Pandemic. We initially saw a huge drop-off in business as most of our clients pressed paused on their own companies.  

“As doors began to open back up and companies started to re-engage with the world, we questioned if our business would ever go back to the heights of success we achieved prior. Will our clients still be around? If so, would they continue to see value in what we do? Do we have to start all over again and rebuild a new client base? Those questions were constantly in our minds.  

“But believing in the quality of work we produce and the reputation we have created, we did see our clients come back. And surprisingly, they also brought their friends. Knowing that our clients continued to return and even referred other companies to do so as well, showed just how valuable we were and validated to us that “yeah, we’ve got this”.” 

Having run such a successful design company for so long, we had to know Mimo’s secret. Their advice? Don’t skimp on quality.  

“People pay for quality. Don’t undervalue what you do, but don’t overvalue it either. Find that balance and always produce the best work you can. Your talent will attract clients. The relationships you build will keep them.” 

Our fascination with Mimo.design’s website starts before you even enter the page; with their long-term success and high-exposure clients, what attracts individuals to go to their website to begin with starts with their unique domain name. So we had to know – why .design?  

 “.COM domains are hard to come by these days and usually the only want to get one is to make some long elaborate domain name. Most companies are starting to use different domains which are more personable, and also explain your business – that’s one of the best reasons we transitioned over to a .design domain. Ditch the long complicated .coms and go for a more purpose-driven domain like .design. 

“MiMo.design is a domain we love. It represents everything we are. It’s purposeful, creative, simple, and easy to understand. Choosing to use .design rather than more traditional methods makes us standout, hints at our ability to creatively think outside the box, and shows a bit of fun while we’re at. I wouldn’t change it for anything else!” 

.design Success: BeccaSmith.design

A jack-of-all-industries, master of design: Becca Smith showcases her talent on her personal portfolio and freelance design website, Becca Smith Design Co (BeccaSmith.design). With experience working in politics, fashion, non-profits, and more, Becca Smith brings a fresh breath of talent to her website with a unique layout and extraordinary use cases.  

“My mission is to create strong and immersive brand experiences for new companies and their clients alike,” says Becca. “I love to look at design as an opportunity to build another world and explore what that means for each unique client of mine.” 

Alongside showcasing her work, Becca uses her website to gain more business opportunities by offering branding packages. By evaluating a client’s challenges, growth goals, community, and unique solutions, Becca will cultivate a complete brand package with guidelines, launch plan for social and advertising, and ongoing consulting which can include marketing insights and even help naming the brand!  

“My proudest moment? I made a client cry during a concept presentation (Tears of joy, of course)! It was such a great full-circle moment where they were able to see their idea come to life and represented in a way that was beyond their expectations. In that moment I immediately knew I was off to a great start.” 

Becca brands herself as not just a graphic and brand designer, but also a digital illustrator, consultant, and “great dinner guest.” Based out of Chicago, she’s currently focusing on brand design and packaging, and loves to look at design as an opportunity to explore what it means to create a world through design. 

With her wide experience in multiple markets, you’d think that Becca has it made in the design industry. She’s not without her struggles, however. Becca tells us that one of the largest obstacles in her world is being taken seriously as a business owner.  

“One of the biggest struggles of being a one woman business is knowing how to represent yourself so others take you seriously and respect your work. This means networking, choosing the right projects (and sometimes saying no), figuring out your rate, and so much more! It’s tough, but fun to explore!” 

For designers looking to get their start at becoming a full-time freelance design, Becca says to intuition is the key to success:  

“Follow your instincts and advocate for your work! Clients will occasionally forget that *you’re* the expert in design, just as they are with their product, and want to have a bigger input in how something looks than they should. Stick to your guns and come with research on why you believe something will work and push it.” 

With such a stunning website and clear success track record, we had to know why Becca chose a dot-design domain for her website.  

“My name is pretty common; I love that the .design tells you more about me and what you’re about to experience. It’s unique, like my work and take on design, and also feels futuristic and modern! In my line of work, it’s important to stay on top of trends, and this definitely feels like the direction in which the internet is moving!” 

“For others looking to set up their website, join the dot-design club! It’s a fun community and feels forward thinking. It gives your portfolio or website a bit of an edge and a unique quality, especially when there’s more options than ever on the web. Plus – it’s more memorable!” 

.design Success: 9Lives.design

Your project: their passion. 9Lives.design is an award-winning agency specializing in web design and branding based out of Northern Canada, and they’re making a big impact on the way small businesses present themselves online.  

Founded in 2015 by Dave Nighborn, 9 Lives Design won the award for Northern Ontario Company of the Year in 2018.  

“Our mission is to design memorable websites and corporate brands that are beautiful and a joy to use.”  

Since their inception, 9 Lives has done just that. Having developed websites for key clients like the North Bay Police and Remedy Developments, each website is unique, exciting, and user-friendly, truly showing that 9 Lives practices what they preach.  

“Our biggest obstacle was building trust in our community,” said Dave. “Companies want to work with established agencies so it took time to produce enough design for prospective clients to feel comfortable investing in our work.” 

9 Lives Design does more than just web development; they are also masters in logo design and corporate branding, as well as creating branded assets and digital art.  

“We won Northern Ontario Business of the Year in 2018 for the 1-15 employee category—only 3 years after incorporating. We won this award by having a great balance of doing high profile projects while giving back to the community.”  

9 Lives is run and managed by Dave, founder and Creative Director, and his wife Jade. The small-but-mighty team pours their efforts into both educating their clients on marketing technology, as well as making their community a better – and easier – place to live.  

“Doing high-quality work and keeping your promise to clients is all that matters to continue getting more projects. Word of mouth is better than any advertising money can buy.” 

As someone who makes their living off of creating websites for others, it comes as no surprise that 9 Lives needed to make sure their website made a lasting impression. Enter: the dot-design domain.  

“The .design domain is unique, and you’ll stand out from everyone else,” Dave comments. “9 Lives Design is the company name so it’s the shortest possible domain. It is a descriptive and explicit TLD compared to the ambiguous .com or .net.” 

For more information on Dave and 9 Lives Design, check out their website at 9Lives.Design.  

Should You Join a Professional Design Association?

If you’ve ever considered joining a professional design association, you may have questions about whether it will pay dividends, and ultimately level up your career. It certainly helps to network, and a personal reference can be the difference between getting the gig or not. But paying association fees may not seem worth it if you already have a full client list or are unsure of what benefits a membership can ultimately provide. For many professional associations, the benefits go well beyond networking.  

We’ve rounded up a few of the biggest ones here: 

Professional tools 

One of the greatest benefits of joining a professional design association is having access to critical resources. Contract templates, advice for freelancing, best practices for bidding on work, budget planning guides, tax help, and even legal assistance are all services that may be available for members. Additionally, discounts on design software, equipment, hotel stays, gyms and more may be available to members. 

Having these available in an industry-specific venue that understands the unique needs of designers – who often work in a freelance structure – can be an invaluable resource. While access may not replace your need for an accountant or your own legal professional, they can help you set up a framework for daily operations that’s easy to manage, track, and customize for your business’s specific needs. 

Other critical resources 

In addition to the basics of running a business, a professional design association may be able to connect members with the vital services that are absent if you’re self-employed. Member benefits may include help finding affordable health insurance plans, navigating COBRA, access to mental health resources or even hardship assistance. Some associations even provide their own health insurance and car insurance plans for members. 

Professional development 

Networking comes with opportunities to meet mentors and collaborators who can help you grow. Some may invite you to join them on projects you’re well suited for, while others may teach you a thing or two about their own specialities. Likewise, you may meet someone who can benefit from your insights! 

These memberships often come with access to seminars, workshops, conferences and other tools for further developing your skills, as well as discounted rates for members.  

Social events 

Running your own business can get lonely. Well-organized professional organizations often have a social calendar that might include virtual events, in-person hangouts, round table discussions, or collaborative engagements like art shows. These can provide a great space to connect with people in your field, who often share similar experiences. It’s tough to make work friends when you work from home, but connecting to people who can provide mutual support, encouragement, tips, tricks, and strategies is a great way to spark renewed creativity, find new interests and maybe even make a few friends. 

Power in numbers 

As user-friendly design platforms, stock design and AI continue to grow, designers have had to advocate for their own jobs and rates. Being part of a professional group helps empower a formal group that can argue and advocate for designers and artists across many industries, disciplines and communities. And if you find yourself in the position to fight for a fare rate or chase unpaid invoices, you’ll have an organization of thousands of colleagues who can provide you with resources and support. 

There are many professional design associations out there, from small, local organizations to global operations with tens of thousands of members. And they all have unique offerings, different fee structures, and a range of benefits. Finding the ones that are best suited to you can take a bit of research, but it starts by knowing what you would most benefit from as you work to grow your career, your skillset, and your professional network.  

.design Success: JamieSterner.design

Written By Liz Achanta

If you’re looking for a fun and fresh approach to building your ePortfolio, look no further than JamieSterner.Design.

Jamie Sterner, a recent Communication Design grad from Kutztown University, works as an in-house Graphic Designer for a ballet company – and has worked on projects like website imagery, ads, and merchandise. Jamie also has experience making digital ads, out-of-home ads like billboards and posters, and experience in product and packaging design, as well as logo creation.

“When I got my first job out of college, the one I have now, everyone remembered my logo and would bring it up sometimes because they loved it. I’m only deciding to change it because it sometimes adds confusion to what I actually do.”

While Jamie is new to the design world, she’s not without her obstacles and challenges. Graduating in the middle of the pandemic, alongside learning how to build websites, have been some of her biggest challenges.

“I use JamieSterner.Design as my portfolio website, so it’s to help me show people my work and then eventually get my dream job someday,” said Jamie. “I made this website in my portfolio class in college and I coded it from scratch. Since coding wasn’t my main focus it was difficult for a while, but one night it all just clicked and I finished it. I’m planning on rebranding so I’ll have to do most of those things all over again. We’ll just see how it goes.”

Jamie’s portfolio is creatively categorized by a description of herself: “She’s Educated” focuses on her work while in school, “She’s Professional” shows off her real-work experience, and “She’s Passionate” covers her life outside of design – like acrylic painting and crochet.

Jamie also made a unique ‘visual portfolio’ which she labeled “Designer Pancakes:” a recipe to what Jamie believes are the most important elements she incorporates into her designs.

“Coding your website yourself may be a pain sometimes, but it’s better in the end,” said Jamie. “You’ll know every little detail about your website, it’ll be organized in a way that you understand, and it will be easier to edit in the future. If you do it yourself, it just adds that much more personality to your space.”

What brings Jamie’s ePortfolio all together is her great URL, which is short, memorable, and easy-to-spell; all important elements that can be hard to find with a traditional dot-com, but are widely available with dot-design.

“I am a graphic designer and the dot-design domain was suggested in class. It sounded so much better than just a .com website. It just really puts it out there that I am a designer before anyone even goes to my website. A website that ends in .com could really be anything; there are less surprises with the .design domain.”

As a final piece of advice for other young designers looking to make their mark, Jamie says, “If it makes sense to you and for you, then do it!”

.design Success: PaoloFontana.Design

Written By Liz Achanta

Based in Venice, Italy, Paolo Fontana has developed product designs for companies all over the world.

Paolo Fontana, owner of PaoloFontana.Design, works within the fields of visual identity, product design, and environmental graphics. Paolo’s impressive portfolio ranges from designing hydroponic structures to wine and spirits product design to branding and exhibition design for museums. Holding titles like Creative Director and Art Director, it comes as no surprise that Paolo’s work is clean, crisp, and extremely professional.

“My job is to deal with the aesthetics of things related to their functionality,” said Paolo, when asked about his brand mission. In turn, Paolo’s brand mission has helped him achieve his proudest moments – of which he says that his proudest moment as a designer has been the various projects he’s worked on.

“Designing something few people are lucky enough to work on, like the interior of an airliner, or the recent launch of an item that didn’t exist, like a coffee cup that replaces paper cups!”

Paolo said his work on the ATR 72-500 Airplane included developing functional style and design concepts for the airplane’s cabin. This involved intensive creative research, style design, renderings, and mock-ups, which ultimately led to the finished product which currently retails for over $14.4M USD.

Other work of Paolo’s, like the hydroponic structure, included product design, prototyping, and final digital drawings. Paolo has also worked for companies like Piandimare wines, where he developed the visual identity and label design for their Montepulciano d’Abruzzo lineup.

“My biggest obstacle has been to build a rich and explicative portfolio of my style in order to intercept the right client with whom to build interesting projects.”

While actually building his portfolio may have been a challenge, the completed product is worth exploring: with over 50 different projects showcasing Paolo’s work, all on a dot-design domain.

“Dot Design is more than a .com, it goes beyond a country,” says Paolo. “Today it’s necessary to be very specific in communicating immediately what you love to do – that’s why I chose a .design domain.”

For those designers who are looking to find motivation and inspiration to start their own online design business, or even showcase their work online like PaoloFontana.design, Paolo says that having fun is the most important thing to do.

“Having fun while working is without a doubt the mantra I’ve always repeated to myself, I guess sometimes I should have had just a little less fun so as not to waste some of the effort put in.”

For more information on Paolo Fontana and his work, check out any of the medias below:

Website  |  Behance

How to set up an art fair station: Build an art booth that allows your work to shine, and entices visitors to purchase your artwork.

Written By Guest User
An art fair is an excellent time to build a following and garner new fans for your works of art. Make the most out of the opportunity by designing a booth that engages the crowds. But given that an art fair can feature dozens, or even hundreds, of other artists–how can one create a booth that stands out? Follow a few key principles of design and presentation to make sure you’re setting up your art fair station for success.

Invest in quality

Think about the little details that assist with your presentation. The tables, chairs, signage, and even the adhesives that keep your art on the walls. The last thing you want to worry about that day is your canvases sliding off the walls! Make sure to invest in quality materials that will allow for a professional and seamless display of your work.

Leverage the elements of style

You’re an artist and already understand the building blocks of good design, decor, and art flow. While you might be eager to showcase everything you’ve produced over the last few years, be sure to select a reasonable number of works for display. Don’t over-clutter your booth. Instead, curate your best works so that there’s ample space between each canvas or sculpture. Design your booth so that it showcases your different abilities, skills and looks. Think about the big picture, and how your art booth might look from afar.

Know your audience

Depending on the type of art fair, think about the typical attendees and their preferences. For example, an art fair at a beach town might prefer light and bright colors to match their seaside homes. Also, unless you’re presenting at a millionaires-only event, consider offering a range of different price points and sizes to appeal to a wider audience.

Be professional

Art fairs can be a long, draining day of chatting with followers and new fans. There can alsp be a lot of downtime. No matter what, refrain from being on your phone, eating, or reading while at your booth. Be engaged and aware of your surroundings, as you never want to miss a sales opportunity due to texting your friends. Be welcoming and be prepared to talk about what inspires you as an artist.

Don’t hover

Be engaging but also give passersby and visitors room to breathe and appreciate your art. Read their moods, as some enjoy speaking in-depth with the artist, while others like to observe in silence.

Let visitors know about your digital portfolio

Create a website that can direct interested parties to your larger body of work. Have business cards or flyers handy so that you can share your website. A .design web address can add an extra layer of creative professionalism to your artistic brand. The TLD is unique and memorable, and therefore might also help your stand out from the other artists at the fair.

Keep in touch

Just because the art fair has wrapped up doesn’t mean your work is done. In addition to your art website, make sure to also include your name, contact information, social media accounts, and e-mail on your business card or brochure. Have a signing book at your booth where fans can write down their names and emails. Each month or quarter, shoot out a newsletter unveiling your latest works and what you’ve been up to as a creative. This gives visitors the opportunity to continue to communicate with you and engage with your masterpieces, long after the art fair takes place.

.design success: AndrewAshton.design

Logging in to AndrewAshton.design is like taking a step back in time: complete with retro font, graphics, and black-and-white tones, AndrewAshton.design serves as Andrew Ashton’s personal online portfolio. In one word, Andrew Ashton describes his designs as “funky.”

Located in Texas, Andrew created his online portfolio as part of his senior project at University of North Texas, which Andrew was able to use to turn around and use to help him score his first design job out of college as a Visual Designer.

“I strive to create memorable and impactful experiences through visual communication design,” says Andrew. “Through a curated mix of branding, photography, illustration, animation and user experience design, I am able to assist others in translating their ideas and messages into a visual medium.”

 Andrew’s work in design won him the Best Senior Portfolio at the 2021 DSVC National Student Show, as well as having been featured in the 2021 edition of the GRAPHIS New Talent Annual. Andrew considers himself an expert in UX/UI, Motion, and Web design, as well as graphics and photography, which can be seen throughout his portfolio through different rebrand concepts, his Tarot Noir product conception, and throughout the website itself.

“As a college graduate in the age of COVID, I’ve had to rely more on social media and internet based tools to get my name out in lieu of real-life interactions,” Andrew said when asked about his biggest obstacles as a designer who’s trying to get his start.

Andrew says winning the Best Senior Portfolio award has been his proudest moment as a designer so far. “It was a really cool moment because it made me realize how much potential I have as a creator and kickstarted my motivation to build my brand.”

When it came time to put Andrew’s portfolio together, he knew he needed to pick a URL that was memorable and relevant to his industry, and his personal goals. With Andrew’s wide skill set, it came as no surprise that chose dot-design for his domain.

“As a graphic designer by trade, I loved how cleanly “andrewashton.design” rolled off the tongue. Just short, sweet, and straight to the point. If you’re looking for something with a little more flair than .com, go for it!”

For other students looking to get their start, Andrew says to go ahead and ‘take the leap.’

“Nothing bad will come from taking advantage of new opportunities but you can always regret the leaps you don’t take.”

Interested in learning more about Andrew Ashton? Check out his website and social media channels at any of the links below:

Website  |  Vimeo  |  LinkedIn  |  Instagram

7 design principles every UX designer should follow

Written By Liz Achanta

Stellar UX (user experience) is critical to the success of your business, and the role of the UX designer (whether that’s you or someone you’ve hired) will play a key role in how the customer will feel about your product or service.

UX is so much more than a customer interacting with your website. It is the emotional response that is evoked from interacting with your digital product. When it comes to digital design, elements like color, font, messaging and design theme contribute to UX.

Overlooking UX design can lead to poor reviews and can cause your customers to look elsewhere for business. For example, if a customer has a difficult time during the online checkout system, they might abandon their cart and turn to your competitor.

 1. Customer-centric design. The first and most important pillar of good UX design is to always put your customer’s needs first. Prioritize functionality and usability, then aim to exceed their expectations whenever you can. This will help you build a customer base that is not only loyal, but will recommend you to others via word of mouth and rave reviews. In other words, UX design is essential to attracting and retaining your following.

2. Market research. The first step in ensuring customer-centric design from beginning to end is to conduct preliminary user research. You can conduct online research by learning about your target audience, and you can also conduct field research by interviewing a set of target customers. Ask them about their likes and dislikes, and what they expect from the online experience.

3. Allow for user testing. After building the prototype, let visitors test the website before you launch, and be open to feedback at every step of the way. Continue to iterate until you’re confident you’ve met your customers’ expectations. The A/B testing model, where you test the performance of two versions of content, is a great method for user testing.

4. Keep things simple. Visitors to your website should not need special instructions to navigate your site or use your app. In an effort to create something groundbreaking or unique, some designers tend to overload websites with cutting-edge features that do not serve the principles of usability or functionality. As a result, interfaces become cluttered and even clunky.

Make the UX intuitive by keeping the website design simple, allowing the customer to easily navigate from page to page. They should be able to browse products, explore, checkout and purchase with ease.

It’s worth noting that UX designers must keep mobile in mind, and minimalistic design lends itself to smaller smartphone and iPad screens.

5. Keep things consistent. Another common mistake designers make is trying to show off their artistic chops by making each page look markedly different from the other. But each business website should have a thematic and unified look in order to keep branding consistent and memorable throughout.

6. Present a visual hierarchy. When a visitor arrives at a homepage or product page, a million large words and photos should not hit them all at once. Think about the sizing and weight of each headline and image and how each of those visual assets is laid out on the page. Consider the flow of the experience as the customer scrolls down, and that each element directs their eyes toward the most important information. Be sure to incorporate call-to-action buttons that ultimately will lead to a successful checkout and purchase

7. Design for storytelling. While you want to lead the customers through product discovery, don’t just design to create a transactional experience with customers. Instead, try to also build a personal connection. And don’t keep your brand narrative and founding story confined to the About Us page. Showcase the human side of your business throughout the website, via an active blog, video features, snippets about your dedicated employees and more.

.design success: Arcanhex.design

Written By Liz Achanta

Nestled in the Bronx borough of New York City, three partners are making a big impact.

Introducing Arcanhex.Design: owned and operated by Wellington Arcangel (web designer), Alan Arcangel (graphic designer), and Joshua Castro (marketing expert), the three individuals make up a trending digital marketing business geared towards helping small businesses get themselves online.

Arcanhex Design offers custom websites, logo creation, Google and Facebook ads creation and management, content marketing and SEO, and custom Shopify ecommerce solutions, all for an affordable price. Having worked with companies like Mora Corp, Weal Marketing, and Hero Company, Arcanhex increases their client’s online engagement results by an average of 50%, and increases sales leads on average by 45%.

“Our mission is to give small businesses an online platform and bring more exposure and visibility to online and offline brands,” says the trio.

“At first, the biggest struggle was getting clients to trust your expertise and prove you are the right person for the job,” says Wellington, when we asked him about the business. “But when past clients approach me and tell me how I’ve helped their brands reach more people and helped their businesses grow, that for me are some of my proudest moments.”

Creating your own design company can be a scary first step. Wellington’s advice to any designer looking to start their own business is, “to discipline yourself. Just focus on learning one thing and be the best on that one thing.”

As masters of online marketing and design, Arcanhex knew they needed a killer domain name to make themselves memorable and relevant in their industry. It comes as no surprise that Arcanhex used dot-design as their domain name.

“I chose .design because my business name ends with “design,” and it fit so well I couldn’t pass the opportunity. I would anyone that if they want an original and creative domain name, they should pick .design.”

To learn more about Arcanhex Design, check out their website or follow them on social media via the links below:

Website  |  Instagram