SHnibbins Dog Snacks website launched

Blue Mouse Monkey is pleased to announce the launch of  SHnibbins dog snacks — the website and the product itself. We provided full branding and design services to enable SHnibbins to bring their new line of heart-shaped dog snacks to the market. From logo, letterhead and package designs, through to content creation, audio, website and social media, we created a new brand that focuses on the simple joy of doggie love. Get SHnibbified!

New Blue Mouse Monkey website – woohoo!

blue_mouse_monkey_home_pageIt’s up and walking around: the new Blue Mouse Monkey website. All done up extra-nice in HTML5 and all that good stuff. It’s a bit dodgy on IE 6 and other hold-outs, but really, I cannot keep caring about obsolete browsers.

Bye-bye to the old Flash site, which was beautiful, but invisible to iPods and iPads, difficult for search engines, and a total pain to keep updated. However, it’s too lovely to banish completely, and can still be accessed via a link at the bottom of the new home page.

I was able to tweak and re-use a couple of the animations from the old site, on the contact page and the ‘404 page not found‘ page. I do love Flash. It was fun to use, great to make entire sites from if you were aiming for something artistic and didn’t care about SEO. I hate to see it get downgraded like it has been, but one must move with the times. And move we have. Thanks to Jimmy Thomas for doing the fabulous CSS build.

Hoarding potatoes and @s

potatoes2009 was a particularly busy year at Blue Mouse Monkey. It was all I could do to focus on my clients and make sure the work got done and on time. One of the casualties of remaining in reactive mode for so long was the Blue Mouse Monkey Occasional Newsletter.

But it wasn’t just busyness that caused the newsletter’s downfall. Last spring my database got big enough that it was time to move to an actual newsletter system. I tried one that was opt-in only. It sounded fine at the time, but it turned out to be really easy for people to miss the crucial step of clicking on the ‘opt-in’ link inside the invitation email. I got a lot of “Yes, sign me up!” replies instead. Seeing as it was an opt-in only system, I wasn’t able to oblige. Plus there were the messages that straggled into my inbox about finding the invitation in trash folders. Then there were the folks who clicked on the ‘opt-in’ link only to find it didn’t work.

All up, it was a fiasco. And I was too busy to figure out a solution.

Compounding the confusion was a disassociation between my mailing list and my address book. As in, they barely matched. Then there was the new list of people who HAD successfully subscribed to the opt-in system. So I had folks in my address book who hadn’t been invited to opt-in, the folks on my mailing list who had chosen to opt in, the folks who did not choose to opt in (a pox on them, but, whatever), and the folks on that same mailing list who would have chosen to opt-in if 1. they’d known about it, and/or 2. they followed the right steps, and/or 3. it worked when they did.

What’s a busy business owner to do?

Okay, it’s my fault for not starting with a clean database. I lack the ruthless tracking gene. It used to be if I obtained an address it would go into my mailing list. Or address book. Or both. Or neither. Database? More like datamess.

So I’ve learned my lesson and I now consistently hoard those little ‘@’ symbols like potatoes. No, I don’t really hoard potatoes, but they are round and storable and provide nourishment over the long term.

Anyhow, my point is it’s a whole year later and I’m starting a new mailing list! It will even have pictures!. But don’t worry, it will still come out about 3 times a year. I loathe being bombarded with e-newsletters, and I think I am not alone in that sentiment. But Blue Mouse Monkey makes extraordinary websites for extraordinary people, and it would be a shame not to showcase our clients and let others know the wonderful work they’re doing in the world.

Trusting the frail bark upon the stormy sea

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With apologies to Thomas Cole

It probably doesn’t look like much from the outside, but it’s been a turbulent few months at Blue Mouse Monkey. So much has happened that my processing power got all taken up, and regular activities such as blogging got neglected. But now I’m able to stand back and review the changes from a little distance. This is the first in a series of entries about Blue Mouse Monkey’s recent evolution!

But first, some history: Since 2001 Blue Mouse Monkey grew successful making portfolio websites for creative professionals, such as musicians, visual artists, architects, jewelers, writers, and others. Those who know me know I’m not one to boast, but I must acknowledge that my educational, creative, and academic backgrounds enable a particular level of interpretation and sensitivity when it comes to presenting a fellow-creative’s work in the interactive space of the Web.

You see I didn’t come out of design school. Sure, I took plenty of digital multimedia courses to learn the technical side of web design, but what I bring to bear on every project is something no design course will teach you: A lifetime commitment to art, which includes a BFAMFA, a career in galleries, and 15 years experience teaching in colleges in Auckland and Portland. Then there’s the BA in philosophy and linguistics, which gave me a grounding in the history of ideas, and was a unique enough combination with the art qualifications that it led me to design and teach a great deal of hybrid studio/liberal arts curriculum during my teaching career. It also means there’s a rich set of connections underpinning everything I do, along with a strong right-brain/left-brain integration.

But, as those who know me know, I’ve also had a long-standing interest in social justice. There are so many people doing such great work in non-profits, NGOs, and in the public sector, and I’ve been looking for ways for Blue Mouse Monkey to partner with them in their efforts.

In 2008 we were fortunate to be asked to create the Community Health Priorities website, whose mission is to engage Oregonians to weigh in on what it means to live in a healthy (or unhealthy) community. With an eye to the social determinants of public health, the site encourages Oregonians to participate in surveys, share feedback, read news, peruse resources, take action, and apply for grants. The opinions and other data that the site gathers helps the Northwest Health Foundation fund “upstream” solutions, develop policies, and do advocacy work.

As David Rebanal, Program Officer at the Northwest Health Foundation said, “Blue Mouse Monkey was instrumental in helping us achieve our goal of engaging Oregonians to articulate a vision of a healthier life for everyone. The CHP site has become a forum for intelligent discussion, and a trusted resource for the public and policy makers alike. Plus the data we get from the site helps us communicate public health priorities to policy makers.”

Then in 2009 we were asked to completely overhaul the Northwest Health Foundation’s main website, and it’s been an honor to continue working with those fine folks and help them do their good work even more effectively.

After these inspiring experiences I wanted to expand Blue Mouse Monkey’s range to include more organizations and groups working to create positive change in the world. At the same time, it was clear that we should continue working with creative professionals, for they do positive work, too. So after thinking about it for an hour or two or three hundred, I rewrote the Blue Mouse Monkey tagline: Ingenious websites for changemakers and cultural innovators. Ingenious because our websites are “characterized by…originality of invention or construction”, and are “cleverly inventive or resourceful”. And changemakers and cultural innovators because that’s where it all goes down.

I’ve also been getting more involved in the non-profit and civic sectors, both in the arts and social justice, by participating in Mackenzie River Gathering Foundation, City Club of Portland, and the Sustainable Business Network, and by sponsoring the Creative Advocacy Network, Illahee Lecture Series, and Orlo — just to name a few.

It’s been a great journey so far, and Blue Mouse Monkey is now partnering with some wonderful non-profits in 2010. Watch this space for a gaggle (Flock? Clutch? Slew?) of new websites to roll out during the year!

Job description

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According to Urban Dictionary, a Mouse Monkey is “A person who repairs computers for a living.” The definition was posted in February ’09, and has two thumbs up and one thumb down.

Nuh-uh. The Blue Mouse Monkey is a small furry creature whose mission is to beautify the Internet one website at a time. She does not repair computers, neither for a living, nor as a hobby.

Blue Mouse Monkey gets what you do

 

She understands

One thing I hear from clients over and over is how much they appreciate that their plan, aspiration, project, creative vision — whatever it is they bring to the Blue Mouse Monkey table — is understood in a fundamental way. This feedback is from a new client who is proposing an amazing niche consultancy service:

 

“I did not think of it until later that day, but you were the first person that I shared the idea with who did not already know me quite well. I was little worried I was falling into the “American Idol” bad-singer syndrome… If you just ask family and friends “I’m a good singer right?” you may never hear the truth. You “getting it” and your enthusiasm was uplifting. Thank you.”