It’s been quite the year for our crew. Not only have we added several talented folks to our company, we’ve launched tons of beautiful, informative websites. We also continued to work with our faithful digital marketing clients while bringing on more! Our designers have continued to grow their creative skills, while the developers have kept up with and prepared for the Gutenberg update (while also handling everything else we and our clients throw at them daily). Take a walk with us down memory lane:
One of our first projects of 2018 was with the folks at the Iowa Department of Revenue. When you think about doing your taxes, you might feel your blood pressure start to rise, your breathing get a little labored, and the sweat start to accumulate on your brow. We’re human. We get it. That’s why it was so nice to work with the people in the know to create an easily navigated page to explain how to file your tax refund. The custom designs by Bryan Nance really help guide users calmly and clearly through the process.
We always have a great time at dsmHack (AKA the Des Moines Charity Hack). Each year, designers, developers, and content specialists combine their talents to help a local nonprofit organization overcome a technological obstacle. These problems range from simplifying donor databases to creating a full website from scratch. As a bonus, the pros donating time have no idea what’s waiting for them until they get there. Oh, and we have only 48 hours to work. This is the stuff we LIVE FOR in the web development, design, and marketing world. Challenge accepted.
This year, we teamed up with the Latino Political Network (LPN), a group that works to empower Latino individuals in the community to run for political office. By teaching folks how to strategize and build a strong campaign, LPN is working to straighten out the learning curve for potential candidates. The folks at the Latino Political Network came incredibly prepared, so it was a breeze to work with them! Be sure to take a look at their new site to learn more about their incredible work. We can’t wait to join the Hack in 2019!
If you know us, you know our fearless leader, Jeremiah Terhark. We’re not sure he ever sits down, because he’s constantly fielding interviews, attending events, reaching out to clients, and juggling 1,000 things at once. In February, he was honored to be a keynote speaker at Johnston Middle School’s “What’s Your Story” day. Always honest about his work as an entrepreneur, Jeremiah shared his struggles and setbacks with the students, then spoke about how he worked through them to find success. He made it clear that no matter what their passion is in life, that it’s okay to fail as long as you keep pushing yourself and refuse to give up on your dreams.
Three of our our senior developers, Riley Hawbaker, Tyler Abbott, and Nick Hoobin, once again attended Laracon, the official Laravel conference. This year it was held at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago. The guys spent two full days learning from some of the biggest names in the web industry.
Day one was spent hearing about how to avoid writing code that’s unnecessarily complex. We also went over pointers on how to communicate without losing productivity momentum (hello, Basecamp). Lastly, the cherry on top of the sundae was about Nova. Ah, Nova. No, not the PBS program and no, not the astronomical event. We’re talking about Laravel Nova and what to expect with this new administration panel that stands to completely change how Laravel is used.
The second day dove deeper into how to stay on-task. Yes, checking your Slack notifications or emails the second they come in is destroying your productivity. We all know this, but a reminder from an outsider can sometimes be the kick in the pants we need. Jocelyn Glei of the Hurry Slowly podcast called constantly checking notifications in real time “empty calories.” That one really stuck with us. We heard from Matt Stauffer from Tighten about the importance of remaining adaptable when it comes to design. We also got a major lesson in CSS grid, and you can take a free course here. Closing out Laracon was a speech by Robert “Uncle Bob” Martin, who reminded us just how important developers are when it comes to nearly every aspect of our lives today (you’re reading this and enjoying the internet thanks to developers).
In the fall, we were named Best Website Developer in the Business Record’s annual “Best of Des Moines” awards. Obviously we couldn’t do it without our clients. We truly work with some of the most fun, interesting, challenging (in the best way), and thoughtful clients. Not only that—the support we’ve found in our community has been humbling and inspiring. This year, our office has seen a lot of changes. We now have even more specialized teams, including a small and medium business team, an enterprise and apps team, and the digital marketing team has expanded!
We were ecstatic to be shortlisted at the US Search Awards in two categories! For our work with Kelderman Manufacturing, we were recognized for Best Use of Search – Retail/eCommerce. Our campaign with Des Moines Feed got us shortlisted for Best Use of Social Media in a Search Campaign, too. In October, our VP of Strategy, Lindsey LaMair, and Digital Marketing Director, Glenn Martin, headed to Vegas to attend Pubcon, where the US Search Award Ceremony is held. What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, but we’re glad Lindsey and Glenn brought back a ton of insightful tips and ideas our digital marketing team is now using to move our clients’ campaigns successfully into 2019.
The team at Webspec Design is made up of creatives. That means there are tons of passion projects going on at all times. From yoga instructors to musicians, this crew is full of talented folks.
We’re proud to have designers like Meanz Chan, who this year alone, designed a coffee mug and t-shirt for Iowa Public Radio’s fall pledge drive. She was also one of only 25 local artists chosen to illustrate a piece as a part of the Amazing Iowa Women book (available now).
This year, our own Bryan Nance had the privilege to return to his alma mater, Drake University, to create an impressive mural on campus. In fact, he collaborated with Meanz (another Drake alumna) on the design and art direction. Bryan has also been instrumental in the integration of animation to our campaigns, websites, and social media pieces.
Digital marketing strategist, Anna Elliott can often be found teaching at Power Life Yoga. This year, Anna started offering a yoga class for our crew once a week. It’s been pretty popular and a peaceful way to start the day. In August, she had a chance to teach at the Iowa State Fair (before it got too hot) with the chair ride in the distance and said it was one of the most fun classes she’s taught so far!
Another strategist on our digital marketing team, Tyler Hendershot, is a member of LAV.ISH, a musical collective made up of local producers, musicians, and lyricists. You might dig them if you’re into rap and R&B. People have also said they have a similar sound to that of OutKast and A Tribe Called Quest. They’re a full band and self-produce every single part of their sound. This year, they played Wooly’s, RAGBRAI, and got to open for Lizzo at the University of Iowa’s homecoming. Their next show is the first Des Moines CultureCon, which will showcase local musicians, artists, fashion, food, and more.
There are so many more folks here doing their own thing and working on projects outside of the office that keep the creative juices flowing. We’re always so proud of our crew and cannot say enough about their talents. Next time you meet one of us, ask us how we like to spend our free time!
Yet another multi-talented musician in the mix at Webspec Design is developer, Lee Hood. In a former life, Lee taught band and elementary music classes. Using music to “tune out the noise and relax,” Lee plays guitar, flute, and piano. She often plays flute in duets with her husband, Conner, on mandolin.
In 2018, Levi Nikkel joined our sales team and we learned about his love of motorcycles. Recently, he finished turning his 1990 Yamaha Virago 1100 (a stock motorcycle) into a “bobber.” In layman’s terms, this means he customized it and lowered it so it sits lower to the ground. While he’s bummed he’s not been able to ride it to work (he currently lives a little too far from the office to ride it in this weather), he’s taken it out for more than a few spins. He also just realized he doesn’t have a great “after” photo of his masterpiece because he’s been too busy enjoying it. We’re psyched to see it in person in the spring!
As you can tell, it’s been a productive year full of creative and technical growth. We’re already looking forward to next year’s dsmHack, Laracon, and (hopefully) Pubcon. Most importantly, we can’t wait to use what we learned in 2018 to benefit our clients in 2019 and beyond.