CASE STUDY: Artisan Plating

Case Study: Artisan Plating

CASE STUDY: Artisan Plating

This month’s case study is about Artisan Plating, an interesting company in that they specialize in electroplating all kinds of precious metals. While they specialize in plating designer work, they also electroplate for government and military applications, which means they reach military-grade tolerance levels. They’ve even plated parts for NASA’s space shuttles. Pretty cool client!

I designed and developed twelve years ago and then, I told David Vinson, the owner, that sites that can give something away always outperform sites that do not. After the recent Google Hummingbird update, this is still clearly the case.

Since he clearly could not give away jewelry, I suggested he give away his vast knowledge of electroplating, precious metals and metallurgy. He wrote up dozens of articles and since then, they have been linked to, ripped off, copied and discussed by his competitors, universities and scientists, globally. He’s also been a featured national speaker on metallurgy and electroplating precious metals.

The articles also played another role: they kept him on the first page of Google organically for 12 years! The reason for the redesign? After 12 years, Google’s algorithm changes finally bumped him off page one. Granted, the articles hadn’t been updated in years.


For the redesign, I talked Artisan Plating into four new ideas:

  1. Mobile-first Responsive Design.
  2. A portfolio of his exquisite work.
  3. New articles on areas that his competitors seem ignorant of, but he is on top of.
  4. Contact information available on every page.


Site traffic has increased by over 300% and he’s getting rave reviews on the new design from his customers. We haven’t sent the pages jump back to page one of Google yet, but it’s only been two weeks and we are not using any paid media or keyword buys.

CASE STUDY: Artisan Plating

My Desk

Productivity Apps I Cannot Work Without

Why write an article about productivity apps?

Agreed. There’s quite a few articles on apps for work productivity and I’ve read most of them. Over the years. I have probably tested well over 200 productivity apps and furniture combinations to make my home office the most efficient I can, given the small space I have.

I share my office with my music setup (five synthesizers, Kaossilators, MIDI controllers, drum machines, mixer, amps, you get the idea.) This leaves me with a crowded desk.

Pen fetish. Do not judge.I must admit to something. I have a pen fetish. And not just any pen. Papermate Flairs. I’ve written with them since college and—apart from the lovely Montblanc my wife bought me—no other pen makes me happy to write with.

But I have a serious problem with them. I freak out inside if I possess less than two dozen. I go through them very quickly (2-3 a week) because I write and draw a lot. That explains the multiple pen jars, most of which are jammed full of Flairs.

Office Supply stores are like crack for me. I have to put spending limits on myself or I’ll convince myself that I need fourteen new notebooks, ten cases of Flairs and 150 new dry erase markers. But I digress…

Here’s the apps I have found that in combination create the ideal workflow for me.


It’s the reigning king/queen of note apps for many good reasons: dictation, OCR scanning of your handwriting, cloud sharing, privacy settings, etc. Having access to all my notes on all my computers, tablet and phone all the time is a life-saver.


I am a coffee addict and love working in coffee houses. Studies have shown that the particular sounds of coffeehouses are conducive to creativity. However, it is not always practical to work in coffeehouses for several reasons:

  1. It gets expensive
  2. There’s not always a seat and if there is…
  3. …there’s not always a seat near an outlet
  4. It can occasionally be either too loud, or you end up next to a loudmouth on cellphone

Enter Coffitivity. A simple app that recreates the sounds of a coffeehouse. It runs in the background and takes up very little processing power. It really helps. I use it on conjunction with a playlist. Through experimentation have found the perfect volume mix of coffeehouse background noise to music that perfectly replicates my favorite coffeehouse. All that’s missing are the hipster baristas, but Coffitivity found some of those for me, too!


A simple Mac app that takes full-site screenshots. I know there are some excellent Firefox plugins for this too, but they lack the options Paparazzi! offers. One of my favorite options is Delay. You set the seconds you want before the screenshot is taken. Why? With a lot of these responsive sites that have enormous, slow-loading images, you may find that making the app wait 10 seconds will allow everything to load.

Funny. We solved the multiple sites issue and replaced that problem with another problem: images dimensions that are simply too slow for mobile (and yes I know there is a way around that, but too few devs are implementing it).

OmniGraffle Pro

Sorry, Visio. You are no match for OmniGraffle Pro when it comes to making IA or UXD diagrams, especially ones that won’t put folks to sleep. This app is a dream to work with (except on iPad. Not a fan) and the community of designers who make more stencils on Graffletopia keeps the app fresh.

This list is by no means exhaustive; I also use Keynote, Adobe Illustrator, etc. but I wanted to share the productivity apps I use most often. How about you? What apps make your day?

Getting a list of ingredients does not make you a Master Chef.

Calling yourself a social media guru doesn’t make you one

DISCLAIMER: I read a great quote recently and forgot to bookmark it. I really wanted to use it in this post but I cannot find it, so I will paraphrase it. If you know the source, please let me know so I can credit it. It is not my quote, I just want to make that clear.

The quote in question was regarding social media and in particular, when strategists tell their clients to give away their ideas and processes. Many times the client freaks out and thinks they will go out of business if they do that. The quote—which was the perfect response—was roughly, “Giving you a list of ingredients won’t make you a master chef.”

Love it. Decided to add some other variations we can use.

  • Learning how the ancient Egyptians built the pyramids doesn’t mean you can (or will) ever build one.
  • Licensing Photoshop does not make you a professional retoucher; it means you pay Adobe.
  • Writing a blog doesn’t make you a thought leader; it makes you a blogger.
  • Purchasing a synthesizer will not turn you into a musician.
  • Owning a Mac does not automatically make you a better designer.
  • And finally, calling yourself a social media guru does not make you one. Please let the public decide if you are a guru, and if they do, tell them you prefer not to use that term. It’s inaccurate and disparaging to actual (spiritual) gurus who’ve spent decades practicing their discipline.

PHOTO CREDIT: Sunciti _ Sundaram’s Images + Messages via photopin cc