Tag Archives: design

Five outsourcing platforms to improve your small business

Adapting to the digital economy can require specific skills and expertise. We understand that it can be a stressful and expensive process at times. It is also daunting for business owners who realise how many new skills are required to take advantage of digital opportunities.

Online freelancing tools have made it easier and more economical for businesses to access professionals with diverse skill sets from all over the world. You can contract these skills at prices that are much more affordable than you might think.

Common services (amongst many others) outsourced by businesses include graphic design, web design, programming skills,  app development, SEO(Search Engine Optimisation) and content writing.

Internet freelancing platforms open small businesses up to a much wider net of providers capable of providing great services at a lower cost.

Note: Please use discretion and caution when selecting your provider to ensure the best outcome. Always read reviews and view a portfolio where possible.

Below we’ve listed five outsourcing tools you may consider for your business.

1. Freelancer

OutsourcingFreelancer is an Australian-based (but internationally available) freelancing platform founded in 2009. You can create an account for free (or login with your Facebook account) and add details of the work you need completed. Skilled workers can then find your job based on its criteria.

You may also want to set-up email notifications to let you know when people with certain skills become available. Freelancer is certainly one of the largest freelance market places with roughly 11.5 million users.

2. Elance

Elance

Elance.com

One of the first online freelancing platforms, Elance was founded in 1999 in the USA. Like Freelancer, businesses can create an account for free (or login with Facebook or LinkedIn) and post jobs to attract freelancers.

Elance offer extras such as referral programs and payroll services. As a result, Elance can be more suited to larger-scale businesses.

3. Fiverr

Outsourcing

Fiverr.com

Fiverr is a great tool for those odd jobs, one-offs and bits and pieces you need to get done, and often quickly. That’s not to say it has to be poor quality!

The idea is that anyone can sell their services starting at $5 for just about anything. You can complete voice-overs, logos, banners, translations, or t-shirt prints (amongst many, many other things) for surprisingly low costs. Fiverr is self-moderating, so be sure to look at reviews of the provider and pay attention to details such as the turnaround time, Many providers will offer optional extras such as extra-fast turnaround or additional designs.

You can also view the average turnaround time, orders in queue and average rating of each user.

4. 99designs

outsourcing

99designs.com

99designs started in Melbourne in 2008 with the objective of changing the way businesses solved their design needs. The idea is based around a ‘design contest’.

As a business, you provide 99designs with a design brief. You will then choose a package. According to the package, 99designs offer a ‘prize’ to designers who will then compete to win the ‘competition’ (i.e. make you a happy customer).

This gives you the benefit of having dozens of design options pitched to you from multiple designers! Not a bad idea. If you find a designer you love working with through this process, 99designs will facilitate that relationship into the future.

Packages start from $299.

5. oDesk

outsourcing

Odesk.com

oDesk, has recently merged with eLance.com. It is a freelancing tool that caters to your digital needs. Like other online freelancing tools, it allows you to post your job for free, review candidates and track and pay for your freelancer all through the oDesk platform.

You may wish to employ an individual for a one-off project, or a team of developers for a long-term team project. It’s up to you!

The 3D printing revolution is closer than you might think

In May, Regional Development Australia organised a tour of the RMIT Advanced Manufacturing Precinct. Business owners and local government representatives from the Hume region saw a glimpse of the manufacturing revolution offered by 3D printing technologies – allowing designers to turn virtual models into solid objects made from a range of plastics or metals.

Now, the arrival of consumer-level 3D printing is closer than ever. Printers are already available for pre-order through several companies, such as Cubify and Makerbot. Entry level products currently cost around $1300-1700, and typically print in plastics such as biodegradable PLA (often used for testing new designs), or durable ABS (the material used to cast LEGO bricks). They work by laying down many thin layers, building the design a fraction of a millimetre at a time. More expensive printers use multiple printing heads to produce full colour designs.

The implications of 3D printing are huge – potentially “resetting the economics of manufacturing” (in a Feb 2011 Economist article). By moving the place of production to individual homes, designers can sell their products in an electronic format around the world without requiring a physical distribution network. Physical location is not as important as the skills and creativity needed to use the new medium – potentially helping those in regional locations to better compete on a global scale.

While 3D printers are rapidly becoming more affordable, they are still beyond the reach of many consumers. To bridge this gap, many printer manufacturers have branched out into print-on-demand services, allowing designers to upload their creations to be printed at a central location. Cubify currently sells printed designs for products in categories such as Fashion and Art, while Makerbot directs people to share their creations directly on the Thingiverse (an online marketplace for “Digital designs for real, physical objects”).

In a world where custom manufacturing could be as affordable as mass production, there are many opportunities for individualised, personal designs. Inspired by the London 2012 olympics, Luc Fusaro’s Designed to Win project shows how this new technology can be used to enhance athlete performance by tailoring products – in this case, running shoes – to the exact specifications of the user. The future of manufacturing is closer than you might think.

Web design and regional communities online, with WWW.ART

Our latest case study looks at Beechworth’s WWW.ART web design services – winners of the Excellence in Professional Services award at the 2012 Indigo Shire Business Awards. Owner/operator Fiona Larkings has been helping businesses across the region get online since launching her business 14 years ago.

Business overview

Since 1998, WWW.ART Design Services has built a strong portfolio of clients from many different industries across the region. We specialise in building cost effective easy to navigate, well-structured web sites for businesses and organisations of all sizes. We work closely with our clients to provide a personalised service, helping them to design and maintain effective, individually tailored websites.

We provide a wide range of services for our customers, from the design and construction of new sites, through to ongoing maintenance, social media integration and email marketing solutions. One of our earliest projects, the Beechworth.com community hub now has over 110 businesses and community organisations on the site, and attracts over 8,000 visitors each month.

Tell us about the web technologies you are using in the business

  • Our website acts as a showcase for our services, and a portfolio of our current work.
  • Google Analytics provides us with detailed statistics on our website traffic.
  • We’re familiar with a range of domain management systems and hosting technologies, which we use to register and manage client domains, and provide web hosting services for our clients.
  • An email marketing system helps us manage our mailing list and contacts.
  • We also have a business presence on social media services like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.
  • Using Webinars for training enables us to keep up with the latest changes in our industry, without constantly needing to travel to metropolitan areas.

What benefits have you gained from using these tools?   

We are an internet based business, so without access to these tools our business would not exist. Where possible, we aim to educate all of our clients about the benefits of using these technologies to help them grow their own businesses.

How do you plan to use high speed broadband in your business when the NBN arrives?

The increased speed the NBN offers will help us to do better business, and provide faster delivery of speed for client websites.

What advice do you have for other businesses who want to maximise their use of web technologies? 

When setting up a website, find a professional website designer/developer that knows about Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). Rather than thinking about how the website looks and then later discovering that it doesn’t work, these two elements should work together. Your website developer should also be able to clearly explain the elements required to construct a website, so that you know what you are paying for.

Make sure that your website allows you to update your own content, or that your developer provides support if you find this too difficult. All businesses need to have an online presence so that they can be found in this fast moving world.

You can find out more about WWW.Art through their website, Facebook page or Twitter account.