The Top 5 Things I’ve Learned at Go Media

To borrow some wit from the great Groucho Marx: “Before I speak, I have something important to say.”

That something important is to announce I’m leaving Go Media after five remarkable years.

Although it’s a bittersweet moment, I know that the future of this company is bigger and brighter than any one person. Go Media has truly done some inspiring and meaningful things during my time here — but they’re only just getting started.

Because this is a farewell post in disguise, please forgive me while I reflect on some of my favorite moments at this amazing company.

Bill Beachy’s Famous Salsa

The summer of 2008 was exactly as it should be in Cleveland — hot, sunny, and full of promise. In those days Go Media was headquartered in Bill’s townhouse-turned-office, where we sat elbow-to-elbow, sipping coffee and clicking keyboards.

Bill Beachy, Adam Wagner, Dave Romsey, Chris Comella and Tim Boesel hard at work in the original Go Media headquarters.

Our refuge from the heat was the AC and Bill’s delicious homemade salsa. During lunch breaks we gathered around the kitchen island (a.k.a. communal feeding station) to gorge on a vat of the cool tomato mixture. It was a refreshing treat and my first true bonding experience. It was also my first glimpse of Bill’s overwhelming generosity: what was his, was ours. No strings attached.

The Go Media Softball Team

I can’t help but smile when I think of how unapologetically terrible we were — desk-bound designers huffing around the bases after barely bumping the ball into left field. I don’t count our losses, though. All I remember now is the camaraderie, competitive spirit, and Heather’s bright blue pants (you showed us how it’s done, girlfriend).

Go Media alum Heather Mariano sports some exciting blue pants while waving at the camera

Paid Days at Cedar Point

Our surprise trips to Cedar Point were just one of the many perks I boasted to friends and family when gushing about Go Media. These short jaunts to Sandusky were Bill’s way of saying “Now go have some fun, you nerds!” And fun we had.

The Go Media crew enjoy a day at Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio

Go Media vs The Iron Dragon

Epic Christmas Parties

Gifts, games and goodies — it doesn’t get any better than a Go Media holiday party. It’s a full day devoted to festivities, including Rock Band blowouts, catchphrase blunders, and a spirited present-swapping game that left Sarah crockpot-less (some people better sleep one eye up this year, that’s all I’m saying).

Liz Hunt, Kim Finley and Adam Law laugh it up at a past Go Media Christmas party

Weapons of Mass Creation

It finally hit me that I was part of something greater when volunteering for WMC. If I could hop in a time machine and rewind it three years, I would reassure Jeff Finley that putting on this festival is worth the hours and the heartache — and that he has no idea just how awe-inspiring it will become.

Bill Beachy, Jeff Finley and Adam Wagner speak at Weapons of Mass Creation Fest.

The memories I have with Go Media are authentic, heartwarming, and rewarding — and from where I stand today, it’s humbling to acknowledge the lessons I’ve learned over the years.

Without further delay, here are my biggest takeaways from working a job that has always been oh-so-much-more than that:

  1. Be genuine and do what you love — the rest will follow.
  2. Never underestimate the power of dependability.
  3. Build relationships, not projects.
  4. Hold yourself accountable when no one else will.
  5. Give back, because you never know who’s watching.

The Original Go Media Crew

Thanks for the memories, my friends. You’ve helped mold more lives than just mine, and for that I’ll remain your fiercest fan.

Polishing Your PSD: 3 Friendly Reminders for Front-End Sanity

polishing-psd-quick-tip

So you’re a visual designer who wants to suck up to a certain front-end hat guy. Wouldn’t it be a great gesture to clean-house and organize your file so the slicer doesn’t ‘slip’ and accidentally butcher your brilliant work?

Some firms carefully distingush the roles of visual designer and front-end developer; other firms have that one ‘web guy’ who also IDs as the creative talent, the Flash programmer, and the IT go-to (and secretly, the ping-pong master champion). Although our titles are more for show than showdown here at Go Media, there are those projects where designers and coders remain very separate.

If you wear the hat of front-end web developer on web projects, nothing is more frustrating than firing up someone else’s PSD file and finding a sloppy, steaming pile of Illustrator-imported poo. If your visual designer happened to be miles away on vacation doing something mildly exotic (or maybe just slightly dangerous), you’d be stuck with a razor-sharp deadline for valid markup and an endless sea of layers labeled ‘<Path>’ and ‘<Object>’. Blurg.

Take heed these gentle reminders for a polished file, and possibly (standards help you) a steady-handed co-worker:

1. Back It Up, Merge It Down

Each designer has their method, and it’s only madness when someone else messes with a sacred system. When organizing a Photoshop file for the slicer-and-dicer, create a back-up of your original for safe-keeping. Merge any monstrous layers down for the fresh file — this lightens the work-load for yourself and creates a cozier file for front-end guy. To ensure someone’s slicing the right PSD, label files something that communicates finality, such as “Homepage_Final.psd” or “ContactUs_Apocalypse.psd”.

2. Think <structure>

Even if you don’t get off by looking at the code (you know its bad when Ctrl + U is your favorite browser key combo), most visual designers have an inspired sense of website structure. Why not use this understanding to organize the layers in your file? When you think about it, most websites have an identifiable Header (top), Content area (middle), and Footer (bottom). You can also usually spot ‘Main’ or ‘Sub Navigation’ within a design. Chances are, these are the areas your HTML/CSS guy will be looking for. So for Meyer’s sake: next time you’re tidying up a design, man up and create some folders! Front-end guy certainly isn’t scared of them, and he’ll appreciate the effort.

3. Label Layers, Adjust Your Junk

Don’t just slap a few folders into your file and call it quits — get some names on those mother lovin’ layers! You don’t have to get carried away; a little labeling goes a long way. This is especially true for imported Illustrator files. Solid names are ones that not only distinguish the layer, but reference the general parts of the website. For example: you’re designing a page with elements collectively making up the background for footer navigation. You might stuff the elements in a folder titled ‘Footer’ (doing this obviously tells you where in the design these layers are), and label them “Background Bottom”, “Background Top” and “Background Overlay”.

Git Yer Structure Outta Mah Creative!

I had this art history professor my first year of college who gave the most fantastical lectures; he proudly wore mismatched socks with worn-out Birkenstock sandals. During his lessons, (which were sometimes accompanied by a recording of a Mongolian throat-singing song) his long, wild hair would whip around dramatically and unavoidably hit some poor front-rower in the face. He never talked below a roar, and even the most baked-out students paid attention in his class. For me it was the first few sessions (which I eventually dubbed “theatrical productions”), that were most memorable; this was when he defined the terms “Chthonian” and “Apollonian” which forever divided my perspective.

A Day In the Life of a Go Media Employee

By the time my phone tells me it’s 9:50am, I’m muttering obscenities into my glass as I take one last swig of OJ, say goodbye to my wrestling kittens, then fly out the door to my Subaru. Luckily I’m able to make it to the Go Media front in about 8 minutes flat — as long as that creepy white van doesn’t go 10 the entire shot down Madison.

Nowadays I’m rolling onto Franklin Boulevard around the same time Jeff and his bride-to-be are wandering up the sidewalk, bagged lunches in hand. Not far behind is Comella, windows down and tunes cranked — if I look close, I can usually catch

I Am Liz Hunt — Designers, Unite!

When Jeff Finley first approached me to work as an information designer for Go Media, my inner monologue went something like this:

“Go Media? Who are THESE guys? What’s this ‘Arsenal: Professional Design Weaponry’ stuff? Vector Packs? Skulls and Heraldry and — Hooladanders? What the hell is a Hooladander?! This is pure madness. These guys are nuttier than a can of Planters!”

Grabbing my jacket in southern Germany, where I studied for 4 months while enrolled at the Cleveland Institute of Art.

The skepticism and self-doubt over whether I was the person for the job stemmed partly from jealousy, and partly from the bad jokes I made in my inner monologue. As the over-thinking, self-deprecating sort, I thought I lacked the fervent creativity these guys have been rockin’ since they were fetuses.

One would think that going to art school cultivates a small sliver of creative confidence, but I always felt like I managed to dodge any artistic endeavors my entire 5 years there. I was that kid who