Liz Merfeld | (608) 335 2363 | lizmerfeld at me.com |
We work with some of Madison’s most prestigious ad agencies and companies, yet love to help even the smallest of start-ups reach their potential. Shall we add you to our Client List?
For most of us, smartphones make life more convenient and fun. We route trips, game, buy things and share ideas on the go. But for blind users, smartphones can be survival tools. An app or web page that’s not accessible is more than an annoyance — it disconnects and disorients.
Kevin Jones is one such user. Blind since birth and a lifelong Madison-area resident, Jones is a technology evangelist and an emerging force in the local web and app development community. He’s on a mission to help developers understand how to make their content accessible to the blind.
If you’re having trouble imagining how a blind user navigates a smartphone, head to your phone’s accessibility settings, turn on the screen reader (VoiceOver on Apple iOS, TalkBack on Google’s Android platform), shut your eyes and try catching up on today’s news or tweeting.
The Humanities Hackathon leads the UW’s entry into digital humanities.
If a paperback on your summer reading list was published anonymously, you’d probably notice. But if this article lacked a byline, or tonight’s episode of Wilfred didn’t credit a writer, you might not bat an eyelash.
Mark Vareschi, assistant professor of English at UW-Madison, wants to know why, and also how anonymous publication affects the way we interpret published or performed works. To help him get closer to the answers, he turned to computers….
Together we refined Service Thread’s brand look, sound, and feel. We helped them transcend their existing brand identity to reflect a genuinely accessible yet cutting-edge persona.
From here we applied these new tools to launch a completely new website.
Last May, the girls next door found a baby bunny hopping near their tomato garden, scooped her up and placed her in a box in their garage. “What should we do with her?” they asked me, the neighborhood’s token animal rescuer.
She was the size of my fist, her eyes and ears open, in good health. I had recently learned that at this age, belying their helpless appearance, bunnies are out of the nest and on their own. So we planted her beneath some tangled boscage in their backyard and watched her scamper away.
Bunnies like her often find their way (via well-meaning “rescuers”) to the Dane County Humane Society’s Four Lakes Wildlife Center (FLWC) every day in spring and summer….
With a new company name, direction, design, mission, and voice, Healthgram now sounds and looks like the revolutionary software technology development company it is. Post-rebrand, our creative team (Evans, Prince & Merfeld) created an entirely new website and software portal environment.
If you’re an inventor or crafter, perhaps you’ve used a 3D printer to bring your ideas or artwork to life. For the rest of us, the concept might sound kind of far out. But a world where 3D printing is as commonplace as laser printing is close enough to touch.
Hannah Bernard-Donals is a Certified Professional Midwife and runs All Four Trimesters Midwifery, a private home birth midwifery practice in Madison.
She needed her existing website to attract more local moms-to-be looking for midwifery, duola, and lactation services and support.
We optimized her on-page content and her behind-the-scenes website elements and worked with her to build up her Google Plus page to help Madison families find her fast.
If someone blindfolded you, spun you around and plopped you down on the third floor of the historic Madison train depot on West Washington Avenue, you might think you’ve landed in Seattle, Portland or San Francisco.
But you’d still be in Madison, in the office of Ronin Studios & Consulting, a startup that designs and develops mobile and web-based learning games, simulations and applications for adult learners.
A good STEM education is “as important to being well rounded as soccer, ballet and piano lessons,” says UW-Madison learning science professor David Williamson Shaffer. Read Liz Merfeld’s full article.
FluGen, founded in 2007 by Dr. Yoshihiro Kawaoka, Dr. Gabriele Neumann and Paul V. Radspinner, aims to prevent and treat both seasonal and pandemic influenza, and market its intradermal (within the skin) delivery device. In his University Research Park office, Radspinner, the CEO, gives the upshot on their progress on both fronts. Read Liz Merfeld’s full article.
‘Web Sessions’ with Austin’s All-Analog Transistor Six
Austin’s Transistor Six recreates the authentic, intimate feel of the BBC’s Peel Sessions by capturing almost-famous bands live on still and Super 8 film and delivering performance and interview clips in online “web sessions.” Here’s a behind-the-music look at Transistor Six, its founders, its business model, its gear, and its analog ambitions. Read the full article.
The Information Technology Academy helps kids get a leg up in the tech world. By Liz Merfeld.
Martin Luther King Jr.’s words greet visitors to Erica Laughlin’s office on the third floor of UW-Madison’s Computer Sciences Building. Laughlin runs the Information Technology Academy (ITA), a four-year pre-college technology access and training program for “talented students of color and economically disadvantaged students” attending Madison public schools.
It’s Wednesday morning at ITA’s two-week summer camp. The program’s back-to-school kickoff is under way. Thirty incoming high school freshmen, recruited last year in middle school, congregate in the computer lab. Some face their iMac monitors with a focus that belies their young age; others nestle in groups, trading ideas. This is where they will gather every other Saturday for the next four years. Read the entire article.
Ah, the joys of flying. You’re a hundred dollars in baggage fees poorer, and you’ve watched your valuables totter away on the conveyor while a TSA agent eyes your three-ounce duty-free bottle of honey liqueur for possible “confiscation.” When at last you fall into your seat, it’s at the farthest point between the two bathrooms. If only there were a way to bribe someone in, say, aisle row 5 to switch seat assignments. Wouldn’t it be nice to grab back just a speck of control over your flying experience?
Enter SeatSwapr, a work-in-progress mobile app that would let passengers browse their flight for seats up for trade.
And enter my new technology column in the Isthmus. My first piece was printed today.
What people are saying about the 2012 Team Aquafix catalog: “I received the AQUAFIX catalog, read it cover to cover, and thought I would let you know that I loved it! Funny, smart, informative. Gotta give it up to those involved in the design, layout and copy. Really good stuff.”
(Props to insightstudio’s Mic Funk for the design and layout.)
When Madison-based house painter Eric Welch first called me, he was puzzled about why he couldn’t find his website in Google. I was too: We couldn’t find it at all unless we Googled his name along with it. I searched to page 11 for painters in Madison and then gave up.
Hired to optimize the website, ericwelchpainting.com, I wrote new copy for each page, and added a page on eco-friendly paints (he uses only no- and low-VOC paints). I updated his titles and metas and worked with him on his local listing and some incoming links.
The result: If you search Google for “painters madison wi” and “house painters madison wi,” among other key phrases, he’s on page 1. What’s more, he is second only to that painting company that shares a name with the first book of the Bible. You know the one. Other competitors are left in the dust. Congratulations!
The best part for me was helping a small business owner compete with larger companies, and even more meaningful to me is his insistence on using only paints that are gentler on the environment and on the lungs of his customers and workers.
“Thanks for the diligent work on the 25th Anniversary book. You caught a lot of things that our too-tired eyes just stopped seeing a long time ago. I especially appreciate the extra mile you went on things like the John Muir quote—that was a great catch.”
- D.P. Knudten, Creative Director/UX, Discover Mediaworks
In as few as 30 seconds, a singular corporate identity video can convince a website visitor of a company’s expertise, poise, and uniqueness. But it’s easier said than done, of course, so we talked to four leading producers about how they approach these types of projects. In this first installment of a 3-part series, they’ll share their secrets on telling and selling corporate stories. Read the Streaming Media Producer article, part I.
The goal was simple: Get Jim Stroede’s Fishing Guide Service on the first page of Google for the key phrase “Hayward fishing guide.” Done.
“Liz, thanks so much for the tremendous job you’ve done on my SEO project! You’ve been very attentive to my questions and goals through out the process, and the result are great!” – Jim Stroede
Just in time for Halloween, Dustin Blake of Atlanta-based indy Productions, a 2010 EventDV 25 honoree, has resurrected the Trash the Dress (TTD) movement with a degree of sexiness hitherto unseen—and this time, he’s added an element of the macabre.
Adventure Sports Photography: Creating Dramatic Sports Images in Wild Places, by Tom Bol. Published Nov 30, 2011 by Peachpit Press.
Renowned adventure sports photographer Tom Bol shares his expert techniques and offers inspiration for all outdoor shooter. Bol is a veteran adventure sports photographer with over 20 years of experience, named one of “50 of America’s Top Visionaries” by National Geographic Adventure.
You can pre-order it from Peachpit Press now. Once you receive it, let me know and I’ll autograph it for you.
The only Apple-certified book on OS X Lion, this revised best-seller will take you deep inside the latest big-cat operating system—covering everything from installation and configuration, customizing the operating system, supporting applications, setting up peripherals, and more. Whether you’re a support technician or simply an ardent Mac user, you’ll quickly learn and master the new features in OS X Lion. Following the learning objectives of the Apple Certified Support Professional exam, this self-paced book is a perfect guide for Apple’s training and a first-rate primer for computer support personnel who need to troubleshoot and optimize OS X Lion as part of their jobs. Chapter review sections and quizzes summarize and reinforce acquired knowledge.
Put your thinking cap on. The only Apple-certified book on OS X Lion Server, this comprehensive reference takes support technicians and ardent Mac users deep inside this server operating system, covering everything from networking technologies to service administration, customizing users and groups, and more. Aligned to the learning objectives of the Apple Certified Technical Coordinator certification exam, the lessons in this self-paced volume serves as a perfect supplement to Apple’s own training class and a first-rate primer for computer support personnel who need to support and maintain OS X Lion Server as part of their jobs. Quizzes summarize and reinforce acquired knowledge.
You can pre-order it now from Peachpit Press.
Just Google Ireland Summer Tours, Backroads Ireland, Southern Ireland Tours, Summer Ireland Tour Package, Ireland Tours 2012, Ireland Tour Operators, or similar searches, and you’re bound to find Inroads Ireland Tours on the very first page. Another handful of search phrases will bring up the company’s website on page 2 and 3.
I’ve been working on this site since last spring, and since then their presence on the web has gone from “you’ll find them if you Google their company name” to what it is today. Each month we see improvements!
Waite runs Higher Definition Media (HDM) out of Bakersfield, and just this June launched its wedding-focused spin-off, Lovestruck Films. In addition, he is an indie filmmaker, with 3 self-produced features under his belt, and was one of the first presenters announced for IN[FOCUS] 2012.
Thrive is the economic development partnership for the Madison region committed to providing businesses with access to capital, growing the region’s industries and sectors, and sharing best practices across communities. Only about a month after our Search Optimization, Thrive has quickly increased its search presence on Google for many different areas of their website.
The Aussies have scrunched their event video industry’s evolution into the blink of an eye, leaving videographers stateside blushing. Sure, event videos in the U.S. have advanced by leaps and bounds, going from totally cheap to totally chic, and morphing into films along the way. And there’s no better evidence of the rise of event filmmaking in Australia than the Aussies’ innovative educational event, Exposed Down Under. EDU 2011 kicks off on 4 July in Melbourne. Read the article here.
Robert Runchey of American Home Consultants LLC, recently came to us in April to help him with search optimization for his website. He came to us with a solid website including quality information but needed us to help him utilize the rights keywords for searching. We researched his competitors and others in the industry, implemented Google Analytics, and took advantage of some missed opportunities with inbound links.
Here are some of the searches you can find him under:
home energy inspection madison wi
certified energy auditor wi
wisconsin energy star homes madison wi
home energy audits madison wi
home air quality testing madison wi
Greg Mulvey is the Lead Editor and Motion Graphics Designer for Second City Communications, the business solutions division of Chicago’s world-famous improv comedy theater, The Second City. (Alumni include Tina Fey, Steve Carell, Stephen Colbert, John Belushi, and Bill Murray to name a few.) Editing comedy is an art form, one that Greg admits he’s still learning.
One of Chicago’s more successful event video studios—FurlaVision has won more WEVA Creative Excellence Awards than any studio in the Midwest—Chris Chibucos attributes much of his company’s success to they way they have always combined a fairly large volume of work (as many as 150-175 events per year) with a high price point.
We are pleased to announce the addition of Brigit Larson to our team as our new Social Media Assistant. Brigit is a recent graduate of University of Wisconsin-Madison with a degree in Consumer Affairs. She has interned for RotoWire.com, a fantasy sports news website, where she researched social media and learned how to use it to leverage any business. While she is a loyal Chicago fan, she loves to travel to new places and has been to Australia, New Zealand, and Fiji during her semester abroad. Glad to have you on board Brigit!
In February I optimized a Wausau, WI, plumbing company website for lucrative search terms such as “plumbing central wi.” In early March, Dan’s Service Plus‘ website rankings shot through the roof (previously, you could find the website on Google only by searching for terms like “Dan’s Service Plus”).
Here are some results that appeared as soon as Google’s spiders crawled the new-and-improved website:
Page 1, first result:
plumber central wi
residential plumbing central wi
heating contractor central wi
master plumber central wi
commercial heating central wi
Page 1, result 3:
commercial plumbing wausau wi
Page 1, result 4:
plumber wausau wi
heating technician central wi
Page 1, result 5:
plumbing central wi
Now, the challenge for the Dan’s Service Plus will be to make those rankings stick (which is why it is sometimes a good idea to engage SEO companies on a longer-term basis).
Hyatt Connects with Ignite
The global hospitality chain uses video to communicate with more than 80,000 employees at 340 locations across the globe
By Liz Merfeld
For Hyatt Corp., a hospitality chain with 340 hotels worldwide, communicating with 80,000 employees is no small feat. How to bridge communication among offices thousands of miles apart, from San Francisco to Saudi Arabia, and to bring bandwidth-challenged hotels into the fold was an issue the company attempted to solve by launching a new intranet site in October 2008.
With the new portal, dubbed Hyatt Connect, came the ability to share audio and video content and, as Hyatt executives were pleased to discover, a potentially uber-efficient way to get employee face time—even with staff in remote locales such as Azerbaijan.
There’s a wave of unproduced, demolike, one-take music videos sweeping the web. It started way back in April 2006, when Vincent Moon (real name: Mathieu Saura), a young filmmaker from Paris, conspiring with Chyrde, creator of popular French music website La Blogothèque, filmed songs guerrilla-style “to go” (as opposed to shooting in a standard concert setting) and then uploaded them to the website for mass consumption.
If you want your MTV, then move along; this article isn’t for you. But stick around if you’re intrigued by the prospect of watching or producing genuine homespun, documentary-style short films of roots/Americana musicians performing their songs.
by Liz Merfeld
With an infectious smile and a joie de vivre you can catch purely by proximity, Meg Simone looks as though she hiked right out of a Trek Travel catalog and into the wedding film industry’s inner circle. By expertly combining her love of the northeastern outdoors with her work, she has (perhaps inadvertently) cornered the market on destination weddings in the heart of Mount Washington Valley (N.H.), a resort community filled with restaurants, shops, ski resorts, quaint inns, and historic grand hotels. What’s more, in a “why didn’t I think of that” move, Simone has become the first videographer to build a brand around elopements, private ceremonies taking place in and around her hometown, picturesque North Conway, N.H.
Case study written for Ignite Technologies, Inc., appearing in E-visions Summer 2010, by yours truly: “Using Technology for Global Communication”
Need to move large volumes of water or oil around the world? That’s not a problem for the Flowserve Corporation, global supplier of pumps, valves, seals, and automation to industries such as oil, gas, power, and water. It’s the flow of rich company communications to its small-city-size workforce spread out across more than 56 countries that had them scratching their heads.
Headquartered near Dallas, Texas, Flowserve struggled with relaying corporate messages in an engaging and efficient way to its 15,000 employees.
Executives, especially fresh faces like Flowserve’s newest CEO Mark Blinn, wanted to establish credibility and build rapport with workers, for starters. But it wasn’t as if they could just call an all-hands meeting down at the local Bennigan’s…. Read entire article.
After introducing themselves to the crowd at Re:Frame Austin, Society Hill Studios’ Cristina Valdivieso and Jon Connor, along with partner Amy Reese now seem to pop up everywhere with the industry’s inner circle. But how did these Young Turks manage to crash this party, seemingly overnight, and set themselves on the road to becoming one of the go-to studios in Philadelphia for couples wanting a high-end, artistic wedding film?
Check it! Apple Pro Training Series: Aperture 3 by Dion Scoppettuolo is now on bookshelves.
I had a wonderful opportunity to write three photographer cameos for the book while discovering even more reasons I want to buy Aperture 3.
This is one of those websites that calls for a more sober style of writing, unlike, say, some of the PETA projects I worked on years ago. The former, generally speaking, is more difficult to pull off than what’s typically known as “creative writing.”
Once again, I worked with the design and dev wizards at Planet Propaganda to bring this project to life. Congratulations to Planet and M3 on the launch!
“You did a super job making the copy read as though it was a seamless extension of our company. Your writing style stayed very true to our business, which isn’t an easy task!”
- Krissy Bystrom Emery, Marketing Advisor, M3 Insurance Solutions for Business
I’m a beer connesuir myself (that might be a slight understatement), but when I got a call from the delightful Etty Lewensztain, owner of start-up Plonk Wine Merchants, I simply couldn’t say no to working on such a cool website.
Plonk Wine Merchants is the ultimate online destination for cool, artisanal, off-the-beaten-path value wines. All of Plonk’s wines, many of them organic, biodynamic, or “diamonds in the rough” are priced strictly at $30 or below. Hat tip to Stoffa Productions for the spiffy site!
Our work involved addressing technical considerations related to the search-engine “friendliness” of the website as it was designed and developed by Stoffa Productions.
We evaluated design concepts, information architecture, and backend coding to provide feedback on W3C web standards and SEO best practices including clean, semantic markup, header tags, page size, “crawlability,” navigation, deprecated code, and use of html-visible copy. We also developed titles and metadata and an inbound linking strategy.
After five years of deliberation I’ve finally signed up to ride my bike for 300 miles over 4 days to help raise over $300,000 for AIDS Network in August. The eighth annual Wisconsin AIDS Ride is my year and I’m signed up and ready to go! If you want to donate, my fundraising goal is $1600, and you can donate online or find out more about the ride at http://actride.org/.
With reports of young people abandoning e-mail to communicate via social networks, Facebook developing its own full-featured Webmail.
Adventures in Fusion, Part 1 by Elizabeth Avery Merfeld
Last fall, Canon shook our world when it released the transformative EOS 5D Mark II, a DSLR featuring full-frame HD video and dynamic depth-of-field control. Along with others of its ilk, the 5D is revving up videographers’ creativity, smearing the line between the photography and videography industries, and ushering in (some say) a new era of photo-video fusion. With several months of use under their belts, we asked a handful of early adopters for their take on how the 5D has impacted their businesses and where (if anywhere) their first forays into fusion have taken them.
I just wrapped up my latest book proofreading project, Jeffrey Zeldman’s Designing with Web Standards, 3rd Edition. For those of you who don’t know, Zeldman cofounded the Web Standards Project and is a leading voice in web design and usability. I found out that he’s also irreverent, self-deprecating, and the caliber of writer I can only ever aspire to be.
"Our website had not done anything in 9 years. We started working with Liz and she generated more in 6 months than we did the previous 9 years. She understands how Google works and is well read on the latest web developments. I highly recommend her talents."
Examples of previous work
Book Copyediting and Proofreading:
Writing for the Web: