JAK MEDIA Archives (31 posts)

JAK Media Gets A Redesign

JAK Media

There is an old saying that says “the shoemaker’s children go barefoot.” I’ve been too busy making other people’s websites to find the time or desire to redesign my company website.

After 6 years of using a dated table-based/CSS design I’ve completely redesigned the JAK Media site using modern web standards and best practices. There are plenty of portfolio examples. Find out what we’ve been up to.

A lot of content has been moved around removed altogether. Some people (Google) will be seeing a lot of the new 404 error page.

I hope to add a blog to the site that discusses web development and provides clients with information and tips about web design and development. Have a look and let me know what you think.

Posted in JAK MEDIA at 1:28 AM

People For Corporate Tax Cuts Goes Viral

I did some work on a satirical website called People For Corporate Tax Cuts (PFCTC) that has been getting a lot of press lately which is exciting to see. Ever since we launched the site, The National Post newspaper seems to be running stories on why corporate tax cuts are a good thing. Visit the PFCTC website to find out what all the fuss is about.


If you live in Ontario then visit the site and learn how you can win $500 for submitting a photo or YouTube video explaining how you’ll raise $500 to pay your share of Ontario’s $2.4 billion corporate tax cuts.

There are 4 prizes of $500 each so get creative and enter your photo today!

Posted in JAK MEDIA at 11:47 PM

CSS Awards

The website I did for Jane Lockhart Interior Design is featured on CSS Awards today. I just wish I picked a better thumbnail image to display. Oh well, it’s nice to get some recognition for the design of the site.

Posted in JAK MEDIA at 12:51 PM

Jane Lockhart Interior Design

On Monday I launched a new site for Jane Lockhart Interior Design. I’m extremely happy with how the site turned out and feel it is my best work to date.
Jane Lockhart Interior Design

Collaborating with Jane on the design and content was a great experience. I wanted the site to showcase the amazing work that her company does so there is plenty of photography throughout the site. I can’t stand Flash sites and knew from the start that this redesign would focus more on user experience - clean design, simple, intuitive navigation instead of a gimmicky user interface.

Jane Lockhart

For those of you that don’t know, Jane is the television host of Colour Confidential which airs on W Network (Canada) and HGTV (US). When she’s not on TV, Jane is running one of Toronto’s best interior design studios. Take a look at some of the room makeovers they’ve done. Magical.

The portfolio section of their site is full of design ideas and inspiration that will help you plan your next room makeover or renovation. There is also a bunch of interior design tips and tricks videos that are entertaining and useful.

When you’re finished looking at the videos you’ll find more information and tips in Jane’s new blog which is called Jane Says. Find out if you’re home is making you fat or why design magazines are like porn, then learn about 5 quick tips for closet design.

Posted in JAK MEDIA at 11:23 PM

Hugh Hefner: Playboy, Activist and Rebel

Hugh Hefner: Playboy, Activist and Rebel

Yesterday I launched a film website for Hugh Hefner: Playboy, Activist and Rebel. I’ve always wanted to do a film website and never would have guessed that it would be a documentary film about Hugh Hefner.

The film opens in NY and LA on Friday. It opens in Toronto at the Cumberland the following week (Aug 6).

I’ve seen the film and can honestly say that it is a winner. Director Brigitte Berman did a great job of presenting Hef as a guy that has contributed so much more to American than Playboy. For example, I wasn’t aware of his involvement in the civil rights movement. Watch the film and I think you’ll be surprised.

I’m going to go out on a limb and say that I think Hugh Hefner: Playboy, Activist and Rebel will be shortlisted for the Academy Award this year.

Posted in JAK MEDIA and Movies at 7:19 PM

The Home Office Problem

The work is always down the hall when you have a home office.

I just finished watching Lost. It’s 10:30 PM and I won’t be tired for at least another 3 hours. I could:

Seeing as my to do list keeps getting longer and longer, I’d better make use of the time, stop blogging, and get to work.

Posted in JAK MEDIA at 10:30 PM

The Family Gold Plate

The Family Gold Plate

A friend of mine has developed a family tradition that helps him create a culture of encouragement in his home. He’s written a book and now he wants to share his idea with the rest of you through The Family Gold Plate.

I designed the website and provided the product photography. Visit the site and tell me what you think. If you have kids, you may find that The Family Gold Plate is a tradition that your family may benefit from.

Posted in JAK MEDIA and Web at 5:28 PM

Main St. Psychological Centre

Last week JAK Media launched a new website for Main St. Psychological Centre. They are a local business in the Toronto Beach area at the corner of Kingston and Main St.

Posted in JAK MEDIA at 8:35 PM

Are You Suffering From Burnout?

A List Apart has a great article on burnout that feels like it was written for me.

Scot Boms’ article says you may be flirting with burnout if:

  • Every day is a bad day
  • You are no longer emotionally invested in the work you’re doing
  • You feel unappreciated or do not feel like you’re making a difference in your job
  • Self-defined goals or those imposed on you are unrealistic or unreasonable
  • A significant amount of your day is focused on tasks that are not fulfilling

That pretty much sums up my life these days. I have a to-do list a mile long with a waiting list of projects. To say I’m feeling overwhelmed is an understatement. Add to that an increasing lack of motivation and you have a burned out web designer that dreads the sound of a ringing phone or new email.

I think it is time to start saying no work, raise my rates and catch my breath, even if we’re in the midst of a recession. In my experience, there has never been a lack of work, just a lack of time to do the things I want to do.

Posted in JAK MEDIA at 2:13 PM

I Don’t Use Business Cards

I was looking at an article on Freelance Folder called Open Thread: Do You Have Business Cards? when I realized that I haven’t used business cards in a few years!

Most of my work is online in the form of websites, video or photography. My business card is my JAK Media website which is horribly out of date and in need of a major redesign. Business cards are nice to have but I think designers make the cards more for themselves, rather than for potential clients. They help to brand your business but they aren’t really necessary if you design websites.

All of my work comes from referrals and has for several years now. I have never received one piece of business because I had a clever business card. Business cards can help to make a first impression. They provide credibility and can make you look professional but that alone won’t get you a job.

Despite everything I’ve said, I still work on my own business card designs every few months. I’d love to get new cards printed up and hand them out. I’m always redesigning my logo, sketching new designs for jakmedia.ca and thinking of new business cards designs. If only I had more time.

Posted in JAK MEDIA at 10:16 PM

What Happened To The Recession?

Can somebody tell my clients that we’re in the middle of a recession?

I’m in the middle of four projects and trying to keep my head above water. Another five projects are circling my time like vultures. I’m grateful for the work but the stress is building.

How do you say no to work when GM is collapsing and the government is handing out money like treats on Hallowe’en?

Posted in JAK MEDIA at 5:07 PM

How to save $20k a year with a home office

I used to rent an office for my web design business, then I got tired of driving back and forth to work and paying someone else’s mortgage. Solution? Work from a home office and save money.

By conservative estimates I save more than $20,000 per year and 156 hours of time with a home office. Sound too good to be true? Here is breakdown of my time and cost savings:


  • I used to pay a monthly rent of $803
  • Now I write off a portion of my mortgage, heat, and hydro (conservative estimate of $400/month)
  • Annual savings: $14,436/year


  • No longer pay for Internet service at business rates
  • Use my residential DSL service instead and save $80/month
  • Annual savings: $960/year


  • No commute saves me 40 minutes per day (13 hours/month)
  • Fuel cost savings ($150/month)
  • Less ‘wear and tear’ on my car and I’m putting less CO2 into the air
  • Annual savings: $1,800/year and 156 hours/year (6.5 days)


  • After school daycare and summer daycare ($300/month)
  • Picking up son after school is a forced coffee break
  • Annual savings: $3,600/year


  • Lunches ($200/month)
  • Coffee ($60/month)
  • I tend to eat a lot more leftovers now and throw out less food
  • Annual savings: $3,120/year

I was very conservative with these time and cost savings, yet my calculations show that I save $23,916 per year by having a home office.

Time Savings

I take only 2 weeks of vacation each year (self-employment has its cons as well). By simply not having to commute to work ever day I gain 6 days of free time each year or another week of vacation. Too bad I can’t bank those hours for a week in July.

In addition to the financial and time benefits, I tend to be more productive with a home office. I don’t have people from neighboring offices interrupting my work flow with general conversation, computer help, thin walls and bad music.

Home Renovation

I failed to mention that I did a major home renovation so that I could have a really nice large, bright, home office. Instead of putting my money into rent I invested in my home for the long term.

Home Office Cons

Having a home office isn’t for everyone. If you have to do a major renovation then there is a huge disruption to your family life, not to mention the stress of delays and cost overruns.

You have to be disciplined to work at home because you’re faced with distractions all day long. I’ve talked to people that tried working at home but spent more time watching TV or cleaning than actually working for their clients.

If you’re a workaholic you can end up spending all of your time in a home office. It can be hard to turn off and spend time with family, cut the grass, have a life.

Isolation can also be an issue if you’re a very social person and need the buzz of an office around you to be productive. Sometimes I miss the water cooler conversation which is why I try to get out and have lunch with friends and colleagues whenever I can.

For me the pros of having a home office far outweigh the cons. I just wish I made the move sooner.

Posted in JAK MEDIA and Observations at 12:01 AM

Community Alliance Church

A couple of weeks ago I finished a website redesign for Community Alliance Church. I’m very pleased with how the site turned out. It gave me a chance to try out a few new web development tools.

Community Alliance Church

I love how easily Google Calendar integrates into the site. I just wish I had some control over the colour elements and fonts in the calendar views. I suppose when something is free you really can’t complain too much.

Posted in JAK MEDIA at 10:28 PM

Working From Home

A List Apart has a great article by Natalie Jost for those of you that work from home — Walking the Line When You Work from Home.

I love working from home and prefer it to renting an office. Occasionally I have to deal with what Jost calls sound effects which always come at the most inopportune times:

Someday, you’ll be on the phone with a huge client, discussing their quickly depleting budget (which would make anyone tense), and suddenly there’ll be a bloodcurdling scream from the family room. What do you do?

In my case that bloodcurdling scream is a retarded dog that freaks out when anyone comes to the front door.

Posted in JAK MEDIA at 11:00 PM

Sable WaterOptics

Sable WaterOptics makes competition and recreational swimming goggles. In a recent news story the New York Times considered Sable’s RS101 goggles to be the best in the industry. JAK Media designed their website last month just before they were featured in The Oprah Magazine.

If you’re a triathlete or an avid swimmer that wants the best swim goggles in the industry then have a look at Sable’s products.

Posted in JAK MEDIA at 5:41 PM

Are you feeling lucky?

A few weeks ago I finished working on a contest microsite for Dairy Farmer’s of Canada. The contest is called Winners Every Day and it’s simple to play.

Just go to the contest website, register to play and try your luck at the Match 3 game for instant prizes. Grand prizes include a Toyota Camry Hybrid, vacation package from VIA, a golf package and more.

The contest closes on July 4 so you have lots of time to play. Good luck.

Posted in JAK MEDIA at 9:31 PM

Lifford Wine Agency

The website redesign I did for Lifford Wine Agency went live today. Finally!

Lifford is the largest wine importer in Toronto. They supply wine to restaurants and hotels but they also sell wine to consumers. With their new site you can order the wine online and have it shipped to your door if you live in Ontario.

Why would you want to buy wine from Lifford? Because they carry wines that the LCBO does not and they only carry the best. If you’re feeling thirsty or your wine cellar is getting low then visit www.liffordwine.com and view their selection of wines.

Posted in JAK MEDIA and Web Design at 5:41 PM

Coming up for air

It feels like I’ve been working 80 hours/week since last June. My JAK MEDIA clients have kept me insanely busy. I’m grateful for all the work but I need a break!

I’m close to finishing a major website redesign that began 5 months ago. I think it’s one of the finest sites I’ve designed and developed and I can’t wait to launch it. Prion Interactive has done a fabulous job of developing the back-end — content management system, ecommerce and more.

Yesterday another site I designed and developed was launched — Safety Smart DVDs for Disney Educational Productions. I’ve done a few projects for The Mickey but this is one of the few that people can actually see.

In the past five months I’ve also:

Somewhere in there I managed to have my house torn down, rebuilt and move my office. I still have pictures to hang, boxes to unpack and my desk is covered in inches of paper and unopened mail.

So, if it feels like I’ve been ignoring you, or if my photoblog hasn’t been updated in a while, you know why. My apologies.

I’d love to be spending my evenings doing what normal people do — watch TV, rent a movie, read a book play hockey, sleep 8 hours.

I’ve been dying to get out and take some photos with my Canon 5D since I got it last June. Hasn’t happened. But soon, very soon I’ll have a life again and I’ll be in touch.

Posted in JAK MEDIA and Personal at 10:43 PM

Getting things done with Tasks in Entourage

There is so much choice when it comes to Getting Things Done (GTD) applications and to-do list managers these days. Here is a sample of some of the better GTD apps that are out there:

I just received an invite to try the alpha version of Things — a great looking app that runs only on Macintosh. I downloaded the alpha, installed it and stopped using the program after 5 minutes. I don’t have time to learn another piece of software right now. I don’t have time to create projects and prioritize lists, even if the software is a work of art.

I need a to-do list manager that is really simple and really fast. Tasks in Microsoft Entourage 2004 for Mac is something I’ve completely overlooked and does exactly what I need it to.

I use Entourage for email which means that Tasks is always available to me (Command-5). I don’t have to load up another app or fork out $20 - $50 to stay organized. The feature list in Tasks is weak compared to Things or Anxiety but the more time I spend playing around with features, the less time I spend getting things done.

I was using Backpack to stay on top of things. It’s web-based, simple and cheap. If you’re sharing your to-do list with others then this is a great solution. I was paying $5/month for a Basic account but found I wasn’t using it all of the time. I never travel in my job so I don’t need a mobile GTD solution. That’s $60/year that I can put back in my pocket or in Microsoft’s for the next Office upgrade.

If you’re looking for a fast, simple, no-frills to-do list manager then it might be right under your nose.

Posted in JAK MEDIA and OS X Software at 11:42 PM

Inbox Zero

Process to zero, advanced common sense, convert to actions — things you need to know if you want to become more productive when it comes to email. Merlin Mann’s talk at Google is very informative and worth watching if your email is constantly checking for new messages and always on.

Here are some highlights:

  • Not every email needs a response. That, is so 1993. Don’t do it!
  • Respond quickly to email but don’t write a book. Keep it short.
  • Your Inbox should only have unread email.
  • Don’t use your Inbox as a to do list.

Check Email Less

Mann suggests turning off your email program for periods of time so that you can actually get some work completed without interruptions. How many times have you received new mail, stopped what you were doing to check it, only to find that it was SPAM or something really lame?

One of the reasons I like to work at 2 AM is that my phone isn’t ringing and I’m not getting client requests. I’m going to try checking my email less to increase my productivity.

My Inbox is down to 143 messages from 1,645 an hour ago.

Posted in JAK MEDIA and Web at 5:44 PM

The Renovation Update

House photos

Our renovation is heading into the home stretch. There are (hopefully) only five weeks to go. At this point I just want to be in my new home office.

There are 14 new photos of the reno on my Flickr page.

Posted in JAK MEDIA at 11:20 PM

Rob Nickerson Improv

RNI logo

After three months of branding, designing and developing, JAK MEDIA launched the Rob Nickerson Improv website.

The Reviews section is a new take on the traditional client testimonial page. It’s designed to look a little like a movie poster with quotes from movie reviews. Phase II of the site will have video clips of keynote speaker, Rob Nickerson.

If you’re looking for an interactive, entertaining, keynote speaker for your next corporate event, then check out Rob Nickerson Improv. Make a booking! Impress your boss! Get a raise!

Posted in JAK MEDIA at 3:52 PM

Mitchell Hatt & Associates Inc.

Oh, oh. One of my clients seems to be a little jealous. On Monday, JAK MEDIA launched another website but I didn’t mention it here on Bombippy. Here is the email I received:

This week, JAK MEDIA launched Mitchell, Hatt & Associates Inc., a website for a dynamic engineering company. The site has been a work in progress for nearly two years but now that it’s launched I must say that I’m impressed. I’m really pleased with the design of the site and working with Gary was great!

I never knew there was so much to know about sewers and watermains. These guys really know their stuff. So if you happen to have some land in need of development or simply want to upgrade Highway 401 look no further: Mitchell, Hatt & Associates Inc..

Some of you may want to send me an email and ask why the Mitchell, Hatt & Associates Inc. website took so long to develop, that it doesn’t look as impressive as say, the Trind website. Let me clarify.

The Mitchell, Hatt site was designed and developed in 2003 but a few nagging copy changes needed to be completed. This delayed the highly anticipated launch of the site. Mitchell, Hatt is a very busy company and very much in demand. Regrettably, marketing wasn’t a priority back then.

Posted in JAK MEDIA at 10:53 PM


Last week, JAK MEDIA launched Trind.ca, a hand and nail care website/online store. It took a lot of work to get this site launched in time but it was worth it. I’m really pleased with the design and and the ecommerce part of the site (thanks Ryan).

Almost everything is valid XHTML and CSS. PHP, MySQL and a few other goodies used to power the back-end. And now for the shameless plug… if you have terrible nails and you’ve tried everything then Trind has the solution for you.

Posted in JAK MEDIA at 12:08 PM


I just finished a quick redesign of a homepage for JointXL. They make a natural joint supplement that reduces pain and inflammation.

If you’re an athlete or in your prime, and your knee’s aren’t what they used to be then you might want to give JointXL a try.

Posted in JAK MEDIA at 5:33 PM

JAK MEDIA projects

I finally updated the JAK MEDIA website to include some of the recent projects that have been completed.

We did a complete rebranding for Venchiarutti Gagliardi Architect Inc. (VGA)—new logo, new cards, new letterhead, new website. Back in the fall we redesigned a website for MotivatedMinds. A few weeks ago we completed an online course registration for another client, Bay3000.

For more details and to see some of this work, visit JAK MEDIA.

Posted in JAK MEDIA at 11:18 AM


JAK MEDIA launched a new website today for MotivatedMinds Inc.

This was another redesign project. The new site is XHTML/CSS with a little bit of PHP thrown in. As usual, Microsoft Internet Explorer caused me a great deal of grief in rendering bugs.

It seems that IE6 has a hard time right-justifying italic text. The layout of the site would randomly break depending how the right-justified text flowed. Solution? Change the style sheet to normal text and left-justify the text.

Posted in JAK MEDIA at 4:02 PM

Six Apart Comments on YPBC redesign

Six Apart (makers of Movable Type and TypePad) posted a news item on their ProNet Weblog about the Yorkminster Park Baptist Church website redesign that JAK MEDIA just completed. It’s always nice to get some recognition for the work you do. Thanks to Anil for his comments on the redesign.

Posted in JAK MEDIA at 10:33 AM

YPBC website

JAK MEDIA launched a new site today for Yorkminster Park Baptist Church in Toronto.

This is a redesign of their old site. The entire redesign, development and testing has taken over 10 months to complete. Everything was coded using XHTML/CSS and validates.

I used Movable Type 3.15 for the content management system (CMS) to publish news on the homepage and other pages throughout the site. It’s taken a long time to get this one off the ground but the client is very pleased with the new look. Using the new CMS they can update the news related content, quickly and easily.

Posted in JAK MEDIA at 12:06 PM

Bay3000 website makes CSS Beauty

A website I redesigned last spring was selected as an entry into CSS Beauty—a CSS design showcase. I redesigned the Bay3000 Corporate Education website using XHTML and CSS instead of the “old way” of using HTML tables for the layout.

It’s nice to be recognized for design work, even if I don’t recognize it until 6 months later! By the way, I take no credit for the Bay3000 Corporate Education logo.

Posted in JAK MEDIA at 10:30 AM

JAK MEDIA has moved!

After being robbed twice, pleading my with my landlord to get out of my lease, a miracle occured. Last Friday I was officialy released from my office lease in Markham. On Saturday I moved out of my old office and into a new one in Toronto. Thanksgiving? You bet!

The new office is at 577 Kingston Road in the Upper Beaches. Instead of a 45 minute rush-hour commute, I’ll be at the office in 10 minutes. Downtown Toronto is 15-20 minutes away.

The new office is a lot smaller than the old one. I used to have 724 sq.ft. of space. I’ve down-sized to a mere 200 sq.ft. which is actually plenty of room. The difficult part is figuring out what to put into storage, what to sell, and what I should just give away.

I get my phones and DSL service tomorrow. Once the lines are put in I’ll make an official announcement and publish the new numbers.

Posted in JAK MEDIA at 5:05 PM