Member Spotlight - Barbara Ingram, The Paramount Group.us
Tell us about your business and how you discovered Adobe Muse
I have a BFA in Graphic Design from Boston University and I started a printing company back in 1993 in Brunswick, Georgia where we provided boutique printing services with a designer's twist (no need to go to an agency, right?). With the advancement of the web, we soon realized that we would need to adapt. I heard from a designer friend of mine in Texas about this new thing called Business Catalyst by Adobe that would allow you to design websites. With more and more of our customers inquiring about website design, we finally realized that instead of sending them to the ad agency down the street (who would then steal our printing), we would hire out a trade company who designed sites for printers with this need. But upon using this company, we discovered that we had little to no control over the design and it was cumbersome to be the go-between between our customers and this vendor. We set out to learn the trade.
My husband's degree is in Computer Science Engineering, so we knew we could make it work, and we were Adobe Partners at the time and using Creative Suite so I started searching online. I found Muse and saw that it was geared towards print designers. I watched training videos from morning till night and weekends until I felt that I understood enough to design my first site.
In 2014 we ended up moving to Satellite Beach, Florida – where my husband Bob is originally from – and opened his agency, The Paramount Group.us, Inc. I was designing websites and logos and he got certified in Google Analytics and AdWords. We now run a badged Google Partner agency in an office on the beach and have clients all over the world, none of which would have been possible if we didn't have a solid foundation in web design and the resources of MuseThemes.
Tell us about how you use widgets or themes to build great websites
In 2012 I decided to design my first website in Muse; I googled "Muse templates" and found MuseThemes. I was SO excited that there was an actual company doing nothing but templates for Adobe Muse! I instantly signed up and downloaded my first template. I spent a lot of time figuring things out, but my first client was thrilled and we got the site up and hosted with Business Catalyst.
The MuseThemes team has been instrumental in our agency's success. We use their various widgets (many of which I learned about at their Adobe MAX sessions) to differentiate ourselves from other web designers out there. These widgets enable us to compete in the big markets even though I don't know any advanced coding. I love their innovation and the fact that they continually crank out new and improved widgets and themes that push the limits of Muse to keep up with modern design standards.
What are your top recommendations for new Muse designers?
Don't just learn how to make a pretty website...make it searchable on Google!
Understand the back-end well enough to serve your clients well and they will keep coming back. If you throw up a pretty site that can't be found, you are doing your clients a disservice. When you want to push the limits, make sure you watch Steve's videos, he is proficient instructor and they're very easy to follow.
What is your favorite MuseThemes widget or tool?
I'm addicted to Flipping Boxes, and I really like Social Sprites; I also can't live without Mumblr. The Self-hosted Video Player helped me keep a client that I would have otherwise lost. They had a unique situation: they were featured on a TV show, but weren't allowed to put their video clips on YouTube, so we had to find an alternate solution to get these videos on their site.
How has your MuseThemes membership impacted your business or life?
Being a member of MuseThemes is like having a whole team in your back pocket that, through their resources, can help you find just the right widget for your client’s needs, that perfect theme, and the training when you need it. Steve Harris is an excellent presenter and his training videos have proved invaluable at that final hour when I can't figure out how to make a widget work and my site is due at 9am.
I can't thank them enough for being by our side for the past four years, supporting us and helping to make our agency what it is today. I'm looking forward to Steve's session at Adobe MAX San Diego in November!
- Barbara Ingram
The Paramount Group.us, Inc.