Quebec City: A Little Piece Of Europe Just North Of The Border – Part One

By Nick Iandolo

This article was originally published on Beantown Socialite (link here): August 27th, 2010.

Historic Old Montreal District of Quebec City at dusk.
Historic Old Montreal District of Quebec City at dusk.
Source Link

There I was banging away at my Mac, looking for an easy romantic get-a-way for my wife, Sue, and I. We wanted something different and exciting, we were sick of the old New England standbys (though wonderful destinations) like Martha’s Vineyard, Newport Rhode Island, Woodstock Vermont, and even Foxwoods™ Resort and Casino. With 720,000 square miles from Maine to Connecticut there just wasn’t anything that we were interested in doing in all six states combined.

So I decided to look elsewhere outside of New England, but within driving distance, that we could spend a quality three-night romantic weekend during the Fourth of July holiday. I looked at Niagara Falls, the Poconos, and even another jaunt down to Virginia (that we’ve been to many times), but nothing sufficed. We weren’t interested in flying, spending way too much money, and being under-whelmed by cheesy tourist traps.

And that’s when I said to Sue, “How about Canada?”

To which she replied, “I don’t know, I’ve been to Montreal and didn’t like it all that much.”

“Well, maybe there’s somewhere else in Canada we could go to,” I retorted.

“Well, go ahead and look,” she added.

So I did and after about two-seconds of searching on the Internet I came across Quebec City.

And we’re so glad I did.

I started with the official site of the city that had some basic information about visiting this French Canadian enclave. That piqued Sue’s and my interest. Then I came across the official tourism site and we watched a well-made Quicktime video about the wonders of Quebec City (i.e. the capital of the Canadian province and the surrounding areas) and we were hooked.

What a charming little city it seemed to us, and potentially a wonderful adventure for to embark on within a six and a half hour drive. Quebec could be the perfect romantic destination that we’ve been looking for—and it was as it turned out.

I made a few calls and got us reservations at a quaint little B&B near the old city (more on that later), and Googled the driving directions, looked up some sites and attractions, and asked my wife how to say, “good day,” and “thank you,” in French.

Just before our trip we made sure to get our passports as per the on-again off-again TSA rules for going between North American countries. We also got lots of recommendations from co-workers of things to do and see while there. And finally we packed up our car and were off to the Great White North on our little odyssey.

Though the Google maps website puts the drive at about six and a half hours, it really took us more like nine and a half with the stops we made for lunch and gas and just plain stretching out. No matter, the country-side that far North in the US was absolutely amazing. Lush old New England landscapes (right out of a classic painting) permeated the horizon and beyond, the little NE hamlets lining the road and the valleys were charming, and mountainous regions like the Franconia Notch in New Hampshire was awe-inspiring. Even though the Old Man isn’t there anymore it does not detract from the beauty of this venerated place.

Old Man of the Mountain on April 26, 2003, seven days before the collapse.
Old Man of the Mountain on April 26, 2003, seven days before the collapse.
Source Link

Crossing over into Vermont for the last fifty miles before the US/Canadian border I began to get a sense of something unique, something I’ve never felt before: I have never been this far north in my entire life. What a feeling it was to be driving to another country. Sure, I’ve been to other countries like Italy, Germany, and The Bahamas, but I’ve always flown and expected the routine to be the same—kind of a disconnected “get on the plane in the US, sleep for a bit, have a few drinks, and get off the plane somewhere else.” But this was not the case when driving to Canada. I felt like a real explorer (for what it’s worth), charting new territory, and getting exhilarated in the process.

Finally it was time to cross the border. The Canadian border check point was relatively quiet and the person checking our passports was pleasant and unassuming. He waved us through and then we were in Canada. Just like that. Not just Canada, but a French Canadian province with its own language and customs. How incredible! Now I was driving Nord on Autoroute 55, and trying to take everything Canadian in as much as I could from the driver’s seat of my car. My wife was amused by my fascination with this whole experience as if she did this everyday and it was no big deal, but it certainly was to me.

We made a couple of nondescript pit stops along the way, but ultimately we got to our destination: Quebec City. I was still having trouble resolving miles into kilometers when suddenly the outskirts of the city crept up on us as the sun was starting to wane. What a beautiful site it was seeing the Saint Lawrence River for the fist time in my life as we crossed over it at that part of the day. Finally, we crossed the bridge we were on and headed for the heart of the city.

L'Arvidienne, the best little Bed & Breakfast in Quebec City!
L’Arvidienne, the best little Bed & Breakfast in Quebec City!
Source Link

Our immediate goal was to get to the Rue Grande Allée towards the Old City. Our bed and breakfast, L’Arvidienne Couette et Café, was a charming little chateau-like home right across the street from the famed Plains of Abraham where the French residents fought the British army for control of the city back on September 13th, 1759. The French lost, and for over a hundred years Quebec City was ruled directly by the British until 1867. Founded on the banks of the Saint Lawrence River by Samuel de Champlain in 1608, this little settlement had seen centuries of war, development, industry, culture, tourism, and world renown to become one of the greatest North American cities. Per capita, Quebec City has the highest number of fine dining restaurants, and is one of the few places on the continent where English is “not” the most commonly spoken language (excluding Mexico of course).

The fine hosts of L'Arvidienne: Mireille Hubert & Serge Gauthier.
The fine hosts of L’Arvidienne: Mireille Hubert & Serge Gauthier.
Source Link

Our ebullient hosts at the L’Arvidienne, Mireille Hubert & Serge Gauthier, were fabulously attentive and endearing as they doted on us from the moment we arrived. Mireille had taken the liberty of making dining reservations for us that evening at an impressive little French restaurant in the Old Walled City called, Le Saint Amour. After freshening up a bit we headed out on the Grande Allée to the restaurant.

Quebec City's Grande Allée is one of the hottest places for nightlife in Canada!
Quebec City’s Grande Allée is one of the hottest places for nightlife in Canada!
Source Link

To be continued in deuxième partie

UX/UI Writing

Users Experiencing User Interfaces!

Actually, it’s User Experience/User Interface or UX/UI—and in the case of this portfolio, it all pertains to this type of writing.

Having built quite a few websites, and populating them with tons of content, over the years, I’ve come to know a thing or two about UX/UI design and how to write for it.

The first tenet of UX/UI writing is: never confuse the reader!

Content should be presented in an easy-to-follow straight-forward manner no matter creative the web team tries to be in the effort.

The following examples come mostly from websites but also from a few Mar/Comm pieces (that you can learn more about on and Marketing Communications page).

SeaChange International – Rebranded Homepage, Etc.

With my most recent client (as of late Spring 2018), SeaChange International, one of my major responsibilities as their Digital Copywriter was to help in the rebranding initiative with regards to the re-desinging and relaunching or their new website

Though Emagine was primarily responsible for the design of the new SeaChange website, I was part of the wire-framing meetings and my content was featured both on the Homepage and the Resources page. My feedback was part of the collaborative effort to build a brand new website that was both gorgeous, intuitive, and representative of the future direction of the company.

And I believe we accomplished that in spades!

The Customer Segmentation Markets content were my contribution to the Homepage as featured in the screenshot to the left. I did all the analyses for the customer segments and wrote all the copy that is further explored though the child pages from the Homepage links.

SeaChange International Homepage screenshot, Customer Segmentation Section, by Nick Iandolo.
Click to view full image.

Also here on their Resources page under Solution Briefs, I wrote every single datasheet that is linked on this page.

Finally, the following datasheet (from the aforementioned page) is a UI-driven piece, detailed extensively on the Marketing Communications page.

SeaChange International PanoramiC product datasheet created by Nick Iandolo—thumbnail to actual document.
Click on image to view the full document.

Dedham Television – Rebranded Websites

Now Defunct

As detailed extensively on my Websites page, much of the work that went into the Dedham Television and Media Engagement Center’s websites ( and; as well as, the Video-on-Demand micro-sites (,, and were all UX/UI driven as I built them.

Since then, they’ve gone in a different direction but you can see from the following examples where I was going with these sites. My vision for the organization, as their Senior Marketing and Communications Manager was to take it to a full-fledged OTT digital video streaming and commercial production studio.

Note: The layouts for these homepages are simple and elegant. The flagship website ( has everything a visitor needs to get the breadth of the organization, what it does, and where to find content. There’s interactive widgets (that would even live-stream broadcasts on the homepage), a carousel gallery of the latest posts, a huge button link to the video-stream sister site (where all the VOD, digital simulcasting, and location live streaming channels were hosted); as well as, search functions, breadcrumbs, quick links, a news ticker, social media links, right-navs of useful info and links, a Facebook live news feed, and an interactive GPS driven map. This homepage had it all—you should have seen what all the other pages were like (the best are preserved here in this portfolio)!

The new website pales in comparison with lots of missing content, broken links, poor UX/UI design, and a lack of vision for the future of Dedham Television. Visit the current site if you don’t believe me: And what’s worse is that has been completely abandoned, languishing in website limbo slowly breaking down. It’s sad to see all that great work go to waste—at least I preserved the sites in their glory in this portfolio.

Dedham Television and Media Engagement Center website homepage; entire website created by Nick Iandolo.
Click on image to view in full size.
Dedham Television’s DedhamTVLive website homepage; entire website created by Nick Iandolo.
Click on image to view in full size.

Make Tech Easier – UX/UI App Job Apps Review

At some point as a digital Mar/Comm writer, I not only get to create original UX/UI-based content but I also get to review other people’s or companies’ UX/UI work.

As a staff writer for Make Tech Easier (MTE) I got to do just that when I review five mobile device job search apps. I discussed the UX/UIs on these apps, features, benefits, and drawbacks.

You can read more about my MTE experience on my Journalism page. Also, you can go here to read all of the articles that I wrote for MTE.

Below is a PDF version of the article, the published linked version can be found here on the MTE website.

Five Mobile Job Search Apps by Nick Iandolo for Make Tech Easier—thumbnail link to actual document.
Click image to view the full article.

Velocity Domain Network Solutions – Flash Website

As detailed on the Websites page the Velocity Domain Flash Website was built with UX/UI in mind. Simple and elegant was always my goal when building a UI. It couldn’t get simpler and more elegant than the hyper-stylized VDNS flash site. If you have Adobe Flash installed on your system, click here to view the flash site as it was.

VelocityDomain Network Solutions (VDNS) website Flash version; entire site created by Nick Iandolo and Susan Howland.
Click on image to view in full size.

Rust Monkey Productions – Homepage

Now Defunct

Again, as detailed on the Websites page this was a great example of simplistic and elegant UX/UI design. The artwork is amazing, there was a news feed, and links to their portfolio and demo reel. We used a combination of iFrames, Adobe Photoshop, and HTML to build this creative showcase.

Rust Monkey Productions (R.M. Productions) website homepage, Nick Iandolo assisted in layout and copy. Daniel (Dan) G. Thron did all the artwork.
Click on image to view in full size.

Cognex – Product Datasheet Redesign

Revised data-sheet for Cognex In-Sight 7000G2 by Nick Iandolo.
Click on image to view the full document.

As detailed on the Technical Writing page, I did a whole redesign to a datasheet for Cognex Corporation (to the left) they were looking to use for the launch of a new product. I must have overwhelmed them when I not only gave them 5 pages of details about the changes to the original document but also simply took the PDF and made the changes right in Adobe Acrobat Pro! It was almost convention-ready, all I would have required was the original fonts, or better yet, the original Adobe InDesign file (with the fonts). But the result for what I did was pretty impressive nonetheless. If you read this linked editorial document of the changes from the original, you will see that this piece was all UX/UI.