Welcome to My World Wide Web!
Working on the web is a huge part of my business. I can create a custom website for a client or company using a CMS such as WordPress, or edit an existing one using commercial website builder tools such as WiX or edit straight HTML. I can also work with PHP, XML, and CSS. I am also able to work with MAS such as Marketo that also creates Internet-based content.
As a modern-day professional Marketing and Communications Writer, web-related skills are as essential as image and graphics creation and editing, which of course I have—see my Custom Graphics page for more on that.
I create lots of great web-content that keep people coming back for more!
Below are examples of my best website building experience—and of course there’s this Portfolio Website as well.
Dedham Television and Media Engagement Center
Back in 2015 while I was working for the Digital Visionary Access Corporation (whose subsidiary is Dedham Television and Media Engagement Center, DTV for short) as their Senior Communications Manager & Producer of Special Broadcasts, I was given the task of redesigning and rebranding the DTV website.
I won this opportunity due to both my previous web creation and content management experience, and that I saved Dedham Television/DVAC over $80K building them a custom 3-channel Video-on-Demand platform prior to the website redesign—see below for the entire story on that project.
Suffice it to say that I designed, built, and edited every single aspect of this beautiful website!
I used a great dynamically responsive WordPress template called MH Squared (used primarily for European media publications), did tons of custom graphics (from backgrounds to buttons), created the video bumper that is featured on the homepage, wrote absolutely all of the copy for every single page and post that exists on the website today (including ghost writing for my former colleague’s posts), shot and edited an enormous amount of pictures used throughout the entire site including the photo galleries, chronicled and preserved the storied history of the venerated 502 Sprague Street Studio, provided a whole new promotional platform for the Media Engagement Center’s classes and workshops, added additional functionality to the site via WordPress plugins and HTML/PHP/XML code, and linked the site to the VOD channels and the sister site www.DedhamTVLive.com (more on that below).
Every page is rife with SEO from keywords, meta-descriptions, links (internal and external), categorized in WordPress, registered with the major search engines (some involving PHP code), and even the images all have alt-tag descriptions.
And finally, there is a huge social media connection (that I enabled) between the website and DTV’s Facebook, Twitter (using Google scripting), LinkedIn, Google+, Vimeo, and YouTube channels.
Needless to say, I poured my heart and soul into making this the best possible Broadcast Media Production Company website available for this non-profit organization.
The effort was also part of an overall rebranding program that I proposed, executed, and managed for Dedham Television and DVAC, which including changing the company name, writing a new tagline, new logos and signage, new business cards, new domain-specific email addresses, new promotional materials, new social media channels, new video production classes, B2B/C strategic marketing initiatives, and public relations announcements and studio-related advertisements.
I did literally everything at DVAC that one could think of as a Senior Communications Manager and Producer of Special Broadcasts, Director of Public Relations, Director of Social Media, Showrunner, Video Producer and Master Editor, and Webmaster. All of my skills were brought to bear in this role and I acquired many new and invaluable ones!
Below are a few more screenshots of some the more prominent pages on the website:
Website Status Note: I haven’t been with DVAC/Dedham Television for a while now—and it shows because the site has not been updated in nearly two years, nor are the domain-specific emails functioning any longer—and there is talk about doing another redesign of the website to a simpler interface. That project has nothing to do with me. I also feel that that would be a huge mistake to downgrade this amazing website that looks spectacular on HD displays and on mobile devices. The website I designed is capable of doing everything imaginable on the web for a media organization: playing embedded live and recorded video, running a company store and an ecommerce operation (e.g. paying for membership and classes via the website), displaying an enormous amount of graphic images and media in a beautiful layout, running slide shows of new DTV programs and events on the homepage, and viewing a news ticker of the latest real-time happenings at the studio.
The idea that this website somehow needs to be redesigned is, in my opinion, a huge step backwards for Dedham Television and DVAC—it would be no better than the klunky and bug-ridden nascent website they had before at DedhamTV.org.
Oh, and I was the one who registered and utilized the Dedham TV dot-com URLs.
Fun Fact: Because of my show NICK’S SCI-FI CORNER, which I was able to get on the Internet Movie Database, I was then able to get Dedham Television listed on the IMDb as a full-fledged television and video production company.
Dedham TV Live!
Along with the creation of the new DedhamTV.com website, I felt the need to also create a sister website for all of the new live (and pre-recorded) video streaming that Dedham Television was starting to get into.
After my successful creation and implementation of the 3-channel Video-on-Demand platform for DTV, I convinced the Executive Director that a portal companion website dedicated to the video streaming was necessary so as not to overload the flagship website with too many options. A convenience that I created for the very same people who are having trouble navigating the DedhamTV.com website as it is. With almost no effort, one can find the link to DedhamTVLive.com, which is clearly marked as to what the purpose of that website is. Those who are complaining about the so-called “trickiness” of navigating the website are simply too lazy or impatient to explore these two website works of art!
And if simplicity is what they require, then DedhamTVLive.com is for them.
This website is predominantly a stylized landing page with three simple subpages that go to the three different video-streaming services that DTV offers.
What I did was take our use of UStream, TelVue CloudCast, and our VOD channels (built on Vimeo PRO, more on that below), and consolidate them on to one website where anyone can find them! Seems pretty simple to use to me.
I used the WiX Website Builder for this site because there was no need for a complicated WordPress template here. The WiX website template is also a dynamic responsive template for mobile devices. The site contains all of the new branding for Dedham Television, which includes the new logo, buttons, titles, fonts, social networks links, Dedham-specific imagery, and colors—with enhancements for this particular site.
Also, there is a clear link back to the primary DedhamTV.com website.
The DigiSim page (or Digital Simulcasting) is the direct link to Dedham TV’s TelVue CloudCast live video simulcasting stream of what is being broadcast currently on Dedham Television. It should be noted that I was also able to embed the coding for this streaming media player on the homepage of DedhamTV.com (where the YouTube video bumper widget is) to broadcast online special presentations: the town elections, the Flag Day parade, a high school championship game, and more. Again, for the sake of user convenience. It should also be noted that using this service (i.e. TelVue CloudCast) is a bear: the webplayer is a kludgy interface with very little customizable features, the hardware behind it (at the studio) is klunky, expensive, and outdated, and the service is all in old-style Standard Definition. I championed abandoning this service in favor of UStream but change seems to come slowly to DTV.
The LiveStream page was built on DTV’s new subscription to the UStream service. This was a total Internet-based video-streaming service for remote location coverage of events and presentations that could be viewed from anywhere in the world. Originally, there were going to be four channels here: DSPN – Dedham Sports Programming Network, Dedham Family (family friendly live-stream content), D-SPAN (live-stream news coverage for Dedham, and Dedham Discovery (a live-stream educational channel). Sadly, the only channel to get launched was DSPN, which does not seem to be currently functioning.
The Video-on-Demand platform that I created has a link from the DedhamTVLive.com homepage to the full VOD page on the main DedhamTV.com website (no need to re-invent the wheel here). Click here for a screenshot of that page (or see the above webpage screenshots). See the story below for a complete overview of the creation and implementation of DTV’s VOD platform.
Website Status Note: Basically, this website has not been updated in about two years as well. The problem with these two websites is not the design or functionality: it is simply that Dedham Television/DVAC needs to maintain them! These dynamic websites would be gemstones in the crown of DTV’s Broadcast Media Enterprise if they were constantly maintained and updated. There was talk of a website update in late 2016 that would have involved me but it never came to fruition—despite my repeated queries to the Executive Director.
Suffice it to say, that I was once DTV/DVAC’s webmaster and we had huge plans of which theses websites were the groundwork for. However, when they decided to downsize, they felt that the website (and all of their Internet presence and cloud-based services that I built for them) just wasn’t as important as their other efforts. Just a superficial website makeup was enough for them.
In my opinion, that is a hugely flawed way of thinking. In fact, that kind of thinking was what got Dedham TV in a bit of a bind when the Town of Dedham had a technology review not too long ago. See the story for the creation of the VOD sites below for more.
Anyway, in my opinion, with video-streaming services like YouTube, Netflix, HULU, Amazon, Crackle, Metacafe, Vimeo, ComicCon HQ, and more, the concept of Cable Access Television is becoming more and more a thing of the past just like Cable Television in general. People are “cutting the cord” in droves these days and going directly to video-streaming services on the Internet. My vision as Senior Communications Manager and Producer of Special Broadcasts was to position DTV/DVAC to take full advantage of these future prevailing media broadcast technologies. However, it seems that for now Dedham Television/Digital Visionary Access Corporation wants to stay rooted in the past instead of pushing forward into the future. These websites (and the micro-sites below) are a glimpse into what that future could have been.
Dedham TV’s 3-Channel Video-on-Demand Platform
Sometime around winter or spring of 2015 the Town of Dedham hired an IT consultant to do an assessment of the town’s integrated Information Technologies, which included the local cable access television studio (i.e. Dedham Television). The review was not very favorable to DTV’s overall technological status: still broadcasting in SD, an outdated website, and most importantly no Video-on-Demand platform from which to view archived and recently broadcast public (entertainment), municipal, and educational programs. In fact, the only way to watch some of these programs online was either through a klunky and buggy embedded media on the old DedhamTV.org website (which had very little content), or on Vimeo.com/DedhamTV video-streaming service (which was very difficult to search and navigate through, and there was no direct link to the DTV website as well).
This was a very disheartening blow the the managing staff of DTV, probably because they saw no easy way to fix the problem.
In fact, they sought out a super-complicated solution that thankfully I steered them away from.
I remember walking into a meeting, that I should have been invited to, between DTV’s Executive Director and reps from TelVue (the people who provide the aforementioned kludgy digital simulcasting service for Dedham TV), and the only thing that I heard aside from their techno-salesy-babble was, “It’s going to cost you $80,000…”
$80 Grand for a system rooted in the aughts! No way!
As soon as they left, I said to the Exec. Dir. that I could build a better VOD system with off-the-shelf cloud-based services and micro-sites off the company’s website for ZERO dollars!
Actually, I ended up getting paid a little more than zero for the project but at a fraction of what TelVue was going to charge for their dinosaur system.
The new channels are:
- VIDEOSNOW! – The public and entertainment channel for DTV’s archived and recent broadcasts
- MeetingVids§ – The municipal and government channel for DTV’s archived and recent broadcasts
- SchoolSpaceπ – The educational and public school related channel for DTV’s archived and recent broadcasts
The way I did it was:
- Create three separate subdomains for DedhamTV.org (later DedhamTV.com) called: videosnow.dedhamtv.com, meetingvids.dedhamtv.com, and schoolspace.dedhamtv.com
- Use the portfolio feature of DTV’s existing VimeoPro account to create three distinct and customizable portfolios (i.e. channels) for each of those subdomains, and link them through the CNAME feature of the DNS Zone Editor for the website
- Design and create three separate backgrounds and branding styles for each of the new channels. The VIDEOSNOW!, MeetingVids§ (with the legalese subsection character), and SchoolSpaceπ (with the Pi character) channels were all uniquely designed using Vimeo’s templates and my Photoshop skills for the backgrounds. You can view the un-blurred backgrounds for each channel here.
- And not only did I create all of these channels and subdomains but I also developed and entire SEO system to thoroughly tag and annotate each video that went up on the VOD platform, making them very easy to search on and find what one was looking for
When I rolled out the VIDEOSNOW! channel first, it was an immediate hit with the managing staff of Dedham Television! I was immediately contracted to do the other two channels and eventually the two websites discussed above.
I saved the organization over $80K on a system that will never go down, and one that DTV did not have the burden of trying to maintain—other than putting up content.
Websites Status Note: It should be noted that though the VOD channels are still being used, neither the annotated data that nor the SEO tagging that should accompany each video is being implemented. Again this comes back to the lack of focus on the importance of having a webmaster or communications director or a similar person (or persons) constantly updating these micro-sites. If fact, the DTV staff has been taken to referring people to the Vimeo.com/DedhamTV URL instead of the VOD URLs, which is not only a huge step backwards but a branding and marketing mistake for Dedham Television, and a waste of all of the effort that went into building these VOD channels!
I mention all of this here on my portfolio page because I do not want prospective employers or clients to confuse the current state of these five websites with the work that I did initially. Had I been allowed to remain as the Dedham Television Webmaster along with my role as Senior Communications Manager, I would have continued to improve upon these magnificent sites and marketed the content far and wide for a huge ROI for the studio and the organization. In fact, it was my dream to not only enter the amazing and profitable world of video-streaming and video-content-creation, but also to get major studios and corporations to shoot films, commercials, and training videos at the amazing 502 Sprague Street Studio. We were working on all of that when the Board of Directors decided to scale back, shrink back, and step backwards into the past instead of forging forward and investing in the future and in me!
Here are screenshots from each of the VOD channels’ homepages:
Fun Fact: Part of the entire rebranding and PR packaging initiative for Dedham TV and DVAC was also setting up a slew of cloud-based services. This included data and media storage in the cloud, interactive cloud-based training, the aforementioned UStream live video streaming, also the aforementioned VOD platforms, and online accounts with professional marketing printers, vendors, and suppliers.
Someone had suggested that Dedham TV should have a server-client network and even offered to build it for them. Thankfully, I talked the Exec. Dir. out of that plan as well. There was no need to revisit the 20th Century for data and media storage that did not suit our needs. Instead, I set up nice large organizational Google Drive and uploaded all of the most used media and documents (such as every version large, small, or alpha-channel of the DTV logo, the video bumper logo for the end of broadcasts, web-management documents, and more!).
I made sure everyone had access to these data-stores, and set everyone up with the Google Drive app, mobile device email accounts, and training.
The interactive online training was setup through Lynda.com, and you know the rest for the video-streaming.
They had everything at their fingertips; however, sadly they seemed to have abandoned most of those services and resorted to doing the bare-minimum on the desktop computer level and share files via USB drives. Super inefficient if you ask me.
USB drives for Macs are great for Time Machine backups, nothing more. The maintenance-free cloud is where the future lies for any digital media enterprise in my opinion!
VelocityDomain Network Solutions (VDNS)
URL: www.VelocityDomian.com (now defunct)
Shortly after the Dot-Com Dot-Bomb era, a lot of us former “dot-com-ers” were struggling to find comparable employment in the midsts of a serious economic recession. What was once the highfalutin glory days of excess in the dot-com era quickly became a belt-tightening gauntlet of trying to make ends meet with creative approaches to generating income.
Thus VelocityDomain Network Solutions was born. From 2002 to 2006 a group of us post dot-com marketing and technical people came together to build a consulting association to acquire and share clients across industry disciplines, needs, and platforms.
Sometimes a client would need a network analysis and upgrade proposal, or a complete website redesign (or initial build), or a research paper on new markets and barriers to entry, or some simple IT desktop support, or graphic designs for new small businesses, or web-copy, or just about anything that involved marketing and technology.
I worked with a bunch of great people such as graphic designers from Adobe and Hill Holliday, finance and strategic marketing experts from State Street Bank, producers from R.M. Productions, tech gurus from ETG and Collective Technologies, webmasters from WebMate, and of course writers like myself from Thunder House Online Marketing Communications and I.S.M. to name a few. Some employees from theses clients even came over to VDNS as consultants in a variety of roles!
For a good bunch of years we did very well bringing in business to share among all of us from clients such as: B.C. International Corporation, John Hancock Financial Services, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, NSight Works, Rust Monkey Productions (later R.M Productions), Harvard Business School, Boston University, TerraZones, Appia, Inc., Neshamkin French Architects, Irma. S. Mann Strategic Marketing (I.S.M.), Winphoria Networks, Epix Medical, Paw Village, and more.
Finally, in 2006 we disbanded as most of us (including myself) were able to find new gainful full-time employment in a variety of sectors.
However, during our time, we needed a website to advertise our services.
Keeping our costs down to a minimum, we opted for a splash/landing page and a simple Flash-based version of the website. One of my colleagues, Susan Howland (now with Creativedge), a graphic designer who specialized in Adobe Flash animations at the time, did the Flash layout and design while I wrote all of the website’s copy (landing page and flash version in both MS Word and HTML). She also worked on the graphics for the landing page.
Below is a screenshot from the VDNS landing page and the Flash version:
Fun Fact: You can view the entire Flash-based version of the VDNS website here if you have Adobe Flash installed on your web browser! It probably won’t play on a mobile device that does not support Flash.
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Collegiate Companion Websites
URL: www.cengage.com (original Houghton Mifflin websites are now defunct)
One of VelocityDomain’s clients was Houghton Mifflin (before the Harcourt buyout). There I worked in their College Division building companion websites for their collegiate textbooks (mostly English/Literature and History). I used Adobe Flash, XML, and coded HTML in MarcoMedia (now Adobe) Dreamweaver. The content was then uploaded to the websites via the Web Publishing System (WPS). I also used a document management system called Documentum (a pre-CMS at the time). I even wrote and edited a lot of the copy that went into these sites (see the Literary Ships entry below).
Currently, the third party company Cengage has now taken over the production, management, and publishing of HMH’s Collegiate Companion Websites.
Below are samples of two of the websites that I worked on:
Rust Monkey Productions
URL: www.rustmonkey.com (now defunct)
One of my former clients while at VDNS was an awesome little film/game/commercial arts production company called Rust Monkey Productions, Inc. (later R.M. Productions) in Arlington Mass. One of the co-founders of the company, Daniel G. Thron (and one of my best friends), went on to become a successful filmmaker in Hollywood. He has directed movie tie-in viral videos for big name studios, award-winning genre short films, hugely successful commercials, and has worked as a Lead Artist and Concept Artist on blockbuster films such as Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, Zodiac, The Fate Of The Furious, and Blade Runner 2049 to name a few!
It was during his early days at Rust Monkey Productions and Looking Glass that he really cut his teeth in the filmmaking arts (from directing, screenwriting, producing, matte painting, visual effects, and acting) that prepared for a successful career in Los Angeles.
During his time at R.M. Productions, I helped them build their killer artsy website using iFrames and HTML. The artwork is obviously Dan’s but I helped with the layout and copy for the site.
Over time, Dan worked with VDNS to provide graphic design work and other valuable contributions to client-related projects before moving to Los Angeles permanently.
Below is a screenshot of the R.M. Productions website homepage: