Aaron Macdonald has built a business that makes his clients look good. After venturing out on his own as a print designer, he saw the growing demand for digital marketing solutions and quickly adapted to meet client needs. With the help of Adobe® Creative Cloud™ and Adobe Muse™, he successfully expanded his branding and design offerings to include website design for desktop and mobile devices.
“Print designers shouldn’t be afraid of web design — they should embrace it. And tools like Adobe Creative Cloud make that possible.”
Macdonald's introduction to design started when he was young, working at his father’s print production business. He saw firsthand how a client's vision translated to print and began to develop a design sense and understanding of how color works.
Early in his career, he went to work in brand management and sales and marketing for various snowboard companies, and gradually transitioned to working more closely with design teams and creative directors. Macdonald found that he really liked the production aspects of the work — producing graphics for snowboards and bindings — and began to take on more design roles, teaching himself Adobe Illustrator®, Photoshop®, and InDesign® along the way.
Eventually, his passion for design led him to start his own business, A3 Creative Solutions, focusing primarily on branding and print design. A3 Creative Solutions works with a variety of clients including agencies, large brands such as Coca-Cola, and small companies across a range of industries.
As his business progressed, Macdonald began to see changes in the industry, with fewer clients looking for print work and an increasing demand for web design and development services. He realized he needed to learn web design and was happy to discover Adobe Muse. "After just a short time, it was clear to me that Adobe Muse was the answer to how I could transition my business into the digital world," says Macdonald.
His first Adobe Muse project was updating the Port Moody Soccer Club website. He was able to learn the software quickly, relying on his knowledge of InDesign. "Adobe Muse offered me the chance to learn about web design from a print background point of view," says Macdonald.
Before offering web design services, Macdonald could propose a logo and brand identity, but if the client needed a website as well, he would need to outsource that portion of the project. That's no longer the case. He can now provide a full package and accomplish everything the client needs, helping him build stronger bonds with his customers. "Adobe Muse literally helped save my business," he says. "Today, 85% of my work is digital and I'm using Adobe Muse for 65% to 70% of projects."
For Macdonald, the ease of use of Adobe Muse is only enhanced by its being a part of Creative Cloud. He loves the ability to install any program he needs, stay organized and synchronized, and no longer worry about moving large files around or having different versions of files on different computers.
Adobe Business Catalyst® has also become an important part of his workflow. The integration between the two Creative Cloud offerings lets Macdonald format news, blog, and photo gallery modules in Business Catalyst using CSS, making them look like part of a site he creates in Adobe Muse. He can also offer content management and hosting to his clients, increasing his value and differentiating his services.
"Adobe Muse and Business Catalyst together let me control my own destiny and offer a comprehensive set of services to clients," says Macdonald. "I use Adobe Creative Cloud every day to check the status of websites that I'm hosting, and it's just great having a portal that lets me monitor everything in one place."
With new features in Adobe Muse, Macdonald can design client sites to be mobile friendly — an important competitive differentiator for any independent web designer. "Many people already assume websites are mobile friendly these days, so Adobe Muse helps me meet these expectations without requiring extensive rework," explains Macdonald. "I'm also able to easily go in and update websites I previously designed for clients to make them work on mobile devices, which is an added benefit to my clients."
Macdonald appreciates that he has been able to expand his business with the help of Adobe Muse and looks forward to embracing new developments as they come. His advice for other freelancers like him? "Print designers shouldn't be afraid of web design — they should embrace it. And tools like Adobe Creative Cloud make that possible," he says.