On Sunday, I visited a local toy store for some initial consultation. The husband-wife pair, who had taken over the store about a year ago, were going to add a bunch of inventory to their online store and wanted my help. I went in-person to observe their process so that I could see if I was the right person to help them or not.
The previous owner had put together an ASP web site linked to a database. As it turned out, the actual process of entering product information was pretty easy, just time-consuming. The big hangup in the process was that they didn’t know how to use or leverage Photoshop properly to create the web versions of product images.
I told them that they should find a cheap student to help them enter in product information but offered a half-hour of paid training to show them how to streamline their Photoshop setup. Rather than have me come back another time, they opted to have me do the training right then and there.
I created an action that would crop an image and save three versions for the web site. I showed them how to reorganize their product image folders so that they had two folders to use for “processing.” Then I stepped aside, had the husband sit down, and walked him through the magic of automation and batch processing. I also gave some other gentle tips for being more efficient with the computer in general — changing the Explorer view to “thumbnail” so that he didn’t have to try to remember the filename but could look at the picture visually, using the keyboard to flip through Photoshop commands instead of tedious point-and-clicking, how to Shift- and Ctrl-click multiple files at once, and uploading multiple files at once instead of three at a time. At the end of 30 minutes, his eyes were alight. “This is sooooo cool!!!! I can’t believe how much time this is going to save!” The energy and enthusiasm in the room were palpable.
This experience affirmed a relatively recent Thing I’ve been learning about myself: I like to design, but I love to teach. I like helping others to get better at things, get more efficient. I like sharing knowledge — and getting paid for it was nice, too. I’m not dropping all my current work to dive into teaching, but I can see myself moving more towards situations which would involve some teaching or training.