Thanks to those who visited and commented on my About page. It turned out to be magical, by the way. The goal of the page was to lessen the amount of basic “can I trust you?” interviewing required by new clients. Shortly after I made the suggested changes, I had an email from a new client consisting of “Here’s what I want done. How’s your diary and how much?”

“How’s your diary?” I took to be British for “How busy are you?”

When I first began working among the IT folk– the web people, if you will — I had an encounter which left me with the impression that “What tools do you use?” was a common greeting. This is not the case, as I discovered when I tried it out with the next designer I met.

But I think that variants on “How busy are you?” (including “What’s your availability?” “How’s your schedule?””Do you have a lot of clients?” and “How far out are you on your calendar?”) are the way this community says, “Want a job?”

In addition to my snazzy new About page, I also had The Computer Guy make me a report template for Word. Do any of you use Word? Because I’ve got to tell you, you can do so much stuff with Word, you wouldn’t believe it.

Or possibly everyone knew except me. The Computer Guy sent me this report template, and I saved it as a document, thinking that I would just open it up and replace the content when I wanted to write a report. I had even thought so far as cutting and pasting, since there was a table in there, and some other fancy stuff. He said to call him for a walkthrough, and I thought he would be giving me tips on using it like “That box I gave you can be used for this and that type of paragraph, and your page will look especially good if you use that other thing as a footer.”

No such thing! It turns out that you can save styles into your Word set up, and special boxes and side bars and stuff, and then whenever you want one, you can just put them in as you would a link or an image.

What’s more, once you’ve done this, all your Office software is customized. The color schemes for all the various things that were in there already are now coordinated, and the fonts and spacings and things are all customized. So I can make PowerPoints or Excel spreadsheets or whatever that match my website.

This should increase the luxuriousness of my clients’ experience with no further investment on my part, aside from an extra keystroke or two. It also should do the intended job of distinguishing the paid-for reports from the casual emails enough to lessen my unbillable hours a bit by establishing some boundaries through design. #1 daughter says I should turn on the Toggl every time I pick up the phone, but that’s because she works with lawyers. I think that changing the environment is always the first choice for changing behaviors. We’ll see.

Also, I was jealous of The Computer Guy’s reports, which were far and away more snazzy than mine. But I’m looking at it as a business investment, not as coveting thy neighbor’s headers.

Suppose you wanted to have this done for your own business, I can hook you up with The Computer Guy. Just message me. But some of you who have businesses are artists. So you could probably get quite good results from the stuff that’s already there in the software. When you make a new document, choose a template. On the Home page, look at the boxes on your toolbar called “styles.” I now have special custom styles there, but you will have some stuff to play with already. Then on the Insert page, in roughly the same spot, you’ll find “Quick Parts” and “Text Box.”

My glee over these things was, for The Computer Guy, roughly akin to someone’s saying, “What? I have headlights? You’re kidding! How cool!” and then, moments later, saying, “You mean this car has a RADIO? You’re kidding!” You may feel the same way. I realize that many people, upon first opening a piece of software, would naturally learn how to use it, and explore all the twiddly bits and play with it.

Not I. I learn about my software on a Need to Know basis. And so, in case there are others like me out there, I draw your attention this morning to the top right quadrant of your MSWord 2007 screen. Go forth and play!

I was impressed that there was no point at which he made me feel stupid, even when he was saying, “Now go to [some screen I’ve been failing to notice for years as I used the program every day]” and I was saying “Huh?”

Most people would not have been able to resist saying, “Excuse me? You’ve sent me 412 Word documents and you’ve never noticed the existence of the ‘templates’ option? Or the Quick Parts box?” The Computer Guy merely said, “Quick Parts. With a Q. Count over from the top left: pages, tables…”

He gets points.