Graphic design is a challenging, competitive, and exciting discipline that lets you express your creative side. For example, making your own book covers, company newsletters, or social media profile headers can be a lot of fun, even if you don’t intend to look for paid work in this field.
There are now dozens of reputable online resources that can supplement, or even replace, a traditional design education. Whether you want to pick up a few skills to use in your current job, start a new hobby, or embark on a complete change of career, these resources will help you start off on the right foot.
Here are Resources to Help You Learn Graphic Design in 2019
Now in its 10th year, Udemy is a well-respected online learning platform that offers thousands of courses on hundreds of subjects, including art and design. You can read verified user reviews before committing yourself to a course, which start at around $25 each.
Twelve million learners have already enrolled in Alison’s courses, which are free. To date, they have published over 1,000 courses spanning nine categories. Their Visual and Graphic Design course offers an overview of basic design principles, and will teach you how lines, textures, and other elements are combined to create effective visual displays.
Canva bills itself as the “simplest, easiest design tool.” Although it started life as a photo editing app, it can be used to create book covers, flyers, social media posts, and more. To help those new to design, Canva has created dozens of lessons covering both the application specifically and the principles of design in general, including advice on how to build a brand.
Bear in mind that if you are mixing images and text, you need to consider each element separately and together. If you lack writing skills, do not try to compensate with graphic design. PickWriters’ Chief Marketing Officer emphasizes the importance of professional copy. “Beautiful images are key in marketing,” she says, “But you also need to make sure your writing tells a meaningful story that resonates with your audience.”
Envato Tuts+ has created over 1,200 video courses that can help anyone grow their technical and creative skills. Their Design & Illustration courses cover poster design, book cover design, tips and tricks that will help you make the most of popular design tools, and much more. For a modest monthly fee, you can access all courses, plus templates, themes, photos, and design assets.
Skillshare offers over 20,000 classes, of which more than 8,000 center on illustration and design. For an affordable monthly fee, you gain access to all their classes. Skillshare members benefit from ad-free viewing, offline access, and discounts on benefits and services if they choose annual billing. Their site also contains over 500 free courses. If you are a student, you are eligible to receive a 50% discount.
Hackdesign offers a simple, linear approach to learning graphic design. The website offers a comprehensive list of lessons, and overview of the tools you will need to learn as a designer. When you sign up, you will receive a carefully constructed design lesson in your inbox every week. The creators have assembled 50 free core lessons that will give you an overview of key design principles.
If you are interested in learning graphic design with a view to working in UI/UX design roles, check out Design Lab. They offer courses that cover the general principles of design, before then introducing you to the steps designers take when devising interfaces. You can also elect to take a 4-week branding course, which demonstrates the importance of building a company brand, and how to create a logo.
You will need to reserve your place on each course, but you do not need to pay until it starts. Note that these courses are expensive, but the price includes mentoring, mock interviews, and community critique. So far, they have helped over 3,000 students move into design careers.
Veerle Pieters is a web and graphic designer. Her blog contains hundreds of articles spanning numerous design-related topics. She writes about industry software, trends in design, and how to maintain an organized workflow as a designer. Clicking the “Inspiration” tab at the top of the page will take you on a journey through outstanding examples of graphic design that will help you overcome any creative block.
Creative Pro is a design magazine for both novice and experienced creatives. The site contains free articles and tutorials that will introduce you to the world of design and inspire your next project. Creative Pro excels at breaking down technical processes into short videos and written tutorials. The “News” section, which will keep you up to date with recent developments in the design industry, is a nice bonus, as is the Creative Pro channel on YouTube.
The founders of Creative Live have created an online community of people passionate about design, photography, and other related disciplines. Their vision is to pass on skills to anyone who wants to build a career in the creative sector.
You can choose from hundreds of courses, including 55 on graphic design. The courses cover industry software, design theory, branding, and how to create an online portfolio that will impress employers and clients. You can pay for courses on an individual basis, or sign up for course bundles. Courses begin at around $17 each. Creative Live also hosts free, professional-led workshops in Seattle and San Francisco. The Creative Live Blog contains further tips, tricks, and inspiration.
Learn at your own pace
You may not have a lot of time to spend practicing your new skills if you lead a busy life. Fortunately, most course creators and instructors take this into account when building online resources, breaking content down into small chunks that help you gradually build your skills over weeks and months. Even if you can only set aside 10-20 minutes each day, you’ll soon see dramatic improvements.
Measuring the efficacy of your content marketing efforts isn’t something you can just do on the fly. A lot goes into making content marketing measurable.
In this plain-speak, non jargon post, we will take a look at how one can go about creating an end to end strategy that takes the right data and uses it to draw insights that can further inform your content marketing strategies and efforts. There’s more to it than tracking pageviews on Google Analytics, you know.
This is divided into three parts that ought to apply to content marketing efforts for most business objectives. A wholesome measurement strategy essentially answers three key questions and lays down the groundwork for doing so:
- What to track
- How to track it
- How to turn data into insights, i.e., information that can be used to tweak the content marketing efforts to achieve your larger goals.
What to Track (aka, KPIs)
KPIs, or Key Performance Indicators are basically metrics that are important to you. Remember that not all of the analytics data holds the same importance for your business or content marketing objectives.
Here it falls on to you to outline what content marketing success means to your business. This will inevitably involve nailing down the top priorities/goals, marking the metrics that will help you monitor progress of those goals, establish benchmarks for your business to adhere to. Here’s how you can do it, considering you already have a sizable content centric marketing game going.
This helps you understand what kind of content you have published, whether it did what it was supposed to do, and whether it sets a benchmark for future content marketing efforts. Taking an inventory lets you sort valuable content from garbage pieces, and once you know the kind of content that’s valuable to your business, you can put more energy into trying to create more of that kind.
This can take a while, so be prepared for it. Make a list of everything you have published, media format (text post, video, ebook), and distribution channels, etc. You can use Screaming Frog or Export the google analytics data to CSV if you don’t want to do it manually.
Then go through the inventory, matching content with easily identifiable metrics for success. The posts that ranked high on SERP, or the most twitter shares to its name? This should give you a fairly good idea of which direction your content has been going this whole time.
The success of your content will depend on more than just previously mentioned metrics you’ve audited against. Think – What’s the most immediate big-picture goal? Website traffic, brand awareness, leads and conversions, or something else? You could even be looking to reap greater benefits by employing the cheapest way to make a website. In the end, it’s all about accomplishing individual website content and marketing goals.
This step helps you prioritize the content marketing goals so the efforts can be focussed accordingly. Once you have the goals, define KPIs for measuring how your content is performing in regards to that goal.
This is simple when you think about it critically. For instance, conversions and leads can obviously be measured by number of forms filled, newsletter subscribers, etc. Brand awareness is directly associated with traffic growth (page views, referrals, etc.). You can also define KPIs by each content type for more granular measurement and monitoring. Check out this handy guide from Content Marketing Institute to see the KPIs that commonly go with each content type.
Tracking and Measuring Data
By using the right techniques, you can keep track of data and measure your content’s performance at any given time. Whether you’re starting a website or managing an existing one, this section should teach you to incorporate data into decision making right from the start.
For common, automated measurement, the most popular tool available is Google Analytics. With a few clicks, you can use it for day to day monitoring and analysis. And you can look up others, like Mixpanel, for deeper, more customized insights.
The focus of this section, then is on the following:
- Setting a Schedule: Measuring your KPIs too often is just as detrimental sometimes as not doing it at all. Analytics tools need data to report on, and for that to happen, you need to give it time to accumulate. Any meaningful insights or patterns need time to emerge, but that’s not to say you can leave your measurement tools unattended for prolonged periods of time either. Start with a monthly-basis KPI tracking, compare with previous month’s performance to see the differences. From there, customize to your needs and account for seasonality.
- Customizing your Dashboard: The KPIs that are most significant to your business need to be front and center so everything you publish gets measured – and monitored – on those grounds. Easy enough to do so in Google Analytics. Good way to start is by adding metrics like page views, organic traffic, direct traffic, bounce rate, referrals, etc. but you can add more or less, depending on your goal priorities.
Once you know what to monitor and how to keep it within easy reach at all times, you will have no trouble creating a simple editorial status report when the time comes to share the state of your content marketing efforts with the rest of the team.
Drawing Insights from Data
You can very well track all the metrics your analytics dashboard has and still not glean anything truly useful if you don’t know understand what those metrics mean for your goals and objectives. That’s what the previous two points were partly about. Now that you understand what your metrics represent, you can use the data tracked to really see how the content marketing efforts are doing and identify missed or growth opportunities.
You can use Google Analytics to great effect in this case with a few tweaks and custom made reports that will tap into the metrics and draw insights automatically for easy access. You can head over to Google Analytics Solutions and import some of the more popular user-created reports for yourself from within the analytics dashboard. Whatever else you pick, I’d suggest you also get “SEO custom reports” by Greg Habermann as well as “Site Speed Metrics by Browser and Browser version” by LunaMetrics.
Just like publishing content, monitoring and measuring its efficacy is a continuous process that involves multiple steps and iterations. Even if you do come up with a workable monitoring and measurement strategy, there’s no telling when you’d have to adjust or tweak anything – from KPIs to custom reports or basic benchmarks that spell success for your business. And that’s not a bad thing at all. Continuous iteration is the name of the game. It’s how we learn and grow.
Inspiring Graphic Designers 2019
Designers get into the field because they love creating something from nothing and making beautiful, aesthetically pleasing designs. Over time, however, skills build, and designers expand and improve their work. One of the best methods for developing your design work is studying the work of other incredible designers who seem always to be a step ahead of everyone else in the field.
There are about 266,300 graphic designers in the United States alone. Globally, the industry grew at around 4 percent in the past five years. Figuring out which designers offer the inspiration we can all learn from isn’t an easy task. We looked at some of the top designers out there today, broke down their skills and chose the following four as unique and revolutionary. Study their designs and learn new skills that will elevate your design work to a level you never thought possible.
Designer 1: Jessica Walsh
Jessica Walsh hails from New York City and works as a designer and art director at Sagmeister & Walsh. She has designed for big-name clients such as Levi’s, The Museum of Modern Art and Jay-Z. She’s won more design awards than there is room to list, and Forbes magazine named her to their list of “30 Under 30 Top Creatives Designing the Future.”
She even wrote a book that is in the process of becoming a movie. Walsh is unique because she started at just 11 years old coding and designing websites. She then studied at the prestigious Rhode Island School of Design. After graduating, she turned down a six-figure job offer from Apple to expand her design skills into other areas.
She’s best known for her memorable photography that breaks all the rules, such as one image on Behance of two women painted blue except for their hair, and words written on their faces in white. It’s a striking image and shows why she’s a powerhouse in the design industry.
Walsh taught other industry professionals to walk away from money if it means you’ll be a better designer for it.
Designer 2: Wai-Loong Lim
Wai-Loong Lim leads Y Studios. We chose Lim for this list because he’s won awards around the globe for a variety of product designs. His range of work is impressive, including everything from dishware to sound systems.
Some of the brands this designer works with include Target, Johnson & Johnson and Motorola. To create cutting-edge designs, designers must experience the world around them and free their creativity. For Lim, surfing gets him outdoors and fulfills his sense of adventure.
Surfing requires a particular type of patience as the surfer waits on the perfect wave. Y Studios’ philosophy is similar in that they patiently work on a design until genius strikes. Their focus is on designing products which fulfill specific needs. Designers with his studio have time to let ideas mature and simmer until they reach perfection.
The brilliance of Lim’s designs lies in the underlying green consciousness of the company. While they don’t call themselves a green company in the sense of being environmentally friendly, the core of their beliefs reflect in designs such as a portable dinnerware set that environmentally aware workers can purchase, rather than Styrofoam or disposable plastic.
Lim brings the industry a reminder that creativity takes time.
Designer 3: Steve Krug
When it comes to user experience, study designer Steve Krug for inspiration. Krug wrote what many consider the bible of usability, “Don’t Make Me Think: A Common-Sense Approach to Web Usability.”
He worked as a usability consultant for two decades for companies such as Apple, Lexus, NPR and Bloomberg. Today, he teaches others about usability through workshops and direct consulting.
Even though Krug might not be the first person who comes to mind when studying design work, he is worth investigating because his principles make your website more usable. His book is a must-read for anyone wanting to delve into the UX of design.
Designer 4: Jennifer Morla
When it comes to visual communications, Jennifer Morla is a familiar name. Morla founded her design agency, Morla Design, in 1984. The goal of the firm is multidisciplinary, covering everything from web design work to packaging to print work. She’s an AIGA Medal recipient whose work appears in the Smithsonian and Denver Art Museum. She’s won more than 300 awards of excellence.
The New York native completed a BFA in graphic design from Massachusetts College of Art in Boston. She credits her early inspiration to the Metropolitan Museum of Art and seeing an IBM exhibit at the 1964 World’s Fair. Today, she shares that inspiration and guides young design students as an adjunct professor at California College of the Arts.
Her career spans companies such as Levi Strauss & Co. and PBS San Francisco. Her company designs for Amnesty International, Apple, Rondale Publishers and Wells Fargo Bank — but also dozens of other big brand names. She’s gained a reputation as an artist able to take something ordinary and shift the focus just a bit. She points to using a “combo platter” in her designs: surprise and educate.
New designers should study how unique Morla’s work is — not to copy it, but to learn about the element of surprise. Her work offers a fresh perspective that shows off her artist’s voice perfectly.
No matter how long you’ve been a designer, improvement is possible. If you aren’t growing and changing, you’re stale. Instead, study some of the best designers and most inspirational people in the field and apply what you’ve learned to your work. You may just surprise yourself.
In modern design fields, it’s no longer acceptable to be average. That’s not to say it was ever acceptable in the first place but doing so now can have much more significant consequences on your business and clients. You see, companies today need to stand out and be bold. One of the best ways to do that is through striking visual themes or styles — which comes out in the design elements graphic artists or web developers employ.
If you want to be noticed, you have to crank the volume up to eleven. At the same time, you must be mindful of design guidelines and requirements. That way, visual elements — flashy or not — do not detract from the overall user experience. Thus, we have the eternal struggle of a designer, whether that be in web design, graphic design or some other form of visual creativity.
In light of that, it’s essential to keep up with bleeding edge design trends — or even stay ahead of everyone else. Here are six emerging graphic design trends for the coming year that you would do well to honor.
1. Light or Dark? Why Not Both?
One trend we’re seeing right now is using contrasting light and dark color schemes or styles. Primary color variations might include blue and grey, black and white, or similar contrasting hues.
Why not take that a step further and offer both options to potential audiences? People browse most websites, apps and portals using mobile devices, and it’s always great to have that light and dark choice depending on your preferences. A lot of apps actually employ something called “night mode,” where users can activate a theme that is dark and easy on the eyes in low-light conditions.
Developing multiple versions of a design in varying palettes also affords you — the designer — a lot more freedom to express personality and creativity. Clients and customers will love it, and so will you. It’s a win-win for everyone.
2. Expansive Minimalism
The idea of a more expansive minimalist style may seem a bit contradictory, but in the past, minimal designs have largely employed muted or neutral colors with a lot of white space. Lately, we’ve seen the rise of a new form of minimalism that uses greater color and contrast. Designs are still pared down and efficient with minimal distractions, but the colors used are more vivid, as is the scenery and visual elements of the layout.
Colors might pop more. Backgrounds might include a little more going on with a texture-based element. Navigation buttons and attention points might be a little brighter. These all contribute to a more innovative yet equally beautiful minimalist style.
3. Kinetic Typography
There’s nothing more important in design than the typography you choose. Including the wrong font in a design even once will show you exactly why this is. You want text content to stand out, but you also want it to jive with other visual components, and it must be readable to boot.
Kinetic typography — or moving, dynamic typography — is a relatively new trend that is taking hold everywhere. Why? Because you’re essentially using the same fonts and styles you always have, but simply injecting a little more activity into its presentation. It involves graphic animation techniques to present moving typography. Letters might dance, strobe or even bounce around. Accents might shiver to accentuate a point. Colors and styles might also shift, briefly or over a longer period.
Funny enough, the practice is not actually new — it has been around since the 1950s, originating with Alfred Hitchcock and his 1959 film North by Northwest. More recently, it’s gained popularity and is making something of a comeback that could even be part of a dynamic type movement.
4. Vivid Colors and Imagery
Giving a design or visual element “pop” is what truly makes it stand out to people. It’s always been possible to do this by injecting vivid colors and imagery, but mainstream designs generally opted for easier palettes — not anymore. In fact, many designers and graphic artists are taking it upon themselves to experiment with incredibly bright and eye-catching colors, whether that be lighter hues that are much more intense than the norm, or super bright neons that just seem to flash on the page.
This trend specifically calls for stepping outside of the norm, shedding away conventional color and visual styles.
5. Futuristic-Retro Feel
We’re in this strange state of mind currently where so many designs are using a mix of futuristic and retro-style themes. Think cyberpunk, but with a more functional approach. Elements like geometric shapes, abstract patterns and bright neon colors are starting to bleed their way into popular designs.
It can effectively be described as a mainstream yet futuristic influence, albeit one steeped in class. If you can find a way to adopt these visual elements, while still adhering to minimal practices yet with captivating results, you’ve won. From the outside, this concept can seem incredibly nuanced and complex, but once you have a working design in place, it’s evident a futuristic influence can really kick up some dirt.
6. Authentic Photos
Professional, sterile and faux stock photos have never really been appealing, especially when you’re dealing with humanized or forward-facing portals. Audiences often look at professional stock photos and feel distanced or segregated in a way. There’s this hidden sense of impossibility to them. In the real world, you could never hope to look like the people in these photos, nor experience what they purportedly are.
Not to mention, photo devices and quick-snap technology have advanced considerably. Most people carry around an excellent point-and-shoot with them everywhere they go — embedded within their mobile device. Perhaps that explains why it’s acceptable to include photos in a design that look like a personal camera or smartphone took them. People love the emotions that genuine pictures elicit, and it really brings a natural, welcoming feel to modern designs.
Get Ahead of — Not With — the Program
In the end, if you’re interested in standing out and coming up with some remarkable designs, following these tips and potential trends will undoubtedly get you there. Web design is one market where being ahead of the curve helps you considerably. In other industries, people may not be ready for change, or big players may be more resilient to innovation. That’s certainly not the case with modern design, so be sure to let your creativity and expressive nature flow.
How to Become A Professional Artist with Lindsey Jo Scott
Have you had to urge to leave your full-time position and pursue your love of art full-time? Today, with the help of local artist, Lindsey Jo Scott, we explored what it means to be a professional artist and what taking the plunge involves. Here are some lessons learned from both our and her experiences that we’d like to share with you. Make sure to take the time to watch the Facebook Live chat with Lindsey Jo before you leave, as well as to follow Lindsey Jo on her official site, Facebook and Instagram.
Understand that there may not always be a clear path.
It’s romantic to think that there will come a day when you’ll know it’s time to burst out of the office and into your new creative career. But things aren’t often so cut and dry. Some artists blindly take a leap when they feel inspired, while others are much more cautious about transitioning to full-time artist. The recommend is often that you hold onto your day job until your client base is so full that it forces you to quit. The more cautious you are with your business moves and finances, the better off you will be in the long run.
mural work by http://www.lindseyjoscott.com/
And while you’re still employed full-time, take notes.
You may very well be working ten jobs, counting down the moments until you can go off on your own and “do this thing,” but until then, you have a golden opportunity. You are working for another entrepreneur / business owner, so take notes. Be mindful of how they are running their business. What is working? What is a big old disaster? If your boss or manager tasks you with some big responsibilities, take them and run with them. This is a fantastic chance to get in the trenches early and learn what it means to run a business before having full responsibility. Whatever you do, do not waste this time simply hating on your job and watching the days pass you by. Ask if you can learn about how your boss runs their metrics, how they invoice. Ask if you can sit in on the hiring process and if you can try your hand at designing some of their social media graphics. They’ll be impressed and you’ll be learning on their time. Win, win.
Reach out to other artists for support, to share resources and to mentor/to receive mentor-ship.
Once you’re out on our own, it is important that you reach out to other artists in your community for support, to give and receive resources, and to mentor or receive mentoring. Here in Cleveland, our artistic community is thriving and events pop up every other evening for artists, designers, dancers, musicians, poets, writers and more! Look out for these resources in your city on sites like Meetup.com. You can, of course, also find them online – Facebook is a great place to start.
In a pinch, as Lindsey Jo will mention below, podcasts are also a great way to find inspiration without even leaving the house. Some of favorites include:
Art + Biz type Podcasts:
Podcasts she listens to while working:
Good luck, friends! Now, let’s meet Lindsey Jo!
Starting your own firm or freelance business? Have your own small business, but looking for a boost? We here at Go Media, your favorite Cleveland design firm, are here to help by providing you with 14 fundamental questions that will have a big impact on how you grow your own company or freelance business.
Whether your focus is creative in nature like ours or whether you are a small business of any kind, we believe that answering these questions will give you some much needed inspiration. While some of these questions may seem obvious, we implore you to take time to answer them fully and honestly.
These questions were taken from our Drawn to Business Design Firm Business Plan Workbook. For the full list of 75 questions, head to our Arsenal and purchase the full workbook. Although design-focused, the workbook will assist any small business owner looking for encouragement to start making positive changes in their company.
Let’s dive in.
- Visualize your ideal firm. What does it look like and how does it operate?
- How will you know when you need to hire a new staff member?
- What do you look for in a new employee? What traits will they have? How will you know a great employee when you see them? How will you assess their character? What does the hiring process look like? Will it look different for each role you’re hiring for?
- When you are hiring, where are you looking for candidates? Will you have any assistance finding candidates? What is the process candidates will go through before they walk through your doors for an interview?
- What is your plan to utilize interns? How many interns are you looking for at any given time? Who will be in charge of your interns/internship program? What value do you hope your interns add to your business? What value will you bring to their experience?
- What kind of systems, policies and traditions would you like to see in your company? For example, what kind of monthly metrics will you run? What will your billing structure look like? Will you throw a killer Christmas party every year?
- What kind of perks do you offer in addition to salary for your staff? What kinds of benefits will you offer (bonuses, profit sharing, medical, life insurance, paid vacations, company holidays, personal days, free PB& J?)
- For creative firms: What is your policy on employee freelancing? Do you allow it?
- How do you plan on keeping your best employees? List all the ways you can show your employees they are appreciated – both monetarily and otherwise.
- When the time comes when you have to fire or let go of an employee how will you handle it? What does a worst case scenario look like? How would you handle it? Best case? What practices would you put into place to guard yourself again many negative experiences?
- What do your employees love about working for your company or what will they love about working for you? What are your strengths as a manager?
- What do your employees dislike about working for your company? What are your downfalls as a manager? How can you improve these things?
- What are some companies you admire for their culture? How can you borrow their ideas?
- What has been the hardest part about growing your company? What are your current pain points? How can you improve?
Go Media is a Cleveland Creative Agency that specializes in web design, graphic design, print, logo design, and web marketing. We’d love to provide you with any and all of these services to help you grow your small business. Contact us for a complimentary review of your brand and to discuss how we can discuss your website, branding, logo, packaging design or other graphic design needs.
You probably had to create a presentation of some kind at least a couple of times in your life. Remember how everyone tried to be witty, innovative and smart in school with cool templates, fonts and animations in their presentations? Well, that’s always the aim if you want your audience to listen. Grabbing someone’s attention isn’t easy and you can have the best materials ever, you can cite many great sources but if it isn’t entertaining or easy on the eye to some extent, the chances are that your audience will fall asleep in ten to fifteen minutes. Fortunately, Apple stepped in to save the day with their Keynote. Let’s see why many people choose Keynote over every other program when they need to make a presentation.
Keynote presentations look great
It’s that simple. Presentations made with Keynote look really good. It’s easy to achieve a very professional and unique looking presentation that is bound to keep your audience engaged and impressed. And that’s what really matters. Apple has always been on top of their game when it comes to the design and looks. Both when it comes to their products and software. Keynote is no exception. You can always find lots of amazing Keynote templates and many have built-in layouts into themes. Knocking out two birds with one stone? That has to be good. Oh, and animations are a breeze with Keynote. There is no other software that does animations better than this one.
Oh the templates
Visual appeal is oftentimes what matters the most. Well, compared to other programs, Keynote takes pride in its elegant and sleek templates. On top of that, you can find tons of cool templates online. Are you a businessman? You need to impress your office and convince your boss to make your idea reality? There are some great business templates that you can always alter according to your preferences. Do you want to start your own company? No problem, use a pitch deck template. It’s all about simplicity and clarity. Keynote does that really good, too. Long story short, there are numerous categories of templates, ranging from business, marketing and sales all the way to the old-school look with vintage templates. You name it, the Internet has it!
Export is easy
Let’s put all the style aside and take some time to talk about the interface. To be more precise, let’s talk about the program’s easy export of presentations. Do you want your presentation to be a simple slide show? No problem. Do you want it to be a video clip? Easy, peasy! The program can export presentations as QuickTime files for simple YouTube conversion. Also, the program offers easy sound, image and video integration. Now you can enjoy your own presentation online and the others can do that too. The choice is yours and you are in control.
Even though this program does not integrate well with other programs of the kind, it does offer seamless integration with iPads, iPods and iPhones. For example, you’ve been working a lot and you’ve just made a presentation that you need to use tomorrow at a conference or meeting. You want to impress everyone and you know that’s not easy. You get up, put on some smart clothes and go off. And somewhere into your commute you realize that you’ve forgotten your Mac. Fortunately, you’ve been smart enough to export the presentation and transfer it to your other Apple devices. Now you don’t have to worry about a thing since your phone can also be the source. On top of that, editing is really easy too. If you need to make a quick change, you won’t have a problem.
Keynote Live feature
Apple has introduced this feature in their recent update and it’s a true delight. Keynote Live allows you to invite other people who are not in the same place as you are to watch your presentation in real time. You don’t even need a projector or something like that. You just need a Mac, iPad, iPhone or the web. With this feature you can play your presentations over the internet and other people will be able to see it in real-time on any device wherever they get online. Some of your colleagues can’t make it to the meeting? No problem, they can still use this feature and watch your presentations from any location. If your company has remote workers, it’s easy for them both to watch presentations and to present them themselves.
Keynote took advantage of the new programming techniques and UI styles to reshape presentations. Apple examined the old approaches and came up with something new and unique. Also, people who are using Macs (and Apple’s devices in general) enjoy new hardware capabilities to the fullest extent. It’s a win-win situation both for you and your boss, teacher, employees, etc. This program is always at least one step ahead over its rivals.
Every 21st-century business hell-bent on making a name for itself in the competitive marketplace needs a strong marketing plan. There is no way around it, if you’re not online and utilizing the power of digital marketing to reach audiences across the globe, then you’re not doing a very good job as a business leader to begin with. Quite simply, if you don’t have a marketing plan, you might as well close shop.
Contrary to popular belief, though, a marketing plan is not just a pamphlet and a few Facebook posts telling people to visit your website – actually, it shouldn’t be that either. A comprehensive marketing strategy will require thorough planning and preparation and the use of creative thinking, meticulous research, and exact execution in terms of SEO and social media. Here’s what you need to know.
It all begins with a compelling brand
Branding is the first step towards a successful future in the business world on all fronts. That includes your marketing efforts. If marketing is the means to an end, i.e. disseminating your stories and reaching the hearts and minds of your demographic, then your brand is the story and visuals that will separate you from the rest of the competition. This is why building a brand should be your first priority.
You can start by crafting a set of values that will serve as the foundation on which you can create compelling visuals, messages, and eventually, stories that will carry your brand across the digital realm. But wait, before you start throwing clichés like “quality” or “innovation” around like biscuits at a dog party, just understand that the customer doesn’t care.
Really, you’re a modern brand, and quality and innovation are kind of expected of you. No, a truly inspiring brand identity boasts a set of values that people can relate to, and eventually become a part of on a deeper, meaningful level. So, focus on the emotional response you can get from your demographic rather than run-of-the-mill catchphrases that will quickly dissipate into the unknown.
Research the market like a pro
Market research is another crucial element of a winning marketing plan. After all, if you don’t research the demographic and your competition, you’re really just shooting in the dark and the only thing that’s bound to take a hit is your own reputation. Instead of throwing a wide net and hoping for the best, focus on the following steps:
- Market segmentation. The needs of your existing customers and your potential customers are not the same, and that means that they should fall into particular segments. You can segment your demographics in order to discover and address their needs better than the competition.
- Targeting and positioning. Identifying the needs of your demographics will allow you to tailor your product offering accordingly, and thus appeal to your most lucrative prospects. Be sure to match your strengths to the needs of your customers for a direct hit.
- Researching the competition. It’s pretty self-explanatory – find the top brands in your niche, assess their strengths and weaknesses, and try to improve on their offering.
- Define your ideal promotional tactics. There are numerous ways you can advertise in the online and offline realms, and you will need to invest in the right channels so be sure to find out where your ideal customers reside – it’s probably social media, though.
Budget your marketing strategy wisely
One of the most important elements of a winning marketing plan is finance management. Quite simply, marketing is expensive, and oftentimes entrepreneurs will take money out of their personal budgets and risk their own livelihood just to set a marketing plan into motion and get the word out – but that’s a risky move that might cost you way more than the initial investment.
Instead, you should keep your personal finances in check and even search for online loans that will help you preserve your livelihood through this period by allowing you to direct cash flow towards effectuating your marketing strategy. When you do secure the finances for your marketing plan, make sure that you invest in the right channels and methods of communication instead of wasting money on dead-ends.
Focus on crafting SEO-friendly content
SEO is the name of the digital marketing game, and if your entire online presence is not properly optimized, then you’re missing out. In fact, you might not even be on the online map. Rising from the abyss that is the second page of Google is not an easy task, but there is nothing that a little top-quality content can’t fix. Focus on:
- Crafting compelling content with the reader’s needs in mind.
- Crafting SEO-friendly content that will appeal to search engine algorithms.
- Crafting in-depth, data-driven content that will give real value to the reader.
- Being a storyteller and shifting focus from your products to resolving real problems your audience might be experiencing.
A parting word or two
Marketing is the driving force behind the success of every modern business, and it should be the essential part of your growth strategy. With these crucial steps in mind, you should have no problem rising to the top of the proverbial ladder, and ensuring long-term success for your brand in the competitive marketplace.
The Mobile World Congress is an event that takes place every year where we have giants of the mobile industry world exhibit their products and innovations. Considering the nature of the industry, these giants may differ. One year you are the main star, the next year, well, someone else may take your place. The environment is dynamic and the industry is changing quite fast. However, one thing is for sure, it may be changing but one cannot see the point where it will stop growing. There are always some new mobile developments in connected cities, cars, health, entertainment, etc. and it seems like this congress has no difficulty attracting huge crowds. Let’s see why you should be in that crowd too.
Everyone will be there
Yes, everyone significant will be there. For example, the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona attracted more than 100,000 attendees from over 200 countries. Therefore, you can bet your life that everyone significant from the Mobile Industry will be there. Imagine Huawei not sending their representatives while Apple regularly exhibits its products at these congresses. That wouldn’t be so smart, right? Of course it wouldn’t.
You get to hear some familiar faces
Considering that this congress is huge, attendees get to hear all of the familiar mobile industry faces. Jimmy Wales was a regular and there is no one in this whole wide world who doesn’t know about Wikipedia. Of course, the Mobile World Congress wouldn’t be complete without the Zuck. Mark Zuckerberg, the ever popular owner of Facebook is often a keynote speaker. And the list goes on and on. Each year there are some familiar faces and who knows, the next congress may have some new players that will change the industry as we know it.
Everyone is welcome
At the Congress one gets to meet with clients and suppliers in person. And there is a platter of them because everyone with an idea and a product is welcome. That is a really good chance to make new connections and talk about business ideas. Bear in mind that there are over 1,800 organizations that showcase their products and services across numerous halls and spaces. Now that’s what you call fertile land for new contacts and possibly new opportunities.
You get to be the first to see new gadgetry
Apple, Huawei, Samsung, LG, they all want to steal the show by displaying their newest and coolest mobile phones and various prototypes. Isn’t it a good idea for you to be there to see those gadgets first? Common sense states that the answer to this question has to be positive. Here you get to see what the future looks like. Who knows, you’ll maybe consider buying a new phone when you see what these giants have to offer.
The food is awesome
Attendees from the Barcelona Congress claim that the food there was a true holiday for their senses. The MWC always chooses the best cities so it is safe to say that the cuisine will always be top-notch. And when you take a look at some figures, you can see that these guys don’t fool around. For example, in Barcelona attendees ate over 35,000 bocadillo type sandwiches and more than 25,000 servings of breakfast pastry. About 40,000 cups of coffee were consumed, too. Oh and don’t think for a second that there weren’t some great restaurants and bars in the surrounding area. Even if you are a picky person, you’ll find something delicious to eat.
We all love free stuff and that’s a fact. Well, guess what, there is going to be some super-cool free merchandise up for grabs. Many companies give out free stuff with their brand tag on it. For example, there are always some free power banks, stress balls, t-shirts, caps and whatnot. You’ll get to take so much from the congress besides the latest exhibits and that only adds to the experience.
It’s good for your health
The MWC is always held in huge areas and that’s quite obvious considering the number of companies that regularly display their products there. That’s why it would be smart for you to grab a pair of comfy, sports shoes and get going. The MWC in Barcelona had somewhere around 90000 m2 of exhibition ground. Of course, it is smart to burn that tasty food away from the Congress. So, grab a pair of shoes, visit every corner of the Congress and you’ll burn off that belly fat in no time.
The MWC is always the event where every big player of the industry shows up to present its products to the world. This event enables us to learn all about the next gen services, growth strategies and developments in the world of technology. The hype is already there, the reasons are there. Now it’s up to you to decide whether you’d like to be a part of it or not.
E-Commerce Navigation Best Practices & Site Navigation Guidelines
Running an E-Commerce business has its own perks and obligations; the perk of access to a wider audience and the obligation of meeting the latest E-Commerce trends. Both these aspects have an impact on how your online business website is going to perform.
Several studies have shown how weaving together the fabric of an E-Commerce business involves taking care of the site’s usability through enhanced navigation and well laid out product/service categories. So, what are the guidelines for enhancing your site’s navigation and making the site categories more efficient?
Let’s find out.
Fast loading website
A speedy website is a compulsion, regardless of the kind of website you are running. And when yours is an E-Commerce website, the need for speed is even more because you simply can’t afford prospective buyers abandoning your website due to a website that lags. Every time you make a website, it is important to keep in mind that if your website fails to load within 2 seconds, its abandonment percentage will be high.
If you want to improve the loading time of your website, you must put the following measures in place:
- Use a reliable web hosting service. Before you square in on a particular service provider, always go through the reviews. You can rely on reputable web hosting services such as 000webhost.
- A Content Delivery Network (CDN) makes it easy for your website to show up swiftly on all geographical locations.
- Optimize your eCommerce website to clear the clutter.
- Since an eCommerce website requires high-quality product images for display, consider compressing them to save the bandwidth.
Compact yet comfortable product listing
The traffic to an eCommerce website is determined by the user-experience offered by it. Since everyone is on this website to look for a product of their choice, the product listing is certainly the most important thing. However, the catch with an online shopping website is that it needs to furnish the maximum information about a product on the same page, without making the visitors go to a next page for the same. Hence, the target is to make the product listing compact yet comfortable for easy viewing.
Robust Internal search
There are two kinds of online shoppers that visit an online store; the ones that know the actual item they are looking for and the others that like to surf through several product categories. The first kind is quick to put the product in the cart and check out. However, the second kind of visitors need a little help and an internal search serves the purpose just right.
At least 50% of shoppers prefer to use an online business’s internal search function to find products. If your website is offering a robust internal search, it can do more than just increase your sales.
Clear product organization under categories
Categories mark the product differentiation on a website and make it easy for the buyers to make a purchase without clicking too much. If you run an eCommerce website or are planning to start one, make sure that you think the way your buyers are going to think and act. This will make it easy for you to segregate the products into different categories without leaving a chance of putting a product under a wrong category.
Descriptive product information
People make a confirmed purchase on an eCommerce website only when they are fully satisfied with the way the product has been described. Fuel this content with SEO keywords, high-quality images that are large enough to identify a known item and show the differences between variants, and maybe a video for usage tutorial.
Other parts of this information include the available variants to an item, colors, styles, or options. Displaying customer ratings and reviews for the items also helps buyers make a choice. This information is a purchase enabler and must be considered as a guideline for better navigation.
Seamless Navigation through Breadcrumbs
A guideline to seamless eCommerce website navigation is to let the visitors know their point in the journey while they are browsing through your website. Doing so will help them reach a particular point in their purchase journey and improve the find ability of website sections and pages.
To achieve this, you must introduce ‘Breadcrumbs’ on your website. Breadcrumbs are a visual aid that indicate the location of the visitor while they move ahead, clicking on higher-level pages. They reduce the number of actions a website visitor needs to take in order to get to a particular page they would like to go back to.
Drive out the complexity of the Checkout process
A great eCommerce Checkout process must flow without any hiccups. Hence, your site’s checkout page optimization must be a commitment for you. To eliminate all the negative factors that lead to cart abandonment, try these tips:
- Shipping, taxes, and fees must not be very high or hidden. Put them under the buyer’s attention right from the time they go through the item description.
- Display the total order cost up-front.
- Offer guest Checkout and don’t force the visitors to create an account for making a purchase.
- The checkout process must not be too long or complicated.
- Secure your website and make it apt for handling sensitive user information by getting an SSL certificate for your site.
- Be very clear with the returns and replacement policy
- Integrate all the popular payment methods and gateways.
- Display trust seals throughout the Checkout process.
Seamless Mobile Navigation
Of all the online searches conducted, 60% of them come from mobile devices, with over 30 billion mobile queries driving Google’s market advantage. This makes the importance of mobile navigation for an eCommerce website even more prominent.
Follow these mobile navigation guidelines for a seamless navigation experience:
- The Mobile header must have your site’s icon and the internal search bar.
- Your mobile site’s menu is your primary call-to-action.
- Skip the social icons from the header.
- A pinned menu at the bottom makes your mobile website more like an app, adding more information on the page without cluttering it. They are evidently visible and enhance the site’s user experience.
- If the website budget permits, consider creating an app for your shopping website. If you are planning one, you can revamp your entire website and even create an app for it using WordPress.
- Always add a link to the desktop site.
There are several other guidelines as well that can be gradually implemented on your mobile site as you go ahead adding the above changes.
A site’s robust navigation and sorted categories make up for an excellent user-experience on an eCommerce website. With the implementation of the right guidelines, an informative Homepage, and a follow-up with the latest eCommerce trends, you can run your eCommerce website effectively; thereby boosting your sales and growing your customers.
Welcome to Designer Face Off, where we ask two designers to go head to head, asking one another burning questions about their shared passions for design, entrepreneurship, and all things creative. Facing off today are designer Mike Kluk of Stuffed Brain Studio and John Lee Clair, designer, videographer, photographer and owner of Big Shot Photo Booth.
Mike Klok is a freelance designer and the brains behind Stuffed Brain Studio, a creative studio specializing in branding, design, and illustration. They provide, “Quality Guts and Goods.” Mike is based out of Kalamazoo, Michigan. He met John Lee at last year’s design conference WMC Fest, where they became fast friends.
John Lee is a long-time friend of WMC. As mentioned, he is a talented videographer (check out one of these hype videos he shot for us!) He is constantly working on multiple projects down in Charleston, South Carolina, where he is based. He specializes in design for both print and digital, along with photography and video production.
Let’s listen in on two amazing designers talking about their work and gaining insight from one another!
Watch last month’s Designer Face Off.
For the full Designer Face Off series, head to our YouTube Channel.
Want to get to know Mike and John Lee a little better?
Your online portfolio is the face you present to the world that shows what you’re capable of as a brand. If you want to gain new clients, your portfolio needs to show you’re a professional that knows your way around a design, product or service. It isn’t always easy to show people what you’ve worked on and all your skills in one place, but a well-designed portfolio allows you to do just that.
One of the best ways to figure out how to create a portfolio is to study others. Figure out who your competition is and assess their portfolios. What is lacking and what works well? There are eight things you should include in your online portfolio to make it stand out to potential clients.
1. Limit the Number of Projects
There is no need to share every project you’ve worked on since the beginning of your business. In fact, the projects or designs you complete when you first start probably aren’t your best work. Instead, choose a few things you’d like to highlight. If you design landscaping and backyard retreats, then you’ll want a section for each and photos that highlight a variety of your best work. For example, you might showcase backyard fire pits, a stamped concrete patio and a retaining wall.
2. Use Images to Create Categories
Studies show that people remember visuals much longer than they remember text. Hearing information has a 10 percent recall, but if a relevant image is aligned with the words, then they remember 65 percent of the information. Create categories that feature your most popular products or your best work. These images become a sort of flipbook that allows you to highlight what you want the moment a visitor lands on your page.
Moscot does a great job of highlighting the craftsmanship of its products and uses images to showcase its beautiful glass designs. This is a great example of a company that offers a product and a way to highlight it through an online portfolio. If the consumer has any questions about the quality of Moscot’s work, they are answered both with words and images.
3. Highlight Your Bio
If you’re the face of the brand and more of a one-man or one-woman show, take the time to share your experience and philosophy behind your business. This builds a level of trust with potential customers. Show them who you are and why you do what you do. If they sense the passion behind your work, they’ll be better able to trust that you’ll provide quality work. Trust is particularly important in industries such as web design or service industries.
4. Show Your Processes
Are you proud of the way you do your work? Don’t be afraid to show your processes and highlight why your product or service stands out from your competitors’. This shows leads that you take pride in your work. Don’t worry about competitors stealing your ideas. If something is truly that secretive, there are ways to show what you do without giving anything away.
PSI — Performance Services Inc. — does a great job showing its work in action via a project gallery. Photos are placed on a grid layout and show images of its cleaning and maintenance services in action. One image is of a man hanging down the side of the building as he cleans windows. Another is of a worker on a lift cleaning hard-to-reach beams in a college gym.
5. Extra Print Copies
One thing to do if you plan to present your portfolio in print format is to create extra copies. You may show up at a meeting and discover there are multiple people there to hear you speak. Having extra copies allows everyone to look at your work as you give them your pitch. You also never know when you might run into a business owner in the lobby of the building where you are providing services. Having an extra copy or two of your portfolio allows you to take advantage of those impromptu elevator meetings.
6. Know Your Audience
You have to know your audience when creating a portfolio. If your goal is to reach serious-minded business owners, then your portfolio will have a classic layout and photos that show your work. On the other hand, if your goal is to reach consumers and your brand has a humorous approach, you might want to include silly photos and funny points in your portfolio. You have to understand the tone that works best for your particular audience.
ToyFight is a design team that has worked with toy designers, so it makes sense that its portfolio is lighthearted and fun. Look at the screenshot above of its portfolio landing page. It shows a cowboy riding a toy dinosaur and chasing a running man. The colors are bright and eye-catching and show the humorous side of the founders.
7. Interact With Visitors
Make your portfolio interactive. Add animation as the user moves over different images or categories. Add a video in the background showing your design team hard at work. Create a game the user can play that shows what you do and how you deliver to the customer. Anything you can do to involve the user from the minute they land on your page keeps them there instead of bouncing away to a competitor’s site.
8. Add Testimonials
A portfolio might not be the first place you think of for a testimonial, but adding in snippets from happy customers allows you to showcase just how well your service or product works for your current clients. You don’t have to add a three-page long testimonial to each image. Instead, pick out a sentence that sums up what you did for a client, such as, “They increased our company’s productivity by 50 percent in three weeks.” Go for concrete, specific examples from satisfied clients.
One of the smartest things you can do to stand out from the competition is to study them. Figure out how you can best present yourself. Use different colors and better examples, and make your site or paper portfolio simple to navigate. Anything you can do to highlight why you’re the best gives you an advantage. Remember that your portfolio is often the first introduction a potential lead has to your business, so make it the best it can be.
Trademark is a valuable part of any business since it’s the feature your clients will identify you with. It will stand for your reputation, products, and services, and that is why you need to protect it legally. Registering a trademark for your company will give you the power to file a lawsuit in case someone infringes your work or uses your name without authorization.
It will also allow you to present your products and services worldwide thus helping you to establish yourself on the market as a company. However, knowing how to register a trademark is also important in order to do it on time and properly.
How to Register a Trademark for Your Company: 6 Tips
You will have two options for trademark registration: national and international. The former will only protect you in your country and for most that are enough. However, if you plan to expand in the future, then consider registering your trademark on the international level.
Doing so this early will protect your business from any inconvenience and infringement in the future. You can do this at your patent and trademark office, just be prepared to pay the fee and file the necessary documents. In some instances, you can even do all this online without having to wait in line or deal with bureaucracy.
Consider it a valuable asset
Even before you open a business, have your trademark in place. Trademark is a valuable asset and you have to protect it and use it to advance as a company. It offers possibilities not only to expand but also to grow and become a corporation.
Additionally, the trademark is an asset like any other property you own, and as such, it can secure your loans and investments. You can earn money and promote your brand by allowing other people to use your trademark for commercial purposes. In a way, the trademark will become the face of your company and help you win over new customers and markets.
It will make you recognizable
The best way to attract people to use your services or products is if you let them know you. And one of the most effective ways to do that is by giving them something to remember you by. An interesting logo will help people associate with your company and easily find you the next time.
This is an effective communication tool that will position you among your competitors, as well. This means that it can be a crucial part of your customer’s decision to choose you instead of your competition. Customers who see your trademark will know what to expect and what kind of service to expect from you.
As long as you use your trademark, it won’t expire. For example, Pepsi and Dr. Pepper exist for over 100 years and are one of the most recognized brands in the USA. Before you decide to create a brand, do some extensive research and see what would truly fit your business.
Also, keep in mind that it is something you will be associated with any time people see or hear your trademark. So, don’t rush and do an extensive research before registering it to make sure that you have created something unique and right for your company.
Choose a unique name
Just like anyone can’t use your trademark, you also mustn’t use theirs. In order to see whether name or logo you want is available, perform a trademark search before filing for registration. This way you will make sure you are not breaking any laws, as well as that your brand is unique on the national and global level.
When you choose a name, let it slide off your tongue. It needs to be something that people will easily remember and that can serve as a good marketing asset. Don’t use the name that may remind people on another established brand, since that will only confuse them and highlight your differences.
Trademark a logo
Beside your name, the logo is going to be the things everyone recognizes you by, no matter if they are clients or partners. Just remember Coca Cola’s logo and its worldwide recognition, and you will instantly understand the meaning of color, style, and words. To trademark a logo, you first need to create one and that is usually the job of a professional graphical designer or company.
Additionally, take into consideration the possibility of marketing such a logo and how it would fit into your company’s image and advertising. Once you register the logo as your trademark, no one else will be able to use it without permission and it will represent your company publicly. Depending on your business activity, you can also create a trademark for each of your products and register them as well.
In the end
Before you register a trademark for your company, think about what you want to show your potential customers. The trademark is going to give your business an image that will always point out to you and your performance of services. In order to create a positive association, design a unique trademark and always do your utmost best to satisfy your customers.
After all, the trademark is a valuable asset that can help you grow and increase your revenue if you do it right.
Designers, illustrators and small business owners, it’s almost time for this year’s WMC: Off-The-Grid, the three-day, all-inclusive design retreat Go Media created just for YOU! The retreat runs October 5 – 7th at Mohican State Park in Loudonville, Ohio. This sits happily between Cleveland and Columbus and is the perfect setting for us to unplug and focus in on our craft.
But before we get there, we have a few surprises up our sleeve. Today, we are beyond thrilled to tell you that Brad Woodard, Designer, Illustrator and Co-Founder (along with his wife, Krystal) of Brave the Woods, will be speaking and presenting a workshop at this year’s WMC: Off-The-Grid.
Growing up in a creative family, Brad always knew he was going to be an artist. When he “grew up” he continued his love of art through a creative career that ranged from a start up creative studio, to a large ad agency, and finally to starting his own design and illustration studio, Brave the Woods, with his wife. He pursues his creative career on the belief that you have to stay curious and you can’t wait on others to hand you your dream job, a message he shares in his talks, classes and workshops around the country. His curiosity fuels the variety of styles and projects he has worked on from children’s books, to murals, to animations and branding. When not working, he enjoys spending time traveling and enjoying the great outdoors with his wife and kids.
Brad will be making the trek to Mohican to facilitate one of our campfire talks, as well as teach an intimate workshop entitled, “Carvin’ Critters” that will be open to 18 lucky attendees. The workshop attendees will be forced to ditch the vectors and pixels and carve their favorite animal into a piece of wood. Attendees, sign up here.
Keep in mind that you must be registered for WMC: Off-The-Grid to take part in the workshop. You can register for our event here:
Brad will also be featured as one of our Ink Wars artists, so get ready to be wow’d by his skills on the fly.
Keep in mind that WMC: OTG will afford you the opportunity to have discussions with Brad that you may not be able to have anywhere else. His perspectives on staying curious always will surely inspire all of us, and his love of the great outdoors make him a perfect fit. Here’s to this exciting news!
Now get one of our very last tickets at wmcfest.com!
Nowadays, every business needs to have a functional website. Websites have become the face of companies and online consumers visit those pages to shop, get informed or educate themselves. That being said, businesses must meet consumer demands, expectations and needs when it comes to website browsing and experience. However, in order to do that, they must first ensure their company websites are visible, accessible and easily findable online. One of the best ways to improve website visibility in the online world is search engine optimization (SEO).
SEO is a cost-effective marketing campaign that helps websites rank high on search engines, such as Google. Still, online market is overcrowded and highly competitive. So much in fact, that SEO is now mandatory for businesses instead of just optional. Without SEO, you have no chances of becoming visible online and you’ll only be overshadowed by your competitors. Also, SEO demands constant work to produce viable results, mainly because search engines oftentimes change the rules, as well as make modifications to their algorithms. Therefore, here’s a complete SEO checklist for website owners.
Important SEO aspects
To better understand SEO, you have to understand its aspects. SEO consists of three main categories: technical SEO, on-site SEO and off-site SEO. These activities help you improve your website’s visibility, authority, credibility and awareness online, among other things. Each category serves a specific purpose of helping both your audience and search engines understand your website and the content you produce.
Technical SEO focuses on the functionality of your website. On-site SEO focuses on optimizing your content and pages for search engines. Off-site SEO focuses on activates outside your website that help boost your reputation and trustworthiness. The more effort you place in optimizing your website, the higher rankings it will achieve.
As mentioned before, technical SEO focuses on the functionality and performance of your website. Website elements, such as speed, user-friendliness, responsiveness, security and so on, all influence customer satisfaction, which is one of the primary factors for search engine rankings.
Speed is crucial for bot your website and your consumers. The main reason is that literally no one today can tolerate slow loading web pages. In fact, 67% of consumers will abandon your website if it takes more than two seconds to load.
In addition, 47% of mobile users will abandon the pages if they do not load in three seconds or less. That being said, website speed is a crucial ranking factor, because search engines will penalize you for having a sluggish website. And, the reason they do that is that you’re unable to provide a seamless customer experience on your website, due to it being too slow.
Focusing on mobile users is more important than ever. As a matter of fact, mobile traffic has already surpassed that of desktop, which means that not having a mobile-friendly website is a career suicide these days. Fortunately, you no longer have to maintain two versions of your website. Instead, implementing a responsive design that can adapt to any device and screen size will satisfy all your customers.
Modern consumers are much savvier than they used to be, which means cybersecurity is one of their top concerns. Lacking proper security measures results in ranking penalty from search engines and guarantees that your customers won’t be satisfied with you. Implementing security measures is therefore essential for modern websites. For example, an SSL/TLS certificate is a good way to secure your website and ensure good ranking factors for your website.
On-site SEO are activities with a purpose of optimizing content and web pages on your website to be more SEO friendly. In other words, helping search engines understand the context and the content of your website and its pages. Search engines crawl your website and leverage information they’ve obtained to properly index and display it on search results.
Keywords are an essential aspect of SEO. When it comes to On-site SEO, keywords help match the content on your pages and posts with user intent. In other words, you must rank for keywords your audience most commonly uses when searching for something online.
Keywords must be researched carefully, so that you ensure your efforts are well-placed. If you have difficulties managing this on your own, you can look for the best search agency that can help you out with this task. That way, you’ll ensure that your website is well-ranked and relevant to your audience.
Content is king in the marketing world. Content on your website needs to be excellent and relevant, in order to engage your consumers properly. Content will help inform, educate and even entertain your audience while on your website. That’s why you must optimize it properly and ensure search engines can adequately display it on their results.
Titles, URLs, Metadata
Optimizing pages is important for SEO. Each page, post and piece of information must be optimized properly so that both search engines and your audience can understand it well. For example, include keywords in title tags for your posts so that it can match user intent.
Also, restructure your URLs to help search engines understand the content of your pages. In addition, include detailed information in Metadata descriptions to help your audience understand what your pages are about. Optimizing pages and their elements is essential for SEO and ranking well on search engines.
Off-site SEO are your activities outside your website. Promoting content on other sources serves a purpose of building credibility, domain authority and reputation for your website. Search engines reward websites with good off-site SEO with high rankings. The main reason is that search engines favor websites with good relevance and credibility.
Link building is an SEO activity of creating high-quality inbound links for your website. In short, the content you publish contains a backlink that leads back to your website. You accomplish this by guest posting your content on other relevant and reputable sources, such as other blogs and websites. In fact, backlinks share the first place with content as being the most important ranking factor on Google. The more quality backlinks you have, the higher your rank on search engines.
Even though SEO isn’t directly involved with social media, search engines do prefer websites whose content is popular on social media networks. Likes, shares, tweets and others make your content popular and influence user engagement, which means search engines are more likely to recommend content on their results that is viral on social media. Sharing your content on your own social media pages is a good way to start. You can also leverage influencers to further promote your content and create a much-needed buzz for your posts.
SEO requires a lot of effort, time and dedication before it starts showing viable results. A lot of web owners simply give up before that happens. However, SEO can vastly increase not just your website’s visibility and awareness, but also boost your organic website traffic. In other words, investing in SEO can greatly payoff if you’re willing to make an effort and wait for the results to start showing.
It’s great that you landed a remote graphic designer gig. You’ll have no more stressful drives to the office and you’ll have the ability to take walks when you want. You can schedule medical appointments during the week instead of trying to find early or late hours, and you can work all night and sleep all day if you choose.
What could be better?
Whether you live in a studio apartment in Chicago, where the expensive rent prices might hinder your ability to lease an actual office; or a cheap apartment in Milwaukee, Wisconsin which allows you to have a spare bedroom for a workspace at home, you’ll need to ensure you have the ideal working environment.
Maybe you think you have found the perfect workplace solution, but there are some things you need to get in order first no matter where you live and work.
Tips for Graphic Designers Who Work Remotely at Home
Wi-Fi Is Not Always Your Friend
You obviously need a reliable Internet connection to be able to work at home and wired is always better that wireless.
Wi-Fi can be great as you can move to the backyard, the porch, or even sit in your car, but if your connection is iffy, you won’t get anything done. Many programs like Adobe Creative Cloud are now web-based, and you may need to be online to use them. Go ahead and put ethernet connections in every room if you must but wired is much more reliable than wireless.
Buy A Good Computer
You may have been using a powerful work computer that was linked to a massive server, and now your trusty personal laptop may just not be powerful enough to handle the things you need to do. Talk to a knowledgeable IT tech about the things that make a computer reliable and fast like:
- BUS Speed
- Video cards
- Operating systems
Make sure your tech knows exactly what you want your machine to accomplish before you purchase a new one.
Anyone that has switched from a standard to a solid state hard drive will never go back. Solid state drives are amazingly fast. A Windows update that would take 30 minutes on a computer with a standard hard drive can take seconds with a solid-state drive. Boot-up times are also minimized, and the solid-state upgrade is one to seriously consider.
Working at Home
Note that we said “working.” Remember you will have the temptations of your fridge, the TV, the couch, your garden, and even your bed. Working at home takes discipline, and this can mean setting limits for yourself.
Many successful remote workers set up a nice office at home and don’t use it for anything else. They finish a certain amount of work before they take a break or go to the gym, and they try to keep distractions at a minimum.
The Other Side
Some people get so involved in remote work, that they just can’t break away. The computer is always there, and the office is a few steps away. They can’t walk past the workspace without checking email or doing a last-minute edit. Work never goes away, and free time is crowded out. In this case, limits on work should be set so that your job doesn’t consume your life.
It’s all about balance. If you can get your work done and still have some personal time, working at home could be the thing for you. If you find that you feel weird staying at home all day, or if you just can’t get anything done, think about trying a shared workspace. You’ll have great Internet, there may be some perks like free snacks and beverages, and it will get you out of the house while preserving your independence.
Working remotely may require some adjustments, but more and more people like the flexibility it can bring.