Website updating will help clients find you
Perhaps your business or organization has not changed in years, but the internet has. It may be time to update your website to meet current standards, compliance, and make it easier for your customers to find you.
I recently attended Wordcamp Chicago, a two day conference for everything related to WordPress, a content management system used in website creation. I’d like to share a couple of important takeaways from the event regarding SEO. (Search Engine Optimization)
- If your website is not using HTTPS, or SSL, an upcoming release of the latest Chrome browser will display a message stating “Not Secure.” Not only will you be flagged as not being a secure site to your audience, but Google gives preference to sites which are secure. If your Google ranking is important to you, your web site needs to use the HTTPS protocol. Not sure what SSL and HTTPS are? Read more about SSL and HTTPS here and specifically how it applies to WordPress.
- Is your site ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliant? Google ranks sites which are ADA compliant higher than those that are not. This means using alt text for your images, enough contrast so text may be easily read, and using HTML heading tags in the correct order.
Speaking of Google ranking, did you know that mobile-friendliness has been a ranking factor since 2015? Pull your phone out of your pocket and see how well your web site displays (or doesn’t!) Mobile website views surpassed desktop views in 2016, and how your site appears is important to Google.
Are you interested in improving your search engine rankings and a receiving a free audit of your website? Contact Resolution Creative to bring your website into compliance, optimize for search engines, and refresh your digital marketing!
How It Affects Your Marketing
The new year traditionally triggers a time for reflection, followed by planning for the future. In planning for this year, no matter who you voted for, you probably realize it will be a time of change — time to consider how your organization or your audience might be impacted by the new administration, and the message you will need to communicate in your marketing.
There may be multitude of different audiences you need to reach. Here are just a few examples.
- Immediately after the election there were increased donations to nonprofits working for human rights or the environment. A focus of your marketing could be telling this audience how donations are used, who benefits from your cause, how your non profit may be affected by changes this year.
- The Affordable Health Care Act created a need for increased educational messages regarding their health care choices. Resolution Creative designed well organized communications to help VNA Health Care reach a bilingual audience and help them navigate the ACA. The repeal or replacement of it will require the same increased communication efforts.
- Some of the population has a renewed confidence in the economy under a Trump presidency. This group is viewed as more willing to make investments in their business. Do you offer services or projects in which they may now be willing to invest?
Whatever the message, it needs to show an understanding of the needs of your audience. Use a multi-channel approach and content marketing, delivering consistent messaging through email, brochures, advertising, websites, and social media. Working with a professional in visual communications will allow you to reach those who can use your services in a way that is engaging, easy to read and understand. Contact Resolution Creative for a free audit of your 2017 marketing.
You’ve probably been told, and acknowledge, that a business logo is important; a well-designed logo is a visual reminder of a brand. However, the logo is only one element in your visual branding. Is there a consistent look in your marketing materials? If you look at your website, printed materials, and advertising, are there a variety of styles being used? Are old elements being mixed with your new identity, creating a mishmash of styles and confusion?
Brand standards specify guidelines for the size and placement of a logo, approved colors and typestyles, and often include templates for use in producing a variety of documents. Writing and imagery styles may also be specified. This may include what photo content might be appropriate, words or phrases to use or avoid.
Both large and small businesses can benefit from the use of brand guidelines. A small business might not always have the budget to hire a designer, and the larger business might have their external marketing professionally designed, but other communications may be left to an employee without any design knowledge. Having a clear set of standards and templates will help ensure a professional appearance to all communications, instead of an amateurish hodgepodge of design. John Hopkins Medicine has a portion of their website dedicated to branding guidelines. You can browse around in it yourself, and see their brand standards, click here.
Do you think you need branding guidelines? If you are interested, please contact me at Resolution Creative, firstname.lastname@example.org
Templates and graphic brand elements created for the Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy
I was recently contacted by the Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy to develop branding materials for their new IN2 innovation hub. IN2 is an incubator center for students, the local business community and entrepreneurs to collaborate in a high tech environment. Steve Chen, cofounder of YouTube and a graduate of IMSA donated $1,000,000 to fund IN2.
Working collaboratively with the school’s marketing and public relations department, I developed complementary graphic elements to be used with the existing logo, as well as templates for sell sheets, posters, e-newsletters and PowerPoint presentations. The consistent use of these design materials help create a solid, yet separate, identity for IN2 that differentiates from the traditional identity used for the Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy.
“I have a website. I don’t need a brochure.”
I’ve heard this many times. A website is just one way to reach your audience. It takes multiple contacts before you make an impression. By utilizing print in addition to your online marketing, you provide information that is easy to access and save for future reference.
But how do you make your print marketing stand out in a sea of tri-fold brochures? An affordable option you may not have considered is to break away from the more common sizes and layouts with the creative use of trims and folds. Here’s a couple of printed pieces recently designed by Resolution Creative.
Water Street Studios wanted a unique look, but to keep costs down, in the invitation for their fundraiser. As shown on the left, the printed piece featured a short fold with the name of the event, which opened to a large photo of the gallery with the invitation information. It fits into a #10 envelope for mailing.
click here to view larger image
My own promotional brochure, shown on right, received two 2014 American Graphic Design Awards for logo and brochure design. Folded, the brochure fits into a #10 envelope, but it is 3.75” x 17”, and features a gate fold. A gate fold uses panels folding into the center from opposing sides.
click to view larger image
Download a Free Brochure Calculator
Did you realize that even a brochure as simple as a tri-fold has different sized panels? It’s not just a matter of dividing your paper into three sections. Here’s a link to a free pdf that will help you determine the size of the panels in a folded brochure. Enter the folded size of your brochure, and the number of panels, and the size of each panel in the document will be calculated for you.
Let’s discuss the marketing solutions that will make an impression on your audience. Contact Resolution Creative
I am grateful I can help you and others by doing what I love.
Some of the best client relationships have come through referrals. If your referral leads to a new client, let me show my gratitude with 10% off your next project. If you’ve been receiving my newsletter, and we have not yet worked together, I will give you a 10% discount on your first project.
Thank you and have a wonderful Thanksgiving Holiday!
About the photo
Last fall, I went to Waterfall Glen to photograph the autumn landscape, and stumbled upon this magical scene. A few moments later, the wedding party appeared for dinner in the woods. I am thrilled and grateful I was able to capture this image. Of course, I can’t take much credit for it.
See more of my photography and art, available for purchase on Zazzle and Society 6.
How many hats are you wearing?
Graphic designer and business owner. College instructor. Landlord. Those are some of my hats. Then there’s that whole work / life balance thing.
Wearing too many hats at once can be a heavy burden, whether juggling diverse businesses or multiple responsibilities within your organization. Part of the burden is trying to undertake every task yourself instead of finding reliable resources who can help you. For example, as part of my vacation rental, I am required to pay monthly payment of a hotel tax. It’s not a complex form, but was time-consuming to review my rentals each month. I realized there is value in hiring someone with a better understanding of Nashville tax law who will do this task more efficiently. When I compare what I pay for this service to the value of my time spent on other aspects of my businesses, it is well worth the expense.
Sometimes outsourcing certain tasks brings a new level of expertise to your business. When needed I hire others, such as writers and photographers to bring the needed level of professionalism to a project. I am still responsible for the outcome, and control the direction, but using other experts will improve the finished outcome.
Does one of your hats not quite fit?
Take a look at your list of responsibilities. What tasks need your knowledge and background, and which may be better performed by others? Find reliable resources who will deliver consistent quality and focus on what you do best. Perhaps you’re frustrated because your marketing materials don’t look quite right, but you don’t know why. Resolution Creative may be able to help, and become a valuable resource.
Contact me for a free initial design audit. I am currently booking projects for 2016. Here’s a few of the things I can help you with:
Suddenly, there are cooler temperatures at night. The days are not quite as long, and in the mornings there’s a parade of children passing my house on the way to school. Though not officially fall, summer has come to an end. I don’t think I am alone in suddenly realizing many of the projects planned for this summer have not been completed, or in some cases, even begun. Often we have ambitious plans for a new beginning, but fail to start. Not only in our personal lives, but also in business. Part of this can be attributed to the lack of a system. Working from a list of the actionable steps needed to complete a goal will make the process more efficient, minimize distractions, and keep the project on schedule. (more…)
Working from Home?
Are you in the Fox Valley area? Perhaps you’ve heard about the exciting business community developing at 25N Coworking. There are opportunities for making connections, educational events and an environment for collaboration. Click here for a pass for a personal tour and trial day.
Getting Sh*t Done (or How I Spent My Summer Vacation.)
Last week I traveled to Brooklyn, New York. It wasn’t for a client, family or vacation. It was a “grass-roots” retreat to review my own business, marketing strategies, and business organization.
After attending the 2009 Creative Freelancer Conference in San Diego, I enrolled in a marketing coaching group led by Ilise Benun. After our coaching sessions ended, I continued a weekly discussion, by phone, with two others from the group, Tricia Okin and Dianne Rohlkohl. Each week we analyze the work we are doing, current trends in marketing, print and web design, and how best to reach our ideal clients. The relationships have grown over the past six years into friendships and trusted business advisors.
We decided to “push the reset button,” and met in Brooklyn to review our businesses and what steps needed to be taken for future growth. A productive five days were spent focusing on our business, roaming Manhattan, and enjoying great meals and each others’ company. Over all, “we got sh*t done,” and I am looking forward to the future growth of my business.
When was the last time you paused, took a deep breath, and reviewed your business? Even more importantly, had an someone with objective eye review it with you?
Resolution Creative can help. We can review your current marketing materials and offer suggestions for improvement, and assist in developing your visual communications for print or web. Let’s set up a time to get together.
2015 Art in Your Eye
View some of my fine art at the juried City Hall Exhibit during Batavia’s Art in Your Eye, August 15 & 16.
… and creating award winning design
Resolution Creative recently received a Gold Aster Award in the category of multilingual healthcare marketing for a poster designed for VNA Health Care. The Aster Awards are given for excellence in healthcare marketing. I have won awards in the past for work with VNA Health Care and Midwest Heart Specialists. Both of these organizations were regular clients over the last eight years, with whom I worked closely in creating their marketing communications.
Award winning work is possible when there is a good working relationship between the designer and client. Here are a few tips on how to achieve that relationship.
- Know your goals and your budget and be ready to discuss with the designer. There needs to be a greater conversation than “what does a website cost?” The designer needs to understand your branding, and may suggest design solutions that are original, strategic and cost-effective. (more…)