Category Archives: Design Tips

8 Strategies for Getting More Likes on Facebook

  • Set goals – this give you something to measure progress with
  • Complete your Page – fill in every part of the “About Us ‘ section
  • Increase the visibility of your Page – include a Facebook page link on all your promos and in your email signature
  • Be creative – Add content viewers will enjoy and share. Nobody wants to feel like they are being sold to all the time.
  • Be Engaged – Respond to page posts quickly
  • Develop campaigns – Organize shareable content, create contests. Generate more interaction by added a user generated content (UGC) approach to a campaign.
  • Use Facebook Ads: You can choose ads that will gain page likes. Try this if increases likes are your main interest.
  • Review analytics: Find out who is visiting, and when they are visiting to know what and when to post.

10 Tips for Professional Business Card Design

A business card should clearly communicate who you are and what you do.

  1. Be Clear – Choose a font that is clearly legible.
  2. Keep It Clean – A business card should not replace your brochure or website.
  3. Stand Out  – Nothing helps build a brand quicker than a custom logo design.
  4. Cover It – It’s important to include all points of contact.
  5. Hold On – Compare the weight of the paper from business cards you have received. Choose card stock, preferably 100+ cover .
  6. Finish Strong – A gloss or UV-coated stock is more durable than an uncoated sheet
  7. Add Value – Include a coupon, a calendar, or dates to remember, to encourage the recipient to hold on to your card.
  8. Look Closely – Whether you do it yourself or outsource design, make sure someone who hasn’t been a part of the design process proofs it before printing.
  9. Show Off – Photos are a custom touch to business cards. Realtors, consultants coaches and speakers benefit greatly by including personal images.
  10. Convey Class  – A business card from your desktop printer screams low standards. Full color business cards printed on quality stock are very economical and present your business professionally.

Print File Preparation

Some things to look for:

  1. Proofread it
  2. Have someone else proofread it
  3. Check with your printer about pricing options
  4. Make sure document is created in the correct size (consider proportions)
  5. Quote any original text (cite author)
  6. Use only photos and graphics you have permission to use
  7. Photos and images must be in cmyk format or a specified Pantone® ink or black (no RGB)
  8. Images must be 300dpi resolution at 100%
  9. Print your file on a desktop printer check color, layout, flow of information
  10. Check the fold. Are the copy and images formatted in the panels as intended?
  11. Save the file as a high-resolution print quality pdf (Adobe Acrobat file)
  12. Send to print vendor

Beware Fake Bill and Invoice Scams

Businesses and individuals with websites should keep an eye out for scams that they receive in the mail. These scams often target businesses with what looks like a bill or an invoice. Scams like this are an attempt to collect money for services that they don’t provide, are phishing for your financial information or looking to trick you into signing up for services that you don’t use.

Some examples of these are Website Hosting Invoices on places you’re not hosted and Website Backup services at a place that doesn’t have access to your website.

Be aware these scams are out there. If you are ever unsure about a bill or invoice, research the business online and contact your website administrator to find out if the bill is real.

Below is one example of an actual scam we received recently. WebsiteBackup.com sent out fraudulent invoices to people around the country asking them to send money to WebsiteBackup Company.

Ripoff Report is a great tool for finding and reporting scams.
Here is an example of a Ripoff Report Complaint about the scam campaign sent out in this example.

phishing-scheme-website-backup

Connection Group Quick Tips on Search Engine Optimization (SEO) 2009

These tips are current as of today Dec. 2009.
SEO changes rapidly so please check back with us for questions regularly.

Text, Content & Keywords on your Site
• Site content
• Location of text the search engines can see.

Inbound links
• Other sites linking to your site

Site Architecture
• Code or Back-end of your Web site

To find our what words searchers are using go to:
Google™ Keyword Tool
https://adwords.google.com/select/KeywordToolExternal?defaultView=2

Where to Place the Keywords

Title Tag
Once you find some top key words to use, include them in your page title tags. Be sure to pay attention to spelling, singular or plural (graphic, graphics) and the order the words are listed (design graphics (no), graphic design (yes)

Title Tag Tips
<title>Title text</title>
<title>The name of your company here: your specialty and industry</title>
<title>Connection Group: Branding Design </title>

Other Places to Add Keywords

Meta tags
• Description tag is the most important
• Keywords in site copy- currently the first 25 words of your home page are most critical.

Other Areas Bots Pay attention to:
Headlines
Bold and italicized words
Within links to other places on your site

Inbound Links

Who is linking to your site?
• Go to: http://yahoo.com
link:domainname (exam. in the search box I typed:
link:www.connectiongraphics.com then hit return. Be sure to check your whole site, not just your home page.
Inbound Link Summary
Check your page rank: http://www.prchecker.info/check_page_rank.php
Sign your site up for a free link: (quality sites only)
miwomen.com
• Online directories
• Link to customers, groups, charities, etc.

How Links to Your Site Help

• Check Google Page Rank
(0 to 10 – 10 is best) http://toolbar.google.com
The above is free and installs in seconds
• Are the links relevant to what you are selling? Are there similar keywords on both sites?
• Title Keywords / Title Tag relevant?
• Anchor Keyword – The text that, when clicked, brings the user to your Web site should be descriptive (not just click here).
• Quantity – Number of sites linking to your Web site helps your page rank.

How you can get Web sites to link to Your Site

• Work with www.connectiongraphics.com (let us add your ad and Web link!)
• Join Membership & Networking Organizations: Chamber of Commerce, WISE, your LocalFirst, Social Media Groups, etc.
• Online Directories
• Yellow Pages / Yellow Book (pay 🙁 )
Yahoo, Business.com (various levels)
• Add Good Site Content and become a noted expert and resource.
• Add content to other sites (social networking and resource sites, blogs, etc.)

Ask for Links
• Suppliers and Customers
• Business Partners
• Organizations (charitable, groups, associations)
• Event Sponsorship
• WISE http://wiseconnections.org/ accepts articles in exchange
• Fundraiser Outings (News Page)
• Reciprocal Links
• Search on your site name and find out who is linking to you and recirocate.

Why to hire experienced Web designers and developers to build your site architecture…

Major Problem Areas for Search Engines

• Site designed with frames
• Sites that are all FLASH. Currently Flash is not Search Engine friendly.
• Your URL does not change when browsing to another page or site
• Too much animation
• Entire page is a “image/graphic” or pdf.
• Slow loading because graphics have not been optimized properly or poor text quality.
• NavBars in Flash or Java Script (this is also important for readability on the Web. Some people do not have these programs on their computer or have disabled them. If you have used flash or Javascript in your site navigation and visitors do not have them installed, all access to pages in your site are not reachable.

This short tip just scratches the surface of SEO. Please return to our tips page as we add to this information. If you’d like to see our graphic and web design samples, you can view by case study, or by service on our Web site: www.connectiongraphics.com

How does color affect us

COLOR PSYCHOLOGY

Our personal and cultural associations affect our experience of color. Colors are seen as warm or cool mainly because of long-held (and often universal) associations. Yellow, orange and red are associated with the heat of sun and fire; blue, green and violet with the coolness of leaves, sea and the sky. Warm colors seem closer to the viewer than cool colors, but vivid cool colors can overwhelm light and subtle warm colors. Using warm colors for foreground and cool colors for background enhances the perception of depth.

Although red, yellow and orange are in general considered high-arousal colors and blue, green and most violets are low-arousal hues, the brilliance, darkness and lightness of a color can alter the psychological message. While a light blue-green appears to be tranquil, wet and cool, a brilliant turquoise, often associated with a lush tropical ocean setting, will be more exciting to the eye. The psychological association of a color is often more meaningful than the visual experience.

Colors act upon the body as well as the mind. Red has been shown to stimulate the senses and raise the blood pressure, while blue has the opposite effect and calms the mind.

People will actually gamble more and make riskier bets when seated under a red light as opposed to a blue light. That’s why Las Vegas is the city of red neon.

For most people, one of the first decisions of the day concerns color harmony. What am I going to wear? This question is answered not only by choosing a style and fabric appropriate to the season, but by making the right color choices. And it goes on from there. Whether you’re designing a new kitchen, wrapping a present or creating a bar chart, the colors you choose greatly affect your final results.

How often have you caught your breath at the sight of a flowerbed in full bloom? Most likely the gardener has arranged the flowers according to their color for extra vibrancy. Have you ever seen a movie in which a coordinated color scheme helps the film create a world unto itself? With a little knowledge of good color relationships, you can make colors work better for you in your business graphics and other applications.

Color is light and light is energy. Scientists have found that actual physiological changes take place in human beings when they are exposed to certain colors. Colors can stimulate, excite, depress, tranquilize, increase appetite and create a feeling of warmth or coolness. This is known as chromodynamics.

colorup4_14

An executive for a paint company received complaints from workers in a blue office that the office was too cold. When the offices were painted a warm peach, the sweaters came off even though the temperature had not changed.

The illusions discussed below will show you that sometimes combinations of colors can deceive the viewer, sometimes in ways that work to your advantage. They can also cause unfortunate effects in your graphics, so be sure to watch out for these little traps.

Sometimes colors affect each other in unexpected ways. For example, most colors, when placed next to their complements, produce vibrating, electric effects. Other colors, in the right combinations, seem quite different from what you’d expect.

The most striking color illusions are those where identical colors, when surrounded by different backgrounds, appear to be different from each other. In a related effect, different colors can appear to be the same color when surrounded by certain backgrounds.

When you look at a colored object, your brain determines its color in the context of the surrounding colors.

colorup4_11

In this picture, the two bows are the same color, but because the surrounding areas are strikingly different in contrast, it seems to our eyes that they are different. Keep this effect in mind when creating graphics where color matching is critical. If you attempt to match your corporation’s official colors, you may find that even if you achieve an exact match, it may look wrong in context.

In the same way that one color can appear different in different surroundings, two similar colors may appear to be identical under some conditions. Even though the two symbols are actually slightly different tones, the contrasting backgrounds cause our brains to think that they are the same color. This effect is harder to control, but be aware of it because it can affect your graphics in hidden ways.

The feeling you get when looking at bright complementary colors next to each other is a vibrating or pulsing effect. It seems that the colors are pulling away from each other. It’s caused by an effect called color fatiguing. When one color strikes a portion of the retina long enough, the optic nerve begins sending confused signals to the brain. This confusion is intensified by the complementaries.

Mixing brilliant complementary colors gets attention, but it should be used with restraint. The effect is disconcerting and can make your eyes feel like they’ve been shaken around.

colorup4_12

If you want to use complementary colors without causing discomfort, you can outline each of the colors with a thin neutral white, gray or black line. The outlines separate the two colors, which helps your brain keep them separated.

When two very similar colors touch in an image, both colors appear to wash out and become indistinct. This is because the borders between the colors are difficult to distinguish and your brain blurs the colors together.

colorup4_13

If you outline each of the colors with a thin neutral white, gray or black line, the colors become easier to distinguish. This is called the stained glass technique and is a way to reduce this blurring of the colors.

Find more out about color at Pantone.com

Keeping Kids Safe Online

Let’s face it the internet is a great educational and entertaining resource our kids can benefit from exploring, but there are areas we don’t want them to travel too! Setting some clear guidelines and rules upfront will help you feel more comfortable and keep them safer.

Visit www.netsmartz.org to download safety pledges that are geared to specific age ranges, print them and review them with the children and young adults you know. Outlining what you expect and having them sign the agreement to follow the safe practices will provide accountability, especially if you post the printed, signed document right by the computer they will surf on!

Following are some important points of review I have summarized from the a long list of safety tips posted on the netsmartz.org website. The site is a portal for educating adults and children on internet safety practices.

  • post clear and simple house rules right next to the monitor and review it periodically
  • check out your computer and service providers options for limited access to areas and content on the web.
  • kids should never enter their full name or any personal information. tlak to your children about what personal information is and why they should not share it online.
  • Adults should always make sure the web site is secure before entering any credit card information.
  • If children are in chat rooms or social networking sites let them know they should never meet with a person they first met “online” without a parent or adult guardian you approve of.
  • advise your kids not to respond to offensive or dangerous communications. Instruct your children to let you know right away if anything has scared them or made them feel confused or uncomfortable. Show them how to turn the monitor off. Assure them it was not their fault. Retrieve the offensive correspondence and report to law enforcement.
  • keep the computer in an open area of the home where children are not secluded.
  • keep informed on current scams and dangers and research resources regularly to learn the more about internet safety.
  • spend time with the kids online, let them show you what they enjoy doing and where they go.
  • there are child-friendly search engines available kids can use for research as well as chat rooms just for kids
  • be aware of other computers your child may be using and make sure the same home practices are supported everywhere.
  • use parent’s name for internet accounts with parents having the primary screenname, controlling passwords, and using blocking and/or filtering devices. If children choose screen names make sure they do not obviously identify them as a child.
  • Filtering and blocking software for your computer will help limit the websites kids can access. Check Netsmartz.com Resources page for more information.

Content provided from http://www.netsmartz.org/resources/pledge.htm

Check the site for the age ranges and discuss them with your young ones. Print out the agreements and place them in view of your kids when they are in front of the computer as a gentle reminder of the pledge all of you have taken.

Clarity with SWOT Analysis

During this changing business climate many companies are diversifying and others are closing their doors. Reinvention can stem from a need to increase revenue, a request to follow a new direction an industry has taken or a need to enhance skills in a niche sector.

It is important to evaluate how your company, product and services are going to weather the new way of doing business. Companies who will prosper in this changing environment will be those who are clear about who they are, who they serve, and what value they bring to the marketplace. One of the first steps in identifying the answers to these questions for my company was to complete a SWOT analysis. Getting key staff involved in some of the questions is beneficial too. Your staff are often the ones who have full insight of the daily functions and achievements of the company.

Once I honestly answered the questions my next step was to sit with my answers for a while. Some of you will get some ah-ha answers right away – others will get affirmations your company is on the right track. I found all of the above to be true. Whatever you do, don’t force the answers and don’t force a message that doesn’t fit.

Hopefully this practice will help you give you some clarification on your company direction. Keep ini mind, SWOT analysis can be helpful in many areas of your life. Along with the all encompassing business example posed here, SWOT analysis can help define your target market, your brand development, marketing, public relations and human resources approaches. Personally, it can help you with relationships and even home improvement plans – if you are that disciplined! If utilized regularly you may be amazed at the varied results you will get. Best of luck, have fun and stay connected to the big picture!

Download SWOT Analysis

WHAT WOULD BUSINESS ROBOT DO?

If you plan to set time aside for a year end review, personally or professionally, visit our blog. In the most recent entry you can find some specific questions to get you started. Below enjoy another tip by another of our favorite coaches, Michael Neill – www.geniuscatalyst.com

Emma was struggling to keep her home-based business alive after about a year of very hard work and very limited profits. When she hired me to help her turn things around (or help her make peace with letting the business go), the first thing I did was introduce her to a thinking tool I use with many of my clients:

Imagine a robot who has been programmed with all the best business skills and business wisdom, but has no emotional circuitry whatsoever. No matter what is going on in your business, “Business Robot” will always make the decisions and take the actions that are most likely to lead to success both short and long-term.

Now imagine that Business Robot has been hired to run your company or take over your job for awhile – what would Business Robot do?

When I asked Emma, her first response was “he’d quit!” (Not sure why most people seem to make Business Robot a “boy-bot”, but they do!) After further questioning, she realized that in fact, the business was mostly on track – what had been troubling her was the pressure she’d been putting on herself to “make” it succeed more quickly.

A series of insights followed, including:

* Business Robot would institute a strict ABC priority policy and stick with it, not letting himself get caught up in other people’s sense of urgency

* Business Robot would work less hours, recognizing the value of focusing on work when at work and renewing energy and resources outside of working hours

* Business Robot would go through and do an 80/20 evaluation of which clients were bringing in the most money for the least effort and vice-versa – and then would use that information as a basis for prioritizing certain clients and “firing” others

Perhaps the biggest breakthrough she got from the exploration was when she realized that far from working harder or longer, Business Robot would hire an assistant to take care of the majority of the tasks she herself found so tiresome, leaving her free and energized to do the work that she loved and excelled at.

Today’s Experiment:

1. Imagine that Business Robot has been brought in to run your company, take over your job, or manage your career – what would Business Robot do in the first week? What goals or targets would he set for the next month? Next quarter? Next year?



2. What longer-term vision would Business Robot create for you business or career?

3. Think of the biggest problem or sticking point you are facing in your work right now – what would Business Robot do in that situation?

The key to making this “thought-experiment” work for you is to realize that as Aristotle said, “a virtue is the mean between two vices”. Your goal is not to become more robotic – just to bring the wisdom of a mentally disciplined approach into balance with the wisdom of your very human heart.

Have fun, learn heaps, and happy exploring!

Micheal Neill

http://www.geniuscatalyst.com
Copyright © 2008 Michael Neil. All Rights Reserved