Tag Archives: design

5 Tips For Designing Kick-Ass Business Cards

Depositphotos_49211865_s-2015Even though we now store our contacts digitally (put down the rolodex!) and transmit them wirelessly in a host of ways, the good ol’ fashioned paper business card is still a very important thing for any business person to have in hand.

A tangible business card makes a physical statement in a way that passing someone your digital digits does not. It carries weight and, if properly designed, acts as a marketing tool in addition to delivering practical info. In fact, since it’s the one marketing tool you’re sure to be delivering in person most of the time, you need to make sure it represents you as well, if not better, than any of your other marketing.

How do you do this? Stick around and I’ll show you! Continue reading

7 Tips For Awesome Footer Design

Oh, footer. Life is tough for you. Always given short shrift, passed over in favor of site elements that get more visibility, like the “aware-of-her-own-importance” navigation or the “too-big-for his-britches” hero image. Just once you’d like to be given as much thought as the popular kids. Well today is your day, little buddy!

All kidding aside, I see a lot of half-baked footers out there in web world. People seem content to throw the site attribution and social icons down there and let it be. Of course, that’s fine if it supports the design, but footers can do so much more!

So stay tuned, and I’ll run through some of the sweet things you can do to make your website’s footer feel like part of the cool gang. Continue reading

Modern Uses for Animation in Web Design

hamsterIf you’ve been trundling around in the web world for a while, as I have, you might remember a few times when it became “animated”. First, there was the animated gif explosion that began in the late ’90’s. Remember the Hamster Dance? I’d link to it, but I don’t want to assault your ears (and the ears of everyone around you, since it auto-plays). Here’s Know Your Meme’s page about it instead..

Suffice it to say, excited at the prospect of an internet that *GASP* could move around, designers turned the web into a paroxysm of blinking, seizure inducing content, intended to grab your attention in the way that a flashing billboard on the highway does — annoyingly.

There was the inevitable backlash against this trend, and the web became a relatively quiet place again — at least design-wise, anyway. Content-wise, the first thing ever written online was probably in ALL CAPS, and we’ve been loud ever since.

This quiet moment in design didn’t last long, and was interrupted by Flash, a much more sophisticated piece of blinking, not-quite-as-siezure-inducing technology which allowed designers to indulge in whole layouts of moving, animated layouts that “came to life”. Never mind that they were a usability nightmare, killed your pages loading speed, and more often than not were just as annoying as the hamsters that preceded them.

But fear not, gentle reader! Finally fed up with Flash (say that 5 times fast!), and provided with modern versions of the base tools of web design (HTML, CSS and Javascript), designers are moving into a new age of subtle animation. Usability has finally come to the forefront of design, and we are using animation to find the middle ground between static and frantic. Now, we can create website layouts that breathe in ways that print layouts will never be able to accomplish, providing our visitors with a reactive experience that enhances rather than hampers their journey through your content.

So what are some ways to use animation in modern web design? Stay tuned, and I’ll show you a few of my favorites. Continue reading

7 Tips to Keep People Coming Back to Your Website

Foot traffic lines and arrowsAttracting visitors to your website is no easy task, but it’s only the first step in establishing a meaningful and profitable online relationship with your potential customers and deepening your connection with existing customers in a way that leads to repeat business.

Your website has the potential to be a powerful marketing vehicle and function as an invaluable tool within your sales process, but one visit very rarely seals the deal. You’ve got to keep first-time visitors coming back for more. Conversion percentages vary by industry, but across the board, the majority of your website visitors are just stopping by, researching, browsing, and kicking tires; they are not yet ready to buy yet.

So how do you get them to return? Here are 7 tips to get people to come back to your website for more: Continue reading

Brainstorming Hacks: 9 Ways to Come Up With Creative Ideas

Yes, I am a creative person (in fact, a writer). But frankly, there are times when I just don’t feel very creative. Coming up with fresh, new ideas and exciting approaches time after time, day after day, isn’t easy. In fact, there are days I would rather have root canal work than come up with another supposedly “creative” idea. It’s often that frustrating and painful for me.

I wish I could press a button and “Voila!”…creative ideas would stream forth. But, that won’t happen any time soon. So what do I do? Brainstorm and think more creatively…and make it part of my daily life.

Some brainstorming and creative thinking can be enormously helpful….even revitalizing. Other times, it can be downright draining and a big waste of time. I agree with various experts that label creativity as a talent or gift that requires practice and development.

Whatever your position on creativity, I want to share my 9 ways to getting the creative juices flowing in positive, useful ways. Continue reading

7 Reasons Content Comes Before Design (in the Alphabet and on Your Website!)

Depositphotos_30209081_s-2015Time and time again, clients have to be reminded to take a break from their website design or redesign efforts and get content done first. Sure, they want to see all the pretty design stuff instead of dealing with time-consuming content strategy and working their way through lots of words. But the simple truth is that those very words are critical to the success of the site. You must get the words done right before working on the design elements.

Doing copy first may be a paradigm shift in the way we think about building websites. But, it has to be done. Because you know what they call things that are beautiful, but have no function? Useless!

We all know that content comes before design in alphabetical order. Now we also have to understand 7 reasons why it’s important that content comes before design in website development, as well.

  1. You make it easier for people find stuff
    Content helps convert visitors into customers. Developing content first will ensure that a web site is purposefully designed to help users find the information they need. This same content guides visitors towards desired actions, as opposed to designing the interface first without knowing what content will be displayed. That’s simple logic!
  2. You make sure the design fits the words
    If you design before you have content, you effectively create the packaging before knowing what’s going to go in it. And if the content doesn’t fit the package, there are only two options: start from scratch or try to jam the content into the existing package. No one wants that. Suddenly, the design doesn’t work so well. Truth is: content should inform design…and tell the designer how much space to devote to what. Doing the content first means the design will ultimately work with the words…and fit them to a tee. (And your designer won’t have to try and shove 50 lbs. of sh*t into a 10 lb. bag!)
  3. You can be more strategic
    When you start with content, you have the opportunity to start with user and business goals, and make sure your content meets those goals. Content is not just a commodity, but instead is the starting point…the foundation and basic building blocks of a website. That means you start building the website like you do a house. The content tells you how much room to allow for what, just like the blueprint for a house tells how many bedrooms and bathrooms it needs and where they go.
  4. You answer the most important questions
    You need to have a handle on critical website questions before you can proceed, including: Why are we doing this? What message are we conveying (and why is it important)? Who is the audience? How are we going to convey the information?
  5. You speed up production
    Content usually goes through several rounds of reviews, and each one typically means revisions. As it goes up the approval ladder, more comments trickle down, leading to further iterations. It’s much faster and easier to fix content in manuscript form first than it is to fix content in the final design.

    If it’s already in the design stage, changes and revisions slow things down, and can cause problems with versioning and record keeping. After all, every time someone asks for a revision to content that’s already in a design, you’d have to update the manuscript copy document—and the designer has to update the source file, etc. Plus, every step in this process increases the chance for miscommunication, errors, crossed wires, and, in the worst-case scenario, the wrong content getting published.

  6. You design after you know what to say
    Design is communication. And you cannot communicate anything through the design unless you already have the words to say it. That’s the content (which comes first).
  7. You encourage a beautiful creative partnership
    While I said that content comes first on a website, the even bigger message is that there should be a working partnership in website development between the designer and the writer. These two creative forces are masters of their respective crafts—they take complex ideas and convey them in ways that express a particular meaning, emotion, and effect. Good design will bring out the best in quality content, and strong content will enhance great design.

If you want to launch or redesign a website that incorporates the best of content and design, give the Solamar team a shout.

How to Create A Killer Infographic

4-01For a while, it seemed that infographics were going to be a fad, but it’s looking more and more like they are a visual communication method that is here to stay.

It’s not surprising. Infographics have proven to be incredibly effective marketing tools, capable of generating many times the amount of engagement than an article covering the exact same subject. They are eminently shareable, and they cater to people’s shrinking attentions spans and growing appetites for bite-size portions of data they can consume on their mobile devices.

The tricky thing is creating an infographic that works. Too much data and they become unwieldy and confusing. Not enough narrative and they become boring. Poor visual design and they won’t get a second glance. But, fear not! Here are a number of things you can do to ensure that your infographics can hook in readers with the best of them.
Continue reading