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How a Website Overhaul Can Revamp Your Business

August 21st, 2014

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Your website is one of the most powerful promotional tools your business has. However, a ‘bad’ website can be just as detrimental to your bottom line as not having an online presence at all.

When was the last time you really thought about your website and if it’s doing what you need it to do? If it’s been awhile – or your website hasn’t been refreshed at all since it was launched a few years ago – you may be missing out on some valuable business development opportunities. Read on to find out why.

Apps and Widgets Can Help You Work Smarter

Have you integrated your systems into your website? Nowadays, there are many browser based applications and plug-ins for all sorts of business tools and software including most contemporary CRM and accounting programs, email subscription clients, social media and more. In addition to improving your record keeping, reducing data entry and manual handling of information, making use of these applications on your website can also lead to a more streamlined customer experience. Read the rest of How a Website Overhaul Can Revamp Your Business »

Essential Mac Software from a Windows User

August 17th, 2014

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I’ve been a Microsoft Windows user for most of my life and I don’t imagine that will change any time soon. With that being said there is a fondness by many in the design community for Apple Mac computers which is why I’ve found myself doing a lot of work on a Mac recently.

I’ve worked with Macs a number of times in the past but have failed to be converted to a Mac user personally.  There are many people who will try to argue that one OS is better than the other for one reason or another but I believe that one isn’t better than the other, because there isn’t really much you can do on one that you can’t do on the other, and which ever you choose to use really just boils down to a matter of preference.

Although there’s not much one can do that the other can’t , a lot of it is done in different ways, and when moving from one system to another you quickly discover which of your commonly used software programs aren’t cross-platform and need to find alternative software to perform the same tasks and actions. Below is a list of Mac software I started using  in lieu of similar software I use on windows. Read the rest of Essential Mac Software from a Windows User »

The Basics of Awesome Product Photography

July 23rd, 2014

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Whether you’re creating an image library for use in web or advertising material or setting up an online store, chances are that many of your potential customers are going to be introduced to your product via a photograph. You only get one chance to make an impact with your first impression, so make sure the way your products are presented are working for you. Read on to find out the fundamental basics that apply to all product photography.

Consider Hiring a Professional

Photographers are visual story tellers. When people are viewing an image of your product, they can’t touch it or examine it like they would in a shop, so you need to present images that take them on that same journey of discovery that will lead to a sale. Enlisting the services of a professional can really pay off. Full service agencies like 4040 Creative have photographers on staff so can incorporate the cost and timing into your overall project budget and schedule.

Less Is More

This applies to both the styling and the editing – detail matters, especially in online stores. People need to be able to get a sense for what the true colours and textures of the item are. They need to see the size. They want to be able to focus on the product so make sure the backdrop the photos are taken against isn’t cluttered or overpowering. Save the highly styled composite look for your branding and advertising photographs but scale it right back when it comes to what shots you’re taking to use in an online store or feature campaign.

Be Creative

While restraint is encouraged for some aspects of the product photography, that doesn’t mean you are limited to lying the item flat against a white backdrop. A great example is how food photographers often place the plate or dish on a textured surface like a wooden chopping board or tabletop. This emphatic, but simple principle applies to product photography as well. Think about how you can subtly apply contrast and texture without drawing the focus away from your product.

Get Up Close

Macro, or extreme close up shots are a great way to show detail and can be really emphatic when used in a print or digital advertising campaign. If you’re including them in a product gallery as part of an online shopping experience, focussing on the detailing and finishes of the item can help take potential shoppers on that experiential “touch and feel” retail experience, but it’s important to make sure you also include sufficient images of the whole product too.

Remember that these photographs could be the difference between somebody purchasing your product or continuing looking at other items. Therefore, is it extremely important to make sure that the “Photography 101” style basics – the lighting, the camera settings and the composition planning – are all part of your product photography project.

What do you think the most important things to remember for product photography are?

How an Eye-catching Website Design Can Help Generate More Followers for Your Blog

June 27th, 2014

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Companies these days spend millions on branding and packaging. Not because they like pretty things but because it directly leads to higher sales. We buy with our eyes and what’s inside the box takes the back seat. Websites are no different. Only when your blog looks good will the readers stay to see what you have to say. That is why before you get on with creating ground-breaking content for your blog, first – think design. Or have someone else do it for you, like the experts from The Print Group . But if you have time and like to things yourself, here are a few tips on creating an eye-catching website design can help generate more followers.

Less is more

Type blog widgets or blog plugins in your web search engine and you’ll end up with thousands of seemingly useful web design elements. And some are but no readers of your website will ever end up using if your page is cluttered and loads up slowly and that’s exactly what happens when you overdo it with web design elements. Limit yourself, tick to the bare minimum and get rid of everything that isn’t absolutely necessary. The result will be a better looking, faster blog and satisfied audience.

Show your strengths

Make sure that the most relevant blog posts ore the ones you’re the most proud of are visible on your website at first glance. Top five blog posts on the sidebar, a slider with the best stories, a list of most commented articles – there should be space on your blog for one or all of these elements.

Introduce yourself

Your blog is not just another website. The essence of blogging is keeping it personal. Your readers don’t want to read posts by company x or brand y but by you, a real walking, talking and breathing person. A short introduction on the front page, a personal message with your picture will convince them that this is exactly what they are getting – real stories from a real human being. Insert a link to the “about me” section in the introduction box for your readers who are a bit more interested in your personal background.

Write for web

Some people like long book, some don’t. But even the ones that do, don’t like to read them on a computer screen. Writing for web is a completely different story from writing for print and only by sticking to its rules will you keep readers coming back for more. And it’s not what you write but how it looks on your web page. Internet users don’t read, they scan. Remember that and make your texts scanable – keep them short, divide them into paragraphs, use a sub headlines, lists, drop in quotes – anything that will break the plain text and get your readers attention.

Show of your media

What’s even better than good texts on a blog, is media – both pictures and videos. Show them of, make them the central element of your blog design to get the well-earned attention of your readers. In you don’t have your own eye-catching pictures invest in a collection of good stock images and use them for every blog post you publish.

Make it shareable

One of the necessary elements of modern website design are sharing buttons. Make it smooth and easy for your readers to endorse you by sharing your content. A share button linked to major social networks will help in spreading the news about how amazing your blog is.

Content is king successful bloggers say but look at any successful blog and you’ll see that it looks awesome. People come for the looks and stay for the content.

© Wardell Design 2014
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