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The Basics of Awesome Product Photography

July 23rd, 2014

camera

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

design

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.

Tips for Keeping your Confidential Files Safe

June 3rd, 2014

 

By Membeth [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

By Membeth [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

The ramifications of lax data control and security can be devastating. Stolen or leaked trading secrets and personal information can result in bankruptcy and falsified identifications, completely transforming the lives of those affected. With so much at stake, it is therefore important to invest in a secure, well-thought-out storage system for either your business or home. Keep reading to discover a few of the tips that can make a difference for you.

Have an Organised Filing System

First things first. Having the right attitude towards your confidential files is imperative. A lackadaisical approach that sees papers or files being lost on a regular basis is simply not good enough. Take the time to really plan and organise your filing system, whether this be online or in a lockable filing cabinet. Write a filing plan, create labelled folders, use logic and be as simple as possible.

Use a Highly Secure Online Storage System

Deeds, financial statements, insurance policies, business contracts, tax returns and even your last will; it is amazing just how much essential paperwork we gather over a lifetime. In recent years, online cloud computing storage has become an increasingly popular option, especially for businesses, which enjoy reduced costs and increased productivity as a result. The major concern with this type of storage is security; is anything online ever really safe?

The answer is: it depends on what storage system you are using. Many commercial storage providers are designed to cater for a wide range of customers, whereas specialised high-security products such as Your Digital File ( www.yourdigitalfile.com/ ) use advanced encryption technology, meaning your confidential documents are safe and easily accessible.

Limit the Number of People who have Access

Now that you have your organised filing and storage system, the next question is: who gets access? While you may instinctively think that everyone who needs access should gain access, this may not be the best course of action to take. Ultimately, more staff or family members with access means less control and more opportunities for a mistake. An alternative would be to entrust a few key, senior individuals with access and then make it known to everyone else who exactly has access. For larger companies, one person could have access to the file room and supervise a sign-in/sign-out system – your system will reflect your needs and restrictions.

Train your Staff or Household

Another important step to take is training your staff or household in the new filing and storage system. After all, you’ve spent time planning and developing rules and protocols; this becomes pointless if no one knows about them. This can be as simple as quickly explaining which folders exist and what kind of documents should be filed where. If you run your own business, you could host a training session and then support this by providing a manual that outlines usage and expectations.

If Printing, Use Secure Print

This last tip is simple but effective. When printing a confidential or materially sensitive document, remember to use secure print. Generally speaking, this can be done through Microsoft Office’s programs by going to File>Print>Properties>Advanced and selecting Secure Print under Job Type. You will then need to key in a four digit code; when you go to your printer, you will again be prompted to enter this code. This means no one else can see or take your printed paperwork – say goodbye to mad dashes to the printer!

So there are just a few of the ways you can ensure your confidential information is kept confidential at all times. Do you have any ideas to share? Comment below.

Things to Consider When Buying a Communication System.

May 30th, 2014

phone system

Great! So you’ve decided that a new phone system is in order. Excellent decision. Statistics show that up to 70 per cent of businesses with outdated phone systems report that they are unable to keep up with the current demands of the business world. If you happen to be one of them the following information may be invaluable to your business or organisation.
Although it may feel a little overwhelming choosing amongst the plethora of options on the market today, there’s no need to feel too bogged down with choice. Choosing the right system is remarkably simple; as long as you ask the right questions and look for the right details. Here is a pre-purchase phone system checklist that you can use to help you find the perfect communication solution for your business or organisation.

What are your needs?

Sounds simple enough, but many businesses and organisations still fail to take this necessary step when choosing their communication system. You need to know exactly what features and capabilities you need in a phone system to stay competitive and productive. Conduct surveys with your staff, and organise meetings to find out exactly what your staff need to make their lives easier. For example, if your business is predominately sales orientated, then does a potential phone system support both audio and video conferencing? Does it record voicemail and send email notifications? And does it allow call recording? This last feature is particularly important for continual staff development. On the other hand, if your organisation deals primarily with information, then does your new potential phone system allow for tiered information menus? Simply asking yourself these questions about your new phone system may just save you from making a costly mistake.

Do you have an experienced in-house IT team?

If you don’t have an in-house IT team that’s experienced enough to deal with a whole range of telephony issues, then you may need to choose a phone system company that offers 24/7 technical support (such as Com2: click here). Communication is key in business (as it is in life) so you need to ensure your communication system is always online and operating properly. If you already have a team of qualified and experienced IT technicians on hand, then you can choose a company that perhaps offers better features or better rates.

What does your current phone system lack?

Is there a feature you wish your current phone system supported?  Think long and hard about all the features you wish you had, and then look for those in your new potential phone system. Can you find a system that meets all of your needs? Try and be as thorough as possible. It also doesn’t hurt to check out the competition to see what phone systems they are currently using.

Choosing the right communication system for your business or organisation doesn’t need to be too much of a hard decision. By following the above checklist and taking your time you can find the right phone system that’s perfect for your needs, ticks all your boxes and is priced competitively.

What have your experiences been in choosing a new communication system? Please leave your comments below.

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