Creative Instinct Blog – Branding & Marketing Tips for Busy Professionals

Informative articles and tips on marketing for small businesses.


7 Deadly Website Sins

Article by Christine Lagorio and Eric Markowitz |  Oct 29, 2010 | http://www.Inc.com

Flash is cool, right? And that lovely welcome screen and information-rich homepage your client wanted are just perfect. Or are they? We talked to six top designers and creative directors about their Web design pet peeves. What makes these pros cringe might surprise you.

1. PUTTING YOUR BRILLIANT DESIGN FIRST

“Whether or not the site is designed elegantly, what really matters to me is whether the navigation is intuitive, and whether the information is organized well. Design, for as much time as we spend on it, if it’s all about the visual elements, that can quickly get someone out of that site. I always try to focus on making sure the information makes sense before putting mouse on screen. Plan ahead. Get the answers before laying anything down. Get together with your project manager and design team, and get all the info from the client before start designing. It’s also important to get the navigation in front of people to make sure everyone can get that information quickly. Be constantly testing. Only then should you build the beautiful elements, the design of the site, around that. If that’s not there the site can be considered a failure. ”

— Andres Orrego, associate creative director of Chowder Inc., in New York

2. GOING OVERBOARD WITH FLASH.

“Flash is certainly a pet peeve. It has its place, for sure, but since the dot.com bust we’ve come a long way. Today our customers want to be found – they expect to be found – but what does that mean for us? We need to set the stage for search engine optimization, so we need to stay away from Flash. When I see a site overly done, you ask yourself, does it really make sense for you to do that in Flash? No.”

— Antonia Navarrete, president and creative director of SilentBlast in Toronto

3. THE UNWELCOMING WELCOME SCREEN.

I hate everything about welcome screens. By clicking a link, I’ve already said that I want to go to visit your site, so there is no need to show me a ‘welcome’ screen with a quote. In fact, it is almost insulting to call it a ‘welcome screen’ – I’d almost respect it more if it was called a here-is-an-ad-so-we-can-make-money screen.  As it is, this intermediate screen just delays users from accessing your content and gives them an opportunity to leave before they ever arrive.”

– Andrew Cafourek, co-founder and digital lead of Ao22 Digital in New York

4. THE BLOGGING HOMEPAGE.

“People who are using your site, buying from your site, are not going to stay there or buy from you due to your awesome design. Most homepages are completely overwhelming. There is so much there – people try to communicate everything to everyone, and the real content gets lost. That’s a design disaster. It should tell people in three to five seconds who you are and what you do. That’s it. We have a design philosophy that we take from architecture: form follows function. When you are building a building, you want right angles and perfectly usable space. If you go to our homepage, you will see cleanliness and simplicity. I say this left and right, and my designers say it left and right: Websites have to breathe.”

– Marvin Russell, creative director of The Ocean Agency in Chicago

5. WORSHIPPING THE FOLD.

“There’s been this maintained notion that everything has to be above a certain pixel dimension, and that everything below that gets lost. I don’t think that’s where we’re at anymore. People do scroll. They like portals. So especially with making BarackObama.com, that was something we stayed away from: We knew people would scroll, and we really wanted to keep more information on the homepage, make it a portal, and allow for more content to be available on the portal page.  I think the key to making it work is making sure you present something and design with the pixel dimension in mind. On another site I did, there’s type interacting with an image makes you aware that there’s more going on below. Especially when you’re on blogs, they become very blah-y, and there’s no contrast in post styles. They don’t keep a variation that keeps readers interested. Variation in consistency lets you forget the fold.”

– Scott Thomas, a.k.a. @SimpleScott

6. NOT ADDRESSING THE USER’S REAL NEED.

“Many companies organize the site around their own internal categories, which is different from what the audience is actually looking for. In other words, they’ll build a site around products, because they’re thinking they have to sell the product and the product needs to be front and center.  But when you think about it, you have to reverse it and first ask what need are you solving, and then present the product. I think there’s internal anxiety to make sure things get covered as a checklist, versus really stepping back and understanding what the users need. You have to have the perspective of an audience that may not know your brand, and there’s very often a complete absence of making people aware of your brand is, and why it’s relevant.”

– Sean Ketchem, strategy director of communication of MetaDesign in San Francisco

7. HIDING WHO YOU ARE.

“Transparency on the Web is the hottest and the biggest thing as far as getting people to purchase or relate to your services. Our portfolio page was always No. 1 for the seven years we’ve been in business. But then we created videos of each one of our employees talking about what they do and why they love it. That page is now No. 1. By far, the people behind the process, behind the product, are extremely important. We’ve had clients say ‘we went with you because we got to kind of meet everybody before we even walked in the door.’ The buying process starts with a relationship. That process can start with a video and tell you personally what I do rather than just a photo and a title. Really show them rather than tell them.”

– Marvin Russell, creative director of The Ocean Agency in Chicago

NEED HELP WITH YOUR WEBSITE?
Let Creative Instinct help ensure you’re getting the most out of your website. Call us at 501-244-0573, or send an email to Gwen Canfield. To see websites we’ve designed for other small businesses – visit our portfolio at www.creativeinstinct.biz.

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How To Make Your Business Grow Like A Weed

Making your business grow — it’s the goal of every business owner. Much is involved in accomplishing that goal, but there is one key way that, unfortunately, many business owners overlook. It is vital that your business presents a polished and consistent visual brand image to the public. Your company’s website and marketing materials create a first, and often, lasting impression of your company. Here are some key ways to ensure that first impression will plant the seeds that make your business grow!

YOUR MARKETING MATERIALS

Your company’s marketing materials. Your business card, brochure or sales sheet often creates a first impression of your company. Does your graphic design present the image you want, or could it do a better job of making an impression that people notice and remember?

Whether we’re talking about graphic design for brochures, billboards or presentation folders, you only have a few seconds to catch the attention of your prospects. You may have the best products in the world and provide customer service that is light years ahead of your competition, but if your image doesn’t convey that, you may never have the opportunity to prove it. So… what do you do?

“Let me handle this ma’am, I’m a professional.”

Most people understand the risks they face when they choose to handle their own legal or tax matters, but many don’t realize the risks that they face when they choose to handle their own graphic design. The potential pitfalls come in the form of poor first impressions, as well as lost opportunities and profits, to name just a few. A professional graphic designer, on the other hand, can ensure that your marketing materials produce results, create a powerful impression and increase your profits.

Creative Instinct provides a complete range of graphic design services for brochures, posters, billboards, and  logos. In short, we can handle pretty much any graphic design needs you may have, just let us know what you’re looking for.

YOUR WEBSITE DESIGN

Over 83% of your potential customers will visit your website before deciding to do business with you, and their opinion of your company will be formed in just a few seconds.

Is your website making the kind of impression that you deserve, or would you like it to present a more powerful image and produce better results?

“All this, and brains too.”

There are some great web designers out there, but your website has to do more than just look pretty. It has to produce results, and that’s what we specialize in. We design websites that present a powerful image while converting more of your visitors into customers—which means more income for you!

When you choose us to design your website, it will be:

  • Designed to impress. Your website will present a powerful impression that inspires trust and confidence in your company.
  • Coded to load quickly. Your visitors will stay longer and view more pages, so they will be more likely to become customers.
  • Easy to navigate. Your visitors will easily find what they’re looking for, and move though your sales process more quickly.
  • Search engine friendly. Your website will be optimized to help draw more free traffic from the search engines.
  • Easily updated. All websites we build are CMS (Content Management Systems). You can easily make your own updates and edits whenever you’d like.

How does our web design process work?

  • We start off by learning about your company’s background, goals and target market, as well as your personal design preferences. This allows us to design a website that appeals to you and your customers, while producing the results you want.
  • We begin the design process based on the information gathered during step 1, along with our research and planning. The initial design will be emailed to you as an image file, and then based on your feedback, we will make any necessary revisions.
  • Once you’ve approved the design, we will begin the development of your new website, which includes coding, any special functionality and adding content. During development, you will be able to view your website as it progresses, live on our private demo servers.
  • Upon completion of development, we will test and then re-test everything to make sure that your new website displays and works properly in all major web browsers.
  • After final testing, once you give us the go-ahead, we will launch your new website.

Web design pricing

Our website design packages make it easy for you to get a custom website with exactly the features you need. Click here to check out our popular value-packed deals to see which one is the best fit for your company. If you have any questions, feel free to call us at 501-244-0573 or contact us online.

Our experience designing websites allows us to make the right decisions the first time around. When you’re investing your hard-earned dollars in a web design company, isn’t that exactly what you deserve? We think so, and so do our clients—see what they had to say about our work, and take a look at some of the websites we’ve designed for them.

Do you need a powerful and effective website designed for your company? Give us a call at 501-244-0573 or contact us online today!

Are you ready for your business to grow like a weed?

If you think that our graphic design services may be what your business needs, give us a call at 501-244-0573 or request a price estimate today to see how we can help your business grow! To learn more about Creative Instinct and see samples of our work, visit www.CreativeInstinct.biz.


Get your logo WORKING for you!

identity_plum-st-publishersBusiness logos aren’t just for multi-national corporations! They’re for any business that wants to present a professional image and work on establishing customer recognition (otherwise known as branding).

How Does A Logo “Work” for You?
Your logo works for you on your business cards, your business stationery, your invoices and receipts, your business’ publications, and, of course, your advertising. Put it on your business’ signage, on your yellow pages ad, and on the side of your business’ vehicle.

If you have a web site, your business logo should be on every page of your site. Many business people also feature their business logos on any promotional materials they hand out, such as business cards, brochures, and give-aways like mugs, calendars, and key chains.

Why You Need A Good Logo
The purpose of all this business logo reproduction is to separate your business from the common herd of competitors and build brand recognition and preference. (Think of the golden arches.) A good business logo helps your customers remember your business and many people remember images better than they remember words.

Where To Start…
Would you give yourself a haircut or leave it to a professional? The same goes for your logo. For a truly professional look, it’s best to hire someone who knows the software and can guide you through the steps to a polished and effective logo design. If you’re in the process of designing a logo or having one designed remember:

1. KEEP IT SIMPLE!  This is the #1 rule in logo design. A business logo has to be simple. Simplicity makes a logo easy for customers to remember and recognize, and easier to reproduce, print and embroider. (A logo with a lot of detail can be hard to read when printed on a small business card.)  Limit the number of colors in your business logo, and stay away from muddy colors. Think clear contrast, simple shapes and clean design.

2. RELEVANCE.  Your business logo has to have some relevance to your business. For instance, a Christmas tree shape with a bolt of lightning striking it won’t be an effective business logo for a computer consulting business. The “picture” the logo represents just doesn’t have any association with computers.

3. SYMBOL vs INITIALS.  Many business logos are the initials of the business’ name. Opinions on this vary, but in our opinion using initials or an acronym for your company name is the fastest way to anonymity. We much prefer to help companies begin with names that deliver the three crucial branding essentials: visibility, differentiation, and relevance. Then, we carefully design a strong and easily recognizable symbol as the “mark” portion of your logo. Much more exciting and memorable than initials!

4. COLOR.  Colors are powerful. Different colors have different associations and can present powerful messages in themselves. Red, as we all know, is seen as fiery and energetic. But what about brown? No matter how much you like a particular shade, it may not be a good choice for your business logo design.

5. SCALEABLE.  Your business logo has to be scaleable to suit all your promotional needs. The logo you choose has to look good on a business card, on a brochure, and on the side of a bus, for instance, if that’s how you choose to advertise. It must also look good when embroidered on a shirt or hat. Complicated business logo designs don’t scale well. This is another example of why you should hire a professional to design your logo. A graphic designer has the software needed to create a scaleable (or “vector”) logo that can be scaled to any size without looking fuzzy or pixelated.

So keep your business logo design simple, and test how well your logo scales before you rush it into print and get your logo working for you. Better yet, let your friendly neighborhood graphic designer help you with it. Then you’ll be worry free!

To ensure that your logo meets all the criteria mentioned above, call Creative Instinct. It’s what we do. 501-244-0573, or email: gwen@creativeinstinct.biz.  To see samples of other logos designed by Creative Instinct, visit www.creativeinstinct.biz. (Logo and business card at top left of article was designed by Creative Instinct for Plum Street Publishers in Little Rock, AR.)