Creating A Stellar Website

Creating a website for your business is one of the first steps to take in any marketing plan. It’s one of the things that cements the reader to your brand and really allows them to explore who you are, what your business is all about. It also tells them why they should use you for your stellar product(s) and or service(s). Think of it like a window into the soul of your business, because that it essentially what it is.

Your site should be exciting, clean and straight to the point. Lay out who you are, what you do and any other information you think will be useful. Sell yourself and your products.

Think about the way you design the website to begin with. No one wants to be looking at a screen with 20 different colours, a flying unicorn going across the screen and flashing lights, do they? Refer to this article to give you some ideas on how to start off.

Simple, clean and refined is the best place to start. You can build on that and make your website reflect who you are as a business after that. The key is to build your foundation first.

Typography and calligraphy is what comes next. Take a look at some different fonts and find one which is dynamic, unique but easy to read too. Then once you’ve decided on that you should look at your line spacing, the size of the text and the colour. Black is traditional however slate grey may add that air of modern to the site.

Image Credit: Pexels

When you pick your colour scheme, don’t think that more is more; because it’s really not. If you try to incorporate every colour of the rainbow into your website you will fall flat and the customer will be confused as to what your theme is supposed to be.

Think about the implications of certain colours and what they will mean for the tone of your website. Here are a couple of examples of colour schemes to get you started:

Grey, Yellow, and White – Monotone colours with a splash of vibrancy can make your website spring to life and feel incredibly clean and modern.

Red, White, and Pink – Using different hues of the same colour is a clever way to add tone and depth to your design when you want to stick to just one colour.

Green, White, and Blue – Cool tones will always make you think of the great outdoors or a sense of calm. Using pastel shades is a way to make the space feel larger and more sleek, whereas splashes of colour add that element of character.

Your logo and branding is possibly the most crucial step in creating that website which is ready for your information and content. Designing a logo that represents the tone, mission and overall feel of the brand can be difficult, but it is a rewarding mission once you have completed it.

You will need to take extra time making sure that the banners and headers for your website and social media platforms are cohesive with the logo and fit your tone of voice well.

Finally, once everything is designed you can look at the content. Remember to stay engaging, informative and to be transparent in your delivery. Gaining trust as a company takes time, and the website is the perfect place to start.

Can an Aesthetically-designed Office Boost Productivity?

When you start a business, it’s all about minimising your expenses and maximising your profits. It’s an easy concept to grasp when there are fewer variables to think about. For instance, if you operate an at-home business, then you really only need to worry about your products and services and how much time it takes to deliver them in relation to the money you receive. However, when you branch out and rent out an office or start working with professional clients, many more variables are introduced, which will change how you think about your business.

One of the many variables that you have to keep in mind is your office. Offices design has been said to boost productivity in your employees. In fact, some companies such as Google have quirky offices that put a heavy emphasis on design. While they don’t put form over function, they do spend a lot of time (and money!) on making their offices look better for the sake of boosting employee productivity. However, is this all just a social experiment, or does a pretty office actually improve how well your staff operates?

Image Credit: Pexels

The Connection Between Aesthetics and Productivity

Aesthetics play an important role in our lives. For example, colour psychology plays an important role in how supermarkets convince us to buy certain things, and advertising companies commonly use different shapes and colours to evoke certain feelings in people. This is nothing new and it’s simply how our brain works, so what about the link between aesthetics and productivity?

Well, it turns out that colours are impactful in more ways than just marketing. For instance, the colour green is said to represent positivity, harmony and balance. This is why you feel relaxed when you take long strolls through a forest, and it’s why natural spas use earthy colours such as green, brown and white. Since colours can play a huge role in making us feel a certain way, it most certainly can improve productivity, but what about shapes?

Read also: Three things to consider when creating the perfect workplace

Shapes, Lines, and Forms that Improve Productivity

There are many scientific studies that go into psychology and much of that trickles down into how we perceive the world. A very common example is when a worker is stuck in a cubicle. It’s cramped, they don’t get to see many different colours and they stare at their computer screen the entire day.

Compare that to an open floor plan with custom office furniture and it’s clear that there are immediate differences that stem from the shapes, lines and forms we use in the office. Furniture with curved edges often evoke a sense of futurism in people and if they see it in an office, they’ll immediately think that it’s a modern company.

These are just a few examples of how colours, shapes and lines can come together to create a pretty office that improves productivity. Of course, it’s not something a startup can afford on a budget, but it’s very clear that there is a direct link between how satisfied your employees are at work and the type of office you house them in.

Think Outside the Box to Design Your Perfect Business Card

How many times a week do you get handed the same generic, laminated and tiny rectangular business cards? Once, twice or more? The chances are that these business cards are placed into your wallet and never see the light of day again unless you fumble around looking for your credit card only to take out a business card instead.

Business cards are vital tools that allow us to network with our fellow industry colleagues and make worthwhile contacts. However, the standard format of the business card is uninspiring, instantly forgettable and results in no further contact between you and the person who gave you the card in the first place.

To break this cycle, you need to take a look at a new breed of business card. Its purpose is still the same: making meaningful business links and driving your company forward. Take a look at these ideas that will inspire you to design a new business card of your own.

Anyone for a Spot of Kirigami?

The art of paper folding could see you create a new generation of 3D business cards. If you work in a creative industry or architecture, these wacky but interesting business cards could fit the bill. Complete with contact details, company logo and name, they remain simple in their content, yet sophisticated in their sleek design. This is a business card that will enable you to stand out from the crowd.

Make It Functional

This incredible metal business card is also a USB stick. By adding a useful function to your business card, you are limiting the chances of it being thrown in a drawer and forgotten about for eternity. Every time a contact of yours utilises their USB, your business name and logo will be visible to them as well as any other colleagues that may be around their desk at the time. Adding an innovative use to your card could be the difference between making a worthwhile lead and not.

Experiment with Materials

You don’t have to choose the most eco-friendly matte finish card to show off an air of sophistication in your business cards. Why not consider a different material altogether? You could look into bamboo, metal or soft woods to create a wholly new style of business card. Wood lends itself to be burned into or branded allowing you to be creative with your design. By thinking outside the box, you are making your company instantly more memorable than your more generic competitor.

Key Features All Business Cards Should Share

No matter what shape, material or form that your business card takes, it should contain your business name, contact details, social media links and your logo. By looking at the range of unique logo fonts provided by DIY Logo, you’ll be inspired to find a special font to match your specially designed business card. If you have a one of a kind business card, you don’t want to ruin its feel by plastering it with a boring Times New Roman or Courier Font. Carry the uniqueness through into every aspect of your design.

Business cards can seem like a tiny aspect of your networking strategy but get it right, and you could have a unique talking point that generates many meaningful business contacts.

Rounding Out 2015 with My Top 10 Blog Posts

This year has been an awesome year for my blog! I started off 2015 with the goal of attracting 12,000 viewers and with the year coming to a close, I’ve already met that target. That’s 8,930 more viewers than 2014!

I wanted to deliver more original content to my blog followers and I was happy to report that by using Q & A format, I was able to do that. My series “How You Living?” featuring friends of mine living in cities abroad was a tremendous success.

Additionally, interviewing entrepreneurs in the tech, film, and fashion industries  was also a hit and those interviews have led me to other interesting personalities (entrepreneurs) and businesses. Thank you to everyone who participated in each Q & A interview. I’ll be doing a lot more in 2016, so look out for those.

So in closing off this epic year of 2015, I’ll be revealing my “Top 10” (technically 11) most viewed blog posts!

No. 10: Introducing One of My Favourite Filmmakers Casey Neistat – A talented filmmaker, entrepreneur and YouTube vlogger working out of NYC.

No. 9: Joeysalads’ Child Abduction ‘Prank’ Will Remind Parents to Warn Their Kids About Strangers – A YouTube prankster who addresses a serious topic in this feature that went viral.

No. 8: Meet SiteManager, the New Web Design Platform That Promises To Make Building Professional Websites Painless – An interview with a Belgian CEO and founder of a web design startup.

team
The SiteManager team | Source: SiteManager

No. 7: Germany’s ‘EO Smart Connecting Car 2’ is the Future of Urban Driving – A close look at one of the smartest micro-smart cars to come out of Germany.

No. 6: 10 Questions with Fashion Designer Lubica Slovak – A quick Q &A with an incredibly talented Slovakian-Jamaican fashion designer.

Phresh Interviews Jamaica’s Film Commissioner Carole Beckford – Get an inside look into Jamaica’s film industry and hear about its first-ever film festival.

Carole and actors
Actor Jeffrey Anderson-Gunter (left), Film Commissioner Carole Beckford (center), and Film Director Robert Townsend (right) at Los Angeles launch for the inaugural Jamaica Film Festival in March 2015

No. 5: Fighting Poaching With Offbeat Solutions from Silicon Valley Startup Pembient – CEO and founder of a biotech startup talks about “fake” rhino horns and attempting to topple the black market.

No. 4: Here’s A Quick Way to Name a Graphic Design Business or Any Other – A walk-through on coming up with the perfect business name using several phresh tips.

No. 3: 3 Tips to Improve Your Performance as a Freelance Graphic Designer – Written especially for freelance graphic designers, learn from my experiences on becoming better at what you do.

graphic designer 03
There’s no one template design for a time log, just create one that works for you

No. 2: Chinese Animated Short Hilariously Shows How Addicted We’ve Become to Our Smartphones – An accurate and funny depiction of our obsession with mobile devices created by animation student.

No. 1: Quiksilver Japan Designs a ‘True Wetsuit’ For Those Who Work Hard and Surf Harder – One of the biggest brands in surfwear creates an advert cleverly capturing the functionality of its latest wet-suit design coming out of Japan.

true_wetsuits_3
Designers spent two months developing fabric samples

Thanks so much for following along each and every story I wrote about this year. I appreciated each and every share via social media. Have a Merry Christmas when it gets here. I’ll see you in the New Year!

A Bunch of Random Insight, Advice, and Inspiration For Budding Entrepreneurs

This past October, I gave myself the challenge to write and publish an eBook in just two to three weeks. I’ve always wanted to take my writing further and publish a book and I’m happy to report that I pulled it off. It’s now available via Amazon.com and Lulu.com as we speak for a “whopping”… $4.99!

In all honesty, the real purpose was to share some of the lessons and experiences I’ve had since I started my own graphic design business. I’ve pretty much been a one-man band since October 2010, but I’ve managed to generate some substantial revenue as a freelancer.

I’ve met some remarkable people who were initially my clients, who have now evolved into really good friends. As a freelance graphic designer, I’ve also met some bad clients and in those experiences you learn some of the best lessons the hard way.

Cover 04 copy
Dedicated to the budding entrepreneurs

However, this eBook explores the journey involved in starting a business from scratch and highlights successful entrepreneurs (Richard Branson and James Dyson) with their own individual stories. It also shares a little bit of inspiration that’s needed to keep our spirits and our dreams alive.

I wanted you all to have the opportunity to read it this Christmas, so consider this my gift to you for supporting my blog this entire year. I’ve been overwhelmed by just how many visitors stopped by and read my posts. They were all written to share knowledge and I’m glad they were so well received.

Also, leave me a comment below or send me an email and let me know what you thought of the eBook. If you feel like purchasing it for your Kindle or iPad, here’s the link:

Amazon

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B017HXEBK2

Lulu Bookstore

http://www.lulu.com/shop/phil-rodriques/a-bunch-of-random-insight-advice-and-inspiration-for-budding-entrepreneurs/ebook/product-22510625.html

Thanks again.

 

Editor’s Note: Updated on January 3, 2016

5 Ways to Successfully Work with the Client Who’s Always Right

Is the client always right? No one is ever 100% right 100% of the time is the popular expression. As a graphic designer, you’ll work with all sorts of clients; from those who respect your work and your process, to those on the other end of the spectrum. For the clients who are extremely difficult to work with, who go against all your professional guidance on a specific task (let’s say a logo design), don’t get frustrated or overwhelmed.

crying baby

Now back to the topical question at hand – Is the client always right? The answer is both “yes” and “no”. Let me explain further – even when your client or clients have given you the required feedback on that logo design that’s moving it in a direction that you don’t agree with, they’re still right. After all, they’re paying you to provide them with your professional services.

On the flip-side, the fact that they sometimes lack the design sense to understand how all the design elements (colours, typeface, images, etc.) help to achieve the overall balance makes them “wrong”. I know what you’re thinking, “Why do clients hire graphic designers if they’re not prepared to listen to any of our advice?” Don’t take it personally; it’s just business.

Here are five (5) ways to ensure that your next client and design project goes well.

Understand your client’s needs

In order to have a successful design project, you must ensure that you demonstrate to your client that you understand their rough ideas, goals, audience, and vision. You must also show that you have the skill sets to bring that vision to life. Collaboration between the designer and the client must be promoted from the beginning.

Aretha_respect

Build mutual respect and trust

It will be important that after you’ve done your initial client interview that you start to develop the foundation for a smooth work relationship. You’ll accomplish this by being the consummate professional who outlines your design process, establishes and agrees upon deadlines. Consistent communication through telephone conversations, meetings, or emails (combination of all the aforementioned) will eliminate the occurrence of the “angry mob” mentality.

Do the job you were hired to do

Always remind yourself that this is your client’s project, not yours. They hired you, not the other way around. If disagreements arise when it comes down to your ideas and concepts, don’t take it personally if they don’t share your enthusiasm. It comes with the territory.  Your early ideas are always going to be either a hit or miss. Just focus on fine-tuning them based on your client’s feedback.

Daniel Craig - New James Bond movie Casino Royale

The client wants what the client wants

You won’t always be given free rein on a design project, which sometimes isn’t a bad thing, especially with difficult clients. In the instances where they’ve completely ignored your advice, ideas, and visions that you believe will deliver them the results they want, well that’s on them. Just be mindful of the fact that their taste might not be the same as yours. Additionally, respect the fact that they have a good grasp on their audience and market and will know which designs work when they see it.

Find your doppelgänger client

The most important thing is to figure out the clients that you enjoy collaborating with and trying to find more people who fit that profile. It’ll make your job a little easier. This is why you should always have a client interview. Ask pertinent questions about their design likes and dislikes and getting to understand the potential design project. However, don’t spend majority of your time focused on those details. Get to know your potential client better as a person.

Always take solace in the fact that you did your job as the designer, in striving to give them the best product and best advice possible. Good luck.

The Walking Bread

I wanted to create something that was really silly and seeing that it was the day before Halloween, I figured why not take my inspiration from zombies.

Keeping the theme going, this is now the latest edition to my comic series, Jus’ Fa Laffs. Fans of “The Walking Dead” will appreciate this parody. This is what you’d get if your loaf recipe went “a rye”. Apologies for the pun.

Have a great time tonight. Happy Halloween!!

Jus'-fa-Laffs---walking-bre

What Is the Future of Design In Business?

How much does the user interface (UI) and user experience (UX) of a website or mobile application (app) influence whether or not you revisit or continue to use that platform no matter how popular it is? I’m guessing they’re probably THE biggest influences and who could blame you!

design disruptors

A documentary titled “Design Disruptors: How Design Became the New Language of Business” from InVision and directed by Catalyst, hopes to explore the future of design in business. It features interviews with some of the world’s biggest tech platforms and most disruptive companies. These include some of the following:

  • Google
  • Dropbox
  • Netflix
  • Airbnb
  • Pinterest
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • MailChimp

UX

Design Disruptors is scheduled to be released later this year, but for now, you can sign up for updates via http://www.designdisruptors.com/

The newly released trailer introduces us to top designers from some of the world’s smartest companies. Watch below:

3 Tips to Improve Your Performance as a Freelance Graphic Designer

In my 12 years freelancing as a graphic designer (can’t believe it’s been that long), I’ve walked away with some very invaluable lessons.

I started this blog a little over three years ago to help share what I’d learned with others in hopes that my knowledge and experience could help make your journey a little easier. I continue to divulge what I’ve acquired from every design project I’ve been hired for and even those that crashed and burned mid-project when bad clients became indecisive. The most important lessons have been avoiding getting burned by clients and how not to work for “cheap”.

It’s a competitive world and we can all use any advantage we can get to stay on par with or ahead of the industry competition. Here are my three (3) tips (including a bonus tip) for all you freelance graphic designers out there.

Price your work correctly

Understanding the value of your own work is the difference between working by the hour and working for what you’re worth. Personally, the best approach that facilitates a win-win scenario for both you and your clients is examining “value-based” pricing. There are different approaches to arriving at the value of your next design project, but consider this method. If your client(s) share the projected revenue they hope to earn from your work, you can charge 10% of projected revenue.

I didn't have a photo of myself working so I used this random person instead
I didn’t have a photo of myself working so I used this random person instead

Finish a design right on schedule

Time is money. There’s never been a quote more accurate than that one. In just three words, that one quote communicates the importance of meeting your client’s deadlines. In order to build a steady reputation as the talented professional freelancer, you want to ensure that you achieve all your deliverables as outlined in your client interviews. If you’re not accustomed to having client interviews, take it from me, you should have them and as many of them as possible. Also, keep a personal time log (“Microsoft Excel” works fine), making sure to record minutes, hours, and days spent per design project. It’s a great way to know the projects you can take on or decline at any given moment based on the prospective client’s anticipated turnaround time.

There's no one template design for a time log, just create one that works for you
There’s no one template design for a time log, just create one that works for you

Get paid

I cannot stress this enough, not only to freelance graphic designers, but to anyone else who works for themselves whether you consider yourself an entrepreneur or not. It’s imperative that you get compensated for all your hard work over the last eight or 10 hours or the last eight or 10 days. Your client would expect the same if the situation was reversed. So here’s my best recommendation, especially if you’re unfamiliar with the client. Always ask for a “retainer fee” and the amount is left up to your own discretion, not your client’s. I personally would suggest no less than fifty percent (50%) of the total quotation that way, you and your client are invested in the outcome of the design project.

If you watched
If you watched “Breaking Bad”, you’ll get the importance of being paid

Get paid on time

Once your client has been presented with the designs (add your watermark) and all revisions are completed, at the end of the process have them pay you the remaining fifty percent (50%) based on your invoice. So in case you missed that, always send them a quotation for the work ahead and an invoice after the work is finished. Before I forget, outline in your invoice (towards the top) when they should settle with you. I use either seven (7) business days or 14 business days depending on the cost of the design.

I hope you found the above tips helpful and I wish you only the best in your own journey as a graphic designer. Feel free to stop by my blog anytime. I’ll have more tips to share going forward.