graphic designing, Uncategorized, web designing

20 Lessons The Avengers Can Teach You About Design by Lana Lozovaya

Avengers: Age of Ultron is currently the talk of the town, so let’s talk about this famous super-team. There are six distinct characters, each with their own well-established franchise, and each with a unique color scheme, personality, and overall “feel.” And most interestingly, each of them has a few lessons to teach us.

Let’s start with…

3 Lessons from Hulk

Keep it Simple

Hulk’s deal is pretty straightforward: he smashes stuff. Sometimes the solution to a complicated problem can be that simple. So, before you pile a ton of bells and whistles onto a project, make sure there isn’t a simpler solution you’re overlooking.

Design can Speak Louder than Words

Hulk is not famous for his communication abilities, yet everything about him tells his story. His massive stature and muscle make it plain what his powers are. His torn clothing lets you know that he transformed from a normal man, and since green has long been the designated color of radioactivity in fiction, his skin tone immediately clues you in to how he did it.

When you need to convey a large amount of information in a short time, is there any way you can do the same?

IMAGE: collider.com

Practice Self-Discipline

Despite how Hulk is the one who gets all the attention, Bruce Banner is an even more important member of the team. He’s the one who can listen to reason and cooperate with people. Resist the urge to go wild. If you make a habit of self-control, you’ll become the best asset to any team.

3 Lessons from Iron Man

Be innovative and fearless

Designers often have to play multiple roles and there’s always something new we can learn to take ourselves to the next level. Don’t be afraid to push the boundaries of what you can do, or of what your work can be. Get to it.

IMAGE: thesmashable.com

Don’t be Boring

Is Tony Stark rough? Yes. Difficult? Absolutely. A jerk? Admittedly. But you could never accuse him of being boring. In fact, as one of the few self-made superheroes, you could argue that his unwillingness to accept mediocrity is the very source of his powers. Show your fun side from time to time.

Cherish your Online Reputation

Tony is a charismatic philanthropist and he’s always on the news. Grow your influence, build trust, collect testimonials and let your online presence reflect your level of expertise.

3 Lessons from Thor

Be Consistent

Thor’s been doing what he does for a few thousand years now. Being a literal god (and having a talent for fighting) has ensured that he’ll remain good at his job indefinitely into the future. Consistency is one of the most crucial UX principles, so keep it in mind even when working on the most extravagant projects.

IMAGE: squarespace.com

Tame your Ego

Some clients might want a bigger logo. Feel free to stand up and fight for your beliefs, but don’t let your ego endanger the project. Thor sees humanity as small and petty at first, but the other Avengers eventually succeed in bringing him down to Earth and making him appreciate those who don’t necessarily have the same talents as him.

Play by the Rules

Like it or not, there are certain rules and best practices that have to be obeyed. They will help you save a lot of time and effort and get more loyal customers and friendly colleagues.

3 Lessons from Captain America

Adapt to Changes

The design world is one of constant change, where often, just a few years can make a radical difference in the landscape and what tools are used. Many designers who don’t make an effort to keep up with certain changes can end up feeling like they just woke up from a 70-year cryogenic sleep.

IMAGE: wallpaperhi.com

Talk Values

The cap’s a good, reliable man who fights for good, reliable values. Think of how that can be applied in your own life. What do you truly believe in? What additional value can you bring through your work?

Be Patient

Your time will come. Patience is specially required of anyone joining the industry. That rough first year of freelancing can often seem hopeless. You’ll face rejection and the sense that you’ll never get where you want to go. But know that with some determination, everything is possible.

3 Lessons from Black Widow

Use Attractive Visuals

While Black Widow’s look certainly is powerful tool in her arsenal. In design, visual appeal isn’t everything, but it’s definitely an important factor. You have to be careful though and don’t get so caught up in your projects’ raw functionality.

IMAGE: screenrant.com

Know What Rules can be Broken

Black Widow is famously pragmatic and almost amoral, formerly having been a villain in some of the comics, but these days, she employs that pragmatism for good. Think about some rules like that in your own field. What are some design conventions that might be better off broken in pursuit of your goal?

Be Agile and Fast

And think several steps ahead. In the lightning-speed world of web design, it’s important to catch up on all the latest tech news and trends, as well as design apps and sites that can easily adapt to change and be modified anytime. Not to mention plain old loading time considerations. Try making your sites as fast and adaptable as possible.

2 Lessons from Hawkeye

Be Accurate

Remember that the devil is in the details. High precision in estimations and pixel-perfect product are marks of professionalism. Your clients might not always notice, but this is where one of designer’s superpowers is hidden.

IMAGE: craveonline.com

Know your Advantage and Polish it

Clint Barton is neither a wealthy inventor, nor Norse god, nor radiation victim. He built his talent on extreme willpower and practice. What’s your specialty? What are some related fields you can study in order to further leverage what you’re already good at?

3 More from All the Avengers

Tell your story

Storytelling is a powerful and important communication and connection tool. Good stories keep your users engaged, inspired and keen to learn more.

Every Challenge is Different

Every client requires a different approach. This is the most fun of our world. Sometimes, you need new hardware, sometimes – a new attitude.

Never Give Up

This might sound a cliché, but this is a good reminder for any creative professional. The Avengers worked hard and fought through bad times, conflicts, and intense self-doubt. They had to learn how to be decisive under pressure, but there always was one thing that kept them going. An unshakeable belief that this is what they have to do, just because they know it’s good, and that they’ll end up making something worthwhile in the end.

Although a bunch of nicely aligned layers in Photoshop might not equate to saving the world, the drive to constantly create and innovate, just for the sake of it, is heroic in and of itself. So keep fighting the good fight.

Editor’s note: This is written for Hongkiat.com by Lana Lozovaya. Lana is the content strategist and social media manager at PSD2HTML®, the leading PSD to HTML and web development company.

graphic designing, Uncategorized, web designing

20 Signs Your Web Designer is Terrible By Marvin Russell.

It’s been 10+ years since I built a website for my first client and I’m not ashamed to say that back then I was a terrible web designer. I was terrible for many years and for many different reasons. In fact, everything you’ll see below, I was guilty of. However, I eventually learned how to perfect the web designing process the hard way, through determination, research and lots of experience. Today, I think it’s safe to say I’m a very good web designer. If you don’t believe me, ask Inc Magazine, Crain’s Business, CBS, ABC, and NBC. Because they’ve all asked for my opinion and advice multiple times on this subject.

I constantly see many web designers making the same mistakes I made 10 years ago so I hope this article will help web designers and those who have or are going to hire a web designer. So, if you’re building a new website for your company, here are 20 ways to tell if your web designer is terrible. If you’re a web designer, pay close attention, print this blog post, email it to yourself, or bookmark it as a reference, because here are 20 ways you can tell if you are terrible.

1. The price is under $1,000 bucks

cheap-web-designIf your website is costing you less than a $1,000 bucks, then chances are your web designer is terrible and your website will be terrible too. We all wish we could spend $1,000 dollars and make millions, but if it were that easy everyone would do it.

Stop being cheap, because, you get what you pay for. You could easily buy a car for $1,000 bucks but again, you get what you pay for. If you still think your website should be under $1,000 bucks, eventually you will come crawling back to the web designer that was too expensive. Only now you’ll have to pay for a good web designer + the costs of your really cheap web designer.

Common Question:

How much to build a website?

My common answer:
Well, how much does it cost to build a house?

2. The “Headset Hottie”

Headset HottieA Headset Hottie is a joke amongst digital marketers. It’s a stock photo of an attractive female with a headset on, ready to take your call. This photo can usually be found on your contact page, in a sidebar, or sometimes even in the header. Terrible web designers have been adding images like this to websites for years. A Headset Hottie won’t increase sales or phone calls. It will only make your website look cheap and silly. So be careful, because your website could end up featured on a website like headsethotties.com.

3. No weekly call

Momentum is the energy and excitement that every new website project starts off with. It’s critical to maintain momentum throughout the course of a web design project. The second your web designer loses regular contact is the second you lose the project’s momentum. Your web designer should be in contact with you weekly if not daily, and if they are not, demand it and agree on a meeting time and day each week until the project is complete.

4. You found ‘em on Craigslist

no-craigslistI advertised for business on Craigslist about 6 or 7 years ago when I was still a terrible web designer. From my experience, I learned that Craigslist is where cheap people can find other cheap people. Of course, every rule has it’s exceptions and I do occasionally post on Craigslist’s job board to see what’s out there but very rarely do I get the quality I’m looking for.

So, if you found your web designer on Craigslist you’re probably also breaking rule #1, by being cheap.

…sorry Craig

5. No copywriting solution

Creating content for your new website is the biggest challenge every client faces. It’s also the #1 cause for delays (in my 10 years of experience). A good web designer will be prepared with a solution and warn you about this at the kickoff meeting.

Possible copywriting solutions:

  • Client creates all content (be careful this takes time and dedication)
  • Client offers an internal resource (a copywriter on their staff)
  • Client hires a freelance copywriter
  • Web designer offers an internal solution (a copy writer on their staff)
  • Web designer offers a freelance copywriter

6. Your web designer’s #1 goal is creativity

Creativity should not be the #1 goal for your website. In a survey by HubSpot, 76% of users said that the most important factor in the design of a website is that “The website makes it easy for me to find what I want.” Only 10% of users said, “beautiful appearance” was the most important thing to them. Organization of content was their number #1 concern for websites, not creativity. The more organized your content is the longer users will stay. The longer users stay, the more likely they will buy. So, make sure your web designer’s priorities are correct.

Web Design

7. Your web designer is related to you

web-designer“Never hire anyone you can’t fire.” You should know better than to hire a relative to work for you in the first place, let alone build your website. However, if you do decide to hire a family member to build your website, they will probably give you an “unbelievable” discount. If they’re a pro, that’s great news; however, the bad news is that the project eventually won’t be worth their time, and you will eventually end up on the back burner.

8. Your web designer is YOU!

Peep author at conversionxl.com says, “If you designed your website yourself and you’re not a designer, it sucks”. It takes years of experience to perfect what we do. You can’t learn this trade in a few hours.

Peep, I couldn’t agree more!

9. You built it using a web design tool

Anyone can learn how to use a cheap web design tool in an hour or so but you can’t learn what a good web designer has learned with years of experience. In other words, learning how to use a website builder won’t teach you how to design a web site that will get targeted traffic, conversions, and sales.

In addition, just because you learned how to use Photoshop doesn’t mean you’re a good web designer. I’ve received so many resumes with people who know the Adobe Suite like the back of their hand, but their work sucks. Again, it takes years of experience to not be a terrible web designer.

10. No project management software

basecamp Project management software keeps everything organized and in one central location for everyone to easily find. It assigns tasks, keeps timelines, organizes assets and holds everyone accountable for their responsibilities.  I couldn’t imagine a web designer not using project management software. But if this is the case, dump your web designer, because he or she is terrible.

What’s my favorite Project Management software? Basecamp

11. They don’t ask enough questions

Your web designer should ask you lots of questions, especially before they start working on your project. They should ask everything about your 3C’s (Company, Competitors, and Clients). Questions should start during the initial sales meetings and kickoff meeting, and then continue throughout the strategy phase of your project. No questions is a RED FLAG and the sign of a terrible web designer.

10 sample questions:

  1. What are your primary and secondary goals for your website?
  2. Who is your target audience?
  3. Describe your typical client.
  4. Who are your online and offline competitors?
  5. Are you doing any marketing offline?
  6. Where is your target audience (local, national, global)?
  7. Do you have brand guidelines?
  8. Do you have a content writer available?
  9. What kind of assets will you provide? (photo, videos, images, brochures)
  10. Can we access your current site analytics?

12. They have too many clients

I used to be guilty of this a lot. I had way too many clients and I could not focus properly on any of them. Therefore, they all suffered. I would jump back and forth on different projects, while ignoring others. It was horrible and stressful. Projects were constantly late and clients were not happy.

Solution:

If you’re a web designer and your goal is to make $500,000 this year, focus on getting 10 clients at $50,000 per project, rather that 50 clients at $10,000 per project. This will give you the same revenue, but with less clients, less phone calls, less personalities, and less headaches.

13. No scope of work

A wise man in project management for 20+ years once told me that 80% of the problems that occur during a project occur because of a poor scope of work. A good scope of work details all work to be performed and delivered. It is critical that both parties agree to the scope of work before the project is executed.

14. No architecture strategy

wireframeLet’s say your family decides to build a dream house. Well, before you start actually building this house, you’re probably going to hire an architect to blueprint the house and all the rooms. Custom web design is very similar to building a house. Before designing any pages, your web design team should map out and wireframe (blueprint) each page of your website and get your approval before designing and developing.

15. No conversion strategy

Has your web designer helped you define what your primary and secondary conversions are? A conversion can be a phone call, email sign up, contact form, e-commerce purchase or a button being clicked. Your web designer should help you define what your conversions are.

Primary conversions are actual sales made on the site or inquiries for sales discussions through a contact form. Secondary conversions are typically forms that capture emails. Your web designer should ask how you want to be contacted and how clients typically prefer contacting you. After all, this is why you built your website.

17. They’re in your IT department

I blame clients and web designers for this one. Nothing is more frustrating than someone in IT calling our agency to inquire about a new website. Shouldn’t someone in marketing be calling us? I will never understand why companies associate IT departments with web design. As Ben Hunt of scratchwebmarketing.com and webdesignfromscratch.com “Web design is marketing”, not IT.

Do us all a favor. If you’re in IT and someone in your company asks you to help build the company website, humbly decline and recommend they talk to someone in the marketing department.

17. The handshaking image

hand-shakeThis is a big red flag. If you see this on your site take it down. I’m speaking of course about the infamous hand shake. This is usually a simple picture of two men shaking hands. It’s cheesy, a waste of space and draws wasteful attention.

19. No SEO strategy

Let’s say you wanted to open a new store that required lots of foot traffic. Would you let your real estate agent sell you a very nice storefront without knowing or telling you anything about the neighborhood? Me either. In other words, if your web designer doesn’t do SEO, they are terrible.

19. No CMS

I can’t think of any good reasons why your web developer wouldn’t build your website on a CMS (content management system). Not using a CMS is not going to save you money. In fact, it could be more expensive because a good CMS like WordPress is built on a framework that has prebuilt functionality saving you time and money.

20. They’re in a different country

outsourcing-web-designI’ve been developing professional websites for about 14 years and I promise that you will need experience to work with web designers and developers in other countries. Yes, they speak english and yes they are cheaper but if you don’t understand how to properly vet designers and developers in other countries you will most likely find a terrible web designer who doesn’t do any of the 19 items above, giving you a very frustrating and infuriating experience.

Conclusion

If you’re a web designer and you firmly disagree with anything I’ve said, there are exceptions to every rule. However, in my experience the above hold true a vast majority of the time. If you hire or fire your web designer by the above set of rules I can safely guarantee your website will be more successful and make you a lot more money.

 

 

 

graphic designing, Uncategorized, web designing

Adopting a Video Content Strategy For Your Business

Just as businesses are catching on to trends in content marketing, with-it content publishers are upping the ante. If you’re still going about content marketing the same ol’ way–posting blogs, retweeting those blogs and participating in the occasional guest post–it’s time to redefine your strategy.

Adopting a Video Content Strategy For Your Business

Adapted from an article at ReelSEO.com. Click here to view the original.

Video content is the freshest way to gain the best kind of exposure for your business, and engaging in video content marketing is not quite as scary as it seems. There are just a few steps you need to take and a few tips to keep in mind to get the most out of video content marketing for your business.

Before you review the steps to follow in creating a worthwhile video, it’s important to understand why you should be video marketing in the first place, and what exactly the public is looking for. Generally speaking, “know thy audience” is the most important factor to any marketing campaign, and this is particularly true in video marketing!

The whole point of creating a video to market your business is to get that video shared across social media platforms. That’s just about all you’re after. For this reason, your main objective should be to create a highly compelling video that holds viewers’ attention and makes them think they’re viewing something more meaningful, entertaining or interesting than an advertisement. That being said, let’s make this clear now: DO NOT, by any means, make your video content resemble an ad. Doing so will crush its potential to be shared socially. Unless, of course, you can top the genius of Kmart’s Ship My Pants.

There are a few simple qualities the public looks for in a video in order to compel them to engage in social sharing, keeping one or more of these qualities in mind will increase your video’s chances of being shared at a higher rate:

Funny (much like “ship my pants”)
Adorable (think kittens, bunnies, puppies, babies)
Sexy (sex sells: resorting to half-naked men or women might be cheap–but it works)
Emotional (a heartfelt story or tear-jerking moment)
Narrative (people love a good story. Telling one in a short video can be really effective)
Random (randomness is endearing, and these days people can’t get enough of it)
Inciting (shocking viewers will get you the attention you’re after. Think controversial)
Uplifting (people are always looking for inspiration, and once they get it they’re likely to pass it along)

Alright, so now that you know the elements the public wants to see in an online video, you’ve got to figure out how to produce a video of your own. If you’re just starting out, aim to produce a short video that strongly makes use of one or more of the social sharing characteristics mentioned above.

Have a Plan

First, you need a plan: develop your story, and have a beginning, middle and end to your video. Take a professional approach–or your video will not get very far–create a story board, engage in preproduction, and HIRE PROFESSIONALS!

For a quality video, you need a quality team of professionals. Do your research and hire a great film crew or animation team. If your video is going to have a spokesperson or voiceover, get a professional with an engaging demeanor or a voice that demands attention. Also, make sure the final product has been edited by a team of experts for a clean, professional approach.

Don’t forget about music! Don’t use cheap sample audio clips, they won’t get you much respect and they’ll make your video seem low-grade. Get some original music created by an expert so your video really stands out in its own right.

Distribute Well

Once you’ve produced a high-quality video, you need to pick the right outlets for distribution. Of course you must make use of all the social media outlets possible, especially Facebook, Twitter, and at least one or two blogs. Also, make sure to put your own video on your business website, that’s a given!

Next, you need to look into YouTube (and you’ll probably need to do that before you can post a link to Twitter). YouTube is great because it’s free, and it gives your video the most chance of going viral because everyone uses it. It’s also by far the least expensive paid advertising medium out there (as of the posting date of this post).

The only bad thing about YouTube is it’s sometimes looked down on because it’s not professional or business related. So now you’ve got to find a well-respected business or industry-centered site that will showcase your video to executives and people in your field. There are many options out there and you’ve got to pick what’s best for your specific content (but you can start with something like Xavy, for example).

Boost Views

Just like your business website, you need to put a little SEO work into your video to encourage viewing. This means you should:

Tag the video with keywords
Incorporate metadata with a good description
Pick appropriate thumbnails
Build links across the Internet that direct back to your video
Use a video sitemap
You’ve got to maximize your video hits and SEO is really the best way to do this. Just make sure not to overdo it or try to be sneaky in any way. Don’t overuse keywords, and stay true to your content.

Fortify Your Hard Work

Finally, keep in mind a purpose and a timely occasion for your video to really underpin its importance. Your video content can be quirky and random, but the video’s release should have a point to make: Plan to launch your video leading up to the unveiling of a new product or service to create industry buzz. Perhaps include a press release with your video’s launch or a transcript of the video to send to executives in your industry.

Also, don’t take the one-and-done approach. Aim to produce a video every month or every couple of months depending on your business and budget. The more videos you have, the more you can improve on your strategy and the more attention you’ll gain for your company and exposure for your business, and engaging in video content marketing is not quite as scary as it seems. There are just a few steps you need to take and a few tips to keep in mind to get the most out of video content marketing for your business.

graphic designing, Uncategorized, web designing

10 Things Your Website Needs If You Want to Attract the Wealthy Customer

In his book No B.S. Marketing to the Affluent, business coach and consultant Dan S. Kennedy shows you how to re-position your business, practice, or sales career so you can learn how to attract customers for whom price is not a determining factor. In this edited excerpt, the author reveals what your website needs to contain in order to be an effective marketing tool for your business.

Your company’s website should be a place of vast (current) information. But first and foremost, it should represent who you are and what you do. So often I see websites that are more like static brochures than dynamic, personality-driven, multimedia websites.

To be a marketing website, your site must have these 10 things:

1. Personality.

Most affluent buyers aren’t on the hunt for in-depth technical product knowledge; they’re in search of the go-to experts they can trust to make the best decisions and advise them on the best solutions. Adding personality to your website through photos, video, and your writing is about building that relationship with consumers and solidifying their belief that you’re the person who’s going to make their life easier.

2. Credibility.

Credibility is one of the leading factors in becoming trustworthy. When dealing with the affluent market, you can’t have a website that displays you as a “sleazy salesman.”

What makes you a credible expert? Have you been seen in the media? Are you involved in trade associations within your niche? Are you a bestselling author? All these factors play a vital role in showcasing your credibility.

One of the best ways to establish immediate credibility is through the use of recognizable logos. Displayed correctly, logos from media appearances or trade associations can bring immediate awareness and validation.

3. Testimonials.

Testimonials are a powerful third-party verifier and help make you credible through social proof. Wikipedia defines social proof as “a psychological phenomenon where people assume the actions of others in an attempt to reflect correct behavior for a given situation. Wikipedia goes on to say, “This effect is prominent in ambiguous social situations where people are unable to determine the appropriate mode of behavior, and is driven by the assumption that surrounding people possess more knowledge about the situation.”

The best types of testimonials are ones that not only use text to convey their message but also include the person’s photo or video.

4. Lead capture with auto responders.

When people come to your website, you need to capitalize on their visit by capturing their information so you can continue to stay in touch with them. By providing numerous ways for them to get information, you open up your funnel for leads.

5. Keywords and targeted meta data.

Knowing your keywords and putting them into your meta data (specific pieces of code that tell search engines like Google what your site is about) is vital to get your website ranked in the search engines.

If you’re unfamiliar with what your keywords are, Google offers a free keyword tool that will help you discover the keywords that people are searching for and the amount of competition for those keywords. Ideally you want to use  keywords with high traffic and low competition.

6. WordPress.

If your website isn’t on WordPress, get it there! There are a number of great reasons to use WordPress, but first and foremost, it’s great for search engine optimization (SEO) because it’s built with clean code that makes it easy for search engines to spider and index your website. WordPress also offers endless plugins that can enhance just about every aspect of your website.

7. Current, relevant content.

This is important for two reasons. First, it gives the search engines a reason to continually come back to your website. If you don’t have updated content on your website, you give the search engines no reason to come back.

Second, if people come to your website and it’s outdated, the first question that runs through their head is “Are you outdated?” Developing a keyword-rich blog can be one of the best ways to continually add current, relevant content. Effective blogs are ones that have content that acknowledge a problem that’s currently being faced in your industry, mentioning how you’ve been able to take care of that problem for your clients, then providing a mini CTA (call to action).

8. CTA (call to action).

Good content with no action is going to be just as unsuccessful as a website with no content. CTAs should be used throughout your website to take visitors through a predetermined path. By using CTAs on your homepage, you can connect with visitors’ pain points and lead them to an interior page that will solve their problem.

CTAs should also be used on interior pages to get visitors to take specific action. These types of CTAs should be connected to a lead capture device such as a free consultation or special report. If a person has just read an entire page of copy on your website about a particular service, there’s no better time to ask, “Ready to take the first step in becoming financially free? Download the FREE Special Report ‘10 Keys to Creating the Life You’ve Always Wanted Now!’ ”

Remember, it’s about building the relationship—so capturing visitors’ information is crucial so you can continually market to them and stay in the forefront of their mind. Even if they’re not ready to make a decision that day, creating a relationship with them so you’re their “friend in the business” is vital.

9. RSS feeds and social bookmarking icons.

Both of these allow further engagement with your website. RSS feeds allow consumers to simply sign up for your feed, and every time you add a new piece of content to your website, they’ll get it in their inbox.

Social bookmarking allows users to save links to web pages they like. Unlike a private bookmark within your own computer and browser, social bookmarks are public and tagged by keywords, so they can be a great tool for others to promote the content on your website, which helps increase your traffic.

10. Social media icons.

Social media icons allow users to connect with you socially if they choose. Will everyone want to visit your Facebook page? No, but for the consumer who likes to get their information through social media, it should be an option for them.

For more, visit http://www.entrepreneur.com

graphic designing, Uncategorized, web designing

How to manage your freelance cashflow

Here’s seven top tips for taking care of the business side of freelance life.

The relationship between art and commerce is a rocky one, and it’s particularly rocky when you’re a freelancer. For all its many joys, being your own boss also means being your own accounting department and occasional bailiff.

Freelancers face three key issues: staying on top of the paperwork, getting paid and ensuring the taxman doesn’t chuck you in prison. Taking care of all that can eat into the time you’d rather spend on designing. So how do others do it?

01. Start a spreadsheet

One of a series of map illustrations by illustrator Elly Walton

Elly Walton has been a freelance illustrator for 10 years. Her client list reads like a who’s who of the advertising, design and publishing fields, but despite her success, she’s been using “pretty much the same old Excel spreadsheet with my incomings, outgoings and tax payable on it” all that time.

Walton also records “the jobs as they come in, how I got them and whether it was a result of promotion or word of mouth,” she explains. “It makes a nice, pretty graph that I look at occasionally to review my marketing.”

Walton uses an Adobe Photoshop template for invoices, prints hard copies – “I like to have a stack of physical paper to check through and stamp a little ‘PAID’ on it when it’s paid” – and invoices jobs on completion.

02. Don’t procrastinate

Hand Lettering Headlines, by Ely Walton

Procrastination, says Walton, is the enemy: “[Tax] isn’t really that painful, but it’s a hell of a lot more painful if you leave it until the deadline.”

If you’re a sole trader in the UK you’ll pay Income Tax on your profits (sales less expenses) as well as National Insurance contributions; limited companies pay Corporation Tax on business profits; and if you’re turning over more than £81,000 per year (it happens!) there’s quarterly VAT too.

It may be worth registering even if your turnover is less: under the Flat Rate Scheme someone in advertising can charge 20% but only pays 11%.

03. Consider an accountant

An architectural drawing, Belle & Bunting, by Scottish illustrator Willa Gebbie

Doing your own tax return isn’t difficult, but if you’re VAT registered or running a company you might want to consider hiring an accountant. It isn’t too expensive and there’s something enormously satisfying about handing over a shoebox full of receipts and never having to worry about it ever again.

Like Elly Walton, beauty, fashion and portrait illustrator Willa Gebbie used a system based around a spreadsheet, in this case Google Docs, but in 2013 she decided to switch to FreeAgent.

“That’s when I finally got around to having a proper business account as well,” she says. Until then she hadn’t felt it was necessary, not least because business accounts come with a plethora of charges after the first year.

“A normal account will do, as long as you keep your work money and personal money clearly separate,” Gebbie says. “As a sole trader, it’s unlikely that you’ll need the benefits (or costs) of a business account, so it’s better saving those few pounds.”

Gebbie is a big fan of FreeAgent. “I love how it completes my tax return for me, it’s truly a godsend,” she says, adding that “it’s really good at assigning bank payments to invoices automatically, so I can tell really quickly who has or hasn’t paid.”

04. Chase payment regularly

One of a series of illustrated New Year’s Resolutions collected via social media.Linzie Hunter NY Resolutions, by Linzie Hunter

While FreeAgent can automatically notify clients of overdue invoices, Gebbie fears that it could look “spammy”, so she prefers to do the chasing herself. “I write invoices as soon as I’ve finished the job,” she says. “Once a week I check payments and chase outstanding invoices. If they’re really late then I’ll start to chase every couple of days.”

Award-winning hand-lettering artist and illustrator Linzie Hunter is another convert to online systems, in her case Wave. As a former “shoebox and Excel spreadsheet” user, Wave has freed up a lot of her time.

“Having a cloud-based system means that I can keep track of payments and invoices easily wherever I am. My favourite feature is the ability to link it to your bank and PayPal accounts, so I no longer need to enter everything manually. It’s also good at showing you exactly where you are financially.”

05. State clear payment terms

Three fashion illustrations by Willa Gebbie

Tempting as it might be, one feature Wave and FreeAgent don’t currently offer is the ability to send drone strikes after late payers. Elly Walton is unusual – “I’ve been lucky not to have had a non-payer” – but stresses the value of clear payment terms.

“30 days is reasonable,” she says. “As soon as that date arrives, start chasing – as politely as possible, of course.”

Willa Gebbie agrees. “Sometimes clients don’t pay on time, but often that’s because of the finance department rather than the art director… it’s probably quite embarrassing for them.”

06. Settle late payments nicely

A hand-lettered and illustrated Label for Noted, by Linzie Hunter

Going in all guns blazing is never a good idea, but if you’re suffering from acute late payment or non-payment, then the Late Payment of Commercial Debts legislation enables you to charge interest and penalties for non-payment. That can be the nuclear option, however, and it’s always best to try and settle late payment nicely first.

07. Be prepared

Stickers and packaging for Peaceable Kingdom by Linzie Hunter

Our illustrators have all experienced the ups and downs of freelancing. What hard-won advice would they pass on? “If you’re only just going freelance, make sure you read up about how self-assessment works and make sure you understand about paying tax on account,” Linzie Hunter advises.

“Otherwise it can be a bit of a shock to find that you have to pay an extra chunk in the first year. And get used to saving every receipt in your wallet automatically from the start.”

Willa Gebbie agrees. “Even if it’ll be some time before you start paying tax, you can offset the set-up cost of your business against future tax. That’s a really useful opportunity to take.”

Keep your work money and play money separate, Elly Walton counsels, recommending that you put a percentage of each payment into a separate account. “I think if all payments went straight into one account, hoping that by the time the tax bill comes around I’ll still have the money to pay it is a risky strategy.” We can say from painful experience that Walton isn’t wrong.

for more, visit: http://www.creativebloq.com

graphic designing, Uncategorized, web designing

11 useful Tricks to Improve Creative Thinking

In this very competitive society we live in, the need for creative thinking is now more in demand more than ever. Both the corporate and organizational landscape require creativity from their staff and employees, may it be to come up with superbly packaged products, enticing marketing campaigns, innovation breakthroughs or as trivial as solving daily challenges in the workplace. Creative thinking is not for the artistic people alone. People who work in other fields need to fire up their creative thinking to get out of the rut called “creative block.”

Creative block is a phase when an individual seems not able to conjure a creative idea, or because he thinks not creative. That’s not true! Everybody can be creative but like everything you need to practice it. To work out you brain and to get out of this stagnation, applying a few but useful tricks should get your creative juices flowing.

“Creative thinking is not a talent, it is a skill that can be learnt. It empowers people by adding strength to their natural abilities which improves teamwork, productivity and where appropriate profits.” – Edward de Bono

Creative Thinking Creativity

1 – You need inspirational rituals.

One of the best ways to inspire yourself and create every day is to develop rituals that you begin to use regularly and routinely. This will condition your brain for better creativity. For instance, your ritual might be reading in the morning, listening music, meditating for a few minutes or taking several deep breaths.

2 – Try to create something every day.

Create something every day, even if it’s only for 5 or 10 minutes. I try to write articles, I draw mind maps in meetings, develop business models, logos and I also collect and develop hundreds of ideas. I always have 3 projects in the pipeline, lots of them are not developed but they inspire me. My core business is consulting and training but I work on projects that are not related to my expertise. Here are some examples:

  • In June 2013, I didn’t know how to develop and manage a blog, here you are reading this article.
  • In May 2013, I was breeding insects to develop food protein solutions. I stopped because it was not profitable.
  • In 2010, I was in the Himalayas to produce and direct a long featured documentary http://www.introspectus.eu/. I’m now working on a web documentary called Business Changemakers.
  • I’m also working on a collaborative filmmaking platform, an innovation benchmarking software, Fab Lab project…
  • Recently I created the Business Model Academy ( web site in french) to think and work on the business models of my clients.
  • I also launched WISE Cluster an innovation lab and agency.
  • More recntly I launched Lean Six Sigma Belgium to work with organizations in their process innovation management www.leansixsigmabelgium.com
  • In 2014 I created many other project related to entrepreneurship like : www.lean-startup.be and www.agile-scrum.be

All those ideas are inspiring each other and generating new ones. It’s a wonderful feeling. Some people call this luck or planned serendipity.

Now it’s your turn to challenge yourself to create for the next 2 weeks.

3 – Instead of discipline, think devotion.

Luciano Pavarotti, one’s said: “People think I’m disciplined. It’s not discipline, its devotion, and there’s a great difference.”

4 – Take breaks.

When you feel stuck with an idea and you have nowhere to go. You need a breather. Forcing yourself to find a solution will only lead to exhaustion. Try standing up from your desk, walk outside or to the vending machine, grab a coffee, talk to people and look at the scenery outside your workplace. Some inspirations will strike you at the most unexpected places, and you’d be surprised when you get them when you’re actually not working. I find most of my inspiration when I’m cycling in the woods or talking with friends.

5 – Make a list and select your ideas.

Sometimes the opposite of creative block happens – you just have too many ideas! While it’s good, it can also make you confused. You can sort thoughts up by keeping a list. List down each idea that comes to mind and determine which one you think is the best. You can also bring a pen and small notebook wherever you go so you don’t forget the ideas that come to you when you’re riding a bus, having a lunch, reading a book or watching videos in the internet.

6 – Ask the right questions.

When you need to start a creative session, always start with why, how, what, when question and try to answer it.

7 – Have fun with your colleagues or friends.

Having fun with your colleagues or friends is a proven and popular way to generate ideas. It’s a great moment to open up to ideas of others, so you can make your ideas more consolidated. The best way to do it is to listen to ideas without judgment. Passing judgment even without hearing the full concept will breed humility and hostility within the group. Furthermore, the goal of that kind of team building is to generate as many ideas as possible, so make every body’s contribution count. Here is an article showing how some companies have created this fun and creative corporate culture. 

An other way to have fun with your colleagues is to go out for a beer a genarate ideas. article

8 – Take advantage of peak hours.

Some people are more creative and productive in certain hours of the day, while others are more creative at the height of their emotions. Work your heart out at these specific times and let your creative juices flow freely. Creativity can also be improved if you put yourself in a certain place in the room or if you surround yourself with certain music. This release of creativity works from person-to-person. There’s hard and fast rule what time of day, emotion or surrounding you should be to become creative. Just do what works for you.

9 – Build a network.

Get creative and inspiring people into your social circle and interact with them in a regular basis. Listening to fresh perspectives and seeing your issues in different angles may help you reconstruct your ideas. The re-focus will help you substantiate the problem and narrow down solutions. Here is a list of 10 profiles you should work or talk with and an other article with an explanation on How to Build an Innovation Group in your community?

10 – Take Risks.

A risk may be a double-ended sword, but the more you avoid it, the more you are leaving ideas unturned. Risks allow you to think out-of-the-box, look for the unconventional and embrace the difference. Creative thinking doesn’t necessitate you to conform all the time; in fact, most of the ingenious concepts are born from deviating.

11 – Forget talent.

We tend to think we either have it or we don’t. Talent is an overloaded word, don’t focus on what you can do, just do it. Learn by doing. Show up, work hard and support yourself. It’s how you’ll make thing happen every day.

To develop your creative thinking, you need to know how to get your creative juices out. You can do this by:

  1. Build inspirational rituals
  2. Try to create something every day
  3. Instead of discipline, think devotion.
  4. Taking a break and find creative inspirations.
  5. Make a list and select your ideas.
  6. Ask the right questions.
  7. Have fun with your colleagues or friends.
  8. Working on your most productive hours.
  9. Building a network.
  10. Taking risks.
  11. Forget talent.

Some people are born to think creatively but that doesn’t mean you can’t be creative if you’re not showing signs of creativity in the workplace. Creativity can be harnessed as you grow in your organization. Given the right venues, mindset and resources, it is possible to fuel your creative thinking actions.

– See more at: http://www.creativecorporateculture.com

graphic designing, Uncategorized, web designing

15 Amazing Commercials That Will Inspire the Greatness in You

Do you watch TV? If you do, you would have seen countless commercial clips in between TV segments, where companies frantically advertise their products and services in the 15-45 seconds, hoping to grab your attention and trigger purchase interest.

I don’t watch TV – I find it’s a waste of time due to the low consciousness nature of most syndicated shows today.  I also find most commercials to be poorly made, and somewhat pointless. They are either a self-promotion of a product that’s irrelevant to my needs, or an advert that plays no role in my life whatsoever.

However, occasionally there would be a gem that catches my eye. This commercial would transcend the typical advertisement, going beyond a sales push and instead conveying an awareness raising message that resonates with my soul.

In today’s post, I’ve scoured through lists of commercials and gathered these 15 most amazing, inspiring commercials that will inspire the inner greatness in you. Some of these commercials are funny, some are touching, some are inspiring, some are saddening, and some are mind-triggering. Underneath the different forms of each commercial, is an important message to take away and apply.

As you watch each commercial, ask yourself what is the commercial is telling you and how you can apply that. Just like the inspiring graduations article, I’ve included a commentary below each clip, sharing my personal thoughts and reflections.

Enjoy, and feel free to share the article if you find any of the videos meaningful. :)

 

#1. Penguins (BBC)

* Very Important: Watch the advert first before reading commentary below to get an unadulterated viewing experience.

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The first time I saw the video, I burst out laughing right after the penguins started flying, and couldn’t stop for the next 30 seconds. It was so hilarious to see penguins, which normally wobble about from side to side, to take off and fly with such speed and grace across the sky –  much less across the entire continent!!

If you don’t know, this was a prank video the BBC created for 2008 April Fool’s Day, to promote their BBC iplayer. They pretended to have discovered a new colony of penguins that had evolved and developed the ability to fly. The video was a huge success – it became viral and received over 100,000 views in just the first day.

Why was it such a big hit though? Why were people so eager to spread this to others? What was the huge hoo-haa about? And why did I (or any of us for that matter) have the kind reactions we had (whether laughter, shock or amazement) when watching the video?

That’s because we all have a deeply ingrained belief that penguins can’t fly. That’s like a law of nature, a fact that can never be changed. Or so we thought. And hence when we had that belief broken (even momentarily), a pillar that bounded our reality was crushed, and it resulted in a wild reaction inside us. Laughter, shock or amazement – these are defense mechanisms at work as we try to comprehend what just happened before us.

While the video is a hoax, it invites us to rethink about our beliefs, and whether they are really as true as we think they are. Many times, we have a set of staunch beliefs about how the world operates. While these beliefs help us create a predictable reality to operate in, it also limits us in what we can achieve, and what we can do.

I invite you to think about some of your beliefs right now:

  1. What kind of beliefs do you have about yourself, your goals, your life at the moment?
  2. Are these beliefs helping you or disempowering you?
  3. Are these beliefs true or just self-created boundaries? (Clue: There’s no such thing as a “real” belief – they are all opinions and stances)
  4. Can you think of ways where you have been short-changing yourself with these beliefs?
  5. Do you want to continue holding on to them then?

At the end of the day, there is no such thing as a right or wrong belief – beliefs are just beliefs. Opinions, thoughts. The key is then to always requestion your beliefs, and always ensure that you’re holding the beliefs that best empower you to live your best life ever. (On Days 26-27 of Be a Better Me in 30 Days Program, you identify your limiting thoughts and replace them with empowering ones.)

(For those who are interested, here is the Making Of the penguin video. ;) )

#2. Every Good Thing in Life (Cheers Beer, Thailand)

The first time I saw this video, I couldn’t stop laughing! It’s is a compilation of 3 ads in same series – each featuring a simple yet good moment we face in life . The way they exaggerated each moment is truly classic.

The ad reminds us of those little things we tend to take for granted in life. Yet these are part of the moments that make life beautiful, aren’t they? What are the moments you relish in? What are the things that make you smile? What are the things you’re grateful for in life? Write them down in your life handbook, hold them dear to your heart and never let them go.

(For those who have the Live a Better Life in 30 Days Program, refer to Day 14: A Day of Gratitude for a sample gratitude list that shares the 60 things to be grateful for in life.)

#3. Cog (Honda Accord)

This 2 minute ad follows a chain of colliding parts taken from a disassembled car, ultimately ending off with the final shot of the car (Honda Accord). From the “Cog” wiki page:

“Bardou-Jacquet (the director) wanted to compose the advertisement with as little computer-generated imagery as possible, believing that the final product would be that much more appealing to its audience. To this end, he set two months aside for the creation of hundreds of conceptual drawings detailing various possible interactions between the parts, and a further four months for practical testing and development.

For the testing phase, the script was broken into small segments, each comprising only one or two interactions. Ideas deemed unworkable by the testing crew, such as airbag explosions and collisions between front and rear sections of the car, were abandoned, and the remaining segments were slowly brought together until the full and final sequence was developed.

The final cut of Cog consists of two continuous sixty-second dolly shots taken from a technocrane, stitched together later in post-production. (The stitching appears during the moment when the muffler rolls through the floor.) Four days of filming were required to get these two shots, two days for each minute-long section. Filming sessions lasted seven hours and the work was exacting, as some parts needed to be positioned with an accuracy of a sixteenth of an inch.

Despite the detailed instructions derived from the testing period, small variations in ambient temperature, humidity and settling dust continually threw off the movement of the parts enough to end the sequence early. It took 90 minutes on the first day just to get the initial transmission bearing to roll correctly into the second. Between testing and filming, 606 takes were needed to capture the final cut.”

What’s most inspiring about this commercial is the precision, the intricate details, and massive level of planning and precise execution that must have gone into it to even make it possible. It’s always inspiring to see excellence at its best, and this is clearly a work that’s born of excellence. Launched in 2003, the ad went on to receive more awards than any commercial in history; so many that it was both the most-awarded commercial of 2004 and the 3third-most-awarded commercial of 2003. (Cog Awards)

It shows that with the right attitude, commitment, determination and persistence, even the most impossible of things can be done. It’s not about whether you think it can be done; it’s whether you want to do it or not. For the goals that you may claim as impossible or hard to achieve, perhaps the real question is to ask yourself whether you really want them or not.

#4. Excuses (feat. Warhawk Matt Scott, Nike)

Matt Scott is an American basketball player. He has spina bifida – a disorder that existed before birth and caused him to be wheelchair bound.

Despite that, it has not stopped him from achieving success and excellence in life. When he was 14, he was introduced to wheelchair basketball. At age of 18, he led his team in the National Wheelchair Basketball Association’s to 2 national championships in 2003, and was selected MVP of the season. While he was in university, he led his team to 3 national championships (2004, 2005, 2007). In 2007, he was on the gold medal winning US team at the 2007 Parapan American Games in Brazil – and he was just 21 years old then.

He has taken part in 2004 and 2008 Paralympics (Olympics for athletes with physical disabilities), and is set to be participating in the next 2012 Paralympics.

In the ad, Matt lists a whole bunch of excuses people use every day to explain why they’re not doing things they ought to be doing. Have you heard of the term “excusitis”? It’s a deadly disease where people make excuses for why they’re not living the life they want, rather than take action to create it. Ask them why they’ve not achieved a certain result? Their reply “Oh, because I’ve been busy” or “There’s a lot of things on my plate” or “I don’t really want it” or “There was something else that cropped up in the past few months” and so on and so forth. Endless reasons; endless excuses.

The only time when results happen is when you take ownership for your life and stop finding excuses. In life, either you can either be in the group of people that’s busy out there achieving results they want, or you can be in the group that’s constantly looking for reasons to explain why they’re not living the life they desire. Which group do you want to be in?

#5. Let Your Game Speak (feat. Michael Jordan, Nike)

I think this ad is open to different interpretations. For me, the message is to be the best you can be, hone your craft, supersede yourself every step of the way, and let the results of your work speak for itself. If there are critics, there’s no need to waste time to please them – these aren’t your audience. If there are naysayers, let them naysay whatever they want – you’re not here to get their affirmation.

I believe this is also why there’s no narration for the ad. Having clips of MJ’s best moments (or in this case enacted by child actors), is enough. Likewise, when you’re truly the best that you are, your work will naturally speak for itself too. Don’t bother or worry about defending, explaining or fending off critics – these are irrelevant in the long run. To do that would just be to take yourself away from doing well in your game.

#6. Maybe (feat. Michael Jordan, Nike)

I thought this ad is so simple yet so amazing. It conveys the classic problem of how people constantly try to explain away their ability to create success. This ability has been in there all along, yet they deny its presence, and instead point the finger at other things around them.

Are you actively pursuing and achieving your goals right now, to the max? If no, why not? What reasons are you giving for not doing so?

Believe it or not, we are our own limitations. It’s not our moms, our dads, our brothers/sisters, our partners, our friends, our colleagues, our bosses, our jobs, the governments, the societies, the economy, or anything like that. It’s us. It’s always just been us limiting ourselves all along – whether through conscious self-limitation, or allowing others to limit us (which still links back to us).

The sooner we realize that, the faster we’ll be able to create the life we want. The extent to which we can achieve what we want is directly linked to the degree of responsibility we take for our goals and life. The more responsibility we take, the more results we’ll start seeing from our goals.

#7. Training (Various artists, Nike)

(Ensemble cast of: Kobe Bryant, Cristiano Ronaldo, Roger Federer, Maria Sharapova, Manny Pacquiao, and Xiang Liu)

Sometimes we look at people who are the best in their fields, and we think they have it easy. That perhaps they winged their way to success. Or they happen to be born with that gift or talent. Or they are lucky. Everything seems so effortless when we look at what they’re doing from the outside.

Guess what – the 10,000 hour rule applies. Every top person you see has invested his/her 10,000 hours, or even more, before he/she ever came to be where he/she is today. It’s easy to forget that because we see these people only after they rose to prominence, and not when they were honing their craft. And even for those who have already risen to prominence, they continue to put in their 10,000 hours all the time, day in, day out. We just don’t see them because this happens behind the scenes. But it’s happening no doubt.

So here’s the real deal – Have you invested your 10,000 hours? Are you ready to put in the due work required? Because if you are, that’s when the real action begins.

#8. Dare (Saga)

The ad depicts the moments in life when we experience fear. From performing in front of a panel, to going out in the sea, to being asked to pose nude in front of an art class, to presenting in a meeting, to seeing your partner with someone else.

Is there anything you’re fearing in your life now? Fear of attachment perhaps? Fear of loss? Fear of rejection? Fear of failure? Fear of opening up? Fear of public speaking? What do you do in the face of your fears? Do you shrink away? Or do you face it head on?

The amazing thing about fear is that when you face it head on – when you take the step to confront it, it disappears in your face. This is also why fear is commonly referred to in the self-help arena as False Evidence Appearing Real. Are you ready to start tearing away these false evidence in your life?

#9. Think Different (Apple)

I once knew a coach who made this comment: “We’ve got to be kidding ourselves if we think we think we can change the world. I don’t believe we can ever change the world.”

I don’t know what led her to say that, but I thought she was the one kidding herself. All of us have always had the power in us to change the world. There’s not even a reason to doubt that. This world is ours; our subconsciousness begets us with unlimited resources and power, and we’re all connected as one.

So the question is – what do you want to bring about to the world? What kind of change do you want to create? What revolution do you want to start? What ground-breaking, earth-shattering movement do you want to lead?

What is the impact you want to deliver to this world by the time you are done?

#10. Failure (feat. Michael Jordan, Nike)

Many people know Michael Jordan as the best basketball player of all time. In 1991, he won his first NBA championship with Chicago Bulls, and continued to do so in 1992 and 1993, securing a “three-peat”. In 1995, he rejoined Bulls (after retiring earlier to play baseball) and again led them to three additional championships (1996-1998) as well as an NBA-record 72 regular-season wins in the 1995–96 NBA season.

Jordan’s individual accolades and accomplishments include five MVP awards, ten All-NBA First Team designations, nine All-Defensive First Team honors, fourteen NBA All-Star Game appearances, three All-Star Game MVP awards, ten scoring titles, three steals titles, six NBA Finals MVP awards, and the 1988 NBA Defensive Player of the Year Award. He holds the NBA records for highest career regular season scoring average and highest career playoff scoring average.  In 1999, he was named the greatest North American athlete of the 20th century by ESPN, and was second to Babe Ruth on the Associated Press’s list of athletes of the century. He was elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame on April 6, 2009 and was inducted on September 11, 2009.

(From: Michael Jordan’s Wiki page)

Behind his massive list of achievements, is the experience of failure. This supposed “failure”, is what enabled Michael to grow and become as good as he is today. As what Michael said in the ad, “I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. Twenty-six times I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why, I succeed.

Success is built upon failure. Failure is how we gain experience. Failure is how we learn and grow. And it is by learning and growing, that we are eventually able to succeed.

If you’ve been living your life in fear of failure, then you should stop doing that, because keeping away from failure isn’t going to help you succeed – it’s precisely what’s keeping you from success. By being afraid to fail, you fail by default. The sooner you embrace failure, the sooner you can let loose, learn from your experiences, and start making real headway in your goals.

#11. Evolution (Dove, Unilever)

The Evolution ad was created by Dove (Unilever) in 2006 as part of their Campaign for Real Beauty. The ad features the transformation (via physical make-up and digital editing) of a normal, pretty looking woman, into what we’d recognize as the flawless beauty often promoted in magazines, billboards and TV.

Perhaps if the image of women is more realistically and responsibly portrayed in media, less women and girls around the world would feel inferior about who their looks, and embrace themselves. Pretty much everything you see in the world of beauty (cosmetics, skincare, fashion, etc) is the product of serious retouching and airbrushing – including famous celebrities. Unfortunately, those who are not in the industry do not have such insights, and those who are get wrapped up in the illusion of beauty and needing to portray a certain image, so they themselves are the victims too.

I don’t put makeup when I’m going to nearby places, and I put on light-normal make-up when I do. For the most part I prefer to keep things minimal (though it varies depending on situation/occasion). I’m not saying make-up is bad – it has been a great confidence booster for many women, and I love putting on makeup and making myself look better. However, it’s important not to get married to an image of how we should look, because looks are ultimately impermanent.

Our physical body is the shell we use to experience life today, and one day it’ll generate and cease to exist (when we die). Ultimately, the most important thing that makes up us is our consciousness, and it’s our self-development that makes up better people, and lets us live better lives. Focus on that and you won’t go wrong in life.

#12. Real Beauty (Dove, Unilever)

I’m not sure how guys feel about this ad, but as a girl, it really connects with me. The typification of beauty in mainstream media as someone who’s stick thin, is petite, has large eyes, a high nose bridge, airbrushed skin and angular features has created a lot of inferiority complexes in women. I remember when I was in my early teens, I really hated being taller than most girls. I also hated my baby fats, which made me look fat. When I had outbreaks, I’d feel traumatized because that meant looking ugly to the world.

True beauty comes in different forms, shapes and sizes. Besides realizing that beauty isn’t just that 1-type of look, it’s also about realizing beauty isn’t not just what’s on the outside, but what’s on the inside. Do you have a good heart? Do you have a compassionate soul? Are you someone who’ll help others when they’re in need? Are you always putting yourself before others or do you care about others? Do you have a passion toward growth and development of yourself? Do you want to better the world? These are what determine the goodness of your soul on the inside.

#13. You Can Shine (Pantene, Thailand)

A 4 minutes advertisement that tells a story. Given that I used to work in the company that manages Pantene (Procter & Gamble), I was personally surprised to see this ad since it’s not exactly the conventional ad that the company would commission. For one, there’s not exactly any “selling” in the ad; two, it’s 4 minutes long, way longer than a normal advert which is 15-30 seconds long.

That said, the advert tells of a beautiful story of perseverance and self-belief. It’s in Thai but has english subtitles, so you’d have no problem understanding. Have naysayers in your life? Are you short changing yourself because of what others say? Are you withholding who you are on the inside because you try to be someone you’re not? It’s time to start believing in who you are and what you can be. Let the real you emerge; this is what it means to live your life to the fullest.

#14. Impossible is Nothing (feat. Kaka, Adidas)

Kaká (Ricardo) is an international acclaimed footballer from Brazil. When he was 18, while he was playing in a waterpool with his younger brother, he hit his head – hard – on the bottom of the pool – which snapped his neck and fractured the sixth vertebra in his spine. This was an injury that many, including Kaka, feared would leave him paralyzed and unable to walk again, much less play football.

In the midst of these fears, he wrote down a list of 10 goals he wanted to achieve in life, which are the 10 goals you see in the ad. 2 months after the incident, he began to play football again. 1 year later, he played in the final of Rio-São Paulo Tournament and scored the equalizer goal and the winning goal, within a 5 minute time frame.

In 2002, Kaka was the youngest player included in the 2002 Brazilian World Cup squad. He only played 17 minutes in South Korea & Japan against Costa Rica during the group stage, enough for him to win the World Cup that year while barely being 20. (AC Milan Online, Kaká) In 2007, he won the European Footballer of the Year and FIFA World Player of the Year awards. And today, Kaka is one of the top performing and top earning players with Real Madrid.

These didn’t happen by chance. As you may have realized, Kaka has went on to achieve all the 10 goals he wrote, and even more. Because he took the step to reflect on what he really wanted in life, to write down his goals, and then took action on them.

What are your top 10 goals in life? What are you going to do, moving forward, to achieve them?

#15. Cancer (Lance Armstrong, Nike)

And finally, leaving the best for the last – the rare “Cancer” ad featuring Lance Armstrong. This ad features a clip of the 1996 press conference where Lance Armstrong announced he was diagnosed with stage three testicular cancer – at the tender of age of 25.

At that time, the cancer was at the third stage and had already spread to his abdomen, his brain and lungs. From Wikipedia:

“On that first visit to a urologist in Austin, Texas, for his cancer symptoms he was coughing up blood and had a large, painful testicular tumor. Immediate surgery and chemotherapy were required to save his life. Armstrong had an orchiectomy to remove his diseased testicle. After his surgery, his doctor stated that he had less than a 40% survival chance.”

As you can see from the press conference, held 6 days after his diagnosis, he swore that he would beat the disease. By Jan 1998, he was back into serious training; In 1999, he went on to win the Tour de France each year from 1999 to 2005, and is the only person to win seven times, having broken the previous record of five wins. He would then proceed to be named Associated Press Male Athlete of the Year for the years 2002–2005. He received ESPN’s ESPY Award for Best Male Athlete in 2003, 2004, 2005, and 2006, and won the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Overseas Personality Award in 2003.

Lance’s story, both as a cancer survivor, and as someone who proceeded to win Tour de France seven times, is an inspiration to all. He did this because he never gave up on himself. He never gave up on fighting the disease. And most importantly, he never gave up on life. If someone can amass such strength even in the darkest of times, that’s something for us to draw from when we face difficulties and challenges in our life.

Update Jan 20, 2013: As it would turn out, Lance Armstrong had used performance-enhancing drugs throughout much of his career, making his seven-time Tour de France victory an elaborate lie. He has been stripped of his titles in 2012.

However, it does not negate the fact that this guy did indeed beat cancer and achieved some good (inspiring other cancer survivors, setting a foundation which has helped and will continue to help cancer survivors, etc.) even while living this hoax. What we can learn from his story is never to give up on life (based on his cancer survival) and not to negate what’s right and what’s integritous in our pursuit for victory.

graphic designing, Uncategorized, web designing

Ultimate Collection of Free High Quality PSD Mockups To Showcase Your Print Designs

Great presentation for your print design studies plays a vital role in the success of your over all project. It is a matter of presenting your ideas in an attractive and professional manner by which clients can clearly visualize the supposed final output. Seeing your design in a realistic scenario can dramatically help you and your client see all the necessary adjustments or modifications – if there are any – before heading into the final stages of production. Plus having a great mock up presentation can improve your works aesthetically.

Nowadays, mock-up design presentations became a necessity especially for designers working on various print and web design projects for their clients. A professional looking mock up presentation can really boost the value of your work and can aide you to showcase your projects in a visually pleasing way.

Today, we present to you an ultimate collection of some of the best free high quality PSD Mock for print designs gathered across the internet. These contents are absolutely free!  So go load up your ammo of freebies and templates!

 

FREE BUSINESS CARD MOCK UP


 

Business Card Hand Mock Up 01

Wooden Business Cards Mock Up Wooden-Business-Cards-MockUp

 

Letterpress Business Cards MockUp Letterpress-Business-Cards-MockUp

Colorful Business Card MockUp Colorful-Business-Card-MockUp

Business Card Mock Up Business-card-mockup1

Realistic Business Card Mock Up Realistic-Business-Card-MockUp

Business Card 3D Mock-Up (Psd) Bus-Card-Mockup-2

Red Corporate Business Card business-card-mockups-(38)

Creative Business Card Vol 2 business-card-mockups-(143)

 6 Business Card Mock Up Vol – FREE PSD 71beb573d26cae523700541da244683c

Translucent Business Card Mock up Transparent-Business-Cards-600

 

FREE LOGO MOCK UP


 

Free Logo Mockup PSD free_logo_mockup__psd_by_yesimadesigner-d71e4fh

Painted Wood Logo MockUp Painted-Wood-Logo-Mock-Up-600

3D Wall Logo MockUp 3D-Wall-Logo-MockUp-600

3D Wall Logo MockUp 2 3D-Wall-Logo-MockUp-2-600

3D Wooden Logo MockUp 3D-Wooden-Logo-MockUp-600

Cutout Logo MockUp cutout-600

Leather Stamping Logo MockUp Embossed-Leather-Logo-MockUp-600

Close-Up Logo Mock-ups freebie-slide-1396351872-1

Silver Stamping Logo MockUp Silver-Stamping-Logo-MockUp-600

Gold Stamping Logo MockUp Glod-Hot-Foil-Logo-Mock-Up-600

I Love 3D Logo MockUp i-love-3d-600

Leather Stamping Logo MockUp #2 Leather-Stamping-Logo-MockUp-2-600

Letterpress Logo Mockup (PSD) letterpress-logomockup

Metallic Logo PSD MockUp Metallic-Logo-PSD-Mock-Up-600

 

Spot UV Logo MockUp Spot-UV-Logo-MockUp-big

Vintage Metal Emblem MockUp Vintage-Car-Emblem-Mock-Up-600

Window Signage MockUp Window-Signage-Mock-Up-600
17 Logo Mockup (Psd) All

FREE POSTER MOCK UP


 

Free Flyer / Poster Mock-up

Poster_Mockup

Poster Mockup Template (PSD) poster_mockup_preview_lrg

Poster Frame Mockups (Psd / Vector) Poster-Frame-Mockup-X

Poster Frame PSD MockUp Poster-Frame-PSD-MockUp-600

Poster Frame PSD MockUp Vol. 6 001_antique-vintage-old-retro-frame-picture-poster-presentation-mockup-vol-6-psd

Free Poster Mockup Studio

3b29fca658bdad7c22fa0240ecaae464

Free Poster Mockup  7e48f55acccbc6b30092f5e31b808947
Free Poster Mockup 038cd7b5db8b9517c4589a16802e9390

 

FREE BROCHURES MOCK UP


 

Corporate Tri Fold Brochure Template 2 002-tri-fold-corporate-brochure-template-vol-2


BROCHURE004 BROCHURE004

BROCHURE010
BROCHURE010

Free Tri Fold Brochure Design Mockup PSD Template Free-Tri-Fold-Brochure-Mockup-PSD-Template

Tri Fold Brochure MockUp
Tri-Fold-Brochure-MockUp-600

Psd Catalog Mock-Up Template 001-catalog-psd-mock-up-template

 

FREE MAGAZINE MOCK UP


Magazine Mock-Up Magazine-Mockup

 

Magazine Mock-Up (PSD) Freebie magazine-mockup-screenshot

 

Photorealistic Magazine Mock Up Photorealistic-Magazine-MockUp-600

MAGAZINE MOCKUP COVER OPENING 01

Magazine Cover Mockup – Wooden Floor PSD cover_single_blank_wood

 

MAG001
MAG001r2

MAG005
MAG005r3

MAG007
MAG007

MAG009
MAG009

FREE PACKAGING MOCK UP


 

Bottle PSD

bottle

CARTON009

CARTON009r5

 

Free Wine Bottle Mockup
ed6bc678e03b4226949adb995b5b0c33
Free Chocolate Packaging Mock Up PSD Template
Free-Chocolate-Packaging-Mockup-PSD-Template

Free Coffee Cup Packaging PSD Mock Up
free-photoshop-psd-mock-up-cup-coffee-disposable-636x465

 

Product Box Mockup .psd (Freebbbie!)
kaisersosa_boxmockup_tn
Soda Can Mockup
soda_can_mockup
TUBE001 TUBE001

Vinyl Record PSD MockUp Vinyl-Record-PSD-600

Psd Paper Bag Mock-Up Template Vol2
005-paper-bag-packaging-brand-mockup-presentation-psd

 

FREE SHIRT MOCK UP


 

T-Shirt Mockup using SmartObject .PSD

TechAndALL_tshirt_moke_up_preview2

 

T-Shirt Mockup
tshirt_mockup_preview1
T-Shirt Psd Collection by design deck
T-Shirt_Psd_Collection_dd

 

Hoodie Template PSD
hoodie_template_psd_by_theapparelguy-d4737an

Design By Humans Shirt Template
asd

Cool New Superman (Man of Steel 2013) Free T-shirt Designs (Ai, Eps, PSD) asdasdas

Jumper MockUp PSD
Jumper-MockUp-PSD-600

 

FREE BRAND IDENTITY MOCK UP


Stationery MockUp – Wood Edition
Branding-MockUp-Wood-Edition-V2-600
Corporate Identity Photoshop Mock-up (Psd) Corporate-Identity-Mockup-with-Logo-22

Free PSD Template: Presentation Folder Mockup preview_v2

Stationery Branding Mock Up Vol 3-2 001-stationery-branding-corporate-identity-simplified-dark-mock-up-vol-3-2
Ebony & Ivory branding mockup 49f7376c5f3524d5b18ebbb24c938274

Branding / Identity MockUp Vol.6 Branding-Identity-MockUp-Vol6-600

Brand Identity Mock-up Template (Psd) Corporate-Identity-V21

Essentials Mockups Free Set Essentials-Mockups-600

Identity / Branding MockUp Vol.3 Identity-Branding-Mock-Up-600

Stationary Branding Mock Up (Volume I) mockUp01

Mockup Corporate Identity sad

For more ideas, visit http://www.youthedesigner.com

graphic designing, Uncategorized, web designing

Ultimate Guide To Setting Up Your First Online Shop

E-commerce is the most popular business trend in our futuristic society, as most modern cities have Internet equipped and it’s such a simple process to send payments anywhere in the world via Internet connection. Along with these technologies have risen hundreds of thousands of new digital web stores which sell both physical and digital products to one global marketplace.

setup online shop
(Image Source: Fotolia)

Business means trade, and trade means transaction. For Internet buyer, what they really care about is probably the security, as there are overwhelming fraud issues happening all around the world nowadays. So setting up web store is not like your regular Blogger blog, it requires careful planning and guided installation with hardened security in mind.

But hard doesn’t mean that it’s impossible to do it yourself. For any aspiring webmasters hoping to get into the e-commerce game, this post will serve as the guide mentioned above, to ease the transition a bit with full of helpful tips and recommended service, so don’t wonder anymore, let’s get down to business!

The Process of Building

Before even considering to launch your website it is crucial to spend some time away from the computer and build your idea. What kind of products will you be selling? Are there any competitors in this niche? Ideally how should your website’s user interface look?

building idea
(Image Source: Fotolia)

These are all very important topics of discussion which you should consider deeply. It will also help a lot to build a brand name in these early stages of development. You can purchase the matching domain name ahead of time to secure your company name and logo.

If you’re a businessman and interested in working online you may also wish to set up some profiles. A new Google account can help on multiple levels for a new corporation. With Google you’ll gain a brand new email account under Gmail and access to each of Google’s apps. This includes Google Docs and Google Analytics for tracking your web page traffic. YouTube accounts also tie into Google via OAuth, so it’s possible to market your store with video media too.

Registering a Domain

Once you have a rough idea of how your shop will work it’s time to make some bold steps. Registering a domain name and finding a web host aren’t very difficult tasks. Yet they are monumentally important steps in the overall launch process.

namesilo

Spend a lot of time considering your domain before purchase. Once you buy one it’s usually set for 1 year (or more if you choose), so you’re stuck with it! Personally I am a fan of NameSilo for registering new domains. Their user accounts let you set up portfolios and organize your domain names into different structures. Their domain search is also quick and produces to-the-point results.

Choosing the Web Hosting Service

When it comes to hosting things get a bit more difficult. You’ll want to consider the backend language which your online shop will run, and to choose the proper server settings. If you don’t have any preference or just don’t care I recommend sticking with PHP. It’s open source and supported in mostly 99% of server environments. But just ensure that any hosting account you purchase will support PHP and MySQL databases.

hostgator

Some companies Hostgator and Bluehost offer some incredible solutions for first-time webmasters. The average cost is $100-$150/year for unlimited storage and bandwidth. Now some web hosts do cap their storage and bandwidth limit. But for even the cheapest solutions you’ll generally be using well under their rules.

For more precise guidance, follow our post to help you choose the best web hosting service based on 10 essential factors, and consumer guide on understanding the very truth about web hosting and tips to avoid some annoying hosting troubles.

Choosing your E-Commerce Package

There are two main categories to choose from for building an online shop. Hosted solutions are companies which provide you with everything you need on the backend and host the e-commerce script on their servers. This means you won’t need to perform any programming or file uploads of any kind. You will however still need a domain name to redirect and give your shop a distinct URL.

yahoo merchant solution

Now you can also work with licensed scripts, both paid and open source. These kinds of e-commerce systems are easily customized and make up the majority of online web stores. Even if you aren’t a programmer at heart it’s a very simple process to download and re-upload script files onto your hosting server and follow some installation instructions.

But when you are working with money and payments online there are many security risks to consider. If you feel uncomfortable taking on that much responsibility it may be wise to choose a hosted solution. Many times you can talk with company representatives to figure out site security without any stress. The customer’s overall experience and safety should be held in regard to your bottom-line decision.

Hosted E-Commerce Solutions

Many of the hosted solutions can provide an amazing experience to your visitors with very little work on your end. The administration panel is also uniform to all other scripts, which should provide you an easy interface to upload photos and add catalogue entries.

There are so many choices out there it’s hard to pick just one. But I’ve included 3 below which stand out among the rest. They’re viable options for the average webmaster who isn’t interested in messing around with FTP and programming IDE’s. You do lose a lot of opportunity for customizations, but you are gaining added security and personal staff support.

Shopify

You can check out Shopify for yourself to see this amazing service in action. Their website is designed beautifully and contains some wonderful demos. If you are on the edge with choosing any company, Shopify may possibly be the best option. Their features include a personal app store, SSL security, unlimited server bandwidth, a custom mobile template and a whole lot more!

shopify

This is one script which offers a lot more user customizations than others. In the admin backend panel you may choose between dozens of themes to implement onto your live website. If you understand HTML/CSS it’s possible to edit the raw website design online. The editor is similar to WordPress theme‘s editor and offers a very simple UI for beginners.

Shopify also includes live chat and contacts 24/7 for any support. Check out their huge examples page if you’d like to see a few Shopify-powered stores. By looking at some templates it’s difficult to even tell what script they’re running.

Pricing can range from very cheap to very expensive over the course of their 5 plans. Compare details and see if any would stack up to your credentials. Ideally I would recommend Shopify if you have some standard knowledge of HTML and are looking for a fully-accountable staff to back up your new launch.

Yahoo! Merchant Solution

For small businesses Yahoo! Merchant Solution may also catch your attention. The layout for your standard Y!MS account is fairly straightforward and easy to customize. They provide custom traffic analytics and split testing right from your admin panel. The most popular payment gateways are supported, including PayPal, money orders, checks, and credit cards.

yahoo merchant solution

Yahoo! is a great company to partner with if you’re choosing to go the hosted route. They spur large bouts of traffic through organic search and ad clicks, quite honestly only rivalled by Google. You can set up a small marketing account and help spread the word of your new store. Additionally if you’re looking to work with a skilled web designer or developer the small business network includes these features. Yahoo! can practically manage your entire store deployment and launch.

BigCommerce

The BigCommerce shop software could be compared to Shopify with trimmed features. They offer a clean user interface which clears up a lot of confusion in the signup process. It’s a breeze to add in new features, products, users, and take payments online in just a few minutes.

bigcommerce

Granted if you are a developer the team has spent time building an online API. Check out the integration and API settings on their website for details about page plugins. You may include details from many accounts around the web such as Facebook, eBay, 2Checkout, MasterCard, and PayPal. The staffs offer plenty of template customizations to choose from so you’ll never be worried about branding.

To see a few stores in action check out their live stores showcase, updated regularly and spurring some of the finest e-commerce designs in modern Internet layouts. There are a lot of features to go through when you’re first working with BigCommerce. Consider e-mailing the developers or get in touch with somebody at the company to answer questions you may have. I have only heard very positive reviews about their customer service and support for clients.

Custom-Owned Scripts

On the flip side to pre-hosted solutions it may be easier for developers to work within their own boundaries. Of the many scripts online to choose from there are only a handful worthy of testing. Although I’ve included 4 of my personal favorites here, check Google and do a bit of research if nothing suits you, alternatively check out our featured open source e-commerce shopping carts.

magento.

Each website launch is unique and will require unique conditions which another e-commerce solution may provide. In popularity these 4 scripts rank very high, so I’m sure you’ll find most things you need.

Zen Cart

Possibly one of the best known brands for e-commerce scripts on the web, Zen Cart is written in PHP and supports mostly all hosting environments. It’s free to download and install on as many websites as you’d like. The only retributions which they require is leaving the “Powered by Zen Cart” link open in the footer area.

zen cart

Working with Zen Cart provides connections into other services. Some of these are included as modules and it’s possible to download them from their website. Others are simply companies which have tied into the Zen Cart software. Check out their personal recommended services list to see if anything jumps out.

If you know API development yourself there’s a simple XHTML templating system applied onto each website. It is incredibly easy for your standard web developer to create a custom theme.

Additionally the support community is alive and constantly buzzing. Zen Cart has personally sponsored an entire wiki devoted to the script and common topics. Their support forums are also often active with helpful members. You can ask questions ranging from setup and installation all the way to custom module controls.

Magento

Magento has developed a very fine script for e-commerce websites. Their whole script is written on PHP and includes plenty of details for getting started. If you’re familiar with active development and FTP deployments check out the current SVN. It’s updated frequently and gives you a great way to access raw PHP files.

magento.

Certainly it’s possible for non-programmers to work with the Magento suite. But I would recommend checking out another option if you aren’t at least well-versed in HTML/CSS. Truly those looking to customize an amazing store with brilliant functionality should check out their product features and weigh the options. It won’t be a simple task to learn the Magento backend, however if you are familiar with PHP or a similar programming language you should be very comfortable within 2-3 weeks.

This is one company which provides a lot of support for users. Aside from the free edition there are many alternative options which you can pay per licence. Enterprise and Professional edition stand out as the two best-featured scripts. If you’re torn check their charts on the comparison page and choose what you think is best suited for your business need.

To get started with your learning spend a bit of time learning about their system, which includes screencast videos and some technical documentation. One area the Magento system isn’t lacking is in documentation.

WordPress eShop

Classic WordPress CMS has stood among many challengers in its day. Yet today there are millions of websites powered by WordPress, both static content and live blogs. So it only makes sense that over time a team of developers would create one spectacular e-commerce solution tied into WordPress. I believe WordPress eShop provides everything an e-commerce site would need, from orders to shipping to discount codes, all running within the WordPress admin.

eshop

If you’re a bit confused browse through a few of their tabs. The developer has provided amazing documentation and examples. Their installation process is also very simple, yet an elegant way of handling such a complex task. They have included a brief FAQ tab demonstrating some of their finer features.

With this method you will have to concern yourself with security and updates. It is of the utmost importance that your website stays secure and hack-free. SQL injections are all too common, and in this day personal user information and credit card numbers are much too important to lose. If you’re looking for a place to start on this, WordPress hosts support forums with many related topics. Try out their search feature to see if anybody has asked similar questions before.

Interspire Shopping Cart

Interspire is an Australia-based web development company. They create custom scripts with administrator backend support and CSS3 templates. These products include a general CMS, email marketing software, and a powerful shopping cart featured here. They do charge a hefty fee for their software out of the box ($295 per license), but you’re given amazing possibilities for customization.

interspire

Interesting enough the software which powers Interspire Shopping Cart is the same which powers BigCommerce discussed earlier. The only difference with them is a paid hosting account and you don’t have any access to editing the server files. But Interspire is such a complex system it may be a lot easier this way. For developers, Interspire is a goldmine of creativity.

They have released some brand new features in version 6 which will blow you away. They have hundreds of modules and templates to choose from. And their list of accepted payment gateways is enormous in comparison to many other scripts.

If possible try out their demo install, both frontend and administrator panel. You’ll fall in love with the features immediately and recognize if this is truly the best option for you. Your ideas will change depending on the needs of your shop, but for the average web developer the Interspire Cart is easily the best solution.

Taking Merchant Payments Online

Credit card payments are possibly the largest out of any other style. Many digital sources like Google and PayPal have started to corner the market, but credit card companies are still raking in the profits. And it’s obvious as credit cards provide a simple solution for your customers and you to pay online.

network solutions

You’ll probably want to sign up for two different accounts and include your new business name on file. An Internet merchant account is used to receive funds over the web for goods or services. Similarly a payment gateway or payment provider is a service which connects your store with your merchant account. This means you’ll be able to accept instant payments via credit card whenever your customers buy something.

To sign up for a merchant account you may try checking your local bank. Banks offer a signup process to credit your website and create an Internet-based merchant account. But if this isn’t an option try a merchant account provider. These 3rd parties work as the middle man transferring payments from your site to the bank of your choice. There are a few merchants to choose from. I’ve listed the most popular companies below:

After you have successfully created a merchant account you’ll have to choose a gateway. These are companies which securely transfer the data your customers input into your merchant account.

Sometimes banks will provide you with the gateway, although there are plenty of options to choose from otherwise. The most credible company for those based in the United States is Authorize. Their website includes some standard information and forms which should help clear up any questions you have regarding their services. Additionally eWAY is a new launch targeting the international audience.

Alternative Payment Methods

If you won’t be taking such direct payments from clients, it may be easier to work in the short term. Digital payment methods have become a lot easier to work within the past decade. PayPal is the obvious leader among the pack and can be featured on almost all of the most popular e-commerce empires, with strong assisting guides laying everywhere, even from Hongkiat. Amazon and eBay are another two best known for this feature.

paypal

Many of the runner-up services work just as well as PayPal but haven’t gained enough attention. Specifically Google Checkout offers a very secure and speedy transaction process. If you’re already using Gmail or have a Google Account it’s simple to tie into a new Google Checkout account. Their backend supports widgets which you can add onto your page for a nicer design.

Both PayPal and Google Checkout support solutions for invoicing. This can be useful if you’re planning on purchasing modules or further domains. Try staying with a single account and use this for all your business transactions online. It’s a lot quicker than waiting for payments or working through shady non-secured payment pages.

Add Content and Products

After you’ve got a domain, hosting, and you can view your script live online then you’ve really made it far! Moving past this process you’re merely required to perform some maintenance and building of website structures. Not too bad for a first e-commerce setup.

add content and products

Familiarize yourself with the administrator panel and how to work with product pages. It’s important for your viewers to receive the best user experience on your website and hopefully land the sale. If you notice any image size limits or set proportions consider spending some time pre-cropping your product images. Or at the very least standardize the image size so your products will display evenly in rows/columns.

Along with product listings you’ll want to begin working on your page copy. Written content on your website is vitally important to get your message across and land sales. Visitors will be interested to hear about your company and many will hope to get in contact with you. These are just a few base pages to consider building, but you may focus on a few more as time goes on. For example a privacy policy page is very important concerning how you’ll handle user information.

Marketing and Beyond

After this point your first shop should be online and full of new content. Congratulations! It’s a difficult process to build and launch a full-scale e-commerce solution. But now the fun really picks up as you start taking orders and marketing.

google analytics

Nobody is going to find your website without some form of marketing. If you haven’t signed up for a Google account yet I highly recommend creating one for Google Analytics. They provide completely free tracking software which boasts some incredible features you can’t find anywhere else! With their tools you can find your most trafficked pages and biggest referring websites. Alternatively you can also try out some worthy analytic tools to find the one which best suits you.

If you feel that a professional marketing strategy would provide some prosperous results I recommend joining with a few publishing agencies. Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo! are the top 3 contextual ad publishers in the whole Internet. Google AdWords is obviously very well known and trusted amongst hundreds of marketers – and for good reason! Google AdWords provides large traffic numbers and laser-targeted click results for whatever products you’re selling.

Additionally Microsoft’s AdCenter and Yahoo! Advertising Solutions have really taken off the ground in recent months. These are viable options for smaller online stores with a much smaller marketing budget. You’ll be able to afford a lot more ad clicks and garner attention from a wide audience. Once you’ve run a few successful marketing campaigns your traffic numbers will slowly raise and you are sure to grow success in your online e-commerce shop.

Conclusion

This guide provides a conclusive walkthrough of the major steps to creating your first e-commerce store. It’s not an easy process to complete start-to-finish. Even professional web designers struggle when sitting down to create new e-commerce stores. But once you’ve gone through this a few times things seem a lot more efficient and will flow easier.

The solutions offered here are just some of the many opportunities for e-commerce developers. In addition if you have tips or strategies for launching an online store please share them in the discussion section below, we do appreciate them!

For more, visit; http://www.hongkiat.com

 

graphic designing, Uncategorized, web designing

The New Rules of Branding Your Business Online

Mastering branding online takes a lot more than a cool logo and catchy slogan. Experts play by a fresh new set of rules.

adaIt’s no longer enough to have a sleek website, social-media presence, and consistent brand aesthetic online. The new rules of branding your business on the Web have a lot less to do with presentation, and a lot more to do with interaction. In order to bring you up to speed, Inc.com has compiled nine of the most innovative and ingenious tips from articles, guides, and interviews in Inc. and Inc.com over the past year. These are the new rules of branding online.

1. Don’t just start the conversation.
Be an integral and evolving part of it. “Social media has one very important perspective to share with brand management—the conversation. Like branding, social media is all about the conversation and building effective relationships. They are perfectly suited to one another,” says Ed Roach, founder of The Brand Experts, a brand management consultancy in West Leamington, Ontario, the author of The Reluctant Salesperson, a free e-book available at http://www.thebrandingexperts.ca. The rules for brand messaging through new media versus traditional channels haven’t changed, but “the game sure got better and more interesting,” says Roach. It’s not enough to have a Facebook page or a Twitter account, you must participate in the conversation by making regular posts and replying to direct messages from your customers. Ron Smith, president and founder of S&A’s Cherokee, a public relations and marketing firm in Cary, North Carolina, agrees, adding that you’ll want to stay on top of what people are saying about you and your brand online. “Monitoring social media is a must for all companies. Social media has shortened the time frame for company responses to complaints or accusations. These days, companies need to acknowledge any issues and control the messaging in a matter of minutes instead of hours or days,” says Smith. Read more.

2. Either keep your personal brand out of it…
So you have 10,000 Twitter followers. Does it matter to your customers? Tim Ferriss, the entrepreneur behind the sports nutritional supplements company BrainQUICKEN and author of The 4-Hour Workweek, told Inc.com contributor John Warrillow: “Unless you’re in one of a handful of businesses like public speaking, I think managing and growing a personal brand can be a huge distraction for company founders. I see all of these entrepreneurs trying to collect Twitter followers, and it reminds me of a matador waving a red flag in front of a bull. In this case, the founders are the bull. The bullfighter moves the flag away, and the bull comes up with nothing but air. Steve Jobs has a personal brand, but it is Apple’s product design that makes it such a valuable company. He isn’t jumping on Foursquare to develop his ‘personal brand.'” Read more.

3. …or dive in and make all the headlines you can.
Appearing in the media as a source of expertise can go a long way toward building your brand, Inc.’s April Joyner reports. To gain press, identify media outlets that are most applicable to your particular areas of expertise and send them targeted pitches. If you want to be a talking head on radio or television, it also helps to give producers a preview of your personality by referring them to video clips on your site. As with print, the Web has also democratized the world of radio. Through venues such as BlogTalkRadio, anyone can host her or his own broadcasts—or find a show on which to appear. After you have honed an area of expertise, you will find that there are plenty of opportunities to take your message on the road. Becoming active in professional organizations and attending conferences offer valuable opportunities for networking. As you become more familiar within a certain field, more and more people will call on you to share your expertise. Making an appearance as a vendor at an event can also offer long-term personal branding benefits. Read more.

4. Don’t favor edge over consistency.
Chris Russo had a healthy business. The only thing holding it back, he thought, was its name. Three years after its launch in 2006, Fantasy Sports Ventures’s revenue was increasing 40 percent to 50 percent a year, a pace that surprised even Russo. But by the fall of 2009, he was uneasy. Despite the heady growth, Russo felt the company’s brand positioning was pigeonholing the business and would soon limit further expansion. “Fantasy Sports Ventures was not a long-term, sustainable, public-facing brand,” Ed O’Hara, of the branding firm SME, says. “It felt more like a holding company and was too heavily weighted on the fantasy side.” O’Hara and Russo tossed around lots of edgy names, like Fanarchy, Fantology, and Gutcheck, but weren’t sure. Rebranding was on the table, but the company didn’t want to alienate its huge readership and large fan base. The solution? When the company acquired another brand, The Big Lead, and was integrating it into the existing portfolio of sites, Russo realized he struck gold. The name was consistent with the sites’ goals, as well as its existing image.  Read more.

5. Be persistent in finding and targeting your niche.
ada2Even if you’re entering a flooded marketplace—and online is certainly a very crowded forum—you always have a chance to make your brand and company stand out. People used to think water was all the same; now stores carry half-a-dozen brands or more. “Marketers struggle with differentiation because they give up too soon,” says Derrick Daye, managing partner of The Blake Project. “They think that this can’t be differentiated, it can’t be unique.” Experts say the constantly shifting marketplace creates the need to be creative with your approach. The toothpaste market is one that professionals cite as a constantly changing product selection that requires vigilance on the part of brand managers. Additives like baking soda, breath freshener, or whitening strips are now taken for granted. Read more.

6. Excel at telling your customers “About Us.”
You may not be paying much attention to your About Us page, but visitors to your site are, writes Chana Garcia. And considering that your About Us page is where the world first clicks to learn about your company and the services you offer, it deserves a little more consideration and a lot more respect. Sure, you need to include all the basics. But a few simple tactics can make your About Us page a more exciting read and your company come across as more accessible, says Lorrie Thomas, aka The Marketing Therapist, a marketing strategist, educator, writer, web marketing expert and speaker. Avoid writing a soliloquy (too much text can be a turnoff) and focus on connecting with your site visitors. Thomas asked her employees to write their own bios for her company’s About Us page. Her only mandate was that in addition to providing a snapshot of their professional history, they include personal information, such as hobbies or their favorite activities. Some even set up links to their blogs and personal websites. This might also be a good place to include e-mail addresses for your staff. Readily available contact information shows customers that you want to hear from them and that you have nothing to hide. Read more.

7. Fully integrate social media into your site.
You’ll not only look savvy, but increase your connectivity, and gain traffic to you site from elsewhere. You don’t necessarily need to put out the next viral marketing video or hire an expensive marketing agency (although both would probably help) to achieve a high rate of traffic. All you need is a bit of elbow grease, a few tricks up your sleeve, and a commitment to making your site a quality destination for visitors. Add Facebook Like buttons, have a dynamic blog section, utilize SEO, and build your site heavy with links, for starters. More tips can be found in our guide to “How to Drive More Traffic to Your Website.” Read more.

8. Monitor your brand’s reputation, and be ready to respond.
Facebook, Twitter, and Yelp have become essential components of many companies’ online marketing strategies, but there are countless other sites on which customers rant and rave about their experiences. A question or complaint left unanswered on any of them has the potential to tarnish a company’s brand and scare away prospective customers. That’s why companies like Beachbody are using new tools to monitor what’s been said about them online. The most basic services, like Google Alerts, allow users to select keywords to track and to receive e-mail updates whenever they appear on the Web. Others, like Social Mention and HootSuite, specifically scour profiles on social networks such as Twitter, Facebook, and MySpace for relevant comments. Nate Bagley, a social media expert at Mindshare Technologies, a Salt Lake City company that makes software that helps companies keep track of customer feedback, uses Google Alerts and Social Mention to keep track of references to his company, as well as news on its clients, competitors, and the industry at large. “It’s a good way to gather business intelligence,” he says. Some of these services, including Radian6 and Viralheat, detect whether a post is positive, negative, or neutral, so businesses can easily determine which mentions require the most attention. Those features have allowed companies to maintain greater control of their brands. Read more.

9. Showcase your best work.
In this new environment, a sturdy brand is all about trust and relationships. With that goal in mind, there’s no better way to build both than by posting testimonials or listing big-name clients you’ve partnered with. That will lend your business a good amount of credibility. You might consider incorporating your clients’ logos somewhere on your page as an added visual element. Mentioning awards and recognitions your company received, as well as community service work, green initiatives, and interesting facts, will also make your business more appealing. Additionally, timelines, company history, and major milestones are attention-grabbing.

Why not try these out and see for yourselves. You can always come back for more.

For more tips, you can visit http://www.inc.com/