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The Rise of Large-Screen Devices Highlights Importance of Mobile Websites

With the introduction of the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, there is now no denying the popularity – and demand – for large-screen devices. Perhaps the most famous and prolific of the smaller screen holdouts, the iPhone represented a bygone era; one in which devices were designed to fit nicely in your pocket, but perhaps not with ease of use in mind. But now that the larger iPhone 6 has ushered in a new era at the world’s largest technology company, the writing is on the wall. With devices like the iPhone and iPad Air getting ever larger, the era of the large display has proudly arrived.

It’s Time to Reconsider the Browsing Experience

So what are the potential repercussions of larger screens on traditionally mobile devices? What does it say about users, and the public in general, that mobile devices are growing in size with each passing year? And does it foretell a time when mobile devices will no longer be, well, mobile? We may not be able to answer all of these questions, but in general, it can be stated without too much controversy that screens are growing in size because people are increasingly turning away from their desktop devices and towards their smart devices for everyday use. With smartphones, tablets and phablets becoming much more than mere novelties – in fact, they have become the new computers – it was perhaps inevitable that screens would grow in size to accommodate the devices’ new roles.

If it’s true that individuals are increasingly using their mobile devices for everything from Internet browsing to online purchases to banking – and let us state plainly that they are – then it is also true that companies which previously designed their websites primarily for a desktop viewing experience need to reevaluate their approach to how people view the Internet. A business that fails to develop a mobile-friendly website runs the real risk of alienating its customer base and losing its competitive edge. Mobile is the future of Internet use, and making a website that is compatible across devices is as important as it once was to make a website that was compatible across browsers.

What Is a Mobile-Friendly Website?

The easiest way to answer this question might be to state what a mobile-friendly website is not: a mobile website is not a separate and unique website, wholly different from its desktop version. Though this might have been the case four or five years ago, when smartphones were first arriving into the marketplace, that is no longer true. Now, a mobile-friendly website is one that is mobile-responsive, capable of adapting and changing as needed to fit the screen that it’s on, but maintaining its core elements, from content to design.

But why is a mobile-responsive site needed? In simple terms, mobile websites live by a different set of rules. Buttons and links are generally larger, extraneous information might be marginalized, layouts become more vertical (or horizontal, depending on the screen), and the interface morphs so that it is better suited to a touch screen, as opposed to a desktop monitor. As the name implies, a mobile-friendly website is one that provides a friendly and pleasant user experience for individuals on mobile devices – not one that is frustrating and unsatisfying. Think of how annoying it is to have to tap, pinch and zoom; mobile-friendly websites aim to eliminate this.

Source: http://www.abookapart.com/products/responsive-web-design

responsive

Mobile is the Future – Are Businesses Ready?

With phablets, tablets and smartphones selling like hotcakes (no doubt spurred on by companies like T-Mobile offering free 4G LTE for devices like the iPad Air and Galaxy Note 4), businesses would be well-advised to hop on the mobile-friendly bandwagon now, before it’s too late. Think about how often you use your smartphone or tablet to view the Internet (the odds are good you’re using one right now), and then let that answer the question of whether it’s important or not for companies to develop websites for mobile. The answer couldn’t be more clear.

 

Source: http://autopilotonlinesuccess.com/responsive-design/2362/

starbucks responsive

 

Jessica Oaks is a freelance journalist who loves to cover technology news and the ways that technology can make life easier. She is also an editor at www.freshlytechy.com. Follow her on Twitter @TechyJessy.

Does Social Media Affect SEO (Search Engine Optimization)?

 

Yes, yes and yes. Social media is just another way to generate backlinks  to your site, which might help you rank higher –depending on what people are saying about your business.

mqdefault157With the popularity of social media rising, specifically Facebook well over 500 million users and growing, it’s a market you can’t afford to ignore. That’s thousands of potential leads, customers and contacts for your business. Additionally Facebook has its own pay per click campaigns so you can reach out to even more users, specifically by their interests, age and gender if necessary. Facebook has also recently introduced a whole new level of ecommerce on their site, so all your business has to do is tap into it.

Twitter is another major social media player that you really shouldn’t ignore. Twitter works by giving users bits of quick hit information. Your business can use this to its advantage by offering Twitter only coupons, a behind the scenes look at your company, previews of upcoming promotions, and more. Twitter also helps you rank higher on Google as people re-tweet you and your company name shows up more and more often.
This practice leads to  higher visibility, and pushes you up as a trusted or recognized authority on the topic in organic search.

Social media can also help you to connect with your clients in a way that wasn’t possible before. You can get to know who they are, what their needs are, and most importantly what they are saying about your business as a whole. This helps you see a direct correlation between how you’re operating, how effectively your marketing dollars are being spent and what you can do to make improvements. And all of this straight from the horse’s mouth, not from a focus group or third party survey company.

So, why wouldn’t your company jump on the social media bandwagon? Well, there are a few reasons some businesses are dragging their feet. One is fear of the unknown. New technology always presents a certain amount of uncertainty. However, as a leader in your industry don’t be afraid to jump into this market with both feet. Unless you participate in a pay per click campaign, the only thing it’s going to cost you to get your social media visibility going is man hours, so you really don’t have much to lose here.

The bottom line is if you don’t jump into the social media world, your competition will. Then they will have access to the hundreds of millions of users you passed on. You might as well just hand your business over to your competition if you choose to ignore this growing market. So, play your cards right, and accept the fact that social media does affect SEO. The conversations between people online and user generated content matter to Google and they include it in their SEO algorithm.



Blog Post courtesy of Optimum 7

Gmail: Understanding and Managing labels

Labels help you organize your messages into categories — work, family, to do, read later, jokes, recipes, any category you want. Labels do all the work that folders do, but with an added bonus: you can add more than one to a message.

Only you can see your labels, so whether you mark a message with “Best friend” or “Read later,” the sender will never know.

Create a label

Here’s how to create a label that you can add to any of your messages:
On the left side of the page, click More at the bottom of your labels list. (If you don’t see “More,” grab the gray dividing line with your cursor and drag it down to show more labels.)

Click Create new label.

Type the name of your new label and click Create.
You can also create a new label for a message in your Inbox by selecting the box next to the message, clicking the Label button above your message list, and then clicking Create new.

Apply your label

You can add a label to your messages in several ways:
When viewing your Inbox, select the checkbox next to those messages, click the Labels button, and click the label you want. (Or check the boxes next to several labels and click Apply.)

When viewing a message, click the Labels button to add a label to the message. You can also click and drag a label from the left side, and drop it on the message.
When writing a new message, click More options drop-down arrow More options in the bottom right corner of the compose window, click Label, and then select one of your labels.

When you add a label to a conversation, it only applies to the messages already in that conversation – not to messages sent after you applied the label. When you search for labeled messages, you’ll see any messages that match the label, along with their conversation thread. However, you won’t be able to search for an individual message in the thread that doesn’t have that label.

Organize your labels

Hover your cursor over the label on the left side of your Gmail page, and click the down-arrow that appears next to that label. A menu appears where you can change the label’s color and edit its settings, or click Edit to change the label’s name. In that menu, you can also click Remove label to delete the label from your list and remove it from all messages that were tagged with that label. You can also edit and delete labels in the Labels tab of your Gmail Settings.

Create Sub-Labels

You can add a sub-label beneath a label to create a hierarchy. For example, if you have a label for your vacations, and want to create another specifically for a trip to Hawaii, you can nest the “Hawaii” label inside your “Vacations” label. When creating a new label, you can make it a sub-label underneath another label that’s already in your account by checking the box next to ‘Nest label under’ and selecting which label you’d like to nest it under. You can also create sub-labels by hovering your cursor over an existing label on the left side of your Gmail page, clicking the down-arrow that appears next to that label, and selecting ‘Add sublabel.’

How to change your label settings

You can control some of the settings for your labels on your Labels tab. Get there by clicking the gear icon , select Settings, then Labels. Here are a few examples:
Choose which labels appear in your list on the left: In the “Show in label list” column, click the “show” or “hide” link next to each label to choose whether it will be shown in the left panel of your Gmail pages. You can also set labels to appear only when they contain unread messages (otherwise, they will be hidden).

Choose which labels appear on your messages: In the “Show in message list” column, you can choose whether you’ll see each label displayed next to its messages’ subject lines. Click hide if you don’t want to see that label name when you look at the messages it contains.

Delete labels: If you see a label that you don’t want anymore, click remove in the “Remove label” column. (You’ll have to confirm that you’d like to remove the label by clicking Delete.)



Video: Managing Labels

Gmail: Managing labels

Quickly revise labels to tag and organize your Gmail messages.

Gmail: Unthread your conversations

Normally, Gmail groups a message and its replies in a single, threaded conversation. If you prefer, however, you can switch back and forth between conversation view, and the traditional, unthreaded view, where all messages are listed separately.

Threaded vs. unthreaded view

After switching to unthreaded view, you’ll notice several changes in your Inbox. First, the number of messages in your Inbox will likely increase (1). This is because, rather than showing a single entry for the entire conversation, Gmail now intersperses messages throughout your Inbox, based on the date they were received (2).

Gmail threaded mail

Switching to unthreaded view (and switching back)

1. Open your Gmail Settings
2. On the General tab, under Conversation View, select Conversation view off.
3. Click Save Changes.

To switch back to Conversation view later, just come back here and select Conversation view on.

Gmail Threaded_2

How Unthreaded Gmail changes your Inbox

What exactly happens when you turn off Conversation view?
● Gmail reloads your Inbox and displays all messages in the unthreaded, message-based view, sorted in reverse chronological order. Based on the number of previously threaded messages you had, you’ll typically notice more messages listed in your Inbox.

● Replies to messages you sent display as separate entries in your Inbox.

● When you reply to a message, the message is sent to the recipient and to your Sent Mail label. It’s not linked to the original message.

● When viewing messages others have replied to, you’ll see the entire contents of all replies in the body of the email.

● To find messages previously linked together based on a particular subject, search for the messages based on the subject or keywords contained within the subject.

● Unthreaded view has no effect on any chats listed in your Inbox.

Check back on Danipa’s blog for more handy Gmail tips! Have a questions about Google Apps? Comment below and and will do our best to answer you question!

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Using social media successfully in your small business marketing

This video by the Cogent Coach, offers some great tips on how to get the most out of your social media marketing efforts.

Topics covered include:

  • What is Social media Marketing
  • Major sites / Tips / Techniques
  • How to integrate Social Media into your marketing
  • Automating your efforts

New Testimonial video for Danipa

Global Pet Foods KW has three locations in Kitchener & Waterloo making them very busy. We worked with them to create a website that has the ability to showcase the many products that they offer, and a blog for posting relevant articles and pet care tips. We also work closely with them to manage their social media accounts and email blasts.

Check out what they have to say about Danipa below:

Please feel free to give us a call if you have any questions about the services that we offer!

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What is Responsive Website Design?

As a business owner, there are a number of different options to consider when developing your website.

Responsive web design or “RWD” is a newer method of building a website which aims to deliver a website that is automatically tailored to the device and environment of the user who is accessing your website. Just as your needs for web browsing are different when browsing on a desktop in the comfort of your home/office compared with an iPhone while rushing through a busy airport, your website can also change to deliver a different experience depending on whether you’re at home, on the go, on a large screen device, or a small smartphone.

Watch the video below to learn more about Responsive Design.

Join the discussion and view the tutorial on Tutvid.com: http://tutvid.com SPONSOR: |||| ||||

Responsive Design

2 Gmail Ninja Tips!

These 2 Gmail tips will save you time! Learn how to enable “Canned Responses” and also how to quickly undo an email after you have clicked the send button!

Saving you time and Saving your bacon, that is what these two terrific Gmail features will do for you! Hiding from plain sight in the Labs section of Gmail are two tools that we all need to know about. Canned Responses and Undo Send!

Video Rating: 4 / 5

Danipa Launches New Website for Platinum Key Real Estate

We recently successfully launched a beautiful website for a new Real Estate brokerage in Mount Brydges, Ontario.

Home Page Platinum KeyPlatinum Key Realty Inc. is a full-service real estate brokerage, located in the heart of Middlesex County, that delivers the experience and expertise that today’s housing market demands. They came to Danipa looking for assistance in creating their new home on the internet! They wanted to be able to connect with current and new clients with a blog, and to also allow for the search of new listings on the website.

We also integrated third party applications to allow for on-site MLS searches of listings and for the viewing of Visual Listings..

Platinum Key Virtual Tour Listing

Platinum Key MLS Search

Platinum Key also wanted the ability to connect with clients through their blogging.

Blog Thumbnail

Easy to manage agent bio pages were also needed, they are easy to set up as the company grows and new agents are added!

Platinum Key Agent Page

It was a pleasure to work with Platinum Key! If you are looking to buy or sell real estate in Middlesex County, make sure that you drop the friendly people at Platinum Key a line! They will go out of their way to make your experience a positive one!

Visit the new website at www.platinumkey.ca

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Danipa Joins Google Apps Authorized Reseller Program

KITCHENER, ON, Jan. 6, 2014 – Danipa Business Systems Inc. today announced it has become a Google Apps for Business Authorized Reseller.

“The Google Apps Reseller program will help us enhance the value of Google Apps for businesses in Kitchener-Waterloo and surrounding areas,” said Patrick Aboagye, President & CEO of Danipa. “Google Apps for Business offers a broad set of powerful APIs that enable us to deliver innovative cloud-based solutions for our customers at reduced IT cost.”

Google Apps brings simple, powerful communication and collaboration tools to organizations of any size – all hosted by Google to streamline setup, minimize maintenance, and reduce IT costs.

With Gmail (including Google email security and retention, powered by Google Vault), Google Calendar, and Google Sites, users can stay connected and work together with ease. With Google Docs and Google Drive, which include word processing, spreadsheet, presentation and website creation tools, users can share files and collaborate in real-time, keeping versions organized and available wherever and whenever users work.

The Google Apps Reseller program includes value-added resellers, consultants, managed software providers, and independent software vendors that sell, service and customize Google Apps for Business for their customers. Danipa received training, support and deployment services from Google, as well as access to APIs for integrating Google Apps into their customers’ business operations.

Danipa is able to retain a close relationship with their customers by providing additional service and support. The businesses receiving Google Apps will benefit from the additional attention to their specific needs.

For more information on Danipa’s program please visit www.danipa.com/google-apps-for-business and to learn more about the Google Apps Reseller program, please visit www.google.com/a/partners.

ABOUT DANIPA BUSINESS SYSTEMS INC.

Danipa is a web design, development and Internet marketing company based in Kitchener, Ontario that develops online solutions for businesses worldwide. We have been providing cloud-based solutions for businesses in the Kitchener-Waterloo area for over 7 years and have expertise in web design, development and the setup up of Google Apps, Google Analytics, Google AdWords and Google Webmaster Tools.

Google, Google Apps, Gmail, Google Talk, Google Drive, Google Vault, Google Calendar, Google Docs, Google Sites and Google Video are trademarks of Google Inc.

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Get noticed with Google AdWords this Holiday Season!

Danipa is excited to be able to offer a new promotion for clients who create a new Google AdWords account prior to December 31, 2013.

Now when you spend $100 you get $300 in free advertising! This offer is perfect for those who want to ramp up their Holiday Marketing!

Here’s how it works:

For a limited time period, Danipa is offering a $300 promotional coupon; when you spend $100 within 14 days of creating your first AdWords account:

  • Signup and request $300 promotional AdWords coupon!
  • We will notify you after reviewing your application if you qualify.
  • Apply the promotional coupon to your AdWords account.
  • Your account would be credited with $300 if you spend $100 within 30 days of your first AdWords campaign.

Don’t have time to create a new account? Danipa can set up and monitor your account for the first month for only $100!

AdWords is a great way to reach thousands of potential customers, at exactly the right moment, when they are actively searching for your type of business!

AdWords advertising will benefit your business because of the following reasons:

  • Create more than one ad for multiple targeting.
  • You can create more than one ad within a campaign for multiple targeting. This allows you to see better performing ads over a time period and optimize non-performing ones.
  • Advertise globally — or locally.
  • Your AdWords campaign can be setup so that your ads appear to people just in your town or Province, or all around the country or even the entire world.
  • Get targeted traffic.
  • Your ads appear next to search results when a user searches for words of your choice.
  • If you are a florist in Kitchener you can choose to show an ad next to the search “Kitchener flower delivery”.
  • Pay only for clicks.
  • You pay only when someone shows interest in you by clicking on your ad.
  • Control your costs.
  • You decide how much to pay per click, and determine your budget. You can set your daily ad budget and change it whenever you want.
  • Enjoy Powerful reporting
  • AdWords lets you know your results at all times. The detailed reports can tell you what’s working, what isn’t, and how you can improve your campaign.

Watch this informative video for more details!

New Website for New Hamburg Photographer Suzanne Leakey

It was a pleasure to work with Suzanne Leakey to create a new website that serves as a showcase for her amazing Portfolio of Family Photography, Model Photography, and Commercial Photography. Suzanne needed a website that showed off how amazing her images were and we are very happy with how the website turned out! The home page is very simple on purpose, so that the user is gets to experience her work.

Home Page of suzanneleakey.com

Suzanne works with clients from throughout South Western Ontario, including Kitchener, Waterloo, Cambridge, Guelph, Stratford and more! Visit Suzanne’s website and check out her work today!

New Website for the Criminal Lawyers at 30 Queen Street

At Danipa, we are always excited to work with people when they are creating a brand new website! For the Criminal Lawyers at 30 Queen Street in Kitchener, Ontario, we developed an online solution that gives them the opportunity to highlight lawyers and answer questions via the new blog. For this project we created a new logo, new website and integrated a WP blog theme.

1. Home Page features a scrolling screen showcasing the lawyers

Criminal Lawyers Home Page

 

 

 

 

 

2. Profile Page that highlights the Biography of each Criminal Lawyer and includes a custom contact form and Google Map integration for each profile.

Profile Page_Criminal Defence Attorney Terry Mackean

 

 

3. Services Page features a drop down feature that showcases the types of criminal charges that they can assist clients with.

Criminal Lawyers Services

 

Please feel free to visit the website directly at www.30queenlaw.com.

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Best Tips for Choosing a Domain Name for your Business

We often get clients who are in the initial stages of starting a business or who are starting a new marketing campaign and realize that they need help choosing an appropriate domain name. Several years ago we went over the different options available for choosing a domain for your business in this blog post, it is one of our most popular blog posts and since it has been quite awhile since our last post on domains, we are updating the content for 2013!

We always stress the importance of choosing a domain name that is both simple and easy to remember and that is also in line with what you are going to be using the website for. A good domain name will be an important part of your marketing strategy if integrated properly. Listed below are some of the most important tips for choosing a domain name that will be the perfect match for your company.

Brainstorm your keywords
Brainstorm Keywords

If using your company name is not the preferred option and you are looking for something different, take the time to sit down and brainstorm about 5-6 keywords or phrases that describe the business that you do.

Once you are happy with your keywords, visit a domain registration site (Like www.danipa.com/domains) and begin the search for available domains.

Prepare to be disappointed! You might think that your name is unique but chances are that someone has already thought of it and purchased the domain name.  Don’t give up and mix and match using your keywords, eventually you will find an available name!

To avoid competitors purchasing similar domains it is also advisable to purchase domains in different extensions (e.g .com, .ca, .org, .net).

Keep it Simple

You want your customers to easily associate your domain name with your business or brand. If a domain requires a lot of attention to type correctly then you lose part of its marketing value almost immediately! Avoid Hyphens and numbers as they make it hard to verbally promote your website. This is important if you advertise through radio or over the phone. You do not want your customers to be unable to find your website simply because they have spelled it incorrectly.

Double Check

Once you have found the perfect domain name, take some time to check if it is available in social media accounts. If your name is already in use on Twitter, Facebook or other social media accounts than your brand recognition across channels will diminish. You should also take the time to see if there is a trademark or copyright on the name. Be very careful when registering names that have a copyright on them, or that are very similar to a trademarked name. You can be setting yourself up for a hassle if the licensee decides that you have infringed upon their trademark.

Pro Tips

1. Keep it simple and easy to remember
2. Avoid Hyphen’s, dashes and numbers
3. Use your company or brand name if possible
4. Avoid Slang terms – Not everyone understands what you mean!
5. Check if social media accounts are available to match the name
6. Register your name for more than one year
7. Choose automatic renewal – Never forget to renew!
8. Keep it short – Long names are easy to mistype!

In short, it is important to take the time to choose a domain name that will satisfy your needs for years to come. By taking the time to research available names you can be confident that your small investment will pay off in the long term in marketing and branding!

Get started with our easy to use domain name registration system. Buy your domain name today!

E-Coupons and How They Can Boost your Business’s Success

You’ve probably heard of “recession-proof” businesses- those that thrive, or at least don’t dive, when the economy tanks out on us. Liquor sales (no shock there) is one of those industries, along with the less crucial ones like health care, production and distribution of food staples, funerary services etc. However, there’s one facet of the market that’s not only safe from the economy’s occasional swan dives, it actually thrives- coupons and couponing. So if there’s a silver lining to be found bordering the dark cloud of recession, it’s that right now is a great time to attract customers with coupons.

Modern Couponing and How to Use It

This being the aforementioned age of everything digital, the frontiers of couponing (soon to be a major, very dull, motion picture) are being defined on the internet. The net is even redefining the concept of coupons. E-mail distribution, printable coupons from a website, coupons with codes that can only be scanned via apps, click-able banners, online-only coupons, social networking and share-able offers, etc.

Canadian_Money_HandThe biggest e-players, though, are the “social coupon” sites like Wrazz, Gizmodo, Goldstar, Living Social, and their reigning godfather- Groupon. It’s no secret that they’re changing the economic landscape, with customers numbering in the tens (probably hundreds) of millions, collectively spending billions. Perhaps more appealing, marketing researchers found that social coupon sites were most popular with young, educated, above average income-earning women- a very lucrative market. As a member of that demographic, except for the income thing, I can certainly attest to my own use of them.

As such, consider using one of these services. If you feel like your business isn’t the kind of undertaking that would profit from a social coupon outlet, think outside the box. Groupons have been offered for- plastic surgery and circumcision; a professional, $100 tucking-you-into-bed service; Jeffrey Dahmer’s neighborhood tours, etc. Those sites, Groupon in particular, have established a reputation for odd and non-traditional sorts of coupon offers- so think it over.

What Your Coupon Should Look and Work

The popularity of e-coupons means that there are a lot of them out there. A very deep observation, I know. That means they work but it also means that the coupon-o-sphere is packed. And that means- your coupon has to stand out. You want it eye-catching but not distracting and informative but not cluttered. Including a good photo or illustration is almost never a bad idea for livening up your coupon.


CouponAs for the clutter- make your offer clear and bold with a specifically-defined benefit- “Get —– 20% Off!” “Buy Two —– Get One Free!”, or whatever that offer is. Don’t be afraid of white space. People are far more likely to look at an internalize a little text in a decent amount of space than they are a lot of text in less space. Once your coupon is clear, concise and catchy, define its boundaries. Always be clear and absolute about the terms: say exactly when the coupon expires (and if it’s an actual coupon for a good deal, it should expire); clarify that the coupon is limited to however many people at once; only —— customer(s) per coupon; “Deal does not include alcoholic beverages”, and the like.

Create Loyalty and Then Reward It

If it’s possible for you to do so- track your coupons and those who use it. Have customers who take advantage of your coupon give you their information for future deals. If you put your deal up on a number of sites and/or media, track where those coupons that come in for redemption were found. And obviously, focus more heavily on those sources for future campaigns. Coupons are meant to draw business but should be designed to keep it, too.

For the all-important customer-retention, consider coupons that are just available to current, loyal customers. Have coupons that are only redeemable from your Facebook page and/or send offers to your customers by e-mail or snail mail. Send out a note to people that you will be opening your doors an hour early for loyal, appreciate patrons, with coffee and muffins and everything there is 20% for that hour, etc.

Drawbacks and Concerns

QueueThis may not sound like a drawback, but beware the possibility that your coupon campaign draws too many customers. It’s not hard to find example on the web of a small business that offers some ambitious deal, gets 500-1000 takers and finds themselves overwhelmed by customer-demand they can’t meet- which is going to lose business long term. Not to mention the obvious drawback of offering a product or service for less money- you’re getting less money from people who use that coupon.

Be absolutely sure your bottom line can handle the hit it’s going to take if dozens, hundreds or thousands of customers take you up on your offer.

Do the research and do the math before you offer a coupon. And if an e-coupon campaign seems like the best way to go, begin with a very conservative run. Remember that not only will you very possibly be dealing with a great number of new customers, they’re going to be paying less for your product or service and your social coupon partner is going to take a bite out of that already-diminished profit. If you have clear-eyed exectations, however, an e-coupon campaign can positively change the landscape of your business, as it has for so many others.

About the Author:

Annie Harrington is a small business owner and freelance writer. In her free time she enjoys writing about small business, business in general, couponing and anything else she finds interesting.

Don’t get lost in space!

White SpaceWhite space, so named because of its common use in graphic design (which usually uses white paper), is essential in creating a design aesthetic that is clear, concise, and appealing to the viewer. But make no mistake about it—white space is not to be confused with blank space at all. In fact, white space isn’t even always white. It is, however, always empty, always clean, always in demand.

White space works to draw attention to the more complex elements on the page that it’s meant to contrast. The world of advertising has fully embraced the trend—we’re seeing it in print advertising, television commercials, and individual business correspondence. It’s appearing on banners, business cards, and is often used in custom poster printing, including advertising jewelry, restaurants, and sporting equipment.

This strategy of simplicity works for a variety of reasons. First, it allows a consumer the opportunity to immediately digest the product or text being presented to them. Often, especially in the case of television, the product name is not immediately presented to the audience. Instead, a viewer is faced with a simple product and allowed time to contemplate its complexities. I’m thinking specifically about an ad for “Wonderful Pistachios” that aired during the 2013 Super Bowl, in which singer Psy sings a version of “Gangnam Style” tailored to the pistachio. The commercial is set against a white background and features humans dressed as nuts in black leggings and tan and neon green shells. Psy’s outfit mirrors theirs, but includes a suit jacket instead of a shell. It isn’t until the end that the viewer is even presented with the product’s official packaging—and yet, we know.

We know because good companies assist the consumer in brand recognition. Often, this happens by way of strategic use of white space. In the mid 90’s, Hallmark launched a campaign designed to get people to flip over a greeting card to identify the brand. Consumers found a nearly centered black and white Hallmark logo surrounded by white space. The design was replicated in print advertisements and eventually requested as an ad design by magazines. The simplicity spoke to consumers and advertisers alike.

White space is so crucial because it forms a lasting impression in the mind of the viewer. In their simplicity, ads that utilize white space are more memorable to viewers.  Ultimately, these individuals are presented with less material but leave a scenario with more information. Their attention has been focused on the most important details of a product—and the sleek, modern way in which they’ve been presented leaves a lasting impression.

Finally, the abundant use of white space in artwork creates a look that establishes an immediate sense of mood in an advertisement while minimizing printing costs. And, the more simplistic the design, the more timeless it becomes. Think about something as simple as a personalized birthday banner—given the use of white space, you can communicate a simple message in a meaningful and memorable way, a birthday banner that wishes Grandma a happy 70th and Junior a happy 5th.. And best of all? Everyone will keep their focus on Grandma, not your cluttered design.

Put your new found knowledge to the test. Go here and see if you can tell what makes it or breaks it for these designs.

About the Author:

Annie Harrington is a small business owner and freelance writer. In her free time she enjoys writing helpful articles so that other small business owners can positively impact their brand image. When she’s not writing she is either taking photos or designing custom banners with Vistaprint.

Common Graphic Design Mistakes

Is your site easy on the eyes? Is your logo a no-go? Maybe it’s time to find a graphic designer to help put things right. They’re all over the web and the classifieds, offering styles for every taste and services to fit every wallet.

Freebies, advice, templates, and webhosting sites abound. You took all those art classes back in the day. And now you feel inspired by the DIY genie to grace your website with a logo of your own making. After all, who knows you better than you do? You are your brand.

What have you got to lose—business, image, and professional identity?

Photo: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Pencils_hb.jpgOkay, brave one. Graphic design is not for the faint of heart. Even the pros fall prey to the pitfalls of overconfidence and bad layout. Go ahead and take your best shot. Just remember one thing when grappling with graphic design conundrums: give us a little KISS—keep it simple, stupid.

Here’s a list of common graphic design mistakes:

  • A hodgepodge of fonts—too many fonts spoil the message. Give us a page that’s easy to read. Pick a font and marry it. For headlines, use italics or bold face and larger type size. Research fonts common to your business sector and don’t venture too far off the grid.
  • Not enough white space on the page. Enough said.
  • Font size too small—unless your target demographic is 25 years old or younger, give a creative shout out to the visually challenged. That’s around 40% of people over 30. If they can’t read your message, they won’t linger long enough to find out what you’re selling.
  • Dark background, light font—hard to read. Black pages with yellow type aggravate eyestrain. Purple background with pink type—really?
  • So much info, so little space—use headlines and bullet points to break it up. Write your memoir on your laptop, not on your website. What do you want us to buy—your credentials, product, or service? We don’t need your family history for that.
  • A kaleidoscope of colors—an assault to the senses. Choose brand colors that suit your business or the type of service you offer. This is called brand synergy. Color is a power tool in the right hands. Look for guides on the psychological effects of different colors.
  • Fuzzy messaging—what do you want to say? Be clear. Have a goal and stick to it. Strong copy that’s meant to sell will take us where you want us to go, like the shopping cart. Check out a direct response copywriting course.
  • Don’t get too cute with colors and type unless your target audience is toddlers and their moms. Fancy fonts, curly-cues, and hearts do not project a professional message.
  • Logo doesn’t translate to grayscale: you want your logo to look good in color and in black and white. What if someone wants to print a page from your site, and your logo turns to mush? You may need help from a pro.
  • Low quality photos & images—now’s the time to invest in visuals that will translate into various media without compromising their quality. Get the best photos in the highest resolution you can afford.
  • Organic rather than homogenous—use the same logo design and color scheme when planning your site, business cards, envelopes, stationery, plates, napkins, and coffee mugs. Think: what would Martha Stewart do?
  • Wonky Line Spacing—can lead to unintended consequences, occasionally an innocent word turns lewd and obscene because the letters are too close, or the type goes askew. If it’s your logo or ad, it’s not even funny.
  • Chaotic mix of graphics, drawings, and photos on one page—we can’t get away from your site fast enough.  It’s not art. It’s clutter.
  • Too may photos on one page—looks like you threw a stack of photos on the coffee table and forgot to put them back in the box. Don’t be lazy.
  • You let your graphic designer or webmaster call the shots? A recipe for disaster. Collaborate, don’t delegate. It’s your business identity, your bottom line that hangs in the balance, which brings to mind:
  • Avoid clichés. You have a unique product or service to offer the world—express it through graphic design that intrigues, excites, and energizes. Look for a fresh take, not the same old, same old. Bon mots from Tom Peters: “Remember my mantra… distinct or extinct.”

Keeping these common mistakes in mind, you may want to pay special attention to the planning stages of your brand. If you find yourself falling into one of these patterns, it might be time to bring in the big guns, and hire a professional who will work with you to get the perfect design. After all, what’s more important than your brand, and how people receive it?

About the Author:

Angie Picardo is a staff writer for NerdWallet. Her mission is to help consumers stay financially savvy, and save some money with the best online savings account.

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5 Reasons to use Socia Media for Business Marketing

As a business owner or manager, I know that using social media to market your brand can feel weary. Although confusing and overwhelming at times, social media can be a very powerful tool for your business. If you are on the fence about bringing your business to social media, these 5 benefits might just convince you to join.

Cost

In the past, marketing was a huge part of a business’s budget. Marketing is still a huge part of business, but the form has shifted. Social media is a great way to market your business, and it’s free! It levels the playing field between businesses and opens everyone up to a large audience. Social media allows you to invest more time than money into your marketing campaign.

Customer Relationship

Social media allows you to create relationships with customers by directly interacting with them. Customers will be encouraged to respond to posts, and keeping the conversation about your business going through different social media feeds will keep them aware of it. Not only do your customers most likely use social media actively every day, they also take it with them everywhere via smartphone. In addition to this, customers can share information from your page onto their page. This is the new form of recommendations, customers share what businesses they like with their friends on social media, which encourages their friends to give your business a try as well.

Keep up on Competitors

Using social media for your business will allow you browse through other competitors pages. You can see what customers are saying to them, products, and other information that might not be readily available to you by visiting their store or website. Especially locally, this kind of information allows you to be even more competitive with pricing and quality because you can directly address the concerns your competitor’s customers have.

Email Marketing

You no longer need to wait for customers to sign up for an email list in order for you to share newsletters, discounts, or other information with them. You can now share this information with your whole audience, as well as new customers who might be browsing the page for information. Email doesn’t have to go out the window all the way you can use social media and attract customers with a “Join Mailing List” button making it even easier for them to join and stay in the know.

Build your Brand

 

Social media allows you to really grow and confirm your brand. Businesses now have voices, giving you the ability to accurately build the image you want for your company. Respond to local events, news, and reviews in a tactful, timely manner. Your image and brand can really show itself on social media, and give customers an idea of the experience they will have using your business. Social media can help give you that boost to make your brand memorable to customers.

Social MediaIf you want a cheap, fast, accessible way to reach your business’s audience and customer base turn to social media. Just remember to keep your pages positive and respond to customers tactfully, since these profiles become the face of your business. Good luck and have fun!

 

 

About the Author

Annie Harrington is a small business owner and freelance writer. In her free time she enjoys writing about ways other business owners can positively impact their brand image with custom poster printing and other printed material.

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How to Bridge the Gap between Print and Digital Advertising

 

The year is 2013 and the modern medium for all kinds of communication and advertising has shifted from the physical to digital.  As a result it’s easy for business owners to assume that printed materials like personalized banners and custom posters have lost all their value, but that’s not necessarily the case. Printed advertising still impacts customers and does so in a way that digital advertising cannot.  Because printed advertising is tangible it makes a physical difference in the lives of those who see and encounter it. For business owners the ultimate advertising strategy is to bridge the print and digital divide, and here’s how.

Define an Advertising Goal

Before you can create an effective advertisement you need to have a clear advertising goal. In other words, what do you want people to do once they see your ad? if you’re interested in making more sales then sales are your goal. If you’re interested in having more people join your mailing list then getting people to sign up for the list is your goal. It doesn’t matter what your goal is, but you have to have one before you can do anything else!

Pave the Way

Once you have a goal set you can better direct customers so they can reach the goal. A good approach is clear instruction and incentives. Make it easy to reach the goal and provide a clear reward for doing so. Simply saying “Buy This” or “Sign up for this List” won’t work. People already own enough things and more than likely don’t want or need another email cluttering up their inbox. If you can give a good answer to the question “what’s in it for me?” chances are good you’ll get a great response from your advertising campaign.

Eye Catching Advertisements

Whether you’re designing digital or in print ads they must be eye catching. Utilize bright colours, bold fonts and simple, but interesting logos to get the bang for your buck. If you’re going to be using a lot of colours make sure they’re consistent across the board. You want your customers to relate each of your ads to the other every time they see it. This way you can make various ads that still positively impact the campaign.

Put the Above Advice into Action 

 

 

Part of directing customers and making it easy for them to reach your goal is by utilizing what they already have with them.

Bar Code Sign Today smart phones are everywhere and they’re all able to read QR codes. If you don’t know what a QR code is, it’s best explained like this. QR codes are a square, graphical barcode people can scan with their cell phone. Once scanned the phone is directed to do something (like visit a website). Using QR codes is a great way to make it easy for customers to view your ad and reach the goal. For added incentive attach discounts or bonuses to the QR codes.

Conclusion

Although digital is quickly taking over, print is here to stay. For the time being print advertising is still an important part of any advertising campaign. Without it you’ll miss a large segment of the market and miss out on the extra business. However, it’s important to use things (like QR codes) to bridge the gap from the physical, to the digital.

Guest Post Author Annie Harrington

Annie Harrington is a small business owner, writer, and amateur photographer. In her free time she enjoys writing about ways other business owners can positively impact their brand image and increase sales.

March Madness Business Card Design Sale

Spring is just around the corner and to celebrate we are launching a HUGE sale!

Until March 29th, purchase our Business Card Design Package for $119 and you get 500 Business Cards FREE!

Our Business Card Design Package includes the creation of 2 Unique design concepts, up to three rounds of revisions and all of your artwork is provided in a print ready format!

Often the first promotional material that potential customers will see, a well designed Business card can help you leave an impression when you it’s important. Put a Spring in your step and start networking your way to success with professionally designed Business Cards!

Business Card Design Special

For a limited time only, receive 500 Business Cards FREE! Need more than 500? Not a problem! Take advantage of our add on promotion and order 500 additional cards for only $25!
This promotion can also be used when purchasing our Stationery Design combo package.

Want to see some of our work? Check out our Graphic Design Portfolio on Pinterest!

Ready to get started? Visit our Graphic Design Page to purchase your Business Card Design package today! You can also contact us by phone or email with any questions!

*Delivery is included for clients in Kitchener, Waterloo, Cambridge, Guelph and the GTA. Clients outside of this area may incur a delivery charge.

**Promotion runs until 5pm on March 29th, 2013

Improve Your Business Presence with Vinyl Banners and Custom Posters

There are so many ways a business can advertise these days it’s almost difficult to keep track of. While the majority of the new methods are online, there are still some traditional methods that work. One of these traditional methods is vinyl banners or custom posters.

Traditional SignsIt used to be that vinyl banners for business advertising looked cheap. Most applications of the vinyl banner were a black or white background with big, bold, and blocky letters. These signs usual indicated things like “GRAND OPENING”, “SALE”, or “GOING OUT OF BUSINESS”. Not only were the vinyl banners of the past simple, they were also tacky looking. But times have changed. With the advent of modern digital printing the vinyl banner has received a fresh breath of life and a second chance to make an impact.

The Perks and Uses of Vinyl Banners and Posters

These inexpensive, durable banners not only cost less than the typical permanent sign they’re also highly mobile and easy to transport. Consider how difficult it would be for the owner of a food truck to move between locations with a large, bulky sign made from metal or fragile plastic and you’ll quickly realize the value of the vinyl sign. Not only are these signs easy to move from place to place, they’re also able to be printed digitally. This feature allows business owners, or individuals, to include full color photographs and other eye catching artwork that was never possible before.

Convention and Conference Banners – Ever been to a crowded conference and wish you had a map? Well placed vinyl banners can help ease confusion and direct convention attendees to the right areas of the convention center. Having banners placed strategically around to announce meeting times, restroom locations, and other niceties is like having a personal guide available 24/7. They are also useful to explain prices and other details at sales tables which frees up sales


Street Advertising – One of the best ways to monetize a business banner is through street advertising. Although many would like to, a lot of small business don’t have the money to invest in permanent metal signs. This is where the vinyl banner has its strength. Because they only cost a couple of dollars to make these signs can be produced on a weekly basis to advertise sales and other specials the business is running. If you’re planning to start a business or open a new location a “NOW OPEN” or “COMING SOON” sign is a must have! But don’t just use big bold lettering and a white background. Include your full color logo and a website address as well.people to focus on selling, rather than answering redundant questions. Other uses include stage or podium backdrops, displaying a speaker or conference theme, or the ever popular company logo and motto.

Tabletop BannersTrade Shows – Any company or person attending a trade show as a vendor needs to have signage! It is an absolute must. Without adequate signage you run the risk of not being found by those who are interested in what you or your business has to offer. This type of banner is well-suited for the trade show environment because they are easy to transport (just roll it up and ship it), they’re durable and can last for many years to come. Improve your tradeshow presence with multiple posters that explain the products you’re offering. Full color printing allows for no detail to go unseen.

Things to Consider when Ordering

If the banners will be indoors you don’t need to worry too much about upgrading to an outdoor safe vinyl. However, if you plan to use them both indoor and outdoor, or think they may be used outdoors at some point, you’ll want to invest the little extra it costs to get outdoor safe vinyl. Generally speaking it’s a little thicker and withstands the elements, especially the wind, a lot better.

Always order solvent-based inks! Some printers use dye-based or pigment-based inks by default which is a less scratch and UV-resistant ink than their solvent-based counterpart. These inks will fade quickly when exposed to bright light like the sun. If you plan to keep your banners or posters in service for more than a few days than UV-resistant inks are highly recommended.

Lastly, if you need help creating an eye catching poster many sites allow you to design posters online. If you need a more customized banner, consult a local design firm and order the banner yourself.

About the Author:

Annie Harrington is a small business owner and freelance writer. In her free time she enjoys writing about ways business owners can positively impact their brand image with unique printed material like custom decals.

Using Off-Line and Online Tools to Promote Your Business

As the Internet continues to evolve, search engine companies, including Google, focus their attention on delivering the best search results to the online user. Through various techniques, Google and its competitors attempt to push popular and legitimate businesses that meet the search query to the top ranks of their results. For a company to achieve a high ranking in a search query, it must build a strong brand online and off-line to enhance favorable SEO signals.

Online and off-line website promotion must include branding signals designed specifically for search engine optimization. These signals might include a physical & virtual business location, accreditation’s, public relations, building a loyal customer base, developing a strong business reputation, providing visual content, developing other business deliverables, generating referral leads, and offering expertise.

Online/Off-Line Business Location

If your business includes an online website or physical location, it is important to push your company brand. Promoting a physical location for your business requires an effective company listing on various sites including Google Maps, Foursquare, Yelp and others. The more ways online users can find your physical location using the Internet, including address and telephone verification, the more traffic you will drive to your business. If you have a physical location, your website should never appear it as a generic site that is void of any actual office or way to contact/visit.

A Dedicated Staff

TeamIf your physical or internet business is in need of hiring new staff, consider posting all of your available jobs online. Search engines use this information to support the legitimacy of your business. Job listings can be posted on a variety of sites including Career Builder, Simply Hired, Indeed, and others. Additionally, you and your staff can list your company in the work experience portion of many sites including Facebook, and LinkedIn.

Business Accreditation’s

Acquiring business accreditation’s, including joining trade associations and receiving awards, will help your business develop trust in the marketplace. With your business profile located on websites and in online directories will help build confidence in your customers, clients, suppliers and associates. When accreditation’s are achieved in your business, make sure the information about your company is posted in trade association directories and other organizations including the Better Business Bureau.

Public Relations

Magazines, newspapers and online blogs work well as major channels for spreading positive information about your company. Write and post quality press releases on all of your new products and services. Publicly announce all your nominations for business awards, and discuss all the recent events within your organization, including the promotional advancements of employees and management. Publicly celebrate your business milestones including the company anniversaries, moving to new locations and any other pertinent news. If your business expands, it is important to post a press release detailing the expansion.

Solid Customer Base

Building a solid, loyal customer base is essential to the success of your company. At your physical location, you can easily create promotions to entice and excite your customer base concerning your offered services or the sales of your products. You can promote online customer loyalty in a variety of ways including through internet sales, email newsletter subscriptions with e-coupons and other exciting promotions. To continually develop a loyal base, connect to social media sites and become active in providing and accepting Facebook “Likes” and Twitter “Follows”.

Strong Business Reputation

ExpertiseAs an online or off-line company owner, it is imperative to build a strong business reputation. At your physical location, you can use the services of the Chamber of Commerce or the Better Business Bureau to ensure you have positive records that concern your local business. Online, you can rely on effective services like solid positive reviews on Google Maps, Amazon.com, and ripoffreport.com.

Visual Content

You can promote your business on the internet using promotional or instructional videos that help your clients or customers find answers to the questions they have about the services or products you provide. YouTube and Vimeo offer free ways to gain instant visibility to promote your business brand online.

Business Deliverables

Business DeliverablesAn additional way to make your presence known on the internet is to develop quality online brochures or post attractive company photos. Additionally, you can create professional looking presentations that highlight and promote your products and services.

Referral Leads

Develop and design your own blog using a WordPress blogging site using a Custom WordPress theme to post information, questions or answers on your own website, or on another weblog. Make sure that every time you leave any information at a visiting blog, you provide a link back to your website. This will ensure additional traffic on your site.

Expertise

ExpertiseActively participating in online forum discussions on topics that are relevant to your company website is an free and easy way to help build your brand. Sharing your knowledge of the industry with others will have them coming to you for answers in the future. This will build a strong loyal base and help promote the sales and services you provide.

About The Author
Olga Ionel is a creative writer at ThemeFuse.com – a top provider of WordPress Themes. She is passionate about studying online marketing industry and sharing informative tips.

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