Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Do You Feel You've Hired the Right Graphic Designer for Your Small Business? Here are 5 Indicators

As a kid, did you ever find a shiny yellow rock that you thought might be gold? Well growing up in Ohio I came across a number of rocks that had a flash of golden metal that I thought were exceedingly valuable, so much so that I took the rocks back to my parents to find out how rich I was going to be. As you’ve probably guessed, they weren’t worth much. In fact, they were not worth more than the paper sack I had carried them in.

While they aren’t looking for rocks, I’ve found that business owners and managers have the same challenge looking for the right designer for their company. And like me when I was young, when they find something they think is valuable, they often have no way of knowing how valuable the rock, or in this case the designer really is.

The big challenge for business owners is how to evaluate if they’ve made a good choice when it comes to hiring a designer – how can they tell if they’ve picked up a gold nugget or a lump of coal. I am going to share with you 5 quick things you’ll eventually think and feel that indicate you made the right choice in hiring your designer. You might not say these out loud, but over the course of working with the designer you’ll begin to feel them:

  1. You’ll feel you’re important to the designer not just as an account but also as a person. Rather than just being someone who just sells to you, you’ll feel the designer cares about you and your business, and that she/he is building a relationship with you rather than making a sale.
  2. You’ll feel you have a partner who can help you with all of your marketing, advertising and design. Instead of feeling you have to know it all and do it all yourself, you’ll feel that you have an honest, expert who’s on your side and dedicated to helping you succeed.
  3. You’ll feel comfortable communicating with your designer, that she/he is really listening to what you have to say and eager to provide helpful feedback and insight. You’ll feel energized and excited about your business and your business’ future, and talking and strategizing with your designer will be something you enjoy.
  4. You’ll feel confident that you’ll never waste money on design projects that won’t produce a good result for you and your company. You’ll begin to feel that you’re under the protection of the designer and that she/he will provide you with advice on which marketing and advertising projects will give you the best return for your money.
  5. You’ll feel that you have a professional resource to always advise you when you are confused or wondering about your marketing, advertising and design. For example: where to advertise, how to identify your target market, how to analyze your competition, which web hosting plan is best and if you should or shouldn’t invest in search engine optimization – the list goes on and on. You’re going to feel, unlike your competitors that you’ve got someone who’s got inside information that will help you gain a competitive edge.

This of course isn’t an exhaustive list, but I am hoping you start to see what you should expect out of your designer, and you’ll now feel more comfortable and confident when it comes time for you to select one to work with your business. If you’ve hired someone and you already feel these bullet points I’ve listed above – pat yourself on the back, you’ve found a good designer. If you’ve hired someone and you don’t feel these five bullet points listed above. Well, I’d give you the same advice my parents game me about the rocks I thought were gold, “Throw them back and keep looking”.

A business savvy graphic designer is often a contradiction in terms; however, Jeremy is a unique combination of sharp business marketer and creative designer. This one-two punch provides clients with targeted marketing, advertising and design projects that yield outstanding results and a terrific return on their investment; they actually work. Companies looking to feel more confident and credible with their business brand, tired of getting lost in a crowd of competitors and always feeling like they have to compete on price, need to call Jeremy at 480.391.0704 or visit http://www.candographics.com

For small business owners dissatisfied with their ad or unsure if it’s bringing in customers or money. Be sure to visit Jeremy’s http://www.advertisingthatmakesmoney.com and fill in the convenient form to request his eye-opening insiders report, you will also receive his 5-day audio eCourse, "The REAL Secrets of Successful Advertising", AND his weekly boost to your advertising success, the Can-Do Confidence Builder. All for FREE!

By Jeremy Tuber

Monday, January 29, 2007

How to Find A Trusted Graphic Design Company or Web Designer

It's long been held that trust goes a long way in building strong long term design relationships. Building all your hopes and dreams with one designer could leave you high and dry when they up their rates after you've committed to a job. So how do you go about finding a trustworthy graphic design company?

Word on the street
Some of the hippest young gunslingers are to be found hanging out in the gin palaces and opium dens of the ghetto. To the uninitiated this might seem like a frightening place to look for someone trustworthy to carry out your design brief but perservere and you may get to hear about some secret design meeting going down in the backroom of some crack festooned fleapit. Welcome to the shadowy world of the design behemoths.

Playing the field
With so many unscrupulous designers hawking their shoddy services, it pays the prudent design buyer to play off these scampa among each other. For instance one designer may be offering free lollipops with every logo design. Armed with this information, approach another design agency and see what kind of sweets you might be able to get from them in order for you to place an order. Who knows by this method of going back and forth you may be able to aquire a whole sackfull of candy at no extra cost. Sweeeeet!

Get to know your designer intimately
Mixing business with pleasure can be a dangerous pastime but when you are looking to build a long term design relationship, sometimes being bedfellows makes common sense. In much the same way as you would be unlikely to stab your husband or wife in the back (unless of course you wanted to murder your spouse in which case this makes perfect sense) it stands to reason that a designer you are regularly giving one to is probably going to be more receptive to your picky demands.

Money - the route of all evil?
So far we've discussed the psychological neccessity of maintaining a trusting relationship between designer and client. The other, sometimes neglected aspect is a sound business trust between the two parties. Ask yourself this question: is that shifty looking graphic designer going to be dipping into your wallet as soon as you're out of the room? If the answer is a probable yes then kick the devil into touch.

Listen to your heart
At the end of the day building up a trustful design relationship has to emerge from both parties. It's all very well you doubting the designers sincerity and to be fair who hasn't thought at one stage or another that a designer is ripping you off? But it's also important to trust your gut feeling about a person. There are a couple more points that you should always be aware of. Ginger haired people although renowned for their hostile nature are 99% of the time fairly honest. Blonds will steal your last penny and leave you with some hideous design work.

Mindtap Graphic Design Resources is your single point entry into the UK creative industries. We are looking to create a unique site where you can access information on UK graphic design, UK logo design, graphic design tutorials, graphic designer careers, graphics software, graphics tutorials, graphic designers, logo creation, freelancer resources, graphic designer jobs, employment, web page design, free graphics, website designers, artworkers, graphic clipart and any other associated graphic design resource.

by Horatio Farquaar

Sunday, January 28, 2007

PNG is Replacing GIF Files for Digital Graphic Storage

GIF is one of the oldest file formats used for graphics and digital photos storage. GIF has many technical advantages but it also has one big business disadvantage. GIF uses LZW compression which is tangled with patents and licensing issues. The free creation and usage of GIF files was always in debate.

While GIF is a great format for the storage of graphics the usage of GIF files represents some licensing issues. Specifically GIF uses the LZW compression algorithms that are patented and not free to use. GIF became so popular that practically it is used in many places without any practical licensing issues but regardless of the problem being practical and real it drove some industry groups to get organized in order to find a way to solve it once and for all.

One solution that was suggested and implemented was to create a completely new file format that will simply replace the old GIF. This format was called PNG – Portable Network Graphics – and it was designed to be as efficient as GIF but free for use without any risk of licensing or patents issues. PNG was also designed in the Internet era and as such was designed with Internet and networks usage in mind.

Both GIF and PNG were designed and are mostly used for storing graphics. Some people confuse graphics with digital photos although the two are completely different. Graphics are usually computer generated pictures that are built from some basic geometrical objects such as rectangles, triangles and circles. These objects can be combined in complicated ways, colored, filled, brushed, different textured can be used and more. Digital photos on the other hand are generated by digital cameras and by shooting photos of real objects. Digital photos are not built of discrete objects. There are technical implications to that difference mainly in how compression is implemented. For example it is easier to compress graphics (since it is built of known objects and more homogenous colors) than to compress digital photos (since they include areas of different colors, usually some noise and slight variations in colors in each pixel).

To conclude here are short explanations of what the GIF and the PNG formats are:

GIF – Graphics Interchange Format: An old file format initiated by CompuServe. It uses a lossless LZW compression and is thus more efficient than BMP files. GIF files are very efficient for storing basic graphics (that include lines, circles and other graphical shapes) and also efficient for storing small digital photos but are rarely used to store large digital photos as there are more efficient formats for that purpose. GIF files can also include multiple “frames” and support basic animation.

PNG – Portable Network Graphics: This relatively new format was designed to be used in online applications such as web pages. It uses a lossless compression. The original goal of the PNG format was to replace GIF (due to some licensing complications associated with the GIF format). PNG is commonly used now by online web sites to represent small digital photos or graphics replacing the GIF format.

Ziv Haparnas is a technology veteran and writes about practical technology and science issues. This article can be reprinted and used as long as the resource box including the backlink is included. You can find more information about photo album printing and photography in general on http://www.printrates.com - a site dedicated to photo printing.

By Ziv Haparnas

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Should I Hire Or Pay For A Web Designer?

Hiring a competent web designer is one of the most important things you will do for your online business, here are a couple crucial pointers to keep in mind:

If you do not have a web designer in mind then it is highly recommended that you find an adequate freelancer to help you design your first simple site. You can expect to pay between $25 and $50 once you find a decent and competent website designer. Finding the right freelancer is as simple as doing a Google search, you'll find hundreds upon hundreds of different people and companies to choose from.

Secondly, but just as important, always make sure to do your due diligence on any web designer you choose. Being sure here will save you tons of time in the long run. The second step, and perhaps the most important one, is making sure that your freelancer is competent as it is fairly common for them to bid on jobs outside of their expertise. Although this is the second pointer, it could easily be the most important one. Always make sure to do your due diligence on any freelancer you hire.

If you feel ambitious, there are many web hosts that supply you with what you see is what you get editors that will allow you to build and construct your own website and save yourself a little money at the same time. The good thing here is that if you are only looking for a basic three to five page website they are really simple to construct. Doing it yourself is the cheapest, hiring a freelancer is the next best alternative, and going with a full-fledged web design company should be your last resort as they tend to be quite expensive.

Having your first website design can be a challenge, now that you have these tips that should make this a little bit easier to bear.

By Scot Standke

Graphic Design Using Color

Color is everywhere and conveys a message even if we don’t realize it. While this message can vary by culture it pays to know what colors “say” in your own corner of the universe, and even what color means to your target market.

If you don’t think that color speaks just complete this sentence, “red means ---- and green means –“ even a child will know what red means stop and green means go. If such simple ideas work for all of a given culture or market what could it mean to the graphic design of your website, brochure, or product if you know some of this information.

First let’s start with the basics. The color wheel. We’ve all seen it. The color wheel shows the basic colors, each wheel is different in how many shades of each color is shown, but they are essentially the same.

Color harmony, colors that go together well. These will be colors that are next door to each other on the color wheel. Such as blue and green. In reference to clothes these colors match each other. Instinctively most of us know which colors go together when we dress ourselves every morning.

Color complements, colors that set each other off, they complement each other. These are colors that are opposite on the color wheel. Such as blue and orange.

Color depth, colors can recede or jump forward. Remember that some colors seem to fall back such as blue, black, dark green, and brown. Other colors will seem to step forward such as white, yellow, red, and orange. This is why if you have a bright orange background it may seem to fight with any text or images that you place on it. The orange will always seem to move forward.

Now you have the basics so let’s go further. Just because to colors go together or complement each other doesn’t mean that yo necessarily want to use them on your project. I opened this article with the meaning of colors now here is an example, keep in mind this is one example from western culture.

Color Survey: what respondents said colors mean to them.

Happy = Yellow Inexpensive = Brown

Pure = White Powerful = Red (tomato)

Good Luck = green Dependable = Blue

Good tasting = Red (tomato) High Quality = Black

Dignity = Purple Nausea = Green

Technology = Silver Deity = White

Sexiness = Red (tomato) Bad Luck = Black

Mourning = Black Favorite color = Blue

Expensive = Gold Least favorite color = Orange

So in designing your project it’s important to know what colors mean. You can now see why a black back ground with green type would be bad, beyond being nearly impossible to read, if your target market thinks that black represents mourning and green makes them sick. There are exceptions to every rule of course.

So you may want to include some research in what colors mean to your target market. Colors that would get the attention of a teen would probably annoy an older person and the colors that appeal to the older person wouldn’t get a second look from a young person.

Color may be one of the most overlooked aspects of design.

Copyright 2004 Kelly Paal Kelly Paal is a Freelance Nature and Landscape Photographer, exhibiting nationally and internationally. Recently she started her own business Kelly Paal Photography (www.kellypaalphotography.com). She has an educational background in photography, business, and commercial art. She enjoys applying graphic design and photography principles to her web design.