Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Far More Than A Pretty Picture - Logo Design Demands Professional Expertise

Business owners go to great lengths to select the ideal names for their business. They know that a name plays a key role in creating a first impression about the business, and is an important consideration in making that impression both positive and memorable.

There’s a visual first impression that’s every bit as important as the verbal message delivered by the name. A company’s logo is a unique symbol that identifies a business or other organization. It represents the business in advertising, on wearables, on signs, and in every other way the business connects with key stakeholders. As people become familiar with the logo, they associate it with the company’s characteristics.

Business owners and marketing directors understand the value of having a logo, which explains why obtaining one is one of a new company’s first steps – and why a company that’s eager to change its image will often begin that process with a new logo. While they understand the need for a logo, few of those people have a deep understanding of the considerations that go into logo design, or about the most effective ways to create a logo that will stand the test of time.

Easy – or is it?

It seems that it’s amazingly easy to design a logo. After all, everyone from the local quick-print shop to the guy down the street who makes T-shirts claims that they’re capable. Unfortunately, sources like that typically design a logo that’s perfect for the immediate need but doesn’t accommodate all the other applications you’ll have. For example, a colorful logo that looks great on a computer screen might lose its charm when reproduced in black and white on a fax cover sheet. A logo that’s stunning on letterhead might be poorly suited for signage. And a dazzling, intricate design can drive the price of an embroidered golf shirt right off the course.

Those reasons and more are why it makes good sense for anyone serious about a new logo to turn to a professional graphic designer. Designers have the training and expertise to understand the many challenges involved in distilling a company’s personality into a graphic symbol, along with the practical experience to know the many ways in which that symbol will be applied.

Look for versatility.

A skilled graphic designer will consider the many places your logo may eventually appear (including some you might not have considered). That may include everything from business cards and letterhead, to vehicle decals, to store signage, to premium items, to advertising, to that familiar golf shirt. The designer’s goal will be to create a logo that provides a consistent image of your company, no matter how and where it is used.

The designer will also consider the various forms your logo may take. It may appear in full color on your signs, in just two colors on your letterhead and business cards, and in black and white in newspaper ads. It may be blown up to six feet wide on an outdoor billboard and shrunk down to a half-inch on a product label. Sometimes, it may appear in white on a dark background. As the designer moves from initial concept to finished design, all of those potential uses will be considered, and concepts that fall short will be discarded.

A step-by-step process.

Most professional designers will begin the process of logo design by asking you questions and listening carefully to your answers. They’ll develop a thorough understanding of your business and what makes it different from your competitors. You’ll probably have opportunities to review a variety of very rough sketches before the designer creates three or four recommendations. If the designer does not provide sketches showing how the logo will work in a variety of applications, be sure to ask for them before giving final approval.

Be sure to tell the designer about any special applications. For example, if it’s critical that your logo be etched into metal tools or applied as a decal to a service truck, knowing that will help the designer ensure that you’re not disappointed down the road.

How much?

Logo design is like many other things in business: prices are all over the board, but you’ll typically get what you pay for. That newspaper sales representative may create a logo for next to nothing, but when you try to use it elsewhere, you’ll find that next to nothing is about what it’s worth. If you work with a graphic designer or design studio, you’ll typically pay between $1500 and $10,000. When you consider that your logo will symbolize everything about your business, and will be used everywhere in your company, that’s a small investment.

How do you find a graphic designer?

A good way to start is by paying attention to logos you like. If you notice that a local business has an impressive logo, call the owner or marketing director and ask about the designer. If they’re happy with the work, they’ll usually also be happy to make a referral – and if they’re unhappy, you’ll want to know that, too. Focus on thinking

Once you connect with the designer, ask to see samples of his or her work. When looking at a particular logo, go beyond its appearance. Ask about the challenges the designer faced and what the client wanted to convey. After all, marketing and communications savvy is just as important in logo design as artistic taste – and there’s a big difference between a designer who takes an approach because it served a need and one who took an approach because it “seemed cool.”

Remember that you’ll live with the logo you choose for many years to come – and making a change down the road will be far more costly and disruptive than investing the time and money today. Your logo may never be as famous as Nike’s swoosh, but if it presents your company in the best possible light, it’s every bit as successful.

Alexandra Leonova is the founder of an eleven-year-old award-winning graphic and web design studio - Alex Design LLC based in Carmel, Indiana. If your current business logo needs a makeover or if you’re looking for a new logo, you can contact Alex at (317) 815-0449 ext 1

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

8 Must Have Graphic Design Skills in Today's Market

8 "Must Have" Graphic Design Skills For Today's Market

1. Adobe Photoshop The ability to use and understand the basics of pixel based photo manipulation. The best Photoshop experts are constantly learning and experimenting through online tutorials, books and seminars. This is the grand daddy of them all. Make it a goal to spend X amount of time each week learning a new technique.

Test: Can you do complex selections via the selection tool? Are you accomplished with layers? Do you understand how to use adjustment layers, masks and channels? Can you remove blemishes, “scratches” and color correct

2. Adobe Illustrator The ability to use and understand vector based graphics. This program is essential to creating crisp, clean artwork. You will need this program for logo/identity creation, poster work and even some print work. The program can be a bit tricky to learn but worth all and any aggravation to learn it.

Test: Do you understand the concept of bezier curves? Can you convert a bitmap image to a vector graphic? Have you mastered multi-step gradients? Do you know how to create graphic images with text?

3. Adobe InDesign or Quark Express The ability to use a page layout program. This program is fundamental to any print work. Whether you are creating books, magazines, brochures, sell sheets or advertisements you will need to possess the skills of a high-end layout program.

Test: Do you understand the concept of Master Pages? Would you be able to set up a 32 page catalog? Do you have an understanding of how to control text with images? i.e.; how to flow text in and around images. Do you have basic knowledge of offset printing and pre-press processes? Hint: if not, schedule a visit to a fairly large local printer and ask if you can be shown their process AND bring a list of a questions.

4. Flash The ability to use and understand this motion-based juggernaut. Flash is now the most widely deployed video platform on the Internet. Flash Player is installed on nearly twice as many desktops and devices as any other video player. As the web becomes more and more video-based having a solid knowledge of Flash, In my opinion, is one of the most important programs to learn.

Test: Can you create a simple animation? Do you understand the concept of keyframes? Do you know how to incorporate a Flash movie into a web page? Do you understand the power of interactivity and user interface design?

5. Understand Typography One of the most “overlooked” design skills today is knowledge of Typographic design. It is one of the tell-tale signs between a good and excellent designer. Our business is all about communication and if type is not clear, appropriate or well designed the design is seriously compromised.

Test: Do you have a font management system installed on your computer? Have you recently read (or revisited) some of the classic type books? Are you up-to-speed on typographic standards? Do you know the difference between True Type, PostScript and OpenType fonts? Do you have a font reference guide resource book in your studio?

6. Idea Generation In the design business it is critical to have a method of idea generation. Why? Some of the best designers in the world are paid the most money not because they know Photoshop of Flash better than you do but because they have the ability to consistently come up with new and innovative ideas that make their clients serious money.

Test: What methods do you use to generate ideas? Do you know how other innovative thinkers come up with their brilliant ideas? How often to you read (in general) so as to have myriad references and viewpoints to call upon? What do you do when your idea well has gone dry?

7. Building a Network To be successful in area of life you need the help and support of others. This is especially important for designers who need to spend much of their time in their studios/offices. Building a network of trusted confidants and friends will pay off in more ways than you know.

Test: How often do you attend networking events or seminars? Have you made a list of 5 influential people that could help your career? Do you have some sort of system for capturing and entering your new contacts information? What can you do this week to open and expand your network? Have you sought out a successful mentor?

8. General Business Skills You do not have to be a genius at business but you DO need to know basic business skills, like; sales, marketing, accounting, tax strategies, database management, etc. This tends to be one myth that designers rather not deal with. If you are marketing your own design firm or you are a freelancer the sooner you learn your business is NOT graphic design but the advertising and marketing business you will be light years ahead of your competition.

Test: Do you know the basic outline of a sales call? What new marketing strategies have you learned/implemented? When was the last time you wrote a hand-written thank you note or sent a surprise gift to a client?

Doug Farrick has owned and operated a successful graphic design studio for the last 4 years. He is currently putting together a very unique set of graphic design tools, tips, interviews and much more called the Designers inner Circle. To be on the pre-launch list, please sign up here:

Monday, October 29, 2007

Useful Information on Choosing a Graphic Design Agency

Why choose a design agency for your project?

With the wide variety of design houses, ad agencies and printers out there, choosing the right supplier for your creative needs can be a daunting prospect. So what are the key elements involved in choosing the right kind of creative resource for your needs? should you employ an in-house designer? What are the pro’s and cons?

Most decisions based on sourcing a creative supplier, inevitably come down to budget and what you feel you are looking to achieve. If you are simply looking for a few business cards, and yours is a sector where image is not the highest priority, a design agency may be a more expensive option for the level of input you need.

Many types of company offer graphic design. Printers no longer just print, even many photographers are offering graphic design as a service, as are stationery suppliers, IT companies and many other businesses.

What is a design agency?

So what is a design agency, as opposed to these other options? A design agency is a specialist in creative design as a core business. Independence is a key feature of a true design agency, hence the word ‘agency’ where we are able to choose unbiased solutions that are not tied in to having to use, for example, a certain print provider or being limited by any other linked-in factor.

At the other end of the scale, there are advertising agencies. Should you use an advertising agency for design work that is not advertising? The probability is that unless your requirements are linked to a certain advertising campaign that has been produced by the ad agency, the level of budget necessary for them to complete other forms of design is usually prohibitive for most businesses.

The reverse situation is equally true, most design agencies will not be appropriate for producing broadcast or press advertising, and especially where media scheduling and buying are a factor. The set-up of a design agency can be very effective for some advertising, but usually for limited campaigns aimed at niche target audiences.

The right design agency?

Within the design agency sector itself, there are still many different options to consider, here are a few points to help in making a decision:

• Where is the agency based, do I prefer a geographically close supplier so I can call in, or they can visit face-to-face?

• What is their relevant experience, do they have examples within the type of design discipline I am looking for?

• Have they worked for similar sized businesses, in closely related business sectors?

• Do they have marketing expertise as well as creative, can they understand wider strategic aims?

• Can the agency handle my expected workload, what evidence do they have of this?

• What is the specific experience of the team, who will handle the account?

• Is the agency doing many more web projects than design for print? Are the designers qualified designers for print, or web designers who outsource the print design?

• Is the agency willing to give references of satisfied customers other than pre-printed testimonials?

• Can the agency provide quantitative results for work, what evidence can they provide for return on investment and accountability?

• Which services are outsourced, which are provided in house?

With the explosion of the web as a marketing tool, many early websites were created by IT people, who had no training in graphic design but simply knew how to put a web site together.

Web site design has now become a standard part of a design agency’s portfolio and it is a natural progression for clients’ to expect their web sites to have the same level of branding as any other marketing communications tool.

The main benefit of using a design agency to design your web site is that a graphic designer can integrate your site’s branding with that of all your other marketing items. It is true that many design agencies have to buy-in technical back-end functionality for their sites, but this is only like using a printer to print a brochure that has been conceived and designed by a design agency.

In-house versus Agency?

Many businesses have taken the decision to employ graphic designers for themselves as in-house creative teams. Reasons for this are usually based on saving money as there are many designers available and the equipment investment is relatively low.

Although employing an in house team can be cost-effective, the inherent danger is that whilst the cost is less, the value created by the designers over the longer term may be reduced as complacency and ultimately boredom set in.

Potentially, over a longer term, the cost savings made by going in house may be overshadowed by a reduction in sales and profits as the ideas in the in house studio inevitably slow down and the communications become repetitive and stale. Of course, it is important to state, that this will not apply to every in house creative resource.

Using a design agency has certain key benefits over an in-house creative studio. The main benefit is that of value. Design agencies work in a competitive environment, their designers must constantly deliver the highest standards of work, as clients have a choice of suppliers who will often compete on a project by project basis.

As in football, to maintain a ‘first team place’ it is in the interests of all design agencies to constantly come up with exceptional creative for clients as there are consequences for not doing.

This competitive environment benefits clients by offering them cutting edge creativity, and projects that deliver effectiveness and return on investment.

In house designers very seldom have that competitive pressure to drive up their creative efforts. Work is effectively given to them on a production line and it can be hard for employers to get a true benchmark as to whether levels of creative effort are being maintained over the long term.

Unlike in-house studios, where the projects may only involve the products and services of one company, designers within an agency work for many different sectors and business types. This constant variety leads to many fresh ideas and the honing of cutting edge creative talent.

This variety benefits the client as the designer in the agency is far less likely to become stale over the longer term. Experiences with new design challenges and constant use of the imagination for new products and services, means that when the designer comes around to working back on a certain client’s project, he has all the experiences from other client’s work to bring to the table.

Although the trend for in-house design will continue due to pressure on budgets, working with a good design agency may still be the better option, as long as your agency can deliver cost-effective services, and offer you a measurable return on investment.

Apple Creative Design offer clients high quality marketing communications, predictable costing structures across all projects, and the benefit of strategic marketing capability to back-up all creative initiatives. If you have anything you would like to discuss, contact us any time on 01772 561234.

Copyright Apple Creative Design, 2006, all rights reserved.

Phil Ashforth is Managing Director of Apple Creative Design. Apple is a graphic design agency providing high quality graphic design for print and the web. Apple can be found at

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Design Psychology: Fabrics

From a riot of color in bold chintzes to the gentle rustle of taffeta, fabrics influence our mental attitude in many subtle and not so subtle ways. Playful patterns make us smile, while mixing prints and solids can present a paradox of dynamic energy.

No matter which effect you’re looking for, you’ll want too choose the right fabric colors, patterns, and textures to reflect your interior design plan. Emotional Factors Fabrics make impressions on all of our senses. For instance, tactile pleasure is strongly reinforced by the softness of fabrics. The touch of a fabric suggests wealth (silk), formality (damask), or informality (burlap).

Our hearing is enhanced in rooms with an abundance of noise-absorbing fabrics. The colors and textures of fabric affect our sight, and some fabrics also influence our sense of smell, offering scents that may be pleasurable, cooling, or annoying. Fabric colors even modify our perceived sense of taste.

Fiber and Texture Fiber is what gives substance and texture to fabric, and may include such things as reeds, grasses, animal hair, or even plant seeds. When shopping for any type of woven fabric, look for a high thread count for softness and durability. Wool is the environmentally-favored choice for carpeting.

It’s natural, renewable, fire and soil resistant, and long-wearing. For furniture upholstery and window coverings, cotton is the natural fabric of choice. Fabrics also reinforce the degree of formality in a room. Rough-textured fabrics say "picnics," while soft textures whisper "formal dinners."

Cotton damask, toile (sheer linen and silk cloth), chintz (which is never out of style, just out of popularity from time to time), and soft chenille speak of formal, traditional spaces. Regardless of the look and feel you’re seeking for your home, the careful use of fabric textures, colors, and patterns should be a large part of your overall design plan.

Copyright c. 2004 Jeanette J. Fisher.
All Rights Reserved. Professor Jeanette Fisher, author of Doghouse to Dollhouse for Dollars, Joy to the Home, and other books teaches Real Estate Investing and Design Psychology.

For more articles, tips, reports, newsletters, and sales flyer template, see By: Jeanette Joy Fisher

Friday, October 26, 2007

De-Mystifying Catalog Design

Your catalog is designed with one purpose – to make people aware of the products you offer, and convince them to buy. Your printed catalog is your Advertising vehicle, a good one will drive your sales right to the bank. An online version of your print catalog is highly recommended – the USPS reports that 55% of online shoppers shop with a printed catalog in hand.

Cover these five areas with the help of advertising professionals who will design, photograph, write -- and get your catalog online.

1. Product Photography High Quality – poor quality photos diminish your credibility Image Focus – whether sharp or selective, be consistent with your brand Color – accuracy is a must and depends on paper, prepress, and printing Consistency – of style regardless of type (silo, background, location) Visual interest – all your photos should be interesting to look at Space allotment – bigger is better, use as much space as possible

2. Product Copy Balancing act – romance with personality plus descriptive information of product Always benefit driven – customers want to know “What’s in it for me?” Always credible – accurate, authoritative, helpful and informative Targeted to the audience – know who you’re speaking to and use appropriate language Easy to read and understand – readers don’t want to have to figure it out for themselves Space allotment & size – consider brand, product being sold, and target audience

3. Page Layout Product is focus – quick identification of what’s being sold Price point visibly noticeable – especially if price is your niche Clean and simple and easy to shop – readers usually don’t spend a lot of time Consistent in format and purpose – all pages should look like they’re from the same brand Space allotment – good design sense is key here White space – rest for the eye is critical Location of information/order form – make it easy for the customer to purchase Overall print quality – must be consistent with your brand

4. Front Cover An invitation – inviting the reader to open the catalog Provide a taste of what’s inside – use top sellers Point to purpose of catalog – is there a season or other reason Focus on merchandise – you are what you sell Convey company image – ALWAYS be consistent with your brand Provide stopping power and reason to go inside – there’s a lot of competition out there Highlight new products – especially if you carry the same items each month Sell company services/policies/extras – sell your customer service right up front

5. Company Policies and Services Guarantee – strong return policy visually evident Make shopping simple – customers will go elsewhere if not Ordering info – placed where easy to find Web address – placed where it’s easy to find, and specify online services Personalize and caring feeling – utilizing demographic information and purchasing history Going beyond basic services – poor or non-existent customer service is not an option Honesty and Sincerity – be your image.

Don’t ever promise what you cannot deliver Linda Lullie is co-owner of Inspired 2 Design, LLC – a full service Advertising Design & Production company specializing in Small Business Marketing Solutions. Free Consultation and Special Value-Added Packages for Start-Up Companies. Visit them at Article may be reprinted only with Author’s bio and links intact.

Fashion Design Templates

Fashion design templates are layouts that are pre-designed. These can be used to make new designs by adding certain features. Fashion design templates are extensively used for making fashion drawings. The templates are available in different sizes.

Templates are of different types such as fashion silhouette templates, posture template and free fashion and body silhouette template. The templates are the best option for those who do not have the necessary drawing skills.

The fashion design templates display the outline of a model in different poses and sizes. The designer has to make his own judgment about the pose and the size of the template that would be chosen for the display of the fashion apparel or accessory.

For instance, if the costume is classy and represents the bygone era, the designers would normally choose a template that is more elegant and refined. The templates are important for the proper presentation of the designer’s artistic skill.

The templates have to be chosen according to the theme of the apparel ready for display. If the template chosen for a particular designer apparel or accessory is not correct, it might give a misrepresentation of the theme and the concept of the design, and have a negative impact on the marketability of the design. Considering the importance of templates, many people have come out with e-books based on templates.

Similarly, there are web templates that serve the fashion needs of the budding as well as the established designers. The templates can either be downloaded or they can be used to produce similar images for the purpose of sketching.

The templates display basic outline of the models .The outlines can be drawn upon or a print can be taken to create a fashion design befitting the template. The fashion design template is an important tool that can be used by the designer to escape the drudgery of drawing or for getting a fair idea of what to incorporate in his creations. Fashion Design provides detailed information on Fashion Design, Fashion Design Schools, Fashion Design Programs, Fashion Design Games and more. Fashion Design is affiliated with Fabric Hammocks. By: Jennifer Bailey

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Annoying Website Design

Have you ever considered that your website may be annoying? When it’s comes to website design, knowing what visitors hate most is a must, unless you don’t want them to visit you again. This article describes what you should exclude from your website. If you know about an annoying website, feel free to send this article to its webmaster.

A few weeks ago I received an email from a colleague asking me to check one of the website he had developed. He is a web designer and his client wanted a nice attractive flash header. The flash header was great. You can’t miss it at all. Some nice graphics elements were flying in while sound effects created just the right atmosphere.

However, after starting to explore the website, the header became very annoying because every time you clicked on the website the header restarted. What was pleasant initially became very annoying very quickly, disturbing your concentration and making it difficult to read what was on the page. He is not the first to create what I like to call – "annoying website design".

Many webmasters, especially new webmasters are totally "in love" with their ideas and tend to go overboard with their design in one way or another. It’s nice to have an attractive header, but is it really necessary to assault the visitor’s mind with it? In my opinion, absolutely not! Webmasters sometimes forget that their website design should send a message to the visitor that should reflect the website topic and not the programmer’s skill level.

Is Your Website Design Annoying? Well…. It’s not that hard to be annoying. However, some webmasters are much better than others at annoying their visitors.

Check my top 5 list and decide for yourself whether you have been annoying your visitors.

1. Background music – Unless you are operating an online internet radio station or sell music CDs, why play a midi/wav file in the background continuously on every page?

2. Huge font size – If you are designing a website for people with a disability then you are doing the right thing, but if not then you are shouting. People don’t like it when someone shouts at them.

3. Small font size – Do you want to be heard? Keep a normal tone, don’t shout but "speak" in a reasonable volume.

4. Overlapping layers – Layers can be very useful up to the point. But not when they are being used to put an annoying message in the visitor’s face. Don’t try to force your visitor to read your messages. Try persuasion instead of brute force.

5. Popup windows – Even though popup windows are now blocked by many add on tools, webmasters keep using them. The annoying part of popups is sometimes we actually miss important information because of those anti popup tools.

Haven’t you heard the old phrase "if you can’t beat him, join him”? Don’t use pop up windows. Put your important messages in a central place on your website. Most likely each one of us has our own private top five lists. You probably have many more annoying design cases in mind.

Well, you’re right, the list is much longer then that. I just wanted to describe some of the highlights in order to bring this important subject your attention. Some of you are probably reading those lines and smiling while some others have a feeling a deja-vu. Keep in your mind that as a webmaster the last thing you want to do is put lots of effort into your website and then find out that your visitors hate it.

It’s not a matter of taste, it’s more about being the same polite person we all try to be when we go to a party. I tried to point out a few things that might be useful to some web designers and webmasters. I don’t know about you, but I’m going to send this article to my friend, hopefully he’ll send it to his client :)

About the Author:
Warren Baker is an Internet business consultant for WebDesigners123. WebDesigners123 connects the Freelance Web Designer with Webmasters who need their services. If you would like to read more of Warren Baker’s writings, visit our Website Design Articles page.

Design Does Matter

The idea that good design can improve how people perceive your business has long been a part of a designer’s sales tools. They try to convince you that by improving your image, maybe creating a new logo or changing the way you communicate with your customers you can somehow improve sales and improve your bottom line.

But are they right? Over the years many companies have been sceptical about these claims because of a lack of concrete evidence. Designers struggle to back up their claims with written evidence and so this argument for good design often falls down at the first hurdle. Companies fail to understand why they should invest time and money in improving their visual identity if there is no tangible result.

However, last year The Design Council released the results of a groundbreaking study on the link between the use of design and financial performance. The study published in March 2004 finally recognised the direct relationship between effective use of design and financial performance. The study looked at 166 design-led UK quoted companies over a period of ten years from 1994 to 2003.

A group of 63 companies were recognised as effective users of design. This was based on the fact that they consistently appeared in the listings at various design award schemes. The study reveals these 63 companies outperformed both the FTSE All Share and FTSE 100 indices by around 200% between 1994 and 2003. The Design Council is a professional body which supports the work of the UK design industry.

It works to demonstrate and promote the vital role of design within business and the wider UK economy. A recent study by the Design Council, Design in Britain 2004-05, based on an annual business survey of 1,500 companies of all sizes and sectors, shows companies using design to innovate and stand out are growing faster than their competitors are.

According to the in-depth research, a third of the UK’s fastest growing companies see design as integral to their business, while only 11 per cent of businesses with a decreasing turnover have this view. The figures confirm the impact of design across sales, profits, quality, share price, market share and competitiveness.

Using design throughout your business ultimately boosts the bottom line by helping you create better products and services that compete on value rather than price. Truly Ace: Providers of Logo Design, Print Design and Web Design Services About: Truly Ace offers creative unique and cost effective logo design, commercial illustration, graphic design, and web design services. Copyright Truly Ace Logo Design, Graphic Design & Commercial Illustration By: A Vlahakis

Monday, October 22, 2007

Design With Purpose

If your website is falling through the cracks, the chances are that the site has no message, no central core to build traffic or a core readership. Websites that try to do everything usually fail. We begin every web site evaluation by helping you define your web site goals. You can do this yourself.

Knowing what your site is supposed to accomplish should be the first step in your design process. Your website success starts with understanding your site’s purpose and goals. Start by grabbing a notepad and pencil and begin brainstorming your website’s purpose. Write down everything that comes to mind.

Some common goals include:

* direct sales
* customer support
* branding
* lead generation
* information/community service
* solicit donations
* indirect sales
* expanded brochure
* establish credibility with online presence
* online advertising
* ??? Now ask yourself what is most important?

Prioritize your web site goals so you can prioritize your web site’s needs. Sometimes your list will not be linear, it may look more like a bubble chart or be structured more clearly. Your priorities should be reflected in the site organization.

Do you lead with you top priorities or are they shyly hidden within your site map? It’s time to get real. Once you understand your goals go to your site and see how close you are to achieving them.

* If you expect to make online sales you need to offer online ordering. Printable forms just aren’t enough.

* If your site’s purpose is to provide information and your site has no content, you can’t meet your goals.

* If you need to get potential customers to contact you – is it easy or do they have to click a link to find a phone number or email link?

* Does your text content effectively communicate your site’s purpose?· Do the images on your site reflect your purpose and your site text?

* Do you link to websites your visitors would actually be interested in or are your links only reciprocal link building schemes? Your website content should reflect your site’s purpose and nothing else. Start a blog if you want to offer your poetry, opinions or family photos. Don’t try to sell widgets and cats on the same site. Focus your attention and you’ll grab the attention of the search engines and your target audience alike.

A web site evaluation that doesn’t begin with these basic questions is doomed to be useless. Don’t waste your time fixing anything on your site until you know what it is supposed to do! JoMarie Thomson of Crucible Designs has been designing websites since 1997. She offers website success strategies on JoMaries Dot Com for do-it-yourself website makeovers.

Managing Design Complexity

"100% of your design documentation is contained in the specifications of your information resources." - Bryce’s Law There are many companies today, most overseas, still tackling major systems projects particularly in the areas of banking and manufacturing.

These mammoth application development efforts contrast sharply with American companies who have failed in such undertakings and are now content with chipping away at systems, program-by-program, with the hope that disjointed software will somehow/someday interface with each other. Whereas foreign competitors talk in terms of enormous systems with hundreds of programs and millions of lines of code; large integrated systems tend to intimidate the most ardent of American developers.

But this is not so much a story about competition as it is about understanding design complexity. People in both the east and the west recognize the design and development of a total system is no small task. A system can consist of many business processes, procedures, programs, inputs, outputs, files, records, data elements, etc. The problem lies in how to best control these information resources and the design decisions associated with them. Two approaches are typically used: progressively break the problem into smaller, more manageable pieces, or; tackle a minuscule portion of the problem at a time.

Whereas the former requires a long term perspective, the latter can show a quick return, which is more appealing to a company with a "fast track" mentality. Some time ago we conducted a study of customer application development projects. Our research centered on two types of projects: those aimed at building a total system, and; those aimed at building a single program. One obvious conclusion was that the number of information resources used in a major system was considerably more than in a program.

However, the key observation made in the study was that there is a finite number of design decisions associated with each type of information resource. As an example, for an output, decisions have to be made as to its physical media (screen or report), size (number of characters), messages associated with it, etc. For a data element, its logical and physical characteristics must be specified (definition, source, label, size, class, length, etc.).

For a program, the language to be used, program logic, required file structures, etc. These design decisions can be simple or complex; regardless, they are all required in order to design a system or a program. When we multiply the number of design decisions by the number of information resources, we get an idea of the magnitude of a systems design project versus the design of a single program (see Figure 1).

FIGURE 1 NUMBER OF RESOURCES IN AVERAGE SYSTEMS PROJECT: 2,006 NUMBER OF DESIGN DECISIONS TO BE MADE: 49,850 NUMBER OF RESOURCES IN AVERAGE PROGRAM PROJECT: 98 NUMBER OF DESIGN DECISIONS TO BE MADE: 2,070 NOTE: Decisions are design oriented only; they do not include Project Management related decisions (such as those associated with planning, estimating and scheduling).

From this perspective, the average system design project is nearly 25 times larger than the average software design project in terms of complexity. As a footnote, our findings also revealed the "average" system design project is seven times larger than a "complex" software design project. This discrepancy in system/software complexity provides a clue as to how companies address the problem.

Since a software design project is smaller and seemingly more palatable to implement than a total systems project, some companies will focus on software engineering tools and techniques, and abandon total systems engineering practices. This is one reason why programming tools enjoy popularity today.

Contrast this with the size of Japan’s "Best" project to build the country’s next generation of on-line banking systems. This was a major application development effort resulting in 72 "average" systems; a considerably larger project than what is typically addressed in the United States. MANAGING DECISIONS There are two aspects to handling decisions: how they are formulated, and how they are controlled.

Trying to make nearly 50,000 design decisions in one step is not only an impossible task, it is a highly impractical way of operating. Just like the design of any product, a system must be designed in gradual phases in such a way as it becomes possible to review and refine the design. In other words, the 50,000 design decisions will be made throughout the life of a development project, not all at once.

It is the responsibility of a systems engineering methodology to define the sequence of events for designing a system. As such, the methodology represents the channel for formulating decisions. Breaking a complex system design down into smaller, more manageable pieces, also provides for:

* Parallel development and delivery of portions of the system (concurrent development within a single project).

* An environment conducive for building quality into a product (as opposed to inspecting for quality afterwards).

* The formulation of Project Management related decisions (such as estimating and scheduling the delivery of systems, in part or in full). This philosophy of design is no different than any other product design/development effort, such as shipbuilding, automobile manufacturing, bridge building, etc. All require a specific methodology that breaks the product down to its sub-assemblies and parts; thereby organizing the specification of parts and the design decisions associated with them.

Managing the decision making process for even the smallest of application development projects can be a huge undertaking. We estimate there are approximately 500 design decisions associated in a small software design project (as compared to more than 125,000 decisions in the typical complex system design project).

To record and control these decisions requires something more sophisticated than just paper and pencil; it requires an automated "Information Resource Manager" (IRM), a software tool capable of inventorying and documenting an enterprise’s information resources. Whether you call it an "IRM", a "Repository", a "Data Dictionary" or whatever, the philosophical heart of the product is based on the age-old concept of "Bill of Materials" whereby resources (also referred to as "components" or "parts") are cataloged and cross-referenced to each other.

Consider a parts manifest as included in a major appliance maintenance bookley (or lawn/garden tool), I am sure this type of diagram is familiar to any homeowner who has reviewed product maintenance/warranty booklets. Every part in the product is identified by number and name (see section to the right in the figure).

To the left side in the figure is a schematic showing how each part relates to the other parts and, as such, represents the assembly of the product for maintenance purposes. The concept of "Bill of Materials" provides the means to inventory resources thus allowing us to share and re-use them. For example, many of the parts shown in Figure 2 are re-used in other lawnmower models offered by the manufacturer. How can we share and re-use resources without such a concept? The answer is simple: we cannot.

And this explains why there is considerable redundancy in our information resources and work effort. It also suggests most of our design decisions are maintained "by the seat of our pants." Most college courses involving computing are unfamiliar with the Bill of Materials concept. Their focus is on programming and file design, and little else.

The concept of "Bill of Materials" has three objectives:

1. To uniquely identify each resource by number and name (as well as by aliases). Names are nice, but numbers offer a more precise way to uniquely identify a resource. Identification is critical. After all, we cannot share and re-use something if we do not know it exists.

2. To record the part’s specifications. Thus providing a way to determine if the part can be re-used in another product (thereby promoting the sharing of parts and eliminating redundancy).

3. To record where the part is used in a product(s) (aka "Where-used"). This specifies the relationship of parts to each other and, thereby, their assembly. This is also extremely useful for "impact analysis" whereby we can analyze where the part is used in all of our products, not just one, which is vital for making intelligent decisions about modifying a part.

For example, if we change the specifications of a part in one product, this will severely impact other products it is also used in. By controlling parts in this manner, a product’s design is fully documented. The "Bill of Material" concept can easily accommodate information resources and offer the same benefits of sharing and re-using components.

By doing so, we can easily manage the 50,000 design decisions accompanying a system design project. Our system/software products may be less tangible than an automobile, aircraft or lawnmower, but we can still apply the same concept to their control. Therefore, an IRM Repository should have the ability to identify, specify, and cross-reference all of the resources mentioned in Figure 1.

This can certainly be done manually with paper but this may lead to bureaucratic and access problems for developers. Instead, automation is recommended. There are several such commercial products on the market, but it is also fairly easy to create such software using today’s Data Base Management Systems (DBMS) which are now fairly easy to define and relate resources (they also provide excellent documentation services).

The IRM should be viewed as the hub of all development efforts and provide the means to interface (import/export) with a myriad of other development tools; e.g., CASE, prototyping aids, program generators, etc. Such tools will use the intelligence of the information resources as contained in the IRM to function accordingly. As an example, a program generator should be able to interpret the program and file specifications in order to produce the necessary code.

Such development tools should also have the ability to turn around and import resource specifications back into the IRM. This is particularly useful for documenting existing systems/software (aka "Reverse Population").

For information on how to create an IRM Repository, please see => The concept of "Bill of Materials" is an important part of an overall strategy to implement an "Information Factory" environment to design and develop information resources. But this will be the subject of a separate paper. CONCLUSION This philosophy to managing design complexity is no different than what is found in the engineering and manufacturing of any product. Engineers break their design projects into smaller stages so that reviews can be performed and revisions implemented.

A "bill of materials" processor is used to track the parts or a product and how they interrelate; which is no different in intent than the IRM tool. For people imbued in programming, it is difficult to think in terms of "parts" as described herein, but it is a practical solution and can be applied to any development effort, large or small. Standardization and integration of information resources is built by design, not by accident.

Without a formalized methodology for design or an IRM tool to record design decisions, a major system design is incomprehensible; there are just too many variables for the human mind to remember or control using manual techniques. It is not that analysts do not want to take on a major systems design project, they simply cannot. They lack the organization and proper tools to perform the job effectively. Because of this, they default to the things they know best, programming, and tackle systems in piecemeal.

The difference between east and west here is not one of working harder, but smarter. The Japanese and Europeans are simply better organized and equipped to perform system design than their American counterparts. This can be attributed, in large part, to management’s sensitivity to the role systems play in a company. Because of this, they are not afraid to tackle large endeavors, while American companies view such undertakings as seemingly too massive to undertake. As such, they sidestep large projects in favor of smaller projects that may address only a portion of the overall problem. This is resulting in the unsettling situation where our competitors are rapidly becoming the world’s systems engineers, while Americans become the world’s software engineers.

For more information on our philosophies of Information Resource Management (IRM), please see the "Introduction" section of "PRIDE" at => Tim Bryce is the Managing Director of M. Bryce & Associates (MBA) of Palm Harbor, Florida, a management consulting firm specializing in Information Resource Management (IRM). Mr. Bryce has over 30 years of experience in the field. He is available for training and consulting on an international basis. His corporate web page is at => He can be contacted at: Copyright © 2006 MBA. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

The Magic of Design

There was a time people thought the world was flat. At another point in history it was believed that women didn’t have the know-how to run a business or change a tire. Then there was the one about man not being able to fly. Over time all of these fairytales have proven untrue. So it is with interior design. Until recently, many people held the belief that having their home decorated by an interior designer was reserved for the rich and famous.

Nothing could be further from the truth. Fact is, many people of average income who live in a middleclass neighborhood are frequently surprised to learn they can easily afford the services of an interior designer. In other cases, many folks prefer to learn tips about design so they have the flexibility to redo a room on a whim. Either way, you have more choices today then ever before.

It is not uncommon to completely redo a room for a one time social event such as a birthday celebration, a graduation or a wedding. With some simple tips, even the most inexperienced person can easily spruce up a room. Before you begin, think about the style you are interested in. Is it art deco, traditional, Mediterranean, western, modern, or contemporary? These are only a few of the multitude of choices you have. Think through how functional the room will be with what you have in mind. Avoid rugs and chairs that stain easily if there will be a lot of traffic in the room. Be very careful to scale your furniture to the size of the room.

If you have a very large space you can break up the area into little sitting groups or area groups. You can easily shift the “feel” of a room with the use of lighting and/or plants. Area rugs are another tool many designers use to break up large spaces. A variety of paint colors and wall textures can make even the most mundane room come to life. Small space decorating is fast becoming a favorite topic for many people as real estate prices rise.

Think priorities when it comes to small spaces. Do you need to use an area of the room for more than one reason? In some cases you can easily convert the kitchen table to your workspace provided you have cabinet space handy for supplies. A chest of drawers can easily serve this purpose by holding office supplies, linens, or even computer components. If you are considering utilizing the services of a designer, do your homework. Check their portfolio and references. Find out how they are to work with, did they deliver on time, were they easy to work with and did they listen to the homeowner.

If you get an affirmative answer on all of these and their fees are suitable to your budget, then take the leap. Often, interior designs services are provided at no additional cost to you, and will give you the extra edge you need to create exactly the feeling you want for your home. A great designer can make recommendations you may not have thought of. Ultimately, their goal is for you to be ecstatic with what you were able to accomplish together.

After all, you are the one that has to live in the space long after the designer has done their magic. Copyright: © 2004 by Melody Foster Web: Publishing Guidelines: You may publish my article in your newsletter, on your website, or in your print publication provided you include the resource box at the end.

Notification would be appreciated but is not required. About The Author Melody Foster is the proprietor of The Cozy Home. The Cozy Home recently received the award for Best Interior Design for 2004 from the Parade of Homes and Salt Lake Home Builders Association for homes in the $400,000 - $700,000 range. Located in historic downtown Draper, Utah, The Cozy Home has a retail outlet that offer a unique selection to those who want the ability to furnish and accessorize their homes in a very individual way, with one-of-a-kind pieces that cannot be found elsewhere.

The Cozy Home also focuses on interior design for homes in the $200,000 and up range, specializing in the enhancing the average American home. Contact Melody Foster at Web:

Cool Web Design

Design is about more than just making things look nice and pretty, it is about functionality, usability, accessibility, and more. In short; it is about making things fit for purpose, and nowhere are there more stark contrasts of good and bad design than on the World Wide Web.

In order to discover whether a site is ’fit for purpose’ certain questions need to be asked, such as: Is a website easy to use? Can you find the information you were seeking easily? Can the site be found by search engines? Is the site accessible to people with vision impairment? can the size of the text be made smaller or larger? Is it clear to viewers with colour blindness? Can the site be easily navigated using screen reader software? All of these things, and more, have to be taken into consideration when designing for the Web - and this is especially important for a business presence on-line where issues such as accessibility are not only a good idea, but nowadays a legal responsibility.

Publishing on the Web is a fairly simple process and seems to be getting easier by the day as ever more improvements are made to WYSIWYG and on-line editors. However, there is much evidence of ’bad’ design seen on a myriad of web pages; many of them featuring cyan text on yellow backgrounds, and an abundance of animated gifs and flashing, scrolling, blinking text in all fonts, sizes, colours and styles - the eyes hurt and the head aches when confronted with such examples! Being able to put the pages of a Website together with a WYSIWYG editor like Frontpage or Dreamweaver does not make a person a web designer.

Not that Microsoft or Adobe would want that fact to become common knowledge for fear of losing sales of their high end software to amateur designers. But it is not just the glaringly obvious tacky bad taste sites that are at fault.

How many times have we seen an absolutely gorgeous, good enough to eat almost, Flash based website that looks fantastic but is difficult or almost impossible to use? I know I have, many many times! Where is the navigation? Why does it take ages for the pages to load? Why can’t I find the information I need? Why is the text on the page so small? And so on... The point is that it seems that in examples like the above, the ’designer’ has ignored basic functionality in favour of trying to make the pages look ’cool’ - and that is not design at all.

So it can be seen that the merits of good Web design encompass both the practical and the aesthetic. Yes, we want to make our sites look good (’cool’ even); but we also need to ensure that they are visible and easy to use for everybody. To overlook these basic considerations would be irresponsible and perhaps even disastrous for the long term future of the Website. So; is your Website well designed or just cool? Tony Williams is the author of Web Traffic in Black & White, the guide that unlocks the secrets of Web traffic. Check it out at

Art and Design

Maybe you’ve faced it before – a new house with an empty room or two. This room is just crying out for some furniture. So off you go to purchase a sofa you admire - then a chair. Or perhaps you purchase a full living room set complete with tables and rugs. With delivery a few weeks off you can just picture your living room (and not surprisingly, it looks just like the showroom).

The delivery day arrives and you can’t wait to cut the tags off of your new furnishings. You may have to position the sofa a few times to get it just so, but all in all, you’re pretty satisfied – until you notice there’s no art on the wall. And so you decide to buy some art that matches the sofa. I cringe a little while I write this, but in reality that is how many of us choose art.

In fact, little confession, I still have art in my house that I bought because the frames matched! If you have also considered buying art in an afterthought, you’re not alone. We have all been taught that accessories finish off a room. In fact, if you’ve ever watched a design show, you’ll notice that some professional designers decide on the art once fabric, furniture and rugs have been selected.

So maybe we’ve all been brainwashed to believe that filling our space with art doesn’t require much planning – just the ability to carry a swatch of fabric to a store. Well, just for a moment, I’d like you to think about your art and why you might acquire it sooner rather than later. Art inspires creativity. First choose art that appeals to you, and then let your furniture and accessory purchases be influenced by the art you have selected.

This shift in viewpoint allows for freedom of expression. Through the process of seeking out new art, and finding something you’d like to live with, you open your mind to all the new possibilities. Perhaps an abstract piece of art inspires you to consider an eclectic collection of furniture instead of a uniform suite. Maybe art with cool beach tones allows you to consider that slip covered furniture with a nautical appeal. Or a tropical print encourages you to use a hand-painted floorcloth in vivid hues in your new artistically inspired room.

Consider also the structural elements in your room. Many living areas have unique architectural details that historically have been used to display important art. By only focusing on furniture placement or accessorizing, you may lose sight of some of your home’s great details. If the architectural details are not what they once were, before you rip it out, liven it up. Apply a mosaic design or faux finish to your fireplace surround. When you’re thinking about changing things break out of the familiar and experiment with your creativity.

For some creative inspiration, find the nearest child. Generally, young children are much more free to express themselves than some adults, and when it comes to design, I can say from experience that they’ll have their own unique opinions on what goes in their rooms. Take a cue from your child’s artwork when you design their rooms. This way they are more inclined to love it when you’re done. Gather together several of their favorite paintings or sketches, and note their favorite color, or emerging themes. You can copy these same themes through painted fabric, a wall mural, unique stained glass for the window, a floorcloth or even a quilted wall hanging.

Don’t forget to frame and hang the original artwork that inspired their new design. So set out to design your living spaces with art as forethought. You will appreciate the art for what it adds to the overall project as well as the positive feeling you experience when you see it. And then you may begin to wonder why you ever tried to buy art that matches that pillow with the odd purple color.
Happy art collecting!

About The Author Lise Richards is an Artistic Lifestylist and owner of The Creativity Center, Inc and Red Door Gallery. Her Artistic Lifestyling program helps all people live more creatively in artistically designed spaces. Visit the company online at

Good Logo Design

A good logo design represents a good company that clients and customers alike can put their trust in. Although it might seem like a minimalist issue when it comes to talking about a big company a logo actually has a lot of influence on how the company it stands for fares in its respective market.

And it does not matter how big or small the company is, it has a great impact on its acceptance by the people. It comes as no surprise that all the companies place so much importance on such a small symbol. When you are going to start a new company or a new business venture a logo is one of the first things that should be decided upon: a logo that somehow tries to represent the ideals and interests of the respective company.

A good logo design seeks to do several things for the company that it represents. It serves to give a good first impression of the company it represents to whosoever its customers happen to be. Before the company is known well it is the logo which will attract the attention of potential clients and customers. Nowadays brand recognition is very important in all kinds of businesses. And logo designs play a pivotal role in bringing brand recognition to a company.

A good logo design not only advertises a product or a company it also makes it look attractive and alluring to the customers. The successful marketing of a brand surprisingly owes quite a lot to its respective logo design. So, what is it that makes a logo design good? There are several factors that should be the models on which logo designs are based to turn them into “good” logo designs. One of the most important of these factors is originality.

A good logo design has to be unique and has to stand on its own. It should not be summarily mistaken for the logo design of another brand. All this takes is just a little creativity and also a strong urge not to borrow from the logo designs of other companies. And there is no need to worry if you do not want to spend too much time and energy in trying to come up with your own good logo designs.

There are several very good logo design makers on the web. Some of the good logo design makers include Logo Creator, Logo Bee, Logo Design Guru, the Logo Company and Logo Design Works. These are only a few of several others. These good logo design makers are adept in making customized logo designs. These are made from scratch. Everything is made so that its styling and designing is suited to your own interests.

It is interactive. You can give these design makers your ideas about how you would want the logo design of your company to look like. And they will take your ideas and most importantly put their own touch on them. Being professionals they would obviously know how to mould your ideas into well devised good logo designs that will be able to stand on its own as a good representative of your company.

Practicality is also a major factor when it comes to designing a good logo. This is especially so in the case of small time companies or individuals who want logo designs for their letterheads, business cards and so on and so forth. Practicality implies not being too extravagant in the styling of the logos.

It should be designed in such a way in such a style that it can practically be used in various mediums. Its use should not be restricted to a few mediums like only the print media. It should be viable for use in print media, on the web, etc. A good logo design does not necessarily have to be complicated or extravagant in its styling and in the use of its colors.

A lot of very big companies use very simple but very eye-catching logo designs. And these are invariably working out very well for them. For example IBM has an extremely simple but very good logo design. There is minimalist use of color and style but its understated simplicity is capable enough of bringing across the reliability and stability of the company.

Anthony Gregory is a freelance writer and journalist. He is available for hire and website promotion. He helps to promote the following sites: car insurance UK Asbestos Survey SEO Company

Web Design – Is It An Art?

Web design is an art. There’s no question about that. The question is: how many websites designed by real web designers are out there? With the amount of crap that purely invades the Internet and suffocates the users nowadays, there are serious reasons to doubt that web design is an art in its own right.

So called web designers create terrible made for AdSense sites, or those awful personal pages that have nothing to say. But the Internet is a World and you should expect to find, as in the real world, tones of nonsense and digital rubbish. Such websites have no real value, are full of grammatical errors, respect no design techniques, blend colors, fonts and graphics irrationally, display flashy banners, annoying gifs and so on. Sites like these make people believe that it is ok to put up a website even if it is lousy. Anyone can start a website, but, can anyone design a website? Obviously not, since new websites appear online every day that are not good at all.

Web design combines traditional arts with technical skills. A web designer is not just a web coder: he or she is an artist able to understand the value of image and other visual elements, and knows what impact these might have on the viewers. The web designer works with images and words to create the perfect web layout. To create unique websites, the kind of websites that really add value to the World Wide Web, skilled web designers use various tools. They might retouch pictures and graphics or create astonishing images using programs such as Photoshop, Illustrator, Jasic Paint, Photo Impact and so on. They might use 3D software or Flash to design dramatic layouts that will transport the visitors into another world. No matter what tools they employ, professional web designers create functional, astonishing web pages.

Don’t believe that web design, as an art, is not for business, corporate or informative websites. As a matter of fact they need it the most. While business and informational websites don’t need to be artistic, they need to inspire. Corporate websites need clear designs, simple layouts so that any visitor could access the information fast and understand the purpose of the website. To create a website that sends the right message and develops brand awareness in an agreeable manner is an art. A good website can sell a service or products, but this doesn’t mean that its appearance should fade. Compare a website to a car: you need it to transport your visitors through a space full of information. You don’t want them to be bored by what you have to offer. You want to entertain them, to mesmerize their minds, to make them come back. What it will be: a Hollywood like limousine or a second hand car? Yes, it’s true: it’s not the car that matters, but the ride. However, when you travel in an uncomfortable seat you might not enjoy the ride. And doesn’t anyone dream for a first-class ticket?

After all this being said, you do not have to hire a web designer to build a great site in today’s online world. Web design is an art, but with the advent of the new high power website builders, anyone can create a high quality website for a fraction of the cost of hiring a web designer. This is especially true of web building programs that are template driven.

Online web building programs using this “template driven” technology allow the user to make their website using professionally designed templates. This means the “art” of web design has already been done. The user simply chooses their template, adds their own content and photos, and in a matter of hours or days, a HIGH QUALITY website is created!

Don’t be fooled. Not all website builders are the same. Make sure you use a website builder that includes ecommerce capabilities without an additional charge. One such program is HighPowerSites.

In conclusion: You can hire a skilled, talented web designer to create your business website but you will pay a high price as web designers are not cheap. Or you can use a top notch web building program for a fraction of the cost. You’ll need to pay the price for either one, but high quality websites don’t come cheap. If you are serious about doing business online, you should invest in your website. The future belongs to those that provide for quality on the World Wide Web.

Scott Lindsay is a web developer and entrepreneur. He is the founder of HighPowerSites and many other web projects. HighPowerSites is the easiest do-it-yourself website builder on the web. No programming or design skill required. Get your own website online in just 5 minutes with at:

By: Scott Lindsay

Web Design Ranking

Good web design is the probably the most important factor in helping a site get a good search engine ranking. Websites that follow good design practices and offer unique content receive a higher ranking from search engines.

When evaluating the credibility of a website, visitors are more often affected by the design of the site, than any other feature. Elements of the visual design, including layout, typography, white space, images and color schemes, make an impression on the credibility of the site. Professionally done graphics create an impression of higher quality, impressing many visitors who make snap judgments based on the appearance of a website.

For a web design to receive a high search engine ranking, the objectives of creating the web site must be clearly defined and understood. The site should be designed in a manner that is oriented towards fulfilling these objectives.

The size of the website also has a huge impact on web rankings. Search engines love content, so if a site has only a few pages, it’s difficult to obtain a top search ranking for that site.

The proper use of HTML meta tags is essential. A website that is regularly updated will maintain a good ranking, while websites that offer the visitor a more aesthetically pleasing experience may seem like the best option, they are often the most difficult to optimize for search engines. Search engine robots cannot read text that is part of a graphic or animation and they might see just a small amount of text. A good amount of text content is highly recommended.

Getting top web design rankings can move your website to the prime location on search engines for key search terms. Anyone can have a great looking website. However, if no one can find it, it serves no purpose. It would be like building the most beautiful house ever created, but having no doors to let anyone in.

Web Ranking provides detailed information on Web Ranking, Web Design Ranking, Web Ranking Reports, Web Ranking Software and more. Web Ranking is affiliated with Search Engine Ranking Optimization.

By: Kent Pinkerton

Blog Design Solution

Looking for a blog design solution? Then let’s define the problem first, or another words, why are we creating a blog, what’s it’s purpose and what is the ultimate big picture?

Before any blog design solution can be implemented you need to take a look at the big picture. Are you creating an AdSense blog or maybe a blog to promote your product or service, how about a blog that you and your family use to share info and photos?

Blogger helps with blog design solution by allowing bloggers the opportunity to use their current domain names. This is a great feature and allows you to use a site you already have up for your new blog, thus giving you more flexibility in your design.

Some of the other benefits of using this type of service is that it’s very easy to set up, you don’t have to mess with the normal FTP process, there is no longer any delays in getting your files uploaded to your hosting provider. Step by step guides help you build your blog and point and click blog design solution makes the process efficient and easy, all you need to do is worry about the content

If you are planning on using your blog to generate AdSense advertising income then there are a few things you need to think about. First is relevance, any blog design solution requires that your content be relevant to the topic matter. Fore instance, if your putting together a blog on golfing then blog entries on sailing would not be relevant, (you would be surprised how far off base people can get), though putting would certainly be relevant.

You will also need to incorporate keyword management into any blog design solution plan. I’ll use the example of “putting” if your blog entry is about improving your putting skills and you only use the word “putting” a couple time then the search engines wont view you article as relevant even if it’s the best article ever. As a rule of thumb you want a keyword density of between 2-3% to keep the search engines happy.

The last thing I want to cover of AdSense blogs is the ads themselves. A critical part in blog design solution for AdSense blogs is ad placement. Take some time and look at you blog, ask yourself, will the see may ads and how will they appear to your blog’s visitors. The are many trains of thought on this, I prefer to have my ads on the right side towards the top of the article or about half way down the page across the page.

There are quite of few more blog design solution techniques to explore and in future articles I’ll get more in-depth on blog design solution.

Victoria Hargis has been a web developer for over 10 years. Take all the fear out of building a web site with a revolutionary new Web Site Creation Tool. Follow the step by step, point and click web site design system to build a web site in less than 2 hours. Go to http://www.JVWebsiteDesign and take all the fear and most of the work out of building your web site

By: V Hargis

1-2-3 Guide To Website Design

Details are very important when putting up a site. And these details are there because they are essential. As I always mentioned before, make your site’s contents useful and not just a “bling, bling” sensation for everyone.

Utilizing all the details on your website could make your readers happy. This means that they would find your site easy to navigate. In addition, happy customers credit your site because it takes little time to download everything and the contents are readable because they are clear, short and comprehensive.

I know for starters that establishing a website may be too overwhelming. Who wouldn’t be when there are too many distractions offering you free or cheap software for your site? Choosing from all of them greatly affect your overall plans for your site. So I suggest that you put only the essential things on your site. When doing this, it is also better if you could make an mockup layout of how your site will look like.

The rule of the thumb here is: Keep your site nice and clean.

Your site should not:

1. Appear cluttered, that is, too many distractions on a page.

• Lessen the contents by creating a link directing the reader to another page.
• Avoid animated/flash ads, instead choose ads that are simple and will very much compliment your page overall look.
• Pop-ups are more annoying than helpful. So this is a big NO.

2. Take a long time to download. Remember that not everyone is connected to a fast server.

• Do not overload your site’s page with too much content, especially too many graphics and video/audio streams.

3. Be inconsistent throughout. Make every page the same in color, navigational tools and directions, and overall impression.

TIP:• Be able to choose colors that are nice to look at. There are tips that will help you choose the right color schemes for your site.
• Navigational tools should be properly put in place, where your visitors could easily see it.

When designing your site, put into mind a website that is homey. Like the saying “There is no place like home”, bear in mind your visitors ease and comfort right through your web pages. A contented visitor will most likely back because he has found a site that is so easy to use and is free from frustrations. gives updates on the ins and outs of public relations and marketing within the Internet. It helps various companies of all sizes to become competitive entrepreneurs, and to focus on building good publicity, promotion and higher sales. It aims to teach businessmen to be witty, confident, and strategic in whichever industry they hope to build their dreams upon.

By: Mary Ann Carolyn Dalangin-Tordecilla

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Web Design & Graphics

Graphics are an important part of web design but require serious thought and planning.

Many websites I see suffer from the same problem. The graphics make the page look unattractive and cause the site to be ineffective because the all important message is difficult to focus on.

This article is aimed squarely at those adventurous souls that are about to design and produce their own website for the first time.

Before you start to design you site, ask yourself “What graphics do I really need”. Filling every spare inch of space with animations or flashing buttons is definitely not a good idea; your pages should look nice and clean. When it comes to web design less is definitely more. Too many unnecessary graphics may slow down your load speeds. They will cause your page to be cluttered and confusing making it difficult to focus on your message. Isn’t your message the only reason you have a web site?

Now might be a good time to spend a few moments discussing how you get to see a web site when you visit one.

After you type the URL you are taken to the site you intended to visit. The first thing that will happen is that your computer will cache the page you have arrived at. It will cache every file on the page including the graphics files. The more files it has to cache and the larger they are the longer it will take to view the page. There are few things that can do a better job of turning an internet visitor off than slow loading pages. People may be patient in life but there is no such thing as a patient web surfer. Make them wait and they will vote with their feet. Always remember that not every one has a high speed internet connection so design for slower surfers.

There are a few basic things that you can do to help speed your page load times and also make your site more attractive and user friendly.

Think of a theme. If you intend to use a tiled graphic as a background with a blue side border and your logo, use it throughout your site. It will help make your visitors more comfortable as whichever page they visit will be visually similar enough that they will always know that they are still in your site. It’s surprisingly easy to click a button and end up in a strange site without realizing it. By using the same graphics over as much as possible it will speed your load times because once a graphic has been cached, it can be reused as needed without caching it again.

Optimize your photographs. When you take a photo with your digital camera the chances are that your picture file is between 100Kb and over 1Mb. There is usually no advantage to using even a 100Kb graphic on your page. If you want to show a large photo, place a small picture on your page with a link to the larger one that way your visitor will be able to choose whether they are interested enough to wait for a larger file to load. I usually try to reduce my graphic file sizes to about 10Kb maximum; it’s not as hard as it sounds. Just cropping your photo can have a drastic effect on your file size.


• empty space is not always bad

• small files are fast files

• if you don’t need it, don’t use it

Steven Fraser is the founder and owner of STF-Web Designs - - Affordable Web Design Solutions for small & medium sized businesses

Monday, October 8, 2007

Ready for a Re-design

Many companies realize the importance of having a website on the internet and consequently launch one. However, the website is not a permanent, unchanging installation. You or the department of your company tasked with internet marketing should be asking the following questions on a regular basis:

-Do you update the content regularly?
-Is the design more than 2 years old?
-Has your company made any changes that should be reflected in the website?
-Has anyone recently evaluated the site for consistency, functionality, etc?
-What is your competition doing on the web?
-Are you familiar with the latest web trends?

The truth is, many company website could be more effective through a redesign. The best procedure is to start with asking the questions above. If you find you need improvement on two or more areas, then you should consider a redesign (note: if your only area of concern is that your website is more than 2 years old, you should definitely consider a redesign as I guarantee more updates than just visual could be found).

What Next?

Once you have determined a website redesign is immanent, the best thing to do would be to hire a professional design firm to handle the process. Look for a firm that has experience with redesigns, can also offer consulting, and is on the leading edge of what is happening with technology and the web. If a firm also offers marketing, that is an added bonus as they will also understand how your website can interact with other marketing materials for uniformity in campaigns.

Here at JV Media Design, we walk our clients through a specific process when approached with website redesigns. The purpose of the initial steps outlined below is to allow a company to explore what their needs are internally and assist us in learning how to approach the project.

A "Wish List" of Changes

We ask our clients to come up with a Wish List of what they would like to incorporate into their newly redesigned site. The best way to accomplish this is not by one person in the company creating a list, but everyone working together to determine the answers to questions such as:

-What are the current strong/weak points of the website?
-Has there been any positive or negative feedback received from customers (especially helpful with ecommerce websites)?
-Are there any functional problems or errors with the current site?
-How would you like to make updates to the new website?
-Do you need to add or modify ecommerce on your website?

Although we encourage our clients to explore options and discuss what needs the rest of the company has for the new site, we discourage seeking the advice of friends and relatives as their opinions are often biased and can be detrimental to the project timeline.

We recommend the moment you know your site will need a redesign, you begin the Wish List process. If you have already approached us and are starting the process at the same time, we recommend the process be completed within 2 weeks to stay on track with any timelines for completion.

During this time, we will also be evaluating the website and making more detailed recommendations on changes we would suggest and formulating our proposal and estimate for you. The proposal will include what your needs are, what our recommendations are (including any recommendations for hosting, ecommerce, use of flash, video, etc.) as well as cost breakdowns.

Once a project is approved, the actual development process begins.

Gathering Materials

Based on the information provided in the Wish List, we will create a site map outline. This will assist you in gathering materials for any new or rewritten page content (including photos).

The next week should be spent gathering the materials that you will need to provide us with.

In the case of adding ecommerce to your website, we would ask that you start to create a master list of your products (sku, name, price, description, photo, etc.). We would also need access to your hosting and merchant account gateway in order to set that up properly on your newly designed website.

The Rest Is Easy

Providing there are no delays in receiving requested content or information, then your site design should be completed without you having to do much more than review and sign off as major progress is completed. Before removing the old site and replacing it with the new one, we run a number of error checks as well as request a final review from the client.

In the end, you will have a professionally redesigned website that should not only function and look better than your previous one, but also server your customers better and enhance your overall business image.

Sherry Holub received her degree in design from UCLA in 1995. She is now the Lead Designer and Creative Director at Southern California firm, JV Media Design. Sherry is also a member of the NAPP, the International Academy of the Visual Arts (IAVA), and Cambridge Who's Who.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Web Design Tools

I have been designing websites since 1997, and since that time, there have literally been numerous web design tools introduced each year, many claiming to greatly simplify the process of designing a website. With the plethora of options now available for creating a site, consumers can easily become baffled with the many options to choose from.

In this article I will discuss how to find the right web design tools for your needs.

1. Define your specific needs
First, you need to define exactly what you want your site to accomplish, as this will dictate which web design tools you should consider. If iwhat you need is strictly an opinion or information site, a simple blog might suffice. On the other hand, if you have a database to access, or want to conduct transactions, you will most likely need to hire a professional. I recommend writing down the goals of your site to get a better handle on the scope of the project.

2. Determine your skill and commitment level
If you just want to create a personal website, selecting professional web design tools like Dreamweaver and Photoshop will be plain overkill. These programs are meant for professional web designers, and the casual hobbyist, unless extremely determined, will most likely be overwhelmed with these tools. A more reasonable solution will be to utilize web-based, template driven tools for creating sites. On the other hand, if you need a sophisticated site but cannot handle working with professional-grade software, it may make sense to hire a professional.

3. Set a reasonable budget, and don’t be a freebie hunter
I have tried out some free web design tools and they are for the most part not very useful. You will most likely need to spend some money on such things as books, tutorials, and basic software. If you try chasing free tools that may or may not exist, you will probably waste a lot of time and end up with web design tools that prove unsatisfactory.

After defining your needs, your commitment level, and budget, you may want to consider these "best of breed" web design tools:

The best tools for professionals: Dreamweaver and Adobe Photoshop.
These two programs have been the de factor standard for professionals since the very beginning. Although these web design tools can handle most tasks, professionals will still need a good HTML reference book or two as well.

The best web design tool for non-professionals: WebWizard
This is the best non-professional solution among many similar programs that allow you to build websites with nothing more than basic word processing skills. WebWizard allows you to select your site’s overall look from hundreds of pre-designed, professional templates. So while your site may not look completely unique, it will definitely look professional.

The best tool for creating a blog site: Wordpress
I know Blogger is quite popular, but Wordpress is a better tool in my opinion because it allows for more customization and is more extensible in terms of additional features. Also, one can use the Wordpress blogging platform to make sites that do not look like blog sites at all. In this sense, Wordpress can be used as a true web design tool instead of a simple blog tool.

Click here for more information on these tools.

Tom Oki is co-founder and editor of, a premier website that provides reviews of business opportunities and marketing tools.

By: Tom Oki

Thursday, October 4, 2007

T-Shirt Design

The fashion industry woke up to the importance of T-Shirt design, sometime in the last decade or so. Till then nobody had cared to give the designing of T-Shirts much forethought. If there was a great idea that could be put on a T-Shirt, then well and good, but if not, then no sleep was lost over it. T-Shirt design emerged as a major component of the fashion industry when the designing world saw the coming of skilled graphic designers. Over the years this trend has gained in popularity and T-Shirt design is fast becoming a major money-spinner in terms of the designing business.

By using innovative graphics to design T-Shirts, graphic designers found a new medium to showcase their wares. Using spectacular artwork, they made T-Shirt designing a whole new form of art. Moreover an increasing focus on personalizing items that were used daily, saw the popularity of T-Shirt designing gain by leaps and bounds. The inherent desire to advertise your thoughts, desires, likes, and dislikes on articles of daily wear has meant that we are seeing highly innovative, fantastic, and sometimes scandalizing T-Shirt designs entering the market. Today, you not only see customized T-Shirt designs but also get to see personalized car graphics, accessories and even mobile phone covers.

You might just be of that generation when ‘sloganeering’ was very popular. This was the time when you wore your slogan on your tees, also called ‘slogan tees’. Though simple in nature, a witty slogan was generally printed on these T-Shirts. These T-Shirts are now not in-sync with what is usually termed the ‘generation next’. The limelight is now being stolen by more adventurous and complex T-Shirt designs.

The popularity of T-Shirt design can be gauged from the fact that it has now evolved into a venture that is community driven. There is extensive collaboration between consumers and designers, whereby a kind of non-formal product testing takes place before the products are finally produced for the market. The latest technology has enabled unspecialized people to undertake the designing and printing of their own T-Shirts.

Many companies have now formed online communities. The purpose of these communities is that members can contribute their personal designs to a particular product. T-Shirt aficionados have also got into the act now and have created blogs that cater to the specific needs of the consumers. Here, ‘expert consumers’ guide other members as to what design they must go for and what is hip and what is not.

Moreover, these experts have industry contacts and are in-sync with the latest brands available in the market today. They have their own networking groups and also have an idea about the latest T-Shirt designs that are available in the market. T-Shirt design is a million dollar industry today. If you are looking for a great T-Shirt design then you definitely will be spoilt for choice. So go buy your T-Shirt that has a design suited just for you.

Find T-Shirt Designs at

By: Henry De Guzman

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Ecommerce Design

If you are looking to expand your business, an ecommerce store can be a very good investment. However, just building a website alone will not attract the customers you desire. In order for your site to be effective, it needs to be designed properly. One of the most important factors related to ecommerce design is search engine optimization. For your website to be noticed by potential customers, they have to actually be able to locate it online. The majority of people today use search engines when seeking information. For any given search term, you are likely to get several results. However, most people do not browse beyond the first three pages of search results. If they cannot locate your site via the search engines, you cannot increase your sales and clientele. Having a high ranking among the search engines should be a top priority for ecommerce design.

An important point related to ecommerce design is to honestly describe your product or service. For example, if you are selling the popular weight loss product called Hoodia, you want to be very clear when marketing it online. Be sure to include weight loss product or appetite suppressant in your description. You do not want to describe it as a natural way to improve your health. Customers reading this description may feel deceived or even upset if they click on your site and discover you are selling a weight loss product. The best advice is to always be honest and upfront about what you are marketing. By gaining customers trust first, they are more likely to purchase your products.

While ecommerce design will most likely require the use of specific keywords to market your product, this technique alone will not draw tons of traffic to your website. Today the search engine spiders are much more efficient in detecting actual content from keyword stuffed pages or articles. In order to achieve and maintain a good ranking among all of the major search engines, your site needs to include quality content that is well written. Most people browsing the Internet are looking for information. If your site cannot provide answers to the questions they are seeking, they will look elsewhere.

Be sure to provide sufficient information regarding the product or service you are selling. Try to think about what questions potential customers might have about your product or service. It is a good idea to include a FAQ section within your ecommerce site. On this page you can list answer to the most frequently asked questions about your product. Be sure to include a way for customers to contact you if they have further questions. It is a good idea to have more than one method of contact. The more information you provide regarding your company such as physical address, email, and phone number, the more likely customers are to feel comfortable in placing an order with you.

Another good ecommerce design technique is to actively sell your product. If you have an item to sell, be upfront and forward about it. Let customers know the benefits of your product and why it is superior to other similar products available. Your website should include an easy to locate buy now or order now button. If customers cannot easily find how to purchase your product they are not likely to spend a lot of time searching for this information. If they become frustrated and look elsewhere, you have just lost a potential customer.

If you are somewhat familiar with ecommerce design, you have probably heard the popular phrase “content is king” before. What this means is that in order to attract customers to your website and rank high with the major search engines, you need to have quality written content. However, having quality content is only the first step. The number of pages your ecommerce site contains will also greatly affect the amount of visitors to your site. In general the more pages you have, the more likely you are to receive a high amount of traffic on a daily basis.

An important tip to remember when writing content for your site is that the information must be both useful and unique. There are many online sites that allow you to download content articles for free but these articles most likely are being used at a number of other sites online. If your content is identical to that on another site, the search engines are not likely to rate your site too favorably. You should either take the time to write unique content of your own or hire a freelance writer to do the job for you. If you decide to hire someone else to write your content, make sure you have full rights to all of the articles that you purchase.

Mark is a webmaster with Discount Domains a leading Budget Web Design house. This article is free to republish provided a working hyperlink remains to our site.

By: Mark Lawson