Dan’s primary point was that pictures allow us to solve problems far better than words, and unfortunately, pictures aren’t even involved in many of our largest problems.
“We can clarify our ideas with pictures.”
55% of our brain works to process visual information. Why spend the first 18 years in school learning how to be more verbal? Why do we only define intelligence by ability to verbalize?
“Whoever draws the best picture gets the funding”
This is something Dan repeated throughout the presentation. Whoever best describes the problem is the person most likely to get the funding. This is because:
They are able to get buy-in as they help people understand the problem
And also because the person who has drawn the problem has already began to map out how it works, who is involved, and is laying the foundation for the solution… so they are more able to come up with a solution
“Any sufficiently well drawn problem carries with it the beginnings of the solution”
How Our Brains Process Pictures
Our brains process visuals using 6 visual pathways. When drawing a picture of an idea, be sure to address all 6.
What – Recognizes the objects in front of you
This is the simplest recognition of an object
The picture of this is a portrait
How much – Quantitative – How many are there?
The picture of the “Ho much” visual pathway is a chart
Where – Distance – Where are they?
The picture is a map
When – There is no cause and effect, just sequence picture is a timeline
How – Cause and effect based deduction of what we think we are seeing
The picture is a flowchart
Why – Make the connection of why something is happening
A Real Life Example – Dan Roam on Healthcare Reform
Dan has recently been in the news for using pictures to explain Healthcare Reform. He, along with the help of a Heathcare expert reviewed the 1,447 page Healthcare Reform bill and created a series of 40 visuals to explain it and posted them to Slideshare.
The presenters each shared stories and tips from their past experiences working on website design projects with clients to an audience of Houston developers, designers, and design students. I gained new insight about how a design project can either go smoothly and stay within budget or go horribly wrong and become very costly solely on the basis of the types of conversations the agency or designer has with their clients throughout the project.
Designing a Website is Complicated
The process of building and designing a website is often more technical and time intensive than most people realize. There is also the added challenge that our clients want a website for marketing their products and services to generate new leads. This adds complex elements to the project to ensure proper branding, communication of the company and what you do, has calls to action and specific content for search engine marketing, plus custom development like a shopping cart for e-commerce, event registration, site login and permissions capabilities, etc.
Designing a complex website requires excellent 2-way communications between the client and the project managers and account executives. As in every industry, this presents a challenge sometimes. Lawyers struggle to explain complicated legal contracts with their clients, real estate agents have to explain the title and loan processes to clients, and doctors find ways to discuss very private, medical issues with their patients.
The Keys to Successful Communication
As each of the presenters shared their tips for improving communication, Education was at the core of each success story.
Tom King on Designing Content Strategy
Tom King explained the complications of explaining to clients the importance of creating a content marketing strategy before the website design project kicks-off and integrating the strategy with the overall project. Many clients want their website to be found in search engines and by new leads, and don’t realize how much time and research is involved in identifying the right keywords and creating the content that will go on the website before it launches and after it launches in an ongoing effort to boost search engine rankings.
To educate clients and prospects, Tom shares videos and resources from Google’s Zero Moment of Truth education series and shows clients these 2 videos that share the Coca Cola Content 2020 strategy:
Tom explained that he shows prospects these videos before the sales meeting because “if they watch these and don’t get it, then we won’t work well together.”
Bo Bothe on Designing Brand Identity
Bo Bothe’s presentation walked the audience through communicating with Marathon Oil’s executives as BrandExtract managed the project to redesign Marathon Oil’s entire brand identity. According to Bo, education about every step of the project down to teaching Marathon Oil the finer aspects of just what a logo is, was critical to the success of the project.
You can see the results of the rebranding in this video:
Aaron Long on Designing Software
Aaron Long’s presentation stresses the importance of educating clients on the differences between software and preferences in order to keep projects within budget and time lines. Aaron communicates to clients that the purpose of software is to lower costs, and content management systems are software that are already built and will lower the cost of the website project if clients use it. Preferences, on the other hand, raise costs and when a client wants to customize software for their project, they need to be aware that custom software development is the most expensive thing in a project.
One tip Aaron shared during his presentation is that it is up to the designers and developers to ask clients more specific questions about what they envision the end result of the website to be. Don’t just accept it when a client says they want a shopping cart feature with their website, dig deeper and find out what products the clients will sell with the shopping cart, what special functions will this cart need to do for selling products, shipping, collecting customer data, etc. Aaron suggests showing clients working sites with examples of what is standard so clients can better understand what they are buying when they are buying the software.
Here’s Aaron’s presentation slides to view his other tips for educating clients on the more technical side of a website design project:
Joe Robbins brought his experience in creating professional photographs and images for advertising in print and on the web to the seminar to share the importance of having quality photographs on your website. He discussed the conversation designers should have with clients and recommended educating clients on the costs associated with photographs along with the pros and cons for hiring a professional photographer compared to stock photos and photographs already owned by the client.
Joe explained that “a well designed website is very important, but if your choice of photography is poor, all that hard work could come to nothing. A visually arresting site can be the difference between a sale/inquiry and the customer leaving your site prematurely.”
Website Design is NOT About the Design
Although you might find this ironic, not one of the speakers for a website designer seminar spoke about graphic design for websites or talking to clients about design for the website projects. They all stressed the importance of creating a website that marketed and sold your company online to obtain new customers.
Tom King’s remark was that content brought new visitors to your website via search engines and not the design or appearance of the site.
Bo Bothe insightfully said “You can’t just make things pretty anymore, you have to make things that work.”
“Funny makes money, not necessarily pretty” was the comment from Aaron Long regarding creating websites that drive revenue.
And Joe Robbins demonstrated how to incorporate quality photography into your website for a more visually appealing site that reflected your brand in the same way companies use glossy print advertisements offline.
The presenters recommend that we steer our focus away from the flash-based, graphic-heavy websites that make it difficult to add and edit content on and also are poorly ranked by search engines. Instead, focus on a strategy that integrates your marketing efforts with your website design.
This seminar explained the importance of talking with and educating clients and hopefully the videos and presentations I’ve included from the seminar will give you a better understanding of the process involved with building a complex website. I encourage you to attend the next Houston Website Designers Seminar coming up in July if you are interested in learning more. The seminars are always free to attend.
If you want to learn more about Schipul’s website design process to build complex websites that generate leads and revenue for companies, contact us and check out our training calendar for upcoming web marketing events and webinars we’re hosting!
The countdown to Christmas has started and the Holiday shopping season is in high-gear! We’ve put together some handy tips to make sure that your e-commerce website is ready to handle the increased traffic and provide a great experience for your customers so they’ll keep buying in 2012.
Deck Your Website Walls with Holly
Share your holiday spirit with your customers by adding holiday graphics to your homepage and make it easy for shoppers to find holiday-specific information on your website. Add a Gift Guide with a link from your homepage, offer a special sale item each day, and provide a link with holiday shipping rates and delivery times to your website. Come see the holiday homepage we designed for the Children’s Museum of Houston.
Email Your Customers a Cup of Cheer
During the holiday season, people expect to receive more frequent email newsletters from their favorite stores. Design and send holiday-themed email newsletters at least weekly with your seasonal products and sales. Find more great tips for your holiday email marketing in our DIY email marketing guide.
Remember Your Social Media Stocking Stuffers
Add a Santa hat to your organization’s Facebook and Twitter profile photos and share your holiday specials across your company’s social media channels. Promoting your products across LinkedIn, Facebook, Google+, Twitter and on your blog will attract new shoppers as well as share your seasonal goodies with your existing customers. Find even more great advice on your holiday social media marketing on our website.
Santa’s Got a Brand New iPhone
Today’s savvy shopper is on the go and that means there is a good chance they are visiting your website on a mobile smartphone or iPad. Make sure your website is optimized so customers can search and shop from a mobile device. A great mobile style sheet can drive traffic to your retail store as well and should include an address and telephone. Pull out your mobile phone and check out Schipul’s mobile style sheet.
Give the Gift of Security
Online shoppers want to know you won’t take their credit cards for a sleigh ride when they purchase online. Check to make sure your SSL certificate is installed correctly and up to date and protect your customers’ personal and financial data. We recommend heading over to GoDaddy’s FAQ for SSL certificate help: http://www.godaddy.com/ssl.
Keep Purchases from Getting Lost in a Snow Storm
You want to make sure the rush of shoppers to your website doesn’t take your site down. Now is the time to make sure your hosting environment can handle big increases in traffic. Schipul hosts our clients’ websites in a cloud-environment that expands and supports site usage spikes affordably. Give us a call if you are looking to update your website hosting environment and have questions.
Show Online Shoppers that Christmas Sweater is Haute
Enhance your customers online shopping experience with product videos and images and increase your holiday sales. You’ll want to make sure your website has the functionality to support digital media first, and then use professional equipment and lighting so your clients can “touch and feel” your products from your website. For those new to using online video to sell products, check out the VideoCommerce.org’s Holiday Shopping Video Tips Article.
Start Planning for the New Year
Keep increasing your sales year round by reviewing and updating your search engine marketing strategy. Here is a great Holiday SEM slideshare by our very own Jonti Bolles and you can find a ton of free training and tools to boost your website ranking in search engines online at the Schipul SEM Blog.
We recommend updating your shopping cart to the latest version to ensure a smooth holiday shopping experience for both your customers and your staff. If you are looking to add a shopping cart to your website, check out these great shopping carts and then contact us to find out more about adding e-commerce to your website!
Some of us at Schipul spend a lot of time on Facebook. A LOT. But don’t judge, it’s totally part of our job. Whether we’re sprucing up a profile picture for a client, building out an iframe, checking out the latest Facebook updates (and there’s ALWAYS an update) or trolling to see who’s doing what with their audience, this social networking site commands a good deal of our attention. As such, we’ve seen it all when if comes to the best and worst of Facebook fan pages. Check out the faves from some of the Schipul staff:
Katrina also gives Sephora’s Facebook page props for always keeping their content fresh with new promotions as demonstrated on their Exclusive Deals tab. But Katrina gives Sephora the most points for recognizing the importance of photos and fan engagement on their page by feeding in customer pics taken in photobooths installed in select retail locations. You can even browse by location and date.
As for me (Katrina *Scooter* Kokoska), I get a kick out of the Skittles Facebook fan page. And to be perfectly honest, I don’t like the candy even a little, just their marketing. The Skittles page encourages fan engagement by soliciting fan photos and featuring a different “Rainbro of the Week” each week as their profile picture. Also, their posts are random, silly and make me smile (and their not self-promotional). My favorite random post from them this week: “Sometimes I sneak up on my alarm clock when it’s sleeping and yell ‘How does it feel!‘”
I also have mad love for the (client) Tony Chachere’s page. Now this page doesn’t flaunt a lot of bells and whistles. Why? Because it doesn’t have to. Tony’s skips the games and apps and gets right down to what Facebook is all about: Community. They post content about real people doing real things in real life, and their fans love it.
Creative Services Team Assistant Account Executive Garrett Thomas has some interesting favorites of his own. While he doesn’t ‘Facebook like’ the Barbie page, he thinks they do a great job of bringing together Barbie’s multiple personas in a palatable format for their target market.
And he loves the Stride Gum page because, well, who doesn’t love a Yeti with a sense of humor?
Here at Schipul we kinda sorta REALLY â¤ website design. And as a designer, I love spending hours scoping the internet in search of beautiful sites that push the envelope in terms of skill and creativity. I’ve come up with a list of six of my favorite popular web design trends (for designers and non-designers alike!) to catch a glimpse of what’s out there on the web and maybe give some ideas for anyone thinking about updating their own website!
Scrolly-Scroll is what I like to refer to for sites that seem to go infinitely horizontally or vertically with content built onto just one page. The navigation of the site will not direct you to another page but will take you somewhere else on the homepage. This technique is definitely not for everyone (especially for folks that have a lot of content on their page) but for people with minimal content and a need to stand out from the crowd, Scrolly-Scroll is a fun site option for navigation.
#2. Illustration Skillz
Site Illustration is a growing trend with site design and can be done in a variety of ways – vector graphics, simple hand illustration, collage, water color effects. The possibilities with illustration are endless but it’s also important to note that some website illustrations can get too overwhelming and distract from the content. Strong and memorable sites are able to find a happy balance with their illustrative graphics and the content of their website.
#3. Texture Love
Texture is something many designers are beginning to frequently use to add more depth to their layout. Whether texture is just the background or to various elements of the website like buttons, a logo, the navigation, etc., adding texture to a website can make the site feel more personable, tangible, and welcoming.
#4. GINORMOUS Images
For a minimalist effect some site designers go for large images on a page with small navigation that sometimes almost seems secondary. Sites that use large graphics and backgrounds are visually eye catching but may not be the best for navigation and sites with large amounts of content to share. Some sites with large graphics and backgrounds like to add a dynaminc element which changes out the picture periodically, giving the viewer more eye candy.
#5. Type Treatment
Some site designers like to completely shift their focus away from graphics like large images or illustration and focus solely on typography to make their design stand out. This sites give prominence to type by making large words and numbers the sole feature of the layout. Adding texture and using specialty fonts (aka NOT papyrus or comic sans) help draw the viewers eye to the beautiful lettering.
#6. Color Minimalism
Some websites have a minimum color scheme to achieve a certain aesthetic. This simplicity can be nice while others may view the layout as dull and not “pop” out as much as colorful websites. Color minimalism is definitely a personal preference, just like all the other trends I mentioned earlier, and should be used only if it matches the content of your site.
Feel like I forgot to mention a web trend you love? Drop a note in the comments and let us know which trends you’re really loving right now!
If you’ve ever found yourself standing up in front of an audience while some sort of technical glitch prevents your presentation slides from magically appearing on the big screen behind you’ then you understand how important the visual element is when trying to communicate in business. We all find it harder to communicate with words alone, and images keep your audience focused on your words.
When you communicate online through your social media channels’ it is no different. The images, layout, and design that your online audience sees when they visit your company’s LinkedIn or Facebook Pages is critical to relaying your organization’s missions, vision and Brand across the internet.
The Silicon Valley chapter of the International Association of Business Communicators, (SV-IABC), understands how important it is to include the right graphics when talking to clients and prospects and all of us at Schipul’ The Web Marketing Company were honored and excited when SV-IABC invited us to host the webinar for their members ‘Good Design Matters in Social Media Communicationâ€ this past Thursday. Erica Bogdan, Schipul’s Creative Services Designer, shared ways to improve your business communication using graphic design tailored for social media platforms. Erica shared how to unify your organization’s online brand across Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube and other social channels to engage your audience and increase traffic to your website.
Erica also shared design tips for ensuring your images looked great including sizing your images for each of the different online social websites and how to find free graphic design resources online even for the novice designersâ€¦ (or those folks like me who have trouble drawing a straight line with a ruler, let alone a professional vector logo.)
Erica lists some terrific and free online resources for graphic design, images and stock photos, and tools to edit graphics to use on social media websites. I want to share some of my favorite tools online that I use when I want to incorporate a better design or add more color to a social media page for the design-newbies like me.
5 Free and Easy Ways to Incorporate Graphics on Social Media Websites:
Try CutMyPic and in 3 easy steps you can upload a picture, crop it and add a drop shadow.
ColorLovours’ Themelon has free themes, backgrounds, and custom layouts to give your Twitter Page a truly personal appearance without any design experience whatsoever.
Befunky is the easiest way to add special effects to photos and puts the FUN in photo editing.
Recommended by AllFacebook, Pagemodo offers tools to generate professionally Branded Facebook Fan Pages without any design skills. Pagemodo gives you one free Facebook page then offers additional tabs and pages for a low monthly price.
Aviary offers a suite of design tools for web and mobile graphics including a vector editor, image markup, and even music and audio editing software.
Try out these online tools and then come show off your creative new social media designs with us on Schipul’s Facebook Page!
You can learn more about the Silicon Valley IABC Chapter on their website and if you are in the northern California area’ be sure to check out their upcoming events and stop by to learn how to improve your business communications both online and off. Thank you again to everyone from SV-IABC who joined us Thursday and we hope you’ll come Hang Out With Us Again soon!
Compelling graphics are essential to effective web marketing – especially in the realm of social media! Join Schipul’s Creative Services Designer, Erica Bogdan, as she demonstrates what key tips and tools you’ll need to know for creating stellar graphics for your company’s Facebook and Twitter pages.
Here are some of the cool tips this webinar covers:
How social media is growing for businesses as a free and effective marketing tool to create open dialogue with clients. Kick-butt graphics will make your Facebook and Twitter pages stand out from the crowd!
Awesome resource links to find images, fonts, and free alternatives to Photoshop so you can start creating your own graphics today!
How to incorporate branding consistency across multiple social media platforms and how to uploading your graphics onto your Facebook and Twitter once you’ve finished creating them!
With the recent upgrade of the Tendenci membership management CMS platform to Tendenci 5.0, we thought now was a great time to consider integrating a 3rd party email marketing application instead of using the in-house Tendenci newsletter module. We have started testing a few of the popular ones including MailChimp, Constant Contact, and Campaign Monitor so that we can better help our clients create successful email marketing campaigns.
Last week, I drafted and sent out my first email newsletter campaign using Campaign Monitor. I was truly impressed with its ease of use and cool features that most email marketing applications don’t have in one package. Here are my top 5 reasons Campaign Monitor is an awesome email marketing tool:
1. Drafting and editing an email newsletter template has never been so easy! Anyone who has ever put together an email newsletter knows you’ll spend 1/4 of the time writing the content and 3/4 of the time editing and formatting your newsletter. Campaign Monitor greatly reduces your time spent creating the newsletter with their new vertical split editor, drag and drop functionality, drop-down menu selection to personalize messages, and an expandable WYSIWYG editor that automatically adjusts in size as you add content to it.
2. Reporting and Tracking tools like no email campaign has seen before! Campaign Monitor’s Worldview is the coolest new web marketing feature I’ve seen and that is just 1 of the numerous tools they offer with their email marketing program. You can easily see a summary of the campaign in the Snapshot view that includes unique opens, clicks, shares, bounces, unsubscribed, top links clicked and more. Click on one of the overview items on the snapshot to dive deeper into the results of your email campaign, and export all the data into any .csv or excel spreadsheet. You can compare your recent campaign to past campaigns, track google analytics to see sales and conversion rates and even see who is sharing across social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter.
3. Campaign Monitor Integrates with Tendenci 5.0 and oh so many other online platforms! In addition to standard integration with Tendenci 5.0, Schipul can integrate Campaign Monitor with most website content management systems including WordPress, Drupal and Joomla. Campaign Monitor also plugs-in to a number of different software programs including Google Analytics, WuFoo, Salesforce CRM, Shopify, and others.
4. Your email campaign is delivered instantly! No more waiting hours after you press send for your email newsletter campaign to go out. Campaign Monitor lets you send your campaign instantly, or you can schedule it to go out at a specific date and time. You also have the option of sending a test email to up to 5 email addresses at once before sending out the real campaign. You also can pay a small fee to submit your email newsletter through a design and spam testing before you send to ensure the best success rate.
5. Set-up and automate segmented and customized marketing campaigns! Campaign Monitor’s Lists & Subscribers tools enable you to import, segment, personalize, and target specific demographics with ease. You can create rules within your subscriber list to create and automate multiple A/B email tests and measure the results with simplicity. Campaign Monitor also automatically clean-ups your subscriber list with unsubscribes and bounced emails and helps you avoid sending spam. You can even sign up to receive new subscriber activity through an RSS feed.
I actually look forward to creating my next email newsletter using Campaign Monitor. I also am addicted to the Worldview reporting feature.
I want to add that Campaign Monitor does have the option for agencies and designers to rebrand their email marketing interface and resell to their clients. Schipul will not be doing that, and clients will be charged directly by Campaign Monitor at their base prices.
This post comes as a blast from the past by our very own JJ Lassberg – she’s taken a new direction in her creative and tech world, but remains ever a Schipulite! Enjoy her great thoughts around branding!
In a world saturated by marketing ads and promotions, where children watch more than 40,000 ads of TV alone, it’s hard gain the competitive edge.
Here at Schipul, we believe there are 10 Top Branding Guidelines that can help you stand out in the crowd:
Focus on the #1 thing you provide
Get a short, Clear Tagline that tells me what you are going to do for me
Be consistent with your branding – don’t change it because YOU get bored, it’s all about ME the customer
Show that your are the best by choosing top quality, up to date graphics and design
Use Your Branding EVERYWHERE
Share your branding with a press kit – give people what they need to talk about you
Train everyone in your organization to say the same thing about what you do
Let Your fans rave – them where and how to do it
A bad reputation is louder and more demanding that even the best branding
Let go… just a little. Be Fun, Kind and Grateful to anyone willing to engage and share your branding online.
For the full Branding Guidelines – view the Slideshare Presentation Below:
Schipul is incredibly excited to show off some new stamps we’ve had created with the help from our friends at Gowalla.
While we are still trying to figure out everything there is to know about location based social media, we LOVE the way Gowalla allows locations to easily customize their visitors’ experience. These three stamps are our first steps to helping our clients get more out of Gowalla, and help them find new ways to interact with their customers, visitors and patrons.
The Bayou City Art Festival Memorial Park will be held Friday, March 25 through Sunday, March 27 in Memorial Park. The Bayou City Art Festival is produced by the Art Colony Association, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization dedicated to producing high quality art festivals and events, which provide financial support to local nonprofit organizations. Over the past 39 years, Bayou City Art Festival Memorial Park and Bayou City Art Festival Downtown have raised $2.6 million for local nonprofit organizations.
The 2011 Miller Outdoor Theatre season kicks off March 23 with Swing, Jive and Pop! Into Dance presented by the Houston Metropolitan Dance Company. The performance incorporates history, fashion, music and the arts into an interactive blast of excitement. The company dances through the eras of the 1930’s Lindy Hop, bops into the 1950’s, grooves into the 1970’s and ends into the Hip Hop music of today.