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Web Design

Infographics

Let’s talk infographics, those jazzy visuals that get you hyped when reading an article or a blog, when trunddling the net they catch your eye and suck you into content. Are they made by incredible designers whose super human knowledge of Photoshop can’t be replicated? No, well, sometimes. But for most content creators there are easier, quicker tools now available that require no technical know how. I tried and tested a few of them, here’s what I found.

  1. Canva

Easy set up with a whole host of templates and stock images, no manual needed with a simple space to operate. Once you’ve chosen the type of infographic you want to make you’ll go through to more options of customization, such as layers, images, lines, illustrations etc:

First off I made a simple presentation graphic and chose to use a back template + chart + 3x text boxes, which all together took less than 5 mins. 

Looks a little 90’s power point doesn’t it? let’s try one more. This time I did a poster for a fictional restaurant:

You can save your file as a JPG, PNG (standard or advanced) and PDF.

Overview: I really like Canva and can see why the internet has great things to say about it, positioning was a little fiddly at times but fine if you zoom in. The default colours are limited but you can pay for more choice. Considering it’s free you get a huge amount of content and functionality for nothing. Definitely will be using in the future!

      2. Piktochart 

Overview: Watch the video on going through to the start up page, it tells you everything you need to know. I immediately really liked Piktochart because you can vector and align things really easily on the document, which for someone who likes symmetry is right up my street. It was easy to move, add things and edit the doc.

Video is here

The interface is easy to navigate, it also has a drag and drop system with each element editable. I quickly mocked up an infographic for a presentation/ corporate comms, I made this in about 5 minutes:

Note: all the data/ content in this is made up!

Comparison: Piktochart definitely has more dynamic editing controls that are easy and simple to use but it lacks the variety of templates, images and other addables offered by Canva. There are more colour schemes though than Canva, which I liked personally as I could coordinate the above easily, unlike Canva everything available is editable, including colour, size and font.

3. Venngage

Initially I was impressed with Venngage as it incorporates the functionality and variety of choice of Piktochart and Canva but unlike them it is very limited unless you sign up for a monthly subscription, you can make an infographic and share it on social media for free but you can’t export it. From what I can see there’s a great range of tools and templates to use and the subscription isn’t too pricey ($19 a month). I didn’t sign up so screen capped the body of an IG on the creative process below:

All in all if I was going to sign up to one I would either go with Venngage or Piktochart, purely because the functionality worked better and the IG’s produced were clean, easy to create and looked more like the kind of content that would make an impact. I would still go back to Canva for flyers and posters though as I think they have a great variety of templates for those.

I’ll be exploring more IG software and tools soon so stay tuned!

SEO hats

So you want a fancy SEO top hat? LETS DO THIS.

In the SEO sphere there are two types of hats, good ones- white hats and black hats, bad ones. The first are legal, organic, content-driven methods that are welcomed by the web while the other are hacks, illegal maneuvers and aggressive farming tactics to increase numbers. The latter is obviously to be avoided. So here’s an outline of both so you know what to steer clear of.

The DSIM made this awesome IG:

black-vs-white-_dsimfd

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Paper planes: the importance of graphic design

We all know how important aesthetics are, I for one always find myself drawn to pretty packaging regardless of what’s inside… Harrod’s Bon Bons got me in Heathrow airport last week.

That said, how do you choose the wrapping that goes around your site? How do you decide on the layout? These are big questions that cover a very broad topic, so I’ll break it down in further posts entitled discoverability and navigation and heck one on semantic enrichment too while we’re at it.  For now though lets talk about the initial inception of design, who is your target market? Who are your competitors? One of your first business decisions is to decide whether you want to keep it in line with what they’re doing and simply try to do it better or do you go off the grid in an attempt to be a digital zeitgeist? Each has its merits and challenges. Your next decision is your budget, which usually takes form depending on your goals and sales targets. Generating traffic isn’t cheap these days.

Your choice of design represents the character of your product, so choose wisely. It’s easy to be overwhelmed by website templates, plugins and programming when you’re designing yourself. Equally so when you’re sizing up a company to do it for you. Some reputable names include Squarespace, Deeson, Druple and Semantico. If you’re shelling out for one of these consider what the identity of your product is, for instance Deeson specializes in community driven platforms, where the design is a hub that generates user discussions and content. When employing a website designer think about how their set up is going to work within your organization and its processes, with eproduction, CS, marketing, sales and any other stakeholder. The last thing you want to do is spend budget on a vendor to implement a CMS tool like SAMS* and then after speaking to CS discover they don’t require it.

If you’re an individual building a blog it may be easier to go with a template that enables a theme to begin with.  Starting with the basics will give you an idea of where you might want to go in the future and beginning with free software will spare you the expensive of indecisiveness if you haven’t yet bought a domain.

Initial things to consider:

  • Colour scheme
  • Layout
  • Key functionalities
  • Target market
  • Brand identity

Useful designing sources:

Wix bloggers here
WordPress bloggers here and here and a bit of programming here

For blogroll you’re on your own.

*SAMS (Software Asset Management) ‘is a business practice that involves managing and optimizing the purchase, deployment, maintenance, utilization, and disposal of software applications within an organization’.

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