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design & marketing blog

Straightforward design, marketing and technical advice for making your marketing communiation more effective.

Logo Size

November 1st, 2015

There is a tendency to want a logo displayed as large as possible in marketing collateral. While it might be tempting to think the bigger the logo the bigger impression you’ll make,  in fact the opposite is true.

Our minds are subconsciously conditioned to give more prestige and credibility to brands the smaller their logo is displayed.  There are always exceptions, but almost all the best known brands display their logo quite small. Especially in certain mediums like Web and Email.

Take a look at almost any Fortune 100 company’s website, here are a few quick examples:

So, if you want your branding to communicate more prestige and credibility, quit trying so hard and tap into the subconscious consensus that smaller logos mean bigger brands.

Search Engine Optimization

October 11th, 2015

Do you want new customers to find your website using search engines?

For website owners this question may trigger a primal response similar to what a drug addict feels when asked if they would like a fix. Yes! Give it to me now!!

It’s a very enticing concept—hire someone to apply special coding to a website and watch it start drawing in new customers. There is a large number of unscrupulous SEO solicitors looking to capitalize on this myth . . you may have seen their spam touting their “proprietary” methods to get your site placed at the top of Google.

This can create a dangerous scenario—a compulsive, sometimes panicked, desire to use the Web to grow a business, and a whole slew of information-age carpetbaggers looking to capitalize on the situation.

The best way to protect yourself from wasting money, and learn how to develop a SEO strategy that really works, is to take some time to understand SEO. It’s not hard to understand and it’s not a secret; Google for example freely shares the criteria they use to index and rank sites.

It’s also important to discard any notion that there is a quick-fix SEO solution out there waiting to be found. Many people’s understanding of “search engine optimization” has been built on a very appealing and popular misconception that we refer to as the “Field of Dreams” syndrome.

The Field of Dreams syndrome

The 1989 movie was about a novice farmer who becomes convinced by a mysterious voice that he is supposed to construct a baseball diamond in his corn field that is somehow the path to his personal enlightenment and success in life. The memorable mantra of the mysterious voice was, “If you build it, he will come.”

The real plot being played out today in business is remarkably similar with the mysterious voice being wishful thinking and misinformation. The appeal becomes overwhelming and rational thought is blurred . . . “If we just build a website optimized for search engines customers will come.” Part of the appeal of this fallacy is that it provides a clear simple solution to a pressing need that exists in a technical realm that many are intimidated by. The problem with this approach is that, just like the movie, it’s fiction.

An Easy Way to Import Weebly to WordPress

September 1st, 2015

Are you looking to move your Weebly blog to WordPress?  There seems to be a lot of outdated and/or over complicated solutions out there.  There are also some plugins available for purchase that claim to automate the process which in our tests, did not work.

There is actually a much easier (and free) method to import your Weebly blog posts to WordPress that we found:

  1. Login to your Weebly site and go to Settings -> Blog. Change posts to page to 25 (or the highest option), and turn blog sidebar on. Click Save.
  2. In Weebly go to Build and ensure your front page layout has a sidebar with archives.
  3. In your web browser, find your Weebly blog’s RSS feed, which should be www.yoursite.com/1/feed
  4. Right click and “view page source” (Method can vary by browser, if you don’t see an option when you right click, google: “How to view source code with (name of your browser) .”
  5. Command A, or Control A to select all, right-click copy, then paste to a text only editor (not Word). Dreamweaver works great, but if you don’t have that here are some free options.
  6. In your text editor remove the fist line of code, something like <?”xml version=”1.0″ encoding=”UTF-8″ ?>, so your first line should be <rss . . .
  7. Save that file as weebly.xml
  8. In WordPress, go to Tools, Import, RSS, browse and select that xml file and viola . . . your Weebly posts are now in WordPress.  You should notice too that your images are showing up in WordPress, however these images are being displayed by an absolute URL and are still hosted on your Weebly site. You’ll need to manually save all those images to your WordPress media library and add them to your posts to retain them.

The above was done using WordPress 4.3 so newer versions may have altered the process. Also, I did not test this process on a Weebly blog with more than 25 posts so it may be this important method is limited to 25. If you’ve tried it with more than 25 posts please let us know.

Good luck!




Email Marketing Best Practices

July 16th, 2015

Have you ever opened your email only to find a long list of uninspired, unappealing, and loud advertisements all screaming at you? What did you do, read them all one-by-one, carefully considering their content and offers? Probably not! More than likely you simply deleted them all before you ever got past the subject line. So does this mean email marketing is dead? Hardly, email marketing is still one of the most cost-effective means of marketing to your existing client base if it is done correctly. So what are the best, most effective practices you can take into consideration when launching your own email marketing campaign?

Subject Line

For many people, it begins and ends at the subject line. If it looks like spam or is not interesting and eye-catching, they’re going to delete the entire email without ever opening it. You need to carefully craft a subject line that intrigues your clients and makes them want to read more. It needs to offer value to your target market and be personable, catchy and targeted directly to the reader.


Once you’ve gotten someone to open an email, you have to keep their attention. Make sure that the content of the email provides valuable information, offers, deals or links that the client will want to hear about. But be careful, you don’t want to just blast them with self-promotional messages. Content should help clients fill a need they have in their lives, and should offer them something they’re truly interested in learning about. Make the content intriguing, and make them interested in hearing more. If you give them what they want now, you will be sure to make the sale later, and you don’t have to be pushy about it in the email.


Don’t forget, however, that no matter how great your content is, if it doesn’t look good, your clients will delete it in the blink of an eye. Emails need to utilize the full capabilities of HTML coding, and they should be attractive to look at. The design should also fit in with your overall brand messaging so that it is easily identifiable as yours and yours alone. Professional, modern and uncluttered designs work best for email, so make sure to keep it simple. And don’t forget to make sure that the email works on every email platform, including mobile platforms. It might look good on your desktop, but if a client on an iPhone only sees a jumble of mixed-up images, the message will be lost and you’ve lost your sale.

If you can create a valuable, content-driven email that has great design that works well on all platforms, you will drive interest to your business. Remember that even though email marketing’s end goal is a sale, you don’t want the reader to feel pressured. They should feel like you’re giving them great information they want to hear first. If you get their interest and trust, the sales will come.

Design tells the world who and how relevant we are

July 8th, 2015

A design article entitled Oh, the logo by committee over at the Before & After Website is worth checking out. A few key quotes:

“Design looks easier than it is, and it’s more important than it looks. . . Design is us and it is personal. How something looks tells the world who and how we are.”

“When Steve Jobs started his Next computer company, his first act — before he had a building, before he had employees, before he had a product — was to pay Paul Rand $100,000 to design a logo. And Rand’s black cube gave Next its sleek identity.”

“NBC once paid a designer a million dollars to design an N.”

Read the whole article here.

Do you know who controls your business’ domain?

June 11th, 2015

Where is your company’s domain registered and when does it expire? If you’re like many executives and managers you have no idea. How do I know? I talk to them all the time.

Here’s a typical scenario: ten years ago your company launched a web site…no one in-house knew where to start so the person who claimed to know how to program their VCR was given the task of registering a domain for the company. This person registered the domain but used their name, address, and hotmail account. What’s more this individual may no longer even be employed by the company, probably could care less, and hopefully is not disgruntled with their former employer.

What would be the consequences to your business if your Website was suddenly gone and all your company email accounts ceased working or now featured a spam site (or worse)? Does this sound crazy? While this scenarios might be on the extreme, you are guaranteed some degree of misery and loss if you let your registration lapse.

If you are not immediately and unquestionably certain where your domain is registered, and more importantly to whom your domain is legally registered, stop everything right now and get it fixed!

Here’s how:

  • Access the Whois public database and enter your domain name. Assuming your domain does not have a private registration, look through the list of information and find the following:
  • Registrant Name: If this is not your name or the company’s name you’re at risk.
  • Admin Name: Do you know this person? Do you trust this person with your entire business? Your domain needs to be registered under a name of a corporate officer, owners or executives—not an employee. All it takes is one disgruntled employee to reek havoc on your business.
  • If you need help registering, renewing, or transferring a domain name please visit https://virsafe.com or call one of our domain registration experts at 480.624.2500.

More information on domain registration: