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design & marketing blog

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

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.

Mobile Design for the Modern Business

February 1st, 2015

With nearly seven billion mobile subscribers around the world, businesses need to make sure they have a proper mobile strategy in place.

Today’s consumer is mobile and always on-the-go. They want to connect with brands from any location and find information about a product from their smartphone. However, if a business doesn’t give people the opportunity to interact with their brand through the mobile web, they’re missing out on a huge opportunity to build a relationship with their customers.

Mobile design is essential for the success of any modern business. If businesses want to expand their target audience and reach more customers, they’ll need to create a mobile website. This website will make it easier for people to access information about a business and find product information. Plus, customers will be more likely to make a purchase directly from their mobile device, too.

When creating a mobile device, there are a few elements to keep in mind. First, it’s important to create a mobile website that’s responsive. This simply means the mobile website can be accessed from any mobile device such as a tablet or smartphone. Additionally, it’s important to use high quality images and provide adequate information on your website. This will improve the overall user experience for your customers.

Mobile design doesn’t have to be complicated. There are a number of tools and resources available to help you create mobile website. Tool such as Sketch or LiveView can help you create mobile elements for your website. By using these tools, you’ll be able to create a beautiful mobile design for your business’ website.

Adapting to mobile design trends are crucial to the success of your business. Especially if you want to draw in more customers and make your business more accessible, a mobile website will be necessary for your business. To learn more about mobile design for the modern business, check out the infographic below:

Mobile DesignIvan Serrano is a social media, marketing and business journalist living in the Bay Area of California.

How to Save Money on Our Web Development & Design Services

November 24th, 2014

Save MoneyIt may seem strange for a Web development company to provide guidelines for how its customers can spend less with us, but really it’s not from our perspective. We believe applying the golden rule not only benefits our customers but also us in the long run. We might make less money in the short term, but we gain the more valuable benefits of building trust with our clients and playing a small part to ensure their long-term success. Such clients will spend more with us over time and become invaluable sources of quality referrals which is how a vast majority of our new business come to us.

So, with that preamble, here are a couple easy ways to reduce your Web development, technical service and graphic design costs:

Maximize the value of each change request

Like almost all Web development and design firms, we have a minimum  charge for any task of one hour . This is due to the fact that to switch to a new client’s project, for even a small amount of work, compromises the efficiency of our day’s work flow and imposes an opportunity cost. We have to transition from another project, retool, login to appropriate accounts, backup data before changes, post changes, often test the changes (for example in different browsers) then communicate back to the client regarding the work.

The key for clients to realize is that once we have initiated a change request, the incremental cost is much lower for us doing other small changes while we’re already working within a client’s account. For example take a client who sends over three Website content change requests during a week. Each change may take 10 minutes of actual coding, but if they send those requests at three different times they would get billed 3 hours. If they save those requests and send them all at once they would only get billed for 1 hour or 66% less.

This strategy of course has the most dramatic effect for small changes that are not extremely urgent, and can most commonly be applied for changes for Website content. So if you find yourself with numerous small changes throughout the month, simply try holding them in an Outlook folder or whatever and sending them in groups.

Save 15% by prepaying

We offer prepaid hours with a 15% discount off our standard rates. There is no minimum quantity, you can use them immediately, they never expire and unused hours are 100% refundable. You can also track your prepaid balance real-time through our online client portal.

Save up to 40% through our retainer plans

For any client who regularly gets at least twenty hours of service from us a month you will save a significant amount of money through our flat-rate retainer. Not only do you receive a substantial discount on the number of hours in your plan, you are also entitled to a discount on additional hours each month if you should need them. Flat-rate retainers are paid in advance of each month. Additional hours are billed at a discounted rate of your hourly retainer rate + 20% and payable net 15. Unused hours in flat rate plans are not refundable nor carried over to the next month. Retainers automatically renew but can be canceled at any time. If you have any questions or would like us to personally review your ongoing service needs and provide recommendations please feel free to contact us by phone at 208.475.3192 or through our online contact form.

Emailing Groups – The Right Way

May 22nd, 2014

Are you aware that how you send emails to your customers can dramatically affect the viability of your entire business? In the most extreme cases emailing to customers the wrong way can result in your entire domain being frozen or shut down.

While a successful email marketing strategy involves much more, there are a few basics that you must adhere too to protect the good name of your business and prevent potentially serious problems with your company’s ability to deliver emails of all types to vendors, clients and customers.

1. Never send to large groups using Outlook or Webmail!

Have you ever logged into your individual email account and sent an email to a group of customers by adding them all to the bcc field? Or have you ever taken a larger list of customer email address and broken them up into smaller sequential emails?

Because of the prevalence of spam, email service providers and ISP’s closely monitor emails sent to multiple addressees as well as the frequency in which they’re sent. ISP’s and service providers tend to be overly cautious and favor erring on the side of preventing potential spam. Therefore  they are likely to flag your email/domain as potential spam when they see this type of group sending activity. In some cases I’ve seen email service suspended as a warning for 24 hours if too many such emails are sent, and, in extreme cases, the Website and email for your domain can be shut down.  This threat exists when sending through an individual account no matter how legitimate the email is and how much your recipients want to receive it.

The best alternative is to utilize one of the large 3rd party email marketing companies, namely VerticalResponse or Constant Contact. They send millions of emails each month and have the ability, because of their size and volume, to safeguard that your domain name does not get associated with spam. Not only will your domain name be protected, for their nominal cost, there are many other advantages such as tracking and the ability to have have a custom HTML email design developed for your brand.

2. Never buy lists of email addresses from 3rd parties!

There is a good reason why Constant Contact and Vertical Response do not allow the use of third party email lists . . . they are often not poor quality in terms of relevancy, they tend to result in a much higher rate being marked for spam by recipients (thus potentially blacklisting your domain) and most importantly there is no way to verify that these lists were obtained legally. In short, they present a very high risk of damage to your domain name and the deliverablity of all your company’s email . . . just don’t do it!  For more information on this topic and insight about best practice email marketing visit Word to the Wise or Deliverability.com; both great sites about email, delivery and spam.

There are of course legitimate ways to collect addresses for your email  marketing—you can start with this these 29 Ways to Collect Email Addresses for Your Business provided by VerticalResponse.

3. Comply with the CAN-SPAM Act on all your marketing related emails (It’s not hard).

While admittedly The FTC is not overly aggressive in prosecuting, the fact remains that each separate email in violation of the CAN-SPAM Act is subject to penalties of up to $16,000. This should serve as good motivation to adhere to the following guidelines:

  1. Don’t use false or misleading header information.
  2. Don’t use deceptive subject lines.
  3. Tell recipients where you’re located.
  4. Tell recipients how to opt out of receiving future email from you.
  5. Honor opt-out requests promptly.
  6. Monitor what others are doing on your behalf.

For full details on these email guidelines, see the FTC’s CAN-SPAM Facts for Business.

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