5 Typical E-book Design Mistakes

Designing an e-book for your business is an important investment; it engages customers and helps grow your influence online. Furthermore, it’s incredibly cost-effective compared to creating and distributing print materials. However, despite an e-book’s effectiveness, it can be brought down simply with one or more elements of bad design. Here are a few common mistakes that designers make when developing e-books; look out for them and let your designers know to avoid them.

1. Color

At first glance, an e-book format offers the opportunity to use so many colors and images that aren’t available in print format due to cost issues, or simply because they don’t look the same. However, it is important not to overdo the color usage, as this will only distract readers and create a jarring image that ruins the overall e-book experience.

2. Cover design

A cover is the first, and in many cases, the only thing that a potential e-book reader will see; browsing through numerous titles, the cover is supposed to capture a reader’s attention and motivate him or her to download the full title. If a cover looks like every other cover out there, the user will move on. That’s why it’s crucial to design a cover that is unique and easily recognizable; it has to be one that a reader will remember and immediately associate with that particular e-book. The most common designer’s mistake is designing a generic cover; this significantly decreases the e-book’s success.

3. Fonts

Although it might be tempting to use what might seem to be a “fun” or interesting font, it is ultimately more important to use a simpler one that draws readers in and makes the e-book easier to read. As a general rule of thumb, sans serif fonts work best for reading on electronic devices, which e-books are intended for; a font size, furthermore, should be neither too large nor too small, with size 10-11 being the most recommended.

4. Formatting

Basic formatting, such as spacing and text justification are critical to the design of an e-book. A typical mistake may include overusing centered text; while it may be helpful to draw attention to a header, it ultimately is harder to read and creates a less professional format. Spacing mistakes include leaving too much or too little space in between letters, sentences, or paragraphs, leading to confusion and poor aesthetic appeal.

5. Readability

Common readability issues include long blocks of text, uninterrupted by images, graphics, or page breaks; a reader will get lost and be unable to continue reading if an e-book is designed this way. Failing to include elements that help the reader organize the information, such as page numbers and headers, can also impede readability.

What is Content Marketing and How To Use It

What Is Content Marketing

Content marketing is a type of writing that allows you to gain customers and make more money as a business. It is a way of using content to drive people to your website or make them interested in your products and services. Some companies choose to hire professional writers to do content marketing for them and others are capable of handling this task themselves. Content marketing is an easy and successful way to get your business name out there and get people interested in your company.

Why Is It Useful

Content marketing is useful because it is simple advertising. People are always looking for information online and if they happen to stumble across information or content that directs them to your website or offers information about your company, they are likely to become interested and willing to learn more. This could also lead to them telling others about your website or business and eventually, you begin to gain more customers as a result of the content marketing reaching so many people.

How To Successfully Use Content Marketing

The best way to create successful content marketing articles is to give the readers useful information while connecting it to your business, website or company. The content should not only inform the readers, it should explain to them how your products or services can help or benefit them. At the end of your content you should include a link to direct them to your website. When a reader is genuinely interested in what they are reading, they will be anxious to learn more or take action for or against what they read. If you offer a link or a next step, they are likely to click on it.

Content marketing doesn’t have to be complicated or confusing and you don’t have to be a professional writer to master it. Focus on providing useful information as well as information about your company and your content marketing will be successful. You may also choose to have someone create the content for you. No matter what you choose, content marketing can help you business grow.

File Extensions…What Do They Mean?

If you are planning to hire a designer to create or plan the layout for your website, you will likely receive many documents and images in a variety of file formats. It is important to know what these formats are and how to use them. Once you understand what each format does and how it can best be used, you will be able to use them to build your website the way you want it.

GIF

GIF stands for Graphics Interchange Format. These types of files are used for both websites and emails and are able to minimize files, making transfers easier. GIF format can be used for website logos, buttons, banners and clickable icons.

EPS

EPS stands for Encapsulated Postscript. This format is used for high-resolution images that are can or will be printed. EPS is versatile and can open and edit vector images. It can protect images and but does not require any specific software to open images.

AI

AI stands for Adobe Illustrator Document. It is a popular image format that is used by many designers and editors. AI is used to create logos and banners and can also be used to create vector images, which are easy to edit. AI is preferred because it is easy to use and is a versatile tool.

PNG

PNG stands for Portable Network Graphics. These files are fully interactive and often large files. Websites are an example of a PNG format. PNGs can be changed and do not lose their quality because they are low-resolution files. PNG formatted files are not suitable for printing.

JPG

JPG or JPEG stands for Joint Photographic Experts Group. This format is a popular one and is used for images. The images lose quality as they become smaller, but print well and in high resolution.

PDF

PDF stands for Portable Document Format. PDFs are used for sharing and viewing rich information from any application. PDFs can be viewed on any computer and by anyone but can also be password protected. PDF documents can also be edited and resent and are a way to exchange information.

TIF

TIF stands for Tagged Image File. These files are photographs and images and are suitable for printing. TIF files are large files.

Trying to understand the many types of file formats and extensions may be confusing, but is simple. Learning how to use these formats will make you a better designer and editor or can help you better understand how your designer creates websites and files.

Effective Resume Design

When it comes to getting hired for a job, most people do everything they can to present themselves properly and show off their skills. Your resume is the best way to do that, but did you know that the design of your resume is just as important as the information it contains. A resume with a good design could help you get a job just like a resume with a bad design could prevent you from getting hired.

Readability

Does the font and format you have chosen for your resume make it easy to read and appealing to the reader. When someone reads a resume, they almost instantly decide how it makes them feel, sometimes just by looking at it. Your resume should be simple, clean and easy to read. It should make the reader feel relaxed and comfortable and should not require them to work hard to understand it.

Information Overload

It can be hard to figure out exactly what you should or shouldn’t put on your resume, but too much can be worse than not enough. The reader doesn’t want to feel overwhelmed by the amount of information they read. Your resume should include basic information about your education, experience and goals and highlight some of your skills. Anything else can be discussed during an interview.

Keep It Simple

You might think that fancy font or those cute images make your resume stand out, but they could get it noticed in all the wrong ways. Instead of decorating your resume, use information and organization to make it stand out and catch the attention of the reader. Fancy fonts, strange formats and images are just confusing and distracting.

You have worked hard to gain the education and experience needed for a job. Make sure you resume demonstrates all of your amazing skills and personality, without confusing the reader or make it seem like you are trying to hard. Don’t let your resume design stop you from getting a job. Take your time, proofread and think about the point you are trying to make and get across. Your resume is a way for you to sell yourself.

6 Tips to Design on a Budget

Watching pennies is important for every not-for-profit organization; those that are creative in nature need to be especially vigilant. It can be difficult to create beautiful work when you are working with a tight budget. However, it is not impossible. Keep reading for some tips on how to create beautiful work on a tight budget.

Use free stock photos 

Using the best images in an important aspect of creating the perfect design. Although there are many online avenues to stock photos, many of them come with a cost. However, there are many lesser-known free sites as well. These sites have great photos to choose from that don’t cost a dime.

Use free fonts 

There are as many free fonts available as there are free stock photos. Although it can take some time to look through them all to find the perfect one, it is possible.

Borrow from yourself 

Do not forget that you are a creative person. If you have already designed something that you really like, reuse it. It is easy to swap out colors, fonts, or make some other minor changes. Once the original design has been repurposed, it is ready to use in another way.

Use a template 

Using a template is a great way to get started on a project without having to spend any money. Most templates give the user control to change an aspect of it, so creating something completely original by using a template as a base is completely possible.

Go for high impact rather than high concept 

Don’t forget the standard rule of advertising, “sell the sizzle, not the steak”. Spending an exorbitant amount of time creating designs with lots of ornate flourishes can cost you money in the long run if it doesn’t sell the product. Sticking to the basics and creating simple yet effective designs can save both time and money.

Do not try to please everyone 

Agreeing to make every tiny change everyone involved with the product asks for costs time and money. When you get into this habit, a project that should have been finished quickly can end up sitting on your desk for weeks. Decide on a design, have it approved (if necessary), and complete it. Not only will you save money, but you will also be happier in the long run.

Saving money on design projects ultimately means a not-for-profit will have more money to allocate to other areas of the organization. Creating fabulous designs on a tight budget definitely take some patience and skill. However, making the effort is well worth it.

Designing For A Global Company: Part 1

Website Design as a Global Company – Part 1

“Newsflash: since the creation of the Internet, all businesses are global companies.”

-Danielle, Designs By Dani

 

For U.S. businesses, designing an effective website is often challenging enough. But the Internet is, by its very nature, a global entity. And when you publish a website to the Internet – regardless of where your business is located or how geographically limited your customer base may be – you are essentially a global business.

Now, the reality is that many smaller, local businesses really are local. So if their website is not culturally accessible by visitors from other nations, then the impact can be insignificant for the business owner.

But if you are open to “international trade” and being able to reach a global market of prospects, there are certain functions and elements of your design that must be considered.

(A great resource if you want to dive deeper into the cultural aspects of website and brand design, see Designing Brand Identity: An Essential Guide for the Whole Branding Team by Alina Wheeler)

  1. Optimize Content for Multiple Languages

Optimizing your website’s text for global access requires that you make sure your layout will format well after machine translations. In other words, you want to make sure that when your text is written in English and converted to another language, the flow of graphics and copy will be supported by your layout.

Today, most websites use dynamically generated content that will flow correctly when converted to another language, but certain other elements can display badly. If possible, you should test your site using a machine translation service so you can see how your various webpage elements are displayed.

  1. Cultural Concerns

In the U.S. we have a shared way that we see the physical world and the meanings we attribute to things such as images and icons. This is why website design uses images and icons as metaphors to help us understand something that might not be comprehensible otherwise. Menus, buttons, folders, shopping baskets and other digital representations of real objects help us navigate the webpage. But our Westernized iconography does not always transfer or translate well cross-culturally.

When designing a website for a potentially multi-cultural diverse audience, you must consider the visual representations and icons that might be used. Because imagery, graphics and icons will be understood and perceived differently in different cultures, it’s difficult to know what graphical representations are for your site.

But if you have specific countries or national markets that you are intentionally reaching, it may only be a matter of doing the research needed for that particular culture. It’s worthwhile to determine what you should avoid or include in terms of imagery or references on your site.

  1. Color and Culture

Color can be quite challenging, as well, because color meanings are very distinctive among different cultures. And, while color is something you must consider with your website, a certain amount of research can pay off in terms of learning what to avoid – and what to include. Focus on your preferred markets and learn what colors, or color combinations, are preferable for those cultures.

Understandably, as the designer, you can’t create a website that works perfectly with every single culture in the world! But by being aware of these elements early in your design process, you can create a website that is as culturally sensitive as possible.

(Part 2 to follow)

Why Infographics for Your Business

“The visualization of information is enabling us to gain insight and understanding quickly and efficiently, utilizing the incredible processing power of the human visual system. Accessing and harnessing this power is not only valuable, but necessary, as we navigate the vast amounts of data presented to us daily.” 

Jason Lankow, Josh Ritchie & Ross Crooks, Infographics – The Power of Visual Storytelling

Why You Want Infographics for Your Business

Visual Storytelling: The Fast Track to Your Customer’s Heart

Brands that use visual content find that it triggers greater engagement with their customers and prospects. This isn’t a new discovery, however: visual storytelling goes back to prehistoric times with cave paintings, many of which still exist today all over the world.

Visual elements enable you to tell your story with greater impact than words alone. Visuals stir the emotions. And when the visual is a powerful one the effect is magnified.

Powerful visuals + evoke emotions = Deeper engagement

According to Getty Images, “Powerful visuals evoke emotions, driving a deeper engagement and more profound change in behavior.” This is true for your business because every buying decision is first and foremost an emotional one. Only once the emotional decision is made does the human mind provide the rationalization (or justification) of reason and logic.

This has powerful implications for how you interact with your customers, your prospects, and your potential leads. Visual elements such as images, video, and graphics can significantly impact engagement and the eventual buying decisions of your audience. Therefore, it makes sense that you will want to incorporate these elements into the design of your company website, social media platforms, and printed materials.

What Are Infographics and Why Use Them?

The term infographic is simply an abbreviation of “information graphic”. The term has gained popularity over the last few years and they have become increasingly common in online marketing.

At its most basic, an infographic is graphical representation of some type of data or information. The power of the infographic lies in the design and illustrative elements used. Otherwise dry and abstract information can be given powerful impact and be made far more compelling and memorable with a good infographic.

The benefits of good infographics for businesses is in their significantly greater effectiveness in creating appeal, reinforcing retention, and increasing comprehension. This is critical for your marketing efforts as well as for educating your audience with your company’s message. A well-designed infographic will boost the impact of your story with the power of having strong visual appeal, vivid clarity and a memorable message.

Website Designer or Web Developer

Website Designer or Web Developer: Do You Know the Difference?

The Role of the Website Designer

It’s helpful to think of the “designer” as the one who puts together what you and I see on a finished website. To accomplish this, a web designer will use graphics, fonts, and graphic design software to create the layout and appearance of a website. This design work also incorporates any interactive aspects of the site such as video, image sliders, and various links, etc.

The designer’s work is then brought to life, so to speak, online with the application of code.

Oftentimes, the designer may not be the person writing the code and, in some cases, may work together with the team or individual web developer whose task it is to take a website design live.

Good website designers have a strong grasp a variety of concepts such as color schemes, typography, layout, and the actual user experience. While coding is not actually required to be a competent web designer, many designers do learn code and few are adept at both design and coding.

Which brings us to…

The Web Developer

Web development, strictly speaking, is simply writing the code – various computer languages – that serve to create the visual interface we commonly refer to as our website. Without the code there is no website. With the code, you can have a site, but it may not be pretty!

This is not to say that web developers aren’t able to create sites that are visually appealing. But their primary objective is to create websites with good code and that are stable and technically sound. Their primary skillset rests in technical ability and process thinking.

Two Paths to One Web Goal

It can be said that, generally speaking, web designers are more “right-brained” in their abilities and approach to websites, while web developers are more “left-brained” and technically oriented. While this isn’t always true and, in fact, there are many talented web designers who also develop the websites, as well; it is usually a tag-team effort.

Ultimately, both designers and developers are working toward the same goal of creating a website that works well for its owner and its users.

6 Things About Your Mobile Design

Going Mobile: 6 Things You Need To Know About Your Mobile Design

While the world still relies on desktops and laptops for most of their Internet usage, we reached the “Mobile Tipping Point” last year when the number of actual mobile users surpassed the number of desktop users worldwide.

For any business owner with a website it has become quite apparent that everyone is accessing the Internet now with a smartphone or similar device. And this means your site must be functional and visually accessible on a wide variety of mobile devices.

The good news is that it doesn’t require rocket science to design a site that works well on both desktop computers and mobile devices. There are six essential principles to keep in mind to ensure that your site looks good, works well, and is not abandoned by mobile users:

Focus on the message

The old saying that “Less is more” certainly applies here. Avoid assorted apps, links, spinning graphics, and such. In the mobile visual environment these are simply clutter and distract the user from effectively seeing and grasping your central message. Whether your website serves as your online store, an information resource, or simply a virtual brochure, it must work to visually “stay on message.” Know what you want to say and make sure your site accomplishes that.

Brand it

Branding is more than a logo or a color scheme, although these are important, and you want to ensure yours is obvious. When designing your site to convey your brand message, one of the best ways is to tell a story. And for mobile, using graphics, video or visuals is often the most powerful and mobile-friendly approaches for your brand story.

Use one column design

Since almost all devices will automatically try to convert your site to a single-column layout, anticipate this with a clean, one column design and a logical hierarchy of content.

Cater to touch screen

In terms of layout and interactivity, your website should be designed for touchscreen devices. If at all possible, however, try to avoid requiring a user to access their virtual keyboard. And keep the required interactive buttons large and to a minimum.

Make it functional

Very little will cause a frustrated user on your site give up and move on than a lack of functionality. It may be visually stunning and have great images, but if your user finds it difficult to read or navigate through, they won’t!

Don’t be afraid of innovation

If you haven’t figured it out already, nothing ever stays the same in the realm of digital technology. Innovation is the rule and what worked great last year is already being forgotten this month. While it’s not necessary to constantly be on the forward edge of every digital breakthrough, embracing innovation will keep your website – and your brand message – ahead of the rest.