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Stock Images Can Damage Business

If I see another little 3d white man with a huge spherical head on a website or as a Twitter profile image I think my head will explode with creative madness ! This little man is soooo over used by small businesses that it shows a lack of understanding of just how important branding and graphic design plays in your potential customers decision making.

Why stock images are bad for business

This may sound like I am being extremely harsh on the little white man and please don’t suggest I am bullying him but your business is a unique entity, unlike this little fellow. By using common stock imagery you are : –

  1. saying that you are just the same as the next business.
  2. you don’t care about your company’s image and marketing message.
  3. and worst of all you are also saying that your service is cheap and untrustworthy!

Consistent brand message

Most medium sized to large corporations will have what is called a branding style guide and it must be adhered to at all times. Some of the elements in the guide can include what fonts should be used, their spacing & curning, the exact RGB, CMYK colours of the brand and the typical images and marketing message that should be considered as part of the overall look and feel of any marketing collateral whether digital or offline.

I realise by using stock images that look the same you think you are being consistent but if that image is seen again and again throughout the web on different websites that aren’t your own business then you are damaging the possibility of selling your product or image to the target market.

When I see people using unaltered stock images online it really disheartens me and puts me off using that business service or product, it makes me feel I can’t trust them and I will disregard them from my retail choices.

Alter the stock images

hills are alive

Don’t get me wrong stock images are great in helping graphic and digital designer gather elements you need to create unique graphics but if you use them as the sole way to “picturize” your website you will simply be putting your potential customers off doing business with you as although may you think the images you have chosen look good the majority of people will see an unprofessional website that shows lack of care, does that really reflect your business goal? I doubt it, your business has personality so show it off to the world!

Other stock images to avoid

The little white man doing various activities is my no.1 thing that makes my creative blood boil to see people using on their digital platforms, I mean, why!?!

But it also gets worse, pictures of random actors trying their hardest pretending to be business people standing in line are common place, avoid them or use sparingly and never use them for your main brand image that is simply a big no no!

Hire a designer

It is probably better to have no images at all if you are going to use unaltered stock images that are damaging your online reputation with potential customers. If you need unique images communicate your message verbally through correct use of heading styles, and contextual information and then hire a graphic/digital designer when your business budget can afford it.

It may seem like an extra expense your business doesn’t need and maybe the cost will seem heavy at first but if the graphics communicate your business message in a unique and imaginative way compared to your market rivals then when people are looking for your service/product they will remember you and see that you are indeed a very highly professional business worthy of doing business with as well as increasing the worth of your business.

I am 8-bit John a branding, web and graphics specialist that can help you improve your company’s image in a unique and imaginative way if you should need any help updating, improving or creating a new brand image please don’t hesitate to contact me.

The Colour Indigo And It’s Meaning

Indigo and its meaning in the colour of the brow chakra – intuition & sincerity

Why am I talking about chakras and what is a chakra? A chakra is what is known as an energy wheel that help make up our spiritual aura ( that can be seen by the use of special cameras) of seven colours. Red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, purple and gold/white. It is believed to relate to how we think and how we experience the world, how people see us, as well as our physical and mental health.

Each chakra has a purpose beyond its colour and the brow chakra is believed to be the chakra of the higher mind and our ability to read the future and receive non-verbal messages from other dimensions and connects the conscious mind to the unconscious mind. It has also been linked to our ability to have empathy for others whilst building trusting relationships.

When in balance it is believed to relate to how we demonstrate compassion, evokes a high mental ability and separates the imagination from reality, allowing us to combine emotion with more logical thinking.

This is the essence of indigo in our spiritual being which gives us an inclination of when we might want to choose to use the colour when communicating a brand message, one that relates to higher thought, spirituality and compassionate service.

If we consider a business that already uses indigo successfully in their branding we can see how the chakras purpose plays a part in the selection of the colour. Yahoo recently underwent a rebrand from the famous red yahoo! logo to indigo. Considering indigo is the colour of higher thinking and concentration perhaps the thinking behind this colour choice was to allow their users to find what they are looking for and stay focused on one particular search.

Hallmark, a greeting cards company chose indigo as one of their primary brand colours and this is likely due to the connection we are trying to ‘see the future’ whilst being compassionate and caring about our loved ones for whom we are buying a card for.

The colour indigo in nature

The most famous use of indigo in nature is indigo dyes extracted from plants that are often seen in Africa and were always reserved for royalty because it was a very rare colour in dying. For this reason Indigo is not only seen as spiritual but also similar to gold, evokes wealth, power and luxury when we view it.

How the colour indigo can effect our mood

Like all things,Indigo, has both a positive and negative side. When the colour has positive effect on our mood we can be showing high senses of responsibility, obedient, intuitive, visionary, faithful and truthful with an understanding it won’t hurt another. But when Indigo is dulling our senses it  can have the effect of making us more judgemental, impractical, intolerant and inconsiderate as well having too much self-importance.

The colour indigo and its cultural representation in different countries

Culturally speaking the colour indigo has always been portrayed as the essence of luxury and power due to the dye that was created thousands of years ago from plant extracts and only the very wealthy could afford the colour in their linen. For example, back in the Roman era it was always given the emperors because it was extremely expensive to produce and the emperors even went as far as banning anyone wearing it other than themselves! I guess this was the intolerant self indulging side of indigo coming out!

Conclusion of Indigo

With the colour indigo you should use it for a brand’s primary colour if the product or service is luxurious, spiritual, empathetic or requires attentive focus and knowledge to help communicate your brand

 

I hope this brief article about the colour indigo has been useful, do you have any other points that you think may be useful to someone thinking about using indigo in their design work? Please comment below

How To Write A Blog Post That Has Longevity

Also, if you have any knowledge of SEO keywords have been prevalent in search rankings since the dawning of the search engine. A keyword is a word that clearly associates the content of your page or blog post with it so that users can find the exact content they are looking for. So what is a long-tail keyword? As wordstream.com explains : –

Long-tail keywords are longer and more specific keyword phrases that visitors are more likely to use when they’re closer to a point-of-purchase.

So for example if an artist was to try and advertise they have wrote a blog about painting they don’t just want to put a keyword ‘painting’ to hope they will be found. The competition for that keyword will be simply too massive to even be considered to land on page 1, instead key-phrases such as ‘painting by artist xxx’ if they are relatively famous, or ‘a painting about finding yourself’ if the topic is quite relevant or ‘a painting that describes what is like to live with mental health problems’. All these key-phrases are long tail keywords and stand a better chance of being found on the top pages of google.

write a blog post that has longevity by talking about popular problems

Longtail keywords have less search-ability but with almost 3 billion people actively using the internet it is possible to still attract the right audience to your blog posts but is what you are writing about really relevant and are enough people likely to be interested in the blog? You need to be a little bit self critical and analytical when it comes to the content you are going to try and push to your target market because once its published it may be that longer down the line it doesn’t have any pulling power.

You can find out if your topic you want to write about is on the rise through google trends here.

Write a blog post that has longevity by not talking about current events

As I started my profession as a web, graphics and brand designer I joined a company that had well established image in their industry and I suggested they should blog, use social media channels and add videos to push their digital marketing strategy to the next stage. The problem with the blogs that were posted on their site was, although very interesting they only talked about current events and news and how it affected the industry they are in.

Why is this a problem? Well the reason it is a problem is because although at first it generates a lot of traffic and readers to the site once the news has faded away the blog becomes quite deserted with only the occasional visitor.

Write a blog post that has longevity through education

My most successful blog posts are not ones that discuss current events they solve problems, FAQs and issues that people have when involved in my industry or looking for someone to help them with a particular issue. This in turn adds value to my users and is believed to help make you look a bit of a guru in your particular industry and a person who is willing to help others sometimes free of charge! People love free!

That is another useful blog type, anything that offers free things, free fonts, free graphics, free chocolate, free anything will always have a good return rate and also a good sharing capability.

I hope this brief article helps you understand a little clearer what blog articles can help generate more regular traffic to your website. Have I missed something? What else would you suggest to improve your blog’s performance? Please comment in the box below.

On the head son!

In widely used CMS WordPress you may notice a drop down list with Paragraph as the first option. When you click this box you will find various formats for your text from Heading 1 to Heading 6. You may be wondering why are there so many headings or you may even be thinking that you only need to use them for emphasising or increasing the size of font but that is not the true purpose of headings. In this post i explain how to use heading tags to full effect.

<h1> What are Heading tags for ?</h1>

Heading tags are not just to beautify your website or change the size of your font on a webpage ( actually that isn’t what you should use it for), header tags initial purpose has two meanings. One was to emphasis to readers what each section of the website content is about so they can skim over the page easily and find relevant information and the second reason was to create different importance of headings from <h1> all the way to <h6>…that was the initial reason for the <h> tag.

<h2>Find where your heading tag is at</h2>

As things progressed in the world of html and search engines, headings formed an integral part of the SEO strategy.

Including keywords you want to target in your heading tags will increase the search ranking power of the page to get ranked higher with major search engines.

Now when I say this don’t go writing all your content in headings, the bots will know you are cheating, no <p> paragraph </p> content is bad. That is like creating a title of a page and leaving the rest blank, not good, so you can see why it would be bad for your SEO.

Headings help robots to decipher what the content is about and how relevant it is for certain keywords; so, be clever with your heading tags that you choose to use and remember that they are to categorize your content AND NEVER to make your content pretty.

<h3>Search engine please search for my heading tags</h3>

heading tags, getting found on search engines, heading 1, heading 2, heading 3, heading 4,heading 5
You are pretty much guaranteed that Google’s search engine bots will look at your heading tags for identifying keywords and clues to the content of the webpage you have created. If you don’t include your chosen keyword in your heading tags you are loosing content value! I have warned you.

<h5>I’m the only heading tag in the village!</h5>

heading 1, heading tags, only heading tag in the village
Everyone has a wanting to be unique and stand out and guess what? Webpages are no different! If you use a heading tag like <h1>unique</h1> you must NEVER use <h1>unique</h1> EVER AGAIN ON THAT PAGE as search engines love fresh content like we love fresh coconuts.

<h5>Im also the only <h1>heading tag</h1> only one in the country!</h5>

Another words only use <h1>unique title</h1> tag ONCE  to a page. I repeat ONLY USE <h1>unique title</h1> tag ONCE to a webpage. Do your up most to never use the same heading tag on another page or blog post. Standard.

<h6>Control how your heading tags look</h6>

If you want to change how each heading tag looks in a consistent fashion throughout your website you can create what is called a CSS style sheet to specify the font, the size, the color & other special attributes. You can read more about CSS Styling here.

<h6> Oi! Heading tags ! Get in line! </h6>

Heading tags are not given numbers just for the sake of it, it is usually good practice to make sure they follow order. <h1> at the top , followed by sub headings with <h2> then <h3> and so on, decreasing in value as they get smaller.

<h1> is the big statement ( other than your title tag ) so pay careful attention to including your particular keyword in that area clearly so the robots can find it.

Note : All headings below <h1> are for subtitles/ subcategories.

<h6>Not everyone uses heading tags properly</h6>

Just visit a few websites and look for heading tags, you may notice few use heading tags as effectively as they could be. Heading tags aren’t really given the importance or consideration that they should by a lot of designers..even on my own posts I only tend to use <h1> and <h2> but after researching and studying the use of heading tags I will consistently be using the correct structures that search engines and users expect.

So remember, don’t just <p>talk the talk</p> put <h1> thought into</h1> your content and <h3>make heading tags work for you</h3>

SEO Plug-ins You Should Definitely Install On Your WordPress Site

So many plugins, which ones to choose? It can be difficult at times knowing which ones to choose, it seems that the options are endless and installing testing and seeing if they are any good can be difficult if not tiresome, so I have decided to include what I believe to be some of the best SEO Plug-ins for all WordPress users. One being an absolute gem! I will add similar posts to this in future but these are the 3 I believe are a must have.

seo by yoast

Basic SEO Plug-in : WordPress SEO by Yoast 

This isn’t that much of a well kept secret but more of a necessity to have in ANY WordPress website that you build. It gives all the possibilities for the novice SEO user to the more advanced and experienced search engine marketer. This is all i need to say, no big fancy explanation this time, just install it, its a necessity for your plug-in arsenal.

Website Speed Plug-in : – WP-Optimize

As your website grows..and grows.. and becomes a bit of a monster with all the information you spread, getting the right information to display quickly for browsers ( not mentioning any names but *cough*internet*cough* explorer *cough cough* ) can be quite a pain in the bottom and you know what? Internet users are fickle chaps and not only are the users fickle but if the site is too slow it will effect your SEO rankings as well!

One tool to speed up your website is WP-Optimize, its a great free tool. What it does is remove all the old revision posts, drafts, spam, unapproved comments and optimizes all those databases that run your lovely jubbly website. It is a simple plug-in and can save you valuable seconds on load time.

Wp-optimise plug-in for wordpress

And my final plug-in tip for this post is probably something I am a bit hesitant to share, its a bit of a James Bond like secret weapon for serious bloggers because it is absolutely amazing! Probably one of the best kept secret by many top websites and my favourite Wordpress plug-in right now and as i am a nice guy, I’m going to share it with you lovely people… a content optimisation plug-in!

Content Optimisation Plug-in : – Inbound Writer

available for 4 posts a month for free ( see site for more details ).

So You’ve being a good webmaster making sure to include a keyword in your title, permalink, meta description and image alt tags but what if 100,000 other webpages are also targeting that keyword you are also wanting to attract your audience from and they have been around for longer? For starters, they will have gained more links and a stronger reputation for being an older webpage than your own so how can you achieve a higher search engine ranking if thats the case? Content optimisation is for this exact purpose! It helps you optimize your site using not only your keyword but keywords that are relevant to your main keyword, so you can continue to write interesting content but with more probability of being found by search engines. I started using this plug-in and discovered that my traffic was increasingly dramatically after only 1 new blog post, I am pretty confident in saying that if you use this plugin it will help you deliver the right audience to your site.