Is your site HTTPS secure?

Over the past couple of years, Google started ranking “HTTPS” sites higher than regular “HTTP” sites in non-branded searches. Then in September, Google announced: “Beginning in January 2017 (Chrome 56), we’ll mark HTTP pages that collect passwords or credit cards as non-secure, as part of a long-term plan to mark ALL HTTP sites as non-secure.” What does this mean for you and your organization? It means the time is now to add “HTTPS” to your list of items to get done sooner than later. If someone searches for your organization by name it will still come out on top but if they search for non-branded keywords you will lose ranking on the top pages because you are not compliant. How do you do this? It’s working with the company that hosts your website. They will be able to get you the certificate which will cost you an additional yearly fee. It varies depending on the level you need. How does this relate to working with me as a designer? Your overall marketing strategy is important to me. Every aspect of it can help or hurt your mission. If I find out something that may not be on your radar and it can get better results I will share it, be it design or tech news. Here is an excellent article that dives deeper into...

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Is your marketing material accessible for all?

I was re-reading an article on building accessible emails, it talked about designing smart emails so audiences of all abilities can read it, see the link to the whole article here. Coming from the print world originally, and having had a color blind boss, I had been mindful of color blindness and making sure there is enough variation in color and tones and to steer clear of green and red together. But other elements such as how a screen reader moves through the page of email content was really interesting. Here are some of the stats: “285 million people worldwide are considered to be visually impaired, with 19 million people in the US (or, 8.8% of the population over the age of 18) reporting trouble seeing, even with glasses or contact lenses. In addition, 4.5% of the population are color blind, which can also be a significant impediment when color is used to convey meaning or action in messages, both in email and on the web.” While the percentage of the visually impaired may seem small, it’s easy to build emails thoughtfully and by doing so, you can be sure all your audience can read your content. We recently discovered my son is blue color blind, it’s definitely made me more aware when creating marketing material. If you’re going to take the time to send it, everyone should be able to read it. That goes for print too! Give me a call, 516-707-2330, and I’ll be able to help create an accessible email or print collateral for everyone to...

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Is it time for a style guide?

Lately, several of my clients have been considering either rebranding or having a branding guide built out for their organizations. What’s the difference? Rebranding can be updating your logo mark and/or additionally reviewing your positioning statement and mission. Creating a branding or style guide is different: your mission and logo stay the same, but the guide helps your staff keep to a consistent look through font choices and a color palette. Quite often departments do their own thing because there isn’t a guide in place to follow. That leads to materials that look unpolished and all over the place. See my visual identity guide to walk you through the process or call me, 516-707-2330, and we can figure it out...

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From websites to direct mail

This month I want to talk about my creative services to you. I’ve had a couple of people recently ask if I create websites and even invitations. The answer is YES!  Don’t let my size fool you. I am a smart, nimble, creative services contractor. I size according to the scope of the project. That means when you just need a designer, you pay for me. If the project requires something more, say a developer, writer, or illustrator, I tailor fit a package to work for the scope of your project and fit within your budget. I love working with both development and marketing departments. I understand maintaining a brand. I understand print and digital. Not all designers have that skill set. They may be able to design a beautiful piece but will it work in the intended space? You get beautiful design and a vast knowledge base working with me. I am efficient and deadline conscious. If your in-house graphics is swamped, it’s nice to have an existing relationship with a designer you trust who is able to turn things around quickly. Below is a list of things I can help with but if you have something I may not have listed, please call me, 516-707-2330, and ask. Also, download my handy one sheet of services for reference. Print and digital specialties: ads • annual reports • direct mail packages • eBlasts • ebooks • invitations • media kits • newsletters • posters • privilege packages • programs signage • tickets • tour books • WordPress websites • white...

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Please do not use MS Word to design for print

Greetings! This month I want to talk about quality. Designing in MS Word is not ideal for going on press. I bring this up because I was called in to rescue a job created this way. Quality matters. I can’t stress this enough. Why would you pay a lot of money to print books with hard covers and design the job in MS Word? I can’t believe how often I come across well-meaning clients trying to save some money by creating something in MS Word only to find out their efforts were in vain. The project is unprintable. Now, the printer has to redo the files at a cost to the client or (if it will even print) it will be pixelated garbage. Am I being too harsh? Maybe, but I think that if you’re going to spend the money to professionally print it, it should be the best quality possible. That doesn’t happen without some print knowledge. It’s not just about having a nice design, there are other factors to be considered. Are you placing photos?  Images need to be hi-res (300dpi) for print as well as in “CMYK”, not “RGB”. And, tiffs trump jpgs when printing. Is it a multi-page book? Saddle-stitched or perfect binding? You need to consider page counts differently for each, saddle-stitched is divisible by 4. These are just a couple of things to consider when creating a file to be professionally printed. Look, MS Word has its place in the office. It’s great for meeting agendas and letters that you are printing on your copier. Anything going to a real printer, do not use it. Leave it to the pros using design software set up to reproduce beautifully. Your printer will thank you and your project will look polished and professional. Below are links for file formats from some past blogs, they help sort through some of the formats I mention above. Check them out:  Making Sense of Logo File Formats: Learning What’s What How to tell if you have high- or lo-resolution art or photos and will it print...

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3 Takeaways from a Growth Hacking Brit

Last week I was at an event which discussed growth hacking. What’s that? Growth hacking is a marketing technique developed by technology startups which uses creativity, analytical thinking, and social metrics to sell products and gain exposure. ~ wikipedia.org Vincent Dignan, who is very good at this, came to NYC from London to share some tips. My top takeaways from the meeting may surprise you. While there are some great tools and apps I learned about (and will share), three things stuck most. This hardworking, social media expert is doing speaking engagements andnetworking. He finds them extremely valuable. He said, “it’s underrated.” How does this relate to non-profits? Getting in front of your audience and letting them know your story helps build trust. Don’t hide behind your computer and hope to go viral with just social media. Speaking at a conference gets you in front of a large audience at once. Networking consistently or even hustling every night for two weeks could grow your audience by 500. Another goodie, pick up the phone, (love this 😍). When everyone relies on email and social media, sometimes you just need to dial. People have a much harder time saying no over the phone. While social media can get you more page views and build your list, continue your email marketing. Showing up in people’s inboxes is powerful. “Email is 40x as effective as Facebook and Twitter combined.” Do you really need another reason? Vincent also shared some really great apps which I will be testing over the next few months and will let you know what I’m finding successful. One I’m particularly excited about is Optimizely. They have a free version and it allows you to A/B test areas on your website. Sumome is another. It allows you to add useful tools to your website easily and helps grow your website’s traffic. Check them out and give me a call if you want to discuss a strategy on how to utilize these apps best. He also mentioned strategies for handling Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and several other social media platforms. The best advice regarding them is to start with one and do it consistently. Yes, there are tools out there to schedule posts, tweets, etc. but unless you have a dedicated staff person to handle all your social or you hire out, it’s best to stick with one channel and work it. Of course, if you want to hire social out, I know several great people to handle that for you and am happy to make the introduction. This was one of the better events I’ve been to and there was an incredible amount of information passed on. Check out Vincent’s video when you have 30...

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