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Archive for Web Design

Choosing Fonts for Impactful Social Media Graphics

choosing fonts social media graphics
Choosing fonts that work is an essential part of ensuring you social media graphics successfully communicate your message to your audience.

A social media manager is two parts analyst and one part creative designer, with a sprinkling of customer care expert thrown in. To succeed in the creative part you don’t have to be an accomplished graphic designer. However, having some basic knowledge of typography and the impact that it can have will make all the difference.

Choosing fonts for your social media graphics is a simple enough process, provided you are aware of the basic principals of typography. Fonts are about way more than making something look nice; they have a whole host of other effects, including subconsciously accentuating and drawing attention to certain aspects of a brand.

When you make social media graphics its important to ask yourself what sort of impression you want to have on your audience. Obviously certain typographic decisions will be made by your brand for consistency’s sake. But beyond that, you want to be intentional with your typographic decisions.

Types of fonts and their personalities

Different fonts have different personalities - anybody who has ever seen a make-up brand next to that of a body-builder’s food supplement can tell you that. The fonts that you use will have an impact on how your brand is viewed.

There is a huge variety of different fonts and each will have a different feel, be that sophisticated, practical, elegant, cool, efficient, etc,. Most typefaces can be classified into basic groups. A number of sub-categories exist, but we won’t bother ourselves with those at this level.

Below is a list of how each basic group is often viewed/described. It is missing decorative types as these vary immensely and have an emphasis on high-spec design.

  • Serif: professional, traditional, dignified, classical
  • Sans Serif: clear, approachable, relaxed, personable
  • Script: fanciful, opulent, classy, unique
  • Monospace: plain, unassuming, technical, functional

It is worth mentioning at this point that comic sans is technically a script font, which is not opulent and certainly not classy. Rather, the script fonts that you would ever consider using (brush script, allura, and the like) can be described that way.

If you value your social media audience (or your brand in general) never, ever use comic sans.

Choosing fonts for your social media graphics

The best way to choose fonts is to take into account your branding and any fonts that you should obviously be using, and find other fonts that compliment these. The best social media graphics make use of a small pool of fonts, often only three or four, of which only two are used for each graphic.

Consistency is the key word here. Having this pool of fonts not only helps right now but will assist you in the long term as you create more graphics. Choosing which fonts to use will depend on what parts of your brand you want to compliment or accentuate.

There are a number of web services that will help inspire you to choose/pair the right fonts. Some of our favourites are Typespiration, Typ.io and Github’s Google Font Pairing Inspiration.

Once you’ve decided on the style of font you want to use, head to your graphic’s creation platform and get designing. If this is a web app like Canva (and you don’t pay for their reasonable premium service) then you will be limited as too what fonts they allow you to choose from. Otherwise, check out Google Fonts or Lost Type.

10 Tips to Help Supercharge Your Editorial Calendar

Content Marketing Editorial Calendar Tips

One of the most important but commonly disregarded aspects of a content marketing strategy is the editorial calendar. Any successful digital marketing strategy requires robust planning and understanding. An editorial calendar gives clear and coherent steps to creating a fully fledged strategy across board - and not just relying on flights of fancy for posts.

Sadly, by their very nature, editorial calendars and content marketers don’t often go together well. This is simply because the vast majority of writers tend to be creatives - and quite often these minds are prone to fits of creativity. Planning, although highly regarded and very much appreciated by them, may not be in their nature. Alternatively, if you’re lucky enough to be in the minority that have cracked the code to amalgamating preparation and inspiration, we salute you - but there are always steps that can be taken to improve your current processes.

Editorial calendars should be well respected in the world of content marketing. They allow for integrity and consistency in a strategy that will benefit both your short term and long term campaign goals. While they might be seen to be a limiter, often the reality is that the role they take is one of guidance, ensuring, among other things, that each separate post or aspect is aligned with your campaign.

Editorial calendars also enable content creators to delve deeper into what they are going to write about. The angle that they offer can often play a crucial part in deciding how your content sways; when you have a certain niche that you have to look through while researching you can find new and different ways of approaching a subject.

How editorial calendars can differ in function

Editorial calendars vary immensely from industry to industry, business to business, marketer to marketer, and depend wholeheartedly on what is included in each strategy. They can even go full scale to include absolutely all social media posts, interactions, and internal and external blog postings. At this point, they can start to look closer to a workflow management system. If this is what you are on the lookout for, we would suggest looking towards software like Asana.

Our personal recommendation for the function of editorial calendars is that they should be used to plan each of your blog posts from research through to publishing. This should include the production of the articles themselves, keyword research findings, purpose analysis and, importantly, the inclusion of an acceptable KPI. You should also include promotion details such as what social networks and communities you plan on sharing it with.

Are your editorial calendars really up to scratch?

The best way to layout an editorial calendar is in a spreadsheet style that is accessible and easy to follow. Chances are that there are some steps you can take to improving your editorial calendars, and we hope that this article works as a springboard for additions to your current processes. We’ve broken down a selection of best practice tips for editorial calendars as a place to start and ideas for columns on your spreadsheet:

1. Chosen headlines: Obviously it is important to include headlines for each of your chosen blog posts, however it is a good idea to think these up in advance. A great post headline can be the difference between a successful article and one that fails to hit where it should. If you are struggling to write headlines that incite enough interest to gain clicks, take a look at  CoSchedule’s Headline Analyser.

2. A (brief) brief: Ensure you include a few sentences on what your article should include. Unless it feels right for you, we wouldn’t necessarily suggest including pages of research as an editorial calendar should be accessible, succinct and usable. Just enough to tell yourself, management or a client the kind of thing that your articles will include.

3. Full-scale timings: Choose timings for each part of your editorial calendar. Dates of when you will produce, proof and publish each article, alongside any research you have about the best times to post on your website for traffic.

4. Keyword research findings: If SEO is a big factor in your content marketing strategy, this step cannot be overlooked. Research the most/least contested keywords for your industry and for the topic you are covering and take note to ensure you make use of them.

5. Campaign details & post purpose: Make note of how each post will fit into your overall campaign and the part it will play.

6. Graphic details: Good blog posts always include graphics. While you don’t have to create them beforehand, keeping details of the kind of thing you think will work will help you when you get to that point further down the line.

7. Target audience findings: This is another piece of information that will play a big part in the tone of your articles. Be sure you know exactly who you are writing for.

8. CMS details: Content marketing is about way more than just creating a great piece of writing and hoping it sticks. Be sure to include as much detail about your blogging/CMS platform as possible; categories, tags, SEO details, meta data etc.

9. Social media promotion plan: A good content marketing strategy can only be as good as it's promotion will allow. Certain posts work for certain networks only. Be sure to plan where you will posts in advance as this will effect the style you opt for.

10. Your own KPI: Be sure to include a KPI in line with your overall goals. Everything you do will be accountable to this, so make sure it relates to what you want to achieve.

Achieve Amazing Results with these 5 Web Copy Optimising Tips

HiRes-copy-2-300x278Step 1: Taking time to understand your message

Before you pen any copy, it is important that you understand the business you are about to talk about. Take time to get a feel for what the company is about and make sure that your copy is representative of them, their brand and their messaging throughout.

Step 2: Offer summaries - Not essays

Stay within the recommended guidelines when writing web copy. Summarise information into eas-to-read bite sized chunks, watch your tone of voice in the context and lead from one piece of copy to the next. There are areas of course where you are free to talk as much as you want – the about us page, or your our history etc. But generally speaking you want no more than 50 – 250 words per service / product when first presenting users with new information.

Step 3: Structuring your website

Great copy is almost always completely wasted on you if your website is structured in a way that makes it difficult to find the information or difficult to navigate easily.  The web is now awash with beautiful websites and because of this our standards have risen. In order to compete in this hugely competitive arena, it is no longer enough that your website looks nice; it needs to be structured correctly and offer users a constant flow of elegantly presented, original and relevant information.

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Step 4: Taking the time to understand your audience

Google offers us a number of really cool analytical tools and these have allowed us to better understand our web traffic. Utilising tools like Google analytics and Google webmaster tools is absolutely essential to getting the most from your content and web pages. Once installed, check these tools often and analyse the data as best you can. Once you understand who is visiting your website, why? And which pages they are looking at and / or not looking at. You can make necessary changes to your web copy and continue t ensure that every page is pulling its weight.

Step 5: Don’t be afraid to show a little personality!

Where possible you should not be afraid to show a little personality in your web copy. That doesn’t just mean the ability to display a little humour, crack a joke or be generally upbeat in tone, but the importance of successfully projecting compassion, empathy and understanding. Tones should always be present and easy to identify in your writing style. This point in particular is more important today than ever before.

It can be a bit ‘needle in the haystack’ sometimes, especially for small to medium businesses just starting out with their content marketing strategy. But the key thing to take from this post is that you can make some inroads by taking a little time to go back and cover all of your bases. So long as you ensure you understand your message and your audience, it’s all just down to presentation and ensuring you have personality and flow to your copy. Most importantly, analyse, report and use the findings of Google analytics and Webmaster tools to enhance the quality of your data.

Is an App right for your Business?

It's fair to say that yourself and the rest of todays society has integrated the 'app' in to our culture, to such an extent that it's hard to imagine our everyday lives without using one. Whether it be your Facebook app, your Candy crush app or an Angry birds app, life for smartphone users revolves around these things. According to recent figures, it is expected that worldwide, 103 billion apps will be downloaded in 2013 alone.

With insane figures such as these, it's no wonder businesses are starting to integrate their products and services into a mobile application.

Some companies that have found success on the app platform include social media giants Facebook and Twitter, but others away from that scene have also found unbelievable success, such as Sky with their Sky go, Sky Sports and Sky news apps being some of the most downloaded apps in the UK

But does that necessarily mean that it is best for your business to follow suit?

Well according to Chris Brogan who is a leading marketing consultant and keynote speaker, the first and foremost thing a business should do when attempting to break into the mobile market is to make their website as mobile friendly as possible. A lot of websites find difficulty in achieving this and yet it is the first port of call for a number of customers when interacting with your company,  it is therefore critical to get it right on the mobile front first.

However, when asked about whether businesses should adopt an app into their model, it's not so black and white.

As stated at the start, apps are very much a part of our society now, but that does not make them right for every business. An app should be an extension to your services that your website is perhaps unable to provide on a mobile browser. So when considering an app, consider what added value the customer is receiving from it and whether your area of business is right for that type of integration.

Having said that, you never know whether making an app for your business may be the catalyst for something great.

 By Content Assistant - Daniel Horton - @itsDanielHorton

5 Tips for Creating an Awesome Website

1. Get the basics right:

As soon as a customer visits your website, it should be immediately clear who you are and what services or products you provide. It’s a pretty simple tip that is surprisingly forgotten. Take a look at a website featured on the Giraffe Social Media blog - “TagBak”.

 

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The home page for TagBak

You may or may not know much about TagBak, but immediately you can tell who they are and what the service is they provide. But they haven't given the whole game away, once you know what they offer, you are invited to scroll down to learn more about how it works. This is massively important, as Nielsen Norman Group suggests:

“Users often leave Web pages in 10-20 seconds, but pages with a clear value proposition can hold people's attention for much longer”

It would seem that a 10 – 20 second time frame is absolutely key in keeping people interested  in your web page.

 

2. Content is King!

Creating a website that looks amazing is great, but if it’s full of poor, irrelevant content then current and potential customers aren’t going to come back any time soon. Creating a blog that covers topics relevant to your industry, is a great way to get people interested and coming back for more. Much like we do here at Giraffe, our passion is social media and we love creating content about it, and hopefully it shows!

 

3. Be Mobile Friendly

With more and more people using their phones to browse the internet, it makes sense to have a website that operates well on a mobile browser. It’s quite frustrating heading on to a site on your phone to then have to zoom in, out and swipe back, forth  and sideways to read the content. A mobile optimized website also gives the impression that you are technologically sound and know what you’re doing.

 

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Dove Men Care - A great example of a mobile ready site

4. Less is More

Back in the days of Myspace and Geocities websites (if anyone remembers!) stumbling into a company profile on either one of these was a pretty scary experience. You’d be instantly hit with a page full of flashing banners and tiled animations running across the entire screen and music would blare out of your speakers! Great then perhaps, but not now.

Things have changed a lot since and websites have become simpler and easier to use. Although you don’t have to completely eliminate any flash animation or music, it sometimes works well if you know the audience you’re aiming for. For example, a heavy flash animation based website will take a long time to load on slow internet connections, so using this for a rural village community website wouldn’t be the best of ideas.

 

5. Placement of important bits!

Open up a few websites and you’ll notice that most of them will have their logo or important information in the top left hand corner. Why? Because naturally, your eyes are drawn to the top left corner of the page, it's much like reading a book.

 

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It’s also a good idea to have the menu in the form of tabs, running across the top of the page as it will be something you can fix on all your pages for easy navigation and again, have the most important links running from left to right. Make sure your menu or at least a link to the homepage is visible on every page of your website as once a user reaches a dead end, the natural reaction is to close the page.

 

By Content Creator - Sean Haydock - @bseanty

How can you make your website mobile ready?

With the rapid growth in the smartphone and tablet market over the last five years, it is becoming increasingly important for businesses to have websites that cover all media types. As a result, responsive website designs are becoming extremely popular so that no matter what the device, the user experience will be just consistently positive. With the web being completely universal, people are browsing in different locations and on different devices meaning that the need for a mobile-friendly website is no longer just important to businesses, it's essential.

User experience designers are on the rise, which continues to ensure us that a poor mobile experience is a thing of the past. As mobile now accounts for over 20% of all web traffic, it is absolutely crucial that the customer experience is effortless and not at all frustrating. Therefore, responsive design is a no brainer, it makes websites easier to read, easier to navigate and most importantly keeps people interested.

Integrating responsive design can be cost effective and actually save time. In the end, a positive user experience can start to provide a return on investment. In order to do this, you must build a website that showcases your business as best it can on every relevant smart device. If you have a limited budget, fear not, there are ways that you can make a desktop website mobile friendly and create a great user experience at the same time. Using plug-ins for example, already means that your website will automatically enable mobile users to access a mobile version. Google have a great online tool, Google Mobile Optimiser, which looks for mobile versions of your site and allows you to test your site in preparation for smartphones and tablet PC's. 

At the very least it is important to simplify your site design, so that if your website is displayed on a mobile, it is aesthetically pleasing to the eye and that the user is happy with the experience. If you’re going all out however, adaptive design is the way forward, it truly  is the high end of website design and requires heavy investment. With this being said, it has the potential to reach the largest possible online audience.

Making your website mobile ready and/or responsive can be done in a number of different ways, the best options (in my opinion) are listed below. However, it is important to consider what you are trying to achieve from your site before choosing an option. Just remember that a truly awesome design will always help to bring in more customers, and keep them there.

  • WordPress Responsive Theme
  • WPTouch Pro – Recommended
  • WPTap
  • WP Mobile Detector
  • WordPress Mobile
  • Duda Mobile WordPress Plugin
By Content Assistant - Stephanie Balsom-Eynon - @sbalsomeynon

What are the Webby Awards?

The Webby Awards are international awards honouring excellence on the Internet. They began in 1996 and are presented by the International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences (IADAS). The IADAS is a very diverse organisation, made up of over 1,000 members, including leading web experts, business figures, visionaries, creative celebrities, Internet professionals and previous Webby Award winners.

The awards have grown significantly since their beginning and now attract a worldwide audience. The 17th annual Webby Awards, which ran on the 10th June 2013, received nearly 11,000 entries from over 60 countries and generated over 2.2 billion media impressions across the world.

In every category presented there are two winners, one is The Webby Award and the other is The Webby People’s Voice Award. The IADAS pick the nominees for both awards in each category. From here they vote on who will be the winner of The Webby Award whilst the online community determine The Webby People’s Voice award by voting for their favourites. This award usually attracts millions of voters from all over the world. The winners of each award are limited to 5 word acceptance speeches, of course on occasion individuals go over this limit but often it means they are  hilariously entertaining.

As the internet has grown to be a huge tool for businesses and everyday lives, the 17th annual Webby Awards expanded to include excellence in websites, interactive advertising and media, online film and video, mobile and app. These are all included in the new categories for work in the ‘Social Web.’

Winners are selected based on their excellence in different categories. For websites and mobile sites this includes content, structure and navigation, visual design, functionality, and interactivity. For interactive advertising and media those categories are creativity and integration. For online film and video they are concept and writing, quality of craft, and integration. For social the categories are based on content, creativity and engagement. For each group there is also an overall experience category. A full list of the 100+ categories included can be found on the Webby Awards website.

The huge success of the awards is a testament to the success of the Internet as a whole. The Webby Awards have easily become the Oscars of the Internet. Since the web has become an instrumental tool for businesses, The Webby Awards are the most important honour they can receive.

Winning a Webby puts you in a large group of industry leaders that include companies such as  Twitter, Google, eBay, Pinterest, Skype, BBC News, ESPN and more.

Both past highlights and future Webby Awards can now be watched on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/thewebbyawards 

Taylor Fleischner - Social Media Content Assistant - @tayfleischh

The Giraffe Method: The Complete Digital Media Puzzle

Could digital marketing be any more confusing to the average SMB (small/medium sized business) owner?  There is social media, SEO, PPC, web design, email marketing, content marketing and more.  What do they need?  How do they work together?  Do they need all of it?  Where should they be putting their limited marketing budgets?  Can they do some of them in house?

It certainly is difficult for SMB owners to know what to do.  At Giraffe, ever since we started in 2012 - we have been on a mission to create the ultimate digital marketing system that we can use as our answer to this problem.  We can now reveal: The Giraffe Method.  Before, we move on to what it is and how amazing it all is, we must first point out that, by no means do we claim this to be our 'invention'.  It is predominantly based upon an amalgamation of three different systems.  Firstly is the 'marketing/purchase funnel' which gives us the shape of our diagram and basis for the process.  Secondly is the standard sales process which is used all around the world.  Lastly is from our teams experience with all of the areas of digital media marketing.

So here it is:

The Giraffe Approach

Here are all three of the stages explained:

Attract

This is the stage where you initially reach out and attract potential customers. There are many ways to attract attention to your products and services online, the most useful are: Social Media, PPC and SEO. The more you do in this stage the wider the top of the funnel becomes and the more people you will be able to reach online. The goal of this stage is to direct traffic to your content or website.

Trust

This is the stage where you demonstrate that you are an expert in your field and earn the trust of the customer. Having interesting and consistent content will give you plenty to post about on social media and will do wonders for your SEO. This is achieved by having an active blog integrated into your website. If you bypass this stage, the traffic you drive to your site from social media, SEO or PPC will be less likely to convert into sales. The goal of this stage is to build the trust of your potential customer.

Solutions

This is the final stage in the digital marketing process. Your website is your selling tool and you need to offer the solutions to your customer's problems. The website needs to be beautifully presented and make it easy for your customer to contact you or purchase your product or service. The goal of this stage is to generate leads or purchases.

This is the method that we have developed and are now rolling out for all clients.  To achieve maximum results from your digital marketing it is fundamental that you execute each stage perfectly. Your digital marketing is only as good as its weakest stage!

What is the Best Alternative to Google Chrome?

web browsers

When it comes to web browsers, the world appears to be Chrome crazy. But believe it or not, there are alternative options - and not just for Mac users... 

Internet Explorer

Old faithful, there are certainly a few of us who once referred to Internet explorer as "the Internet". Although not particularly favoured, Internet Explorer may be the answer to more screen space, less browser. The browser frame ‘makes any website shine’ which has been designed with navigation in mind with larger buttons, single menu and simplified controls. The browser appears to do its utmost to keep you in control of your privacy. Like a bodyguard, users have the choice to use tracking protection to obstruct third party websites from viewing their personal data. The Smart Screen filter tool also alerts you about illegitimate websites and potential phishing.

Safari

According to their website, Safari offers Apple Mac users the chance to ‘browse the web in smarter, more powerful ways’. Expect nothing less than a beautifully sleek designed interface for easy management of tabs and smoother scrolling whilst browsing. With improved hardware acceleration, Safari has the potential to over power other web browsers with its rich graphics point of view and refined page views that load at blazing speed. Safari puts up a fight as a stress free outlet with built in sharing where you don’t have to leave the web page to share content with your mail, messages or social media platforms. The advanced features for Safari include smarter searches for finding web pages quickly using the unified search field, which suggests what you are looking as you type.

Firefox

It appears that Mozilla Firefox has upped their game with recent updates to the browsers interface. Staying in sync with the nations love for social media, Firefox have added a new swanky apps ‘add-on’ tab to the tab bar to make home for your favourite websites for constant access to sites you permanently have open. Adding to the slick and super speedy user friendly web browsing experience, Firefox have also got customization down. This is the reason why Firefox have made it possible for users to fully customize their browser with various elements of the browser from its appearance with decorative ‘themes’ to adding extensions such as Facebook and Twitter integration; perfect for those who are eagle eyed for personalization.

The ability to give the user the power to make changes to the web browser themselves whilst giving a varying degree of creative interactivity is one of the critical factors that flies in the face of Internet Explorer and Safari. As for Firefox’s performance, take comfort in knowing that the two key things you probably look out for whilst browsing the web, rapid graphics rendering and remarkably quick page load times will not let you down.

With all these contributing factors to Firefox’s appeal, Mozilla Firefox have definitely fought their way through, naturally winning the fight and beating Internet explorer and Safari by a mile. It’s a tough one but which one would you rank as best web browser?

- Lisa Van (@lisadrivesavan), Social Media Content Assistant

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