18 Ways To Improve Your Site In 10 Minutes

Link your logo

Link you logo to your homepage. Sounds simple enough but it will save time for your users.

Make links obvious:

It’s a quick job to style them so they contrast against regular body copy.

Make text readable:

Make it easy on your readers let your text breathe by using line height and space. It’s ok to increasing your font size, and don’t try to keep everything “above the fold”.

404 page:

Use your 404 page to explain what a 404 error is and point people to your site map or homepage.  It’s always good to include a site search option.

Contact Option:

Sounds simple, but if there is no way to contact you, your going miss key communications.

Check headers:

Check all your pages and make use of H1, H2 and H3 tags.  These should contain your main keywords.

Link from your copy:

Add links within the body of your text to relevant pages on your website.

Get some Feedback:

I know, I know, your sites the best thing since sliced bread.  Get a few people to make suggestions about your site. It’s easy to be blind to mistakes on your own website.

Browsers Compatibility:

It’s a reality we all have to come to terms with, a website will never look or work the same in all browser (i.e., IE, Chrome, Safari, Firefox).  Check your websites design and functionality from as many browsers and computers as you can get your hands on.

Give direction:

Don’t overwhelm users on your home page, your homepage isn’t an ‘about’ page. Keep it organized and give visitors a reason to click around.

Let the user be in control:

Avoid popups, resizers and all those annoying things. It’s the users browser, not yours. Most popups can simply be placed on a new page.

Include a Non-Flash Option:

That tricked out website your so proud of isn’t going to do you much good if people can’t see it.  Like it or not most your consumer base will either own and Ipad or Iphone, neither of which can run Flash.   Either keep flash off your website or give people the option to view it in HTML.

Rewrite:

Read your opening paragraph. If it doesn’t engage you then rewrite it.

Simplify:

If you use too much jargon, replace as many instances as you can with clear wording. Jargon doesn’t help anyone.

Don’t overdo it:

People don’t have all day. Put key information in succinct paragraphs on the page.

Accessible:

Check that you can access all the key pages of your site as a first time user. You may need a volunteer or two to test this theory.

Be nice:

Answer a question on a forum about your speciality. You’ll gain a friend and some respect. Credibility = traffic.

Use Social Media:

Make good use of Social Media applications like Facebook. People may be looking for your services via these channels.

Design To Print

If there’s one thing we can all agree on, it’s that the print press is merciless,  we’ve heard it time and time again garbage-in-garbage-out.  We’ve all had the painful experience before, the anticipation, hours of work, years of experience, how could anything go wrong, i’m a designer!.  Those final moments when that brochure your so proud of arrives at your doorstep, only to find you’ve dropped the ball, how could it be!

Even the best of us still feel that slight skip in the beat of our heart every time we submit a file to print.   Here’s a few things to think about before you submit any  file for production.

CONVERT ALL FONTS TO OUTLINE

I know, I know, you just gotta that Grilled Cheese BTN font on your next poster.  That’s great but unless your local printed has the same “beach side BBQ” taste in design, they probably don’t have the same font. Don’t believe it’s a problem, next time you have some free time on your hands, mosey on over to your font folder and hit delete, then start going through all your favorite text files, not a pretty picture.

Before you save the files your submitting to print, don’t forget to first flatten or turn your text to outlines.

In Photoshop you would flatten your layers, in Illustrator you would create outlines.

HOW TO FLATTEN AN IMAGE IN PHOTOSHOP

To flatten image layers:

  1. Open your image in Photoshop
  2. Click “Layer” in your upper menu bar and choose “Flatten” from the drop-down options.
  3. Re-save the image

HOW TO CONVERT TEXT TO OUTLINES IN ILLUSTRATOR

To convert to outline:

  1. Select the type object.
  2. Choose Type > Create Outlines.


2. DESIGN IN CMYK

Now this isn’t a physics lesson on chromatics or color theory, but it is a lesson you’ll want to remember.  It’s important to note that your monitor doesn’t secrete ink to make the image you see before you, and that issue of seventeen magazine you just can’t seem to let go of, doesn’t have tiny light emitting diodes displaying your favorite teen hairstyle article.  When you design for ink, use the colors printers use: Cyan Magenta Yellow and Black, not the colors monitors use Red Green & Blue.

The Tale of RGB

Simply but RGB is an additive color mode, which means you add the Red, Green and Blue light into a black background ( like your monitor ) to get the colors you want.  The more light you add the brighter, or whiter, everything gets.  The problem is you can’t add colored lights to paper.

The tale of CMYK

CMYK is a subtractive color mode, which means you subtract light from your white piece of paper by adding more and more ink.  The more ink you add, the darker everything gets.

To help you visualize this a little better, think of the color black, if there is such a thing.  To make black in RGB, you would have to remove all colors, right.  To make black in CMYK you would add all the colors ( kind of, see our article on printing black ).

So basically RGB is for on screen colors, CMYK is for printing.  If you try and use RGB to print on paper, you’ll probably end up disappointed.

3. USE THE RIGHT RESOLUTION

Designing for web and designing for print can sometimes get us into trouble.  Things that look good on screen don’t always look good on paper, and things that look good on paper are usually to big (in files size) to place online.  Printers mostly print at about 300dpi, that’s 300 dots per square inch.  Your monitor on the other hand has a resolution of 72ppi, that’s pixels per inch.

Ok now don’t go crazy trying to find the dpi setting on your favorite design program, there isn’t one,  monitors have pixels, ink makes dots .  Pixels are square and dots are… dots.  Printers will translate 1 dot per pixel, so it’s basically the same thing

For the most part when you are designing for print be sure to design at no less than 300ppi, more is ok, but never less.  Ask your printer what ppi to design your particular project before starting,  Once you start, trying to convert up to 300ppi will cause a loss of quality.

Print Blacks Right The First Time

That’s right, Black is a color, and It’s no just one color, when it comes to ink on paper, getting black right takes more than just, black.  Most printers use a 4 color process, Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, & Black or Key. CMYK is based on a percentage value from 1 to 100.   The percentage value is what gives you the colors you see on paper.  So 0% Cyan, 100% Magenta, 66% Yellow, and 13% Black would give you RED.  It’s what printers use to determine how much of each ink to put on paper.  So i guess we could all assume when we we wan’t black we just ask for 100% K, right?

 

 

100% K actually produces a dark grey color, not a solid black, or what we like to call rich black.

The solution is simple, use a combination of all colors to darken the k value.  Everyone has their own opinion of what the right combination of CMYK is to makes the best black, but in general, experienced designers accept three variations when looking for a true black. designer black:  70, 50, 30 cool black: 60, 40, 40 warm black: 40, 60, 40. All of which are mixed with 100% k.

Exposed Gets Branded

I have to admit that this has been an amazing journey. We mentioned in our June post VueOne Exposed that we had started an amazing partnership with Exposed: The Art Project. At this point we have truly stuck to our word and created a world class branding and visual identity platform for them.

You can see the newly developed website at exposedtheartproject.org, as well as the new logo and tagline. As soon as we get all the other materials together we’ll post them for you guys in our case studies. We are 100% behind their cause and want all of you guys to become part of this amazing movement.