Numinous Productions Website and Graphic Design

Photo courtesy of Peter Haden on Flickr.comImagine you are a skilled laborer, and you are starving for work. One day you hear about a job opportunity at a construction company in the city. So you trudge downtown and get in a line with a bunch of other workers, hoping you make the cut.

To your delight, you get to go out on the job. In fact, every single person in the line goes out on the job, even those that don't look like they can swing a hammer, paint in a straight line or put up drywall. But a job's a job, and you shrug it off.

On arriving at the job site, the contractor in charge gives an odd speech.

"All of you have the chance of making $500 today!" he shouts with enthusiasm.

Many of the workers smile. Some give a shout, while others clap behind you in approval.

"But only one of you will actually get that $500!" continues the contractor. "All of you will work and put in a full day's effort. The best employee will receive this payment."

The shouts and clapping turned to groans as many of the workers look around to see if this whole thing is a joke.

"But don't dismay," the contractor interjects, obviously catching their concern. "If you all come back tomorrow, maybe YOU could win. Tomorrow, it might even be $1,000!"

The workers drop their gear and walk off the worksite to find an actual job that will pay them for their time and hardwork.

Does any of this story sound insane? No person would go work for an employer like this.

But this is exactly how websites like 99 Designs and Logo Tournament operate. These sites allow clients to post design projects. Designers can submit their designs to the project, and the client gets to choose the best design. The winner of each contest receives several hundred to a couple thousand dollars depending on the size of the project, and how much the client is willing to pay.

This is called speculative design. It turns what should be a respected career path into a gamble, and it turns great design into nothing more than a slapdash second rate product. The winner in this deal is the client, with 99 Designs and Logo Tournament coming in a close second. The designer loses 99% of the time.

If you are a graphic designer, logo designer or web designer, I would urge you to never, ever submit work on speculation. You are robbing yourself and harming the industry by contributing your hard-earned experience to the "Maybe I'll pay you" concept. If you are a client in need of graphic or web design, hire a high quality, local designer who genuinely cares about your organization, and will give you an excellent, well thought out design.

 

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Newsies Selling the NewspaperA long time ago, when the world was black and white, and people used phrases like "Gad Zooks!" and "Jimminy Cricket!", the general populace used to get their information from folded sheets of paper. They would usually pick them up for just a few pennies a day, catching up on the latest baseball scores, stock market numbers and international intrigues. These wondrous inventions were called newspapers.

The really important information would be printed in big bold text above the fold. It caught viewers attention, and sold more newspapers. It was good, profitable design.

Fast forward to today, and newspapers are on the decline.

But what isn't on the decline is the idea that all the important stuff needs to be above the fold. Lots of web designers will tell you that if you want to communicate any information to website visitors, it should be on the screen, no scrolling required. They would have you believe that the average website user is a neanderthal who can't turn the wheel on their mouse or hit the down arrow on their keyboard.

It's time to retire the "above the fold" concept, at least in reference to websites. If "Above the Fold" myth was true, websites like Facebook, Twitter, Youtube and just about every major news portal would have collapsed a long time ago.

We are now 25ish years into the life of the internet. Website visitors can scroll, and it doesn't require that much effort.

But I can hear the voices of web designers crying out, torches and pitchforks in hand, "How will anyone find information that's buried way down the page?"

The key here is to focus on great design and clear navigation. If your site is well designed, the important information will stand out. If your site has clear, easy navigation, website visitors will find what they are looking for. These should be the true priorities of a web designer. And judging by the current infinite-scrolling-hero-region trend that I've seen in web design over the last couple years, these priorities are slowly taking hold.

Long live the scroll wheel! Long live great design!

 

 

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1. Your website isn't going to do much good if you don't actually use it.

Congratulations! You've just paid for a well designed website! It has all the fun tools that you asked for, including a blog, photo galleries, streaming video and contact forms. Now what?

From this point forward, the website is your baby. It can market your business and spread the word on your organization, but only if you login every once in a while and give it a whirl. Spend time on it as often as you can updating information, posting new photos, and adding valuable content. If you are a church, make sure to update the calendar, post sermons and add photos from recent events. If you are a business, post articles that your customers would find valuable. Explain why you matter, and why they should spend money at your organization.

If you don't have time to work on your website, consider enlisting a volunteer for your non-profit organization, or hiring someone to update it. Most web design companies, including this one, would love to help manage your website, and can do it without costing an arm and a leg.

2. When it comes to design, please trust our experienced professional opinion.

This may sound like we don't want your input. We love your input! It's what helps us understand your industry and make sure we know exactly how to serve you best. We know that you understand your clients, customers and constituents better than we do.

It is this trust that we would love for you to reciprocate. Whether we are designing a poster or a website, many thousands of hours of work, education and experience are guiding our design decisions, from what fonts and colors to use, to the overall layout of the piece. We want to take care of you, and we want your marketing piece to be effective. Trust us, we are on your team!

3. When you hire an agency or freelancer to build your website, you need to contribute your expertise.

As designers, we live in the world of colors, shapes, software and computer code. By and large, we don't know what it takes to run your business, what your customers are looking for, or how your non-profit functions.

We can build the structure of the website, but to make it a true website, we need content. Content includes information about your organization, information about your products and services, information about your staff, contact information, photos and videos. We can even assist in creating this content, but we still need information to go on. If you are starting a brand new website project with an agency, be prepared to answer lots of questions. The sooner you provide this information, the sooner you've got an excellent website.

4. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) doesn't happen overnight.

As web developers, we wish that we could launch your website on a Tuesday, and by Wednesday morning, your website would show up at the top of Google search results for every single key word or phrase you'd like.

Alas, that is a super power that we don't have. In fact, no one has that ability. In our experience, getting your site on the first page of results takes anywhere from 2 to 6 weeks. Getting within the top five may take even longer.

There are many, many reasons your site may not be at the top of a search engine page. But to summarize (too) briefly, there are many thousands of other websites competing to get that top spot who have been out on the internet longer than your site, and you need to establish some credibility. I'll write up another post talking about how to establish this website credibility at a later time. The good news here is that, while time consuming, it's not technically difficult. Most clients can handle it on their own if they know what to do.

 

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Numinous Productioncircle icon 17 S. Crawford Street, Millersburg, OHcircle icon740-438-8851circle iconryan@numinousmedia.com