Articles about all aspects of graphic and web design.

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Client Spotlight – On N Up Coaching Website Design

Client Spotlight: On N Up Coaching Website | Header graphic | Jenn Wells Design

The Client: On N Up Coaching

If I had to do an elevator pitch for Paul, I would say, “Running a business, working with a team, and finding a new job are all drastically different segments of professional life. But they have one thing in common: transition. Business owners, coworkers, and job seekers all need to be able to adapt to change. If they want to make the most of their lives, they need to take it a step further and optimize change. Paul helps professional people to do just that – adapt to and optimize times of transition in their lives.”

In other words, Paul is a business coach. And he needed his coaching website to reflect the reassurance and encouragement his clients seek from him.

Initial Concepts: Website Redesign

I’m already kicking myself for not taking a screenshot of Paul’s previous site. Since I didn’t I’ll have to describe it and hope you get the picture. Aesthetically, the old site wasn’t bad, but it had some issues with mobile responsiveness and the navigation was unclear. A big part of Paul’s social strategy involves blogging and his blog posts weren’t emphasized, nor were they easy to access. Stylistically, I decided to stick with the color and style since they matched Pauls’ logo and the company feel he wanted, but we decided to modernize it a bit and really overhaul the user experience.

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Client Spotlight – ETOS Consulting Logo & Website Design

ETOS Consultant Branding | Design process for a business consultant logo and website | Jenn Wells Design

The Client: ETOS Consulting

I met Olivier, the founder of ETOS Consulting, at a networking event a little while back. (See? Networking does pay off!) This relationship has been amazing for me, because without even intending to, Olivier has given me ideas for better structuring and organizing my business from day 1.

Also from the beginning, Olivier was very clear and consistent about what he wanted: a clean, modern design for his consulting brand. Professional but unique enough to be eye-catching. Quite frequently professionalism is associated with the tried-and-true, so we had to toe a fine line between creative and traditional.

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Setting Goals for… Your Brand! (aka Brand Effectiveness)

Setting Goals for Your Brand | How do you measure your brand's effectiveness? Learn how to set goals and create metrics for your brand | Jenn Wells Design

 

Happy New Year, everyone!  Naturally, my first post of 2018 is a goals post, but I’ll be covering something that too few people discuss.  How to set goals for, and assess the effectiveness of, your brand.

As a graphic designer, I know exactly how hard it can be to set concrete goals for something as intangible as your brand. After all, ask 100 different people what branding is and you’ll have 100 different answers. Well… maybe 95 different answers and 5 people will say “your logo.” But we do all want an effective brand, don’t we?

So What IS Your Brand?

Here’s my quick and dirty summary: a brand starts with its target market. You think about who you want to appeal to, what they need, and what they like. Then you think about what differentiates you from the competition. What special personality quirks can you bring to your brand? Only then, after deciding how you want your business/organization to “feel” to your target market, do you start talking color swatches and fonts.

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When You Don’t Need a Website

When You Don't Need a Website | Most businesses need a website. Learn about the exceptions here! | Jenn Wells Design

I wrote before about why you need a website. But… honesty compels me to write this follow up and confess. There are a few, very, very occasional situations in which I would NOT recommend someone create a website. Gasp!

Diving right in.

You Don’t Need a Website If…

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Client Spotlight – Bike Delaware Cycling Jersey Design

Bike DE: Event Branding | Design process for a nonprofit event flyer, t-shirt, and cycling jersey | Jenn Wells Design

The Client: Bike DE

One thing I love about working with Bike Delaware is that it takes me out of my comfort zone. I’ve worked with Drew twice now, and we usually begin our jersey designs by taking a look at the work done in previous years. We analyze what he liked, what he didn’t, and how this year’s version should be different.

The thing that strikes me every time is how urban and artistic the previous designs have been, which is not my usual style.  To compensate, I make the craziest, most graffiti-like design I can and then it’s a nice, minimalist version of what Bike DE usually does.

This year, Drew was looking for a cycling jersey design, as well as a poster and a t-shirt.  These pieces were all part of the same promotional campaign for the Amish Country Bike Tour.

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Going to Bat for the Oxford Comma

 

Going to Bat for the Oxford Comma | The real reason we need the Oxford Comma | Jenn Wells Design

MLA, APA, Chicago, Turabian. There are a lot of best practices and formatting guides out there. They don’t necessarily agree with each other and it’s not always clear which is best in which situations. Often it comes down to personal preference, as it does for the hotly debated punctuation mark I’ll be discussing today.

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Why You Need a Website

 

Why You Need a Website | Websites are fast becoming a requirement. You need a website to build community, credibility, advertise, and provide information to your clients | Jenn Wells Design

This is a difficult post to write because it seems so intuitive to me. But I realize not everyone thinks or uses technology or even runs a business the same way. So let’s talk about the value of websites.

1. Websites Give You Credibility

I hate that this is my number one reason but it really is. It’s not compelling, it’s not a promise of guaranteed clients, or even guaranteed interaction from potential customers. But you still need to look like a legitimate business. And, these days, that involves a website and at least one social media page – preferably Facebook.

Speaking as a customer and not a designer, the first thing I do when I hear a business recommendation from a friend is to look it up online. If they don’t have a website, oftentimes I won’t go there. This is both because I’m looking for one central place to find the answers to my questions (location, hours, services, etc) and because not having a website makes it feel like that business doesn’t know what its doing.

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Branding: What It Is and Why It Matters

 

Branding: What it is & Why it Matters | An overview of branding and a head start for building your own brand | Jenn Wells Design

I attended a networking event not too long ago that discussed, among other things, what branding actually means. The answers ranged from, “How you present yourself” to “What people say about you when you’re not in the room.” Throughout history, branding has also meant everything from cattle brands to the more contemporary logos and more widespread uses today.

So What IS Branding?

For our purposes, I agree with all of the more contemporary answers provided at the event. Branding IS the way your company/brand/etc “feels” to other people.

Naturally, as a graphic designer, my mind tends toward the visual elements. And yes, if you’re thinking logos, that is a part of it. But by itself, a logo doesn’t make up an entire brand.

Your brand is your logo, your color scheme, and your fonts. Your brand is also the combination of those elements, along with the images you use, and the voice you choose to communicate with your clients. It really is your reputation, but not all of those elements are easy to capture on paper.

Branding Guides

For the elements that are tangible enough to document, branding guides are immensely helpful. In its simplest form, this should include fonts and colors, with enough color information that web and print elements for a company can maintain consistency.

Branding guide for Maria's Italian Restaurant with colors, fonts, and logo

 

Branding guides can also include imagery, including graphics or patterns. Anything that is intended for reuse throughout company design.

Branding guide for Jenn Wells Design with colors, fonts, and logo

Sometimes the branding process stretches out from logo conception all the way to website creation and setting up social media. It can also start with with just a logo and business cards. Either way, the end result should be a set of materials with a consistent look that appeals to your target market.

The Intangible Elements

These are all the things that I, as a graphic designer, can’t necessarily do for you. Basically, you’ll want the way your brand sounds and communicates to be in harmony with the way it looks. If you’ve already defined your target market, this is the time to really think about what approach will appeal to them.

Is your audience tech-savvy or will you need to be careful with technical jargon? Does your target market prefer a formal or informal approach? Think about not only what your message to your clients will be but how you will say it. What kind of wording will you use? Will you focus on emotional aspects or a logical approach?

I personally found it a struggle to define my “voice.” Having run a personal blog for the last 3 years, it was difficult to find the balance between personal and professionalism. For me, it ended up being a place where I don’t hesitate to say “I” or share my personal experiences but I also tone down some of vulgarity I might use in an informal setting. For you, the balance could be anywhere on the spectrum! Maybe your clients don’t mind colorful language, or maybe they prefer strict professionalism.

The best balance is one that will be comfortable for both you and your clients. Customers can tell when you’re not being genuine so don’t think you need to be something you’re not! Your ideal customer is out there – you just need to figure out how to find them and speak to them.

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SEO Breakdown – How I Reached the 2nd Page

How I Reached the 2nd Page of Search Results | The basics of SEO, and some easy-to-implement tips for your own website or blog | Jenn Wells Design

After years of hanging out on the relative obscurity of page 5, I’ve finally bumped my search rankings up to page 2! Obviously, there’s more to do. I’m still working to attain that desirable first page spot, and to achieve it for a wider range of keywords. But I thought I’d take this opportunity to celebrate and to tell you which SEO techniques worked for me.

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