Monday, August 10, 2009

Design Your Logo Like A Pro

A logo is the image which represents a company or its product. It's function is to create a memorable, recognizable impression on the mind of a potential client or customer. A logo is essentially at the heart of a corporate identity.

So what makes a "good" logo? Most people would answer "I just know it when I see it!" and this isn't so far from the truth. A good logo catches the eye - it makes the observer curious or engaged, if only for a short moment. A moment in which an image and the existence of your company is embedded in the mind rather than filtered out with a million other daily stimulation, But even if a good logo 'just is', there are elements for making it happen and we will look at some of those.

There are three basic types of logos, which can be used alone or combined within one design:

* Illustrative logos (a logo which clearly illustrates what your company does),
* Graphic logos (a logo that includes a graphic, often an abstraction, of what
your company does), and
* Font-based logos (a text treatment which represents your company)

Creating a logo is always a process - though different designers have their own methods. Many designers will begin by sketching thumbnails or playing with shapes on the computer screen, until something "clicks" and they follow that path to see where it leads. One way to start is to select a shape which represents the concept of the company, and begin playing with it. The idea is to come up with something interesting or clever, whether a viewpoint which is different, or an unusual combination of shapes. Perhaps it will be something which will require some guesswork on the part of the viewer, but then be crystal clear when they look at it another way.

Many designers prefer to developing logos beginning with, or consisting entirely of text. By experimenting with fonts, size, shapes they seek to find an interesting way to represent the company using the form of letters. Again, simplicity is extremely important - this is not the time to use fancy decorative fonts. Whether alone or combined with graphic elements, the text in a logo must be easily readable at small sizes.

Once a form for the logo has been defined, color needs to be considered. Again, color for a logo should remain simple. You can always get fancy with the web version, but a good logo must work well in one color and gradients of that color. The color should enhance and support the form of the logo - for example, various shades of blue on the sides of a 3D box should be the same as they would in real life.

Contrast is another powerful concept in the creation of logos - you can contrast size, color, fonts, and textures - to create visual interest.

A logo should be simple and abstract, not be complicated or confusing, and again, all elements must be discernible when reproduced in small sizes.

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Logo Design and Corporate Identity

The History of Logo Design and Corporate Identity
One of the best logo designs begins in England, in the 1800's. Marcus Samuel, a curio dealer in London started selling shell-covered boxes to children and tourists. As his Shell Shop prospered he took on new merchandise of various kinds, such as jewels, kerosene and oil. By 1830 his company went world-wide and consolidated as the Shell Transport and Trading Company in 1897. Due to his earlier specialty, the company adopted the simple drawing of a seashell as its trademark, and has since become the world's best known logo design.

Prudential Financial Inc is a perfect example of a corporation using one of the most effective trademarks ever conceived. Their logo consists of a rock, specifically the Rock of Gibraltar, which has been famed throughout history as a symbol of strength. The Rock achieved fame from being impregnable to sieges when, through 1779-1783, the Spaniards failed to recapture this land from the British. This known symbol of strength, in 1896, was adopted as Prudential Financial Inc's logo, and as the symbol tells the story better than words, it remains as one of the most influential trademarks.

Another enduring logo design from the 1800's is the original script GE . It appeared sometime in the 1890s, possibly as a decorative element for the merchandise of General Electric Company. This mark was eventually adopted and evolved into the General Electric trademark and corporate identity: a name which has survived to this day.

In our current times, logos have taken new meaning: our free enterprise society has made logos and trademarks seemly more prominent than national flags. You are likely to find hundreds of logos and trademarks in the privacy of your own home, without even realizing it, and be exposed to ten of thousands of these signs and symbols on your way to work if you live in a cosmopolitan city. We have found ourselves in a business-oriented society, which embodies the commercial reputation of products and services, encourages the production of quality products, and enables consumers to facilitate purchasing decisions.

The competition in the marketplace is fierce. There are nearly two million registered trademarks in the United States alone, and over a hundred thousand new trademarks being registered every year. With a deluge of new trademarks annually pouring into the already vast pool of registered trademarks, virtually every form of business needs to be well identified. Developing a clear and positive visual identity is essentially the cornerstone for a new company to establish itself in the market place. Equally true, is that when an established company evolves and business solutions change along with new demands of the time, the need for a revamped distinctive identity that can continue to reflect and communicate with the audience is a vital part of the company's business strategy.

The two most common constituents of corporate identity are a name and a mark. First and foremost, a company's name is the key factor in creating a company presence. After the content of the name, the most crucial aspect in an identity development is the form of the company's visual identifier -- be it a literal signature, typography, or wholly based on the graphic symbol alone, or combining logotype, graphic symbol together for greater recognizability. The symbol-only is generally an ultimate choice, but it can be more difficult to associate successfully to a company's identity, and requires extensive time and money to promote. Combination logo designs are cost effective because they can increase psycho-emotional value and appeals to a wide variety of audience more effectively. Our own observation reveals that contemporary corporate identity design is exceedingly leaning toward this trend.

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Logo Design Tips

I've been designing logos for a while now, and I see a lot of logos designed by other people. I must say most of the logos I have been seeing lately have been awful. By no means, and I the only person that thinks that way, nor am I the God of logos. However, I have a few suggestions on how to make a good logo for a client.

Of Course, there is the first thing to find out; what is your client's budget. I don't mean find out what your client is willing to pay you, I mean how much they are willing to spend on printing. If a client comes to you and wants a galaxy with a shooting star in full color, he better have some cash to fork out to the printers. Most new clients don't have a clue about things like that, and it is your job to inform them.

The Next Step is to find out how many colors they can afford to print. Find out what they plan to print the logo on in the immediate future, and suggest to them 1 to 2 colors if they plan on printing the logo on a large amount of items. Most of the big companies have a one color logo, so they can print it on everything they want to. If you have a five color logo, you can't really afford to pay that much unless you are a billion dollar industry. Next time you buy something in a box at the grocery store, take a look at the folds of the box (cases of beer are the easiest to find). You usually will find a CMYK registration along the folds, along with spot color additions.

A quick lesson on colors. Spot color is when part of the logo uses an exact ink color that you specify (sometimes called a Pantone) Each color must have an exact color number to be printed. Printers will have books of colors that you can specify what colors you want to use. The printer will create a plate for that color and other plates for other colors. SO, each color you choose will be a plate. The other way to print something is process. CMYK, cyan, magenta, yellow and black. That is four plates, but things like photographs and complex colors are printed in CMYK. They make up all the colors except metallic. The colors are not as true as spot colors. You can always mix the two.

Once you find out what you have to work with. Most people will want a one or two color logo. The easiest way to make sure your client is concentrating on the design and not the colors is to design it in grayscale. I use Adobe Illustrator to create the logo, and then I take it into Photoshop, convert it to grayscale and then show it to the client. I use variations of grays for each color so that the client knows that it is multi colored. Try to give your client a few variations of each design. This will give them the idea that you can always manipulate the design you have created.

Make suuuure that you know what you are doing before you take on this kind of project. Ask around before diving into print and corporate identity. Unless you are doing it free of course, and don't mind arguing with printers for long hours. Try taking charge and finding a printer that you can work with on the project. They may be able to help you avoid mistakes. Remember, keep the design simple, and make sure it can be resized less than 1 inch without losing resolution. Print it out on a laser printer and make sure it is clean and not pixilated. You also want to make sure it isn't cluttered. Look at the big boys' logos, Intel, Microsoft, Adobe, Lucent, etc. Their logos are quite simple, and they can be recognized easier because of it.

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What is a Logo Design?

A logo should:
1. Attract attention
2. Be unique and distinguishable
3. Reflect company ideals
4. Show authenticity and professionalism

Creating Your Logo Design
Research is an important starting point for your logo. Our team will investigate the best concepts for your target market to maximize the use of your logo design. To help our team best understand what you want, collect samples of identities you like and don't like. Articulate your vision to our logo designers.
"You can't rely on your designer to know everything," Osborne says. "You have to do your homework. Decide what the company or product will stand for and let your designer know. Also tell your designer how you plan to use your logo. Will it appear on uniforms and trucks? Is most of your advertising done in the Yellow Pages? If so, the logo must be flexible enough to be effective in both large and small spaces. Get your objectives and strategy clear up front. If you aren't sure about logo applications, ask your designer for help."

What is a Corporate Identity System?
In design terms, corporate identity is a defined system of graphic elements that represent your company. In layman's terms, it's how you create your company's "image." The unique look of your logo should be integrated throughout all the elements of your business materials: business cards, stationery, packaging, signage, sales kits, media advertising, promotions, etc. An identity system lays out guidelines to ensure consistency. It should include color and paper selections for printing, layout and design of stationery and promotional materials, secondary logos or icons for websites and packaging.

What Type of Logo Design Am I Looking For?
Your logo and slogan provide the first impression of your company and a recognizable look to ads and products, your corporate identity is always working to make sure you are projecting the right image.

Surveys have shown that corporate image materials such as letterhead, envelopes, business cards, web site, and promotional items are more important to conveying a company's prestige than how long your company has been in business, the location of your headquarters, charitable activities, or the number of employees. Only a company's annual report conveys more prestige.

Symbols like Nike 's "swoosh" are very often accompanied by the company or product name in a signature typeface, also known as the logotype. In other instances, the logotype alone serves as the firm's identity, like with physicians and attorneys. Further, enforcing brand recognition are signature colors. Colors are usually chosen because of their emotional impact and/or relevance to the specific commodity being offered.

I'm just Starting, Why Do I Need a Logo Design?
Businesses eager to open often give little thought to their identity. With so much to get done, designing an appropriate logo hardly seems like a top priority, however, this oversight can prove to be a costly error in the long run:

- A new business must compete with established companies. A quality logo is one of the easiest ways to gain credibility and professionalism.
- A distinctive logo stands out in people's minds, and is much easier to remember than a name alone.
- A logo adds visual appeal to any document or website.
- If you start a business without forming your corporate identity and later decide to add one, you will risk diminishing your existing brand equity.

Do I Really Need a Professional Logo Designer?
Everyone wants to save money. You are probably thinking you could design a suitable logo yourself; after all, it's your company, or maybe you know someone who is into art. True, these alternatives may save you a few hundred dollars now, but how much are you damaging your company's potential for success in the long run?

A professionally designed logo is a one time expense that will benefit you for the life of your business. If your logo does not truly represent your company, you are spending money to project the wrong image.

Your Logo Design Should be Simple
One reason your logo should be simple is that people process an image in their mind more readily than words alone. The other reason you should go for "simple" is because it will be more diverse for resizing and re-coloring for various design purposes. You should have various logo sizes (small, medium, and large), a web version and a print version, and black-and-white and color versions. Always planed beyond your initial design purposes for your logo.

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Email Authentication Update

In May of 2007, the email marketing industry converged in Boston for the Authentication and Online Trust Summit to discuss email authentication as well as online trust and security. We've compiled a few key updates that every email marketer should know about email authentication. If the concept of authentication is new to you, download our white paper to learn the basics so that the details from the summit will have greater meaning.
Email authentication has reached critical mass

Over 8 million domains are now Sender ID compliant, and Domain Keys Identified Mail (DKIM) adoption is growing quickly. Today, it's estimated that over 50 percent of all legitimate email is authenticated. This adoption has led to increased deliverability, stronger brand protection, and the introduction of enhanced reputation solutions. Bottom line: if your email is not being authenticated, it needs to be.

Authentication is still not the silver bullet for email delivery
Although email authentication sets the stage for improved delivery and defines who can send email for a specific domain, it's not the silver bullet that will instantly increase your email campaign success. A holistic approach combining authentication, reputation, relevancy and marketing strategy is more important than ever to ensure positive results. While authentication is a key ingredient in the mix, you must be sending targeted messages with content that relates to your audience in a consistent and responsible manner.

Focus on your "from" name and subject line
As email clients like Outlook and Yahoo! continue to increase in sophistication, they are making it easier for users to manage messages without opening them. This makes your "from" name and subject line extremely important. A recent Email Sender and Provider Coalition (ESPC) study showed that 80 percent of respondents decide whether to click on the "Report Spam" or "Junk" button without opening the actual message, and that 73 percent based that decision on the "From" name while 69 percent based the decision on the subject line.

Email Authentication Help Center
The Direct Marketing Association (DMA) announced this week the launch of its Email Authentication Help Center, which is designed to help email marketers authenticate all outbound email. For more information, visit

Working with your email service provider
If your ESP is not talking to you about email authentication, you need to ask them about their practices and policies. SubscriberMail remains at the forefront of emerging email technologies, as we continually strive to give our clients the best possible services and technology to enable the highest delivery of email messages.

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Email March Madness

Is your email marketing game strategy keeping you ahead of the competition and producing wins? Here are some game plans to get your campaigns in top shape for a winning season.

This March, when the college players are hoping their hard work and practice will pay off in the form a NCAA title, let's take a look at the aspects of your game that could be improved to better your performance and make you a winner in the "Email Marketing" conference.

Study your competition beforehand
Research the email activity of other organizations in your industry. Some may not be sending email at all, giving you a significant competitive advantage. If they do have an email marketing program, what are they doing well that you could incorporate into your efforts? Alternatively, what aspects of their game need work that you could capitalize on? Maybe their signup is hard to find on their website; maybe the opt-in form is too long. Is their content any good? What's the value of your competitors' email offer vs. the value that you can offer your subscribers? Make sure you're offering a better value, and make sure you're clearly communicating that value.

Make sure your uniform is clean, and your shirt tucked in
We've said it many times before, but it bears repeating. You don't want to look sloppy to your prospects. Make sure you've tested your email in multiple email clients to ensure it looks good to everyone. If you're using images, make sure your message still comes through loud and clear in email clients where images are disabled. Be careful of fancy footwork and hook shots. If you're using Flash, video, form fields, or other rich media, be sure it's going to work in all email clients. And if it's not, maybe it's safer to just take the lay up. Include a link in the email that takes recipients to a landing page where they will be able to access these media.

Gotta make the free throws
There are shots in every game that you have to make because they're easy and they can make a big difference in the overall outcome of the game. Your welcome message is the message you really need to do right to ensure future emails are expected and welcome. This message should set the tone for your overall email marketing strategy: what emails should subscribers expect to receive from you and how often can they expect to receive them. It should also reaffirm that you do not share personal information, provide a link to your privacy policy, and provide an easy way for recipients to manage their mailing preferences. Also just as important, do it with a style that is concurrent with the rest of your email efforts - no granny shots! Too often welcome messages are text-based, poor attempts that barely bounce off the backboard.

Test a new play every game
Keep your strategy fresh by testing a different element of your message. It could be the subject line, landing page, offer, call to action, long vs. short copy, image-only design vs. text-and-image combo, etc. Don't blindly accept the latest report of what helped one organization's email efforts. Test it yourself to be sure your recipients will respond in a similar way. Maybe they will, but maybe they won't. Perhaps there is another element that will more significantly affect your results. Tests can be run as a simple A/B split or n-th level split if your list is large enough to create a statistically relevant test split. We recommend testing one element with every message. However, if that sounds harder than making a half-court buzzer-beater, start small and commit to practicing this technique at least once a month. Once you're a testing superstar, increase your testing frequency.

Stay out of foul trouble
CAN-SPAM is clear. Violations including not having a working opt-out mechanism or physical postal address can get you a seat on the bench, fined, or potentially thrown out the game entirely. But what about the inside jabs that CAN-SPAM doesn't mention? For example, the unsuspecting onslaught of emails that comes after a purchase or even after a true opt-in scenario if you forgot to mention how frequently your subscribers could expect to receive email from you. Make sure recipients have stated they would welcome email from your organization and take steps to ensure you don't wear out that welcome by only sending relevant content and keeping a close eye on frequency.

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Email Marketers Report Success Despite Lagging Economy

Email marketers adapt to tight resources and inbox clutter to report improved results.

In March of 2008, SubscriberMail surveyed marketing professionals around the world to gain insight into the way email marketing was being used, the level of success they achieved and the challenges and opportunities they have faced for their email marketing efforts over the past 12 months.

Email Marketers Report Improved Results Over Last 12 Months

Email marketing has clearly become a standard for marketing departments. However?with corporate managers widely reporting over-flowing email inboxes, junk mail filters inadvertently blocking legitimate emails and with many email clients suppressing images? merely getting relevant, permission-based email in front of subscribers has become an increasingly complex endeavor. The good news is that in spite of these challenges, many email marketers saw slight (39 percent) to significant (13 percent) improvements in email marketing performance over the last twelve months. Marketers commonly attributed these performance improvements to optimizing email lists; employing email marketing best practices; improving content, email layouts and creative; and improving message relevancy.

Conversion Rate the Top Metric Used for Assessing Email Marketing Effectiveness

With companies all over the world facing challenging economies, the impact is often felt in the form of tight budget constraints or budget reduction in the marketing department. Consequently, it is not surprising that conversion to various desired actions (e.g., generating leads, sales, etc.) ranks far and away as the key performance metric when determining the success of email marketing efforts.

Majority of Marketers Integrate Email Marketing with Other Channels, Most Often with Sales Force and Print

Integration of email marketing with other marketing channels is catching on, but is not as widespread as its reported value would seem to justify. The majority of respondents (66 percent) said their company's email marketing was integrated with other marketing channels. The most common vehicle integrated with email marketing is print, as indicated by 50 percent of respondents, followed by the sales force with 46 percent.

Swamped Inboxes and Delivery Cited as Greatest Challenges to Email Marketing Success with Marketer Time and Resources Not Far Behind

Increased conversion rates no doubt contributed to the majority of respondents being "neutral" to "satisfied" with the results of their email marketing efforts. However, it is clear that email marketers are overcoming a good deal of challenges. The issue of "Swamped inboxes" was cited most often by marketers (55 percent) as being their greatest obstacle, while "delivery" and "time/resources" were both mentioned by over 40 percent of respondents.

More Than Two-Thirds of Email Marketers Fail to Send a Welcome Message to New Subscribers

While we've seen clients derive strong value from welcome messages, 36 percent of email marketers surveyed are not using them. Even more, those who are using them are often missing opportunities to derive optimal value. Rather than simply thanking subscribers for opting-in, an effective welcome message can be used to immediately validate their decision to sign up. Offering new subscribers a special download or a coupon for exclusive savings are just two of the ways a welcome message can be used to increase engagement.

Potential Missed Opportunities and Relevant Best Practices

* Cross-selling
Only 38 percent of marketers are using email for this purpose. By identifying customer needs/wants and using targeted email messaging, the right content or the right offer can be delivered to those recipients most likely to benefit from or act on it. Automated triggered emails are one opportunity to pursue cross-sell opportunities (e.g., a message delivered to customers post-purchase that promotes services/products related to the original purchase).

* Marketing Integration
While the majority of email marketers are integrating their email marketing with another channel, too often, it's limited to only one additional channel, while more comprehensive cross-channel integration is over-looked.

* Notifications/Welcome Messages
Only 26 percent of marketers are using email to provide notification of deliveries, birthdays, key events, etc., while 36 percent of marketers are not sending messages to welcome new opt-in subscribers. The personalized touch and relevancy of these type of messages can make them a valuable communication tool to foster customer loyalty.

Analyzing Metrics
Most email marketing programs involve the analysis of metrics to gauge performance. However, not all metrics should be weighed evenly. Open rates, for instance, while useful as a benchmarking device, have become increasingly unreliable due to the issue of image suppression. Click-thru rates, on the other hand, are measured the same no matter how an email is viewed, therefore making them a much more solid metric by which to measure success.

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The Catch-22 of Email List Building

The boss may not like it, or understand it, but the best way to improve email performance could be as simple as (gasp!) decreasing the size of your email list.

Subscribing to an email list is easy?so easy in fact, it leads some subscribers to request emails in which they have only a passing interest. As the weeks and months go by, that once half-hearted interest can dwindle and become non-existent. Meanwhile, your emails keep pouring in, putting a dent in your metrics with each new delivery.

The Impact of "Dead Weight Subscribers" on Your Email Performance
It's the email version of the classic Catch-22; marketers work hard to build larger mailing lists, but by doing so they can adversely affect the very data used to reflect campaign success. SubscriberMail research has shown Conversion Rate, Open Rate and Click-through Rate to be the metrics most valued by marketers when assessing email performance. "Dead weight subscribers" who receive, but rarely or never engage with your emails, have a negative impact on these key metrics simply by remaining on your recipient list. They also make it more difficult to accurately test the success of different email strategies (e.g. subject line testing), as these types of subscribers can skew your results.

Even more damaging, these subscribers can eventually tire of deleting your emails without opening them, and may inaccurately mark your message as SPAM even though they opted-in to your list. The easily-accessible "Report as SPAM" tools on popular email clients can be viewed as more convenient than the unsubscribe process, and uninterested recipients are more likely than anyone to take this path of least resistance-which can harm your reputation as a sender.

In light of this, it stands to reason that dead weight subscribers do more harm than good when counted amongst the ranks of your subscribers. Still, marketers who make the argument in favor of a smaller mailing list are often met with resistance for a number of reasons: large lists are more attractive to advertisers; every subscriber is a possible conversion; large lists equal a greater opportunity for brand awareness, etc. Whatever their reasons for opting-in, a line of communication has been opened with every subscriber on your email list, and the idea of voluntarily severing those important ties is contrary to the principles of most CRM strategies.

A smaller list made up of actively engaged subscribers should deliver improved email metrics, and can be attained without taking the ultimate step of deleting addresses.

Steps to Take Before Deleting
Another approach to dead weight subscribers is reaching out via email to discover what can be done to make your emails more appealing to them. Send an open-ended survey to your subscribers who have not opened and/or clicked a link within an email in the past six months, asking for feedback as to what content they would like to see in future emails. Make sure the subject line (e.g., "Help Improve Our Newsletter") makes it clear this is not just another typical email communication to these subscribers; this will help produce greater feedback. Not only will this feedback provide valuable insight into areas where your emails may be lacking, but being spoken to directly can re-engage these subscribers with your email. If certain subscribers continue to show no response to your emails even after special effort has been made to target them, it is likely they have no interest in receiving further communications, and they can be removed with no regrets.

Understandably, many email administrators are hesitant to delete any addresses from their database unless an explicit unsubscribe request has been made. With this in mind, a less permanent approach would be to filter the email addresses of all dead weight subscribers into a separate list. This way, the overall number of subscribers stays the same and the same content can be delivered to all subscribers, but the segmented list of dead weight subscribers will have its metrics reported separately from the main list. You can also leverage this separation to test various tactics to increase engagement with these subscribers, such as differing subject lines and offers.

Avoid Sending to Subscribers You Don't Want
In order to avoid the extra time and resources involved in cleansing your list of dead weight subscribers, consider the methods being used to build up your email list(s). Adding addresses from a list that was purchased from a third party will not only result in increased SPAM complaints, it is a surefire way to add subscribers who have limited or no interest in the content of your emails.

Another mistake often made in the name of list building is including a pre-checked email opt-in box on web site forms being used to access other site content. Giving site users the option to register for emails at the same time they are registering to download a white paper is fine, but making the opt-in decision for them is not.

By identifying and removing dead weight subscribers from your email list and making sure all subscribers meet the true definition of an opt-in subscriber, you can ensure only the recipients most likely to engage with your emails are receiving them.

The boss might not like the idea of sending to a smaller list, but will enjoy the improved results.

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Designing email messages for Outlook 2007, Windows Live Hotmail and Yahoo! Mail

Recent and upcoming changes from major organizations in the email marketing industry will add a layer of complexity to designing email creative that is effective and displays consistently across all email clients.

Keeping up with changes in the email marketing industry is usually no small task. There have been several announcements from major organizations that will affect how your emails are displayed in recipients' inboxes. While we've always advocated following best practices for email creative, these changes will add a couple of more steps you'll want to include when designing your emails.

Microsoft Outlook 2007
The changes in recently released Microsoft Outlook 2007 are causing the loudest grumblings. While most product releases feature improved performance and functionality, Outlook 2007 actually takes a step - or three or four steps - backwards from Outlook 2004. The reason for this is the "engine" Outlook 2007 uses to render HTML emails. Outlook 2007 relies on the HMTL rendering abilities of Microsoft Word 2007, rather than Internet Explorer, which powered Outlook 2004 and which supports more HTML and cascading style sheet functions.

The decreased HTML rendering abilities of Microsoft Word mean email design techniques that looked fine in Outlook 2004 may not look good - or displayed at all - in Microsoft 2007. As always, the most important thing you can do to ensure consistency is to preview your message in multiple email clients.

Windows Live Hotmail
Still in beta, Windows Live Hotmail will replace Hotmail with some substantial changes. The biggest change is that the interface will closely mimic the interface of a desktop email client, complete with preview pane. Previously, Hotmail users did not have this preview pane option. This meant that your email was judged solely on the from name and the subject line. However, once opened, they were able to see your entire email. Adding the preview pane means recipients will have a chance to partially view your email before deciding to read on or delete, but it also means at first glance they will only see the first 250 pixels or so of your email.

HTML rendering abilities will remain the same, as will security features that alert recipients to email sent by unknown senders and that block images and links by default. Including a line of text at the top of your email asking recipients to add your email address to their address book or safe list will prevent your email from being marked with "unknown sender." Also, designing emails that are a combination of text and images with key points still communicated with images turned off will continue to be an important design consideration.

When designing your email, keep in mind what information is available in the preview pane because this information can now be used by Hotmail recipients to determine whether they open or delete your message. Make sure any important headlines are text. If your message is image heavy, replicate the key points as text at the top of your email. If sending an email newsletter, consider listing the article titles or key points at the top of your message. All these steps should entice readers and give them reasons to open your message.

Yahoo! Mail
Also still in beta, but available for users to test, the new Yahoo! Mail offers the look and feel of a desktop email client the way Outlook and Thunderbird do. Again, this means a preview pane is now an available option for recipients. With this change, two of the top four web-based email clients -, Yahoo! Mail, Hotmail, and Gmail- will now use a preview pane. (Will and Gmail follow? It's certainly possible.) This means that paying extra attention to your preview pane design (again, following the recommendations above) will become increasingly important to the success of your email campaigns.

Dealing with Blocked Images
Perhaps even more important is the number of email clients - both web-based and desktop - that block images by default. This is especially challenging for emails that are sent as all images. These emails, when viewed in an email client with images disabled, can appear as white boxes, white space, grey boxes, one large gray box, or security warnings, or they can just be removed entirely. For recipients to view your content, they must click on a link to activate images. Depending on how they feel about you as a sender and about your subject line, they may or may not choose to do this, which means a large percentage of your list might never see your message.

The only way to constructively deal with disabled images is to try to minimize the images in your design. If the message can be communicated with text, it's best to communicate it that way as opposed to an image that may be blocked, even if it means compromising some of the overall design. Your emails might look nicer with stylized text, but if the user never sees it, it's effort wasted. You can use background colors, table cells to create colored rules, bolding and other HTML styles to create your design. Intersperse images and text throughout. Use images to complement your design, instead of using them as the base of your entire design and message.

As always, preview your message in a variety of scenarios...images on and images off, with preview pane and without, in different emails clients, etc. in order to make sure that what you're seeing in your email client is what your recipients will see in their email client. The key is in all scenarios the underlying purpose of your message is still accurately communicated.

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Top Reasons Why You Might Want to Redesign Your Website

Have you ever thought about website redesigning? If so, you have come to the right place. Here, through this informative article, we will take a much closer look at some of the reasons that you may want to get a complete website redesign. We will also take a closer look at some of the things that redesigning your website can do for you. Read on to find out more.

Making Your Website Look More Attractive
Have you made yourself a website just for the sake of having a website? Did you just make a dinky website on your own since you have no experience in website designing? If so, then chances are that you may want to redesign your website. If you have a business, you want to get the best results. The key to your success may be how appealing your website looks. A website redesign can help your business a whole lot in the long run.

Organization Can Make All the Differences
One of the main reasons that you may want to consider getting a website redesign is because your website is currently unorganized. Chances are that there is information scattered throughout your entire website, without any rhyme or reason. If this is the case, then chances are that people may not understand your website when they do decide to visit it. By deciding to redesign your website, you could be making a huge difference in the success of your website.

Develop the Right Style For Your Website
There is no doubt that style can be very important for your website. Although there are certain things which you would love to see on your website, there are other things that you need to take into consideration when you go through website designing. This includes, what is the most suitable for your business, as well as what people are interested in seeing. If you decide to get your website redesigned, you will be able to have a website developed for the style which you are looking for. This can lead to the overall success of your website.

Promote Your Website
One of the main keys to your overall company success is website promotion. There are a number of different ways to increase your website promotion, some of which include search engine optimization, email campaigns, directories, and other websites. Of course, before you can experience the best website promotion, you need to make sure that your website is as professional and appealing as it can be. In order to have the most successful website promotion, you should definitely consider a new look for your website.

Get Better Website Optimization for Your Website
Chances are that you probably have your website listed in search engine databases. If so, you probably know the way that search engines work is through website optimization. This is when websites are arranged according to how well keywords match up to what a person is looking for, through keywords. In order to increase the search engine optimization for your website, some new website designing needs to be done. The best keywords will be chosen, to make your website more effective in search engines. For the best search engine optimization strategies and to increase website optimization, you should definitely consider having your website redesigned.

Change the Wording to make it More Appealing
Are you unsure of whether or not the information on your website sounds appealing enough? Do you also want to make sure that people who view your website can easily understand it? These are both very good reasons to consider website redesigning. The way that your website is worded can make a huge deal to someone that is browsing through it. Making sure that it sounds as appealing as it possibly can be very important to your success, as well as your website optimization.

What Good Graphics Can Do for You
One of the main things which people want to see when they visit a website is graphics. There are a number of different things that graphic design services can do for your website.

- It can make your overall website look more appealing to anyone who visits it.
- Graphic designs can also add to the style of your website.
- If you have a company website, you may find that your overall success will be increased through graphic design.

Make Sure That Your Website is Easy to Use
One of the main things that people hate about websites is when they are not easy to use. When people use a website that has confusing navigation, chances are that they will not use the website again because they will get frustrated with it. Website redesigning can help you a lot when it comes to making your website easy to use. An understandable website can lead to the overall success of your business, by increasing the sales that you get.

Develop a More Professional Looking Website
One of the most important things that there is to know about website design is the fact that a website is the soul to your company. If you have a company which is very professional, chances are that you will also want your company's website to be very professional as well.

If a person finds that your website does not seem professional or legitimate enough, they will most likely avoid using your services. If you decide to get your website redesigned, you will feel rest assured to know that your website is as professional-looking as it should be.

Match Your Competition
The truth is that industries are constantly changing. If your website is older, chances are that the content that can be found on it may be out of date. In order to match your competition, you should have a website that is just as good as your competitors. Having your website redesigned can be extremely successful when it comes to this.

Why Is Website Redesign So Beneficial?

- The appearance of your website will be improved through graphics.
- Your website promotion will be more successful.
- Website optimization will be increased.
- The overall success of your company will be increased, through encouraged sales or use of services.

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The 10 Biggest Mistakes to Avoid on Your Web Site

Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, and 365 days a year, your Web site is presenting your company's image and message to prospective clients all over the world. With this phenomenal reach, you want to make sure your best image and best message is coming across.

Perhaps your Web site is not generating the interest you'd like it to and you'd like to find out why. Maybe you're just getting started in your new business and know you need a Web site, but don't know where to start. Possibly your Web site is doing great and you'd simply like to take it to the next level.

Whether created new sites or updating existing site, here are some common pitfalls to avoid.

It's easy to get so wrapped up in the Web design portion of a Web site and forget about the words that go on the pages. Maybe the Web designer does the design but not the writing. You might even find yourself writing the content at the last minute. Good writing is far more important than bluing, and great copy from a professional copywriter will get your phone ringing.

Your business has something unique and different to offer its customers. Is that evident on your Web site? If not, you could be attracting the wrong type of customers, or worse, none at all. When you hire a Webmaster, you'll want to make sure that s/he will design your site for you and your customers and not for himself/herself. Your Web site will shine when it emulates your company' personality.

Web visitors your potential prospects will give you only eight seconds to wow them. Do you have your best stuff at the top of your home page? I mean the really good stuff, not just the stuff your mom is proud of! You'll want to capture the attention of potential customers using the item that brings out the best in you. It might be a great tag line, a killer testimonial, a big award, a blue chip client list, or the like.

Can Web visitors check out your reputation on the Web? You'll want to make sure your Web site comes as close as possible to feeling like a warm, personal visit with you. Do this by posting content that is designed to build your credibility. As an example, this can include content that shows you have a track record of success: testimonials, case studies of current clients, and a client list. If you have been mentioned in the press, include a press page on your Web site that lists the newspapers, magazines, radio talk shows, and other places where you've been mentioned.

People warm up slowly. Your Web visitors might be interested in you but are not quite ready to call you or buy anything yet. You'll want a way to keep track of these warm leads that will be ready to buy a few months down the road when they've gotten to know you better. There are several ways to gather leads from your Web site, depending on what you're willing to offer them. One method that is completely ineffective for capturing leads is to ask for information on your contact page. Just don't do it!

If you've spent all your money doing everything right, but you don't market your site, you may not get any visitors. You'll need to spend at least a little time marketing your site through offline and online methods. For example, add your Web-site name to the bottom of every email that you send. You can do this automatically by modifying the signature file in your email software. You may also want to delve into the more advanced fields of search engine marketing and optimization.

Many people's pet peeves are to click on a page and see an ‘Under Construction' message. It's inconsiderate of people time to lead them down a dead-end alley, plus your Web site screams the message, this person can't finish what they start. I'm sure that's not the message you wish to send.

In the name of being cute, many Web sites display obnoxious moving parts, flashing signs, or vacuous videos. Did you know most people hate that stuff? Bluing doesn't impress clients, except in three cases: kid's sites, sites that sell luxury items, and entertainment sites. If you have one of those sites, then you need bluing. Limited bluing is OK, timeless style is better, and meaningful, benefits-filled content is best.

A site filled with errors tells me that its owner probably makes a lot of mistakes when delivering services. Even if the message is compelling, the red flag is there for people to see. People's intuition will tell them not to do business with you. A quick and thorough testing of the site will avoid this pitfall.

A lot of people come to me saying, I want a Web site. I ask them, What do you want it to do? And they don't really know.

It's important to think about what you want your Web site to accomplish because that goal should be integral to the design of the site. The best sites lead their visitors to a certain outcome that is beneficial for both themselves and their customers.

When you can overcome these ten common problems, your Web site can start to become a powerful and effective marketing tool for your business.

Since 1995, Sandi Smith of Dallas, Texas, has helped people make money online through Web site design and development. Her Web sites have paid back in as little as a week for some clients. She brings together a bottom-line business focus, her technology leadership experience, and a straightforward communication style to produce results for clients.

Sandi is a professional speaker and has authored eight books, hundreds of articles, and several seminars and courses. She brings a marketing focus to her Web site design clients and at the same time blends her business, programming, art, and writing backgrounds into the perfect combination of skills for Web site development.

On a personal note, Sandi is an avid traveler and has traveled around the world twice, once in a single-engine airplane.

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Seven Website Design Tips to Make Your Site More Attractive

Seven Website Design Tips to Make Your Site More Attractive

"How can I attract thousands of visitors to my site?" Many people ask me this question. Well, driving high traffic to Website is very important, but what's even more important, is designing a website in that way which makes them stays longer.

In this article, you're going to learn 7 important website design tips to make your site more attractive. So not only your website will attracting many people, but it will also motivate them to stay for a long time:

Be Aware during Selection of the colors scheme:
If your company has a logo or preferred colors on its stationery that's a good start. For those of you starting from scratch, choose two or three complementary colors and stick with them don't change colors on every page. The most common color schemes include:

- Red, yellow and white
- Blue and white
- Red, grey and white
- Blue, orange and white
- Yellow, grey and white.
- Onion shade, Tan, white

If you're not sure what color scheme to choose, surf the internet and find a website that you like. You can then model your color scheme on what already exists.
Always Select those colors which Attract the visitors, and the person revisit your site.

Page Backgrounds
Ensure your visitors can read the text on the background, i.e. no black writing on dark blue background or yellow on white. Means if the page background is dark always use light color for the writhing a text or if the light color is used for the page background the always use dark color for writing a text, like this color scheme for the background everything is visible to the visitor. Also be careful that your links are visible before and after being visited. The default for links in most programs is blue (before being visited) and burgundy (after being visited), so if you have a dark background, ensure your links are light.

(Page loading) site open within a minutes
All I've seen for the last 10 minutes is "page loading” I think something might be wrong with my browser this is probably one of the biggest gripes a site visitor has. If your page takes more than a minute to load (on dial-up) and you have anything less than the meaning of life hidden within your content - something needs to be done. The average person does not have time they just go for another site without passed his time for these type of site those take time to open. So a good website takes less time for loading a site.

Appropriate page Size
Web pages are measured in pixels. Pixels are the unit of measurement for the screen. A Web page can literally be any size. Standard Web pages usually fit into a few sizes:

* W × H * 600 × 800 * 640 × 480 (Dream weaver default) * 1024 × 768 * 550 × 400 (Flash default)

The default Web page sizes provided in Web friendly applications and listed earlier are a great place to start. You will probably use a smaller, custom size for pop-up windows. The Web page size you choose is up to you. Remember to use actual space for the Web page effectively so that the content is in the proper proximity to the user's navigation patterns. Web page size affects the way users move around the Web pages and the Web portfolio site. One rule: Pick a size for all main screens and stick to it.

Create a simple logo to identity your website. Have a captivating tag line somewhere with the header, and write an About Us page which describes the uniqueness of your website. These will leave an impression for your visitors to remember your website.

Application of graphic designs
You must be careful in choosing for the appropriate design that will best represent your projects, and tell about your business. Create a design which coveys in a stylish way what it has to

Be aware about grammar and spell
Grammar is overrated [and the spill-checker too] Most web authoring and word processing software comes with a spell/grammar check utility – don't let your hard earned money go to waste, use it. Some of the more common grammatical mistakes are misusing its, it's, there, their, they're, your, you're, and no one (correct=no one). Proof reading your final product is also helpful. No one is infallible, that's why pencils have erasers and computer programs have [ctrl + z].

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A Simple Guide to Designing Profitable Websites

Your website is where your business resides - it's like headquarter of an offline company.

That's why it's important to practice good web design principles to reach the maximum number of visitors.

Here are some tips that will help...

Use clear navigation directions
your site navigation menu should be uncluttered and concise so that your visitors know how to navigate around your website without any confusion.

Reduce the number of images
It's a fact that graphics make a website look more attractive. But there are still many internet users on dial-up, so keep in mind to reduce the size of your graphics if possible. Large images make your site load slowly and more often than not they are just a waste of bandwidth.

If you find that graphics are essential on your site, you can optimize them by using an image editing program so that they meet a minimum file size.

There are also free online services that will do it for you.

Keep your text paragraphs at reasonable length
Reading online is a different experience then reading off line print media. If a paragraph is too long, you should split it into separate parts so that the text blocks will be much easier to read.

Use a lot of white space between your copies. This gives the eyes some rest, and keeps your readers alert.

Also, don't make your font too small, or people will have problems reading your copy.

Make your website cross-browser compatible
If your website looks great in Internet Explorer but breaks horribly in Firefox and Opera, you will lose out on a lot of prospective visitors. So, always check how your website looks in different browsers.

It's best to have a set of browsers on your own computer, rather than relying on online services.

You can also use the W3C validation -it may help with your website compatibility.

Avoid using scripting languages on your site
try to use scripting languages to handle or manipulate data on your site, and not to create visual effects.

Scripts are not supported across all browsers, so some visitors might miss important information because their web browser crashes.

Using website templates the right way
Website templates are very affordable these days and can save you a lot of hassle when you want to create a new layout.

That's the point of using a template... to save time and effort. You can go a long way by just changing the title, entering your keywords, put in some new graphics and appropriate details and you're done.

Example: you find a nice template that suits your gardening hobby site, except the original designer has put an image of stamps in the header.

You can then search for images of garden plants, or gardening tools, to replace the stamps for your hobby site.

Just be aware of using too popular templates. If many people use the same template, your site will not appear unique and your credibility as a solid, different business will be tarnished.

The last thing you want your site to do is appear generic just like your next-door neighbors.

I hope these tips will help your to make a better
performing website.

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