Benefits of having a Blog page?

benfits-of-having-a-blog

We are often asked by our clients whether having a blog on their site is really a necessary.

As a business owner ourselves we have built a successful business in large part thanks to our blogs and content. I’ve seen firsthand the difference it makes in terms of Google ranking. We are a huge advocate of investing heavily in a content strategy, and that strategy begins with your company blog.

Below are some major reasons why having a blog is critical to a successful site:

1. Drives traffic to your website:

First, and most important a blog gives you the opportunity to create relevant content for your customers. Use this as a marketing tactic to drive traffic to your website.

Your business might be on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, or anywhere else. Posting links  – with relevant images – of your blogs article to your social sites, gives your social followers a reason to click through to your website.

Additionally, post inbound links directly in your blog articles, to drive traffic to specific landing pages of your website.

Think about how many pages there are on your website? Probably not too many. And think about how often you update those pages? Not that often, right?. Clients always ask me how are they meant to update their website once it’s already established and built. I mean how often can you really update your About Us page.

Blogging helps solve this problem.

Every time you write a blog, it’s one more indexed page on your website, which means it’s one more opportunity for you to show up in search engines and drive traffic to your website. It’s also one more way to reach out to Google and other search engines that your website is active, which means they will be checking in frequently to see what new content appears.

Blogging also helps you get discovered via social media. Every time you write a blog, you’re creating content that users can share on social networks, which help expose your business to a new audience.

blogging-drives traffic

 

2. Increases your SEO

Blogs do increase your SEO. Remember Google’s saying ‘Content is King’ and fresh content is still a key to beating your competitors in the search engine results page.

Always use keywords in your blogs. List out the keywords, tags, and categories you want your business to be found with. Use these words, and related words when writing your posts.

Whether you actively seek these out or not, blogging usually about your business will increase your search keywords.

Keywords and topics on your website are a helpful way in which Google find your site for these search related keywords.

3. Positions your brand as a industry leader

A well written blog demonstrates your company as the industry leader. By writing blogs that resonate with your market shows your knowledge, and your’e marketing skills for your business also. Your customers will benefit from learning what you provide them.

For example if you are a retailer you would write blogs about your products. Your customers would then get to know you as a knowledgelable source for the products they want.

You are also building trust with your customer. The more you can show them that you are experienced in your field, the more your consumer will trust your’e product.

The best websites answer common questions their customers have. If you’re creating content that’s helpful for your target market, it will help establish you as an authority in their eyes.

Establishing authority is not as sell-able as traffic and leads, but it’s powerful anyway, because at the end of the day, that’s what many of your blogs are.

In summary:

You can see by reading the above that the benefits of having a blog is very useful for anyone who wants to know an answer to a question. These days Google’s algorythym is becoming more and more about helpful information. You would have already see it taking action, if you type in a question in Google’s search engine you receive a bunch of links that answer those questions, so this is why blogging in very important, because ultimately it boosts your SEO.

Tips to Making Facebook SEO Friendly

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Facebook can be a fantastic opportunity for marketing your business via sharing, but like WordPress, and other platform based websites, it’s important to incorporate an SEO strategy into your Facebook site to get the best exposure out of them. This article is about making Facebook SEO Friendly.

Whether if you are setting up Facebook yourself, or for a client, you have to keep a SEO strategy in mind. Google say they don’t look at Facebook “shares” as separate parts of their ranking, but traffic is traffic.

The thing to remember with Facebook shares is their marketing value resides in the fact that they are coming from a reputable source; from someone known to you. This makes the shares valuable. Facebook is a marketing tool but nothing a business puts on their Facebook should ever break that kind of trust.

For a business, Facebook is a delicate juggle of “being my friend” and “paying me money.” Always challenging it is important to fall on the side of soft sell. This is why SEO strategies for Facebook are important. SEO lies behind the scenes, and customers can’t possibly depict it as marketing.

Below are some Facebook SEO strategies to make sure your Face is getting the amount of Book it deserves:

1. Choose a Relevant Facebook Page Name

Choose a good business name. Not too generic, and definitely not too spammy. Something descriptive and easy to remember. If it’s too generic Facebook could blacklist the name. Once you have a name, don’t change it. Once it’s ingrained, keep it. Renaming isn’t ever a good idea from an SEO point of view.

2. Facebook URL Names Are Important

Facebook allows vanity names so make sure to create one. The URL won’t exactly be yours but www.facebook.com/designlab is better than www.facebook.com/11565757. It’s important to know that Facebook requires 100 fans before you can pick a vanity name, of which you can do by going to http://facebook.com/username

3. Use Keyword Rich Text for Your Profile Pages

Screen Shot 2016-09-01 at 10.13.03 pm

This will eventually place searchable terms at the top of your Facebook page. Make sure to include your address information so that the page will pop up on local searches – a favourite of Google. Add links of your website in the info section.

4. Make Pictures Descriptive

Facebook is a visual platform. Facebook will change titles on photos. Use keywords as often as you can. Read each description from two angles – one for your customers, and one from a computer’s angle. For e.g. “John and Debra enjoying the Keys on their 60th” could be: “Luxury Florida Keys Party by Private Jet Charters for John and Deb’s 60th.” Both of these are better than “John and Deb at their 60th Party.”

Give your clients a reason to stick with you as a graphic designer by showing how they can get free advertising if they structure online promotional campaigns properly. For example, Private Jet Charters could offer a scoupon for parties and events, and encourage them to advertise the party through Private Jet Charters site and/or Facebook page and then supply pictures of the party after using keyword descriptions. The photos will be shared, and every time they are, the words in the photo description, “Private Jet Charters” are collecting ranking points.

As the graphic designer, you will most likely get extra design work. Great designers always show ways in which their creativity is invaluable to their clients. With better templates and platforms around these days, it’s critical that graphic designers deal not only in SEO, but also in marketing. These are two things that a customer can’t buy ready made or download.

5. Use Keywords in Your Status

Updates provide a great way to include keywords and increase SEO. This also drives traffic to your website. Never forget that one of your main objectives for having a Facebook page is to drive traffic back to your website where you can take advantage of the traffic.

When you “attach a link” Facebook gives you the opportunity to edit the text by clicking on it. Include keyword rich text as early as you can. (Be aware that Facebook will channel this link through their own menu bar so this won’t get you a direct link.) Then include the URL of your website. Don’t put everything on Facebook. Provide a interesting and enticing section that will make users want to read more, and make it clear they can on your website.

6. Have Likes & Shares on your website

Although it’s not directly SEO, you should include Facebook likes and shares in your website. Take some time to stay on top of the Facebook Developers news. The developers page is also a great place to come up with new ideas about how to make the platform and get the most out of Facebook.

7. Try Notes and Discussion Boards 

The content on both is indexable. Notes and the Discussion Boards are indexable which means they can make for good SEO. Some people just use Facebook and do nothing else online. Using a discussion board gives you a way to reach this group of people. It’s important to note though that the automatic pull in blog posts are now being deleted from Facebook.

Use Facebook as an effective SEO tool. Take time to use the above ideas, and then compare and track the changes in your Facebook code (Available to anyone for any page by viewing “source code” in your browser). Over time, graph long term changes in your traffic to see if the extra time and energy is really paying off.

Bad Design Habits for Websites

An important part of being a professional web designer is knowing what and doesn’t work. There are bad design habits for websites that a lot of builders don’t take notice of. Everything you design on a client’s website should be there for a specific reason, and should follow the most current design practices. Unfortunately, sometimes we all get stuck in a rut, and add certain website elements out of just habit, unaware that there might be a better, more freshen approach.

Dead Macintosh

We are half way through 2016, and it’s time to take a look at some of the most common offenders of web designs. Some are now out-dated, while others are actually toxic to the success of a website. We will examine why each should be forgotten, and what you can do instead to make sure you’re designing with the most current trends at your disposal.

Social Media Icons at the top of the Header

Every time your client has a visitor to their website, it’s a small win. So why would you want to give them a brightly coloured exit sign?

Usually in most cases, the point of a social media campaign is to drive visitors from social network sites to your client’s website, not the other way around. Even if a visitor follows the link with the specific purpose of following your client, the chances are that they will get distracted somewhere along the line, and not come back.

Social Buttons in Header

A Solution:

Your best approach is to start using social media plugins (WordPress) rather than a simple link icon. These will allow your visitors to like your Facebook or Twitter page, or add you on other social channels without bouncing them off the page. It means the users stay on the page, keeping your client’s visitors where you want them.

Try taking the emphasis off by moving them down the page, to either the footer or a sidebar. Also, I recommend to style them in perhaps a less eye catching way. It should only be visible for users who are looking for them, if you make them too colourful, it may entice the visitors to leave.

Tacky Stock Photos

We all know that full-width images are a popular and tired trend in web design, and they have actually been shown to increase conversions. Unfortunately, photos that are clearly of the stock variety can have the opposite effect. People can be turned off by anything they deem to think is not real, which causes distrust, thus taking conversion rates down.

Tacky Stock Photo

A Solution:

You have some choices, but will be largely determined by your client’s budget.

The first choice would be to hire a photographer. Customers respond very well to authenticity, so if your client’s actual photos are professionally taken, it will go a long way building trust. Photography can range in any price, so it can usually be achievable. These days, even a smartphone can take decent photo, if you put a little effort into it.

Another option, stick with stock photography, but choose it much more carefully. We have actually designed many websites using stock photos, but the trick is find the right image that don’t look cheap, and suits your clients business.

Only recently is there stock photo businesses that specialise in “authentic” looking photos. The kind that look like you would find scrolling through your Instagram feed.

Email Links

If part of the website you’re designing includes some type of staff bios, the question of email links will always come up. It’s an easy way of letting people get in touch easily with staff members, but it comes at a cost.

When you click an email link, it will trigger your computer’s native email client, which you may or may not use. Then, I must right-click the email address to save it, and paste it into my gmail.

Another issue is email links are usually crawled by robots, making your client’s website a sitting target for email spam.

Email Links

A Solution:

Most website have an email form on their site, (contact page,) just use this technique everywhere on the site that requires an email address. In the case of individual staff contacts, design one template you can use for each staff member, each with their own mini-contact form that will send to their email address. There are advantages to this approach:

  • Form emails are easily tracked
  • Emails sent through forms can be filtered through apps such as Google’s mail app
  • You can set up specific fields for emailers to complete

If you must include an email address on the website, just make sure they are not linked if you’d like to sidestep email spam. Your clients will appreciate that thinking.

Client-focused Copy

One of the best marketing tools you can bring to any website is professionally copy. In most cases clients use their websites as a brag-page, shouting to the world what makes them so damn amazing. The truth is, their customers could not care less.

Visitors need to be enticed in order to make a conversion. And what entices a user? Benefits. Specifically, how will this product or service benefit me.

By taking up valuable real estate space to brag about your client, you really aren’t looking at what matters. Take a look at the following example:

Client Focused Copy

Visitors don’t really care as much about the fact that they have been innovating since 1949.

A Solution:

Whether the websites copy is coming from you, or directly from your client, it has to address the benefits for the customer. A benefit is not a feature, and it’s not a brag. It should address an objection for a customer, and specifically say how they as a business can solve it.

So instead of “Packaging Quality, Service, and Innovation Since 1949,” you might try “Are You Tired of Paying for More Than You Need? High Quality Offset Packaging With No Minimum Orders.”

This addresses a specific point, and solves the problem easily.

Ghost Buttons that are a Call to Action

Ghost buttons are form over function. While they are not old-school it takes the visual weight out of a button, by surrounding the text with a simple rectangular stroke, it makes for a nice looking design element, but it comes with a price: it decreases click-throughs.

The trouble with ghost buttons is that they don’t always read as buttons. Good user experience states that buttons should be clickable obviously, and ghost buttons sometimes don’t hit the mark.

A Solution:

Simply stick with the basic. Your buttons (especially your main CALL TO ACTION) should be styled to look like a typical button. Here is some tips to design the perfect CALL TO ACTION button:

  • Shape – Rounded rectangles work better. Web buttons have always been associated with rectangles, and the rounded corners draw the eye inwards toward the copy.
  • Copy – Use action words wherever possible that highlight what the customer is getting, not what they are giving up. One example is “Get” is a more saleable word than the word “Buy.”
  • Color – The colour you use for the button should contrast with the background. Don’t go for subtle; You want your CALL TO ACTION to pop out at your customers.

While you should aim to avoid ghost buttons for your CALL TO ACTION, it can often a way to style your secondary line, especially when it is in close proximity to your primary line.

Ghost Buttons

In Summary

Every now you need to take a step back to see what features and techniques are adding to the success of your websites, as well as which ones are only getting in the way. We learn more about user behaviour, so we should always be evolving our methods in order to deliver the best possible result for our clients.

 

What is Project Management?

Project Manager

We constantly get asked all the time ‘What does a Project Manager do’? ‘What is it doing in your breakdown of costs on our quote’?

As a design professional I meet a lot of people that have no idea what a project manager does, and how important they are in delivering a quality product, with no hassles.

It’s a tough question to answer. Especially because in many design firms the project manager is still an emerging position.

Project managers are responsible for the leadership of the project from start to finish. They lead a team and help negotiate relationships within the project—whether it’s with clients, team members, printers, photographers, etc.

Project managers are not the people chasing work and developing new relationships. Instead, they maintain a healthy client relationship throughout the course of the project. This often can turn into a long-term business relationship.

Once the contract is agreed upon and signed, the team is then assembled. Most projects start with a team meeting, that may differ depending on the goals and scope of the work. It is up to the project manager to decide what the best approach to the work should be. Sometimes project managers tend to forget their role is to lead, not dictate, they need to have a vision and an approach, as well as have a clear understanding of the goal.

For us at DesignLab, “It’s all about the relationships.” In a collaborative project setting, successful relationships between team members are essential, and the job of keeping the foundation often falls to the project manager. Conflicts can be an important part of the creative process, but it’s really important that it doesn’t sidestep the project.

One way is to make sure that every team member feels valued, and that they are an important part of the project. This can include making sure that team members are coached effectively, and praised, especially during the challenging stages. It is the project manager’s job to care about the quality of work, and that is the same about the quality of the working environment. Maintaining a positive working environment builds good rapport between the team, and keeps enthusiasm levels on a high.

For the hands-on graphic designer, the profession and work consists of big ideas and the small details. It’s not just enough to have a great concept these days — you have to be able to execute it, and this often means working through painstaking precise and multiple iterations of a concept until you get it right.

It’s the project manager who has to keep an eye on the goals & objectives of the project, both for the client and the design team. Clients can be just as easily fooled by sexy layouts, but it’s the project manager’s job to avoid those temptations and make sure the project meets its objectives.

Although design agencies can benefit from a project manager, they are not always required, especially if an agency has many experienced design professionals. Project managers usually are best in mid-sized to larger agencies with at least 20 staff or more.

In smaller design agencies, an art director or design director often functions as the project manager, and may be capable of handling the role. But sometimes project management is the last thing an art director wants to — or should — be doing. This is where a project manager can relieve the pressure of the art director of these responsibilities so that they can focus on the quality of the design rather than the project process.

Hiring a project manager will not solve all of your agencies issues. But allowing for leadership of your projects, and your agencies work will enable smoother outcomes, and a better workflow, and maybe even encourage leadership within your agency.

Finding the right team, giving correct direction and managing the working environment — while focusing on a strategic direction and staying on top of deadlines and deliverables — are all part of a project manager’s role. It’s a challenging task. But if you can find someone who is good at it, you can build your business and improve the quality of your portfolio.

Social Media Trends to Make Your Brand Stand out in 2016

Are you looking to get tremendous results for your brand through social media this year?

Social media trends 2016

Social media is ever evolving as one of the biggest components for generating business sales and leads. It means that you need to come up with some plans that can stand you out from your competition.

Here is some tips.

Streaming Live Video Plays a Key Role

Video Streaming

Brands need to utilise live video streaming as a prominent option to connect with their customers and attract more customers.

Don’t get too concerned about knowledge because Periscope and Meerkat are apps that will let you do it easily.

Something to consider, consumers always trust a brand that has taken care about their customers and make every possible effort to fulfill their desires. We believe that streaming live video will bring you one stop closer to your targeted audience.

You can also use this option to share stories of your brand.

A Brand that Targets on Real-Time Engagement is Already Ahead

iPhone Engagement

When it comes to social media, consistency plays a major role, especially when people are spending 30% their time on social media.

Because this is a massive competition, if you are not listening to your chances properly, you will not be able to accomplish your targets.

So, keep your audience involved through constant interaction.

Have you ever thought that why giant brands like Coca-Cola or Starbucks are so successful on social media?

It’s simple. These brands are always active on social channels, and engage their audiences through a range of techniques. Such types of brands also respond quite efficiently which is yet another prominent reason behind their success.

So if you are expecting outstanding results from your social media, then get more focused towards real-time engagement.

 Collect Analysis for Decision Making

Data Analysis

Gone are the days when business decisions have been made on a ideal situation. Now with the fast advancement in technology, everything has changed.

If you want to create a social media strategy you have to gather facts and data to make a mature decision.

If you haven’t been collecting data analysis then it’s time for you to take it into consideration.

You don’t need to make any effort because there are plenty of data analysis tools available online.  We use Moz Analytics and SproutSocial.

 

Brands Should Focus More on Visual Content

Visual Content

Content (in text form) will no longer be enough to attract your customers. You really have to include video for making your content stand out more.

It’s a fact that social media platforms gets updated after every second with unlimited number of posts. So sometimes, it’s not possible for your’e user to read everything they come across.

Most of the times they will only consider reading a post that looks more appealing, and this is where video comes in.

It’s obvious that if you want to boost the visibility of your posts, make your content as appealing as possible through quality visuals.

Check out the following brands, they their audiences will get satisfied through visual content. Kate Spade New York and tHe Horse Footwear.

 

Customers Are Becoming You’re Ambassador

Customer is the ambassador

Satisfying your’e customer to make them your ambassador of your product is more important these days.

A potential customer usually conducts a research now before making their final decision. For this, they will ask other people about their experiences about your brand.

If you have already established a good relationship with your existing customers, they will certainly tell all their friends about it.

So, it is vital for you to satisfy your existing customers, so that they can become the real ambassadors of your brand.

New Publication Options Will Provide More Opportunities for Brands

Opportunities for Brands

Did you know Facebook has started to roll out a new Instant Article feature. We personally think this feature will be an amazing option for any brands, marketers and publishers and to convey their messages.

We live in such an informative age, which means it has become crucial for any brands to now educate their audience. Instant Article will be an appropriate feature for one of these purposes.

If you are targeting a more mature audience, then try LinkedIn’s new pulse features.

In summary, you now don’t need to miss any opportunity to win your audience, these publication features are quite useful tools that will keep you connected with your audience.

 

Smart phones Need to be Given Topmost Priority For Marketing

Smart Phone Stats

Browsing on your smart phone is becoming more and more the common way to be on the internet.

Do you know that the number of mobile-only internet users now exceeds desktop-only users?

If you are not using your smart phones correctly, then now is the time to think of it as the most powerful element for building up a social media marketing strategy for your brand.

It the sensible move because the majority of people now use smart phones to spend time using social media.

Because of this you will have to use appropriate size of images that look amazing on a smart phone. You may also have to re-structure your social content strategy accordingly to gain better results.

In Summary

Social media is emerging as one of the most appropriate platform for all types of brands. It is an ever-changing industry that requires you to be updated about the latest trends.

 

WordPress vs PageCloud

wordpress-vs-pagecloud

We are avid users of WordPress, we think there is no other website platform that offers the flexibility of speeding up WordPress, but every now and then comes along a new platform that is meant to wow us all, and PageCloud could be it? Let’s try and find the best platform to create a website using WordPress Vs PageCloud. PageCloud is a very new company that has been making a real big buzz and WordPress is the most popular platform.

What is PageCloud?
Page Cloud is web design software for dummies, it provides a What You See is What You Get (WYSWYG) editor for making all sorts of creative designs.  It’s goal is to give the whole world the ability to create and share information without using web developers or coders (so there goes that industry).

What is WordPress?
WordPress is a free and open source blogging tool and a content management system (CMS) based on PHP and MySQL.

Let’s look at the design comparison

PageCloud
The goal is to allow users to customise up to 90% of their website. If you designed your site in Photoshop, you can easily copy layers out of any desktop design tool and paste it directly onto your pages. With PageCloud you can drag/copy video, widgets, images, spreadsheet charts and text directly onto your site.

WordPress
WordPress is not really a builder, it’s all about installing. WithWordPress you are able to install over thousands of complex themes. Both WordPress and PageCloud require no coding. There is no theme that you can’t find. You can create a Facebook styled theme, video blog styled theme, etc. You are guaranteed to find the perfect design for your website or blog.

With WordPress you don’t need to know HTML, but if you do have coding skills, then you can put them to the test. For a beginner it will take you 5 minutes to create a WordPress website because SiteGround has an automatic WordPress installation wizard. See here how to install it.

Price comparison

There is difference when it comes to price. PageCloud costs around $20 a month, which is a little on the expensive side. The good thing about WordPress is that it is free. The only thing that you need to do is get hosting and domain name registration.

Domain names

PageCloud does allow you to have a custom domain, but you have to go buy one from a domain registrar, and then they will explain to you how to point it at your PageCloud site.

Ownership comparison

When you choose your own hosting, you won’t have to worry about deleting or shutting your site down. This is why people choose WordPress, PageCloud, Squarespace, Tumblr and Wix. With WordPress you own it, and you don’t have to worry about your hard work being gone one day.

Make sure that you have your own servers and you’re not on someone else’s servers. If you read the PageCloud terms of service you will see that they reserve the right to remove your content. This is not uncommon when you don’t have your own servers.

PageCloud’s Terms below:

2.2 License to Your Stuff. You grant us, for as long as you use the Services, a worldwide, royalty-free, non-exclusive license to host, copy, transmit, display, and use Your Stuff in connection with the Services.

2.3 Content Removal. You are solely responsible for Your Stuff and your use of the Services. We don’t pre-screen Your Stuff, but we and our designees (including our third-party vendors and hosting partners) have the right (but not the obligation) in our sole discretion to access, review, and monitor Your Stuff, Your Site, or any information on or made available through the Services, and if we determine in our sole and reasonable discretion, that Your Stuff violates our Acceptable Use Policy, we reserve the right to refuse, remove or delete Your Stuff, without notice.

Flexibility comparison

WordPress

WordPress is flexible. There is no other website platform that can outdo WordPress when it comes it’s flexibility. Not only does WordPress have standard features that makes your site ready to go in minutes, but they also have 30,000 of plugins that extend what your site can do. With over that many plugins you can do anything that you want. You can start an e-commerce shop, real estate listings, photography and many more.

You can start a video or music site. All that you need to do is go to the plugins section and install them mostly for free. One of the first plugins that I like installing is a SEO plugin named Yoast to boost in the search engines. Then a cache plugin for speed.

PageCloud

This is something that you will not be able to do with PageCloud. It is not spoilt in features. They offer just a regular drag and drop builder, but they don’t offer any add-ons. Plugins are such a fun part of creating a website because you get to show your creativity. PageCloud does have a very fast spot-edit though, but once again don’t expect a site that is heavy in features. WordPress is far better for the future because it lets your site grow easily.

SEO comparison
PageCloud has common SEO options like page keywords, descriptions, page titles, file name, H tags, image ALT tags, etc.

WordPress has full SEO features. You can change your breadcrumbs, URL structure,heading tags, sitemaps, image optimisation and so on. On top of that you are able to install SEO plugins.

Many popular sites are using Yoast to achieve high rankings and it is only available with WordPress. You are also able to install cache plugins that will give your site a speed boost. If you want SEO features than there is no other than WordPress.

Popularity comparison
The keyword “PageCloud” has around 18 – 20,000 monthly searches.

The keyword “WordPress” has 2,700,000 monthly searches.

WordPress powers over 25% of the entire web. There is no other platform that comes close to this, and we believe that no other platform ever will.

Support and documentation

PageCloud

PageCloud has an answers page filled with plenty of information. You will not be lacking with their library of articles. It also has a great community forum. And they have a very quick responsive email support.

WordPress

WordPress is a large company, so it has a much larger amount of support and documentation. It has more users, more forums, more videos.

The verdict: The best for your next website.

PageCloud is not something that we haven’t seen before. There is nothing that you can get withPageCloud that you can’t get with WordPress. PageCloud is new so it needs time to grow. It does have potential, but right now WordPress is clearly (and will always be) the best.

WordPress has far better SEO options, more flexibility, more support, cheaper pricing options, more design options (I can go on). I don’t know how anyone can choose PageCloud over WordPress? We have been using WordPress for years, and it has been a blessing. We can create any type of site that suits the needs of our clients.

Talk to Spiros on 0431 926 575 anytime for your WordPress website.

Let's stop using bad stock photos

I really don’t like stock photography. It looks bland, it looks unprofessional, and above all else it’s cheesy. If anybody ever created a global set of rules to govern the internet, it would be to vote a ban on stock imagery. Designers, let’s all get together and stop using bad stock photos.

Bad stock photos

There is a saying that goes ‘a picture is worth a thousand words’, and in today’s very visual-heavy, online world, images are more important than they have ever been before. But, a picture isn’t worth a thousand words if you use tacky stock photography to try and get your visual message across.

You know the ones I’m referring too; they are either bland photos of mildly content people doing boring things, or extremely excited people with stupid massive smiles. My favourite are the business images, good looking people all dressed in their suits smiling around a computer.

Below is a list of the worst offenders.

1. Surreal stock photos

Surreal stock photos are the ones that don’t make any sense, they try to be arty or funny. For example it could be a businessman standing in a field holding balloons, or perhaps a busy person with post-it notes stuck all over their face. A person with six arms is a freak, irrespective of how happy they look.

bad-stock-photos- (2)Then there are those surreal ones where somebody is forming a heart with their hands whilst the sun shines through them which can be found in use on the website of practically every single natural therapy business in existence. It has been done to death, let’s find something new. How is a business ever going to stand apart if they use all the same photos.

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Or what about when when you see a beautiful woman eat a salad, and it’s literally the funniest thing she has ever done?

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2. Group stock photos

Group shots are always so diverse, that they only act to draw your attention to how gender. ethnically and age diverse the photo is. They feature a man, a woman, a young person, an old person, a black person, a white person and an Asian person. These are all over the internet, you can tell a mile away they are stock photos.

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The groups used in stock photos are always way happy. What about a smiling tradesperson giving the thumbs up, this tells you that they will do a brilliant job, and are completely trustworthy. Nothing signifies trust more than a tradesperson giving a thumbs up.

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Then there’s construction workers laughing over their site plans, I find building plans pretty hilarious also.

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Then theres the group shots of people jumping in the air with their arms outstretched for some unknown reason. I have never put on a suit before and lept into the air with an idiotic grin on my face. Have you?

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3. Business stock photos

Business stock photography is the worst of the worst. It always features generic business people who are ready to do business things.

Any business using these photos should have their HR department investigated because they only seem to hire ridiculously good looking models who’ve spent far too much money whitening their teeth.

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I love the photos of business people shaking hands, these are probably the most over used stock photos on the internet because that’s what business people do, they shake hands. I spend my entire day where I do nothing other than shake peoples hands.

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Then there’s the happy business people in a meeting who look like somebody just said the funniest joke. It’s physically impossible for people to be having that much fun in a meeting because meetings are not fun. I know the meetings I have attended are not as fun as the one in this picture.

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What about the pump fist! Don’t forget about the business people crowded around a computer screen all pumping their fists in the air like they just don’t care.

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And finally, my favourite! customer support. The gorgeous secretary staring at us, it’s critical to show an attractive and friendly customer support woman wearing a phone headset.

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Stop using stock photography

The reason why a lot of websites use typical cliche stock photography is because their business doesn’t have strong imagery associated with it. Instead of investing their money into the image of their business, they take the interpretation of what they do. Thats why so many corporate businesses must use dull and cliche stock photos of people wearing suits shaking hands.

Instead of resorting to stock images, hire a professional photographer. A great photo is an opportunity for you to showcase the character of your business. You may not be as pretty, but you’re real.

Interesting images are worth more than just a thousand words… It adds value to your business and more importantly, it will stop you from looking tacky and unprofessional.

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When Clients Ask for Discounts

I bought a couple of new jackets recently. One was from G-Star, another from Country Road. They were not cheap, but not unreasonably expensive. I paid the price the shop asked. What I didn’t do was haggle over the price with the shop owner.

As a professional design agency, we have fees. We are not cheap, but we are also not unreasonably expensive. And we always try to be transparent in our pricing. That means that we prefer not to waste my time on price negotiations.

Sometimes, clients contact us and say, “We’d love to hire you. But can we get a discount?”, or better yet “If you look after us now, we will give you more work as our business grows”.  We have found a great way to deal with these discount requests: I simply ask our customers, “Why?”

My usual reply also includes something like this, “Is there a specific reason you believe you are entitled to a discount?” Without my directly saying yes or no, I’ve bounced the question right back to the customer, forcing them to re-consider what they’re asking and to give them a chance to point out something that could be of value to us.

Some clients say they cannot afford our fees, so they’re hoping to get us at half our normal price. Sometimes, they even ask me to do my work for free (LOL). “It will be a great opportunity to present your work!” I hear. But this always just baffles me. I have never considered asking Country Road to sell me a jacket at half the price, or to just give it away for free: “Because it will be a great opportunity to show off your clothes!” Imagine if the world worked like that.

If I find a business too expensive, I wouldn’t have shopped with them. Instead, I would have checked out a cheaper imitation business. So, when faced with the discount question, my next move is to tell clients that I will happily refer them to other design agencies.

Sometimes, clients are so big they consider themselves too important, that the magnitude of their arrogance itself seems to qualify them for a discount. They say “You will be able to add our name to your list of clients!” (again, LOL).

Some clients just love haggling us. My problem with this attitude is that those clients assume that we are overpaid and with some negotiation, it should be possible to talk the fee down to a “proper” price.

Another possibility is that a client assumes that we are so desperately in need of a sale that we are willing to be underpaid, which seems like a lack of integrity on the side of the client. They sometimes say, “You probably have a special price for friends,” to which I might reply, “I have many friends and our fee is what they pay. I assume you want me to treat all my friends equally and fairly?”

We don’t say “no” to clients who ask us for a discount. We just ask “Why?” because it’s possible that they have a very good reason? It comes down to customising the value of the exchange.

 

 

The only time we would agree to give a discount is if we get something in return. In exchange for a discount you ask your client to give you something which is important or of value to you. Then you will find that your client stops and thinks about it for a minute, usually with a reply of ‘OK, we see you’re point’.

 

At the end of the day don’t sell yourself short. No one will value you. Set a fair price for your services.

Most of us set way too low a price. Put it a little higher than you would normally be inclined to do. The worst that can happen is someone will say no.