What are the most important things to look out for when choosing a web designer?

Web designers are responsible for creating websites that are visually appealing and user-friendly. They also ensure that these sites function properly across various devices. How do you decide who to hire for your next project? There are lots of designers out there, but finding the right fit can be tricky. How do you know whether they'll deliver quality work?

Finding the right person to design your website or logo is no easy task. In fact, it can take months before you finally get someone you trust. And even then, you don’t always know if they’re going to deliver high-quality work.

There are several things you should look for when hiring a web designer. These include their portfolio, references, experience, skills, and communication style.

If you're looking for a web designer in Hobart Tasmania, you've come to the right place! Based in Hobart with a heap of experience servicing local clients, we have a huge love for the special small businesses of Hobart.

Let us tell you about our experience delivering projects for Hobart-based website owners, how we work, and how to get started.

 

Hobart Website Design clients

Our portfolio showcases our unique style and creativity, and helps you as a potential client get a better idea of who you'll be working with. How should you assess our portfolio? Ask yourself these questions:

 

Here are some of our top projects for Hobart Website Design

 

Buy From Tasmania

Buy From Tasmania is Tassie's own Etsy: a place where you can shop the amazing treasures of Tasmania from anywhere around the world, with one central checkout and catalogue. Run by Janelle Larkin and the connected Plug a Business Tasmania FaceBook group, this eCommerce platform continues to evolve and grow. Exposure and support for micro businesses is tough at the best of times, and COVID has just made that even more tough with handmade markets being cancelled and less well patronised. Online is where it's at.

See more about the Buy From Tasmania project over here.

Buy From Tasmania Winter mockup

 

 

Noble Ink

Tasmania's answer to platforms rhyming with Boo and Insta Mint. Paule Noble runs Noble Ink from Kingston Tasmania, and his business has continued to expand. We came to us wanting to rival the big guns with tools and web presence but with local support and care factor right up to 1000. We delivered him that wish with an interactive platofrm where users can create, edit, and upload their business card designs, request quotes, and create their own profiles to print those projects again.

You can read more about Noble Ink and their eCommerce website over here. 

noble ink mockup 1

 

How we work with our Hobart based web design clients

Our studio lead, Sarah, is based in South Hobart Tasmania and often meets locally with clients within a one-hour radius. A Lined Design uses project management tools to keep all projects on time and ensure that everything stays on track. We often use Zoom to meet with clients.

Our website design process is the same regardless of location - we are content first which means we develop the words, strategy, and user experience before any website graphic design is implemented on the browser. This will all be based on the creative brief that we develop together, which sets out your online goals, ideal client, target market, and the online journey you want to create for your business. We then develop wireframes, then desktop website design, the responsive design (for mobile phone and tablet) then launch. You can read more about our website design process here. 

All our design packages are built to a client's need - we do not fill templates, we respond to a client's business goals and build digital solutions that aim to meet those goals. We've built websites for a wide range of businesses based in Hobart from bookkeepers to coaches, ecommerce and services.

 

Ready to get started?

Send us a contact form, tell us all about you, and let's get started! We'd love to help your digital presence stand out from the crowd and give you a beautiful custom web solution that reduces your admin and brings in more leads.

 

How many SEO experts does it take to change a lightbulb, light bulb, light, bulb, switch, lamp, lighting?

See what we did there? That's called keyword stuffing and it's a very common thing (and really bad practice) to get your page ranked on search engines.

How it works is like this: a search engine crawler uses its little robots to read your pages. They find the words that relate to a user's search (these are called keywords) and then shows the user everything they think applies to that search, with the most relevant search at the top.

But language is a very nuanced thing. I might look for a "rubbish bin" whilst an American friend might look for a "trash can". So an international store selling this item might want to have both those variations and then some on the product page.

So the robots then get more juice, but people reading it say, "EWWWWW that reads terribly!"

Your website should be optimized for both human visitors and search engine bots. Keywords are not just about search engine ranking; they are about balancing user experience and creating high-quality content which reduces the bounce rate (if your content is great to read, bounce rates will go down) with search engine optimization.

SEO strategy can be on page or off-page. On-page is easier to tackle - it's on your own website and you mostly have control of those elements. It is a tedious job and does need to actually get done, but it's so worth the effort.

Here are some areas you can tackle on your own website to add keywords to improve your website's search engine ranking.

Heading tags

On each page or blog post, you'll have the opportunity to add headings. Headings should not just be in a different font they should be wrapped in a heading tag, like <h1>heading here</h1>

We don't see the tag when the browser shows us the site, but search engines do. And it helps them prioritise content.

There are heading tags from 1 (page heading) down to 6, some sites even go down to 7 but we think that's a lil bit overkill. Headings should be sequential, following in order from largest to smallest indicating the importance of their content.

This helps the blind who use screen readers understand the content better too. Wins for all!

Title Tag

You can control how your website appears in search results by editing the title tag and the page meta. The Title tag is the link title in results for search queries - the blue/purple link text on google results. Your primary keyword should be used at the start of the title tag, and it should sound natural, not stuffed and bot written. There's no trust to be gained there!

Emotional titles get read more often than non-emotional ones. Titles that use power words decrease click-through rates by 12%. People are attracted to titles that have a strong emotional punch. However, if a title uses too many power words, it may be seen as clickbait. So write title tags with some emotion, but avoid terms like “crazy” and “strong” that could make your title seem like clickbait.

Adding the current year can really help too, especially for blog posts. Like this one!

You've got 60 characters to use, so make them count.

Meta description

The meta description is the blurb of text which appears under the title link in search results. If you share your page on Facebook or other social media, it'll be the description on the post.

Although it's not an official ranking factor for search engines, it can influence whether or not your page is clicked on — therefore, it's just as important when doing on-page SEO.

Here's what makes for a good meta description:

Image Alt Text

Every image on your site should have alt (alternative) text. It's literally an alternative to the image which is read by search engines and also by screen readers for the blind. It's not just excellent SEO it's an accessibility issue too - you get points for both with doing one good thing.

Adding alt text to images will help your images turn up in google image searches.

Here's what to keep in mind when adding image alt-text:

Internal links

Can I shout this one? Internal linking is HUGE for SEO.

Link from pages that rank well on your site to pages that you want to do better. You'll need to have a look in your google search console to figure that one out, then make sure your links are relevant and helpful.

When you do, make sure to use keyword-rich anchor text. For example, if we wanted to rank our brand packages page better using our home page, and our keyword was "brand design" we'd create a text link that might say "Learn more about our brand design packages here".

Internal links are really easy to add, and they will help your user when they are on your site find more relevant content too. Great for everyone, not just the robots.

Mobile responsiveness

While some peeps will argue that all sites should be mobile-first... we're on the fence with this advice. Mobile use is huuuuuuuge. And google does prioritise mobile speed scores over desktop. But what matters for you is how your users use your site. Again, google search console will help you discover what portion of users are on which device. BUT even if all your users seem to use desktop, never neglect that mobile version of your site. It's gotta be fast, actually look good, and work. You'd think that was easy... but so many websites fall down on this. Don't let it be you!

Website speed

No surprises here, folks. If your site is slower than a snail on its way to work on Monday morning... no one will love you. Sad but true. You can test your website speed using a tool such as GTMetrix or Google Page Speed Test (each prioritises different content so the scores won't be the same), find the issues and go from there. You might need an expert to help you, and sometimes the things that make your site slow really can't be helped. An example is loading content from external sites like review systems, or google maps. Then it's a question of what else can be made more efficient so those non-negotiable slow pokes can have a clear run.

 

So team, you have a list of things to investigate! We do the majority of these items in every build we complete; some items like image alt text require ongoing and additional work. We also add google schema and validate your sitemap for google which helps even more! Did we mention Google My Business? Yup, also helps.  Let us know if you need some help getting your on page sorted for your wordpress website.

Pop-ups have long been considered a nuisance by users and marketers alike. If pop-up ads were a person... they'd be that pesky encylopedia salesman desperatley trying to make commission.

Ethan Zuckerman, the boke who invented pop-up ads, has apologised to the world in a lengthy explanation of what he really meant to do. You can read more over this way.

The internet has evolved a lot since the days of marhcing ant borders and those flashy, super intrusive pop-up ads packed with sound that tried convincing us to download dodgy software.

Pop ups do still work (shocker I know!) and deliver good user experience if they provide real value to users. That's a BIG old IF.

 

Wait: whould we still be using popups in 2022?

Yes, IF you're not annoying. Otherwise you'll just increase your bounce rate, and nobody wants that!

There's a few things which get in the way of pop-ups these days. Internet users and web browsers have fought sketchy third-party banners that would basically ruin any website's user experience. Borwser and security based ad blockers have emerged as a popular option to shield visitors from being overwhelmed by flashy, dodgy pop-ups. Business Insider reports that 30% of all internet users now use ad-blockers on a daily basis!

That's a lot of folks who don't even see the pop-up in the first place... everyone else just kills them right away... right?

Nope.

Pop-ups can be effective if used properly. Banner blindness occurs just as frequently on your website as it does in display advertising. Pop-ups grab attention and have a 100% view rate because they require interaction to dismiss. Depending on who you read, pop-ups have a conversion rate of around 2-3%, which may not sound that impressive, but 3% of every website visitor becomes a significant number over time.

So popups are still a great way to get some one on your email list,

Whether or not your popup campaign will be successful depends on many factors including your web page content and your target audience.

Here are some expert tips for creating effective popups as part of your marketing strategy that actually get results.

 

A Timed Popup

A timed pop- up will only appear after a certain period of time has passed. For example 10 seconds. It's based on user activity on a page. If the user is on the page for 10 seconds, there's an excellent chance that they're beginning to interact with the content and may not be so annoyed with the pop-up appearing.

Another example might be waiting one to two minutes (yes, enough actual time!) and offering first-time visitors a discount in exchange for their email address. Given that an email address is valued at $20 or so, make sure the discount is a worthwhile exchange.

 

Scroll based pop-up

A pop-up that shows when a user is scrolling through the site, is working on an activity basis. The pop-up will appear when the user has scrolled down to a certain percentage of the page (e.g. 50%). Once the user has scrolled halfway down the page, the pop up will appear. Again, as this is action based, it means the user has chosen to engage with the website.

For example if you have pop-ups on blog posts and you know you get a lot of traffic some those posts, don't trigger your pop-up until the user gets most of the way through the content.

 

Page based pop-ups

When a web browser encounters a page-based popup, it may either trigger because the user visits a certain number of pages in their session, or because they visit a specific page e. g. pricing or a specific category of product. The key to making these pop-ups work is to make the content or promotion you're showing relevant to the page they're on, and make the value you're delivering (exclusive content like an ebook, discount, etc.) front and center.

 

On-click pop-ups

You can set a popup to appear only after a user clicks an element on your page.

 

Placement of pop-ups

Pop-up ads can be shown in many ways. One of the most common (and jarring) is a full-screen pop-up. While these can work, they do interfere with the browsing experience heavily. Better options would include a modal centred pop-up (not full screen), a banner at the top or bottom of the website, or a slide-in option from the lower left or right corner.

 

Pop-up Frequency

You need to carefully manage pop-up frequency so as not to overwhelm visitors or frustrate them. You should set a limit on the number of times someone will see a pop up during their browsing session. You should also use a cookie to ensure that the popup doesn't appear again after the user closes it.

 

Exit intent popups

A pop-up asking if they want to leave a website is still quite an annoying and intrusive experience for someone who has already decided to leave. It can certainly win back customers with the right message, but must be used sparingly and with great caution. This type of pop-up is best used for a limited time promotion.

 

Make pop-ups easy to quit

Feature the “x” or “no” button clearly or allow people to click off the side of the pop-up to close. Don't hide the exit option. A lightbox popup or modal popup can also usually be closed by clicking anywhere off the canvas, but when used as a mobile popup may have issues as there is not so much background to click on, making that exit button even more important.

Different types of pop-ups can be used to executed different parts of your marketing strategy. Make sure always to be helpful and not get in the way! This reader has lended on your site after all to read, purchase, or browse - exactly the behaviour we want.

If you want to get more traffic to your site, then you need to make sure that you're providing quality content. If you've been putting off doing an audit of your own website, now's the perfect time to start.

An audit is simply a process where you review every single page on your website. It's a way to find out if there are any issues with your content, such as broken links, duplicate pages, missing images, etc.

You'll also want to check for any issues with your design, including broken links, broken images, and other problems.

Once you've completed your audit, you should have a much better idea of what needs to be fixed on your website.

Hold up, what's website content?

It's your blogs, your sales pages, your portfolio items - it's any words or images you have on your website.

Next you want to list a step-by-step process for performing a content audit. Here are some tips that should help you get started:

1. Create a spreadsheet

The first step will need them to create a spreadsheet with various headings in order to capture the data. Get organised! What would we include, at the very least?

2. Define your goals

Think about what you want to accomplish. You'll have a better idea of how to organise your audit when you have your goals in mind.

An audit of your content can include information on conversion rates, as well as the number of visitors to your website. One goal to consider could be to determine which of your pages need to be SEO-optimised and focus on getting organic search traffic. Every content strategy needs to incorporate SEO best practice to be effective; every SEO needs to embrace SEO content marketing in order to remain on Google's good list.

But once you get that traffic, how are you content going to guide those new eyeballs toward their goal? That might be a stage two for your audit.

You could even identify your the most interesting and best-performing content during your audit and place  on your website's home page or in an email newsletter.

What goals would we have?

3. Populate your content

Now you need to have a list of all the pieces of content you want to focus on for this audit: web pages, landing pages, portfolio or blog posts? If you have a small website, you can easily copy and paste the information into your spreadsheet. Alternatively, you can use a tool such as Screaming Frog (https://www.screamingfrog.co.uk/seo-spider/).

4. Data analysis

Time to analyse the data you've captured.

There may be gaps in titles and meta descriptions if they're looking to get more visibility. You should be paying special attention to older content if they want to update it. Finally, you should be looking at the level of traffic that each page receives. It's important that the pages that get a lot of traffic have good content. Important pages that aren't getting a lot of traffic are a good opportunity for improvement. Older posts are key areas that can be updated with new information - something that the search engines love!

5. Action plan

After this analysis, your will now have an action plan that you can work on. Some content will need updating, some might need deleting and there are likely whole new content pieces that you'll want to create.

Make a list of the action items and assign them each a priority. Then all you need to do is get started!

It's often the first thing on the to-do list for a new business owner, just after choosing a business name: get a logo.

This often happens when the business is a newborn and there's not a lot of time or money in the budget for branding or logo design. And we get it - not everyone has the budget to spend on a designer while their biz bébé is an infant. And there are cheaper ways of doing things and you really need to have that logo, so you'll just go 99designs and worry about it later.

But you think these elements are stopping you getting started?

I'm holding a pin, ready to burst that thought bubble.

*bink-pop!*

#sorrynotsorry

The logo design contest trend is rippling through the interwebs. A new business owner puts forth a brief, then designers have a free-for-all hoping to design a winning logo (and hoping to be paid for their work). The owner then has a buffet of dozens of designs to choose from.

So what's wrong with that?

The problem is: most of these designers will design the logo they think you're most likely to PURCHASE, not the logo that will work best for your business. Not to mention good ideas are vulnerable to poaching and none of that is good for the industry.

But back to the business owner- know this:

Graphic design has goals; design not a commodity

Design and branding aim to find solutions to a problem - and the problem here is how your business solves those problems for your ideal customers.

A good designer will crawl inside your ideal client's head, find out what lights them up or scares them silly, then have a look at the marketplace to find your position in within it. Lots of research needs to be conducted and this means lots of communication between designer and client.

Think of it this way, would you go on a date with someone after reading a brief about the person or after multiple conversations to see if they understand you (or in this case, your business)?

So, research phase complete- the designer then proposes a design knitting all your requirements together. It's quite a process, hours of investment on the part of a designer and you, relying heavily on the creativity and experience of the designer.

fast cheap good 1024x1024 1

When you enter into graphic design contests for your business logo, none of these questions get asked (or answered!) And if they do, it's only in a cursory way. The graphic designers in a contest have little investment in you or your business because, let's face it, they might not get paid for their work so why should they care?

Designers have to keep a hundred design entries on the go in order to keep food on the table in this business model because they are only 7-9% likely to win any single contest.

You may end up with a huge range of choice and styles but the issue here is that you may then feel compelled to choose one you personally like, or your family, friends (or their cousins) like without thinking about your market and ideal client because you've not had a designer go through that process with you.

Alrighty then, what about Canva? Can you just do your own logo in this free program?

Le sigh. You'll likely run into many of the same issues here, plus legal ones. Your design will not be unique - everyone else has access to the same resources within Canva. You will not be able to trademark a design and you may well run into another business who looks like you. Yikes.

And from a tech perspective: you won't be able to access all the file types required for web design. SVG is an important one as it's infinitely scalable and therefore always crisp; Canva can't create these file types. 

Because design solves a problem, you may end up with something which does not solve problems for your business or more importantly, your ideal client.

But I can't afford a designer, what should I do?

We hear you! A bias for action is always a good thing - get started, now! Then adjust later. But please, don't let bad design get in the way of communicating how awesome you are. Here are our tips for getting your design done without a pro.

Just pair some awesome fonts and for goodness sakes, keep it simple.

One of the worst thing we see baby businesses do it grab some clipart or a convoluted design, attempting to explain everything they do in one picture.

Examples: a hairdresser logo with scissors and a comb, a restaurant with pizza and a glass of wine. Chances are your ideal clients know exactly what you do and you're complicating the space with redundancy.

If you do ANYTHING at all - keep it simple. Logos don't need to be literal or show exactly EVERYTHING you do. That's what copywriting and photography is for. Copywriting will explain your services, photographs show your products or what your business physically does, and your logo and brand designs will set the tone and vibe of your business - just enough to catch your ideal client's eye.

Just pick two fonts (carefully mind you!) and use them as a text-based logo.

How should you choose a font for your brand? We've written all about that over on our agency website. How to choose a font for your brand: https://alineddesign.com/how-to-choose-a-font-for-your-brand/

Get AI to develop a colour palette for you

It's so much better to play it safe than be brave with colour. Sure, colour is a great way to make a statement... but it's gotta be the right one. Don't fall into the trap of "I like purple, so my brand will be purple!". Look at what your ideal client wants to see from you, and how to get them to notice you. Whilst it does take a person to come up with unique colour combinations, developing your own palette can be fun AND we've got some ways to ensure they are all toned to sing together. AI, my friend.

Here's our favourite resources:

ColorSpace: https://mycolor.space/

Coolors:https://coolors.co/app

Palx palette generator - the best for broad web palettes: https://palx.jxnblk.com/

Colour psychology: https://99designs.com.au/blog/tips/how-color-impacts-emotions-and-behaviors/

Should you dive into a logo design contest or should you go it alone?

Creative and original designs do make your business stand out. But rather than sift through thousands of designers in logo design competitions, do save and make the investment with a trusted professional once your brilliant idea starts making a profit.

There is something about a truly custom design that says so much with little space.  *mwah* so lovely.

Do we advise to completely avoid logo design competitions? No, actually! Get out there and get started, and if this is a tool you want to use then do so. If you're clued up on how to speak with a designer and give the right kind of feedback to get things going you might (and that's a heavily qualified might) find the design unicorn you've been looking for. BUT - choosing that one special and talented graphic designer and bringing them into your business is magic. They'll be there on the journey with you.

Best wishes on your new business!

You're an expert at something.

It might be balancing cuisine with the right craft beer, finding partners for single socks, finding relevant hashtags (pls send help!), and hopefully you do in your business. The simple process of taking knowledge and sharing it, can bring sales opportunities and build a stronger brand.

The more unique and engaging content your piece of content is on your chosen topic of expertise, the more your followers will start to think of you as a leader in your chosen field. But then won't my students and other business owners take my knowledge and replicate what I'm doing? And then take all my clients and my money and my puppies? And then I'll have nothing!

You are not what you make. Say that a few times over. What you make is a product of your mind, creativity, processes, experience, point of view, stage in life, location, and so much more. You could give someone your exact everything to replicate what you do and they wouldn't be able to do what you do, because they ain't you.

And copying? Well, shouldn't be an issue because... they aren't you. The people you're destined to work with want YOU, and those who end up with someone else, they weren't your clients. The can't see your magic so let them go. But if that other person is infringing your IP though, get tough.

Put it this way. How many celebrity chefs are out there? They've all got books right? You might have cooked a few recipes from them? How's your recipie book empire going? Don't have one? Seeeeeee. Not everyone you teach is out to get you.

Chris Do of The Futur says the best way to learn is to teach. Knowledge sharing makes you better at what you do! In the learning pyramid the progression of retention from lowest to highest is: lecture, readings, audio/visual, demonstrations, discussion, practice, then teaching. You learn more about your craft when you teach it to someone else. Speading the culture of knowledge improves everyone. And the things you think might be common knowledge? They just might not be, and even if they are.... it's worth reminding your audience of the important stuff anyway.

Not only do your audience get more from you, you do too. Sounds like a win:win to us!

A rising tide lifts all boats right - we all grow and improve together, and we all benefit from it. 

There are so many places you can share your knowledge, build your brand, and get your mug out there.

 

Here's some examples.

 

 

Social media

Well, yeah of course right! It's a din out there, but people are looking for genuine content amongst the fluffy and airy, and real advice always has a place. Take every question you get seriously as an insight into ideal client needs and engage. Use examples of interactions to show how you've overcome business challenges, provided a beautiful customer experience or customer service, and then taken that knowledge into a process. That knowledge improves the businesses around you for the benefit of all customers. YEAH.

 

 

YouTube Videos

If you search for a house maintenance problem, such as fitting a hinge or uncolggin a pipe, you’ll often find multiple handyfolks who answer this question in a very simple and easy to understand manner. They aren’t “selling” on the platform, they’re establishing their expertise. Yet, they do still have their contact information available in case someone wants to call them. Imagine if that was you?

 

 

Podcast

People love stories and being part of a conversation. Podcasts do just that. Your listeners will hear your voice and personality and get to know much more of the real less-scripted you.

You can start a podcast for a relatively low fee per month with a microphone and a computer.

 

 

Books

Our lead copywriter and I both get to add "published author" to our bios after participating in the Change Maker series. You could write your own, or be part of a multiauthor project. It could be an ebook, printed, a weighty tome or a quick how-to. It could even be something you hand over to new prospects during a first meeting. There is still so much value placed on a book in this digital intangible age.

 

 

Digital Product

Anyone can create a digital product. Hello, Canva! All you need to do is think about the type of problems that their audience suffer from. Digital products are quick and easy to create. Ideally they’ll deliver value quickly, so that the customer gets an immediate return on their investment. Lead magnet, anyone?

Courses

Creating a course is a time investment. It’s not a short process but it is one of the best ways that you can share your knowledge. It could be the opportunity for you to create a recurring revenue stream from one intense effort that is far beyond anything you're currently doing in your business. BTW, did you know we're releasing a course on building your own website soon?

 

 

Blog posts

Much import. SO much import. If you have a website you need to be blogging about your areas of expertise. Our clients find that they have one super important blog article that ends up getting the lion's share of their organic search traffic, and it will ALWAYS be one where they have answered a commom but important question well.

 

 

Emails

The only sandbox you have control over is your email list and your website. So backup those blog posts with an email to ensure that your own list knows what you're up to and come back to visit those gems you're writing about just for them. Make sure you've got a button or link to go direct to the post or your audience might get lost on the way.

 

 

 

Your ability to grow the body on knowledge in your industry is huge, you have value no matter the type of content you choose to produce. You ready to get your face out there on the social networks and share your awesome?

 

 

comparison

 

 

I can't even remember when I heard this for the first time. It's been rattling around in my brain for the longest time, and gets more important every day.

Why?

Well, for me it applies to every aspect of my life. Here's the top few that come to mind.

Don't compare one day to the next, or even an hour to the next

I live with a pretty nasty virus (Epstein Barr) and I can flare up in an afternoon where the morning might have been awesome. I can spend two or three days in bed after having an amazing week. That's just the way it is. I can't beat myself up, knowing what I am capable of when I'm well... because I can all of a sudden not be. Comparing each day based on productivity is a really great way to go down the negativity sprial and that's a great way to stay unwell. I also have anxiety and depression on top of this, and I liken it to running in circles at the bottom of a pit in sinking mud. You get nowhere fast and just wear yourself out.

Rest. Let it go.

Look up. Shake it off.

Every moment is different.

Don't compare your business to someone else's

We're all at different stages in our businesses, we do things differently, and what we say about ourselves in public... well that might not measure up to what's going on in a positive or negative way. Some people are very quiet about their amazing successes but we're just seeing the social media tip of their iceberg of hard work.

Conversely, some are very vocal about things which might not be 100% on the level.

I've realised I need to engage with what's sustainable and appropriate for my energy. I'm not so good on the social media stuff and am about 12 months behind on our portfolio here because we're so dang busy. A great problem to have! I love and celebrate the wins I see on other's social media accounts but I don't attach any feelings to that. I measure my success based on how happy the team is, if we've learned a new skill, if we've quoted bang on for a job we've completed, if a client is so super happy with our work.

Don't compare your physical body with times gone by, other people, the media....

Look, I'm female. And like most females I've been told my whole life that there is this ideal physical presence. And that physical presence is liable to change with trends. Pity that DNA doesn't keep up with those media whims, right?

I've had two kids and am approching 40 and have an illness. I used to run marathons and lift two 16kg kettlebells at a time and compete in multipsort competitions.

I'm not sure I'll ever run again; it's just too hard on my body these days. But I don't need a viral flare up for a week. My gaze has shifted and I've found exercise I can do, a way of eating which serves me well, although I'm still wanting to pull on those shoes and disappear for 15k in the bush and the exhileration that comes after.

And when I look back, I realise just how sick I was even then. I'd sleep in my running gear until I got enough energy to go. It wasn't a good place to be.

But by golly am I grateful that I'm not couchbound, I can work from home and look after myself, and I'm largely in control of my pain these days.

 

I think this quote goes hand-in-hand with another fave of mine from Chris Do - Start Empty. When we compare we have preconceived notions of how things should be based on things which might not even be important to us. This is like going into the day thinking about how we'll get this laundry list of things done, cook a nutritious dinner, be happy and full of energy when the kids get home, exercise, get the lunches ready for tomorrow, and go to bed early.

Uh huh.

When it could be a client phone call, a sick kiddie, low energy, a task more complex than first thought... the whole house of cards goes over.

The same goes for financial years, marketing campaigns, projects, you name it. Observe the lessons, own everything you can (good and bad), consolidate and let it go.

When we let our expectations go and start empty, we can find some unexpected and deligthful surprises.

I think the twin star for Comparison is the Thief of Joy is gratitude. They circle and shine on each other - gratitude for what you have and where you're at, knowing that you are worthy and capable of growth and expansion.

The only comparison you should make is between the old you and the new you. Look at what you've achieved!

Stories inspire us, evoke emotions, craft vicarious experiences, teach us lessons and can live in our hearts for years. Humans have been telling stories since they discovered sitting around the nightly fire. Why? Because stories connect us.

While you may think that stories are for leisure time, I'll tell you why storytelling has a firm place in the business world, and in particular- in your marketing department.

Great stories bridge the gap between you and your audience, making is easier to gain and build trust

Great marketing weaves a narrative. You might have the best product in the world but if your audience can't see themselves in the plot of how that product will improve their lives, they will click right past you.

You need to make your customer the hero, and you the guide.

There are many ways that storytelling lives within our marketing. Your branding, images, colours and copywriting tell a story but we also want to be able to put your target customers into their own script with what you're selling.

Many companies make the mistake of positioning themselves as the hero but I'll let you in on a secret...people are self-focused (that's the obvious part and should come to no surprise) and they want to know how YOU and your product or service can help THEM. You're not the expert, you're the Yoda to their Skywalker. Place them in a narrative where you help solve a problem and make their life better.

Let your customer see themselves in the story you're telling. If you can do this effectively you'll increase your engagement and sales.

Below are some tips for which elements to include when you're crafting a story to engage your audience.

Hold their Attention

No cliches, please. Use punchy, clear and unexpected language. Now that you've grabbed their attention, you need to know how to hold onto it. Can you see yourself in the story you've created, and would you want to be in there too? Clear, interesting, and relatable...now you're ready to present your solutions.

Be relatable

The “main character” of your story needs to be somebody your customer can relate to. If you’re talking about yourself in the story, make sure your customers can relate to you. It's even better if you can be the guide, the sidekick, the one who inspires them to take action. Know your audience so that your story specifically resonates with them.

Identify the problem

What problem or obstacle does the protagonist of your story face? Is this a problem your customers can identify with? Make sure your story includes their journey through the problem as they searched for the solution.

Your product might be amazing, and so are a lot of products that no one has ever heard of. Why? Because you need to focus on the problem that your product solves. Stop. Storytime. (Respect to the legacy of MC Hammer).

How was the problem solved?

How did your main character overcome the problem? What was the resolution? Does it match or reflect the solution your customer is looking for? Real storytelling is about problem-solving, not selling the product itself. If you re-frame your thoughts around sales and turn that into problem-solving and a personal story, you'll stand out and win hearts.

How can you make their life better?

In marketing, we have a saying, your customer goes from what to what? In other words, how are they transformed after they use your product or service? For example: From overwhelm to calm, from pain to freedom, from isolation to connection.

Stories have the ability to create a connection between you and your customer. With a connection comes trust. Write an authentic story and your customers will want to keep coming back to you. Storytelling helps you to stand out from the competition. And guess what else, you will make a connection with your customers if you can actually make their lives better.

Not convinced? Let's drop some science on ya.

We're a species with big brains and LANGUAGE. We are wired to depend on one another to make it through life.

According to an article on copyhackers.com, neurologists previously assumed that the human brain responded to narrative language in the same way it does to fact-based language: that is, using the language processing and comprehension regions in the left-brain.

So basically, they thought we listened to stories in a rational, analytic fashion that didn't engage brain function beyond language comprehension.

The power of storytelling in marketing

The thing is, as countless brain scans have shown, we don't make rational decisions when we buy. Duh! Anyone who makes 'sleep-purchases' on Instagram (it's a thing, right? tell me I'm not alone) can relate to this. Buying can be completely irrational, emotional and illogical.

Dream Up a World For Your Dream Customers

In a study published in the 2006 issue of the journal NeuroImage, Spanish researchers revealed that human brains create a complex physiological reaction to the kinds of descriptive language used in stories. Our minds not only comprehend stories using our language processing regions; stories also engage our auditory, olfactory, visual, sensory and motor cortexes.

Stories take us to other places- right inside the matrix of our brains!

Real People Real Experiences

We should know by now that words don't just paint pictures; they create vicarious experiences. No wonder people are so connected to art, language, acting, books or anything that can take them out of their world and into another.

"Our brains have evolved to empathize, remember, and make decisions as a result of hearing a story. It's neurologically impossible to resist the persuasive power of a well-told tale." Source: copyhackers.com

Where should you use storytelling to sell online?

Everywhere you can! In your blog posts, in your instagram posts, email marketing, on social networking sites, in your marketing campaigns. The power of stories belongs up front or any marketing strategy. Any place your potential customers interact with you is a place to tell a compelling brand story.

So there you have it. The science and creativity behind storytelling, the threads which weave together our human experience- so bump it up to the top of your to-do list!

Have we successfully appealed to both hemispheres of your brain? Are you ready to re-write your brand story? Ask us how we can help.

What is Cyber Monday anyway?

Black Friday is a sale period after Thanksgiving, named not because it gets businesses "back in the black"but because in 1869 two goobers by the name of Gould and Fisk drove up the the price of gold so hard that the stock market dropped 20% and foreign trade stopped. Farmers suffered a 50% dip in wheat and corn harvest value. Yikes. Then it changed over time to be the day right after Thanksgiving and the Army-Navy game, and now it is a day commemorated by lots and lots of discount shopping.

Aint modern culture grand?

Cyber Monday is the digital equivalent of IRL Black Friday. Many software and digital providers offer lifetime deals or special prices on their products which are not available at any other time.

 

What is a limited lifetime deal?

Excellent question. Clever you.

These digital solutions are really clever. If you wanted to get a developer to build something like them from scratch for you, then you'd be up for megabucks. Most charge a monthly or yearly fee for the maintenance and constant improvement of the solution. Considering how clever and complex it is, and that you'll keep using it, it's only fair that you keep paying for it too. It's not like a pair of jeans that get made, you buy, you wear until they fall apart. Digital stuff needs constant and careful attention.

On Cyber Monday some providers offer a limited lifetime deal - a one off payment to get their goodies without any further payment EVER but still get lifetime updates. Some are an intro price though, not a once off, so make sure you read the deal carefully. So it's a brilliant time to plan your tech for the year and get those digital ducks lined up.

 

Our Cyber Monday recommendations for 2020

Affilitate links are marked with an asterisk

1. WP Amelia*

We LOVE Amelia. Our favourite features are the syncing with google or office calendars, but you can take payments, block off days, have multiple employees, host events AND appointments, send text confirmations and there is even a Zoom integration. 

Love it. $59AU for lifetime access is awesome too. 

 

2. Divi*

This website is built on Divi. The majority of our builds are on Divi. Why? It's a great site to hand over to client, it's easy enough to learn, the support and community are great and the developers are continually looking for ways to improve their product. There is very little Divi can't do. Our favourite features are the theme builder, global styles, and copy/paste settings. 

3. Frase

Everyone should be blogging for their business. ERRY. ONE. Yes, even you. About what? And how do you plan and find information? Encycolpedia Brittanica doesn't really cater for right up to minute advice on all things 2020 (are they even around still?). Anyway, Frase is your answer. Get ready for an easy way to quickly create SEO-friendly content that your audience actually wants to read with this Black Friday special.

Identify the exact questions your target audience is asking online, and generate well-researched content briefs in under 12 seconds, plus use AI optimization to boost your search rankings.

4. DepositPhotos

Getting the right images is cruicial for your website and social media. Not everyone has the time or budget to have curated photoshoots once a quarter, or to carefully plan what they need done. And grabbing some average off brand image runs the risk of reducing your brand or getting you a notice from a rightly annoyed photog telling you to not use their images, please. We adore unsplash, but here's another awesome option for you - DepositPhotos. 

Gain access to a library of 100+ million royalty-free stock photos and vector images and aptivate audiences with high-quality content from professionals all around the world. BOOM.

5. SEOPress

SEOPress is the shizz when it comes to Wordpress SEO plugins. It just makes the whole thing so easy. See, there's a way to talk to google so she understands you better. They are called Schema. It's a bunch of code that's annoying to do manually. SEOPress does it for you AND easily. This doesn't take away from very important SEO work, but it does make it more worthwhile. Adding tracking codes for analytics, getting data in your wordpress dashboard, adding data to Google My Business and tracking dead links - all sorted. DO IT.

 

Ready to get some awesome tools?

 

Got any other suggestions which readers might love? Pop them in the comments and share.

Giving feedback to your web designer and to your copywriter is a super important step in your project.

Why? Because your website - its design, branding, words and user experience - is a tool for your business. We are experts in our field (that's why you hired us!) and we want to ensure you smash your goals.

We collaborate with our clients so they can reach their project goals. This is why we work so hard on the brief in our early days together; to get to know you, your business, your ideal client and your future vision.

When Is Design Feedback Needed On A Project?

When we are about halfway through the project, we ask for design review (or wireframe review, or copywriting review, depending on where exactly we are at). Other studios have different workflows, but all ask for client feedback on a proposed design before a project is finalized.

Your constructive feedback helps us make any tweaks, shifts or changes to stay on the path we set out together in the early phases. We are as invested in your project as much as you are because, as creatives, it's part of our identity.

A Healthy Feedback Loop Means A Positive Designer/Client Relationship

These are the steps we find help our clients meet their goals with us. If you're design professional COPY, PASTE, LOVE. Take 'em and tweak 'em. If you're a client, then put those listening ears on an learn right in. We're telling you how to ensure a successful and happy project.

You may not understand every decision we've made but there is a reason behind every sentence, every button, every well placed menu. We've studied marketing strategies, sales, story crafting, psychology, user experience, code, colour, branding and more. We love our business as much as you love yours and we're always hungry for learning the latest information.

So what does this mean for you, the client? Some of what we do is not intuitive and you won't necessarily understand why we've placed items in a certain place, or worded things a particular way but it's a roadmap to help you convert.

Keep this in mind when you give your feedback and feel free to ask us anything. We love talking about our work!

Our job is to take the problems you pose in the brief, apply our skills and solve them. You job as the client is to help us ensure that these solutions meet your goals by providing effective feedback and making sure we're on the same page.

1. Remember The Ideal Client

This ain't about you, sunshine. This whole process is about meeting business goals NOT about making you the centre of attention. It's about your business connecting with the right clients for you to do business. This is not your personal art collection or brag file, you need to take a step outside yourself, pop your personal preferences in a little baggie, zip it up and come get them when you're done.
Step into the mind of your ideal client, live and breathe who they are the whole time you're reviewing your material. Because this is ALL about them.

Ask yourself these questions:

2. Remember The Design Brief

When you started work with your creative professional, they will have asked you a tonne of questions. probably an annoying amount, which really made you think about what you do as a business and where you're going.

It's not easy stuff- but it's absolutely essential.

These thoughtful answers have real power and potential to help your business connect. We distill all these answers and conversations into your creative brief, our game plan.

The creative takes all the feelings and plans and ideas in that brief, pulls out words and images to help expand and explain, and builds a design to match. It's the combination of where you want to be and what your ideal client want's to see. It's a process and a skill and an art. Our design choices are all about solving a business problem. #goals

Remember what we are doing and who we are doing it for. Spoiler alert it's not you. Sorry, not sorry, not even your ABOUT page is about you, it's got to be about your audience. The people who see and interact with your website.

3. Remember Why You Hired Your Creative In The First Place

Chances are you hired your creative because you loved their work.

Designers keep on designing because we LOVE it: we have studied human psychology, we understand how people see, read, and why they buy things. We understand why the eye travels across a design in the way that it does, how proportions and symmetry tell a story and why colours matter.

Words are the yin to a design's yang. They craft a story, evoke powerful emotions and connect to the reader. In business, words communicate your brand. How they are structured, their tone, subtle connotations, it's a multi-layered approach designed to take your viewer on a journey- where the pot of gold at the end is your product.

Remember how you felt when you looked through the A Lined Design's website? Do you remember what made you want to choose us out of the gazillions of other firms out there? Something that tipped the scales and made you say YES! This is the crew for me.

Hint: We did that on purpose. To attract you. It involved a thousand decisions and careful planning (because we love working with like-minded clients).

Now, let us do that for the people in your audience.

A creative professional is not an order-taker; they are a problem solver.

Let them work their magic for you.

Which leads into the next point.

4. Do Not DIY

You might have questions about word order, placement and selection or layout but feel free to ask or comment before grabbing your red pen or the delete button. We can explain the strategy and thought that went into our creative decisions- so make sure you have all the info you need before we start cutting and shifting. And please don't stress if these things aren't immediately obvious! This is our world and we want to invite you inside.

We are happy to review and make small changes for good reason but keep in mind that we've selected carefully, based on your brief. If a phrase feels inauthentic or if you had a different vision for a module- these things can be modified. But nitpicking our work is going to reduce the quality of your end result. (It might sound like we're being harsh here but it happens and we hate seeing incredible words and design, dulled).

Remember, a site is not meant to sounds like YOU it's meant to sound like your audience, visually appeal to them, and create a memorable user experience.

When you decide to go to a particular artist for a commission, you need to trust them (and your own instincts for choosing them). You don't select which brushes they are allowed to paint with and you shouldn't ask them to change half of the paint on the canvas.

In the case of design work, the elements will be weighted and aligned just so, colours carefully chosen. If the designer is gracious enough to accept these tweaks and fixes, the client is often left wondering why their design didn't turn out quite right or why it doesn't look quite like they expected.

Same with words. Every word in your copy is carefully crafted with intent. Often websites use a small amount of copy to communicate which is actually more difficult than writing a novel. Every word has meaning and every word matters. Sometimes you might find a typo in the process, in which case we apologise in advance for our human-ness (luckily it's an easy fix.) But trust that our word-weavers have your best interests in their looms.

5. Lose The Committee

No. Don't. Ever. Ever Never.
 
Never ask anyone what they think of a design. It's a case of opinions and unfortunately everyone has one. The real question is, should you care about their opinion? Consider the source. Is this person a designer? And if they are, are they a good one (but not so good you hired us instead of them)?
 
Too many cooks in the kitchen is never a good idea.

Managing stakeholders is a whole 'nother ballgame. There will be opinions which matter and team members who need to be consulted, but all need to be on board for the goals of the project. A project manager for that business client needs to have the authority to make the hard decisions so that the designer or writer has one point of contract and source of truth. 

Let's look at points 1 and 2 again. If this person/facebook group is not your ideal client, we don't really care what their opinion is. In fact if they are not your ideal client and they don't like it, perfect! We don't want to connect with them. It's not where your best business lies.
 
If you are stuck and want to ask people that can be okay IF you ask questions like this:
 
Then give that feedback to the designer with your interpretation and ask the designer to solve the problem.
 

These are productive questions that have real answers and can lead to the best outcome.

6. Ask Clarifying Questions

We get that this design thing is not an everyday life situation for our clients. We do! And we expect a tonne of questions even though we do our best to educate and inform the whole way through our journey together.
 
But no creative professional is a mind reader. Or an interrogator. And whilst I do have crystal balls on my desk (three in fact) their long range reception is a bit spotty.
 
We need to know what's going on in that head of yours in order to serve you better. But make sure your questions serve the creative brief, and not your own preferences. Design critique like, "I don't like red, lose the red" is not what we are looking for here. 
 
Ask your creative professional thoughtful questions:

So there you have it. Six easy steps to getting through the feedback stage to make sure you get the results you hired us for.

More heads are better than one and we do view our work as a collaboration with our lovely clients.  It takes a team to make sure the projects which run smoothly, on time and on budget. Useful feedback during the design process really does ensure that every design decision hits its target. In the end, it's all about informed communication: if you don't like a colour, tell us why? If you aren't sure about a headline, give us some more direction. If there is something unclear about the user experience- put your hand up. If we work together in this way you'll get the absolute best result for your business. Let's do this!

Design pros in the room anything else you'd add? We'd love to hear!

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We’re a creative brand and web design agency based in Hobart, Tasmania servicing clients all around Australia and the world. We specialise in helping creative entrepreneurs shine online.
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