Design = More Than Just Beauty

“Design is a funny word. Some people think design means how it looks. But of course, if you dig deeper, it’s really how it works.” ~Steve Jobs

I’m guilty. Maybe you are too?

What I mean is, I’m guilty of forgetting that the most important thing about design, is how it works—namely, the effect design has on people, how it helps them in some way, improves life, makes their day easier, etc.

I know, I know, we love stuff that looks beautiful; that’s certainly part of design. Buy WHY do we really love it?

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Sweet Brand! Falling hard for Shoes of Prey…

Sweet-Brand-graphic{The Sweet Brand! series features awesome niche brands, small companies, solo businesswomen, and even celebrity brand personalities. The purpose of this series is to introduce you to businesses that are kickin’ it in their brand, and to point out what they’re doing right—principles that you can apply to your own brand.}

Happy girl flying, holding red heart balloonsWhat would you give, to have your customers drool over your products and services like a gal with a shoe fetish swoons over a pair of custom heels? All the effort you can muster?

In that case, you can learn a lot from a company that literally gets that kind of devotion all the time: Shoes of Prey.

And thankfully, you don’t have to be a shoe seller to obtain the same results for your business; rather, all you need is a lot of love. Allow me to explain…

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3 Essentials to Building a Great Website for Your Biz!

Businesswoman Holding EarthSo, you’ve decided to take the plunge and put up your first business website (or upgrade your existing one)…

…and that’s a really BIG deal! Right?

I mean, that website is going to be the hub for all your online marketing, your client leads, your product sales, and so on and so forth. It’s not something you’ll want to take lightly!

To help you build the best website for your biz, here are three essential steps to take—before you ever lift a finger to actually create it:

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heart-bullseye

Sometimes, it’s easy just to pick a color or a design element we like, and run with it…

…say, “I love lime green, and art deco is awesome, let’s do that” (okay, maybe that’s an extreme example, but still—it happens!)

Hard as it might be, it’s in your best interest to put a bit more thought into the design of things like your logo and website. Call it “brand expression” if you will, but either way, it literally shapes and colors the way your audience interacts with your company.

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Sweet Brand: The REAL Way to Be Irresistible

The Sweetest BrandIn the past few months, I’ve featured some fantastic brands + the things that make them sweet, like creating products that celebrate the values its’ customers hold dear, and exuding confidence.

But, what REALLY makes a sweet brand so compelling to its audience?

Often, it’s the things that we ALL want as customers. (You know, like, we want to know they care, and that they’re paying attention to us and understand our needs, right?)

A company is always sweeter and more irresistible when they:

  • Have a laser-sharp focus on serving their tribe to the best of their ability.
  • Are providing excellent solutions to our most painful problems.
  • Know how to give us exactly what we want.
  • Maintain complete openness and transparency with customers.
  • Cultivate a brand personality that is absolutely true to the company and its mission.

So today, I challenge you to look at your own brand. How can you make it sweeter for the people you serve?

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Creative inspiration can come from anywhere…

So, usually I ramble on and on about biz/tech stuff (you know: getting started with WordPress, honing your brand identity, etc.)

But this week, there’ll be none of that. Today, I’m simply sharing some things—sources of visual inspiration—that I’ve been looking at lately.

You might not think about it, but the work I do doesn’t just come out of nowhere. More like, design is the result of dozens and maybe even hundreds or thousands of visual images that I take in over time. Sooner or later, a little color combo I saw on a website might show up in a painting, or a pattern I saw on some fabric might inspire the background of my next website. It’s subtle, and perhaps complex, but it’s just how things happen (not just in design, but other forms of art and creation too—like music or architecture).

But enough of me talking/writing; here are two collections of things I’ve been looking at lately, which might show up in a design someday…

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WordPress vs. SquareSpace :: Why WP is Still King in My Book

WEBSITEHey, Sweet Dreamer!

Usually, when I write about WordPress (.org, not .com), I go on and on about why it’s so awesome, but I rarely ever mention how it stacks up against the competition.

Perhaps that’s due to my unwillingness to “go there”—and maybe also because until lately, there just weren’t any competing website platforms that deserved to be mentioned in the same blog post as WordPress.

Enter SquareSpace. It’s an all-in-one website service that I’ve been hearing more and more about, and I know a few businesses—even designers like myself—who love it.

So, I thought it would be only fair to compare these two website platforms side-by-side, to let you draw your own conclusions, and to explain why I still think WordPress is awesomesauce.

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You’ve heard me say it before: WordPress is all kinds of awesome!

It is, in my humble opinion, the best website platform for small business—because it puts you in control, and you can do EVERYTHING with it! Blog to your heart’s content, sell your fabulous products, create a private community or a subscription service, manage product inventory, share your own videos and images, and so much more…all from within your WordPress dashboard (with a few great plugins, of course!)

Pamela photo croppedSo when Pamela Wamala, an artist and teacher in Lowell, Massachusetts (USA), came to me last fall wanting to upgrade her old & outdated website to WordPress, of course I was thrilled to help.

Pamela had the classic conundrum: A website she couldn’t update—which was consequently three years out-of-date—and a separate blog site that she was using to post news and behind-the-scenes info for her network of art buyers and students. All of which made for a disjointed, less-than-helpful online presence.

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{The Sweet Brand! series appears on the 1st Monday of each month, and features awesome niche brands, small companies, solo businesswomen, and even celebrity brand personalities. The purpose of this series is to introduce you to businesses that are kickin’ it in their brand, and to point out what they’re doing right—principles that you can apply to your own brand.}

2015Oh boy! *rubs hands together excitedly, at least in my head*

It’s a new year, and a new month, and that means a new Sweet Brand to be inspired by.

But before we get into it, I just wanna say: “Welcome back! Happpppeee New Year!”

As I’m writing this, today is my first official day back, feelin’ good in my freshly decorated home office (pics on my Instagram), and looking forward to helping you in whatever way I can.

So far, I’m a mix of 70% pumped about the amazing things that will happen in 2015, 20% anxious, and 10% wishing I could just be lazy. With God’s help, I’m going to kick the other 30% to the curb, and get on with whatever He has in store for me this year.

But anyway, onto the meat! If you consider yourself a creative, you’ll love the awesome biz diva I chose for this month’s feature…

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Refresh Your Business Mojo for the New Year

049P0304LLSometimes, business can be tougher than usual. And it gets us down in the dumps.

Crickets chirp. We lose our creative mojo. And sometimes, we have loads of exciting stuff planned, lots of great ideas, but can’t seem to scrape up the motivation to follow through and get it done. (That’s the boat I’m in at the moment. Not fun.)

On the one hand, I hate to admit that I’ve had plenty of these kinds of downer moments…but then, who hasn’t?

The point here, is that I’m not about to let that stuff keep me from moving forward, especially not on the verge of a new year with new plans to implement, new people to serve, and fun to be had! As I must remember: God put me here for a reason, and I’ll be darned if I let myself make excuses for not fulfilling that purpose.

So I figured now would be a great time to remind myself, that there are plenty of “tools” in my box that I can use to get back on track. Hopefully these will prove helpful for you as well, in all your ambitious new adventures for 2015! ;)

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