How to Teach Marketers to Design: 3 Tips and 4 Essential Tools

Professionals often interpret things differently: a common problem when a marketer sets a brief for a designer without clear instructions, is the designer has to redo the project countless times until they are both satisfied with the final result.

Sometimes the task can be trivial, so much so that it’s quicker and easier for marketers to do it themselves. But what if they have no knowledge of design? What if they know nothing about type, color, and composition?

There are three common fears that prevent marketers from designing even basic jobs:

  • Only designers can create good images;
  • It takes a lot of time to create a good image, video, or a landing page;
  • Design tools are expensive and too complicated to use.

Fortunately, none of these myths is true. There are tools that can help you create an image in 5 minutes, a video in 20 minutes, and a landing page in 2 hours. Below you will find 3 tips and 4 tools that will help marketers create great designs.

Tip 1: Use High-Quality Images

90% of the information we get is visual, that’s why a high-quality image is a core element of every design. Good images attract our attention, make marketing materials look professional, and help to reinforce a brand.

The Internet is full of the same old photographs that have been used thousands of times on other websites. So you’ll see a difference when you start using high-quality stock images. You can buy images, vectors or videos on photobanks (like Depositphotos) and make them fit your projects.

Tip 2: Customize Your Materials According to your Marketing Message

You need to keep the unified style of all the materials you create. It will be easier for people to recognize your brand and it will form a positive first impression. You can add a watermark with the name of your brand to your images or select a certain color palette to set up certain associations.

Tip 3: Use Online Platforms

There are many online graphic editors you can use to create great marketing materials. Whether you’re creating a presentation, a blog post or an animation, there are thousands of free templates available on the Internet. They make things much easier, as you don’t need to look for the colors that fit, select fonts, or learn composition rules. You’ll find readymade examples and customize them easily. For example, most of these editors enable the creation of posts for social media, covers, posters, and animations.

4 Essential Design Tools

Crello

Crello is an online graphic editor offering thousands of free templates and high-quality stock images for your visuals. All the templates were made by professional designers and are absolutely free.

Formats: 31 basic formats including social media posts, banners, flyers, posters, gift certificates, and animations.

Fonts: More than 100 free fonts.

Photos and graphics: 10,000 free photos and vectors, the price for the paid images is $0.99

Advice: You can choose the topic for your design. It’s convenient if you need to prepare an image for holidays or special occasions

Magisto

Magisto is a great tool to create videos for your brand.

Formats: automated video editor.

How it works: You add videos or images, then select the mood for them, add music, and customize them.

Plans: There are three main subscription plans: $2,49, $9.99, and $39.99 per month.

PowToon

PowToon allows you to create animated videos and presentations.

Formats: More than 30 templates for personal, educational and work purposes. About half of the templates are free.

Special effects: Templates can be customized, you can upload your pictures, videos and icons.

Saving: You can upload video to YouTube in 480p and with a small logo for free. If you buy a subscription—from $19 a month—you can freely download videos in high resolution and without brand marks.

Tilda

If you need to design a landing page and have no idea about coding, Tilda is a great option for you.

Formats: Stylish, convenient, and most importantly, an ultra-simple platform for blogs, landing pages, and shops.

Admin panel: There is no classic admin page, you directly add blocks to your future page. That’s why it’s so easy to use; You see how the blocks look and directly add the ones you prefer.

Design: You can upload your pictures, add links to them or search in Google directly in the template. You don’t need to spend a lot of time selecting fonts—they all look great. Additional features are available only for subscribers starting at $15 per month.

Accommodation: You can create one site with 50 pages for free. The most expensive business plan allows you to create up to 5 sites with 500 pages per a domain.

 

[– This is an Advertorial post on behalf of DepositPhotos –]

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5 Ways to Make Your Users Angry (And Productive)

Now why on Earth would you want to make anyone angry? Angry people are unpleasant to deal with at the best of times. Getting users angry seems awfully counterproductive. Why did you even write this stu…

Well, you don’t want them angry at you, of course. I wrote a whole article about that. Anger, temporary as it might be in most circumstances, is a fantastic way to inspire action. More specifically, it’s a great way to inspire social change. While you could theoretically use anger at your competitors to get users to buy your products; that’s more than a bit skeevy, and could very easily backfire, besides.

But if you’re trying to make the world a better place; that’s another story. Anger can absolutely be effective in driving people to help you make a change in the world, or their country, or even just their neighborhood. It can also backfire and cause way more trouble than you ever intended. So, you know… be very careful if you plan to go this route.

Here are a few ways to do it in your content, and in your design:

1. Have a Clearly Identified Villain

I don’t mean that you should put a specific individual on blast, as such. That’s how Internet mobs get started. Internet mobs are bad. You want your users to use their anger constructively. The type of Internet justice typically meted out to individuals is often counterproductive at best, and usually just terrifying.

But it does help to have a bad guy; and it needs to be clearly named. It’s entirely possible for people to get somewhat angry at no one in particular; but that’s rarely constructive. Your villain can be a fairly vague concept (ignorance), an organization (Comcast or Electronic Arts), a disease, or what-have-you. The point is that you should start pointing fingers.

2. Mimicry as Provocation

Tying in with the idea of clearly identifying your villain, you might try mimicry. The best, and most classic example of this is the now-long-gone Green My Apple website which was created by Greenpeace. It was designed to pretty accurately mimic Apple’s website at the time; and it inspired a lot of talk about Apple’s role in environmental pollution. It’s regarded by most as a success story, which you can read on Greenpeace’s website. Heck, it won a Webby award, too.

It caught the attention of Apple’s fans because it so obviously looked like Apple’s site. It caught the attention of the web design community because of course it did. We love stories like Green my Apple. It also caught the attention of enough mainstream news sources, and made enough people mad that Apple took notice.

3. Show Your Users How it Affects (or Could Affect) Them

It’s sometimes not enough to just tell users that “Thing X” is bad. In these cases, it’s a good idea to clearly illustrate how “Thing X” is bad for them. And they might need to see it visualized. Battleforthenet.com does this by featuring videos on Net Neutrality by a variety of creators, including: John Oliver, Vimeo (the website), Youtuber Tay Zonday, a few politicians, and more.

Other options include infographics, comics, plain old presentations, and plain text. I list plain text last because it only works if people read it all. It is notoriously difficult to get web users to do this, as they tend to skim. [Leave a comment if you read this.]

4. Use Imagery that Shows the Aftermath

When the cause you’re promoting doesn’t directly affect your users, you might try showing them the consequences of inaction. Depending on the subject matter, this may be the nuclear option, as sometimes the consequences can be rather disturbing.

Even when we’re not talking about something as violent as war, photos that show the aftermath of bad things can be kind of disturbing. Take for instance the photos on the website Too Young to Wed. When I featured this site a few years ago in an article about designing for non-profits, one user commented on how haunted the girls looked, and how that disturbing that was.

In this case, that’s exactly what they were going for. They wanted people to see how sad it was for little girls to be married off to old men. They wanted people to get mad, and do something.

5. Outline the Win Condition

Okay, now that you’ve made everybody angry, it’s time to be responsible about this. You need to have a specific goal, or a win condition. You can have more than one, with short, medium and long-term goals, but they need to be clearly defined.

Undirected rage can result in those mobs I mentioned earlier. The other possible outcomes can be just as bad: Undirected rage can be stifled by simply having nowhere to go. Worse, it might manifest in some unrelated situation, and people could get hurt. Making people mad without clearly defining the circumstances under which they can stop being quite so mad is the path to apathy and/or disaster.

Bonus Tip: Make it Easy to Act

Rage doesn’t last long, as a motivation. It’s loud, it’s messy; but people get tired. It’s usually not a long-term motivation. You need to make it very, very easy for them to take one initial step. They just need one small action to make the world a better place.

Once they’ve taken that step, you should follow up on them. Turn outrage into determination, and you’ve got a life-long supporter of your cause.

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The Ultimate Guide On How To Choose A Domain Name

If you want to launch a website, you’re going to need a domain name. Makes sense, right? Domain names are how people find websites on the Internet, so it’s not like you can just skip the whole thing. But as simple as those words in your browser address bar look, they can be surprisingly difficult to come up with. Trust…. Continue Reading

The post The Ultimate Guide On How To Choose A Domain Name is written by Rachel Adnyana and appeared first on WPKube.

Breaking the Grid Without Breaking Design

Symmetry is safe. It’s comfortable, non-threatening, and aesthetically pleasing. It can also be very dull. Using ‘asymmetrical balance’ can make things more interesting while still sticking to a grid to keep things ordered. In design, as in so many other things, the higher the risks the greater the potential rewards.

Symmetry has long been considered a good thing precisely because it is aesthetically pleasing and unchallenging to the eye. The word symmetry is derived from greek components which translate to ‘with measure’; symmetry is about proportion and balance, qualitative similarity as opposed to identical sameness. Asymmetry would therefore be a lack of balance or proportion, an unevenness.

In a visual context, however, most of us, even if we can’t remember taking basic geometry lessons (never mind what was in them) think of symmetry with a more restricted definition.

If something is symmetrical [has symmetry], it has two halves which are exactly the same, except that one half is the mirror image of the other.

-Collins dictionary

One very famous example of near perfect symmetry is the Rorschach Test cards. Their bilateral symmetry was a deliberate and important aspect of their appearance: Hermann Rorschach stated that many patients rejected asymmetric images. While the reasons for this might be an interesting area of study in itself, it’s a whole other article. All we need to know is: Symmetry comfortable; Asymmetry not so comfortable.

All we need to know is: Symmetry comfortable; Asymmetry not so comfortable

Asymmetrical balance, in a visual design context, is where two or more elements on either side of a plane are different but have the same visual weight. A simple example would be an image on one side with a block of text on the other, sized and styled to balance each other.

The two tools we use to create symmetry–and asymmetrical balance–in a design are the grid and our eye. The grid, as we know it is very much a mid 20th century invention, but in the same way that gravity already existed long before an apple fell on Isaac Newton’s head, so we can see evidence of grid based layout in some of the oldest surviving manuscripts we have: The Dead Sea Scrolls are written in even columns with regular margins and leading; the care taken over the positioning of illustration and text in early medieval manuscripts, such as the 8th century Book of Kells, indicates the use of a grid.

The grid is the bedrock of modern graphic design, and has been so for centuries in some form or other, long before the term graphic designed was coined. The grid ensures balance in a design by breaking up the ‘page’ into equal or proportional sections.

While the grid is objective, dividing space up based on exact mathematical proportions, the human eye is subjective. There are some guidelines or rules which apply for the vast majority, such as line length of x characters depending on device size, readable color contrast, all caps is a bit aggressive, and so on. But how a particular design is seen and received can vary greatly.

These variations range from the big (like the different meanings of colors across the world) down to the the individual variations of personal taste.

This is where a designer needs to have confidence; The courage to acknowledge that not everyone is going to love every design you do, and doing it anyway because it works. Knowledge and experience help, understanding why something doesn’t work means you understand how to fix it.

the grid is a tool that helps us, but we do not have to be bound by it

Sometimes, even though you know that an element is positioned correctly, or some leading is proportionally accurate according to your grid, somehow it just looks wrong. So you fix it by eye. You make adjustments until it looks right, until it feels right.

Our immediate response to design is emotional, the intellectual and analytical responses follow after. So we need to remember that the grid is a tool that helps us, but we do not have to be bound by it.

So, how can we break the grid, while still maintaining a coherent design?

Using Masonry

Probably the most frequently used technique is a masonry layout, like that made popular by Pinterest. The page is divided into regular columns along the horizontal plane, but the content blocks within those columns are of differing heights. Sometimes columns can be of double-or even triple-width, or an individual element may take up two or more column widths, but it will always be divisible by the single column width.

This technique can be applied the other way round—as in, content blocks of differing widths arranged into regular height rows—but it’s more commonly done as even columns. A masonry layout can, of course, be completely regular. If the vertical plane is divided into equal height rows and the height of each content block is a multiple of that row height then you have a masonry layout that sticks to the grid.

It is usual for the vertical spacing between elements is always the same, and matches the horizontal spacing between columns. If your content blocks contain text, making sure that the block height is consistent with your baseline grid can help with visual coherence.

Alliance Graphique Internationale

Alliance Graphique Internationale is a classic example of a masonry layout. The images are of equal widths, but differing heights while the vertical margins between images match the column gutters. All the images fill a single column width making it nicely responsive. An added touch is that the images load in randomly as you scroll down.   

L’ÉLOI

L’ÉLOI’s layout has some double width content and uses a larger gutter size, both of which increase the impression of randomness. The greater space between elements emphasises the difference in their heights and vertical position.

Grafik

Grafik’s layout takes things a bit further again. Like the two previous examples, the page is divided into equal columns, the number of columns being dependent on the width of the viewport. But there is no defined horizontal or vertical spacing between elements, and the images are not all sized to fill a full column width. The column widths are the same, but the horizontal space between items in each column is dependent on the size of the elements and the size of the browser window. The result feels interesting and random, while at the same time having a reassuring order that we are subconsciously aware of.

In addition, hovering over an image brings up it’s article title and an excerpt, which in a lot of cases overlaps adjacent images.

 

Repeating Irregular Pattern

Another technique is to create a repeating pattern of irregularly placed elements. The human eye is drawn to patterns, and our brains have a natural tendency to recognize patterns all around us. We instinctively seek out patterns because their predictability makes us comfortable.

Tom Dixon

Tom Dixon’s layout groups together several different sized elements, with varying horizontal and vertical space between them. The exact arrangement varies depending on screen size as the images scale at different rates. This ‘sub’ layout is then repeated with more content. It gives us the visual interest created by the irregular spacing and misalignment, but combines it with the reassuring symmetry of a repeating pattern.

Look Mom, (Almost) No Grid!

You can of course retrospectively apply a grid to almost any design. And even those designs that don’t appear to be grid based, almost always make use of an underlying grid, especially for their typography. However, as the whitespace around elements grows the grid becomes visually less and less dominant.

Ditching a grid based layout entirely is risky, but it can work in the right hands. Keeping things minimal and clean is an easier option to avoid grid geometry. This type of layout also works best with all images or at least predominantly images.

Sojournal

Sojournal pairs an image with a title and subheading. There is a slight pattern in that the images alternate between left and right placement. But the images are different sizes and proportions, and the exact placement varies from image to image. There are no defined columns and the vertical space between elements varies. 

The size of the images mean that no more than two are visible in the window at a time. It is a very clean, spacious feeling layout and the irregular positioning of the images focuses attention on each one in turn.

Blacksheep

Because the images in Blacksheep’s layout are all of a similar—quite small—size, and are on the same subject theme they can be grouped together more closely, in some places even overlapping.  The overlaps are balanced out by the larger spaces in other places.

Hollie Fernando Photography

For Hollie Fernando’s portfolio, smaller images are placed closer together, while larger ones have more space around them. As with the two previous examples, the images here are carefully chosen and grouped. Content curation is always important for any site, but it is a vital part of a successful gridless layout.

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Popular Design News of the Week: December 4, 2017 – December 10, 2017

Every week users submit a lot of interesting stuff on our sister site Webdesigner News, highlighting great content from around the web that can be of interest to web designers. 

The best way to keep track of all the great stories and news being posted is simply to check out the Webdesigner News site, however, in case you missed some here’s a quick and useful compilation of the most popular designer news that we curated from the past week.

Note that this is only a very small selection of the links that were posted, so don’t miss out and subscribe to our newsletter and follow the site daily for all the news.

Containerd 1.0 Released

 

2017: The Year of the Blob

 

10 UX Design Predictions for 2018

 

The Front-End Checklist

 

2017: The Year in WordPress

 

Manageable Utility Systems with CSS Variables

 

Site Design: 10×17

 

Chrome Apps are Dead, as Google Shuts Down the Chrome Web Store Section

 

Poly API by Google – Development in 3D Made Simple

 

Dear Tim Cook, Thanks for the 18,202 Alerts About my iCloud Storage

 

Fresh Ideas for Building Websites

 

How Stripe Designs Beautiful Websites

 

Pantone Colour of the Year 2018 has been Announced

 

The State of UX for 2018

 

Freelance Project Tax Calculator

 

Using Artificial Intelligence to Augment Human Intelligence

 

Designing a Remote Project

 

Nobody is Going to Steal your Startup Idea

 

4 Tips for Creating a Smooth User Journey on any Website

 

The Compelling Case for Working Less

 

The Secret to Being a Top Developer is Building Things! Here’s a List of Fun Apps to Build!

 

UX Patterns to Unblock Frustration… and Save Lives

 

The Ultimate Guide to GIF Design

 

Typoscan

 

How to Start with Static Sites

 

Want more? No problem! Keep track of top design news from around the web with Webdesigner News.

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Comics of the Week #418

Every week we feature a set of comics created exclusively for WDD.

The content revolves around web design, blogging and funny situations that we encounter in our daily lives as designers.

These great cartoons are created by Jerry King, an award-winning cartoonist who’s one of the most published, prolific and versatile cartoonists in the world today.

So for a few moments, take a break from your daily routine, have a laugh and enjoy these funny cartoons.

Feel free to leave your comments and suggestions below as well as any related stories of your own…

No rush

Santa Facetime

 

Fast Santa, slow website

Can you relate to these situations? Please share your funny stories and comments below…

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10 Worst SEO Myths

SEO (Search Engine Optimization) myths are usually created by people who either make common sense assumptions that are completely wrong, or they are created intentionally by good/bad people because it is more fun than sticking a carrot up their nose.

The algorithm that Google uses is now so complex that some people are giving up on SEO because it is too difficult to see any meaningful results, but even though you don’t have to be as strict as you were with your on-page SEO, it is still worth putting in the effort and maintaining your off-page SEO campaign efforts too.

Myth 1: Your Search Engine Experience Is The Same No Matter Which Computer You Use

Google doesn’t work like that anymore.

It generates suggestions depending upon what Google knows about you. With that in mind, the people searching for your website may type in the same things and see the same results, but the suggestions they are offered will differ, which lowers the importance of the keywords you are trying to rank up for.

keywords do not matter as much as they used to

In other words, keywords do not matter as much as they used to. You should still have them, they’re not deprecated or anything, but they shouldn’t be your full focus.

Myth 2: Keyword Tags, Meta Titles, And Meta Descriptions Do Not Matter Anymore

Meta information matters for a whole bunch of reasons, but that is not what is important. What is important is the fact that websites that do not have tagged keywords, meta titles and meta descriptions will typically rank lower than their competitors over the long term.

There are plenty of lingering SEO guidelines that may still matter, such as if you should have your focus keyword in your first paragraph, in a H-tag subheader, in your title, and in your meta description.

Maybe you should have a focus keyword in all of them and more, but you won’t lose your position on Google if you forget them from time to time.

Myth 3: You Can Hide Stuff From Google In Images

You cannot hide stuff in images anymore.

People used to hide things such as “Click my affiliate adverts” or “Link to my page” because they knew they would be penalized by Google if they wrote such things as text, but they knew they could hide the words within their images.

That is not true anymore because Google is now able to read images, which includes reading faces, objects, locations, and text.

Myth 4: You Can Reach The Number One Spot For A Certain Keyword

Not anymore you can’t.

If you type in any keyword to Google right now, a whole range of websites could appear. Unless you are typing in the name of something specific, such as McDonalds, you cannot be sure what will appear at the top of the Google search engine results.

Yesterday, if you typed in “Drink,” you might have seen an article about binge drinking, and if you do it today, you might see a blog post about energy drink sales.

Myth 5: Link Building Is Dead

Link building is more alive than ever, and it is more productive than ever.

We have finally seen the last of link farms and cheap article websites. Link building has great benefits because it draws traffic and attention to your website. The more traffic and attention your website receives, then the higher Google ranks it up the search engine results.

Google even has a way of figuring out if you own a bunch of the websites that you are linking to your website, so you can’t just buy 60 websites and link to your yourself.

Myth 6: People With Smaller Budgets Fair Just As Well As Those With Big Budgets

We used to say that SEO and Google leveled the playing field so that the small-time operator could appear next to big companies. That is not the case anymore.

it is the companies that have the highest budgets…that dominate…Google

Now, it is the companies that have the highest budgets and the biggest SEO departments that dominate the Google search engine results.

The worst offender is Amazon because it appears just about everywhere whenever somebody is looking to buy something.

Myth 7: Different Pages Should Have Different Keywords

This myth was spread because of things such as Yoast. There is a Yoast SEO plugin for WordPress, and it highlights if you have used the same focus keyword in your other posts. It makes it appear to be a bad thing, which is why people think that their different website pages should have different focus keywords.

This is not the case, Google couldn’t care less.

They are not judging your web pages on your focus keyword. Your focus keyword is only a small consideration when ranking your website. For example, if your website is all about fixing debt problems, then it stands to reason that your focus keyword is going to be “Debt reduction” for more than one of your pages.

Myth 8: You Need Search Engine Optimization Companies That Can Guarantee A Number One Ranking

SEO companies that promise to get you to the top spot are lying to you.

Nobody can guarantee you will get to the top. Even the people who work at Google cannot guarantee it.

If you find a good SEO company, then they may be able to make a regular and consistent effort to keep your website popular on Google, but an SEO company or some sort of outsourced SEO service is not required unless you are working in a very competitive industry where you have very little presence on the Google search engine results.

Myth 9: The Best Links Are From .Edu And .Gov Sites

It is just not true.

Do not believe the rumors that the best links also come from news websites because that is bull honkey

Some people think that these websites count as authority websites, but they are treated like most other websites to the point where they are often ranked very poorly because the web masters are not optimizing them. Do not believe the rumors that the best links also come from news websites because that is bull honkey.

Even if it were true, you have to remember that news items are the most disposable web pages on the Internet (besides social media posts), which means your links from them are going to have value for a few days at the most. It is not worth the effort of trying to get your links embedded into news articles.

Myth 10: Linking Out Helps You Rank

This was quite a popular myth for a while, but it doesn’t seem to have any truth behind it.

There are still people who add several links to their posts with the hopes that it improves their search engine results, but it doesn’t. One can only imagine that the person who set this rumor off was actually trying to create a world where people gave away backlinks more freely.

How Are You Supposed To Know What Is Right Or Wrong?

Only experience will tell you what is right and wrong.

As you continue to update and maintain your website, you will do things that have a positive and/or a negative effect on your website. You will be able to see how much traffic you gained or lost from Google, and you will be able to see how much of it converted.

You can see these sorts of metrics with Google Analytics, which is a free traffic tracking service. Over time, you will learn how to build on the things that work and how to avoid the things that do not work.

Remember that it is just as much about getting people to convert as it is about getting people to your website. Un-targeted traffic is unlikely to convert, (aka subscribe/return/buy).

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Pantone Unveil Ultra Violet As the Color of 2018

Pantone have unveiled their official color of 2018, Ultra Violet (Pantone 18-3838 to be precise.)

Pantone have been nominating a color of the year since 2000, and it’s often seen as a barometer for the prevailing cultural mood—although with designers jumping on the annual selection as an easy option for an on-trend palette, it has frequently been a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Violet is not, as commonly perceived, a shade of purple but rather a hue in its own right. Technically ultra violet is similar to infrared in that it can’t normally be detected by the human eye. So Pantone’s Ultra Violet is named more for marketing purposes than scientific accuracy.

Whether Pantone’s Ultra Violet will be representative of 2018 remains to be seen. 2016’s dual-choice of Rose Quartz & Serenity should probably have been replaced with funereal black; 2017’s Greenery (which symbolized a fresh reconnection with nature) was laughingly misjudged, and should probably have been replaced by an angry red. If we take Pantone’s color of the year as an aspiration, rather than a prediction, then it makes a lot more sense.

Pantone’s color institute selected Ultra Violet for 2018, in part to reflect the complexity of the world we’re living in:

[Ultra Violet] is a very provocative shade, but it’s also a thoughtful color…this is the kind of color attached, historically, to originality, ingenuity, and visionary thinking…It’s intriguing, fascinating, and magical

Lee Eisenman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute

Perhaps the most telling thing about Pantone’s color for 2018 is that it’s a color often confused with another, and is named after a point on the spectrum we can’t actually see.

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Related Posts Plugin by Bibblio – Are You Using It Yet?

One of the hardest tasks as a website owner is how to maximise engagement and keep your audience on your site. We all know that website conversions increase the more pages your visitor’s view. But encouraging users to ‘look around’ your website and spend time browsing the content can prove extremely difficult. In this guide we look at how using…. Continue Reading

The post Related Posts Plugin by Bibblio – Are You Using It Yet? is written by Megan Jones and appeared first on WPKube.

10 Tips for Using a Bullet Journal to Boost Creativity

You’ve seen some of the beautiful bullet journals on Pinterest, and there’s more to this trend than an exercise in creativity. Using a bullet journal can make you a master of the website universe. And it all starts with a pen and paper.

For those who aren’t familiar, a bullet journal is a notebook (of any kind) that you use to create lists, calendars and brainstorming notes all in one place. Essentially a bullet journal is a customized planner/sketchbook to help you capture notes, thoughts and inspiration. Cool bullet journals are one of the hottest elements on social media; but this analog tool is more than a ploy, it really can help you boost creativity and plan website design projects.

1. Keep Track of To-Do Items

The most common use of a bullet journal is as a to-do list. Use the journal to track progress of work or project tasks and even life tasks.

Every person organizes their journal differently, but many bullet journalers include a “key” to note progress of to-dos. It’s a little more fun and wacky than just putting a strike through a line item.

2. Create a Project Timeline

A project timeline is really just a giant to-do list. Use a bullet journal to develop milestones and create a task manager that you want to engage with.

The year in pixels example below is striking because it starts with an almost blank canvas and rewards the user as they fill in elements. The bullet journal is useful in this way because it encourages you to get moving.

3. Capture Notes from Meetings

A bullet journal can actually help you save time—even if it looks like a labor of love. Carry a single notebook for everything. Pages can be mixed and match with different elements, such as lists, ideas and notes.

By having everything in one place, in an almost chronological format, it will be easy to find and go back to ideas and notes in a pinch.

4. Daily Sketch/Doodle Reminder

There’s nothing like putting pen to paper to help create a little inspiration for almost any type of project. Taking a few minutes each day to sketch or doodle can help keep you feeling creative, even when burnout is creeping up on you.

Make it part of your daily work schedule so that you’ll stay fresher in a design sense and feel refreshed when it comes to projects. (And as an added bonus, you never know when some of those mindless sketches or doodles might turn into something usable.)

5. Build a Mood Board

Just because it is called a “journal” doesn’t mean you have to write everything.

Use a bullet journal to collect design elements and even create a mood board for projects. Add divots from other places; it’s totally OK to add sticky notes or paste in photos for inspiration.

6. Save Ideas for Later

The best thing about a bullet journal is that all of your ideas are in one place. You can start down one creative path and keep expanding on an idea day after day. You can see how a creative thought has evolved and shaped over time.

And you have the original ideas to go back to at any time. This is a great change from drawing something in illustrator, making changes and saving without keeping older iterations of the concept.

The journal concept helps you see a design process and evolution over time. (You might go back and love where you started, or wonder what in the world you were thinking.)

7. Experiment with Lettering

For a lot of designers, hand letting and typography is something we only look at from afar. Stretch your muscles by drawing letters—that is what writing is all about—in different styles.

You don’t have to be a calligrapher, but there’s something special about the feel of drawing letters that’s hard to explain unless you try it. You may never show these lettering styles to anyone else, but it can help you think about lines and curves and how words come together from a visual standpoint.

8. Create Goals

One of the most common—and pinned—bullet journal page-inspiration concepts is for setting and keeping track of goals.

Whether personal or professional (or a mix of both), a bullet journal can help you outline what you want to do today, this month, this year or even long term. Create a visual map that shows what your goals are and how you can work toward them.

There are two benefits to setting goals in a bullet journal:
You have actually written down what you want to do. This can make a goal seem more real.
By putting the goal in a journal that you are interacting with regularly, you’ll see the goal and a reminder of what you are working toward. (That makes this a great option for big goals that inspire you.)

9. Practice Organization

Use a bullet journal to get organized. Try using a notebook with grid lines to practice using a grid and creating doodles within a set of constraints.

Designing anything within a set on constraints is a valuable practice. It can help make you a better designer because you are practicing creativity within a set of boundaries. This is something that will apply to most projects, from creating a logo in a certain shape or planning for a visual treatment that must fit above the scroll of a web page.

10. Use for Fluid Scheduling

While you can use a more traditional format for a bullet journal, most people pick a notebook with blank pages (rather than planner styles with dates). This allows you to create project lists that are more fluid.

To-dos don’t have specific deadlines with this format. You can build a list of things to do and only add deadlines for necessary items. This allows for more fluidity, which often facilities creativity, because tasks can be done when the inspiration strikes.

So that your journal stays organized in usable manner, it is recommended to add dates to pages to track some progress. (I note the date that a new journal page is started in the top corner as a reference point.)

Conclusion

Here’s the thing that happens as the pages of your bullet journal start to fill up: You can see progress from project and you also have a tiny little book of art. The sketches, doodles and ideas are a source of collective inspiration as you flip back through the pages.

So the bullet journal provides an immediate creative outlet and helps spur long-term creative thought. So find a notebook and some colored pens or pencils and start journaling!

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