Today in Global Small Business: Discover the Design of Japanese Toilets


©iStock/stella_photo20

What’s affecting me, my clients, my colleagues and other global small business owners:

  • Global regulators say tougher bank rules do not curb small business lending.
  • Quote of the week: “Let us find out what is desperately needed, although people may not know it, let us find out what will beautify the world, although people may not know it, then let’s learn and learn and teach ourselves and support each other in doing that until we lose ourselves in those tasks.” – 20th century inventor Edwin Land
  • On Instagram @toilets_a_go_go, Hidefumi Nakamura documents the astounding breadth of public-toilet design in Japan.  International travel exposes you to different cultures yet even doing your routine daily activities can broaden your horizons :-).
  • Global finance leaders meeting in Japan recently said they were increasingly worried that the trade dispute between the United States and China, which shows no signs of abating, could propel the world economy into a crisis.
  • The retailer Ulta Beauty will be going international in order to “establish Ulta Beauty as a successful global brand,” CEO Mary Dillon said in a statement. The first step of that process is launching operations in Canada, according to Dillon.
  • President Donald Trump dangled the prospect of renewing his tariff threat against Mexico if the U.S. ally doesn’t cooperate on border issues, while some of his Democratic challengers for the White House said the last-minute deal to avert trade penalties was overblown.

How Responsive Web Design Affects SEO?

More than computers and laptops, people are focusing on using the internet through their mobiles. The mobile platform has become an essential point for dominating the world of the online industry. The SEO scenario changed since the day Google announced its new algorithm for the websites to be responsive and mobile friendly.

Viewing responsive website on smartphone and laptop

A website that isn’t mobile-friendly does not have any use. The SEO implemented responsive websites can have a positive impact on the traffic. It will help you to drive more and more traffic. Nowadays, Google is not only focusing on desktop websites but mobile versions as well. The adaptation of mobile-centric sites has brought a change in the SEO scenario.

What is responsive web design?

The internet world is continually changing, and with the coming in of mobile websites, the scenario has changed continuously. Mobile-friendly websites have overtaken the sites and are one of the most efficient choices for web browsing. The online website is continually developing.

Google is entirely user-friendly, and now the scenario of websites has changed, Google is adapting to it as well. The SEO friendly websites are the most favoured ones by Google. Google has approved mobile-optimized sites. The mobile-optimized site has responsive design as well.

Impact of responsive web design on SEO

Responsive web design can have a significant effect on SEO. Some of these include the following

1. Site Usability

Often the users do not stay on your website for a long time. Why? They have a hard time navigating the website pages. The time the user spends on the site is regarded by Google to determine the page quality.

Responsive web design makes it easier for users to navigate through the pages. This further helps in improving the user experience. The better the page quality the higher will be the number of converted users. Responsive web design will help to improve the user experience and search engine rankings.

2. Bounce Rate

When the user exits the website shortly after entering or spending a short time, it is referred to as Bounce Rate. The Bounce Rate is one of the most important factors to consider for ranking. Google believes the entry and exit time as well.

A website that has a high bounce rate will have a tough time to rank. This is because Google assumes that the site wasn’t enough to fulfil the query of the users. If you have a responsive web design, everything will be arranged in an organized manner. This will further contribute to lessening the bounce rate.

3. Copied Content

Google severely penalizes plagiarized content. Not only does it bring down the ranking, but it may also lead to the website being shut down. Even if the URLs are different, if your content is the same, it will be highly penalized by Google.

You should work towards making Google understand the essential pages to avoid the risk of duplicate content. Not taking care of duplicate content will harm the reputation of your website. However, implementing responsive web design will contribute towards fixing the duplicate content problem. This way, you will be using only one URL, making it helpful for the user.

Mobile-optimized website

SEO Benefits of Responsive Web Design

Earlier, the impact of responsive web design of SEO was discussed. Here, the SEO benefits of responsive web design will be addressed. Some of the relevant and prominent benefits include the following

1. Improved website speed

Most of the users these days want the website to be loaded in a short period. So, if the site takes long to load, the users usually do not use it. As a result, they avoid using the site.

If the website doesn’t have speed, the users will move somewhere else. Thus, the responsive web design can help in improving the speed of the user irrespective of the device. The faster loading speed is one of the most important things that can be boosted with responsive web design.

2. Better user experience

The search engine rankings can improve with the user experience. As a website owner, you should work towards improving the problem. You should ensure that the users can find out the web pages and contents efficiently.

If you improve the user experience of the website, the users will spend more time on the site. This will help in boosting up the rankings.

3. Boosts Backlinks

Link building is one of the most critical aspects of the SEO strategy. The better quality of links can help in improving the website traffic. It has always been about the quality of the backlinks and not quantity. The SEO experts at YEAH! Local can assist in improving the quality of your backlinks.

The high-quality backlink can appeal to search engine crawlers thereby increasing search engine rankings. This will, however, contribute towards expanding the classification on SERPs. Building up links in the website can help to enhance the responsiveness of the site thereby boosting up SEO.

Responsive web design can serve you with several benefits. The primary concern should be to focus on the different plans for better advantages. Careful and thoughtful planning can help to boost up the overall traffic. This will help you achieve long-term SEO goals.

These 53,000 Design Templates Can Give Your Presentations a Big Upgrade

A silver membership to PoweredTemplate can take your slideshows from ‘meh’ to ‘wow.’

2 min read

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Whether you love them or hate them, PowerPoint presentations are a necessary evil for entrepreneurs on their way to the top. In order to woo investors, you’ve got to have a rock-solid deck that showcases your company’s strengths. Slideshows are also a must-do for keeping your employees up-to-date on the company’s next big moves.

If you’re well-versed in PowerPoint, you can create great presentations, but you’re limited by the template options available within the program. If you’re a newbie to slideshows, learning PowerPoint in time for that big meeting can seem overwhelming. A Silver Membership to PoweredTemplate provides you with more than 50,000 templates to make your next slideshow pop.

The templates in PoweredTemplate’s library are designed to impress. They include slides for charts, presentations, graphs and more. Everything is pre-formatted and editable through a user-friendly drag-and-drop interface. That means you can create that earnings report or investor deck in a fraction of the time you’d spend on a PowerPoint presentation.

PoweredTemplate allows you to download 30 fresh templates each month, so your audience will never sit through the same designs twice. You can keep all of your downloads (even the ones you don’t use), and pick from a fresh batch of templates the next month.

The template library is broken down into dozens of categories, like Real Estate, Telecommunications, Consulting and more. You can also filter your templates by color, and easily access animated options for a lighthearted pitch deck.

This subscription service doesn’t limit itself to PowerPoint templates: you can also beef up your MS Word templates, diagrams, charts, and maps. Eye-popping brochures and slick newsletters are just a few clicks away. PoweredTemplate is also compatible with Google Slides, making it easier to collaborate on presentations via cloud services.

A lifetime subscription to PoweredTemplate’s Silver Membership usually costs $199.95, but you can start making unforgettable visual presentations right now for only $49.95 (75 percent off).

How to Design an Office Space on a Startup Budget

By Katya Puyraud

In the hustle and bustle of starting a business, the last thing you’re likely to think about is how your office will look. Yet this seemingly trivial detail can be key to all manner of things: your recruitment, the productivity of your workplace, and the image you project to visitors and the other businesses you work with. It’s not quite as crucial as turning a profit, but it will help you along the way.

Many entrepreneurs and startup owners don’t feel they have the time or the resources to make their office look nice, and neglect it until further down the line. By doing so, they are unnecessarily shackling themselves to an uninspired space, and potentially making their lives that bit harder. Designing an office space on a startup budget isn’t just possible – it can be an enriching and enjoyable experience to boot.

Bring Your Own Entertainment

Ideas about startup offices fall into two camps: either your space is ultra-modern and minimalist, or it’s stuffed with beanbags, ball pits and pool tables aplenty. There’s nothing wrong with either of these models, but they reflect paradigms that most startups probably shouldn’t be aiming for. Google can afford to turn their HQs into play parks because of where they are as a business, and the quality of talent they can attract. The same probably can’t be said of your first office.

This doesn’t mean that entertainment has no place in the workplace, however; it’s always good for people to have a space where they can genuinely unwind, and forget about their looming deadlines. But it’s likely that your employees are enthused enough about this idea to be willing to chip in towards it. They may not have a TV to spare (although it doesn’t hurt to ask!), but they might have a spare games console, some magazines and books, or just a Netflix account.

By designating a space to use as a rec room, you’re already sanctioning an area for people to unwind, and sending a signal about your company culture. Tastes differ enough between age groups that investing in a pool table or dartboard may go to waste. Let people bring in their own entertainment, however, and your employees can tailor the space to suit them. This gives them agency, makes them feel valued and saves you money, making it a winner all around.

Embrace Nature

Startups tend to value things like transport links and an economical space, which can often mean setting up in a gray, urban environment. Unfortunately, this can have a knock-on effect on your employees, as access to green spaces and pleasant views has been directly attributed to better mental and physical wellbeing. Thankfully, indoor plants can also make a great design element for your office, creating a little oasis from the outside world.

Indoor plants add a splash of color to any space, with color psychology suggesting that green decor makes us calmer and improves reading comprehension. There are more tangible benefits, however. Plants have also been shown to improve air quality, ‘scrubbing’ the air of volatile chemicals and contaminants. Just one or two plants in a large office can solve the issue of ‘sick building syndrome’, relieving headaches and boosting energy levels.

A NASA study into indoor air ranked the best plants for improving air quality, and found that ferns were the most efficient at removing pollutants. If you want to go even further, you might consider cultivating a small indoor or outdoor garden, and delegating watering responsibilities to different employees each week. This will serve as a sort of team building exercise and provide you with a short break from your work, helping to refresh the mind.

Use Personal Effects

In a sleek, modern office space, the temptation is often to make desks look as regimented as possible – and this can mean fewer personal effects. The popularity of the ‘KonMari’ method (removing things that don’t ‘spark joy’) has led people to intensively declutter, and this trend is extending itself to the workplace, with any extraneous items being binned or sent home with their employees.

It’s a popular opinion, but this is entirely the wrong thing to do – and the wrong message to take away from your Marie Kondo binge-watch. ‘Sparking joy’ may seem like an excuse to throw away magazines and decade-old socks, but it’s also a demonstration of the importance of the items around you. Joy is at least as important in the workplace as it is at home, and neat binders of documents aren’t likely to spark it either.

By inviting employees to bring in effects that genuinely mean something to them – be they photographs, artwork, toys or a potted plant – you can inject a little bit of home comfort and fun into the workplace without being too distracting. With a bit of luck, this familiar environment will make employees happier and more comfortable, and give them more impetus to put in a hard day’s work.

Get Creative with DIY

One of the most interesting generational shifts between young and old is the increased acceptance of used goods. Younger people are increasingly phasing out the purchase of new clothes entirely, instead relying on Goodwill and eBay bargains. Finding, making or repairing old items is seen both as fashionable and economical – and fits the ethos of a startup perfectly.

While you may not want to recycle work uniforms, you can look for some bargain office decor. Knickknacks and trinkets can make interesting pieces for desks and shelves, or be framing and mounted. Antique desks, tables and shelving can give your startup a unique, rustic aesthetic that sets you apart from the usual sterile office environment, while also being competitively priced.

If you’re feeling creative, this theming can go a long way. Depending on what your business does, you might find opportunities to ‘upcycle’ discarded items into industry-appropriate decor. From stacks of old CD cases or records for a music business to a table full of toy cars at a dealership, there are all sorts of unique ways to turn trash into conversation starters.

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Katya Puyraud on Twitter
Katya Puyraud
Former journalist Katya Puyraud is the co-owner of Euro Start Entreprises, specialising in company formation in France and the rest of the EU. Since 2007 Euro Start Entreprises has helped budding digital nomads, entrepreneurs and expanding SMEs to open their companies in over 30 countries worldwide

Choosing The Best Web Design and Hosting Services

choosing a web designer and web host
Image source: StockUnlimited.com

Creating a website – cost vs results  
When you’re buying web hosting  and web design services, you may not always get what you pay for. High price is no assurance of good service from your web designer, web developer, or web hosting service.

Nor is it an assurance of services focused on your objectives and needs.  One organization paid several thousand dollars to have their web site designed and hosted for a year. The web site consisted of only a few pages of text and one graphic image. There were no databases, no complex graphical or programmatic components and no forms other than a simple Contact Us form to send email to the owners of the site. The entire job shouldn’t have taken more than a day or two to create. In fact, it could have been completed in less than a day using WordPress and one of the many WordPress templates that are available.

Other small business owners have paid equally high prices to have their web sites designed with slide shows or other bells and whistles the site visitors aren’t interested in an in some cases prevent the sites from being found  easily – or at all – in search engines.

On the flip side, very low prices offered by some hosting services and web developers may come with their own problems. Some low-cost web hosting services can cause your pages to be very slow to load (appear in a web browser). And a  web designer who quotes a much lower price than any other designers you contact may be inexperienced, take a long time to do the work, or be outsourcing work to individuals in countries where skilled workers are paid very little for their time. 

To avoid problems like these, you need to know what web services you actually need to buy.  

Steps to launching a website

Launching a web site is a process that involves several types of activities. Among them:

  • Registering a domain name (giving yourself a unique “address” on the web such as yourbusiness.com) Be sure that you register the domain yourself. Do not let a web developer register a site for you. The site represents you and your company. You need to own it. You need to be the person listed as the registrant, administrator and the billing contact. (You can also list yourself as the technical contact.) 
  • Choosing a web hosting service
  • Setting up the domain on a  webserver  (a special type of computer) at the web host
  • Setting up WordPress or some other content management system (CMS) that will allow you to make minor changes and add pages on your own without knowing html.
  • Planning the architecture of the site (in other words, how people will find your content and move through the site)
  • Designing web pages or choosing a ready-made template
  • Writing the editorial content for the web site

Depending on the nature of your site and how much work you can and want to do yourself, other services you may want to consider include these:

  • Designing original art work or licensing art, photos or video
  • Doing photography for the site
  • Editing and cropping photos to use on your site
  • Making sure basic search engine optimization (SEO) features are in place and utilized to help the site get found online
  • Setting up a shopping cart to allow visitors to make purchases (If the main purpose of the site is to sell, the entire site might be set up on an outsourced shopping cart such as Shopify or BigCommerce.)
  • Performing more extensive SEO services, such as link development
  • Creating any special programming needed to accomplish the site’s goals for the site.
  • Creating and managing pay-per-click advertising
  • Creating, placing and running other types of advertising online and offline
  • Maintaining the site on an ongoing basis

Choose web hosting, design and related services with care

Small businesses don’t always need all the services listed above. Which web development and marketing service your business needs depend on the purpose of your website.

Some web designers, hosting companies, and agencies offer “complete” packages that include setting up and hosting the site along with design, limited maintenance, SEO and even social media management.

Although using a single source to do all the work sounds convenient, it isn’t necessarily a good idea.  While there are some web development companies and agencies that can handle everything you need to get your website set up, the content created, and found on the web, man service providers  are better at one or two services than at others.

For instance, the web development company that includes SEO in its list of services may not be current on what’s working in SEO and what tactics should not be used.The person who is a whiz at computer programming may have no artistic abilities and no eye for graphic design. Someone who is capable of putting text into html may not know anything about creating the editorial content for the site or about marketing. (Don’t assume they can type well or spell correctly, either!) And, the company that hosts the web site may charge a small fortune to “design” your website, when all they do is plug your material into a cookie-cutter template that they use to “design” every web site they create. 

Furthermore, if you are charged a flat fee, you may wind up paying for services you don’t need, or overpaying for the ones you do need.

To make sure the price you are quoted is fair, ask the provider to give you an itemized list of services they provide and to specify the fee they are charging for each service.  

Get  itemized quotes from several vendors and compare them. If a web designer you have decided to work with recommends a particular web hosting company, ask them  why they recommend that provider. For web hosting, look at how much disk space you get, how much memory, how many email addresses, whether there is a limit on the number of “pages” or number of products you can have for the price quoted, how much bandwidth you are allowed (how much data can be transferred monthly for the fee), and what extra charges you’ll incur if you go over these amounts. You also want to ask if backup services are included or can be purchased at an extra cost. If your site will require database software, is there an extra charge for that?  Ask what kind of support they provide, too, and how fast they respond to requests for support. 

For web development, you want to know if the service provider will create original page templates, and if so, how many (often the home page of a site will have a slightly different look than the blog or article pages, for instance.)  Will they be setting up a content management system (CMS) such as WordPress so you can make small content changes or add new pages on your own? Will there be a way for you or someone you choose to add page titles and descriptions the search engines look for? Will the site generate a sitemap the search engines also look for?  

You’ll want to ask about graphics – will there be original art work on the site? Will you own those graphics? If there will be photos you don’t own, what will it cost you to license them to use on the site?  If you will have a complex site, you’ll want to ask the developer to list any other features or resources (such as a custom database) that you’ll need.  

Ask how long the web developer takes to answer support requests and make updates. Once your site is up, you may find you will need to wait any time you want a change made that is not an emergency.  Ask how many employees the company has, and if the person works alone, what happens if they are on vacation or otherwise unavailable and you need their support. Who covers for them?

You will need a written declaration from the web developer assigning you the copyright on all work they create for you. You need to own all original work done on or for your website and have the rights to change and control it on your own. If you don’t own all rights to the site, and don’t own the registration, if you have a dispute with your web developer in the future, they might hold your site or domain name hostage, preventing you from accessing it.

If you plan to sell online and you may want to consider using an outsourced storefront such as Shopify of BigCommerce (at least at first) instead of having an ecommerce system custom-built for you. The cost is likely to be less. (You may still need a web developer to set up the software for the outsourced storefront, but the work will go more quickly and should be a lot less expensive.) If the storefront provider takes a percent of sales, and what your options are for accepting credit cards online. 

Know the going rates

Be wary of deals that offer you a set number of “pages” unless you have no plans to add anything to your site after it is set up. A page requires very little space on a computer. If you only need to have a few “pages” on the internet, you shouldn’t have to pay more than $3 to $6 a month for hosting them, plus a reasonable hourly fee for taking your material and converting it into html web pages.  (Those prices are just for the hosting, not for design, writing or updating content.)  If you have a more complex site requiring  features such as one or more databases or a storefront, hosting costs will be higher. Compare prices, then search online for reviews of your short list.

Some web designers may offer to host your site on web servers they run in their own office. This is not recommended. A small company might not have anyone available on weekends or holidays to fix problems with the host computer should they occur. In addition, should you even have a dispute with the company you might find it difficult to get access to your web files.

Ask for references and check them

Before you agree to have anyone design your web site ask for references. Get the names and URLs of web sites they have designed for other companies. Look at those sites and see if you like them. Is the design of the pages attractive? Do they load quickly? Do they all look the same? Look around the sites for the email address of the owners and send them email. Ask if they were satisfied with the work that was done for them and if it was done in a timely fashion.

RELATED: 5 Tips for Choosing the Best Web Host for Your Small Business

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Copyright 2018, Janet Attard
All Rights Reserved. Excerpted and updated from Chapter 14 of Business Know-How. May not be reproduced or transmitted without written permission

How to improve your web design process

Process = profit

The one shared pain point for self-employed web designers and developers is the constant need for revenue. Even if you are in a place where you’re comfortably meeting your bottom line, there’s always that nagging feeling that something can be improved. The best piece to tackle when you’re feeling this itch is to turn your focus to your web design process.

Editor’s note: Want to easily manage new clients and their projects? Try out GoDaddy Pro. You get access to all your projects from one easy-to-use interface, and you can even buy the right products for your clients at the right time.

An airtight web design process equals profit

A better process can improve efficiency. This improves the time to complete that piece in your business, allowing you more time to then focus on your sales and provide service offerings.

Process is profit.

There’s no way around it. So with that said, let’s take a look at the most important processes in the web professional space and what needs to be refined to improve those pieces.

Related: 6 additional income sources for web designers and developers

1. Onboarding new clients

The first important part of a solid web design process is the onboarding of your clients into your business.

Client expectations are key to the success of a working relationship. A proper onboarding process will expose early issues, confusion and conflicts, as well as the potential for a future relationship.

When evaluating your onboarding process there are three core components.

Intake form

Every new client needs to begin with a little “pre-onboarding” to help set expectations.

Have an intake form set up on your website as a step for new leads to complete before getting on a call with you and becoming a new client.

If they have to jump through a hoop to get your attention, you are well-positioned as an expert and someone who wants to work with the right clients for their business.

In your form, ask about project goals so you know what to highlight as you onboard your client.

Related: A small business quickstart guide to creating a service intake process and Qualifying leads with WordPress forms

Current website audit

If your client has an existing website, the best next step is to run an audit on that existing website. This will set up your client’s expectations and make clear low hanging fruit for improvement and glaring issues that could become roadblocks.

Website audits are a great way to shift the conversation to focus on the website’s results and further position yourself as an advocate.

In my agency, we use MyWebAudit to run an audit on all new client’s websites, evaluating performance, current conversion, current optimization, WordPress technical assessment, SEO ranking and much more.

Related: How to perform an annual SEO audit

Agreement points (repeated)

How you work, expectations and legal terms of your proposal, and the responsibilities of the client should be discussed at multiple points throughout your onboarding process.

They should be lightly touched upon in your initial phone call, laid out in detail in your proposal, and then summarized in your onboarding welcome email.

A few points I always try to highlight are:

  • Turnaround time expectations for notes and changes from the client
  • The number of revisions included
  • The need for WordPress to have ongoing support after launch
  • What deliverables we need from the client before throughout each stage

Related: How to create a welcome package for your web design clients

Pitfalls: Watch out for clients who want to seize the onboarding process from you. Your client is coming to you to ask you to perform a service. This means you have a web design process to provide that deliverable at the highest quality for their budget.

You set the terms, expectations and pace of the workflow.

Now onto the second most important process, carrying out the project from A to Z.

2. Developing and launching a website

Web Design Process Computer Notebook And Manual

Whether it’s a one-day job or six-month full-blown project, your process to develop and launch a website should contain these three core components. Review the following to see if they are in your current processes, then refine as needed.

Automated task lists

Depending on the type of project, construct templated task lists for steps that you can spin off for your team quickly.

These task lists may include:

  • Gathering website details and documents
  • Canned emails to copy and paste on certain dates of the project to request something from the client
  • Development and design steps for common builds

You want to get to the point in your business where projects are similar enough to only require you to have a handful of these templated tasks lists.

Related: Keep your projects on track with a website checklist approach

A full QA and testing process

Before each stage of sending the deliverable to the client for notes, make sure to have first run the deliverable through a QA and testing process. This will reduce the amount of notes received from the client, show off a higher quality of work, and help eliminate any issues or missed mistakes you would find later after launch.

QA and testing needs to be a staple of any project process.

Related: Quality control checklists for launching and maintaining a healthy website

Canned emails with instructions

Email is the most efficient way to communicate with the client through the web design process. The problem is that many of us cram too much in an email and often send a request for information too close to deadlines.

Construct canned emails for important milestones of the project and work them into your process long before due dates.

This way nothing is missed and the project moves along smoothly.

Underestimating your timetable because the client has a firm deadline in mind will only escalate the stress and sour the relationship. Be honest about the timeframe. Work at slightly overestimating how long it will take.

That way you can overdeliver on hitting milestones to your client and win them over.

Related: How to perform a website launch and handover

3. Retaining clients after a project

Web Design Process Client Meeting With Laptops

And finally, an often overlooked part of the web design process — client retention after a project, to continue doing future work with you.

Your goal should be to create enough trust and relationship that the client finds value in continuing to work with you.

For this reason, you want to set up your hand-off in a way that leads to future projects and referrals.

Documentation

The better you are at preparing documentation for your client, the more they are able to understand the complexity of their website — valuing you as the expert to keep it updated and maintained.

The more types of websites that you do that are similar in construction, the easier it will be to create this documentation. This is why processes designed around similar types of projects always improve efficiency.

Related: How to train your client after a website launch

Website care after launch

If your project involves delivering a WordPress website, have clear explanations throughout your process on why the website needs to be maintained and kept up to date.

Ongoing website care after the project is the best opportunity you have for an ongoing relationship for other services.

It’s important that you make this a clear point for clients from the beginning of the project as a new client all the way to the end of the project during off-boarding. If you’ve built trust through your smooth project process, then convincing them to continue with you to maintain and protect their investment won’t be a hard sell.

Related: How to sell website support as a must-have service

Automated email sequence (touch points)

Create an automated email sequence to keep in touch with your clients, whether they move forward with an ongoing relationship with you or not.

After the site launch, start an email sequence about moving onto a care plan, or an email sequence for that “phase two” of the website that you discussed at the beginning of the relationship.

If you have other services, have a follow-up sequence for those improvements that will bring the client more results. Email sequences of value help make sure the client is very clear about all the services that you offer and how you’re well-positioned to help them with their website and the growth of their business online.

Pitfalls: If you don’t have a clear client retention process, you open yourself up for the client falling off the map and lost revenue. Often clients aren’t clear about all that you can do. You have to take the opportunity to potentially onboard them to a new service that you have, like a website care plan. If you don’t think through the offboarding as an actual process, you’re leaving money on the table.

Improve your processes to grow your business

With your processes well defined, you open yourself up to grow your business and even your team. As well-refined processes can be outsourced and taught, and the quality of your deliverables will remain the same across every client.

I cannot stress enough the importance of defined processes.

They allow you the freedom to hand off pieces of the business so you can focus on other areas to grow and improve.

After reading these three important web design processes, it’s easy to see that a critical element of your business having processes is similar deliverables.

if you’re finding that you’re having trouble creating processes, have different types of clients or finding it difficult to outsource to a team, this may be because you haven’t taken the time to pull back your services to a select few. Don’t try to be all things to all people. It’ll cost you your bottom line.

Now, take the core elements from these three important web design processes and work them into your current business to improve your efficiency and increase your profit! This may mean scaling back what you deliver, but in doing so, your process, efficiency and revenue will grow.

Image by: Per Lööv on Unsplash

How to Create a Logo and Visual Identity [without any design skills]

Image by Bart Sadowski – ID: 519863146: a detail shot of pointer closing a browser window. 

Next to making the decision to go into business for yourself, the most exciting aspect of being in business is how to create a logo, your visual identity and your brand.

What?  You thought a logo, a visual identity and brand were all the same thing?  Think again.  They are quite different and if you get them collapsed into the same thing, you’ll find yourself wasting a lot of money.

In this article, I’m going to give you a process and tools to develop your brand, outline your visual identity and create a logo creation on a budget — even if you don’t have any design skills.

What’s the difference between branding, visual identity and a logo?

Your brand is what you stand for, it’s what your customers think of you, it’s the promise that you make to your customers.

Your visual identity consists of all the tangible elements you use to communicate your branding; your brand colors, fonts, logos, business cards, marketing materials, signs, etc.

Your logo design is actually part of your visual identity and your overall brand.  A logo is usually an icon or image that serves as a shortcut for your overall brand.

Brand, Visual Identity and Logo Defined Infographic by Avenir Creative

(Source: Avenir Creative)

How to Create a Brand That Sells

Build Your Brand

Start with building a solid marketing message that clearly communicates what your brand stands for, what makes you different from everyone else and who your ideal customer is.

Going through the process of creating your brand can be a process — but it’s time well spent.

Try this branding exercise that you can use to build a solid brand and marketing message:

Top of Mind

When I want__________ I go to _________ (insert your name here)

  1. Go get some index cards or sticky notes
  2. On each sticky note write something that your customer WANTS when they are buying what you are selling
  3. Now look for where you can be more specific — add those descriptions to your “want” note or create a new note

I’ve got nine more branding exercises you can try to help you define your ideal customer and why they should choose you.

Develop the Look and Feel of Your Visual Identity

The next step involves choosing the visual elements such as type, color and brand voice that will best communicate your brand story to your ideal customer.

HELPFUL HINT: Think of your brand as a person — with a personality.  Also, think of your ideal customer and what type of brand personality they will connect with.  Use this as your guide in choosing visual elements.  Do not choose colors or fonts simply because YOU like them.  What you like isn’t as important as what your ideal customers will like or connect with.

This exercise will help you with that.

This Not That

This is a fun kids game that can be easily adapted as a branding exercise to help you understand exactly what sets you apart from the competition.

The name of the game is simple.  You can brainstorm this on your own or you can enroll your team in the game.  Make a list of brand attributes but focus on opposites.  For example:

Funny not serious
Friendly not stilted
Detail oriented not obsessive

Wait Until the End to Create a Logo

Now that you’ve gone through the first two steps you can see why leaving the logo for last is a much smarter way to go.  With a solid brand promise and visual identity chosen, you will be armed with a very clear idea of exactly what your new logo design should look like.

Your next step is to use an online logo maker to create your own logo, DIY style.  Sure, you can hire a designer, but I’d recommend you run through this process first — because it’s FREE and only costs your time and because this process will help you clearly define what you like and what you don’t like.

How to Create Your Own Logo

There are three basic types of logos. Most logos are a combination of these elements, but you’ll find that often ONE of these three elements is prominent:

  • Typographical – Font or Text based logos, where you use a font or typography as a design element.

Examples of Typographical Logo Design

  • Descriptive –  These are logos that have images that show exactly what the business is selling.

Example of Descriptive Logo Design

  • Abstract –  Using basic shapes or abstract designs to convey a brand message.

Examples of Abstract Logo Design

Before you jump into creating your logo, think about your ideal customer and your overall branding — which of these three types of logos do you feel will best connect to your ideal customer.

Notice – I didn’t ask which do you LIKE.  Focus on your ideal customer and the brand image you want to create and decide which type of logo will best accomplish your branding goals.

Armed with this information, you’re ready to play with any online logo maker.

Just for fun, I ran through this process on the Wix Logo Maker to see how close their logo came to my professionally designed logo.  Take a look and see what you think:

Example DIY Marketer Logos made with the Wix Logo Creator Tool

Overall, I’m pretty pleased with the result.  As you can see, taking the time to develop your brand message, identify your visual identity will help you create a DIY logo that rivals that of a pricey professional design.