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Tips and insights from the blog team at Calliope - Presence in media for branding and polishing graphics, writing, social media, and online presence for yourself or your small business.

Essential Elements of a Successful Website

A while back we asked our social media followers what they thought made or broke a website. Their insight coupled with our experience, professional instruction, and keen aesthetic eye have compiled this list of the Essential Elements of a Successful Website. 

 

1. Enriched Footer - With Links to a Privacy Policy, Terms and Conditions, etc.*

Having an enriched footer is essential to a successful website. This establishes you as someone who is committed to giving your customers the best service possible. Having a Privacy Policy and Terms and Conditions readily available tells the viewer that you have their interest in mind. There are plenty of stock Privacy Policy and Terms and Conditions for you to pull from online. Simply edit them with your information. 

*Please note, not all websites need this detailed of a footer. If you are selling a physical or electronic product this is a must. If you are a blogger or service provider this format might not be as important. 


2. Social Media Links

Connecting your social media pages to your website is a must. This will enable your customers reach out to you and become engaged in your brand. (because let's face it- we check our Facebook and Twitter feeds more often than our email). Calliope - PIM encourages every brand to have at least 3 social media mediums that they regularly update. Top social media sites that we advocate for are - Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and Google+.


3. Embedded, streamlined, and secure E-Commerce

Should you have a physical or electronic product that you are selling, it is imperative to have a clean, simple, and embedded checkout system with your E-Commerce. Sending customers to paypal, amazon, etsy.com etc will devalue your brand. That is not to say that you can not offer alternative forms of payment (i.e. Paypal and Etsy) but it is to say that you should have a primary way to accept payment on your website. There are TONS of embedded and fully integrated shopping cart providers, widgets/add ons from any web-hosting-site. Our favorites are Shopify and Stripe. For an in person service that a customer is in front of you physically (babysitting, dog walking, massage therapy, personal training etc.) a credit card reader like Square is a great tool. They even offer a simple way to send payments through an email that you can draft from your phone. 


4. Custom or commissioned images 

Having your own images to communicate your brand is super important. We have lots of clients who are worried about copyright troubles and rightfully so. With so much personal and artistic property online from innumerable sources, it is hard to know if you can use something or not.

Here is our rule of thumb:

If you took the picture or if you edited the stock image it is yours

If you have written permission to use the image from the photographer, artist, or image site... you may use it. 

If NOT... beware

In most cases, your phone or digital camera images are perfectly fine for website images. If you are able to have a professional photographer take images of your products, work space, studio, or staff; do it! There is nothing like being able to control your brand with a photoshoot just for you. The same goes for custom graphics. There are infinite possibilities in the medium of graphic arts and working with Calliope - PIM to create a custom graphic like the one above is a wonderful way to communicate a message. 

 

For more insights on how to optimize your website, follow us on social media and subscribe to our blog. 

 

Reasons Why Your DIY Design Just Doesn't Work

We see it everyday from our Calliope offices. Bad DIY design. You know the type... loads of fonts that don't coordinate, people who use comic sans to imply youth or horrible composition; this bad DIY design is rampant. With the accessibility of computers and programs that edit and create images, we understand why it is enticing from a logistical and financial standpoint to just create it yourself. Also, sites like shutterfly, tiny prints, and others allow you to create "designer quality" mailers and images with a few formatting tools from their online interface. It's an exciting time for the internet and those who want custom "professional" looking designs!

There are negatives though... we can not tell you how often we spot a tiny print, a shutterfly, or another large template site's work when we receive invitations, holiday cards, and announcements. What's frustrating from a designers standpoint is while the designs are beautiful and trendy, they lack the personalization of a slight filigree scroll or a more masculine edge to professionally selected and created design.  And in a world where voices are just getting louder, information is coming at us at alarming rates, and the lines between realitity and fantasy are blurred more and more... being unique and noticeable is a necessity. 

Bad DIY Design can be sneaky... you think a cute scroll font would look nice so you use it. Then you can't get over how perfect a chalkboard style font would look with a curly frame. Then you just have to add the chalkboard effect, a picture and a HUGE logo or monogram. One word...gaudy... like Real Housewives of New Jersey Gaudy! For the sake of showing real life embarrassing  examples, we have created a graphic that embodies the "TOO MUCH" theme. 

 

So these are some Reasons Why your DIY design just doesn't work. 

 

TOO MANY FONTS

As a rule of thumb... 3 fonts MAX! That's THREE! Uno, Dos, Tres (I feel like the genie from Aladdin)  Moreover, most designs can only handle or carry two fonts. Instead of junking up your design with more fonts, create emphasis and readability using additional formatting such as bold, italic, underline, size, or all caps/ lowercase. 

Here we have fixed the fonts. We took out the 5 fonts and chose two. One primary font to carry to quote and another on the word "off". This created a fun and feminine touch plus it transforms the quote from a fashion law to a saucy and flirtatious suggestion. 


TOO MUCH INFORMATION

Here the quotation marks are not needed. They junk up the space. It is assumed that the text is a quotation since we used the name - Chanel at the bottom. This example doesn't really show just how much can be taken away from a design  when you are looking to omit information. So, some things to ask yourself is:

1. Can I direct customers/ friends to another place for this information?

(i.e. there is no need to state a businesses hours, address, email, phone etc. Simply point people to your website or better yet, put a QR Code on the flyer and call it a day.)

2. Can I communicate information another way using fewer words or symbols?

& % $ # @ are all your friends and can express numerous other words or meanings simply by their placement. 

 

TOO MUCH STUFF

We personally like clean and simple designs but we can't tell you how many of our clients say they want "clean and simple" but in reality they want tons of embellishments. Less is more. We took out the double boarder, (the flirty "off." speaks enough to its girly appeal. Do as the quote says and before you hit print or save... take something off. 

 

There are of course loads of other design rules and tips but this will have to do for now. So follow Calliope - Presence in Media on all the major social networks, subscribe to the blog and you will stay up to date with the latest and greatest tips, tricks, news, and inspiration from the talent @CalliopePIM