Back on track and better than ever!

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Back on track and better than ever!

January 2015 came after a tremendously busy 6 months. I’d been so busy designing and delivering catalogues, infographics, presentations, brochures and entire creative concepts one after the other that I hadn’t looked up! I was happily exhausted by Christmas and in need of a break… Or was I?

January came and I had a few jobs in but was suddenly faced with the fact that I had lost my way. I hadn’t spent anytime thinking about where I was taking my business let alone done any marketing. I felt muddled, confused and almost like I needed to start again.

What to do? What to do?

I started to plan and plan and plan… I planned so much I almost did nothing else for a week. Again, I realised I was muddled and in need of some clarity. It was at this point I remembered seeing a Facebook post for a planning/coaching workshop and I knew it was just what I needed. I found the post, phoned up and booked on immediately.

Fully focused and future proof

I won’t go into the details about the subjects covered or processes used in the ½ day session, but what I would say is that I came out with some great tools. A plan of action for the next year, techniques on setting goals for the future and some great advice and new skills that would help me deal with areas that I had found personally challenging.

What next?

Well I know what I’m doing next, I’m putting into practise the new techniques and tools I’ve been given. I’ve got some clear goals and targets to achieve this coming year and I’m going to look into getting some coaching on a more frequent basis.

When you run your own small business you can sometimes feel alone and that you don’t know where you are heading. Chances are that you do know, you may like me just need a bit of help or support gaining focus.

There are many fantastic coaches out and you will need to find the right one for you. I worked with Emma Ryan. If you are interested in the program I did, you can find out more on Emma’s website: http://www.emma-ryan-coach.com/lifeigniteprogram/

Seasonal Colour Trends – Spring Summer 2015

By | Graphic Design, Research | No Comments

I love March… I would go as far as saying it’s the start of my year, January and February are the preparation months, the dress rehearsal, but March is the real thing. Blue skies and glimpses of bright sunshine (despite the coolness) are great sources of inspiration and spark creativity, experimentation and openness to trying new things.

To celebrate the start of this wonderful season I have pulled together the Spring/Summer 2015 Colour Trends (by Pantone) in this image. You can see them all at a glance here.

Colour Trends Spring-Summer 2015

Using seasonal or trend colours as part of your visual marketing communications can work well to give a fresh appeal. But if you are a brand that deals in fashion, product sales etc, then you can use seasonal/trend colours to let your customers know that you are contemporary, forward thinking and in-touch with the trends .

 

If you want to now more about how these colours are utilised in clothing through to homeward then click this link http://www.pantone.co.uk/pages/fcr/?season=spring&year=2015&pid=10

5 ways to improve your website!

By | Graphic Design, Web Design | No Comments

User Experience ImageSo, you need a website, but you’ve got a limited budget and you’ve heard many others say it’s easy to build one yourself using WordPress, Wix, Weebly, Myspace or one of the other Content Management Systems. The good news is that they are right and with a little time and effort you can be up and running with an impressive, professional looking website! It’s not just how it looks though, there are a few factors to include in your considerations to ensure that works effectively for you business.

Having  designed many communications tools I’ve seen many get so swept up by how a piece looks, like it’s a piece of art. But, wait up this is a communications tool and has an important job to do; delivering customers to you!

The same thinking applies to a website and even if it looks great, you need to think about the journey it will take your visitors on. It should be a good brand experience where users effortlessly learn about your company and services, whilst seamlessly navigating through to where they want to be.

Here’s a 5 things you should consider when building your website:

  • Who are the users?

    Who will use the site and what are their objectives? There’ll be more than one type of user, so don’t just consider those likely to purchase the end product/service (although these users should certainly be prioritised in terms of the steps to their goals being obstacle free). Consider, users who follow your site blog, want to sign up to your newsletter or become a member. By understanding their goals you can ensure your site is really easy for them to use. It will leave them with a really good feeling about your brand and possible future dealings.

  • Which device do you think most users access your site with?

    Without going too techy on you, if you have a high proportion of users who are likely to use a mobile to access your site then the site work must work well on a mobile. If you look at my website www.lydiabutlerdesign.co.uk on a pc, laptop and mobile you’ll see that it adapts automatically to each environment. The navigation menu expands downwards to fit the screen and the buttons are the right size for finger taps, etc. This isn’t accidental, it is because the theme I used for my site is a “responsive” design. When choosing a theme or template for your site, opt for a “Responsive” design to cover most user platforms.

  • Does your homepage pass the blink test?

    Would the user know who your company is, what the company does and where they need to click next, within 3-5 seconds of landing on the home page? Try it with people who haven’t used you site before and if they can’t recall this information or anything that you deem to be an important message, then consider making a few changes to the layout.

  • Is your site easy to navigate?

    You need a clearly labelled navigation bar near the top of the page. Avoid being creative with the titles, if the menu item is for the “Services” page then call it “Services” when a user is looking to find out more information, they won’t want to hunt through an array of ambiguous headings to get the information they need, so don’t throw obstacles or extra tasks in their way.

  • Call to action.

    Make sure you have strong, clear, directive calls to action wherever needed. Simple instructions “Call us ”, “Click here” or “Buy NOW” are very effective, don’t flower it up. Ensure your calls to action are easily found (buttons or links are easy to spot), so when users want to progress through the site they have little work to do.

So, be realistic and ruthless about keeping your user central to the design of your site.

If you need a website that not only looks professional, but is optimised for your user and business alike contact me now.

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What to expect when working with a Graphic Designer

By | Concept, Graphic Design, Targeted Design | No Comments

What happens if I don’t like the design?

This is one of the questions I’m frequently asked by new prospective clients who receive my proposal and quotation (which generally outlines concept, development and 3 rounds of revisions as part of the price). I think it’s a fair question especially if you’re new to working with a designer, so here I explain how I achieve effective design for my clients. 

All clients have varying degrees of experience in writing design briefs. Marketing professionals are generally very good, whereas the owner of a small/medium business without a marketing department may not have any experience at all. Either way this shouldn’t be a barrier to receiving a great design service. Each client will have supplied some form of written/emailed brief and it’s the designer’s job to go through this and really understand what is required.

I have a list of questions I use, it covers specific campaign goals through to the number of stakeholders involved in the project and I effectively interview my client to build up a complete picture of what they want and what the design project needs to achieve.

Once I have this all in place and the client is in agreement with the brief and scope of the project, I will start the concept work. As a designer you generally come up with many ideas, but the information collected during the initial fact-finding mission will help develop good ideas into strong concepts and help decide which to omit.

I have never known concepts to totally fail when this process has been carried out correctly and  everyone has bought into and agreed the initial information and scope stages. Concepts will always need development and any designer will welcome constructive feedback, as this is what makes good design GREAT!

However, there still is a responsibility with the client to ensure they share all possible information with the designer in the beginning and sign-off on phases as they are completed. What would incur extra costs, is if a key stakeholder in the design process isn’t consulted until the final revision stage say, and they don’t like the colour/design or they wanted something completely different. Now, the chances are if they wanted something completely different, then this information did not form part of the signed off brief.

So in short, if your designer asks lots of questions and is a good communicator with good processes in place then they are likely to develop a design that is not only likeable, but works to deliver some real results for you.

I’m always happy to provide free advice, especially to new/small businesses who are new to buying design.

Graphic Design and Shopping

By | Graphic Design, POS Design, Targeted Design | No Comments

This post is a bit self-indulgent, but I think it’s worth a few words simply because it is about two of my favourite things… Graphic Design and Shopping!

Last weekend I hit the shops in Reading with a friend and I have to say it was like walking through a gardens. The shops were absolutely full of beautiful flowery prints and pastel brights, you could almost smell the perfume in the air. These items however, were not for sale, they were in fact the graphics that sat in the window displays alongside garments, accessories (otherwise know as Point Of Sale graphics).

My particular favourite was the of Oasis store, decorated with flowers and pretty bird boxes, I was compelled to walk into the store and found myself just wanting to buy something, anything! That wasn’t difficult, they have some beautiful things in there. My point though is that whilst Fashion Design is ultimately the product in this instance, don’t underestimate the power of a well executed and beautiful graphic design and marketing campaign, where the graphic design is so well positioned to the target customer that it literally picks the customer off the street and delivers them to the till, garments in hand!

I have worked in retail as a graphic designer and marketing professional, therefore I know it’s a high pressured environment where pulling stunning and practical creative design work out of the bag is relentless and the campaigns happen so fast you don’t often get a chance to appreciate the final result.

Well, I say congratulations to all the ‘high street retailer’  graphic designers out there for turning our shopping centres into urban gardens. You made me smile, oh and spend some money:) oops!

 

 

 

How to find a good graphic designer

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Finding a good graphic designer or web designer is more about finding the right  graphic designer for your business requirements. Some are great web designers or logo designers, some might be good all-rounders capable of all types of design tasks. Some may have specialist industry sectors, some may be in other countries.

The big question is, how do you find the right graphic designer for you? Here’s a few things you should consider when starting you search:

• Location – Do you think you could work with someone via the internet without the need to meet face-to face? Are you good at communicating your ideas? Or do you prefer the idea of meeting face-to-face and brainstorming ideas?

I have worked in both scenarios, my preference is to meet the client, but this may not be feasible for some design work such as simple web banners or buttons.

• Does their portfolio demonstrate their ability to deliver your design project. If you need a logo designed, check that they have evidence of logo design and that you genuinely like what they have produced and it is fit for purpose.

My portfolio items all have information about the scenario and brief, this shows how I arrived at the final design. It’s not always enough to have produced stunning design work. Was it fit for purpose and did it meet the brief?

• Do they have a graphic design process they follow for projects? By this I mean do they follow a set process that includes meetings, concept and development, proof rounds, etc? What’s included within their quote?

I send out a project process with each new estimate. This gives the client insight into what to expect at each stage of the project, and gives them some control and confidence. This is so important in ensuring that you are all working to the same goal within agreed budget and timescales.

• Do they have any testimonials from other clients?

My clients are always happy to give testimonials, I think that is because they are always happy.

As much as this is quite a general guide, I think that these points are all quite valid in finding the right designer for you.

If you have a design project you want to discuss or just want to sound me out about an idea then just drop me a line Lydia@lydiabutlerdesign.co.uk I’m always happy to answer questions.

How much should a logo design cost?

By | Logo Design | No Comments

These days you can spend as little or as much as you like on designing a logo. So, to understand how much it should cost, you need to consider the value a well designed logo can deliver to your business in terms of competitive advantage. That said, starting a business can be very expensive, so how do you find a designer who can create the right logo for a reasonable price?

Firstly, why do we need a logo? Well fairly simply put, in addition to having a business name, we need to differentiate ourselves from our competitors and become instantly recognizable to our customers.

That’s exactly what a logo should do.

In order to achieve a logo that attracts customers and differentiates your service offering, the design process should include considerations of the following factors:

•          Type of business and marketplace it operates in

•          The culture of the business and values that need to be conveyed

•          The customer profile

These are all factors that you will have considered for your business plan and are likely to be automatic in your daily operation. It is essential that you share them with your designer to enable them to develop a meaningful graphical representation.

Any good designer will spend time understanding your business before embarking upon the creative process. When they do, I would expect they would come back with at least 3 concepts. Concepts are initial ideas, intended for  pulling apart and much constructive feedback. A good designer will want to know what you don’t like as much as what you do like, to guide the design process towards achievement of a logo that is an attractive, effective, memorable, timeless and a unique reflection of your business.

Good designers will be able to advise you of their logo pricing structure and give you a description of the process and timescales they generally use, so you know exactly what to expect.

When I design a logo, I supply my clients with an additional brand guideline document. This document is the rulebook for placement, printing/web representation of the logo and can really help businesses to control, maintain and strengthen the identity of their brand image.

If you would like any further information on logo design or branding, please contact me, or click

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