What a year that was!

Crikey, I do apologise for the lack of posts here lately. It’s been an incredibly busy year here at Jeanius! and I’ve been focussing on building and investing in the business. I now have a range of hosting packages to take advantage of. Including Premium high-spec Linux servers specially built to ensure optimum performance for resource-hungry websites!

I’d like to take the opportunity to thank each and every client that has engaged me this year – it’s been an absolute pleasure working for you all. I’ve met some really interesting people, been part of some amazing startup companies & have started some exciting ongoing working relationships to head into the future! From redeveloping vBulletin forums, creating email marketing campaigns, designing custom icons, designing signage & developing new sites for startups, it’s been a wide variety of incredible projects that’s kept me very busy!

What amazes me, is that even with the 2016 ‘Brexit’ shocker, there is such positivity out there in the small business world. Small businesses are constantly battling uncertainty, pressure and competition, but it just shows how creative and dedicated these teams of people are. Small businesses make up the majority of businesses in the United Kingdom – in fact it’s a staggering 99.9% of all businesses! I love seeing businesses come to life and really enjoy being able to be part of investing and growing a business. The best part of my job is making a difference to businesses and ensuring that they can run as easily as possible & be able to convey their real core values.

With Small Business Saturday having just passed, it really shows how the consumer is getting behind the small business and importantly supporting them through tough times. A local company that I love was finding times hard this summer & had a really uncertain future – but the whole community got behind them and they’re now busier than they have been in a long time.

Looking forwards into 2017, I have some really exciting projects underway currently that we’ll be launching early in the New Year. A combination of some very custom web development work & some beautiful graphic design promotions & artwork. I can’t wait to share these with you!

For now, I wish all my customers and readers a very Merry Christmas. I hope you have a wonderful festive season, surrounded by family and friends. Take some time out if you can and I’ll see you again in the New Year!

Introducing GraphicDoc

New for 2016, I’m pleased to offer GraphicDoc (Graphic Designer On Call), a subscription, by the hour, graphic design service. Available in a range of packages, starting at only 2 hours a month, GraphicDoc will give your business all the benefits of an in-house designer, without the employment costs. It means that you get graphic design services and brand continuity, but you only pay for what you need!

www.graphicdoc.co.uk

Wouldn’t it be great to be able to have a graphic designer when you need, but not have to face the employment, tax, training, software and hardware costs involved with having an in-house designer? GraphicDoc from Jeanius! is a new, exciting way of accessing a graphic designer in an affordable & simple way. No matter what your budget, GraphicDoc can produce high-quality, branded material with a fast turnaround.

How does it work?

There are a range of packages available, starting at only 2 hours per month. This gives you a Graphic Designer On Call! You can use your hours however you like in a month – each project has been given an hourly value, so you know exactly what you can get for your monthly subscription. For example, if you want to send out a custom-designed, mobile responsive email newsletter, it could cost as little as £25. Do you send out an offer leaflet every month? That can be covered for as little as £50 a month!

Explore the available packages >

What is the benefit?

At the time of this blog, the average cost of employing a graphic designer is £38,766.45. That includes salary, tax, training, sick pay, software, insurance and more. When you take into account all of these things, employing a full-time designer is a pretty expensive investment for your business.
Having a Graphic Designer On Call means that you get all the benefits of an in-house designer, but none of the overheads. Outsourcing your design to GraphicDoc means that you get an experienced, fully trained designer who is constantly up-to-date with industry knowledge and uses the very latest hardware & software.

Taking out a subscription with GraphicDoc is much more cost-effective than commissioning individual pieces and projects. You’re also guaranteed to have your document back to you within 3 days.

Have more questions? Why not check out the FAQ page!

Alternatively, email me at hello@graphicdoc.co.uk and we can have a chat about your requirements!

Graphic Design Glossary

As a follow up to the Web Design Glossary that I posted last week, here’s a handy guide to the most commonly used terms in the design world. This glossary is a handy guide and introduction to print production & graphic design, useful for both beginner designers and those looking to embark on a new project and need to learn some lingo!

Adobe Maker of the biggest industry-standard software applications. The Adobe Creative Suite. Here at Jeanius!, I use the latest full Adobe Creative Cloud.
Bleed Usually an extra 3mm on trimmable edges around a document. This means when the document is cut, there is no chance of ‘missing the line’ and creating white edges.
CMYK A four-colour method used in printing. Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black (Key).
Column Gutter The size of the gap in between columns.
Copy The text to be used within a document.
DPI Dots per inch. Items for print are always designed at 300dpi.
Facing Pages In a publication, facing pages are the two pages of a double spread open at the same time.
GIF Graphics Interchange Format. Used for web work and support transparency. Can also be animated.
Illustrator An Adobe programme used to create logos and vector illustrations.
InDesign An Adobe programme used to design layouts and documents.
Italic Text usually slanted to the right. Generally used for emphasis or quotes.
JPEG Joint Photographic Experts Group. Most common image file type – does not support transparency.
Kerning The process of reducing or increasing the white space in between letters.
Lamination Plastic film (matt, gloss etc) applied to printed sheet. For example, matt laminated business cards.
Orphan The last word of a paragraph left which is on a line of its own or that covers less than 1 third of a column width. Generally considered untidy.
Pantone A colour matching system used between designers and printers to produce a more accurate colour representation.
PDF Portable Document Format. Often a format used to send items to print. Used to easily send files over email and combine reports into an easily read document.
PNG Portable Network Graphics. The best image for web use as they can be higher quality and support transparency.
Photoshop A powerful Adobe programme used to draw and manipulate images.
Proof A copy of document to be produced. Given in the final stages to check for typos or errors.
RGB Red, Green, Blue. Used for on-screen graphics as the 3 main components of light, making up all colours.
Sans Serif “Without Serif”. Applies to fonts without tails/lines crossing the ends of letters. For example: This font is Sans Serif.
Serif Fonts with lines/tails crossing ends of letters. For example: This is a Serif font.
Subscript Small text beneath the main line of text. For example the 2 in H2O
Superscript Small text above the main line. For example the TM of Jeanius!TM
Typography The art of proper text formatting, placement, styling and typeface specification.
Vector A scale-able graphic. Can be small or large format with no change in quality.

A Useful Web Design Glossary

There’s nothing more frustrating than reading through articles and not knowing what on earth they’re talking about – mostly due to the number of industry-standard terms and absolutely no glossary telling you what’s what! Today I’m going to give you that little glossary of commonly used web-design related words, phrases and acronyms – do let me know if it helps you out!

Have I missed any? Drop me an email to hello@jeanius-design.co.uk and I’ll add it to the list!

Web Design

AJAX Asynchronous JavaScript and XML: Used to make dynamic webpages that can retrieve live data without refreshing.
Bandwidth The amount of data being transferred over a network.
Bounce Rate Users on your site who leave on the same page that they started – ie, they do not hang around & bounce straight out.
Breadcrumbs The trail of your journey on the site, showing you what page you’re currently on.
Cache Files are stored in a cache to make loading web pages quicker, so they don’t need to keep loading the same content. Clearing your cache deletes all of these files. If the cache is not cleaned regularly, you may find your browser is loading old images from the cache, not new. If you refresh your page, it should force the website to load new images.
CMS Content Management System: A tool that makes it easier to change the content of a website, without having to dive into the technical code of a website.
CSS Cascading Style Sheet: Defines the look of a website.
DNS Domain Name Service: The service that directs where your domain name should look. IE. it tells your domain name where your server is and therefore what should be displayed at your domain name.
Domain Name This is your www. address. For example www.jeanius-design.co.uk is my domain name.
E-Commerce Electronic Commerce. The ability to sell products/services online.
Favicon The little square image that appears at the top of the browser, usually on the tab. I have a J! as my favicon.
HEX Hexadecimal: The code that defines a colour. For example, the Jeanius! green is colour #a59c10.
HTML Hypertext Markup Language: Commonly used language to make webpages.
HTTP Hypertext Transfer Protocol: The rules that define requests between the web browser and the web server.
HTTPS Hypertext Transfer Protocol Over SSL: As above, but via a secure & encrypted connection. Often found on e-commerce systems.
Hyperlink A clickable link from one webpage to another.
Landing Page When a visitor arrives on your website, the first page they see is the landing page.
Meta Data The meta data is hidden data in a website that describe what the website is about. Useful for Google & SEO purposes.
MySQL A database management system, typically used for webpage information.
PHP Personal Home Page (Now PHP: Hypertext Preprocessor): A scripting language that runs on a web server.
Pixel Tiny dots that make up the image on your screen.
Resolution The number of pixels displayed on a screen. For example 1366×768. There are 1366 pixels across and 768 pixels down. That’s 1,049,088 pixels in total!
SSL Secure Socket Layer: Technology to encrypt data transfer over the internet.
UI User Interface: The system that a viewer uses to interact with a service.
URL Uniform Resource Locator: This is the address in the top bar that specifies where you are on the internet.
UX User Experience: This the emotions and attitudes of a person viewing your web page.

Typography matters: What’s in a font?

Typography – one of my loves in life. I have dreams of old fashioned letterpresses and wooden block type. As a child of the ’80s, the memory of type for me is scrolling through the font list on Microsoft Works, trying to find the coolest lettering for my homework! Everyone makes a conscious decision to pick a font in most things they do – their emails, their essays or their letters.
But, why does it matter which one we pick?
Let’s start with an easy one – out of these 2 logos, which font is best suited?
logoexamplehorrorlogoexample
I’m hoping you’ve all said the second one?! (If not, you clearly have a fantastic love for Hitchcock & no-one can tell you otherwise.)
So, why does the image on the right suit this example better?
Is it because there’s no blood drips? Probably. But – it’s all about brand image and the mood of the piece. The logo in the above example is clean and crisp. It needs to be delicate and professional to match the simple colour palette and geometric shape. In many ways the text beneath the logo is just as important as the logo image itself. Your company name needs to be clear and easily legible.

Font choice goes far beyond logos. What about body copy? What font should you pick to make sure your document flows clearly and easily for the user. The following examples show a good body font & a poor body font. The script, whilst probably apt for a Cornish smuggler’s map, is not going to make for an easy read. If your copy is not easy to read, you will instantly lose the interest of your potential customers.

paragraphexample paragraphexamplescript

It’s not always this straight forward though. There are so many clear and simple fonts to choose from. What makes one better than the other?
For example, Arial and Verdana are two of the most popular, most used fonts in web design and publishing. But what’s the difference between them?

Arial: The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog
Verdana: The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog

Not much, it seems! Both are sans serif fonts and look very similar at first glance. The differences are subtle but hugely important. This is where your designer can lift your brand or website over and above the norm. Let’s look in to these 2 typefaces a little further. If we narrow the prase down to a single word, we can look at the slight differences.

Arial: jumps
Verdana: jumps

The letters in the Arial font are narrower, more structured and upright. The letters in the Verdana font are more open, more relaxed and a lot wider. This is most evident in the letters “u” and “p”. Compare the heights of the letters & compare the white space within them. Once you start to notice these small differences, the whole sentence now looks different between the two fonts.

It’s these tiny differences between the fonts that make it very difficult but very important to choose the correct typeface for your project. You much make sure that the font chosen gives the reader another level of understanding about what your brand is trying to convey. This is just the beginning, however. There is a whole world of typography that is ever-changing. Believe it or not, there are fashions within typefaces, there are trends and best-practices. This is where your designer comes in. If you’re looking for help creating the correct image for your brand, do email me at hello@jeanius-design.co.uk and see how I can ensure your typography reflects your business.

Do you need a website?

Yes.

Without trying to write the shortest blog post in history, let me explain!

Let’s say you meet someone at a networking event, or get chatting to someone in the local coffee house – you hand them one of your beautiful business cards. You go away feeling very happy with yourself that you’ve explained what your business is about, your passion and what you’re trying to achieve. But what if that person can’t remember it all? What if they were really interested and, later that evening, wanted to know a little bit more?

Your website is your extended business card. It is the next place that someone will go to research you and your business.

Your website will run 24/7. Therefore you’ll be able to tell people about your product or service around the clock and outside usual business hours. This is very important! If you are a B2B business, you’ll be able to catch all of those potential customers who are on the commute or catching up when they’re not in the office. If you’re a B2C business, you’ll be available for the browsers, the leisure surfers and those wanting a break away from work!

If you can have a company domain name for your email address (hello@jeanius-design.co.uk for example!), this will be infinitely more professional and trustworthy than running with an @gmail account.
Websites needn’t be complicated and they needn’t be expensive – at the very least, they just need to be somewhere that can hold some information about your business. Information that might not be possible to fit onto an 85mm business card.

A carefully considered and designed website can put you on a level with your bigger competitors. What you lack in resources, you can more than make up for in functionality and service. A good website can give you an advantage that no other marketing platform could.

Websites are infinitely powerful. They can do ANYTHING. That’s a big claim, right? But it’s true! I often have clients contacting me concerned about the capability of technology and worrying about what is possible. A website can do whatever you want it to do – so think big and bold – it’s better to be able to come up with ideas – that’s the most difficult bit.

You can leave the rest up to your web developer and they will make it possible.

6 questions you should be asking about your logo

Generally, your logo is one of the first things a potential customer sees. Whether it’s on a business card that you hand out, on your website, on a product label or as an avatar on your Twitter account – your logo is working very hard for you, without you noticing!

Why not try to answer these few questions and see how it scores!

1. Is it trustworthy?

Trust is a difficult thing to explain when you’re talking about a design. It’s all about the fine balance of elements that must come together in harmony. It’s about the typography chosen to represent you, it’s about the shapes and white space, that must give a sense of balance. If you have a thoughtfully composed and balanced logo, the chances are, it will give out a sense of quality and care – exactly what a potential customer needs to see.

2. Is it usable?

Your logo needs to be practical, no doubt about it. Gone are the days where it just needs to reproduce on a plain white piece of paper. Your logo needs to be versatile, it needs to work well in positive/negative and even as an overlay on images. It also needs to be resizeable and rescaleable – Can you imagine it as a tiny thumbnail on your Facebook timeline as well as a large-format printed version on a banner at a trade show, for example.

3. Is it memorable?

An obvious, but an important one! If you lined up your logo alongside 5 of your competitors, would it stand out? This is what your potential customers will be doing! Your logo should make a positive initial impression to lift you above your competition!

4. Is it timeless?

Redeveloping your logo is not something you want to be doing every couple of years. The importance of a logo is in brand recognition and continuity. Therefore, in order for it to really be successful, it should be able to grow with your business and give you flexibility. A logo shouldn’t rely solely on current design trends.

5. Does it reflect what your business does?

A very important one also. It’s all well and good being memorable and useable, but if there is no relevance to it, then it will not be successful. A logo needn’t be obvious, but it should be understood!

6. Are you proud of it?

Last but MOST important. Are you happy with your logo? Are you happy seeing it on a daily basis? Does it make you proud to say that this is YOUR company and for it to represent you? Think of it as a member of staff, if you like – would you give it a good appraisal?!

Your logo is the most worthwhile investment that you can make in your business – it is your label, it is your sales representative and your personality.

If you’re looking for help with your company logo, Jeanius! can help. I specialise in logo creation for start-ups, logo creation and implementation for existing businesses and can work with your existing logo to revamp and relaunch.

Email me at hello@jeanius-design.co.uk and see how I can work with you to help your businesses make the right impression.

The importance of being branded

The route to self employment is an exciting yet scary one. There is so much to think about, aside from actually doing your day-to-day work, you have to develop the whole business side, too.
Aside from the financial, there is one major task that you need to start, right from the outset. Your brand. Your brand is the first thing that potential customers see – so it needs to be memorable. As someone who is self-employed, YOU are your brand. The difference between working for a company and working for yourself, is that you’re always representing your business.

3 Elements of a Memorable Brand

Colour

A lot can be assumed from the use of colour. You’ll find lots of blog posts telling you what each colour means, how blue is professional and trusted, whilst green is natural and vibrant. Of course your company’s identity needs to easily describe what you do, but going with the grain isn’t necessarily the best way to go. Think about it – if a customer is looking for a plumber, they’re going to be looking through a sea of blue logos and blue websites. If your logo stands out with a splash of unexpected colour, you’re already setting yourself apart and making yourself more memorable. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting a wave of 1980’s luminescence, but vibrancy is a good thing!

Personality

Personality is about more than a GSOH! Your personality needs to be clear from your copy writing, your blog posts and your imagery. A customer needs to feel at ease with you & what you have to offer them. Once a customer feels comfortable with you & your business, they’re more likely to stay loyal & refer others to you. Why would a customer risk going to someone else, if they can trust you to do a good job? Before you start writing the copy for you website, think about what you want to portray and how you want to be seen. Make sure you’re consistent with your message. If you’re going to promote your business across social media, you need to remember all of your key messages, using the same tone of voice & attitude.

Reviews

Testimonials are arguably the most powerful tool to turn your leads into customers. Potential customers aren’t just going to listen to what YOU say, no matter how well you say it! They will look towards other people to reinforce your message. 79% of UK retailers see a positive effect on conversions by adding ratings and reviews to their website, so even though these reviews may be by total strangers, public opinion is a powerful thing!
But aren’t you opening yourself up to negative comments? This is one of the main concerns that businesses face – along with the great reviews, you’re bound to get a negative review thrown in there somewhere. This can actually be an excellent thing! This negative comment gives you the opportunity to publicly answer a customer’s concerns. Your response can actually reinforce your brand. Great customer service is a big positive element for you – if you potential customers can see a reasonable, prompt and honest reply to a problem, this only reinforces their impression of you and your brand.

Don’t forget your more traditional forms of marketing. Trade stands, networking meetings & conferences are all part of building up your reputation & getting noticed. Getting to know local businesses is a great way to reinforce your brand values and make new connections out there in the market.

The self-employment route is certainly challenging, but what’s more rewarding than building up your own business, client base and being able to put your own name to your work? If you’ve decided that this route is for you, then I wish you the best of luck!