Design tips and insights for nonprofits and social enterprises.

The design secret to increase email open rates

Design | Marketing
06.09.17
The design secret to increase email open rates

The key to a successful email is hierarchy. Why? It helps the reader skim, read, and understand the content, makes it more visually appealing, and increases click-through rates. And that’s really want we want, right?

If you’re not sure how to add hierarchy to your email here is a handy list:

3 steps to better emailers

1. Get your content together

  • You content first and foremost, so get your draft together. This may consist of a brain dump and just putting it all on paper, or collecting content from team members. Either way, gather everything you want and need to say in your emailer.
  • Edit, check for grammar, on-brand language, links, etc., etc.

2. Review your template and edit content accordingly

  • Next step is to look at your template and reorganize and edit the content to fit. Start thinking about the headlines, subheads, links, etc.
  • If your copy is missing some of these, add them in.
  • This works both ways. Sometimes your template will have to be tweaked to accommodate your content.

3. Use font size and style to make it interesting

Most people will see the larger, bolder, and colored items first. This is what tells them what they should pay attention to first, second and third. The sizes below are only guidelines. Depending on the font used, color, whether it’s bold or normal, etc., you can maybe go a bit smaller or larger.

  • Stick to 1-2 different fonts.
  • Large headlines should have a font size of 26-36px, depending on its length.
  • Subheads are used to break up large amounts of text, differentiate content and add visual interest. They should have a font size of 20-26px.
  • Body copy should consist of short blurbs of 1-3 sentences and should be 14-16px. Break up long content with subheads and images.
  • Also, mix up the bolds, color, italic to help as needed. But don’t go crazy. Think about how it supports the content and hierarchy.

People have more than enough to read in their inbox, so make sure your emailers get the attention they deserve by making them easy to read and visually appealing.

Got any other ideas on how to make emails better?

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3 steps to better marketing goals for 2017

Design | Marketing
12.08.16
3 steps to better marketing goals for 2017

Do you hold onto things that are no longer useful? I do. I recently found 10-year-old art supplies that I’ve kept for some insane reason.  Well, now they’re out. Letting go can be hard, but we have to do it to make room for new and better things.

With the new year around the corner now is the perfect time to figure out how to be more efficient and effective. Better design can help.

How to take stock, assess, and reach your marketing goals in the new year:

Step 1
Review the past year’s campaigns, marketing, brand, etc. Did the brand feel cohesive? Was your audience uninterested in the marketing? Ask your team to participate. See what worked well, or not, ask questions and listen.

Step 2
Set some goals based on your findings from Step 1. This can be done individually and as a group. Think both short-term (1 year) and long-term (2–5 years). Examples might be: More funding for a new brand; change your annual report from a printed piece into a microsite.

Step 3
Develop a game plan for moving forward. Prioritize and set timelines to hold yourself, and others, accountable. Start looking for resources and services to improve your design, marketing, and funding.

I know this is easier said than done. But it’s necessary if you want to reach those big, hairy goals, not to mention, change the world.

Are you doing any goal-setting for the new year? I’ll tell you mine if you tell me yours. 

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How a nonprofit uses design to stay relavant

Design
11.07.16
How a nonprofit uses design to stay relavant

I’m a supporter of Planned Parenthood and a big fan of how they use design and marketing. Being around 100 years is nothing to sneeze at. They’ve lasted this long because they’re always at the forefront of the reproductive rights movement. One thing is for sure, they know their brand. They are “the cool aunt with expert life advice.” Everything they do gets filtered through that voice.

I’m proud of the work Planned Parenthood does. As a designer, I’m equally impressed by how responsive and innovative they are. Over the years their ads and marketing have utilized everything from infographics to lighthearted illustrations. Check out a few examples over at Fast Company.

Now Planned Parenthood is investing in social media, storytelling, and human-centered design. Their experience design work with Ideo has even won an Innovation by Design Award.

Let Planned Parenthood inspire you
I don’t know about you, but I’m inspired by other people doing great, seemingly impossible, things. Your organization might be brand new or just a few years old, but can you imagine what it will look like in 100 years? Can you set things in motion now to ensure your organization is relevant and essential?

Questions to ask yourself to create a game-changing organization:

  • Do you know what your brand is?
  • Are you listening to your audience and their values?
  • Is your brand aligned with your audience?
  • Are you experimenting with current trends in marketing and design?
  • Are you adapting as things change?

Is there an organization you admire? I’d love learn about them.

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What is design for social impact?

Design
09.27.16
What is design for social impact?

Do you know what design for good is and how it can make a difference in the impact you have? This type of work goes by a few names: social design, design for social impact, design for good. But what does it mean? It used to mean doing pro-bono work for nonprofits between paying gigs. Now, it’s much more complicated than that.

Many designers are now tasked with driving impact and improving services and processes. It’s new and exhilarating territory for creatives like myself.

My two cents on what design for social impact is, and can be:

  • Any project that strives for positive economic, social, or environmental goals.
  • A bottom-up approach to the needs of the audience.
  • Being inclusive in who your audience is and how to reach them.
  • Designing anything for a nonprofit or social enterprise
  • Design-developed solution to a specific social problem, without a client.

How to use design to increase your social impact

It can seem complicated to engage a designer to help you think, or even rethink, a problem. It’s so much easier to just say, “I need a new brochure.” If that is all you ever do, then you’re just scratching the surface.

A few tips on how to use design for social impact:

  • Explore the value that design can bring, and tell others about it
  • Bring a designer to the table early in the process, not at just when you’ve already decided what you need.
  • Start small

How have you used design for social impact? I’d love to know.

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Perfection should not be the goal

Design
09.20.16
Perfection should not be the goal

I’m a designer that doesn’t believe in perfection. Yup, you read that right. Now, I know there are many people who would say I’m crazy for admitting this out loud. Let me be clear, I don’t mean that I’ll send your 10,000 brochures to the printer with typos. No, that’s not happening.

Like Facebook, move fast and break things
In today’s digital space things can be iterated and tweaked constantly as you test and learn. Also, solutions to complex social problems should be prototyped and tested quickly to get insight from the community and not waste resources. If you wait too long to get something perfect, you’ve missed your chance to be done and on to the next version.

So, what do I strive for in design?

  • making connections between your purpose and the needs of others
  • bottom-up approaches to solutions, instead of top down
  • trying a few things and see what sticks
  • rethinking the question

 

What do you strive for in your work?

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6 common design myths about social impact

Design
09.07.16
6 common design myths about social impact

Design for social impact can be nuanced and complicated. Here are 6 common myths to keep in mind:

The issue is too complicated to be presented simply
The problems you’re tackling are multifaceted and complicated, but if you can’t drill down to the essence of what you’re trying to accomplish, you overwhelm your audience and they will turn away. You’re the expert on the issue, but they don’t have to be. In fact, they shouldn’t have to know everything in order to support your work. Be succinct, don’t talk above them or below them, and let them know how it benefits them.

Nonprofits don’t have competitors
I don’t think people believe this anymore, but I’m including it here just in case. I know there are other organizations that share a similar mission with you. I generally believe that people are generous, but they will not give to every organization that they see. Figure out what makes you different and what makes your audience different. Use that to guide everything you do.

Printed materials can’t look expensive
I’ve heard this before from nonprofits. I get that the average person doesn’t know how much printing costs, so if they see something big and super glossy they say it looks expensive. But that is not necessarily the case anymore. Digital printing has changed the game and sometimes it can actually be more expensive to print something in 2 colors on craft paper, then full color on glossy paper.

Innovation is for companies like Apple, not nonprofits
Innovation comes in many forms and shapes. More and more nonprofits and social enterprises are starting up every day, and I’m sure you’ve come across organizations with similar missions in your research. It’s safe to say the market is getting crowded, which is good, right? More people are trying to make a difference. Bringing new ideas to social impact through resources, inventions, approaches, partnerships, etc., can be your differentiator. Many foundations are looking for these very types of things to fund and support, so don’t let “It’s never been done before,” stop you.

Making it pretty is enough
Yes, sometimes a killer logo is what you need for a campaign, but sometimes it’s not. The right designer can help you get to the heart of your objectives and needs, and help you develop a unique solution. Don’t forget metrics. A nice looking website doesn’t necessarily mean that more people are clicking that donate button.

Good design is expensive
The cost of good design is relative, like everything else in life. It really depends on who’s doing the designing. Large creative agencies are going to be more expensive than an independent designer, but then again bigger agencies might have more resources to do pro-bono work. There are also organizations like Taproot that provide grants for creative work, and sites like Catchafire to help you find the perfect volunteer designer. Also, free tools like Canva help you DIY something that can look pretty good. Don’t be afraid to approach a designer you’d like to work with, you never know what you can negotiate.

Do you know of any others? I’d love to hear them.

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