Design tips and insights for nonprofits and social enterprises.

How to DIY your website to meet your short-term goals

Web Design
07.12.16

The last couple of weeks I’ve written how design is a necessity, but what if your budget is practically nonexistent. What do you do?

Hands down, for your long-term success your site needs to be invested in, but if you just need a short-term site there are free, or inexpensive platforms and templates you can use.
Regardless of how much money you spend, your sites success rate will depend on your figuring these things out:

  • what are your objectives for the site
  • make your content user focused — what do they need & want to know
  • write in small chunks not long paragraphs
  • use headlines, subheads and callouts for people to skim
  • make sure its mobile responsive

You can choose from a variety of inexpensive platforms: WordPress, Squarespace, Wix, or Shopify. Which you chose should depend on the kind of site you want to build and the content you have. Look at the templates offered and check out other sites that have used them to help you make the best choice.

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You only have 15 seconds to convince your audience

Branding | Marketing | Web Design
07.05.16

You’re passionate and knowledgeable about the work you do, but sometimes that gets in the way of convincing others how important it is. More than half of the visitors to your website will spend about 15 seconds on your homepage or any other page for that matter. Holy crap! I think many sites will fail this test.

What’s the key to breaking this? Show more, tell less. Show what your mission/product is. Show your impact. Show the reader what action they need to take. The rest is icing.

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Is design a necessity for impact?

Design
06.29.16

Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.—George Bernard Shaw

When you’re strapped for cash and resources, how do you make something a priority? I often hear from passionate, but stressed out leaders that even though they know the value of design, they just don’t have the budget. So when does design, or creative and effective communications for that matter, come in? The first step is deciding that’s what you want. Then you set up systems, routines, and support to make it happen.

The other alternative is just keep doing what you’re doing. Keep up the status quo. Keep hoping your passion and knowledge is enough to move the needle.

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3 proven ways your brand can increase supporters, donors and clients

Branding | Marketing
05.28.16
3 proven ways your brand can increase supporters, donors and clients

We all know that marketing campaigns can help raise your organization’s awareness, but did you ever think that your brand could as well. Marketing is an important part of branding, it’s how you promote yourself and communicate with your customers, donors, or supporters. Your brand is the core of what you do and why you do it. It should not be ignored, because when it’s done well, people remember you and take you seriously.

Be consistent and have standards
If the collateral and materials you create — from the website to postcards —use different fonts, colors, and style of imagery, then it’s time to get it together. Everything should look and feel consistent, even the tone of voice.

Special events, conferences, or marketing campaign can break this rule from time to time. Think of it as the brand is your personal style of dressing, speaking, the heart of how you are. Sometimes, for certain events, you might dress more formal or casual, but it doesn’t change who you are. Also, please treat your logo with respect. Make sure it’s always visible, and whatever you do, don’t distort it. That screams “I don’t know what I’m doing.”

Stay organized
In order to be consistent, you have to be organized. Make sure you have a naming convention for your files, and that anyone who looks at them will know what to use. Using a cloud storage like Google Drive or Dropbox can be a big help. Then you can share files easily with others and access them anywhere.

Be unique
Being unique is probably the most challenging of the three ways. It takes guts to stand out from the crowd. Take a look at your competition. And don’t tell me that you don’t have competition because you do. Who are the organizations working on the same issue you are or have a similar mission? You might not be directly competing with them, but you work in the same “space.” If your brand gets lost in the crowd, doesn’t resonate with your audience, or doesn’t match your organization anymore, then it’s probably time for a rebrand.

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Learning to take risks: 6 steps to creative confidence

Design
05.18.16
Learning to take risks: 6 steps to creative confidence

Trying something new at work or in life can be difficult, especially if you, or your team, is risk adverse. I used to think of myself as a “no risk” kind of person — YOLO is not my motto. I don’t like taking personal risks that much, but I love being creative. What I’ve realized is that on the quest to find new creative challenges, I’ve had to try new things and take some risks. You can’t really have one without the other.

No one tells you that it’s much more than risk and reward
Like you, I heard all those quotes about risk and reward, but they never really inspired me. I always assumed “reward” was money or fame, and that’s not what motivates me. When I started to think about what did motivate me, was when opportunities presented themselves. I shared my ideas and goals with a few trusted people.  Then started taking small risks, which felt HUGE because they were so outside my comfort zone. Some things worked, some didn’t, and those leaps lead to others. I’m actually still working on achieving my “crazy” goals, and I hope to never stop. Which in of itself, is something that would have freaked me out a couple of years ago.

Go from overwhelmed to inspired by practicing risk
I won’t tell you that without risk, there’s no reward. Instead, I’ll say that courage and creativity are muscles and you have to test their limits regularly. Bring more creativity into your organization — how it operates, the marketing, brand, offerings and services — by practicing risk.

  • Create a culture of creativity by talking and learning about it. If you work in a team, you might want to begin this on your own first. Then start talking about it in meetings, at company happy hours, etc. Don’t be annoying, but try to keep it top of mind, share blogs, articles, case studies, etc., that could be inspiring.
  • Brainstorm possible outcome or goals, even the outrageous ones. This might be hard when all you can see is a big red flag. The goal is to find rewards that would be enticing enough for you to begin to think about taking a risk. This can be done in an informal group discussion as well. Be sure to give your team opportunity to voice their concerns or enthusiasm.
  • Pick one and find ways that you might be able to attain it, or something close to it. Start small with low hanging fruit and very little risk, with a short time span. You might fail, but that’s ok. Think if it as risk practice.
  • Now do it. Some goals might require you have someone accountable for the follow through, tracking, and measuring the end result. Again, think semi-painless. Give or find support as needed, and share. You’re more willing to do it if you tell people about it first.
  • What’s the outcome? If it was good, then plan another that stretches you a bit more. If it was bad, then plan another, but see what you can do differently.
  • Repeat, as often as desired or necessary.

I would love to learn about how you boost your creativity. How do you encourage risk when you feel stagnant? Or convince others to get on board?

 

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