Yep, it’s exciting to launch your website. Many times it’s take a month or two to get to the launch stage. Webtiger strongly suggests that you soft launch your website before your massive media campaign kicks off. This will allow you to use that time during your soft launch to asses your market fit and gather leads. Be open to making updates based on the feedback you receive during the soft launch process.

You will also be able to use this time to discover hidden bugs, refine your blog, update any missed typos, and get feedback from the smaller audience. Ask family and friends to give you feedback.

Another benefit is being able to tell new and targeted customers that they are getting an exclusive preview of your site before general launch, this will deepen your relationship with clients and hopefully give you more leads. You can test out your branding and products on them and you can practice talking your talk.

Spend some quality time researching and implementing any other tools you are going to need as your business grows. Such as project management tools, to-do-lists and social media.

Just use this time to take a breather and focus on refining your content and approach. Get accustomed with your analytic tool and any other software you are going to be using as your business grows. You may not have time later.

Once you have your head around who is using your site and how (because it may not be who and how  you expected), and once you have skills in using the software for your business, GO FOR IT.

If you have a feminine blog, website, print media business & you are getting a little bit sick of having the same stock as everyone else. OR just sick of seeing the ‘same old’ images on the ‘same old’ stock images sites, this post is for you.

There are quite a few stunning sites to get free and paid for feminine stock. Here is my little review of each.

Shay Chochrane

Shay Chochrane photography

Image: Shay Cochrane

The queen of fem stock is Shay Chochrane. Get your credit card out and prepare to spend big, her images are expensive. There is a reason for this, they are incredible. You can sign up to her newsletter and receive a free image a month too. I love her work. If only my desk really looked like that. I don’t have much of a use for pencils, but if I did, those are the ones I’d get.

Shay sells 10 of each image, after that, no one else can buy the image. So you end up with an image that isn’t all over the net.

Twigyposts

stock image - twigyposts

I love Twigyposts. These images are stunning. They also much more affordable than Shay Chochrane. I’m pretty sure that Twigyposts sells an unlimited amount of each image. So you won’t feel as unique using her images. But you won’t mind, because they are gorgeous.

Twigyposts offers free images to subscribers.

Haute Chocolate

Haute Chocolate stock images. Free pack

Subscribers receive some free stock from Haute Chocolate. And again, they are stunning. This site has a paid subscription service. You pay for 6 months – 1 year and can download as many images as you like. I haven’t joined…… yet……

Death to Stock

Maresa Smith created these stunning images

I’ve been a member of Death to Stock for years and years. Not all their images are feminine, but they do offer loads of free very good photos each month. They also have a premium services where even more images are available.

 

There are more feminine stock shops, but the ones mentioned here are my favorite. There is another blog post somewhere in this blog with a list of many  more.

Enjoy them. And I’m sorry for the many hours you are about to spend scanning through really pretty images.

 

Yes, yes you do need https.

Google will be implementing the next stage of it’s https treatment sometime in October 2017 when it releases version 62 of it’s Chrome browser. Already if you are using Chrome and open a website that isn’t using HTTPS, you will get a warning that the site isn’t secure. In October there will be more warnings.

Mozilla (Firefox) doesn’t seem to have made an announcement about their intentions yet.

Well, what is it?

HTTPS stands for Hyper Text Transfer Protocol Secure. This means more security for your website. HTTP is less secure.

In 2014 Google announced that using HTTPS will give your site a small ranking boost.

In 2016 Google shared some more information and announced that January 2017, chrome will mark HTTP connections as not secure.

In 2017, yes, it’s a really good idea to move your site to use HTTPS for all site pages. If you are using the Chrome browser any website  you visit that isn’t using HTTPS + has login or collects user info, will present a warning to the user.

SSL Certificates are affordable now. Lots of hosts will install them for you too. Such as VentraIP. If you need help with this, Webtiger can assist too.

Here is a guide from google on how to update to https. I’m not sure it’s really that easy to follow if you’ve never done it before. I could be wrong.

A little video from google 2014.

 

I love fonts. But reeeealy love fonts. I can get stuck for hours looking at fonts. Where do I look?

Google Fonts & Typekit of course.

I encourage my clients + the designers I work with (for web) to use Google fonts, mostly because they are free and don’t require a license to be used.

Typekit is not free.

Oooh, and I’m back. I just spent about an hour looking through my Typekit account. *sigh*, it’s a time killer.

So what are web vs print fonts anyway?

Well, in a very small nut shell, not every font can be used interchangeably. Some fonts that look amazing on printed items can look terrible on the web.

When you are looking for a font for your website, the best place to start is Google Fonts.

Fonts for your print media project? Well I’ll leave that one for you to talk about with the lovely graphic designers we work with.

How to provide meaningful feedback

Every project is unique. Some are more complex than others, some people are more tech familiar than others & some people just have more time to spend gathering what’s needed to move forward with a design project. It’s quite tricky to have a one size fits all process for project design. However, there are some tricks of the trade and tips that will help, really help, to provide us designers with meaningful feedback to assist in keeping the project moving forward.

Name of documents

Version control and the name of documents is so important. Please title all your documents with meaningful names such as ‘home-page-v01.pdf’, or ‘home-page-12-Aug-2017.pdf’. Keep all information in that document on topic. If you have a new topic such as ‘contact-us-v01.pdf’, write a new document for that and stay on topic.

Email, don’t do it!

Everyone is familiar with email which makes it really easy to use. However it has come to my attention that we all use it differently, not only do we all have different email providers, we set up our inboxes & user methods in different ways. I have come to the conclusion that email is a terrible way to provide feedback to a designer. Information gets very lost in email threads and meaningless subject headers.

So what can be done about it, because wow, email is so easy to use, all we have to do is type our brain dump and hit send over & over again?

Dropbox + Paper. Do this one!

Dropbox is so easy to use, and it’s fun too. Some of my clients get annoyed with all the notifications that are sent out when something is edited or commented on in Dropbox, but I assure  you, there are setting for that.

Webtiger will create a folder for you at the start of the project. Everything goes in here. Think of it as an external hard drive attached to your computer. It’s just a folder where we can share files, it’s that simple.  The folder will be created and shared with you and your team. The brief will go in there, logos, images, mockups etc. It will be organised too, files will have meaningful names and be placed inside relevant folders. Documents can be archived to de-clutter our folders, if they start getting full. Once the project starts moving forward you can place all the site content in dropbox too.

We can comment in there, select areas of mockups, screen shots, documents, text etc and write specific comments on sections. We can tag the correct team member or members to make sure tasks are assigned to the correct people, oh and so much more. It’s really quite lovely.

asana

From time to time we will set up Asana. This is a program that helps track our project tasks. It’s also pretty cool, easy to use and fun. There is documentation on how to use this program too.

In conclusion

One of the most important things to do is label all documents & images with meaningful titles. Keep documents and emails on topic. If you have something else you want to say that’s off that topic, start a new email, title it with something meaningful and keep all future comments on that topic, in that thread. Never, ever change the title of an existing email thread, that is just going to make us cry, as it’s a sure fire way to make your information get lost in a rabbit hole of email threads.

Get familiar with dropbox. Here you can start right now.

Don’t panic. Be kind. Ask questions. If you get stuck, please, please ask questions. One thing you will never, ever, never hear from Webtiger is ‘We’ve already told you’, or ‘as previously mentioned’. We are happy to repeat information & happy to try and explain things in different ways, to find a way that helps you understand. We are here to help. We are part of the same team. Let’s work together!

Here are some tips to improve the success of meeting the project deadline.

Boundaries are important. Webtiger will outline what is required from all involved parties in the terms & conditions from the get go, ensuring that we are all on the same page when it comes to knowing what is expected from each of us (you’ll hear the words ‘in scope’ + ‘out of scope’ from time to time throughout the project). There should be no guessing about what is in scope, and what is not, of course if something isn’t clear, please ask.

One of the most frequent causes of a project delay is not receiving content in a timely manner, this can cause a website to come to a halt. If your project isn’t starting for a few weeks, use that time to gather your content: content refers to all the text and images in your project.

Webtiger has a lovely copywriter on standby for projects that need this service. Hiring a copywriter will take care of the ‘words‘ in your website. Webtiger also works closely with a local graphic designer for all things ‘image’, ‘branding & ‘layout’ related. Hiring professional services such as a copywriter & graphic designer will ensure that your project not only is on time, but looks + functions in the most stunning way possible.

For all clients Webtiger will set up a Dropbox folder where you are able to drag and drop all your content. We can comment and share feedback in dropbox too. We can also use Dropbox Paper.

For some clients Webtiger will set up an Asana account so we can track the progress of the project. We will be able to reduce the amount of email threads and keep the feedback organised.

If you are new to Dropbox or Asana, Webtiger can provide you with online tutorials. You will love these tools, they are going to make the project ‘managed’.

Another magnificent member of the network is a lovely project manager we work with on various projects. She is one of the most organised people I’ve met. I love working with her. Wow she keeps us all in line + informed with her focus on detail and time lines.

We will communicate as much as needed throughout the project life cycle, no matter who ends up being on the team. Communication is the key.

 

Agile & Scrum

Webtiger will follow these ideas along the project life cycle.

Agile web development is a flexible methodology that allows elements to be tweaked throughout the project life cycle. Customers have regular input & the project is constantly tested during the project.

The agile process doesn’t guarantee project success, in saying that each time something doesn’t reach it’s goal, it’s treated as a learning process allowing the team to adjust & move forward. The team are encouraged to experiment with new ideas & embrace the learning process.

Scrum – I think this is a sport term, but some nerd borrowed it & it’s now used along with Agile development. So, what is it? The Scrum approach is about the team, it’s a tool used in the agile process. We all huddle together to talk about the project, then go off our separate ways to complete our central goal. There isn’t really a team leader, we all work together, all have input, this includes the client, who is an active participant of the project (and the ‘owner’). It’s important that the owner provides feedback & direction.

Webtiger will frequently check in with the owner to ask for feedback (this is so important) & ensure you are happy with the progress of the project.

I’ve found that many people are puzzled by some of the terminology used by nerds like me. In this post I’ll define some of the most common WordPress terminology that I use the most when building your site.
Read more

What is needed from you to start the project.

Hi, it’s really lovely that we are going to work together. Thank you for choosing Webtiger + our network of designers (all local).

There are some items we will need from you to get started with your project.

A brief.

What is it? It is a document that outlines your objectives like a text blueprint for the project, with clear expectations + goals written in detail (not so brief brief).

Do you have one? If you don’t, you can write one now following these guidelines.

Introduce yourself/your organisation

  • What do you/your organisation do?
  • Who is your target market?
  • Who are your main competitors?
  • What is different about you from your competitors?
  • Is this a rebrand?
  • Is this a new company?

What are your objectives + goals

  • Why are you seeking a website or branding package?
  • What is your main message?
  • Do you want to increase sales? Sell online? Offer information? Showcase a gallery?

Are you branded?

  • Do you have a style guide?
  • Do you have colours, logos, images, text?

Functionality

  • Do you have specific functionality that you require?
  • Do you have your information architecture worked out eg: home | about | blog | contact?
  • Does your contact form have more than ‘name’, ‘message’, ‘send’?
  • Do you have a required CMS? Why?

Style

  • What are some images you like the look of?
  • Are you able to provide at least 3 links to websites you would like us to use for inspiration?

What is your budget?
What is your deadline?

And please add any notes you like to this document. It’s best to write this as a separate document in pages or word or pdf and provide it that way as an attachment to an email or right into the dropbox we make for you. Rather than typing directly into an email body. We are able to keep things organised in folders if this document is kept as a stand alone document.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Web file sizes

File sizes for the web are quite different to file sizes for printing.

The issue with large files

The issue with uploading large files to your website is it will slow down your page load. Therefore it’s quite important to know how to optimise your images before adding them to your website. Here I’m going to tell you how.

Good sizes for image

It’s good practice to keep your images between 70kb – 100kb each image.

Also, size your images only as large as the width of the article, page, blog you are adding it to. For example if you are adding an image to the top of a blog post that is 400px wide just size your image with a width of 400 pixels (px).

dpi doesn’t matter, you can save your image at 72dpi or 300dpi, go for it (dpi is for printing not web).

ppi – Pixels per inch. This is also not important. It was kinda the industry standard till about 5 minutes ago, you know, the olden days. Screens can handle hudreds of pixels per inch these days. So go ahead and save with 72 ppi or 300 ppi.

Edit the original photo only

If you have by mistake sized your image too small, don’t try and ‘stretch’ it to make it larger. Go back and get the original file and start again. This will help to avoid a grainy look (pixelation/blurriness).

Where and how to size your images?

Gimp “Whether you are a graphic designer, photographer, illustrator, or scientist, GIMP provides you with sophisticated tools to get your job done. You can further enhance your productivity with GIMP thanks to many customization options and 3rd party plugins” –  Gimp website.

A tutorial for editing image sizes in Gimp

Photoshop

Here is a little tutorial I just found for Photoshop image resizing

 

Or edit + size images online with these tools

Picmonkey “Everything you need to make your ideas come to life—photo editing, collage making, graphic design—PicMonkey’s got it. It’s never been easier to feed your creative beast.”

befunky “The Best Online Photo Editor, Ever. Anything you want to do to your photo, you can do with BeFunky”

fotor “GoArt AI effects turn ordinary into extraordinary.  Fotor is bringing our popular GoArt app to desktop! Now turning your photos into works of art is easier than ever, just upload the photo to our website and select your favorite filter.”

canva “Quickly filter, resize or edit your photos. No apps or plugins required.”

pixlr “Make every moment beautiful with our family of photo editing apps.”