Never Enough Tags

Are you working on optimizing your website for search engines? Are you wondering how much money I pay into advertising? I don’t invest a dime! I have spent most of my time saturating the web with myself. I am involved in many forums, directories, and I cross-link with my own other personal websites. My website content has been adjusted to provide more text and information that can be brought up on Google (such as my FAQ). I also make use of ALT tag references (every image can be ALT tagged). I make sure that I keep META tags because whether you believe it or not…I think it’s better that they are there than not.

At any rate, make sure the content of your website is heavily populated with your keywords! There is a nice little Firefox extension that I have called SEOQuake that helps speed up that process. It will tell you your keyword density and how it related to advertisers based on Google statistics.

Make sure that you are utilizing the Heading and Paragraph functions of your website correctly. If you are using CSS then you can easily update your CSS so instead of a .title class you use h1.

Diet and Exercise

Are you trying to skim off some extra dollars from your budget? Try doing some exercise before getting a quote! One of the biggest pitfalls is expecting the designer to come up with “everything”. You can save money by doing some minor legwork yourself. Sometimes there are clients that want a website but don’t have a logo or copy. I can make a logo, sure, but it’s going to cost you. I can put in copy, sure, but it’s going to cost you.

Here are some bits of advice.

  1. Ideally you want to start from the bottom up. Work out your marketing plan and available budget before even trying to go and get a quote from a designer. Plan on getting your logo first rather than at the same time as another project. It will save you in the long run because while I’m working on the website and logo, you could already be handing out business cards with the logo on them. A web presence is good, but your whole company “brand” is going to revolve around the logo, not the website.
  2. When getting a budget put together, realize that anything you don’t have (photos, text, existing collateral) is going to make the design process longer and more expensive. I have to scout photos that you have to approve and purchase. I do check out micro-stock sites (more semi-pro level at cheaper costs). If I do writing, I have to do research and you have to approve it. If you have existing collateral you want the design to reflect, it speeds up the design process as I can mimic style and keep your brand consistent.
  3. If you are wanting design done, have examples of other styles and designs you like ready to show me. This will get me an idea of your design style and also keeps my concepts in line with what you would approve of.
  4. It’s not always good to jump ahead and purchase a website domain before anything else. Sometimes, web hosts offer free domains within their hosting packages (like 1and1 which I use). Keep that in mind when you are getting ready to have web design done.
  5. When thinking about your website, keep in mind that additional pages cost more money to quote so think ahead. When you want a product page, do you also want subpages for different product categories?
  6. Make sure your designer is proficient on the spot and keep with that same designer (why ditch someone that works well with you and produces results that work?). The designer should be someone you feel comfortable working with and can trust. The designer should be good at what they do. So many times I get a client that had a previous designer work on the project and they were unfamiliar with proper design techniques in that medium. A logo created in Photoshop is going to looked pixelated and blurry on a billboard. Make sure your designer knows what they are doing. Look into their clients, references, educational background, etc. Your design is an investment, and you want to make sure the most able person is working on it. You don’t want to invest into a designer that can’t do the job and then have to pay someone else to recreate it.

So you may notice that even through all your exercise, you are still gaining weight. Remember, muscle is heaver than fat so it might take a while to notice results but it’s going to make your company stronger, more attractive, and will cost less for design in the future!

2008 Bronze Award

I attended the Hermes awards last night and I won a Bronze Award. That is quite an achievement coming from the fact that this year had the highest entries and Interactive was one of the largest categories with 10 Silvers and 21 Bronzes. I was the only individual to submit and win anything.

It says a lot 🙂

ADDY Awards

Well I was notified today that the Dimebag Darrell Tribute Album website I designed in Flash won an ADDY award. I will find out what level at the awards banquet on Feburary 9, 2008. I know from setting up tables that this year there were a lot of really good pieces out there. I really was hoping at least one of my web designs would come through (I submitted 3). Hopefully next year I will win something in print but my competition is steep. I am competing with all the local design agencies, whose clients have multi-thousand dollar budgets and they are working with a design team. For me to win ANYTHING is a huge honor!

Thank you all for giving me the opportunity to create award-winning designs for you!

Hermes Awards!

Hermes Awards!

A little background before I start rambling..

The Greater Dayton Advertising Association’s Hermes competition is the first tier in the American Advertising Federation’s three-tiered ADDY competition. Entering the Hermes/ADDY competition supports our entire industry, because the AAF and its local and district affiliates use the proceeds to enhance advertising through programs such as public service, internships, advocacy groups, advertising education, and consumer awareness.

In each division the Hermes (GOLD ADDY) is recognition of the highest level of creative excellence and superior to all other entries in the competition. Entries also considered outstanding and worthy of recognition receive a SILVER ADDY or a BRONZE ADDY. The number of awards given in each category is determined by the out of market judges, based on their opinion of the quality of the work in that category. Those who win the Hermes (Gold ADDY) will automatically be forwarded to the 5th District competition. Those winning Silver ADDY’s are eligible to forward that work on to District. Winners of the District competition will advance to the National ADDY competition.

I entered the Vision Marketing Group email campaign last year and it won a Bronze. I am competing with local advertising and interactive marketing firms in the Dayton area. This year I am entering 6 total pieces (2 HTML websites, 1 Flash website, 1 marketing campaign, and 2 logos). If you are a client I will keep you posted immediately if I were to receive anything. Otherwise, stay tuned and if I get anything, I’ll reveal after the show on February 9th.