Color Theory Infographic

Infographic: Your Guide to Color Theory for Design

I’m a big fan of good content.

Specifically, I am a fan of having good content on my own website so that the robots employed by Google make sure you see said good content in your never-ending quest for wisdom. Okay, that was stated with a bit much dramatic flair, but you get the point. Sure, I like to write good content. But often times, it’s just as valuable to simply curate and share good content. In fact, that’s just about the reason anything ever goes viral.

So with all my motivations laid bare and all my cards on the table, feast your eyes on this infographic from Silkcards. Design and color theory are topics that seem intuitive and self-evident. However, I’ve been in far too many conversations with clients where I had to take them back to a very granular understanding of typography, color theory, or even the English language itself. The following resource on color theory is a helpful reference for when those artful impulses need to be reined in for the sake of the message.

Scroll and enjoy!

Theory of Color
Infographic provided by SILKCARDS

Tips: How to Get Likes on a New Facebook Page

Social media is here to stay. It’s something most of us touch daily. But being a user and making it work for your business are very different. When you have a brand new Facebook Page and you want to build your initial audience, where do you start? How exactly do you get likes on a new Facebook Page? I had a client ask me that very question today, and without much thought, I fired back this list. First, the screen grab of our conversation. Then scroll down for the list.

5 Tips to Boost a New Facebook Page

5 Tips to Boost a New Facebook Page

 

5 Tips to Get Likes on a New Facebook Page


First things first, I’m talking about a Facebook Page. This is not a personal profile where you set up your business as a person with the first name ACME and last name Widgets, Inc. I’m talking about an actual, proper business page. Here’s how  Facebook explains Pages:

If you’re logged in to Facebook and want to create a page, this link will take you to the right place:

When you create the page, you’ll need to add a good profile image. Your profile image should be your logo, ideally. If you are managing a personal brand in which you are virtually inseparable from your business, you might want to use a professional headshot for your profile image. This usually makes sense for people in the insurance business, sales reps, authors, and media personalities. Almost every other kind of business should use a logo for the Facebook Page profile image.

Don’t have a logo?

No worries! That’s something AJ Design can help with. Click here to get started.

In addition to having a well-built profile image, you’ll also want to set your Facebook Page URL. Your Facebook Page’s default address will be something like this:

http://www.facebook.com/My-Business-Name-829472633711178365/

Not cool. It’s not only not cool; it’s also pretty hard to type or remember. If you set your Facebook Page address, this is what you can have:

http://www.facebook.com/MyBusinessName

Much better isn’t it?! With those two preliminaries out of the way, proceed.


Okay, No More Teasing. Here’s the Five Tips to Get Likes on a New Facebook Page

1) Add an appropriate cover image.

Your cover image is among the first opportunities you have to make a good impression. What’s unique about your business? What can you do best? What are you most remembered for? Make sure your cover image features that thing.

2) Invite your friends and family to like the page.

Yep. Play the family card. Don’t be shy! Most of your family and friends (let’s hope…) like you and want you to succeed, right? Don’t ask them for a loan. Don’t ask them to buy things they don’t need. But do ask them to like your page.

3) Add a link to your page to your email signatures. Invite your customers and vendors to like the page.

Many people barely read emails, much less email signatures. But hey, having it there is likely to reach more people than not having it there. I would recommend adding a simple text link like this:

Like us on Facebook

And don’t hesitate to ask your customers and vendors to like your page. It’s usually good to be relaxed with this request:

Hey there Bob,

Thanks for getting that order shipped! I know that was a special request, and you really helped us meet the deadline. Thanks so much!

By the way, we decided to jump in to social media with a Facebook Page. If you are on Facebook, would you mind liking our page? Click here to visit the page. Thanks again!

4) Ask your clients’ permission to mention them (and tag them) in posts or images.

This may be a little tricky if you’re not used to how Facebook works. When you post an image with people in it, Facebook allows users to “tag” people in the photo. It’s a brilliant feature that allows you to say, “Let me look at all the photos on Facebook showing Sally…” The feature breaks down if people over-use it or use it inappropriately, though. If Sally is tagged in a photo of knockoff Oakley sunglasses, it’s a frustration. You wanted one thing but found another. Further, some users’ privacy settings disallow tagging. That’s fine. Note the first few words of this step: Ask your clients’ permission… If someone disallows tagging, don’t worry about it.

But if you ask and they grant permission (getting this in writing may not be a bad idea), you can post an update or an image to your business Page and then tag them in it. This has an organic “viral” effect. Facebook shows that photo in the News Feed of Sally’s friends. It may be presented with text that indicates, “My Business Name tagged Sally in an update,” or some other similar language. If Sally has a large Facebook network made up of people who could benefit from your services in the same way as Sally, this type of sharing can be powerful!

5) Learn about Adobe Spark and use it to create great images.

Spark from Adobe is AMAZING. It’s FREE. Spark enables you to create professional graphics for social media without having to be a designer. I routinely use Adobe Illustrator and Adobe Photoshop, but I reach for Spark when I am not in front of my computer. Here are several examples of images I created with Spark:

There you go. That list of tips for Facebook ought to take most new business Pages from zero to 300 likes and beyond.


If you need help getting things started, contact us. AJ Design works with start-up concerns, entrepreneurs, established businesses and large organizations. I would love to discuss your needs!

AJ Design is Now Accepting Stripe for Online Payments

AJ Design is Now Accepting Stripe for Online Payments

This week I set up Stripe as a payment processing option for AJ Design. I am content to receive checks for payment of services, but that’s a major inconvenience for some clients. I am glad to be able to offer a convenient online payment option, even though there will be an adjustment made to cover the merchant fees.

How about you? Do you pass merchant fees through to your clients/customers? Or do you adjust your pricing to conceal the fee?

Here’s a hint: The customer ALWAYS pays…they just don’t always realize it!

Three More Reasons to Love Shopify for Small Retailers

We love implementing Shopify for small retailers. It was so good a few years ago that it was a slam dunk for most small-ish retail businesses that want to sell online. It’s still that, but it’s even better today. And AJ Design is a Shopify Partner with a growing base of small retail clients using the system.

Here are three quick new reasons for retailers to love Shopify even more:


1) Amazon.com Integration

Shopify is working on some seamless integrations with Amazon. Users will be able to log in with their Amazon account, and eventually Shopify merchants will be able to sell via Amazon.com. This is big. Amazon is huge, and many small retailers may not feel they have any opportunity to compete with Amazon. Shopify is taking the bull by the horns and enabling their merchants to reach that massive customer base. Don’t try to beat Amazon. Let them do what they do best, and you keep doing what you do best. And when this integration is mature, you will have the opportunity to gain sales within the Amazon market. Read about what Shopify is planning here.

2) TaxJar

Filing sales tax isn’t too tough if you don’t mind working with the month’s order data in a spreadsheet and doing some math. But that’s something not practical for everyone. TaxJar simplifies filing sales tax. You might want to look into it if sales tax is a dread for you. Learn about TaxJar in the Shopify App market.

3) USPS Shipping Integration

If you ship a lot with USPS, the new USPS integration will help you save time and money. Remember when PayPal, eBay and USPS were integrated and you could print shipping labels directly from within eBay? Yeah, it’s that cool. Read more about Shopify’s USPS integration here.


If you are looking for someone to help you establish a Shopify website or POS system — or better yet, bothcontact AJ Design. Implementing Shopify for small retailers is a joy for us, and we are excited for the growth it brings to our clients.

How to Create a Secret Board on Pinterest

How to Create a Secret Board on Pinterest

Pinterest is a place to find creative inspiration for all areas of life. But some thing just shouldn’t be shared with the world. Are you planning to use Pinterest to keep track of ideas that are likely to cause trouble if the whole world saw them? Please. Make the board secret when you set it up.

Got a NSFW board? Make it secret. Your married friends will probably thank you.

Here’s how to create a secret board on Pinterest:

How to Create a Secret Board on Pinterest

A Cold Calling Epic Fail

There’s a place for unsolicited interruptions in marketing. But for most of us, including myself, that place is the dustbin of marketing history. The reasons people may cite for disregarding an unsolicited sales pitch are legion, but one reason may be that the person you are calling really doesn’t need what you’re selling. Case in point? Here’s a Facebook post from my personal account:

facebook-post-seo-cold-call

Business Friendly Graphic Design is what this website is all about, and search engine results reflect that.

In addition to that tagline, AJDesignCo.com also ranks well for more general localized searches like graphic design greenwood sc or web design abbeville sc.

If you’re going to employ cold calling without landing a cold calling epic fail, make sure your people are geared toward open-ended networking and discovering opportunities, not just rattling off a script hoping to capture someone with a pulse.

A Quick Lesson on Shutter and Aperture Priority

Since the advent of digital photography, I’ve become more or less addicted to photography. It’s a compulsive thing, but most of the time it’s fairly constructive. I’ve learned a lot over the last 10 years and 70,000+ photos (most of them are bad…). There are tons of helpful infographics and cheat sheets on the web. Here’s one from Lifehacker. But I had to share a quick series of images I caught tonight. It’s not as thorough as the other guides or cheat sheets, but it does illustrate some pretty marked differences at the extremes of shutter priority and aperture priority. Plus, my kid just made me laugh. Enjoy!

Improve Communications with Five Less-Is-More Tips

Communication is the Lifeblood of Nearly Everything We Do

Whether your goal is to drive sales, educate or inspire, effective communication is at the heart of practically everything you do. If you must work with or through others to get something accomplished, you need effective communication. Speaking well is certainly important, but I want to share with you a few tips that can help you improve your effectiveness in written or visual communication. If you sometimes struggle to write letters, memos or other documents — even ad copy or web content — I think you will find these tips to be helpful.

1. Consider Your Audience … and Limit Your Message Accordingly

The words you may use to connect with 5th graders would be very different from those you might use to address peers in business. We would also communicate differently with entry level employees and the board of directors. A good first step toward improving your communications is to identify your audience. Once you understand clearly the audience you are trying to reach, you can omit communication that is not appropriate.

2. Use Fewer Words

Google provides the definition of brevity as follows:


brevity definition


We may have developed a bad habit of inflating our word count to meet a quota in high school. But brevity is critical for clear communication in business. Use fewer words that convey the same meaning whenever possible.

3. Use Clear Space to Bring Attention to Your Message

Before an orchestra begins, the conductor calls the musicians (and the audience) to silence. Think of words as sound and white space as visual silence. With sufficient silence, you create room for sound — your message. Margins are a simple way to add silence to your content. Another place we find clear space is within images: copy space. Many of the best magazine ads and billboards use images with copy space. Use the silence of clear space to provide a place for the message you intend to convey.

4. Use Clip Art Sparingly If at All

Clip art is rarely necessary. Not all clip art is bad, but some of it is downright awful. If you intend for your message to be light, informal and comedic, clip art may be justified. The problem is that a lot of people seem to use clip art habitually rather than intentionally. Think of the brevity principle. If your message stands alone without clip art, leave it out.

5. Know When to Call a Communications Professional

You  may not be an art director or a marketing manager, but small businesses occasionally need the services of a copy writer or a layout artist. Think about the cost associated with a mistake. How many people would be affected? If business is on the line for a print ad, a billboard, or a press release, consider enlisting the services of a trusted professional.


 

We hope these tips make your communications more effective. If you have specific questions or if your current needs are beyond what you can handle, contact us today online or by phone at (864) 554-5061.

Moving Completely Over to the “Light Side”

apple-iieBack in the mid-1980s, my Dad bought an Apple IIe to help him manage his growing medical practice. That was the first computer I had access to. Eventually, he upgraded to an Apple IIgs — with a color monitor even! Knowing what Apple has become since the Mac and the iPhone, these tidbits of my early computer exposure now seem really cool.

But it was the 1980s. My Dad didn’t know then what Apple would later become. We surely didn’t know anything about being cool. Alas, he eventually made the decision to get a PC. I’m not sure of the exact specs, but I think the most capable PC processors in those days were the 386, eventually superseded by the 486 and the 486DX. Apple was a faint memory as we started learning MS-DOS and Windows 3.1.

Returning to My Roots

Fast forward to 2011. I had been designing for a few years with CorelDRAW 11 on a PC. My body of work included personal projects and volunteer work for my church. My portfolio landed me an interview and a temporary design job within the marketing department at Self Regional Healthcare. What was on my desk when I arrived for work? A Mac Pro with a 22″ Cinema Display. I realized after my first week that I had begun to come full circle when I tried to close a window on a Windows PC by moving my mouse cursor toward the upper left corner of the screen.

iphone_5s-black

That process of moving full circle was occurring in August of 2012 as I ordered a MacBook Pro for my business. Later that same year, my son traded a small fortune for a brand new iPod Touch (5th Generation). My wife then decided she would try out the iPhone after seeing her sister enjoy hers. The following Christmas, my other son received an iPad Mini. Without realizing it and without really straining for it, we had become an “Apple family” in just a couple of years.

The latest come-home-to-Apple moment was when I decided to jump on a mid-cycle upgrade opportunity and buy an iPhone 5s to replace my aging Motorola Droid RAZR MAXX.

So far, the hardware and software has been brilliant. I did have a SIM card programming issue that Verizon fixed quickly, but everything else has been great as expected. Many of the apps I used regularly on my Droid (Zoho Invoice, Evernote, Wunderlist, Pulse, etc.) are cross-platform. It was really just a matter of installing what I needed and logging in.

Conventional Graphic Design Wisdom?

All professional designers use Apple products, right? At least the good ones do. That is what I thought subconsciously. It just seemed that everybody who was producing really good work was using a MacBook or an iPad. And I guess, from all appearances, I’m perpetuating that generalization. But the truth is that while I was enjoying my new MacBook Pro, it was the PC that had put me in position to afford that MacBook.


When you observe the AJ Design mobile workspace, I have the shiny MacBook Pro. And yes, now I have an iPhone as well. But we would do well to remember that these tools are a means to an end. An Apple product never created anything. What a designer creates is far more important than the tool that he uses.