Welcome to part 2 of this 2-part blog, discussing all things graphic design. In part 2 we will look at artwork for social media, adverts in magazines, using photos and images and also banners for website slideshows. If you missed part 1, you can read this here.
Artwork for Social Media
Your Social Media presence is important, it acts as another facet to your business and allows you to communicate with your customers in a less formal, more casual way, however it is important to put your best foot forward on social media. The tips below help you to get things right.
- Using images – one of the biggest problems with content posted to social media is the lack of decent images or photos. Remember that social media is an “of the moment” method of communication with your audience, and you only have seconds to engage them, so make sure the images you use on your posts are bright, clear, and relevant. Blurry, uninteresting images will not capture anyone’s attention.
- Sourcing images – equally as important to using good images is the small matter of where you source your images from. Going onto Google image search and using images from there should not be done, as it could land you into hot water for copyright infringement. There are plenty of websites online that offer free stock images – (see this blog) or for paid-for images, some great websites to purchase images from include Adobe Stock, Shutterstock, iStockphoto or gettyimages.
- Be interesting – do you think about what you post? Is there any planning that goes into the content you share? If not, then you should consider what you post carefully. All too often we have heard of people getting stuck in a rut with social media, posting content because “I have to post something”. This isn’t right and can give off the wrong impression about your business and will not encourage new followers or existing ones to engage with your posts. Spend time planning your content the images you use to accompany those posts and what you are going to talk about on social media, post visual and text-based content that is topical, of-the-moment, interesting and complimentary to your business.
- Invite conversation – in addition to posting great content, invite your followers to engage with you by way of conversation. Design eye catching graphics that ask a question, discuss news and events, get opinions, or introduce a poll – these are all great ways to get your followers talking to you and each other and designing visually striking graphics is a great way to catch the attention of your followers.
- Share your blogs – if you are a blogger and enjoy writing about your specialist field / subject matter, remember to share a link to your blog posts on Social Media. Sharing your blog posts on social media is a great way to advertise a new blog, get followers to read your blogs and to also get those followers looking around your website too. When sharing your blogs, pick an image that not only relates to the blog, but is also bright – when people are scrolling through social media feeds everything is ‘scan read’ so a bright, eye catching image is a sure-fire way to capture attention.
Adverts in magazines & similar
Advertising in offline publications, such as magazines/booklets, newspapers and similar is another effective way to reach a big audience, but it is important that your ad contains all the main information and is well targeted as you have just one shot to get it right.
- Keep it clear – making sure your advert uses striking images and is well designed and not overloaded with text is key. Ensure that you get the point across efficiently with a bold headline, what you are offering and how readers can redeem the offer or service.
- Set up the artwork correctly – when designing the advert, make sure you design it to the exact size required and at 300DPI (Dots Per Inch – for print). Sounds obvious, but if the advert is designed to be too small, when the artwork is scaled up to the correct size it will lose definition and visual quality.
- Be consistent – if your business follows a certain design/brand style, make sure you stick to this with magazine (or any marketing) that you do. Going off at a tangent using different colours, font styles and images that are off-kilter to your brand style will give an inconsistent look-and-feel.
- Check for typos … then check again – All too often people forget to do this – sometimes it takes a fresh pair of eyes or someone else to proof read the advert. Pay particular attention to things like telephone numbers, prices, address details (door numbers, etc) and make sure they are correct.
Photos and images on websites (including product photography)
Even the best websites can be ruined by poor imagery/photos and all too often the image content on a website gets overlooked. Using poor pictures of products in the case of e-commerce stores can put customers off and doesn’t help to sell your website, so spending time on getting the best possible images you can afford is important.
- Product pictures – if you have an e-commerce store, try and obtain manufacturers product images. Nearly all manufacturers have professional photos taken of all their products, so if you email and ask for access to their product image library the manufacturer will almost always oblige. If you have made your own products it would be worth investing in a light box and a camera (doesn’t have to cost fortunes) that takes high quality photos. Camera phones can be okay, but would always recommend either getting a proper camera OR a photographer to take your photos for you.
- Website pictures – just as important are the website images you use. There are plenty of free and paid-for online stock image resources that can be used (see this blog for free images) or for paid-for images can be purchased from websites such as Adobe Stock, Shutterstock, iStockphoto or gettyimages. Don’t skimp on this though, if you need to get a professional photographer to take images of your working environment then do so – websites need strong images to accompany the text content, so getting the best images/photos you can will make all the difference.
- Don’t go too small – When adding images to a website don’t go small – whilst the size of the images used is really determined by the design of the website, in the same sense having beautiful images that are scaled down to the size of a postage stamp won’t do your website any justice. Shout about your images and let them take pride of place.
- Optimise your images – whilst it is important to have nice big, clear images on your website; it’s also necessary to re-size your images properly and optimise them so they (and the website) loads nice and fast on mobiles and tablets – this is especially important for online marketing activities like SEO (Search Engine Optimisation). As a rule of thumb, images can be compressed without any loss of quality, so using a programme like Caesium (a great free programme for image compression) or your graphic design programme of choice to both compress and resize images is an important part of the website design process.
Slideshow banners on websites
Most websites feature graphic banners somewhere, whether it’s on the homepage, product pages or anywhere else on the website, banners must be designed to look great and be really eye catching.
- Size it right – get the right dimensions of the slide show before designing banners for it otherwise they will look terrible and likely need to be recreated again. Likewise, when adding an image to the background of the entire banner, it is important to crop the image to the right size first. If you are featuring a face or perhaps an object of some sort within the banner itself, ensure that you crop it correctly to prevent the slide show chopping off the top of someone’s head or only showing half of the object you intended to feature!
- Keep them snappy – there is no place for long paragraphs of text on slide show banners. Keep it short and sweet – a 3-4 word headline, a snappy sentence and a clear call-to-action button to entice your website visitors to click!
- Update them – A common mistake people make is to leave old and outdated slide-show banners on your website. Keep them fresh and current – your website visitors will thank you for it.