Work progresses on the Alexandria Film Festival. March is almost over and the countdown to November is on!
Ellen was tasked with branding the festival this year. She created a custom illustration showing an Alexandria city skyline. She handles the website and email newsletters.
The Festival is lucky to get advice from Geneva Collins on social media strategy and improving the website. We overhauled the website, making it current with what is happening NOW. We reduced the number of tabs and put related pages in drop-down menus. This makes the website easier to navigate. We put current events into the sidebar, with a photo that links to the Events Tab. The site will give people a reason to come back to see updates. alexandriafilm.org
To liven up the site Ellen created a small video for the home page showing photos from former festivals. For the intro, she animated the illustration that she did for this year’s festival. The boat flits across the screen, a strobe light scans the sky and the logo come booming out. The festival Chair chose lively background music to make it all come together. Here is the Link.
Recently done: “Get Out and Give Back” is a local business which creates service events as a way for corporations to contribute. Ellen worked with the founder, Jane Hess Collins to create a full-color brochure for a marketing event. We incorporated the organization’s branding and Ellen coordinated the printing, which was done by a local printer – the best kind!
Yellow Dot is working in tandem with Old Town Productions, a video production studio in Alexandria, to create custom videos. Using professionally shot footage, interviews with agents or owners, voice-over and graphics, we create a buyer’s first look at your property. Whether commercial or residential, we show off things that still photos cannot. We can open closet doors, show views from the windows, or have the owner speak about a unique history. We can have neighborhood sounds, show street scenes, and introduce this property to its best advantage.
For all this, we are offering a one-time flat-fee price.
Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org for details.
The revolution that has happened over the last 15 years in the way we communicate, has allowed anyone who is willing, to take control of their own communications. It’s thrown every kind of business into a tail spin. The printing industry is on its head. People are delighted. Now they can do about anything they want on their own computer, which comes with free versions of all sorts of goodies for typing, drawing and making slide shows. The game is on!
Never before have I seen so many horrible looking documents. Every day I get email newsletters which are cluttered, overlapping type and images, completely illegible. On websites of real estate agents, plumbers, IT firms, local businesses, I see logos which are busy, illegible, badly designed.
I have started carefully asking people who did their logo, because often it is the business owner himself. “I put that together myself, on this program I have”, they say. A real estate agent said, “I got the guy in the office to do that for me”.
Really? The most important piece of identity for your business, which provides sustenance for your life?
Why? Why don’t people even consult with someone who knows something about logo design? The reasons, I believe are:
1. Fear of spending money
2. Not really knowing what design is
Please! Take yourself and your business seriously! Call me. Call another designer. I have a firm belief that if you hire or consult an expert in areas you know little about, you will do better. This seems like an obvious statement, but it is obvious that most people would rather muddle around with their own resources, than empower themselves with the help of others. I’m not the first to say this. Loral Langemeier writes about using the knowledge of others to improve your lot. They will make you look better.
Use a professional designer. You will look better.
More website updates: News page, portfolio, and client list have been updated. www.yellowdotdesigns.com/Portfolio.html
What business climate will this Summer bring? So far May and June were wonderfully busy with 3 new projects. Still working on a website for Old Town Productions. Helped OTP get transferred to a good website hosting service, and have uploaded a temporary website for now. www.oldtownproductions.com
Created a suite of communications materials for Transition Services for Moves and Estates, LLC, starting with a logo. This is the best way to do it, have Yellow Dot design your logo, business cards, and website. That way it all works together, and is well designed. Some clients like to have me design just the logo, but they end up with dis-jointed communications and not so great looking materials. And cost-wise, really not too expensive. The investment and focus you put on your business is worth it. So, we worked out Transition Services’ color scheme and fonts with the logo and slogan design. Once that is done, the other parts, cards and website follow suit. Business cards were printed by a local printer, Lettercomm Printing, very reasonably, shiny on the front, good writing surface on the back. We put a list of services on the back, which I thought was clever. Sandra of Transition Services made a funny comment. She said she had thought I would make her cards look more like my cards, and was surprised they had their own look. That lets me expound on how I design for the client, and not for me! More on that later. Then we created a CMS website for Transition Services, where Sandra can make her own text changes. We followed the Transition Services color scheme. Then came the issue of photos. TS saved some money by doing her own photo shoot. She spent about a day setting up some still-life scenes very similar to the way she arranges her estate sales. (Note: Sandra handled our estate sale for my grandmother several years ago, and did a wonderful job. Grandma had so much stuff, it took Sandra’s team two weeks to sort through it all, saving my family loads of time!) She then took lots of photos of the scene, her signs and her staff. It was a sunny day and they turned out really nice. I had lots of photos to choose from for the website. Otherwise, I always recommend that folks get professional portraits taken and I recommend Tisara Photography in Alexandria. Actually, I’m due for a new portrait myself, with this graying hair! www.transitionservices.biz
Another recent project was a short 30-second video, done for Care for You, Inc, who provide services for the elderly. Victor provided photos and text, and I chose background music, and animated the photos to work with the text. It ended with contact info and the logo. We didn’t need to shoot any video, and it worked well projected onto a large screen at a Chamber of Commerce event. Victor needed it quickly – the event was in two weeks, and I spent most of my time on the video during those weeks! Video takes a lot of time. plan ahead!
We have four ways to make a website for you! One that I can design from scratch and directly upload to your web host, and 3 types where you make your own changes, called CMS sites. These sites are especially good if you want several people to be making updates, or if you want certain people to have access to only certain parts of the site. CMS means “content management system” and originated with the publishing industry, where newspapers needed to allow many reporters to add their articles, without altering the main template.
There are many types of website. One is a Blog, like this one. This is a CMS site, using “WordPress”, which is considered the best blogging software. A basic company website can be called a “Brochure Website”, where it basically stays the same, and tells all about your company or organization. There are also Forums, Wikis, Photo Galleries, Family Tree, Catalog, and many other types of sites. Different website building tools may work better for one or the other type. The most well known, large CMS site builders are named “Joomla” and “Drupal”. These are heavy duty CMS’s that are complex for the client to learn. These would be best for large organizations, who need a lot of functionality. “Google Sites” give you a small amount of data storage for free. You have a lot of functionality with Google Sites, including permitting certain people to have access, being able to add maps, calendars, and all sorts of neat functions. But Google does tend to abruptly pull some of their services or aps, so you have less control. CMS Made Simple is my latest and greatest website builder. It is better than WordPress at making a standard website. It offers lots of color themes and allows many contributors. It also allows your content to be timed, so if you have an article that needs to disappear on a certain date, no problem.
My latest effort has been to re-vamp the look of the Yellow Dot website and design new business cards and letterhead. Last year I added the most popular social media pages to Yellow Dot’s online presence, which made my business cards out of date! The new cards are full color on the front and on the back have Yellow Dot’s QR code, twitter, facebook, YouTube and Blog addresses. I’m not sure if anyone actually scans QR codes, but we need to know how it works anyway, so adopt it, we shall!
The amazing thing is how cheap it is to print 2-sided, full color cards. My cards cost less than $100 from local printer Lettercomm Printing, here in Alexandria. Several years ago these cards would have easily cost $300 or more. (This generation does not know how good they have it!) The cards were digitally printed, so no plates are made, and no presses inked. It works like a giant, high end color copier, using toner and a fuser. My letterhead and envelopes however, will be printed 2 color offset (traditional), on a nice letterhead paper in bright white.
I always prefer to use local printers rather than online ones. You have more choice in paper, for instance, mine are uncoated, or not shiny on the back because people always want to write on the back. The cards are done quicker, you can see a proof, and I pick them up myself, so no shipping fees. And the cost was the same or less than the online company.
A new WordPress website has been done! Also, I went to a WordPress “Meet-Up”, which was great – learned lots of new stuff and met folks. Many web development companies are doing nothing but WordPress websites! “WordPress” is a framework for a website, which the designer customizes by chooosing a theme, adding pages, choosing colors, etc. The owner can go in and easily make their own text changes.
So, I have created another family website, for my husband’s side of the family. This one was inspired because I had a short video taken from the small digital camera (almost everything take video these days!) And I wanted to show the video to my mother and father in-law, without posting it to YouTube. The other nice addition to this website are voice recording that I made from his family members, last Summer. I really love the old idea of “taping” people. It makes for a great memory later. Like the ones I have of my Grandfather from the 60′s. Hearing my Grandfather’s voice, who passed away when I was about 5, is an amazing thing.
My husband likes to use an online company for his Christmas cards – “Zazzle”. He orders cheesy cards and then types his own silly message on the front of the card. The other day, I got a mailer from Zazzle, showing their card selection. But wait! What? An online company sending a mailer?
One day, I got a mailer from Amazon. Wait a minute! I thought Amazon was the online retail behemoth!
But it is! And, it finds sending paper mailers to people’s homes is an effective way to draw them to the Amazon website! It must be effective, since the cost to print and mail is, as I call it, “a budgetable item”.
This new reality of our internet society includes BOTH PRINT and ONLINE marketing! Don’t go away, Post Office! We’re going to need you!
One of my website clients, Brooke Stoddard of Archon Editorial (www.archoneditorial.com) has come out with his new book, World in the Balance: The Perilous Months of June-October 1940.
This, turns out, is quite a good read! I am zipping through it, held in suspense over events which Brooke lays out quickly and directly. I grew up in Germany, age 12 – 17. We learned extensively about WWII. However the early part of my learning in the German school, how the political situation lead up to Hitler’s taking over, was hard for me to understand. It was in German, for one thing. And government words, at the age of 13 or 14, didn’t mean much to me. I wouldn’t have really known them in English. When you’re in a foreign language environment, you have hundreds of words coming at you daily. Some, you don’t understand, and never take the time to look up, being young.
Anyway, having grown up there, and this history being so immediate, with many familiar names which I’ve known nothing about ’till now, this book makes me feel like I am finally catching up on history I really should know better.
We just posted this image of the book on Brooke’s website yesterday. We added ordering instructions, and Brooke has a paypal button for credit card payments.
This poor little Blog page! What with all my new social pages, started this year, I am not paying as much attention to this Blog! Partly, because I’m not sure if anyone ever really reads it! Also, there’s the feeling that I should be coming up with a grand article to write here! Well, grand articles are more difficult to come up with, so instead I’ll just impart the latest news, for anyone who does stray into here. Probably just my competitors, to see what I’m up to… Hi, competitors!
So, news is, that I just sent out the Yellow Dot Holiday Newsletter, at long last! What with doing some work downtown this Autumn, my newsletter got delayed a bit. I usually try to send it towards the end of November.
And for this newsletter, I did something grand indeed! I have been working for DAYS, on this video. There is a link in the newsletter, that takes folks to the Yellow Dot YouTube page, where they can see my video.
My purpose with the video, is mainly to show off cool motion graphics, which include cool art, done by me, of course. It’s been part of my business plan all along, to get into motion graphics. The dream/hope/goal, is to do neato artsy intros and endings for movies!
So, over the years, I’ve figured out what software does motion graphics, bought the software, paying for the software, and have been learning the software. The capabilites are incredible. In fact the capabilities of your cell phone probably way out-weigh what you know how to do with it. So bit by bit, bouncing ball graphic by snow effect, I am delving into this world of motion. Most of my instructors are young guys who have put up instructional videos on the internet. Some better than others. One guy had his grunge music playing in the background as he mumbled away. Actually, I am amused and impressed by these young men, who take the time and care to create these thoughtful instructions. Often they are far better than Adobe’s completely obtuse help page. I was going to post here, the outrageous incoherent Adobe instruction, but now I can’t find it…
Here is the video link: