Tag Archives: Tip

The C.R.A.P. Principles

C.R.A.P. (terrible name, infinitely useful) is an initialism which stands for contrast, repetition, alignment, and proximity. The term was coined by Robin Williams (author of The Non-Designer’s Design Book: Design and Typographic Principles for the Visual Novice) and has become a basic principle of design. Utilizing the C.R.A.P. principles allows even the most inexperienced amateur designers to avoid the dreaded wall of text and instead create dynamic and attractive web content.

The basics of the C.R.A.P. principles are:

Contrast – Elements that aren’t supposed to be the same should be very different. Making the only slightly different confuses the eye and causes the reader to see a relationship that doesn’t exist. Using differing elements on a page draws the eyes to appropriately grouped elements and allows for proper scanning.

Repetition – Continuing formatting and styles for the entire document to create and maintain a cohesive feel.

Alignment – Everything on the page needs to be visually connected to something else, nothing should be out of place or distinct from all other design elements. Clean lines create peace.

Proximity – Proximity creates related meaning: elements that are related should be grouped together, whereas separate elements should have enough space in between to be easily distinguishable. Never underestimate the use of white space.

For more information and examples, visit:
http://www.webcredible.co.uk/blog/revive-the-crap-principles
http://thinkvitamin.com/design/how-crap-is-your-site-design/

Useful tools for PC users

People often ask me what tools I use to make my life on a PC easier… well here is a list of some of my favs.

1. PixResizer (http://bluefive.pair.com/pixresizer.htm) easily allows you to resize one or multiple images. Please, please use this or http://profusionproducts.com/resizer/ to resize your images before you load them onto your website.

2. TweetDeck – I manage a few Twitter and FaceBook accounts and TweetDeck makes this simple from one interface

3. Pixie – (http://www.nattyware.com/pixie.php) ever wonder what the hex, RGB, or CMYK value of the color on your favorite website is? Well wonder no more, Pixie is a great little tool that will tell you the codes for any color on any website, document or image.

4. PowerPoint – I am a PowerPoint junkie. I don’t just use it for presentations, I use it to do rough schematics and rough mock-ups. I can do amazing things in PowerPoint. Many website designs have started with me and a client sitting down and mocking something up it PowerPoint. I am sure other web designers will laugh, but this works and my clients are happy.

5. I had been using GoTo Webinar for our online training sessions and have been relatively happy with them. They are somewhat pricey ($99/mo). My biggest complaint is that the recordings are not very high quality. I have posted many of them on the NSNA website and they are hard to read. I have been trying out Camtasia and Screencast.com for a couple quick responses to clients (see http://www.screencast.com/t/YTIwZDMzMTkt as an example) but I have not used it enough to make a full review. I’ll let you know.

6. We use IM (instant messenger) like crazy to communicate quickly. Call me lazy, but there are many times I will IM the CEO of our company even if he is sitting in the office right next to me. For me, I like having a written answer to my question. If gives me something to go back and read if I ever forget the answer (which I do a lot… prego brain). I still have two accounts, Yahoo and MSN, and use both messengers. I know there are tools that allow you to consolidate to one IM, but I like having both. Sue me.

7. CutePDF – again, PC users need a free way to make PDFs too. See my earlier post on how to do this.

8. Pandora.com – For me, I work much better with good tunes. Since I can’t hire DJ Maynard to spin in my office all day, I listen to Pandora.

What am I missing? What can’t you live/work without?

But I’m not technical… and other excuses that will cripple your sales.

My degree in psychology does not qualify me to sell a technical product. When I first got in this industry (almost 6 years and 2,300 websites ago) I thought, boy, do I have a lot to learn. And that was true, and I almost let it cripple me.

Now, for those of you who do not know me directly, I am not short on confidence. My parents told me I could do anything, and I believed them. So when given the opportunity to start a company selling web solutions, I said why not and jumped in with both feet. Unfortunately, the first few meetings I had with potential clients were disasters. I wasn’t prepared to answer their questions, I didn’t know what I was selling, and I couldn’t provide them with any value. I was shell shocked. I had just invested over $60,000 into a business that I didn’t know the first thing about.

My initial reaction… RETREAT, FULL RETREAT! Hide your head in the sand until this passes and then pop back up as a blond and hope no one noticed. Unfortunately that strategy didn’t work. I had to get back on the horse, I had to make my investment work. So then I took on the attitude that I had to learn everything there was about web technologies and websites. The next meeting I went into, I was going to be the biggest web nerd in the room. I started reading books and other websites that I could find. I tried to devour as much information as I could.

But what was happening to my sales and leads while I was doing all this learning? Nothing. I had no sales, I had no income, I had nothing in my pipeline. That was even scarier than being laughed out of a meeting. So I knew I had to find a healthy balance of learning and selling. I took on the attitude that I have now… I may not know everything about technology, but I know we (NSNA) can do just about anything any client wants on the web.

And more importantly, I realized that my potential clients don’t care if I know everything about the web or not. They care about what I know about their business. They care about how I can help them make more money, spend less time at work, manage their own site, learn a new skill, etc. That is the value I provided them. My clients enjoy the fact that I do not speak geek. They like that they are speaking with another business owner that understands that making payroll can be a bitch sometimes and that sometimes at the end of the month there are a lot more bills than cash.

So now the important skill that I bring to the table when meeting a client is that I listen. I listen to what they want, I balance that with what I know works and how our products work, and the result usually is a happy client with a new web solution. The point is, don’t let your fear of not knowing paralyze you into not selling. If you are a ProFusion Dealer, spend time building your website on the tools you were given when you first signed up. Show your clients what you are doing, show them how you can add pictures to your website with a few mouse clicks. Show them how you can turn a boring business website into an Italian Restaurant site in less than an hour. Show them how you can make your new product dance, and I guarantee they will want to do business with you and they will tell their friends about you.

So stop waiting, start selling!

How to convert any document to a PDF

For us PC users, there is no pre-loaded software application that allows us to turn any document into a PDF. I’ve heard that this is easy to do on a Mac, but have not verified it (any Mac users out there who wish to post the instructions here would be thanked profusely). The easiest application I have found to turn any document (Word Docs, Publisher files, PowerPoint Files, Images, etc.) into a PDF is a Free download call CutePDF. Once you have downloaded and installed CutePDF creating the document is pretty easy. Follow these steps:

1. Open the document that you want to turn into a PDF

2. Go to File > Print

3. From the printer drop down, instead of printing to your default printer, you will want to print to CutePDF instead.

4. Select where you want to save the PDF, name it and you are all done!

Great Custom 404 Page

Every once in a while we come across something a little unexpected. This 404 page certainly fits into that category. Thanks to Peg for finding this page http://www.racetothesky.org/pagetool/?name=index

This is great for 2 reasons. First, they have a sense of humor. That is always a good thing. Second, they created a custom 404 error page instead of putting up the same ugly old 404 error page you see in your browser. A custom 404 error page definitely creates a better user experience for your web visitors in case they come across a broken link. Obviously, the first choice is to just not have bad links on your site, but if you have made some changes on your site and you think that some page names may have changed which resulted in a broken link, definitely put up a custom 404 page with a link to your sitemap. Way better user experience this way.

All of our sites on the ProFusion Ultra IS website application have editable 404 error pages. So it matches the look and feel of your site and gives you the opportunity to keep the visitor on your site should they encounter a bad link.