Hey everyone, I thought I would take some time to write about 'Inspiration' and where to get it, or at least where I get it.
Now I should say straight out of the gate, that although all my designs are 'custom' I know there are many designs out there that are maybe far more creative or far more exciting. That's ok, I accept that, lol. But the designs I create, I try to bridge the gap between creative & easy to use. But, even though my designs are not the MOST creative out there, I still often run into the 'inspiration' challenge to pull off a new design every time. And you might think that this is easy...but once you have done over 150 designs, each one unique and started from a blank canvas, you find inspiration a little hard to come by.
So, when I am about to start a new web design project, or maybe a logo design project, I will hit the usual places online for inspiration like Logo Pond, or some of the top list sites for best web designs. But when I really want to get down to the nitty gritty and get some of that fine tuned inspiration that is going to help me turn out a high quality, original design, I actually turn to music.
How many times have you heard someone say "Music? Oh, I like everything!". And I'm sure they do, but I REALLY can find every type of music useful to some capacity, and especially for inspiring. For example, if I am working on a darker design that is dark colors, melancholic mood, then I will tend to throw some heavier, or simply darker music into my player. Artists like Bohren, Combichrist, and even Static-X are great for this. But sometimes I am working on a design that is very 'retro' in feel. Retro graphics, retro colors, etc. For this I will completely shift my musical 'drip' to something more along the lines of classics like Les Baxter or Keely Smith with even some new artists thrown in like Lana Del Rey & Kimbra. So, that's the inspiration, but what's the talk about 'Passion'?
Well, I have long time been into music. I remember when I was a teenager, just sitting there on my bed with a new cd, listening and looking at the liner notes. For the entire duration of the disc. I just loved to envelope myself in the music. Take every piece of stimuli the artist was offering to me and let it permeate my very soul. It was and IS my true passion! So, I now convert that passion into inspiration for my designs!
I don't want this to be too long of an entry, but the point here is; take the time to figure out what that one true passion is. Figure out the different styles or moods of that passion, and then use it as your creative 'drip'. Draw from it. Dip your toes in it's creative pool. I dunno, this is just what I do, lol. Feel free to drop me a message and share with me your avenues of inspiration.
These days everyone is talking about SEO (Search Engine Optimization). If you haven't heard of SEO, don't be embarrassed cause while it is Search Engine Optimization, the web world always feels the need to abbreviate. So, you may have glossed over SEO thinking it was some sort of new title for a big-wig in a major corporation, "Oh ya, have you met John, the SEO at Burger King?". lol.
Anyways, while Search Engine Optimization is very important, sometimes I do find many of my clients forgetting about some of the other ways to drive traffic to their website. SEO is one of the most popular ways, it is in essence the art of crafting the content of your site to retain maximum visitors from a specific genre or demographic as well as making sure your content and coding in your website is 'the friendliest kid in the playground' with search engine robots to result in better ranking.
But today I want to focus on that little unsung hero in driving traffic to your website. That hero that doesn't need a lot of competition, it's just takes a little legwork and your off to getting fairly targeted traffic to your website. I'm talking about 'Networking'.
Now we could spend days talking about social networking, get a Facebook page, a Twitter account, A Google+ account, etc. But for the purpose of this article, I am just talking about 'link exchanges'. So many times I see clients that don't have or don't want a 'links' page on their website. This is fine, link exchanges don't actually have to happen on a 'links' page per se, but there should be some link exchanges regardless.
So, what are link exchanges? Well, basically they are you sharing links between your site and another website of an affiliate or related, but not competing, service or product. For example, let's say you run a business making kids clothing, specifically little girl's dresses, well a good thing for you to do, assuming you have a 'links' or 'friends' or 'affiliates' page, is contact some other websites in your industry, like maybe a kids shoes company and see if they will put a link to your site on their site and in turn you will reciprocate with a link back to their website. Now, if someone is on their site buying kids shoes, there is a good chance they will see your link and come over to your website for a matching dress. This work especially well if you use banner links instead of just text links. And something to remember is that these are targeted visitors. These are people that were looking at a related service or product and will likely be interested in YOUR service or product.
So, hey, the downfall to link exchanges for networking is it's a lot of work. But does anything out there of real value come easy? No. You have to work for it. Trust me, this is a great, free way to get some added traffic to your website. Work it!
I thought I would write a little something here to address a question I often get asked with regards to web designs and the differences, or should I say pluses and minuses to getting a custom web design or just buying a pre-made template design.
Let's talk first about the template design. The attraction here with a template design, right off the bat is the price. You can often purchase full template websites for anywhere between $30 - $200 and more. This is very attractive and often 'suckers' people in. They go to a template site and see the list of templates available. They find one they like and then lay down their cash to purchase it. This is where the excitement often comes to a screeching halt...
You see the thing most template sites often don't disclose is that once you have the template, you still need to find hosting for it, register a domain name, edit the content, upload it through FTP to your server, etc, etc, etc. And many times the content editing of the template alone, is something not for the 'coding' faint of heart.
Now, not all template sites are as irresponsible, but many are. And even some of the best out there, neglect to tell the purchaser that they are still likely to need a web designer to implement the design and edit the content for them. So, if chances are that you are going to need a designer anyways, why not shell out the little extra cash to get a custom web design, and in the case of PostIdol Media, a designer in your corner to aid you with the website for the life of the site?
Now a custom web design is exactly that, 'custom'. As with the case with PostIdol Media and my designs. When I do a design I start from a blank canvas to create a completely custom layout for my clients. Something that is uniquely individual to them and their project. Now, I may use a gallery system or a music player that is the same as used on a previous design of mine, but the actual design of the site itself and overall look is unique and custom with it's own style and character.
Furthermore, when you hire PostIdol Media for your web design, not only do you get a custom design that will help you stand out and look as if you spared no expense, but you also get a webmaster to be there for any questions, future updates, technical assistance and more with the web design and even beyond the scope of the web design. When I am hired I like to think my clients hired more than just some guy to design their website, but more a new member of their team that is in their corner incase they need anything even long after the site has been launched.
Now, granted I am biased as a custom web designer, lol. But I am honest. Do the research, you will see that what I have said here is the truth. Custom web design is the way to go if you want to get a personal experience and someone who can help you navigate thru the process of getting your business or project online.
And 'custom' DOES NOT mean 'expensive'. We can work with any budget to create a custom design for our clients.
Well after a bunch of creative wars with my mind, personal wars with myself and the loss of my Mom and juggling a year of projects, I am finally able to say that I am happy that the new phase of PostIdol Media is finally here.
Let me take just a minute to let everyone know what metamorphosis has been happening in the PostIdol Media cocoon.
First of all, this May marked the one year anniversary of my Mother's death. My Mom passed away from pancreatic cancer in May 2010. It was a shock and a big blow to me as I was raised by a single mother, and never really knew my father. And the speed at which it happened never really gave me time to comprehend it. She went into emergency complaining of chest pains, and within two weeks she was in the hospice. And within two weeks of that she was dead. So in the last year I have had to keep PostIdol Media rolling forward, keep from alienating my family and try to mentally deal with the loss of my Mom. It has been the longest year of my life. BUT, once that year anniversary passed it was like the cold sluggish grip of sorrow finally released and I was born a new man with new creative ideas and purpose.
During my grieving I had created the 'cowboy' PostIdol Media website. For those of you that didn't see it, it was pretty cool, but too heavily Flash laden. It was very dirty and full of western grit. But most of all, the logo was made up from a photo I found in my Mother's things of her and my uncle riding on a horse and carriage. It was a website that just came out of me. It had to. I didn't care if it was too Flash intensive, it needed to be launched. I got great compliments on that site, on it's authenticity. But once the one year anniversary passed of My Mom's death, th site had to go. I felt, like an old romantic relationship that I had to shed all that was my Mom, including that site. So, the new phase of PostIdol Media (Pi) was born....
PostIdol Media has been steadily growing for a number of years now. I still remember back in the beginning when I could count the number of designs I had done on one hand. Now, I am afraid to criticize (not that I would in the first place) any design out there for fear it may be my own, lol. But seriously, I have been so blessed with a supportive family and some of the greatest clients ever. No, scratch that, some of the greatest 'friends' ever!
When searching for the new image for PostIdol Media I wanted to go in a more mature direction to reflect the quality of clients and sites I have been doing. After about 5 different logo concepts and tossing around ideas with my wife, I finally settled on the 'pi' symbol. Looking at it now, it seams so logical and fitting, that I just can't see why I haven't used it sooner. First of all there is the actual letters 'pi'....'p'...'i'....'Post'....'Idol'. Simple, I know. But neat none the less. Furthermore, the actual definition of 'pi' is a number that is 'never ending and never repeating'. Ever since I started doing web design, I swore that I would do all I could to not template. That's why when you look at my designs you see that they are all original. Sure, they may use a similar gallery system, or radio player, etc, but I can guarantee that they were all started from a blank canvas. There for, you could say the PostIdol Media motto is 'Never Ending, Never Repeating', referencing my designs and PostIdol Media's longevity as a long-term established web design firm.
The new phase of PostIdol Media also marks the first site I have done for the company that is entirely html. PostIdol has always been a strong Flash web design firm, but with some of the short comings of Flash I finally realized I need to be open and fluid in my work and go where the trends take me. So, now I do html and/or Flash web designs and decided to make a statement of this with the new PostIdol Media website.
It actually felt great to get back into html designing. During the creation of the new Pi site I have done 4 other html web designs. It seams I am still able to keep the creativity flowing with html designs. So, it's an exciting time.