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Random Thoughts & Insights on Art & Design...

  • How to Make the Web Better

    How to Make the Web Better

    The Shift is a monthly writing project designed to help produce and consume unique perspectives on topics relevant to the web industry, this month’s topic is How to Make the Web Better and I decided to contribute by offering some of my thoughts and opinions on this topic.

    How to make the web better? Yikes. That’s a tough question because at first thought, how can it be any better? User experience on the web has improved drastically over that last couple of years. design is no longer an afterthought, responsive is now an assumed requirement, and most websites have relevant and informative content that isn’t entirely just about products and services the company X offers. We’ve made huge strides!

    So after doing a bit more thinking about this topic and continuing to ask myself “How can I improve the web today?” One thing kept popping up time and time again. It’s a simple thing and something that most of us do naturally, but somehow it gets lost on the web. I feel like most websites today are lacking a personal connection to their users or “guests”. I think the web can become better if we focus on doing a better job creating personable and meaningful experiences.

    I often think “How cool would it be if I could serve dynamic content on my own site based on what each individual guest coming to my site wants to see? How much more engaged could they be and how would that drive conversion?” As a bonus, how much fun would that be to try and build it?” Yes, it would make creating websites a much more labor intensive process and would be quite the challenge to get to know each of the different users, but at the end of the day, it would be worth the extra effort if those guests feel a genuine connection to me that is beyond “this is what I do and how I do it, please contact me today to start your project”. Although this feels daunting today, but I remember a time when building a fully responsive website felt unimaginable and required a great deal of extra work that felt in a lot of ways, unnecessary at the time.

    So how could we start to create this increased connection with guests coming to our websites?

    • Based on their IP, we should be able to determine what time of day it is for them and say Good Morning, Good Afternoon, or Good Evening when they arrive. It’s a small touch, but I’ve seen this actually on a couple of websites, and it gave me the warm and fuzzies. I’ve been wanting to add this to my website along with adding a little note for my guests that relates to that time of day. You could take this even further by tapping into weather data and then wishing your visitors a safe drive home in the snow that day. It’s a tiny moment that I’m sure will make guests feel like they aren’t just on any “typical” website. If you combine that information with good branding and copy, it could become memorable.


    • I wonder what would happen if instead of serving up a website that we think would translate well for an entire audience and then spending a crap ton of time and money on A/B testing, we just asked the individual guest “What can we help you with today?” We could then provide them a selection of services or options to choose from and then dynamically serve them a website that is made up of information that pertains to them.


    • Going off of the last bullet, what if the guests could fill in a few input fields and dynamically serve themselves up a website based off of that information? Imagine how awesome this would be on a Pediatrician’s website? I land on their website, I input basic (non-HIPPA violating) info like my child’s age, if he or she’s healthy or sick that day, and our preferred doctor from a list of on-staff doctors. After submitting the information, I’m then presented a website with “Dr. Bob” informing me of some current and upcoming milestones based on my baby’s age, providing informational and educational articles that could be of interest to me, asking if I’d like to schedule an appointment if he or she is sick, and so on.

    These are just a few ideas on how to make the web better by creating a more personable connection to our guests and visitors. This suggestion falls outside of the typical topics like; accessibility, performance, design, responsive, and other technical ways that could make the web better, but I think it would help push creatives and developers to explore different solutions that create better, more memorable and stronger experiences for each guest visiting our websites.
    Julie

  • 2015 Winter CCAD Art Fair

    2015 Winter CCAD Art Fair

    This year we finally made it out to the Columbus College of Art & Design Art Fair. I've wanted to take my sister, Jessica, to one of these events since she moved up here in 2011. It is mostly made up of current students but has a handful of teachers and alumni with amazing art for sale. This was the first time we brought Savannah to CCAD or even downtown in general. She had just learned to wave and clap her hands, so everyone we ran into she waved and clapped at. People must have thought we had an art fanatic on our hands. haha.

    My sister joined us and also our friends Andrew & Jessica Fisher. Jessica Fisher bought some really cute handmade earrings from a former CCAD teacher, and I was inspired to purchase from 2 artists that stood out to me, but I have more art than walls at the moment.

    1. Todd Camp http://www.toddcampart.com/
    Todd is a 1989 Columbus College of Art & Design Alumni whose recent works are colorful abstract cloudscape paintings largely influenced by his surroundings. If you haven't seen his work, I encourage you to visit his website or check out one of his Exhibitions.

    Todd Camp CloudScape Painting


    2. Mary Gaye Miller - Mixed Media assemblages Her Facebook Page
    Mary Gaye Miller's work of mixed media assemblages was an awesome find at the Art Fair. Each piece was a mix of wood, metal, texture, fabric, etc. painted over with vibrant bold colors each surrounded with black simple wood frames. Each were sold individually, but I have to say you could make these a 3 piece series and it would look fantastic in any space. When I spoke to her she said that she is working on getting her website up, but you can view more of her artworks and like her page on Facebook.

    Mary Gaye Miller Mixed Media

    After attending the CCAD Art Fair we walked over to the Columbus Museum of Art, which made an entire day of art. I loved the new building and all the new exhibits plus the Lego Exhibit had just opened. Savannah loved babbling and hearing her voice echo in all the different galleries. We all very much enjoyed our full day of Art and are looking forward to the next Art Fair in the Spring.

    Julie

  • Things aren't
    always #000000
    and #FFFFFF
    - Unknown

  • Great web design without functionality is like a sports car with no engine. Paul Cookson

  • Web Designer Magazine, Issue 206

    Web Designer Magazine, Issue 206

    While working with my husband at Greenline Creative, our studio we started in 2008, we were featured in Web Designer Magazine's Portfolio Section!

    In case you don’t know what Web Designer Magazine is, it is a great resource & articles for Web Designers and Developers on the latest Front-End Design & Development Techniques, Content Management Systems, Cutting Edge Website & Interactive Inspiration, Upcoming Conferences, etc. Below is the article and photos!

    Article & Photos:

    Web Designer Magazine, Issue 206 “Julie Field is a Web Designer and Partner at Greenline Creative in Columbus, Ohio. After attending the Columbus College of Art and Design, she began her career at an Advertising Agency where she focused on Website Maintenance and Email Marketing. Julie quickly rose to the challenge of meeting fast-approaching deadlines without compromising client vision or satisfaction. She developed a love for the complexity of design and the pursuit of the perfectly crafted solution. As a result of her quick introduction to website design and maintenance, Julie possesses a full understanding of what developers expect and what clients are really asking for.

    She then concentrated her talents on freelancing as a Web Designer for a variety of local agencies and clients. It was here that Julie worked closely with various teams to meet the needs of many different projects and clients. Around the same time, her husband, Dennis Field, decided to go independent and start his own Graphic Design company called Greenline Creative. The husband and wife team began collaborating professionally, combining Julie’s Interactive experience and Dennis’s background in Retail Graphic Design. Greenline Creative has been bringing quality design to area businesses ever since.

    Since its inception, Greenline Creative has wowed the local and national markets with their clean and professional design skills. They find inspiration in helping their clients develop an image for themselves, and creating a web presence that is eye catching and still easy to update.

    Julie and Dennis stay on the forefront of Web Design trends by attending networking events, meeting up with fellow designers, and reading anything and everything on Design.”

    Julie

  • Some SEO Best Practices

    Some SEO Best Practices

    When it comes to Search Engine Optimization, there are a few key techniques that every website owner and developer can do to help improve rankings overtime. But first it should be known that when it comes to SEO, it is never an overnight technique, nor should it be. Can you imagine finally getting to #1 on Google, only to be pushed to the 20th page overnight because 300 new website became available? Wouldn't work out very well for you or the person searching for the best results possible. SEO is something that should be a constant focus and thought through when writing content, adding website design updates, and even planning your marketing strategy. I don't call myself an SEO "Specialist" only because I can't guarantee the #1 results all my clients are looking for, but I can work with you on a plan for the best SEO implementations for your company. Here are my basic guidelines to get your started:

    1. Plan for how you want to be found and do some keyword research.
    Take some time to really narrow down a group of key phrases that you want to be found under. Rather than having something broad and robotic-like such as "Pediatrician Columbus Ohio" think of what you would search for if you were looking for your company. Maybe its "Highly recommended Pediatrician located in Dublin, Ohio" or "Top list of Holistic Pediatricians in Dublin, Ohio". Don't be afraid to throw in what makes you different amongst your competition. This will not only help your listing show up in search results, but also bring in more qualified leads. Pick a handful of these phrases and use these as your SEO foundation to build around and also as a means to measure your listing's improvement overtime.

    2. Use your heading tags appropriately
    Most client's managing their own content in Wordpress or similar CMS's use the WYSIWYG editor as a means to style their content. The WYSIWYG which stands for "What You See Is What You Get", is the text editor that shows up above your content areas. You'll notice a list of headings starting with a large "Heading 1", then a slightly smaller "Heading 2", and so on. These shouldn't be used as a means to call out content areas on a page like "Important" or "Attention". These tags are actually used to show importance on a page. The Heading 1 or "H1" tag should be used only once on a page should describe the page in 1 short sentence. An example would be "Children's Pediatrics offers expert medical care for children's health in Dublin, Ohio". would be in the top and utilize the H1 tag. After that you'll want to use the H2 tag as sub-headlines outlining of what makes Children's Pediatrics experts in medical care for children's health in Dublin, Ohio. This would be a good time to sprinkle in some of your important key phrases such as "Highly recommended" or "Holistic Practices" etc. Use the paragraph tags for descriptions under each sub-headline for more explanation for each sub-headline. In general, use these tags as a level of importance of content for each individual page... not for styling or grabbing attention.

    3. Titles of your web pages
    This SEO tip is an important one! Titles of your pages tell search engines what your page is about and appear in three key places: browsers, search engine results pages, and external websites. Because this one is really important, you might be tempted to stuff a ton of keywords in your title, but know that search results will only display about 50 to 60 characters and will cutoff the rest. Do keep the important key phrases towards the front of your title and keep it relevant and unique to each page it will live on. Also note that when pages get shared on social media outlets, the title will be the first item that appears and should be enticing enough for others to want to click or share it.

    4. Write quality content
    Write content that is unique, quality, and goes beyond self-promotion of your business. If you are a pediatrician, write articles on subjects that interests you and ties back to your business. Show your expertise in the field and educate your readers on topics that you feel is important when it comes to pediatrics and healthcare. Don't just write keyword rich content for search engines, but for the interest of your audience. Also once your article is written, think about not only publishing your blog articles on your website, but also sharing a slightly different version out on other blogging platforms such as Medium, Reddit, or Tumblr with links back to your original article. These platforms are just waiting for new content to share with their own followers and remember, the more attention it gets, the more importance it will have in the search results. I'll expand more on Content Marketing in a later article.

    5. Be multi-device ready
    Having articles that are mobile, tablet and desktop friendly is important when search engines serve up results. Not only will your pages need to be relevant, unique and important... it will need to be optimized to render legibly and elegantly on every screen size. Every year there are hundreds of articles showing stats on increased mobile browsing and with this, search engines now know which websites are responsive and which ones are not. They will rank multi-device ready websites higher because they are more accessible and have a better user experience.

    These are just a few SEO best practices to follow when thinking about making improvements to your search engine strategy. Wether you are in the beginning stages of a website design for your business or need to take your existing website to the next level, feel free to contact me to discuss your next project.

    Julie