The Importance Of Keyword Research And How It Helps Businesses In Malaysia

More often than not we see that most take Keyword Research for granted, especially Malaysian Companies. And what happens is companies neglect keyword research when they set up an online ad on systems such as Adwords. This produces catastrophic results like poor Clickthrough rate (CTR) and high Bounce Rates for companies. 30% of  the world is on the net as shown here, don’t lose anymore.

This is akin to pouring money into something that will ultimately cost them in the long run. This article is aimed at anyone, that needs help with Keyword Research, why it’s important and how to improve it. Do Keyword Research right and it will definitely help bring you closer to your goal, whatever it is. Or look for us and we can help you or check out what else our company can do here.

Understand The Intent Of Your Viewers

The first piece of advice, Keyword Intent. It’s vital to understand what your viewers or customers want and what you have to offer to them. There are three general types of search query, Informational, Transactional and Navigational. Say you found this page, about Keyword Research and how it helps on Google’s Search Results, then your search query is an informational one.

For the sake of convenience, we will only focus on Transactional Search Queries since it’ considered a high-value intent. They are the ones that bring instant immediate profit to your company through the selling of your goods online. The other two queries are considered low intent since its informational or just a means to find something. They will probably help with brand image and recognition but they won’t be buying anytime soon.

An Example

So let’s say your companies sell foodstuff online, and purely is in the business of selling, not educating. So, in this case, the kind of keyword you should look for yourself are those of Transactional, not Informational. When creating your ad, aim for keywords such as “buy” or “Discounts”. This indicates that you are selling, not informing or educating a product and will lead potential buyers to your ad.

Sale,Cheap,Offers Search Queries

Dyson Sale,Cheap,Offers

Note how some brands place keywords like “Cheap” and “Offers” into their headings. This tells Google or other search engines and viewers that the sites are selling.

For other types such as Navigational and Informational, you have to imagine yourself as a visitor and how you would find what you think your visitors want. So the example for Navigational, it could be words like “login” or “home”. For Informational, it would be like “how-to” or ” why” or “reviews”. You’ll have to think of it yourself other variations. Mind you these are just the keywords that you add either to the front or back of your keywords. So a page like our “Our Work“, can be considered an Informational query that only appears when people look for it.

You still need to find your keyword. This just helps with filtering people that you did not target, if the visitor doesn’t intend to buy, don’t show them a Transactional ad to click. That just adds cost since you won’t get a sale and they won’t find what they are looking for. Check out Wordstream’s post for a more in-depth look at keyword intent here.

Finding Keywords That Leads To Sales

Now that we know how to filter visitors buying, researching or just being curious, we need keywords. This is where a lot of companies struggle. Most think that it’s simple, if I sell Sushi, then my keywords will all be Sushi with some variations. Close but not exactly, there’s a better, more efficient way than this and that’s by using tools such as Keyword Finder.

Generic terms, more often than not, will not lead to conversions such as sales or visits and therefore we need long-tail keywords to get them.Most users looking for generic terms might just be curious and usually do not lead to a conversion since they will be at the beginning of the conversion cycle.

Long-tail keywords are specific keywords that are more detailed and elaborate. And if visitors look for it, there’s a chance it could lead to conversion as the visitor has an objective in mind. This is because they are now further up the conversion cycle and is keen to buy, not just to look around anymore.

To use Keyword Finder, you’ll need a Google Analytics account and an Adwords account. Here are the links, straight from Google here and here. Anyways, look for the “Keyword Planner” tag within the tab that states “Tools” in Adwords and click on it. Setup the fields such as your site’s URL or whatever you are selling and click on the “Get Ideas” button. So, this will provide data such as recommended Cost Per Click (CPC) and Competition. The CPC is the recommended amount you should spend per visitor click and the Competition indicates how hot that keyword is. Competition only has three levels, Low, Medium and High. The higher the CPC and Competition, the more valuable it is to companies and businesses.

How it Works

For example, our Sushi shop is a physical one and you want to get customers in using ads online. So you use Adwords and through the Keyword Planner you typed in the keyword “Sushi Restaurant”. The results come in and you see that the keyword “Sushi Restaurant” has low Competition with a CPC of RM3.99. Not bad but this combination is troublesome as Google thinks each click is RM3.99 but the low competition indicates the chance visitors will head to your shop is low. If you do go along with this Keyword, I predict high impressions but no one will have the intention of going since they are at the beginning of the conversion cycle, they are just curious at this point.

Sushi_Restaurant_Avg._Search+CPC

So, taking a look at other ideas recommended by Google, we see results such as “Nearest Sushi Restaurant To Me”. It has a competition rating of Medium and the CPC or Recommended Bid is lower than that of the Keyword typed in. This is good, it means there’s a higher chance that this leads to a conversion, the visiting of your restaurant, and I’ll cost less than the default keyword.  Using the “Nearest Sushi Restaurant To Me” keyword will attract visitors that are at the end stages of the conversion cycle. It means they are actively looking for a Sushi shop to go to, thus converting in the cycle if they go.

Idea_Of_Sushi_restaurant

 

So the key is to target Long-tail Keywords that have a higher chance of conversion at the expense of Impressions for sales. And aim for less focused keywords to get your brand out there with impressions at the cost of sales. Depends on what your goal is for your business. Just stay away from generic terms. For an extremely detailed breakdown of Long-tail Keywords, I recommend checking out Backlinko’s site to know more.

DIY_Long_Short_Tail_Keywords

Adapting To What Your Customers Want

Alternatively, we let the keywords dictate what we create and what would sell. All we need to do is look for “Hot” keywords, so to say. The concept is simple, say we operate a cookie company and we are interested in making more variants of cookies to sell. But we have no idea what’s popular and what is not to customers, more traditional methods such as surveys are costly on a large scale so it’s not an option.

How We Do It

So what we can do is again, head to Keyword Planner. Entering in the item, in our case, “Cookie Flavour” into the product box, we can now find out what the most popular searches are through the “Competition” tab. Just click on the “Competition tab” until it is from High to Low ranking and there we go.  The highest competition ones indicate massive popularity and therefore we can possibly resolve the decision around it. Only thing is it means a lot of other companies are probably competing with the same type of product.

Cookie_Bid_Competition_Search

So if we use the example down below, we can see that the one flavour that pops up at the top is Oreos, and it has a high Competition rank, means its popular but there’s competition among other manufacturers trying to sell Oreo flavoured cookies.

Cookie_Ideas_3_ Alternatives

Alternatively, you can also check the “Average Monthly Searches”, again from high to low. This data might come in very handy, especially if the competition is low. This can be advantageous to us, as it tells us that visitors demands it but there no supply to fulfil it. This presents a chance to get ahead of the competition since its uncharted territories. But use your discretion when looking at the data, there could be a reason why no one is meeting the demand and the reasons are unlimited.

Chosen_based_On_Avg_Searches

Looking at the data I got, we can consider chocolate chip flavour since it has a fairly high number of users looking for it but with low competition. Means there is potential for a market right here. Butter cookies is not an option with competition being High, even if the monthly searches are very high. The market demand has most likely been met already, hence the high competition for the finite number of viewers.

So do it right and you will have a fine look at what your potential customers want and your business will be able to anticipate and meet future demands quickly and efficiently through the keywords.

Finding Keywords Others Might Use

What I mean in this case is this, say for example we reuse the sushi example, we create both our ad and our page to include a lot of  “Sushi” and its variations. Now while this is not exactly wrong, it can be further expanded. We have to understand that while we might call it “Sushi”, some might call it by some other name. Other examples would often include “Uramaki” or “Sashimi” and so on. Different people, different names and terms used. So if say we only focused on “Sushi”, we would be missing out on viewers looking at the other types of keywords people might use like “Sashimi”.

This would definitely cost you in terms of potential impressions, clicks or conversions, whatever your goal is. Now  I am going to tell you how you can find other keywords easily that you can use to get more viewers. The first method involves just going to Google. Google is pretty smart, when you look for certain items, say “Sushi”, it will give you the following recommendations down below:

Google_Sushi_Recomendations

Now the recommendation that Google usually gives us is popular search phrases visitors use and is to help visitors narrow down what they want. So looking at some of the recommendations, we see additional words getting tacked onto the original “Sushi”. Words such as “Sashimi” or “Maki” are pretty useful for pages because now Google organic search results will provide a higher listing as a wider net has been cast.

Same thing for ads as a wider spectrum of visitors will now see the ad when searching for more obscure terms. And if what you’re looking for doesn’t provide a list of recommendation, use sites like LSI Graph, these give suggestions and wider variations that would definitely come in handy.

Conclusion Time

In conclusion, finding keywords to strategically sell your products, whether online or offline, is not difficult. Targeting and converting your customers and visitors to buy your stuff is not particularly difficult. And finding out what potential visitors and customers want is pretty easy. All of this is doable when you have the willpower to sift through all that data that Google Analytics and Adwords has in store.

The trick is to find patterns and correlation within the data and to act on it strategically. Experiment with your keywords until you are satisfied with the results or your ROI on advertisements. And lastly, don’t take keyword research for granted like so many businesses and companies have done out there.Learn from them and their mistakes. There is value to keyword research and only you can unlock its potential.

The Techy Hub Annual Company Trip

All of us from the Techy Hub would like to travel out of Malaysia for a team building trip. While we want it to be fun, we decided that no team trip would be complete without us working on a project together. Hence why we want to build a work relationship with a company outside of Malaysia.

What we can offer:

Need a website designed from scratch or assistance with digital marketing? We have the right guys for you. Our talented team of eight will fly over to your office to work on the project for a few days (duration will depend on the complexity of the project).

The services we provide include:

  • Front and Back End Web development
  • Web design
  • Digital Marketing (Search Engine Optimisation & online ads)
  • Graphic design (company logo etc.)
  • Technical support (anything IT related)

For more information on the skill-set possessed by our team and the services we provide, please feel free to drop us a message.

The trade:

Ultimately this trip is meant for our team to get to know one another better and have a good time. Therefore, instead of a fee we would like your company to warmly host us during our stay in your country. We would like to barter our work with comfortable accommodation, good food from your country, travel costs and some leisure time.

Furthermore, we would also like the opportunity to connect with more people around the world and learn more about the working culture outside of Malaysia. Building this work relationship would help us to achieve this and broaden our experiences.

 

If interested, do leave us a message and we could negotiate terms of trade further.

 

My Experience as an Intern at The Techy Hub

Lesli Lu working at The Techy Hub

It has been 2 and a half months since I joined The Techy Hub for the internship and today will be the final day of my internship. After completing my SPM at SMK Taman Connaught, I decided after all the late night study sessions and stressful examinations that I needed a break. So, I chose to opt for the July intake for A-levels.

The months leading up to the internship were mostly unproductive. From working in retail to binge watching Netflix at home. The first 2 months were great, the feeling of doing absolutely nothing was satisfying. But the break I thought I deserved became dull really fast. I knew how important planning for the future was, so I made it my goal to get an internship before I start college.

My sister told me about The Techy Hub, saying that they offer a really good internship program. After exchanging a few e-mails with Soon Seng, we scheduled an interview. A week after that, my internship began.

Why I chose to do my internship

Coming out of government school, I did not really get the exposure I needed to face the adult world. We lack communication skills as there’s an explicit hierarchy in schools where the governing bodies are dominant, this shuts down communication skills, opinions and creativity. The Techy Hub gave me the opportunity to grow and get real world experience.

With a large majority of my friends already started college and another portion enrolling just as I started my internship, there was a small form of doubt. I would be half a year behind my friends. Here are some of the reasons why I did things differently and chose to do an internship.

Real world experience

An internship gives the opportunity to experience what it’s like to work in a professional environment. Often people have the misconception whereby an intern merely does photocopying or getting coffee. At The Techy Hub, interns were here to learn and explore new career paths.

Learn new skills

One of the reasons I applied for the internship at the The Techy Hub was because I knew nothing about programming. I know it sounds rather counter intuitive. Why venture into uncharted territory? Well let’s face it, programming is the future. The internship gave me the opportunity to learn basic coding. It also gave me some insights on how a web development company functions.

Dog with computer

source.

Building my resume

Before I came in, my resume consists mainly of retail jobs that don’t bring much value. The internship served both as a great learning experience as well as a new addition to my resume. The addition of an internship in my resume carries more weight in a sense that it shows you’re motivated to be involved in the working industry.

 

 The experience

The first week of my internship was mostly learning the basics. I was appointed to be under the Digital Marketing team. Again, I was going into this blind, knowing nothing about the different aspects of digital marketing. I started off watching introduction videos regarding digital marketing from SEO to SEM. Trying to absorb as much as I could. My supervisor Kur Win taught me everything I needed to know about Digital marketing. I slowly began to understand why certain websites succeeded while others got lost in cyberspace.

After the first week, I was given a few tasks that included managing the Facebook pages of our company as well as other partner companies. Even though I was an intern, it felt like I was treated as a real employee. We were given responsibilities. During meetings, our input and opinions were valued where they take our inputs into consideration regardless of whether you were a full time staff or an intern.

Digital marketing meme

It really is. source.

I was often given the task of writing content for client websites, blogposts and product descriptions. I really enjoyed the creative freedom given to me, where I could express my ideas and thoughts. However at times, the need for constant original content can be mentally straining. The working environment and help from my colleagues definitely helped me in overcoming the challenges faced. The working environment instills creativity. With a large couch, colourful bean bags and an Xbox, the workplace encourages the balance between work and play.

Since The Techy Hub is a Web Development company, it was only fair that I learn how to code. I learned basic Front-End Development which comprises of HTML and CSS coding. I was fascinated by how even a simple website required lines and lines of code. Challenging at time, programming is one of the key skills to have for the future regardless of what career direction you opt to choose.

hackerman

How it felt to code for the first time. source.

That’s all Folks!

It was wonderful to walk into the office each day knowing that every day is a new day where you have the opportunity to learn, to build connections and to grow. The time has come for us to go our own ways. In a month, I’ll be back in school but with a different outlook. I’ll be forever grateful for giving me the opportunity of knowledge interning under The Techy Hub. Thanks guys!

Want to experience the internship program for yourself? Find out more about the internship program here: thetechyhub.com/the-internship/

group photo of The Techy Hub

Farewell lunch for the interns.

6 Websites That You Would Want to Emulate

website design

Your website is a reflection of your brand. In the technological age, having a killer website is essential if you would like to have a strong online presence. By having a strong online presence, you will be able to generate more leads, increase credibility and much more.  However, having a great website is not easy by any means. By including the following criteria, it will definitely help your website be more engaging, effective and user-friendly.

1. Purpose

A good website is able to convey its ideas upon entering the site. With great web design, you are able to convey information through illustrations, pictures and interaction. No matter what is the purpose of the website, the user should know what the website is about the instant he/she enters the site.

bot asking what is it's purpose.

2. Navigation

Navigation is about how a user travels through a website. You generally want to keep the navigation throughout your website as simple and as easy to browse through as possible. With our attention span getting shorter, users are more likely to leave a website due to its inconvenient navigation. Simplistic navigation allows users to quickly find the information they are looking for when browsing your site. This leads to quick conversions as well as pleasant user experience.

3. Interactivity

Just like anything or anyone in life, we want meaningful and interesting interactions. Same goes to your website, users will typically lose interest in mundane interactions with your website. By integrating your brand’s ideas into the navigation and implementing meaningful interactions for users to browse through your website. By doing so, you engage the users and lengthens the time spent on your site.

finger touching interactive screen

4.Visual Design

A website with beautiful visuals will tempt users to further explore your website. With great visuals you can express your ideas and brand virtues. Unfortunately people will judge a website based on its visual design. That is why choosing the right typography, colour scheme, and layout is essential. A good visual design will increase the websites credibility by appearing more professional.

colourful background with text and cat

Obviously not a very good example of quality design. Source.

5. Content

Unique content is what differentiates your website from the rest. Content is what will attract your niche and build traction among the users. Content can range from pictures, videos or articles. The other benefit of publishing content is it will boost your website ranking on search engines. By tailoring your content to your niche with strategically added keywords, you are able to provide content to your niche while increasing traffic through search engine rankings.

6.Functionality and usability

To provide good user experience, your site should be fully functional and easy to navigate. Your site should be responsive to provide great user experience. Websites with sluggish and broken links will lead to a higher bounce rates. A clean and simplistic design will also improve both function and style. The design should be uncluttered for easy navigation. It is also essential that your website is mobile optimised as traffic from mobile is rising exponentially.

Examples of Great Websites

APW (apw.my)

APW is a place filled with history, operating since 1965. They were one of the most prolific printers in the country and have since transformed parts of their underutilized places into cafés, collaborative workspaces and more.

The content on the website lives in a colourful blocks, illustrations and text, at the click of an arrow users discover pictures that give visuals on how the place looks in person. Users can also be directed to parts of the website through their header located at the top of the website.

Screenshot of APW's website

Screenshot of APW’s Our Story.

The design of the website resonates with APW’s history and industrialism. The history of the place is shown through the colour scheme of the website where they incorporate complementing colours that have a vintage vibe. The industrial feel of APW is exhibited with architectural sketches and having their content placed in blocks.

Chai Dental (kldentist.com)

Chai Dental’s website is designed in a way where it tallies the service that they provide. Which is clean, white and neat teeth. This is shown through the design of the website where the content of the website is organised very neatly while the colour scheme of the website is mainly white.

screenshot of dental homepage

Full screenshot of Chai Dental’s homepage

Users can also easily browse through the website and quickly find any information they are looking for through the header of the page which makes navigation a breeze. The website is also mobile optimized, providing the great user experience for people across all platforms. With informative write ups on their services and technology used, customers can read up on which treatment they would require.

River of Life (riveroflife.com.my)

River of Life is a project to clean and transform 8 rivers in KL and the Klang Valley, bringing them back to life. With many info-graphics and pictures that are constantly being updated shows the progress on the project, users can easily follow along the journey of this great cause.

website with image of construction worker and some statistics.

Screenshot of River of Life homepage

Through the design of the website, they are able to express what they would like to bring to our rivers. Clean, environmentally friendly and clear waters. Via the colour scheme of green and white, the whites symbolises cleanliness and purity while the greens symbolises growth, fertility and the environment. This also further emphasises the purpose of the site, to create awareness among the general public.

Users are able to cruise through the website with swift responses and many well written articles, videos and images. The content is compelling and educational with the aim to teach the public on how we can care for our rivers and the environment. With references on the effects of pollution for the public as well as telling the vivid stories of the history of our rivers.

environmental website with articles

Screenshot of River of Life’s content.

National Geographic (www.nationalgeographic.com)

The National Geographic page greets you with beautiful pictures that will leave you stunned. Known for their visual content, they play to their strengths. Instantly the purpose of the website is known. Scrolling past the main picture, you’re met with their content. The stunning images reel you in, as your scroll through the homepage.

National geographic homepage with image of dead shark

National Geographic homepage.

Through the homepage, they are able to portray stories that describe the company’s visions, virtues and goals. The ability to concise so much information without cluttering the page is a great asset to have whereby you can maintain traffic throughout your website and direct traffic throughout the other pages on your site.

Navigation through the website is smooth and simple, guiding users to the important sections of the website. With great written content as well as beautiful visual storytelling, it’s hard for users to leave the site without spending a fair amount of time on their website. We tend to be attached to a company which connects to us emotionally, and National Geographic does this through their pictures, articles and stories.

screenshot of national geography content

Made by Google (madeby.google.com)

Made by Google is a website by Google where they showcase all of their products. The purpose of the website is clear with call to action buttons and big images advertising their products.

The design and layout of the website is minimalistic and simplistic, which mirrors the designs of their products. By mirroring the product with the website’s design and layout, users will be able to sense the flow throughout the website.  The navigation through the site is smooth and quick throughout the site because of its design. The monochromatic colour scheme gives the website a very clean and professional look.

screenshot of made by google website

Falter Inferno (falter.wild.plus)

Falter Inferno is a website created by Falter, a weekly news magazine published in Vienna, Austria. Entering the page, you see a familiar sight. Someone stuck in traffic. In this case, the purpose of the website isn’t clear but the interactivity on the website provokes you to find out more.

illustration of person stuck in traffic

Level 1 in Falter Inferno.

Click and drag down and you see a person throwing a pile of print into a tall wall of fire whilst being watched by two tall individuals. It tells the narrative where true journalism is dead due to the constrictions of censorship and other powerful bodies. The website tells a story through its moving illustrations and navigation. The way you navigate through the page breathes freshness.

Man throwing paper into a wall of fire

The theme of the website revolves around satirical themes of the modern society with regards to technology, freedom of speech as well as other current issues. The interactive navigation immerses the user into the idea that the website is trying to conceive. With 9 “levels” of modern day issues, the website is thought provoking and visually pleasing, users will find themselves running through the website multiple times in admiration.

 

Let us know which website was your favourite and why, down in the comments below!

Have Us Up Your Sleeve: The Techy Hub Services

Here at The Techy Hub, our services include developing quite a number of different websites. However, there are three kinds of website most commonly requested by our clients. Following this, we also receive many questions on why we have different kinds of websites and their differences. To address these questions without causing confusion, we decided to relate our services to a metaphor about shirts.

We all own shirts for different occasions. From the old, stained ones to be worn at home or formal ones to be worn to work. Though shirts are essentially just everyday apparel, our website development services have a lot more in common with shirts that you might think. We’ll be linking our services with three different kinds of shirts while going through pricing and features.

 

Plain round-necked shirt

Plain white round neck t-shirt cheapest techy hub service

Possibly the most common shirt there is, easily found in any departmental store (or in your home closet). As they are all factory made, they look the same, with limited alterations. Just like this shirt, one of our services include building a website for you based on a WordPress template. We use a WordPress template that suits the feel of your company the best and replace the functions according to your requests. It is the simplest, therefore the cheapest service we provide. This does not mean that the end result will look bad, most of the templates have clean and professional looks. It simply means that your website may look similar to others (relate back to factory made) with lesser features than what you would like to have.

We do get requests from clients to add new layouts to existing ones, which can be done but will cost you. This is because most WordPress templates are build by authors who have their own ways of building a website. So, to complete the request, we would first have to dissect the code of a website and then add the layout requested by the client. The end result will be what you asked for, but it still might not look the best it can. So for plain round-necked shirts, take it as it is! Here’s an example of what a ‘plain round-necked shirt’ website looks like.

 

Collared, work shirt

Collared Work Shirt

So this shirt already looks different from the previous one. With the long sleeves, collar and buttons, it looks more suited to be in an office. This shirt is factory made, yet designed specifically to make the wearer look smarter in it. This shirt relates to our mid-range service, whereby we custom-design and build a WordPress website just for you. This service enables you to be in more control of how your website looks and feels, even enabling more functions. The only downside of this service is security. Your website may face a higher chance of being hacked, as WordPress uses a well-known cms (a service that allows users to change content without touching the code). This service would be perfect for you if you plan to start a more general website, without passing sensitive information such as bank information or personal identities.

Have a look at one of the results of this service: http://thetechyhub.com/portfolio/global-transformation-forum/.

 

Bespoke Tailored Shirt

Custom Tailored Shirt most expensive techy hub service

Everyone knows about tailor-made shirts, though most never had one made. They are made using careful measurements, high quality material and designs chosen to fit the wearer perfectly. The shirt can come with the customer’s choice of tie, bow or any other extras to complement the shirt. This seemingly superior shirt parallels our final service. We will custom-design your website and built from scratch using a proposed framework (Laravel, Ruby on Rails, Code Ignitor). This is recommended for you if you are looking to start a website dealing with sensitive or private data. You will still be able to be in control of your website and it’s features. This results in a beautiful, secured website that protects sensitive information and data on your website from hackers.

(Of course you can argue that it is not necessary to have tailor-made shirts but a fashion stylist may turn his nose up on your clothes. Just saying.) Intrigued? This http://ohmyenglish.com.my/ms/utama is an example of what you get from this service. Something out of the norm, and designed according to your every need.

 

So there you have it! We are open during regular business hours unless mentioned so in our Facebook page. We would gladly accept any inquiries to clear confusion or to help you in choosing a website perfect for you. Feel free to contact us at info@thetechyhub.com.

13 Steps to Improve Your Graphic Design Skills

Being a graphic designer places you in a field that is constantly evolving, creatively and technically. With your imagination and skills being your only limitation, it only makes sense to improve and hone them to the best you can. Though discovering new technical skills can be done quite easily, it is also important to pay attention and push the limits of your creativity. So, even if you are new to graphic designing or have been one for a while, here are a few steps to help expand your creativity to improve your graphic design skills.

1. Start collecting

The next time you go out shopping or happen to pass by an exhibition, look out for designs that might catch your eye. If you can, take them home and file them. These brochures, pamphlets, posters and many more can be a great source of inspiration that is also easily accessible.

Besides being a source of inspiration, they can also serve as an insight on how to better narrow down your designs to suit different target audiences. The more you collect, the more similarities or differences you may notice, which can give you an edge in coming up with more unique ideas.

2. Snap Photos

Wall with muralIt is most likely that you own a smartphone or at least a phone with a camera. Use it take pictures of designs that you cannot take home, such as a wall with a pretty mural. Similar to the previous point, file the photos away for later before you forget. Keep in mind that some designs cannot be photographed or duplicated for copyright reasons so look out for signs saying so.

There are other sites that provide similar pictures with high resolution too. Sites like 500px or Flickr not only provide this service, you can also download high-resolution pictures with no copyright issues for free.

3. Invest in books

Time to go back to basic by buying books to aid your learning and ideation processes. There are countless books on inspiration, technical skills and education. Books written by successful graphic designers can give you a better perspective of their careers and most include examples of their works.

It can be educational to look into the minds of graphic designers whom have been in this line of work for a long time and still manage to come up with ideas that are relevant to the current day and age. Being able to adapt some of their methods can drastically improve and possibly speed up your next ideation process.

4. Read blogs

Another treasure trove of information readily available for free. There are many kinds of blogs to cater to different designers. Avoid costly mistakes and know what to look out for by reading blogs on tips and tricks. These can be very helpful to those whom are fairly new to designing or even to corporates looking into elements that appeal to the mass audience. Here’s a blogpost that might be useful for such a situation.

Getting an art block is quite common when coming up with ideas. You can overcome this by visiting other designers’ blogs or e-portfolios. Behance is a great platform for searching e-portfolios. Some designers may even have a link to their blogs for you to browse their work.

5. Publish your work

Man bloggingSo you have been designing for a while now. It’s time to start your very own blog or make an online portfolio. It can come in handy in keeping tabs of your progress and maybe even develop your own art style.  Doing this can help you in being more aware of the design community and be more analytical of your own work.

There are many platforms to start blogging. Blogger, WordPress, Tumblr, Squarespace, to name a few. These platforms are mostly free and you may find yourself spoiled for choice. Choose which platform you know you’ll be the most comfortable using and blog away.

6. Actively participate in the design community

Now that you have published your work to the online community, you might receive feedback or critiques from other designers. If you receive good feedback, then great! You’ve designed something appealing to others. However, don’t be discouraged if you receive criticisms. Only through criticisms will you understand any mistakes that you may have made in your design or if it can be improved.

By being active in the community, you will be able to keep yourself up-to-date with the activities in the design world. Just as software have updates, keep yourself updated to stay relevant too.

7. Work on fake projects

If you have the time, it can be good practice to work on fake projects. Come up with a fake brand and design a corporate kit for them. The corporate kit can include marketing materials such as pens, notebooks, bookmarks, coasters and many more that you can think of. Doing this once in a while can keep your job as designing fun as there are no limitations that may hinder your creative flow.

This of course, allows you to tackle brands you are not familiar with. If you are used to urban designs, try taking on a vintage design. No designer can say they have enough experience and need no more.

8. Redo designs

If coming up with a new brand is too much work, then try redoing other people’s projects. No two designers are the same and you can judge what they did wrong with their designs. At the same time, you can see what you can improve in the design or put a whole new spin on it.

This also works for your own older designs. Looking back at your older designs may have the same effect as scrolling through your first few Facebook posts. Although you may feel a strong urge to delete the designs immediately, it is highly encouraged to keep them so you can be sure you are progressing and constantly improving. Let them be and try redesigning them instead.

9. Enroll for classes

If you think having a lecturer can benefit you, try looking for colleges or universities that offer design classes without enrolling full-time. You can not only pick up new technical skills, you also get to meet other people like you.

Other designers whom are more well-known may hold a lecture or forum in colleges or universities. By being a student, you may have easier access to such events. By attending lectures or forums, you get to meet and network with the designers. Talking to someone with more experience and have higher skillsets can help push you to work harder in improving yourself.

10. Meet up with other designers or studios Meeting business

Don’t limit yourself to just classes or online tutorials. There are some questions that cannot be answered by these mediums and can only be answered by people working in the graphic design field. For example, “What inspired (designer/studio) to adapt this style in the design?”

Talking to an experienced person face to face can be extremely beneficial to understand the people in the industry, the opportunity to speak to inspiring people and obtaining valuable contacts. Here’s another chance to network yourself to obtain any advice you may need or create an impression of yourself to be noticed.

11. Get out

As a designer, you may spend hours to days on your computer screen. Well, time to turn it off and go out. Talk a walk in your neighborhood, travel to another state or get out of the country altogether. Experience different cultures, talk to people of different ethnicities, be inspired by another culture’s artwork and their take on design.

Of course getting out and simply being in a completely different environment may do little to inspire you. For example, travelling to another state and staying in a hotel in the city may not do as much as living in a homestay with a local family. All in all, immerse yourself completely in the local environment and you might find yourself coming home with a huge creative boost.

12. Acquire new knowledge

yoga class

Inspiration and unique ideas can come from anywhere, even sources completely unrelated to design. Pushing yourself out of your comfort zone and learning new things may help your creative juices flow again.

There are a number of communities or non-profit organizations offering casual evening or weekend classes. Try learning how to play an instrument, pick up a new language or maybe even a yoga class.

If you’ve previously acquired knowledge in other fields, don’t forget them. They may come in handy in the future, such as Steve Jobs and his study of calligraphy. This knowledge was applied in designing the interface of the first Macintosh computer, which became the first computer ever with beautiful typography. This then advanced to the gorgeous interface of Apple that we all know today.

13. Start sketching

If you haven’t already, get yourself a sketchbook and start sketching or doodling in your free time. It keeps your brain busy when you would be fidgeting with your phone. Sketching can help visualize your idea and find out if the design you had in mind will work out.

Ever had moments when the idea you had in your head turns out very differently when executed? By drawing the ideas out first, you are able to see what works and what does not. You may even gain new ideas for your design when sketching.

Note: So there are the 13 steps to help you become a better graphic designer. Of course, becoming one takes more than just these steps. There are plenty of other skills to master when it comes to designing such as improving your typography skills. Or perhaps you are running a page about yourself or a company, in which case a good impression is everything. Head over here to give your ‘About Us’ page a boost!

Typography Tips and Tricks – Errors and Mistakes

Man doing typography and writing lines of textNow that you’ve read on how to create a good logo, your design project looks great. The colours are on point, the illustrations are perfect, but wait! Are you sure you used the right font? You sure you spelled that word right? Designers, you all know how typography makes or breaks a project. So here are some typography tips and tricks to make sure your great masterpiece stays a masterpiece.

1. Increase line spacing, or leading

Leading (it rhymes with “wedding”), is the space between a line of text and the next line of text. Remember when our teachers would insist that we write our text on alternate lines in our exercise book? That is actually really good advice.

The bigger the line spacing, the easier it is to read a block of text. A common typographical error is setting a small leading to your paragraph, which makes all those words appear cramped and messy. Due to this, it is easy for readers to lose their place when reading.

Fonts differ from each other, so there is no leading that is “one-fit-for-all”. It is important to judge how far apart line spacing should be for different fonts.

2. Change tracking for different fonts

Tracking, or letter-spacing, literally refers to the space between letters of a word. It works to prevent letters from running into each other. We don’t like people invading our personal space, we also don’t want letters doing the same.

Lowercase letters or the capital letter of a word needs no letter-spacing since they fit quite nicely with the letter next to them. However it becomes different when you type a word with your “caps lock” button on. The spacing between capital letters would appear too narrow if you don’t increase the tracking.

3. Kerning is not tracking

Instead, kerning is the space between a letter pair in a word. It functions to reduce or add the space between a pair of letters in a word. Kerning is best used when dealing with logos, full capital letters, and headlines, as it helps improve readability.

A good typography trick is to not set the kerning by computer default. Tweak around with the kerning until you find the one most suitable for your text.

4. Avoid too many words in a line

Did you know, our eyes only record groups of three to four words in a sentence for a couple of times before feeling tired? Writing long lines of words really exhausts your readers. Moving their eyes and heads so often, reading line after line after line… (and it goes on).

Optimally, you’d only need around 9-12 words in a line, which is approximately 50-60 characters. Anything shorter than 9 words may break the flow of the sentence; and anything more than 12 can be tiring to read. Not to mention, we also forget that sometimes we tend to miss a line or even reread the same sentence!

5. Use consistent typeface and weights

Typography example of a design with a mixture of various typefaces and weightsFonts are like personalities, some go well with others; some don’t. Choosing which typeface to go with which is not easy, even more so in trying to get them to work harmoniously.  A mix of too many different typefaces can be distracting and disorienting, which is a grave typographical error. Limit each project to contain three different fonts at most.

Using too many different weights might confuse readers since they won’t be able to tell what the text is actually trying to highlight. This can cause misinformation.  

If you do insist on a variety of typefaces and weights, a good tip is to pair serifs with sans serifs. Try Futura and Rockwell for that playful feel!

6. Use serifs for long paragraphs

It’s not a myth. Serifs do work better for lengthy text, like in books or newspapers. They typically have a flowing mark at points which is said to direct the reader to the next letter, improving readability and preventing eye strain.

The trick between choosing serifs or sans serifs is to figure out what platform you’re writing for. In high resolutions, like for newspapers, use the serifs. Sans serifs are actually optimized for pixel-based displays, like on blog posts.

7. Pair different value of colours together

There is no such thing as a bad combination of colours, but there is bad combination of colour saturation and hues. Imagine printing pale yellow text on a white background; or dark blue text on black. The only time those combinations would work is if you’re trying to send a hidden message. It makes reading that much harder.

The best way to overcome this common typography mistake is by pairing colours opposite of the color wheel together. For example, orange and blue.

8. Use contrasting colours

Typography of light colored font on dark background Print light coloured text on dark backgrounds. If you can’t remember this typography tip, remember zebras. They’re black-skinned with white stripes on top.

Printing white text on anything less than 50% tint makes the design look less distinct and hard to read. The words become less visible as they get lost in the background. Good practice is to pay attention to how one colour interacts with one another. You don’t want to place clashing colours together.

9. Hold back on the center align

If you’re designing a restaurant menu or a wedding invitation, please, by all means, use the center align all you like. However, for the times you are not, justify your text to the left or right, depending on which suits your graphics.

Centered text can sometimes be seen as amateurish as the sentences may appear broken and jagged. They also appear disconnecting, breaking the flow of a sentence, which will make readers feel dull and bored.

10. Write small body copies

Once again, you need to take into consideration what platform you’re writing for. Text for print and for online viewing are very different. If you’re designing an online ad, take a step back and try font sizes smaller than your standard 12pt. With a monitor screen, readers will be able to zoom in if they need to read something easier.

Larger font sizes would be fine for a children’s book, but for professional design projects, it is important that your body copy looks concise and straightforward.

Bear this typography trick in mind: Always use font sizes of 7pt or more. Fine prints, like the one in terms and conditions, really just means you want to make it hard for your readers.

11. Learn the Grid System

The Grid System is a guideline in which designers can use to arrange and structure their content, to maximize readability and enable easier navigation. You will be able to design your projects in proportions, as well as balance the text and use of other media forms contained in your design.

With the system, your designs will appear clearer and more interactive. You can refer to The Grid System site to find more information and ideas on how to utilize it better.

 

Now that you’re a typography guru and want to take it up a notch, check out how to write an appealing “About Me” page to level-up your blog, website or social media! Or if your typography journey has you worn out, young Jedi, just kick back and refuel at these food stops that has fed us while we work to bring you more good stuff! 

Characteristics of a Good Logo – What You Need

What is a Logo?

Logo acts as a reminder and a pop up of a company/product. For the designer, it’s the ultimate challenge. Words and drawings or even doodles are how we usually express ourselves. Logos are graphic, a symbol, and it has to be in its simplest form.

Logos are the identity card of a company, the passport of the company’s growth. The designed logo has to evoke a sense of recognition among customers. Logos are the bridge between the company’s sales and their aims.

In a world where technologies are always advancing, an effective logo is a must. In a sea of logos, how do you stand out?

 

Simple

Unlike paintings or drawings, the key to an effective logo is simplicity. A good logo designer doesn’t always make a good illustrator, but this doesn’t stop you from designing a good logo. The glorious birth of a good logo often comes from aimless doodling. It doesn’t have complicating elements or components. Of course, improving your graphic design skills would really help you in your design work.

With just one quick look, your customers will recognize your brand through that particular logo. Logos that are too complex will cause confusion and minimize your chance of immediate recognition. Remember this: An effective logo is a private jet to your potential customers and business partners.

A good logo possesses the ability to get into the minds of all consumers without being overdrawn. It has to be simple up to the point where the customers will be able to describe it. Nike, a simple black tick but holds a million value.

 

Unique

man in the crowdA light bulb means idea; speech bubbles mean conversation, globe means international. All these are far too common to be used as a logo. Surely, your customers will be able to recognize it and identify it, but they might confuse it with other companies. A good logo has to be the odd one among a bunch of other logos.

Without an entirely different logo, your potential customers may turn to competitors’ companies, which means one less potential customers. A good logo doesn’t scream what you sell but instead it provokes the customers’ to identify it themselves.

Apple’s logo is just a plain white apple with a bite on the side, but they don’t sell Apple in a literal way. Instead, they sell smart mobile devices. Stay away from the clichés.

 

Adaptable

logoAn effective logo is one that can be incorporated into other forms of media such as name cards; it should be resizable. To achieve this, designers usually use a vector format. The logo will be drawn by paths and not pixels, and the logo will appear clearer compared to a pixelated logo. It has to be a minimum of one inch without missing out any important elements. Bare in mind, it has to be perfect wherever it is. No matter the size, the logo will always be recognizable. Your company will lose its value.

Ask yourself: Will it look good on billboards? Name cards? T-shirts? Pins?

The color of the logo affects the effectiveness of a logo. A good logo is a chameleon that can switch colors to fit in. It will still be influential even if it’s in black and white.

 

Appropriate

Identify your target market. A good logo can attract the right potential customers and boost the sales of the product. Designing for children’s toys? It’s not necessary to have a child’s toy as a logo or having the word ‘toys.’ Focus on your color scheme, making it appealing to your target market.

Designing for a law firm? Ditch the colorful and playful color scheme. Change it to a more formal and serious approach. Not only that, but you would also use simple fonts as it would be easier to see from a distance and locate.

 

Timeless

i love new yorkA good logo has no expiry date. It will be durable no matter how many decades or centuries had passed. It will not deteriorate over time, and people will still be able to recognize the logo. Do not aim to be trendy but instead, strive for eternal life. A logo that is always changing will raise confusion among people.

Not only that, every time your company logo made any changes, you would have to advertise to make the changes known to the world. This is very costly and would reduce the revenue of a company.

Take a look at the ‘I LOVE NEW YORK’ logo, it’s created in 1975, but until this very day, this logo is still recognized by the general public. It’s still printed on t-shirts even after three decades.

 

If your logo fulfills all the above, you are ready to go. Start your business venture and your logo will not fail you!

 

6 Secrets to an appealing ‘About me’ page

man looking at phoneOur phones never left our side, they are like our sidekick, keeping us on the go. Checking emails, scrolling through Instagram, stalking your crush on Facebook, watching celebrities fight on Twitter, reading blogs on Google, the Web was always there to lend us a helping hand.

Sitting behind screen, it’s almost impossible to truly connect with your audience. Hence, it’s crucial to captivate your audience with a personal and friendly approach. Otherwise, you will be just another faceless web designer among sea of many others.

I know…easier said than done.

 

Don’t be normal, be different

Distinguish yourself. Make your ‘About me’ page an appealing sight by using different variety of Medias, such as graphic, videos, timelines. So that people will be attracted and possibly drool over your page. Colors brighten our days and it will also increase the number of viewers on your website. Specific colors possess the power to stir up our emotions.

  • Red- a color that grabs attention that’s why alarms are red
  • Blue- If you want to appear trustworthy and cool, try this.
  • Green- very flexible. It symbolizes nature and the color of money. It lends customer with a pleasing and warm feeling

1914074Contrast and complimentary colors are your best friends.

Humans have very short attention span (8 seconds).Therefore, videos are an effective way to display your thought with motion within seconds. Don’t blindly follow, create your own style. Separate yourself from the pack, be the Alpha.

 

 

Swipe Right

Treat your ‘About me’ page like a Tinder date. Of course you would want people to swipe right, right? But first, give them a good impression of you through a profile picture. Shine some light on yourself, use minimal filters. A photograph of yourself will allow your audience to feel connected.

With a picture of yourself, they will feel as though they met the actual person in reality and not just another anonymous web designer online. This will foster trust, you want to appear trustworthy. At least, your audience will know you are not a robot or an alien.

 

Speak human

The ‘About me’ page is not another English work assignment or an English essay for coursework. Bombastic words are completely extra and unnecessary. If your audience is required to pull out a dictionary, chances are they will just exit and adios.

You are conversing with your viewers through words, don’t try too hard to impress them with words that are not common. Jargon. A huge no-no. It may be cool but some may not understand it.

Make an effort to make your website accessible and user-friendly. Keep your vocab simple. Stay away from using unclear titles. If it’s an ‘About me’ page, give them the page. Don’t change it to “The Journey”.

 

Keep it Organized

boxes on shelfThe best ‘About me’ page is one that has a lot of information but with minimal confusion and very neat and tidy. Your audience has to be able to swallow and digest them. Avoid chocking them with endless paragraphs of alphabets. The only wall between us and success is our ability to control.

We most of the times tend to vomit out everything that we know. It may be challenging to know when to stop when writing an ‘About me’ page, especially when it is about ourselves. Is it enough? Is it too much? Control and express your thoughts at the same time avoid being too wordy.

Split your paragraphs and keep information in sections. Allow your audience to have a quick scan before depth reading it. Start with writing a short bio. Keep track of the number of words.

 

Have a personality

It’s okay to have a personality when writing the ‘About me’ page. It reflects who you are and your audience will feel connected to you. Treat your audience like your friend. Just be yourself.

Don’t just throw in facts, they want to be connected to you and know the real you. Facts alone do not persuade and your audience might get bored. Compared to the others, your ‘About me’ page may be too bland and dull. You are supposed to break the ice wall and not build another wall.

Make your website a window to your world, open the door and invite your audiences into your world. Share your passion, your ethos, and your values. Let them know what you believe in. Watch your tone of writing, avoid being too stern or formal. Be humorous, personable or bold.

 

Be the GPS

gpsMost of your audience may not know what to do next, after reading your ‘About me’ page. They will be like “What should I do next? Hmm, let’s watch a vine” Chances are, they will forget that your site exists.

Bring them to the destination that you desire. Show them the route. Keep them entertained. You want people to stick around when you have new updates. But how? Easy, just ask them to subscribe to your newsletter or your Twitter account or give a thumbs up on your Facebook page. Or even follow you on Instagram.

Personalities are unique and charming, so don’t be afraid to stay authentic. Translating your persona into words can be super hard, but here’s how you can make your text appear as awesome as you are

Buh-Bye!

#Throwback

1419024Throwing it back to 2 weeks ago, I still the little high school girl with no idea what the Techy Hub do. Purposely making my bag appear big but in reality there’s only 3 papers, my pencil box and my bottle in it. (trying hard to look like I’m ready). With the initial thought that all offices are like a honeycomb with superiors sitting in their respective solidary cube. I thought I will be confined to my little cubic space.

Pushing open the door, the Techy Hub was nothing like what I imagined, it looked exactly like the pictures online (duh).

Compared to the other offices, the Techy Hub is more relaxed and laid back. To my surprise, the resting area has bean bags and a comfy sofa. Anytime when we feel tired and drowsy, we can just change our workplace and move there to work. How nice is that!!

Knowledge

During my brief stay in the Techy Hub, I was given the opportunity to learn about digital marketing. Coming in as an Art student, I had the basic coverage about marketing. Marketing involves the advertising process which is no longer just giving out pamphlets, TV adverts or leaflets but now it involves taking in the help of social media such as a blog. Taking it up a notch, we optimize our blog posts to ensure that our website is available for the world to access through SEO. SEO (Search Engine Optimization) allows us to rank for a certain keyword. Did you know that you can earn money for the rankings!!1538344

Writing a blog is not as easy as I thought. It’s more than just typing, editing and posting. There’s more than that involved. Before posting my article, I have to make sure that the readability is lighted green. Like a traffic light, red means stop don’t post; yellow means it’s not good but not bad. This ensures that the article is pleasing to the eyes of the viewers. Next, it’s the SEO optimization part. I have a brief idea on what it is but I was not experienced enough to do it so I passed it to the expert, Tricia.

Holding open a door of curiosity, I learnt content writing. Sure, you might say, it’s just writing, anyone is capable of doing it. But, writing to advertise has lot of hidden tactics. You have write to provoke the consumers and viewers. It’s like playing with alphabets and forming words that make your product appear exclusive and make your potential customers feel like they need to have it.

Lunch

all kinds of foodEveryone’s daily struggle: where to eat?

Lunch, my favorite time of the day. Partially because of the food but it was also the only time where everyone sit together and talk. Stepping away from our computers and enjoy our delicious meals. The first few days, I was still quite reluctant and shy to start a conversation with them but now we talk every day. We can talk about just anything, sharing experiences or just some random funny Facebook posts. Laughter is never absent with them.

 

 

It’s true how Time waits for no one. When you are enjoying yourself, time always race like a jet. In a blink of an eye, 2 weeks is already coming to an end. It’s time to say goodbye to this place. It’s time to switch back to my original high school routine… Today is the last day that I will be walking down the stairs from the Techy Hub. Bringing sweet memories and all the knowledge I gained home, I will never forget my wonderful experience here! It’s time to go back to the familiar building where I call school and leave the office of the Techy Hub…